A young nurses’s Christmas

I would rather eat nails than try to put together a holiday schedule for a group of crabby nurses….

Those of you who work traditional non-shift work type jobs may have never considered this, but hospitals must stay open 24-7/365. And someone has to work each and every one of those shifts.

Even Christmas day.

The scheduling requests can start rolling in on the nurse managers desk in the beginning of October. Of course who got what, is based on seniority, timing of request, what holidays you previously worked and so on.

So when the schedule was posted for December that year, it was an immediate flurry of activity as though a farmer had just spread corn outside a chicken house.

This did not affect me much. I was staffed through our in house agency. I was “float pool” so I got to pick and choose shifts, based on the needs. I didn’t join the hen party around the newly posted schedule.

Later that shift I found one of my co-workers in the bathroom crying. She tried to wave me off but I got some cheap scratchy tissues and demanded she tell me what was wrong.

Tabitha was only a couple of years older than me. We were just kids really, but our lives were on different tracks. Tabby was already married and had three young children. I was not, and still enjoying being my parent’s spoiled “baby girl”.  Tabby’s husband had walked out on her three months ago and this was going to be her first Christmas as a single mother. And because she had used all her PTO and sick time during this crisis, she was scheduled to work 7-3 on Christmas day.

It was her first Christmas alone, she had no family in town to help her and three young children.

I sat there in horror as she cried.

And before I could even think, I hear the words fall right of my mouth, “I’ll cover your shift for you Christmas day.”

Tabby looked at me with her brown eyes as big as saucers. “what?”

“You heard me, I’ll take your shift. You need to be home with your kiddo’s. I don’t have any kids. I can work.”

She finally stopped crying and we wondered if the Nurse Manager would allow us to make the trade. We trudged down the hall to her office and it was a done deal, except I got roped into pulling a double since I was the house “good Samaritan” and another single mom who was scheduled 3-11 had asked off too. I groaned, but I was now trapped I had to do it. Tabby’s relief and joy were almost enough to make me not feel so sick to my stomach.

Christmas Day was sacred at our house. It was my parents favorite holiday. We had traditions! Rituals! We sat up half the night to call family members across the world to wish them Merry Christmas in their time zones.  Now I had ruined Christmas for my own family. I avoided my parents like the plague for several days.

When I finally went over to my parents house, my mom took one look at me and said, “what have you done?” When I confessed my crime of ruining Christmas and why I did it.  my parents just smiled.  I was not disowned.  “We will be fine.” my dad said, “We can bring you dinner to the hospital.” My mom added.

Christmas morning arrived to find me getting report in the conference room with the night shift who could not wait to get out of there and the day shift who did not want to be here. But there were patients to care for and only the sickest of the sick had not been discharged for the holiday.

At around eleven AM my mother called and wanted to know if it was okay for them to head my way with food. I thought it was a little early but they were driving forty minutes across town to the hospital where I worked so I told her to come on. I still had one patient to get ready for the day and I thought I had plenty of time. This elderly lady had been with us for days. She had come out of the Cardiac Care Unit to our telemetry floor after a massive heart attack. She was very weak and still having irregularities on the monitor and remained on strict bedrest. She begged me to help her put on her own pretty robe over her hospital gown. I smiled and ran her IV lines through the sleeves and combed her hair. Her family had not been to see her since she got out of the unit. I shook my head thinking of that and got her lipstick out at her request. I prayed that her family would show up today. Or at least call her! This sweet lady thanked me profusely for getting her dressed and said with a voice full of hope, “I’m sure my son will be here soon!” I hoped she was right. I could not imagine her disappointment if no one showed up.

I left her room feeling sad again and heard a clatter coming down the hall. I looked up and what to my wondering eyes did appear but my father!  Wearing a Santa hat and pushing a cart loaded down with food! I laughed and laughed and thought of the little Tupperware dish I had envisioned. I should have known better! My mother was giggling and appeared to be his designer elf in  her perfectly matched silk outfit and shoes. She had adorned her perfectly set hair with a poinsettia flower for this occasion. And of course her nail polish and lipstick matched that poinsettia perfectly!

I could not stop laughing and directed them to our nurses conference room. What had been a chamber of doom just a few hours ago was transformed now into a holiday buffet of joy as my mother spread out a table cloth and set up dessert’s while my father prepared to carve an entire turkey.

My Dad was in his element carving the bird expertly for a crowd of adoring nurses and I noticed my mother had disappeared. I slipped out to find her.

In my elderly patients room I found my mom. She was sitting on the side of the bed holding the hand of a lonely old woman. She had a basket with her full of little crocheted stockings she had made and stuffed with nice soap and matching lotions she was giving out along with a dose of her Christmas love and joy.

My mom had experienced several major illness’ during her life and knew all to well how sick you had to be to get stuck in the hospital on Christmas.

My elderly patient had a death grip on my mother’s hand and would not let go. My mom sat there patiently, quietly reassuring her that it was ok.

Finally the elder said, “But who are you and why did you come see me?”

My mom smiled and said, “My daughter is your nurse today. She told me you would enjoy a visit. My name is Connie.”

“You did a good job with that girl.”

My mother kept smiling and her face just beamed with pride.

I slipped away because I was afraid to spoil this moment for them, plus I was about to cry. My heart was full of conflicting emotions: joy at feeling loved and appreciated, anger at this poor ladies absentee family, sorrow for her loneliness, pride that the stranger bringing her such comfort was my own dear sweet mother…My mother, whose life dream was to be a nurse, but she never got the opportunity to go to college or nurses training. My mother, who had glowed during my graduation and cried through my nurses pinning ceremony.

I wandered back towards the conference room towards laughter and wonderful aroma’s of food when I noticed my charge nurse sitting alone manning the desk. “Marge, go fix a plate and enjoy my crazy parents! I’ll watch the desk for a minute” Marge bolted. I sat down. I didn’t think a single call light would go off. Not with the well dressed elf of joy out there spreading her light and magic around.

I sat there listening to the laughter and my favorite line from the Grinch popped into my head, “Perhaps Christmas does not come from a store, perhaps Christmas is a little bit more…”

And perhaps Christmas is more than family traditions, or even special meals.

Perhaps Christmas is bringing the Joy of the Season to who ever needs it most and where ever they are.

 

I dedicate this post to my Mom and Dad,  Edgar and Connie Haase. There are nurses from MMC, who still remember you and the joy you brought to us and our patients as we worked on Christmas Day.

 

 

 

A picture is worth a 1,000 words!

As most of you know, I am a firm believer in giving honor where honor is due! Today I would like to thank Zan Phillips of Zan Phillips Photography for the exquisite photography she has freely shared with me for use on this blog.

As a special treat, Zan allowed herself to be photographed and allowed me to share it with you. Her 2017 calendars are hot off the press and ready to roll. I suggest you treat yourself to one!

I have been blessed to work with some wonderful people and I would like to again thank Mike and Tracey Mishko of Mishko Photography for the fabulous cover to my first book. The Little Engine who Could Not… Mike and Tracy also took my author’s pictures used for this book. I don’t usually photograph well and I am still stunned and thankful every time I see this cover. Thank you Mike and Tracy! While I am thanking– this book would still be a manuscript if not for the wonderful work formatting done by Nick Caya and his Word-2-Kindle dream team! Thanks again, Nick!

I would also like to thank my Honored Guest Bloggers who shared wonderful words with us all this past year: Steve Gilbert, Chris Martin and the ever fabulous, Amy Hines!

You all have blessed me with beautiful artwork, wonderful stories and wise words.  I wish all of you a BLESSED and wonderful Christmas and a very happy and productive New Year!

Thanks for sharing!     XXOO- Alana

The Culture of Disrespect

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There has been a lot of talk over the past weeks about burning the American flag. Our President Elect has stated that there must be consequences for burning the flag, perhaps a year in jail or loss of citizenship.

This has sent the social media world into a twitter with people screaming about the right to free speech and other issues.

What I want to know is this? WHY would you burn our flag in the first place?

And why is an action, burning a flag, protected as “speech”?

That beautiful red, white and blue flag is the beloved symbol of this great nation. We love it so much it has familiar nicknames, Old Glory, Stars and Bars, the Star Spangled Banner.

Federal Law provides us with the United States Flag Code to protect this flag. Section 8 of this code is even titled RESPECT FOR FLAG.

I simply can not imagine any reason for a rational person with one ounce of decency or respect to burn the very thing that defines and represents our Nation. This flag has flown proudly over blood soaked battle fields in the name of Freedom and adorned coffins of our lost veterans to this cause as well as Presidents and first responder’s who also gave of their own lives to save others.

Perhaps it is as simple as a lack of respect.

We are living in a culture of disrespect. This is seen in schools, ER’s, on TV and towards our law enforcement officers and any figures of authority.

In times gone by, teaching was a profession of respect. Teachers were persons of respect. Now it seems our teachers are no more than glorified babysitters who are not allowed to have rules in the classroom and if a precious angel is failing it is the teachers fault– not little Bobby’s for refusing to do his homework.

About three years ago my daughter got home from (middle) school and said, “Guess what happened in Mrs. So&So’s class today?” Mrs. So&So was her favorite teacher at the time. Princess went on to tell me that “Little Bobby” was talking while Mrs. So&So put the assignment on the board and she asked him to be quiet, please. Bobby stood up and said, “B*tch, I don’t have to do what you say.” as he threw his pencil at her.

I stood there staring at my daughter, praying to God to please provide funds to get my kids out of public school and hoping this was a horrible joke my kid was playing on me.

I asked what happened next? My daughter shrugged and said, “he got a referral to the office.”

Where I’m sure Lil’ Bobby sat through a lecture on proper classroom behavior and speech and was sent back to the class with his bad attitude intact.

Had I dared use a word like that towards one of my teachers the referral to the office would have included a phone call to my parents, who would have requested extra licks applied via wooden paddle to my fanny by the principle and I would have spend the rest of the day in detention so I could properly anticipate with dread what was going to happen when I got home and faced my parents.

My father had told me more than once that my teachers were educated and hardworking people who worked very hard to make sure I did not grow up to be an idiot.

In the medical profession we showed our doctors respect for the many years of learning and practice they endured for the title of M.D. You were of course, allowed to ask questions or request a second opinion, but you did not show up with your print out’s from the internet, self diagnosed and demanding the drugs and treatment of your choice. Then threaten to sue if the actual doctor disagreed with you.

Violence towards Emergency Room staff– Nurses, has reached epidemic proportions requiring new laws to be put in place in an attempt to protect our angels of mercy. One of my former co-workers had her arm broken by a patient who got angry with ER wait times and slammed her up against the wall.

Television “talk” shows have become so rude and hateful I do not watch them any longer. The clips shown on social media and the news reinforce this decision for me.

The attitudes towards our law enforcement officers absolutely horrifies me. Are policemen and women perfect human beings wearing a blue uniform over their wings? Of course not! But they are human beings who for the most part, take very seriously their vow to “serve and protect”. They are put into life and death situations where decisions must be made in a nano-second… and mistakes do get made. I will not argue that.

But the fact remains that the number one way not to get your fanny kicked by law enforcement is to obey the officer, be still, and keep your mouth shut! Wait until the situation is under control and diffused before trying to argue with the police about your rights! How hard is that?

I can tell you as a former ER nurse if you want to learn respect for police officers and first responders– spend a Friday or Saturday night in a busy city ER and watch what these guys have to deal with. It will  open your eyes.

I think back to those terrible days in mid September, 2001, hundred of first responders lost to us forever, as they rushed IN, where other’s ran out and never returned.

Their caskets were draped with our beloved Old Glory and they were shown the deep respect and appreciation they so deserved.

Fifteen years later, it’s like we live in another country.

Where has the respect gone?

I got a glimpse of where it has gone from my son. He was very angry he had gotten in trouble at high school for correcting a teacher. It seems that the school had to make coaches teach in order to keep them as coaches, so a football coach with no teaching experience was now the history teacher. He had put down the wrong dates for the American Revolution. My son, the history buff, corrected him and got a referral to the office for his trouble.

I let him vent then told him he may well be smarter than the “teacher” but he was NOT the teacher and he needed to show respect for the teacher.

My son informed me respect had to be earned and he would not show respect to anyone who would not show him respect first. What?

But this is prevailing attitude of teen’s and young adults. “Don’t Dis me Man!”

I was so concerned about this I went and talked to a friend of mine, a LMHC who works with mostly kids and teens. She told me she was noticing more attitudes and actions of not only disrespect but complete disregard for other’s. So she took a day off and spent it watching TV. She watched the popular kids cable channels all day long.

The prevailing theme on every single show was that the kids run the show and are in charge. The adults were portrayed as idiots and the canned laughter that accompany’s comedy shows was used every single time an adult was made a fool of by the kids.

In addition to this subtle theme of adults as stupid bumbling idiots was the fact that on several of these shows it was either a single mom or a single dad as the “head of household”. Only one of the popular shows had both parents and the father was the step-father and the butt of most of the kids pranks and laughter.

Not one show presented both parents as a unified front to control the little perpetrators of mischief.

My blood ran cold as she named the shows, my kids had adored and watched several of the shows named daily after school. Like a lot of us, the electronic babysitter had served us well as we worked and came home exhausted.

I was blind, but now I see…

The first Commandment attached to a promise is “Honor thy Father and thy Mother: that thy days be long upon the land”  Exodus 20:12

So it begins at home, with us.

Even as teen’s it’s not to late. Put your foot down and state, “you will not speak to me that way.”  Point out on the TV,  “do you hear how rude that was?”  Even in public you can point out that manners and respect get you much better service than behaving like an impatient jerk. Show, tell and do not allow disrespect in your home. Teenagers have very good eyes, and if you remove the ear buds, those ears of theirs will hear you. Cutting off thier smart phones works like a charm!

We’ve got a long way to go to re-establish respect, both in our homes and in our country.

So perhaps “consequences” for burning our flag is not such a bad thing. You can SAY you hate this country, hate the flag, hate everything it stands for, your speech is constitutionally protected by law and millions of American servicemen and women have died to protect that right for you.  But your ACTION of burning our beloved Star Spangled Banner is not…

How about this ACTION: Let’s bring back our Pledge of Allegiance in our public schools. Lets go back to teaching our young people what is  worthy of respect. I believe if the Pledge was brought back, along with teaching on why we show respect,  there would be fewer young people who think flag burning is okay.

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