April 9, 2006
Sleepless in Columbus
At 11:30 p.m., I thought I was so tired I’d fall asleep before I could turn on the little fan beside my bed.
By 12:30 a.m., there are so many thoughts racing around in my head that they seem to light up the room!
Not surprising, because three nights a week I work all night at the nursing home. My body is perpetually tired and my mind is always on guard to stay awake. One would think I’d have a nice slow paced nursing job at last, but it’s unbelievable how extremely busy a nurse can be all night long. That’s one of my worries. There’s more responsibilities there than one nurse should ever be burdened with, but administration thinks it’s just a matter of organization – or disorganization - as is hinted at.
I have 40 patients and 30 assisted living patients on three wings that I run back and forth from as I pass meds, take vitals, change dressings, monitor feeding tubes, hang IV’s, and monitor conditions. I answer the phones, deal with irate families, take doctors orders and sign for the pharmacy delivery of meds. I enter nurses’ notes into the computer, get supplies from central supply and monitor the aides (who do not take the vital signs). If someone calls off, it’s my job to find a replacement. If a patient goes bad, it’s my responsibility to decide what to do about it. If someone dies, it’s my duty to call the family, the doctor and the mortuary. If we get an admission, I do all the assessment and admission papers. On the day shift, at least four nurses do admissions and three nurses work the halls.
The unit coordinator is trying to get administration to put additional nurses (or nurse) on nights. She asked me to write out the details of what I do. Maybe I’ll just cut and paste that paragraph on a note to her…
For instance, last week as I was making rounds at 4 a.m. and shining my flashlight on each patient, I noticed one didn’t look right. To make a long story short, she was having a diabetic reaction (low blood sugar) and was non-responsive. I almost hadn’t done that walk because I’d gotten a new admission and had been behind all night. (I don’t think other nurses take time to make rounds. I told Jim it was that angel on my shoulder again.) I called the doctor and gave a glycogen shot and brought her out of it. I’d rather have called 911 and sent her to the ER for that, but the doctor thought “we” could handle it there. Yea, he only had to say three words, “give the shot.”
Then there’s my book – still unpublished! I’m sure everyone thinks I forgot to send them a copy last Christmas (2005). Here it is the middle of April (2006) and I’m still wrestling with proper wording, long sentences, useless commas and those terrible semi-colons!
Here’s one for you. What’s the verb to use in this sentence? “The time-worn diary and its sister memoirs is/are the foundation for Linda’s book…Even the editors can’t agree!
Of course every sunrise brings the anticipation that Jim may get a call from one of his many job interviews! Should he just give up trying to obtain a permanent job with good benefits, take the retirement from Ohio and work part-time at the grocery store? Or, will the state job come through that he interviewed for last week. That meeting seemed to go so well! Today we drove over to Marysville where that job would be located. We looked at housing options? Should we rent an apartment again? Find a piece of property and try to build a little home? Rent a house in the country? Build a cabin in the woods? Stay where we are and travel one hour each way?
Jim and I often discuss Billy and Katy in the process of buying their first home. How exciting! I miss being there and being involved! I’d love to say, “Here, take this and go pick out some new furniture!” I’d never tell them this, but I divulged to Jim tonight that if Katy and Billy ever have my grandchild, I’d want to move to Portland.
I think Jim almost fell out of his chair (but he quickly checked himself). So, when Billy or Katy reads this blog, maybe they will fall off their chair – but they didn’t hear me say that anyway. The truth is, at last word, neither of my boys were opting for kids. But the real truth is, who knows about mother nature and human minds.
Actually, I surprised myself when I said that. But suddenly sitting there eating supper with Jim and quietly discussing our life and its options, that thought just seemed so comforting and the right thing to do!
“Well, I’m up to it,” Jim said.
I thought he was talking about the new job.
“We could sell most of our furniture and make the trip in sections.”
Opps, he wasn’t talking about the new job.
“I could get a nursing license in several states and we could stop and let me work along the way to pay for the move,” I countered.
“Just so we get a bed the same size as the one we have. Sheba and the cat would have a fit if we got a smaller bed,” Jim commented.
So, with those and other disquieting ideas and worries as I lay sleepless, I slipped out of bed. Trying not to disturb Samantha curled up between us, I slid to the foot of the bed so as not to disturb Sheba sleeping on her back on the floor beside the bed. Clicking the computer on and snapping open a diet Dr. Pepper, I sat down to decide if I’d surf the net or write on my blog at 1 a.m. in the morning.
Wow! How could I forget another “biggie”? My mom fell and broke her shoulder last week and is in a nursing home for a while! She’s 78 years old.
That information from a brother I haven’t talked to in over a year! Not that we don’t get along. Actually, our reunions are joyous occasions! But, they all live in Connecticut and everybody is busy. Mom is always on the go. And of course, we haven’t always been a ‘family’.
I got an email from my brother Billy “Bones”. You’ll read about him and the others in my book. I didn’t know he had my email address. My Christmas card, I guess. I always load the Christmas cards with all the information I can gather. He indicated that mom fell and was in the hospital. I emailed back with my phone number. (I didn’t have his.) Today he called and left a message while I was sleeping and then another message while Jim and I were out.
So, I called the number on the caller ID and we chatted longer than we’ve ever talked in our lifetime. (Reunions aren’t conducive to long discussions.) He updated me on my brothers and sister there. The nieces and nephews are growing and grown. They’re out on their own and having kids and going to college. …And, mom is really in a nursing home!
It’s the point in my life where I have to question my responsibility or lack of it with my mom. I surely don’t want another situation like I had with grandma where taking care of her took over my life. Actually, I found her (my mom) when she was 62 years old. How much responsibility should I feel? How much love should I feel? Ouch. That’s a question that could keep one awake at night!
Back to my book. We’re at the point where they made up a “Press Release”. My contract says they will send this out to 100 news sources. They sent a press release for me to approve. When I read it, I was HOT! It was inaccurate! It was terribly written! It wasn’t even in chronological order (Katy). I read the first sentence and blew up!
“In a cold attic, among forgotten relics and scurrying mice, a lonely girl poured her heart into the pages of a worn red diary.” (There were no relics. The diary was new at the time! I was not lonely! I was in pain!)
To make it worse, the instructions order me NOT to make any changes unless the title of my book or name is spelled wrong. I sat down and wrote them a letter that starts like this.
“It must be your job to write such a terrible press release that no one will request a book review. It will pique the interest of only those editors who will laugh at the poorly written, grammatically incorrect press release that flounders around so much one wonders if it’s really about a book at all!” (Another long sentence, but maybe they will get the point.)
I listed 14 mistakes I found in the one-page release! I ended by saying that I was going to rewrite it and if they rejected it, I would spend a good portion of my book signings, web sites and PR endeavors redirecting fellow writers to another publisher!
But I’m not sending the letter until they’ve finished with the 95 corrections I sent them last week.
Well, I’m still not sleepy at 2 a.m. Sheba is beside my chair dreaming of that rabbit again. (She always gets up when she hears the snap of the pop can. She knows that means I’m up for awhile.) Jim may be sleeping or he might be lying there wide-awake, as he often is these days.
He really doesn’t deserve this. He’s so good to me. (Even if he is forgetful at times.) My schedule sometimes gets us both confused. The other day he had an interview at 10 a.m. and I had an appointment at the college about my nursing program at 11 a.m. He forgot I had the appointment and took my car to his appointment. And, he didn’t kiss me goodbye when he left because he thought I was “work sleeping” which means “don’t wake me up for goodbye kisses or phone calls.”
So, ok. I got up and took his car. A tire was almost flat. The oil light came on every time I put my foot on the brake and the trunk was full of smelly trash. My cell phone, sunglasses and windy-day hair things were in my car.
When we were reunited in the afternoon, he started to apologize for forgetting that I had an appointment. I quickly pointed out that he had five things to aplolgize for - including not kissing me goodbye. But, I said I’d forgive all but the trash. Then I noticed that he had this look that said. "there's more." He had backed into a construction can and messed up the bumper of my car. He felt so badly (and it wasn’t his fault) that I didn’t get mad or cry. (I did pout a little.) Sometimes you just have to sing the words...."Some days are golden, some days are stone."
Back to, “He's so good to me.” When I get up from sleeping too long, he knows my back is hurting and spasms so badly, I can hardly move. He has the heating pad turned on and warm in the living room chair and runs to get my robe and help me into it. He opens the morning pop can and helps me ease into the chair where, after about a half hour of the heating pad, I’ll be able to start moving around by myself.
We had a bad encounter with Sheba this week. I took her out for a potty run and two big dogs attacked her. This lady upstairs always walks her big pincher-type dogs at the same time and she cannot control them. I saw her coming back in and tried to grab Sheba, but she kept walking toward us (she was late for work, she said) until her dogs ran up to Sheba. One grabbed Sheba’s neck and one grabbed her back end they all started a big fight.
They finally backed away when I hollered like a war Indian! I ran at them screaming although I was wearing slippers and couldn’t kick them. I believe Sheba gave in although that is not her style. Both of us women were in tears before it was over! Sheba was whimpering and holding her back leg up. The other lady said she’d pay for any vet needs and gave me her apartment number, but I was too upset to remember it! I told her that her dogs had hurt my dog and I ran inside with Sheba.
Jim was gone, so Sheba and I sat on the couch, both of us whimpering! Ching-Ching kept licking Sheba and alternatingly trying to get out the door (to get those dogs, I think.)
Well, Sheba got over it quicker than I did. Jim checked her out when he got home and we couldn’t find anything but a slight tender spot in her back leg. The lady and her husband came to our apartment that night to ask about Sheba and apologize. (I told her Sheba was still in pain! Jim suggested that she not try to walk both dogs.)
Today I’ve been searching the web for information on how to break up dogfights and how to best avoid it happening again. There’s good information out there. (Grab the back legs and pull and twist.) But, I’ll leave that for those who need to know.
Now it’s 3 a.m. and Jim just walked by. He’s awake too.
I still want to write a story about work, but this is already so long I’m sure nobody will read to the end.
If so, feel free to leave me a comment so I can know that it works!
Take Care on the Journey,
Posted by Linda J. Meikle (Former Linda Cash)