Nightingale Awards: The Oscars for Nurses

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The Nightingale Award

Last night the Academy Awards rolled out the red carpet, and the stars unfurled their loquacious tongues showering praise upon themselves, rivaled only by the hubris of Narcissus. While most people will be focused on the Best Picture mix-up between ‘La La Land’, and ‘Moonlight’, I was left breathless by this quote,

“I became an artist and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.” Viola Davis

My breathlessness was not one of awe and beauty at the arrangements of those 24 simple words, but more the gasping tightness of bronchiole constriction in desperate need of albuterol. Did she just say that? Are artists the only people who celebrate what it means to live a life?

This of course forced me to look back on my 30-year career and wonder if my profession celebrates what it means to live a life? Maybe without awards we lack the clarity to understand what it truly means to live a life. I thought perhaps we could review, and award what I consider the true meaning of living a life by the only standards I am familiar with.

To begin at the beginning of life seems appropriate to me, even though this beginning is not my profession, but my observation during the birth of my 3rd child. My nurse coincidentally was the same nurse I had for the birth of my 2nd child, and although we work at the same hospital, we are not friends, and we are worlds apart in our professions. I am a critical care nurse, she is a labor and delivery nurse, a profession I learned early on in my training, I couldn’t stomach. We started her shift together at 7a.m. I was induced, given an epidural, and despite the fact that this was my third baby, I was, IMHO, progressing slowly. 12 hours later I was finally ready to give birth, and my nurse was ready to go home. I wasn’t her only patient, but we had a great rapport. She had a family to go home to, and a long commute, but after she finished her shift report, she came back into my room to see me through my delivery. I felt honored that this nurse would work past her 12-hour day to help me deliver my baby. That is the true meaning of celebrating what it means to live a life.

When I worked in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit of a big city hospital I worked with a very special group of nurses. One in particular stood out to me on Thanksgiving Day when I ran into her in the hallway. I knew it was her day off. I was surprised and asked her what she was doing there. I found out she was bringing a 19 year old boy and his family Thanksgiving dinner. Remember it was her day off. That was the last Thanksgiving dinner this family shared together. The 19-year-old boy died the next day. That is the true meaning of celebrating what it means to live a life.

How many souls have I helped pass quietly onto the other side, and how many did I, not so quietly, fight to keep on this side? I have watched colleagues hold hands, shed tears, give hugs, grieve with family, and continue to walk tall, smile, and stay strong, carrying heavily the burdens of others piggybacked onto their own souls. That is the true meaning of celebrating what it means to live a life.

I’ve worked in many units including ICU, CCU, PACU, MICU, E.D., Med/Surg., Research, Burn Unit, and there are many that I have never stepped foot in like the PICU, SICU, NICU, TRAUMA, CTICU, and L&D, but we nurses have more that unite us than divide us no matter where we work. One common thread that gets us all through is our indelible sense of humor. Some would say it’s a sick sense of humor, I say it’s medicine for our souls. It carries us through when any other emotion would be crippling. We know when and how to use humor to protect ourselves, but also to protect our patients and their worried families to relieve anxiety. That is the true meaning of celebrating what it means to live a life.

So in honor of nurses and all healthcare professionals everywhere who don’t have grandiose award ceremonies, but do have a good sense of humor, I have decided to give out my own Nursing Oscars called The Nightingale Awards:

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Our first category is best Costume Design. The Nominees are:

  1. Grey’s Anatomy
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  2. Koi
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  3. Dansko
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  4. Cherokee
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    And the Nightingale goes to…Grey’s Anatomy. By far the most comfortable, diverse, and true to life costume that defines healthcare wear for the modern age. And they don’t make my butt look fat.

The next category is Best Sound Mixing that will drive you crazy. The Nominees are:

  1. The IV pump
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  2. The bedside monitor
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  3. The PCA Pump
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  4. The Call Bell
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And the best sound mixing that will drive you crazy Nightingale goes to…The Bedside Monitor. The plethora of alarm sounds generated from one machine can actually be heard in your dreams, while in a coma, after a 12-hour night shift, and even when you’re on vacation…amazing!

The Next Category is Best Nurse Impersonator. The Nominees are:

  1. Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes in ‘Misery’
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  2. Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’
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  3. Ben Stiller as Gaylord Focker in ‘Meet the Parents’
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  4. Caitriona Balfe as Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser in the series ‘Outlander’
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And the winner of the Best Nurse Impersonator Nightingale goes to…Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes in ‘Misery’, because lets face it sometimes a sledgehammer does work better than 5mg of Ambien.

The Next Category is Best Original Nurse Story. The Nominees are:

  1. Big City Nurse by Albert L. Quandt
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  2. Nurses are People by Lucy Agnes Hancock
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  3. Terror Stalks the Night Nurse by Blanche Y. Mosler
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  4. Sinners in White by Mike Avallone
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The winner for Best Original Story Nightingale is…Sinners in White, by Mike Avallone. Why? Because you know who you are…

The Next Category is Best Team Member in a Supporting Role. The Nominees are:

  1. IV Team
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  2. Dietician
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  3. Pharmacist
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  4. Physical Therapist
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  5. All of the Above

And the Nightingale for The Winner for Best Team Member in a Supporting Role goes to…All of the Above…We know these supporting roles are imperative to helping us do our job, plus lets face it if they go it’s just one more thing administration will ask nursing to do!

The Next Category is People we have to deal with in the Hospital in a Leading Role. The Nominees are:

  1. That patient always on the call bell
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  2. The Supervisor who tells you you’re floating to the ED
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  3. The CEO quoted as saying, “Safe Staffing ratios is Fake News!”
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  4.  All one million doctors working with us here in the USA.
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The Nightingale for People we have to deal with in the Hospital in a Leading Role is…Yes of course it’s the one million doctors, sometimes we love them, sometimes we hate them, but we can’t take a verbal order without them! Did you really think I would pick anybody else…the patient constantly on the call bell?…yes definitely a close second!

The Next Category is Best Device in a Supporting Role. The Nominees are:

  1. The Intra Aortic Balloon Pump
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  2. CVVHD
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  3. The Ventilator
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  4. Pressors
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In the category of Best Device in a Supporting Role, the Nightingale goes to…The Ventilator! Airway is always first, and the Ventilator does a magnificent job supporting those who cannot support themselves.

The Next Category is The Most Helpful People in the Hospital in a Leading Role. The Nominees are:

  1. The family member who insists their google search diagnosis is the correct one
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  2. The Pet Therapy Dog
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  3. Nurses…all 3 million of us (I’m including all my male nurse friends here too)
    First 20 Navy Nurses Corps.
  4. The Person who steals your lunch out of the break room refrigerator
    Tired of repeatedly having her lunch stolen from the breakroom refrigerator, Debbie sprayed her bag with artificial Rotted-Lunch Scent.

The Nightingale for The Most Helpful People in the Hospital in a Leading Role proudly goes to…Yes of course all 3 million nurses! For their tireless dedication to patient care, long hours, weekend, night, and holiday work, tolerance of abusive administration, full bladders, empty stomachs, ability to drive in any weather condition, ability to work sick, ability to multitask while working sick, ability to lift weight beyond what was thought physically possible, ability to deal with completely mental people not including patients and families, and last but not least the ability to field phone calls from home from spouses who cannot find their underwear or the cat, and aren’t sure what they should cook for dinner.  God Bless Nurses!  And God Bless all the people Nurses work with!

Last but not least the Final Category is Best Picture:  You Choose…try not to mess it up!

Night Nurse Warner Brothers

Night Nurse Warner Bros.

U.S. Nurses playing cards, reading, and relaxing circa 1918. U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command Photo.

U.S. Nurses playing cards, reading, and relaxing circa 1918. U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command Photo.

Nurses showing worn out heels after a sixty day hike out of enemy territory!

Nurses showing worn out heels after a sixty day hike out of enemy territory!

4.

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Florence Nightingale attending the wounded in the Crimean War.

My heart breaks for these people.

How Nurses feel.

Oh and when it comes to making mistakes, Hollywood gets to blame theirs on someone else, we however take full credit for our mistakes…then we lose our jobs, get sued, and commit suicide!  So yes once again we are so aware, and fully cognizant of how to celebrate what it means to live a life!

Congratulations to all the Nightingale Award Winners!!

Halloween Traditions

Vintage Halloween Cover

Yikes I can’t believe it’s been two years since my last Halloween post, I feel like I’m in the confessional.  Halloween has always been my favorite time of the year.  Maybe because I’m a fall baby, or love dressing up, or perhaps it could be all that great free candy, but no matter what, I always feel so nostalgic during this time of the year.  When I was younger I used to make Halloween costumes with my best friend and we’d go around the neighborhood or to parties always trying to out do our previous costume.  My mom always made a huge pot of meatballs and spaghetti on Halloween, and after a fun night of trick-or-treating, my six siblings and I would come inside to a warm house that smelled of tradition and family.  I relished those moments every year.

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I’m the one on the right, clearly a homemade costume!

That's me in the baseball costume with my little brother.

That’s me in the baseball costume with my little brother.

When I moved to my first apartment in New York City, one of the first parties I ever threw was a Halloween party.  It was awesome, and everyone dressed up, and spilled out into the streets in their costumes.  But after that party, Halloween seemed to go into hibernation for awhile.  I didn’t throw, or go to any parties, I didn’t dress up for years it seemed.  Was I becoming a Halloween scrooge?  I hoped not.

Walk like an Egyptian.

Walk like an Egyptian.

But like all good things that come around again, I met my husband, and we started a family.  My oldest son was born in the fall, like me, and I couldn’t wait to dress him up for his first Halloween.  Secretly, I couldn’t wait to dress up again myself, and he was just a great excuse.  We spent our first Halloween back in my old neighborhood with my parents and my family.  Halloween was back online, and that pot of meatballs and spaghetti was back on the stove…I was home again.

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My husband and I eventually moved into a house of our own, in a neighborhood with tree lined driveways, and friendly faces.  My husband and I made new friends, in particular one couple who love Halloween as much as I do. They have been inviting us to their annual Halloween party for the past three years, and dressing up has never been more fun, especially since I’ve dragged my husband into it.

80's Rock!! 2013

80’s Rock!! 2013

Meet Morticia and Gomez 2014

Meet Morticia and Gomez 2014

Richard Simmons and Olivia Newton John 2015

Richard Simmons and Olivia Newton John 2015

My mom brings her big pot of meatballs and spaghetti to my house now, and my siblings come with their children to trick-or-treat around the neighborhood with their cousins.  I only hope that when they come home from trick-or-treating, and enter their warm house, with the smells of comfort and family, they relish these moments as much as I do.

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From this years Trump Family: Wishing everyone a safe and Happy Halloween!

Donald and Melania Trump 2016

Donald and Melania Trump 2016

 

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#LogiVSS Very Short Story Challenge

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     So the other day I posted a link to Tara Lazar’s website about a very short story challenge sponsored by Logitech on my other blog.  The idea was to write a short story on twitter in 8 lines or less.  I wasn’t exactly sure how to write a story that short and have it make sense.  After a bit of research, I realized that this type of writing is a bit of an art form.  On twitter, there are so many entries where people manage to write their stories in only one line, that would be 140 characters or less for those of you unfamiliar to twitter like myself.

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     Now, considering I didn’t have a twitter account, and knew nothing about it, not only did I have to figure out how to write a story in eight lines or less, I also had to figure out how to set up a twitter account.  To my surprise it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, and after a bit of reading and a great introductory video by David A. Cox  I was on my way.  I created my twitter account using my nightingale tales blog name, and created my twitter handle (that’s lingo for my @I.D.), and successfully entered the Logitech challenge.  I even managed to write my story in 6 lines; not quite the 140 character story, but I now have something to strive for.  It’s a little addicting trying to complete a story in 140 characters.

Here is my entry.  Let me know what you think.

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The Volt

 

“Is she dead Nurse?”

I look up at them with disgust, their vulturous stares bearing down on me.

My eyelids lower, nodding once.

The room stinks of their intemperate breath as they exhale in unison.

The Volt cling their talons deep into the edge of their Chippendale perches, lying in wait as the executor readies himself beside the lukewarm carcass.

A prescient silence spreads smoothly over the committee, followed by bilious projectiles of vehement objections.

I retreat for the exit, my back aligned with the door.

I will never have to work again.

Veterans Day: A Tribute to Military Nurses

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     The last time I posted for Veterans Day, I wrote about the special relationship between the nurse and the soldier’s they care for.  But today, on this Veterans Day, I wanted to recognize all the nurses who have courageously gone to the battlefield, risked their own lives, and in some cases lost their lives.  I wanted to delve into the history of the military nurse, their duties, bravery, and unyielding dedication they show to the soldiers in their care.

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Florence Nightingale attending the wounded of the Crimean War.

     Florence Nightingale is the most famous military nurse in history.  Although not a commissioned soldier, her experiences during the Crimean War helped to pave the way, for what would be in America, The Army Nurse Corps.  Florence Nightingale’s presence during wartime led to important changes in hygiene, and sanitary conditions in the hospital wards at the front lines.  Those changes were brought back to Great Britain, and America, and had a global impact on hospital care both on the battlefield, and at home.

     Since that time women have traditionally served in times of war, but mostly in volunteer corps, not as officers.  During the Revolutionary War the Congressional resolution of July, 27, 1775 allowed one nurse for every ten patients in Continental hospitals.  Nurses were paid two dollars per month a salary that increased to eight dollars per month by 1777.  Nurses were in great demand on the battle field to care for the sick and wounded soldiers, and in 1778 George Washington ordered his commanders to hire as many nurses as possible.  Nurses traveling with the army were at risk for injury as well as disease.

The Angels of the Battlefield by William Ludwell Sheppard ushistory.org

     The Civil War brought the attention of Dorothea Dix to the forefront.  Though not a nurse herself, she was federally appointed as Superintendent of female nurses, and in charge of overseeing the entire nursing staff of the Union Army.  From 1861-1865 approximately 3300 nurses served in the Union Army for the grand salary of 12 dollars per month, and food rations.  Nurses during this time were at great risk for contracting contagious diseases, as well as the dangers of being on a battle field. Interestingly Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, served as a nurse under Dorothea Dix.

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WWI Nurse

     By 1898, under the request of the Surgeon General,  nurses were contracted for the Spanish-American War, and salaries were increased to 30 dollars per month and one food ration a day.  The Army, around this time, was more selective in the hiring of trained nurses, or graduate nurses approved by their nursing school directors.  These nurses were called contract nurses, and their training improved the quality of the military nurse.  The army later went on to establish the Army Nurse Corps in 1901 which organized nursing under the control of the army, and allotted for three-year terms.  At this time only 220 nurses were on active duty.

First 20 Navy Nurses Corps.

First 20 Navy Nurses Corps.

     In 1908 Congress established the first Navy Nurse Corps, though unofficially, nurses had been sailing on navy ships for nearly a century.

     In 1917, during WWI, nurses ranks had risen again to 12,186, and were stationed all over the world.  The Army opened its own school of nursing in 1918, but then closed it in 1931 due to budget cuts.

     In 1920 nurses in the military were given officer rank from 2nd lieutenant to major.

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     When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 the nursing corps had dwindled back down to around 7000.  But with a reserve corps already established, and active recruiting, that number quickly went back up to over 12,000 within six months.  During WWII black nurses had begun to serve in large numbers, however their units remained segregated both at home and overseas.

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Liberated Nurses Feb 12, 1945

     In 1942 66 Army Nurses serving in the Philippines, became prisoners of war to the Japanese with the fall of Corregidor.  Just prior to the fall, 21 nurses escaped and made it safely to Australia by plane and submarine. Those that remained as POW’s did so for three years before they were liberated.  All received the Bronze Star Medal and a promotion of one grade.

Flight Nurses in Training 1943

Flight Nurses in Training 1943

First Navy flight Nurses 1945

First Navy flight Nurses 1945

     In 1943 the first class of Army Nurse Corps flight nurses graduated from the School of Air Evacuation, and basic training camps were established to train nurses for their military experience.

In November  of 1943 a plane carrying 13 nurses and 17 soldiers crash landed in Albania behind Nazi enemy lines.  All members of the plane survived, and after a nine week, 800 mile  journey, managed to escape enemy lines.  This story can be found in the book Albanian Escape, written by Army Nurse Agnes Jensen.

Nurses showing worn out heels after a sixty day hike out of enemy territory!

Nurses showing worn out heels after a sixty day hike out of enemy territory!

     In 1947 Nurses were given the opportunity to take a 56 week course in anesthesiology, and a 24 week course in operating room technique and management.

     In 1950 the Korean war begins, and nurses are sent to set up hospitals, and Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (MASH)  units.

     By 1955 male nurses were authorized commission to serve in the U.S. Army Reserves for assignment to the Army Nurse Corps.

Operating Room, MASH unit Korea

Operating Room, MASH unit Korea

     1962 sees the first wave of nurses sent to Vietnam, and 1973 sees the last wave of nurses leaving Vietnam.  Nine nurses died in Vietnam during this time period.

Vietnam war memorial with nurse and wounded soldier.

Vietnam war memorial with nurse and wounded soldier.

     In October 1976 a B.S.N. was required for active duty in the Army Nurse Corps.

     1990 Nurses are deployed to support troops in Operation Dessert Shield/Dessert Storm

     September 11, 2001 America is attacked.

     2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom begins.

Flight Nurses Today

Flight Nurses Today

     Nurses on the battlefield, at the front lines, or in route to do their duties put their lives on the line, and as a result over 200 nurses have died in the line of duty.  The nurses presence during combat is indispensable.  Nurse soldiers, like all soldiers, sacrifice their time, their families, and sometimes their lives to protect the soldiers protecting our freedom.  Nurses on the battlefield have always, and will continue to be a voluntary job.  Nurses are not part of the draft, though shortly before the end of WWII there was a bill in congress to have nurses as part of the draft, but at the end of the war it was determined that enough nurses had volunteered that a draft was unnecessary for them.   Military nurses should be proud of their enduring history.  Great women bravely face the darkness of war, carrying with them only their knowledge, skills, and compassion, guided by the light from Florence Nightingale’s lantern.  That light continues to shine within the brave men and women of todays modern-day Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Nurse Corps.

     I am proud to be a nurse.  I am grateful to all the nurses before me who had the courage to face danger, provide excellent nursing care to our wounded soldiers, and protect the freedoms we hold so dear.  I wish all the military nurse corps a peaceful Veterans Day, and a sincere thank-you from this civilian nurse.  You are all truly special for what you do.  And of course to ALL the Veterans and Active Duty Soldiers a HUGE Thank-you.

God Bless You All!

Happy Halloween!!

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When I was a kid the next best thing to getting free candy on Halloween, was planning my Halloween costume.  I loved dressing up.  It didn’t matter to me if my costume was store-bought or handmade; although I usually preferred to make my own.

In all the years of my youth, and into adulthood, I loved to imagine what or who I might be for Halloween.  But not once in all those years of planning did I ever think hmmmm… I think I want to be a slutty kitty for Halloween next year, or Nancy the Nasty Night Nurse, or perhaps Dorothy does Dallas.

What has happened to the innocence of Halloween?

You might remember my dilemma last year when my family was invited to a Halloween party and we wanted to go as The Wizard of Oz characters.  My daughter refused to be Dorothy, so I said I would.    Upon entering my big named costume store I found a somewhere over the rainbow wall of costume pictures and excitedly started my scan for blue gingham, ruby slippers, and a short titled costume named “Dorothy”, Instead I found a hybrid creation of Biergarten madam meets Country Ho, by the name of  “Kansas Cutie” mocking me from above.

Not Me

Not Me

I must have stared at that wall for 15 solid minutes thinking this must be some kind of mistake, when finally a pimply teenaged kid came up to me and said, “Do you need help ma’am?”  So I say to the kid, “I’m looking for the ‘regular’ Dorothy costume”, but he’s quick to tell me I’m out of luck; they are only selling the “Kansas Cutie”.  The fact that he called me ma’am should have been his first clue I wasn’t really the Kansas Cutie type, but I politely explained to him I was going to a family party, and didn’t think showing my ass every time I bent over to pick up one of my three children would be appropriate for this type of event.  His pimples burned red, as he tried to mumble out a few other suggestions, to which I just shook my head and walked away.

Almost every ladies costume on that wall of shame was the tramped up version of just about any costume you could possibly imagine: Temptress the tin (man), Robin check out my hood, Cleo-pat-my-ass-ra, Poca-my-hontas, Snow Whore and the Seven S.T.D.’s, Tickle-my Elmo, Good Cop/Bad Cop, Naughty Night Nurse, Horny Potter, Little Red Riding Ho, Fire pole Floozy, Wet for you Nemo, S&M Sailor, Astro-naughty, Hot Cross Buns, Alice in Wonderlust, and  Pirates booty…It was a Halloween porn casting call just waiting for us ladies to audition.

But if sexy ain’t your thang, then what’s left?  Why the evil, green-eyed, warted nosed, cackling, PMS’ing wicked bitch of the west, that’s what’s left.  Because as I’ve come to learn, ladies costumes are the dichotomy of who we are right?  Sexy whore or evil witch; at least that’s the message I’m receiving.

Then just when I didn’t think it could get any worse I saw this…

Sexy Hazmat Nurse

Sexy Hazmat Nurse. With all that skin showing she’s just asking for it…Ebola that is!

Who wouldn't want to be quarantined with someone wearing that??!!

Who wouldn’t want to be quarantined with someone wearing that??!!

Long pause…………………………….still taking it all in………………………BIGSIGH………………..

WTF???!!

Have we completely gone mad?   Lost our moral compass?  Forgot about family values?  We’re living in a Halloween version of Sodom and Gomorrah…if only there was just one righteous costume…just one!

Family values?  Sure they still exist.  I just had to dig a little bit deep…into my childhood.  Then it dawned on me… family values…Addams Family…Addams Family Values!!!  And Voila!

Meet Morticia and Gomez

Meet Morticia and Gomez

I love Halloween, and no sexy hazmat suit, or Kansas Cutie is going to break my spirit and keep me from finding a costume I can actually wear in front of my children. I’m thankful I still have a cast of characters from my past to inspire me, and help keep the innocence in Halloween.

A most Happy Halloween to all the ghosts, ghouls, and goblins haunting here today!!

And to all you Sexy, Slutty Mamas, and Hormone Laden Witches a Happy Halloween to you too!!

80's Rock!!

Last year’s costume       80’s Rock!!

A “Dirty Diana” I am not, I prefer to think of myself …”Like a Virgin…”.

Trick or Treat
smell my feet
Give me something good to eat
If you don’t
I don’t care
I’ll pull down your underwear!!

The Three of Hearts

3 heartsI have this crazy theory that there are three types of love you must experience in your life before you can truly understand what love is: Crazy, Hot Love, Lingering too Long Love, and Love at Last. Which order they happen in, is completely random. What we learn from each one will either make us stronger, or devastate us completely. How do I know? Well like I said, this is my crazy theory; it’s not only what I’ve seen over and over again with my friends and family, it’s also what I’ve experienced throughout my own life.

When I was twenty I fell head over heels for a cute college guy who I met at a night club. I was living in The Bronx, working at my first job, and never felt more alive. When cupid struck, I had no idea what I was in for. I had had relationships in high school, but nothing had prepared me for what I was about to experience. I jumped in head first. All I wanted was to spend every waking moment with this guy.

I abandoned myself, my friends, and my interests. He became my only interest. There was no dullness, just wild up’s, and debilitating downs. If you could graph this type of love it would be a sharp spike up followed by a sharp spike down, over and over again. When it finally came to an end, his decision of course, I felt as if cupid had taken that arrow, stabbed it into my heart, twisted it around good and hard, then yanked it out, leaving behind a jagged edged hole that I thought would never heal. But alas ‘tis true, time does heal all wounds, and after a long year recuperating at my parents home, it healed mine.

My heart after this relationship.

My heart after this relationship.

Too many drinks, and too many bad decisions later, I decided to go traveling abroad. When I came home I felt refreshed, open minded, and alive. I decided to keep that open mind when it came to dating. I met my second big mistake at a chance meeting in my local pub. (Seeing a pattern here? Nightclubs, bars, alcohol, poor judgment…) Though the man I met there seemed nice on the surface, quietly, in the back of my mind, a little voice was sending me distress signals, “S.O.S.” Though seemingly subtle at the time, hubris and denial brushed it away. I was ‘together’ now; I was ‘open minded’ now…

So, I accepted his invitation on a date, and five years later found myself emotionally disheveled, needy, and dependent. It was as if I had slowly, been turned inside out. My reflection in the mirror was becoming transparent. I knew if I didn’t leave I would wither away. It was an exit I initiated, plotted and escaped through. It was I who had lingered too long in a relationship that was going nowhere. On the graph of love, this type looks like a mediocre spike, followed by a long never ending flat line.

Upside down, confused, and disheartened

Upside down, confused, and disheartened

So who comes along after your hearts been impaled, and then rendered bitter? Why true love of course! It does seem the kind that sneaks up on you when you least expect it, at least, that’s the way it happened to me. Just when I had resolved myself to be ‘cool, single’ Aunt Jean, and pursue multiple degrees back at school, I was bitten by the bug under the most unusual of circumstances. I had agreed to go to a surprise birthday party with my sister-in-law. (note: Not a bar) I didn’t even know the person who’s birthday it was. I was just helping my sister-in-law out of an extended five month postnatal confinement. Who would have guessed that my husband to be, was the first person she introduced me to at the party.

Ten years, three kids, and two houses later, we are still together, still happy, and yes, still in love. Not crazy, can’t keep your hands off each other kind of love, that produced too many children, but the warm simmer kind of love: dependable, reliable, and comfortable. True love takes work, but it’s the give and take kind. This love graph looks like a sharp spike, followed by the gentle and not so gentle curves like waves in the ocean that wax and wane until with any luck ‘death do you part.’

True Love!!!

True Love!!!

So here is to true love, and the crazy, wonderful ride it takes to get there!

Happy Valentines Day

Post by Jean James courtesy of:   http://www.inthepowderroom.com

Back To School

photo by JeanJames

photo by JeanJames

I’m done…I give up…I surrender!  Summer bliss has turned into a summer blister under my thinly veiled patience and as the cool September air ekes out the summer warmth, so too does it eke out mine.  There’s a reason children need school, and it isn’t for the education.

What started out as a nostalgic, idealistic summer break has morphed into a full blown sibling war zone.  Where peace talks have failed, battles have begun.  Studies have shown that people, like rats, when forced into close proximity of one another show hostile behavior.  Well my little rats are gnawing at each other all day long, which in turn is gnawing on my nerves.  Battles here start first thing in the morning.  The verbal mortars drop before I’m half way through my first cup of coffee.

“Mom!!  He stuck his tongue out at me!”

“Well that’s because she called me a booger brain!”

“No I didn’t”…

”Yes you did!”

In unison:  “Mom!!…”

I’m barely awake and my blood is boiling hotter than my coffee, and I start screaming like a lunatic threatening to lock them all in their rooms for the day like the wicked witch from Rapunzel.  I wonder what happened to my sweet kids who used to be so nice to each other.

They’ve taken to fighting over just about everything:  who feeds the fish, who’s turn it is to watch TV, who scared the other person, who’s looking at who funny, who’s doing what better, and on and on and on; all day, every day.  And it’s not just verbal.  Perhaps enrolling them in martial arts was not such a good idea after all.  When lines in the sand are drawn, something, or someone breaks, and in this case it was my daughter’s collar bone; another causualty of war.

It’s to the point that I actually look forward to going to work.  My twelve hour night shift looking after critically ill patients is a cake walk compared to my day shift.  At least my patients are sedated and on ventilators, disabling them from irritating chatter; the quiet is refreshing. Not even a cardiac arrest can rattle my bones like three angry children.

Now, I’m no stranger to sibling rivalry.  I’m one of seven, so I get not liking your brother or sister for awhile, but I never remembered running the marathon of misery with any of them.  Maybe it was just the way my parents used to handle it: a warning look here, a whack of the belt there, or getting kicked outside for the whole day, allowed in only for meals and bathroom breaks. Nowadays, if I try any of those tactics child services is knocking on my front door.

So I take the diplomatic, peace talks approach, “let’s talk about it, what’s bothering you?” line of crap.  Then a deluge of he said she said comes pouring out, and I feel like a Hurricane Katrina victim running for my life after the levee breaks.  Where are the sandbags?  Where’s the National Guard?  I need help!  It’s her against him, and them against me, and I’m secretly starting to fear for my sanity.

I guess being cooped up together for the summer is just too much ‘in your face time.’  I’m sure it could drive anyone mad, no matter what your age.  But when you’re little and lack the interpersonal skills of debate, you’re reduced to calling each other ‘booger brains’, all day, every day, and then whining to mom each time a fragile ego is bruised.

If there’s any glimmer of hope for me it comes on the first Wednesday each year after Labor Day. Except this year, my school district decided we needed one extra week of hell just to make sure our sensitive sides were ready to let go and send our precious angels back to school.

So when I see those commercials of parents dancing gleefully down the aisles, buying school supplies for their children, I smile to myself, I get it.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I’ll miss those little booger brains when they’re gone…

NOT!!!

Below is a video I think most mom’s (with a good sense of humor) can relate to.  That will be me doing the dance of joy and waving bye-bye as that big yellow bus drives off and I can go home and finally finish that cup of coffee in peace!