Recently I have done lots of soul searching. Just recently have I realized it was soul searching that was triggered a few months ago by several factors.
These are not in any particular order, just as they come into my brain.
One being the miscommunication and loss of friends. Annie found a long lost friend after being apart for thirty years. Her name is Laura. Her partner of twelve years Ginger. Annie and Laura began communicating by e-mail, getting to know one another again after all those years. Then there was phone communication. I watched as Annie changed into a happier person by getting to reconnect with her friend. She felt as if she had found family. Annie and Laura were like sisters. They e-mailed daily, talking, learning and growing in their relationship. Her happiness made me happy. I too became friends with Laura and spoke a few times on the phone with her.
Ginger her partner was a woodworker and wood turner. She also loved to fish as I do.
Both retired both love the outdoors. They live twelve hours from Georgia in a beautiful home nestled in the woods with five acres of wooded area behind them. In that area is wildlife. Deer that come up to their yard to say hello. A quiet area just minutes away from lake Michigan.
Annie and I went to visit August 2008 and spent eight days with them. It was wonderful, magical. A quiet serene meeting of friends, their two dogs included. We spent time together, getting to know each other. Visited historical sites, art galleries, Monet flower garden and water. They took us out on their boat. Ginger and I fished, Annie and Laura talked, worked on projects together.
Annie and spent time together in early morning watching the deer in the woods and talking. It was fantastic for us as well. Our hosts went to bed early, Annie and I played, played on line, watched tv, read, sat outside and listen to the lake. It was all breath taking. The best trip ever.
Later in the year They were to leave by boat from Michigan to Florida and stop over in Tennessee and visit with us. They arrived late one week after Thanksgiving. We had Thanksgiving in our home with them and other friends.
Turkey and all the trimmings. They supplied the wine. Ginger made a delicious homemade apple pie. It was a celebration, a renewal of friendship. A playtime of hobbies and art. While we were in Michigan Ginger took me to her workshop and showed me wood turning, pen turning and let me help her make me a pen. I fell in love right there with wood turning. As a result my family bought me a lathe and all the accessories for mu October birthday.
Annie showed them how she makes mosaics, they played with glass. Annie and laura spent a lot of time with Laura's photography. We again grew to know and love more about each other.
After they left to drive back to Florida for the winter and summer things changed. An e-mail was sent to Annie by Laura. A reply was returned with honest thoughts and feelings and truths. The problem was that Laura had her e-mail set up to go also to Ginger. The hurt and anger began. Laura never explained or accepted responsibility. That was the beginning of the end of the relationship, the family, the friendship. Annie's loss of her sister, of her family, her friend. It was extremely painful for Annie it was painful for me. It's still painful today.
The second being my work. The increase in pressures, the increase in work and the decrease of staff. One less nurse every day. Taking care of five patients now instead of four. The decrease in hours and overtime. I went from working 48 to 60 hours a week to working 32 to 36 hours per week. No overtime allowed with no warning. It just happened, boom!!
That resulted in doctors becoming more demanding, as there was not enough staff to properly care for our patients. Taking care of 5 sick people at once is impossible.Just about everybody got IV's and multiple meds ordered, Then was the multiple other procedures ordered. One doctor in particular drives me nuts or rather I allowed him to drive me nuts. His quotes: Let's make this happen, right away, Give SOME demerol. Ok the LETS in make it happen was me, it was the nursing staff as he was standing in the way of us nurses taking care of patients. You had to tell him to move or put your hand on his should and guide him out of the way. SOME DEMEROL....ok Doc how much is SOME?
Then the addition of extra work required daily. The newest JAHCO that popped up every week. Cleaning the lounge behind grown ups, cleaning out the fridge behind grown ups. Picking up supplies left everywhere and anywhere by grown ups.
And the added responsibility for me...I took this on myself so I can only blame me. I was taking care of the same number of patients as everyone else but also taking care of supplies and equipment for the ER. Fixing the broken if possible, ordering new when needed and explaining why we needed 3 new thermometers at once because the others disappeared because staff left them in patients rooms. Telling everyone where certain supplies are located or kept because they would not take it upon themselves to learn.
I reached my boiling point on the last two regular shifts I worked.
My last regular shift a doctor screamed at me about a psych patient. I screamed back because he did not listen to what I was trying to tell him. He only heard half of it and assumed well whatever he assumed he took it out on me. It became a screaming match to which I just walked away. When I get that angry and upset I cry, which in turn makes it very difficult to take care of my patients. The doctor came to me a few minutes later and wanted to apologize and talk about it. I told him not now to just leave me alone.
He did apologize later in the afternoon. I continued to fume that this was done in front of everyone at the desk. That just pissed me off and hurt my feelings.
A few days later I had a break down. I cried, I sobbed, to Annie. I did not want to be a nurse any more but I know nothing else. I felt like a total failure. I was a failure to myself to my family to everyone.
Annie and I realized it was time for help. I had a doctors appointment later that week. Medication was changed and given 2 weeks off work. I called and set up counseling and attended a session then an orientation session for new patients. It will be on going until I get myself back together. Just being away from work has been my saving grace. I had to remove myself from the source of stress. I am much better already with one more week off to go.
The third factor was the death of my closest friend from South Carolina. Carol and I met in nursing school 27 years ago. She was 6 months ahead of me in school. She went to work at our local hospital as did I 6 months later. At times in the beginning on my career we worked together and started to become friends. She always worked in ICU and I would get pulled from med surgery/pediatrics/geriatrics to ICU. I learned lots about that type of nursing. We taught/helped each other. We started a long lasting friendship.
She became divorced, I was single. We were inseparable. Her sons raced go karts. We traveled together to these races that lasted 2-3 days. In the divorce she gained a camper at the beach where she visited frequently, as did I. We both loved the ocean and loved each other. Our friendship had grown. We watched her oldest son play softball, she watched me play softball. I played in church league, coed EMS league and fast pitch womens league. My spring and summers were consumed for years with softball. I was good, very good in my day and in my time. As I got older my joints did not like me any more. My shoulder hurt every time I threw a ball. My knee hurt from an injury years prior. I still played but not as often. My body would not let me.
I met Annie online and moved to Georgia in April of 1999. It was love at first site. Ten years later we are still in love and happy. Not to say we have not had our share of problems but we always work them out and our love grows as a result.
Carol and I remained in frequent touch after my move for a while. She sent cards, I did not. I occasionally called, she called more often. I was the one that stopped calling. We visited a few times and stayed with Carol during our visits.
In January of this year we made a trip there. We stayed with my sister about 45 minutes from Carol. Annie was in class during the day. On Sunday I called Carol and we set up getting together for lunch. We spend about 1 1/2 hours at the restaurant together with two of her grandchildren then back to her house where we talked about 2 hours about any thing and everything. She told me finally about her son who abused drugs and used her. She said she finally cut him off financially. I was proud of her. She had hinted about him to me several times but would never admit to me he abused drugs. She also gave me latest update about her workers comp shoulder injury and that physical therapy had failed. She was going to have surgery in the near future to repair the damage.
I talked by phone with her a few weeks later, she gave me the surgery date. I promised to call her after the surgery to check on her. After the surgery she stayed at her daughters house just over a week to recuperate. I never called and still today am kicking myself for this.
I received a phone call from another friend in the early afternoon of March fifth. Missy explained to me that Carol had died earlier that day. Her daughter the night before had taken her home because her daughters husband was coming down with an illness an neither Carol nor her daughter wanted Carol to get sick. Daughter talked with Mom that night at 11:00pm, she was doing fine. The next morning Carol called her daughter at work and told her something was wrong, she told her she was going to die. She could only speak one word at the time....It was her last words.
Annie and I prepared for the trip for Carols funeral. We stayed in a hotel in that SC town where Carol lived and I had lived 10 years prior.
I felt anger, I felt guilt for not calling and talking with her one last time. I did not know it would have been the last time, but that did not help my guilt. It did not help the loss my best friend ever from SC. Annie was a trooper. She was right there for and with me through this time, through the funeral. At the funeral the when we arrived the casket was open. I had to go. Annie was on my left another long time friend on the other side of her, on the other side of me was a friend who offered to take that walk with me. I declined. It was something I had to do by myself. I stood up to take that long dreaded walk up that church isle, my insides shaking, I felt as if my legs were shaking beneath me. I had to say goodbye to her body to my friend.
After the funeral the family met in the church fellowship hall. I hugged and talked with her oldest son and her daughter. I hugged her oldest grandkids that I had watched grow up. I hugged her sisters and talked with one of them. They were very close. What a great loss to everyone. When we started to leave the church Annie stopped in the parking lot and told me to go and visit the grave site. To have some quiet time to say what I needed to say. I did and it was painful. I walked back with tears in my eyes. Annie was so caring, loving and supportive of me.
I felt as if I had let Carol her down. I did let her down. I was not a good friend to her in the most recent years and mainly the most recent weeks. I failed her and I failed myself.
The end result of all of this ranting is this:
Life is short, life is precious. Nothing in or about life is guaranteed, there is no warranty on life. The just isn't. Life is too short to let the little things drag me down. The big things I have to learn to deal with much better and I have in the past. That is a work in progress.
Life itself is a work in progress and one in which I want to live with open eyes and open mind. Loving, laughing and living....what more is there!!!