Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I'm back at work.  Life goes on.  Holidays are nice because I can forget my real life.  My girlfriend with cancer came in today for an x-ray.  She looks frail and wobbly;  she moves slowly and needs help to stand up.  She is forty-eight years old. 

I had a twenty year old patient today.  She has osteosarcoma that has spread to her brain and lungs.  Her baby was delivered by C-section at 25 weeks this past summer so that she could begin treatment.  She's dying and her baby remains in NICU.

Another patient told me today that her chemo has stopped working.  She sold her condo and is planning on traveling, first class, five star.

It's too much sometimes.  I think that's why I liked the beach so much in England.  It took my mind off life, although not really.  I thought about death as I wandered up and down this beach.  Thought about our souls, our connections to each other, to the Universe. 

Mostly I'm sad because my friend is dying and I don't want to burden her with my sadness. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

I survived my first overseas trip by myself.  In fact I not only survived, I enjoyed myself which was a pleasant surprise.  I visited my Auntie Fran, who is now as frail as my mum, and we had lots of time to visit and reminisce.   I survived both her cooking and her driving.  I spent time in one of my favorite towns, Rye, pictured above.

We made it to the Fire Hills and I learned how prickly gorse is. 

I found so many heart shaped stones on the beach I had to start taking photos of them as I couldn't have fit them all in my luggage.  It's amazing what you find when you take the time to pay attention.

I spent a lot of time on Winchelsea Beach, wandering, looking at stones and thinking about life and death.

More time spent in Rye.

And Winchelsea Beach again, looking toward the Fire Hills.  It was a good trip for me, a boost to my self confidence and a chance to miss and appreciate the big guy. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

This is one of my favorite photos.  My mother has the straw hat on, my Auntie Fran is in the middle and my aunt's best friend Ann has the blue hat on.  I'm leaving tomorrow evening to visit my aunt in England.  I miss mum and so does Auntie Fran.  My visit will be a chance for both of us to remember mum. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I learn and forget and learn and forget.  Sometimes I remember, but not often.  Shit happens.  The world is filled with suffering.  I can't stop the suffering.  I seek equanimity.  That's what I'm striving for and falling short of.  But I'm trying. 

Breathe in, breathe out. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Brief for the Defense

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered caf├ęs and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

I think this poem came from Elizabeth's page.  It's how I'm feeling.  There is sorrow everywhere and still I need to enjoy my life.  The sorrow feels too heavy though.  My friend is dying.  I lay in bed last night wondering what is the point of life.  We're born, we live, we suffer, we die.  And in between all of that we love.  I believe that's the point of life, or at least I think I believe that.  I love my friend and still she will die.  She loves her children, her husband, her life and still she will die. 

I know that we all die.  I'm a nurse.  I have taken care of dying patients all of my working life but this is different.  She is not my patient, she is my friend.  One day she will stop breathing.  She will be gone.  Her children will grow up and get married and have their own children and she will be gone from their lives.  Our lives will continue on.  Life doesn't stop for those who are dying.  They take their last breath and life continues on. 

Today we had a young woman, only twenty-one, with cancer and a brand new baby that had to be delivered weeks early so that she could receive treatment.  Last week we had a six year old, the granddaughter of a co-worker, with an inoperable brain tumor.  It's been too much lately.  Do we live only to die?  What is the point? 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Things I'm thankful for today.
I got to swim in this lake while on holidays. 
It's Friday.
None of my children were ever diagnosed at age six with a brain tumor.  (That girl broke my heart this week;  her parents and grandma too.)
Got to see patients this week that I hadn't seen in awhile and they're still alive and doing well.
Sold my first photo.
Mostly I'm just thankful that this week is over.  The six year old broke my heart.  We called a code this morning because a patient had an allergic reaction.  I worked with the world's most oblivious, disorganized, just plain mean nurse.  And I'm leaving in two weeks for England to visit my elderly aunt which sounds like a good thing until I realized I've been feeling down because this is the first time I've ever gone to England without my mum and I fucking miss her still.