Wednesday, March 31, 2021

I went for a good long walk on Saturday and Sunday with the dogs at the dog park.  The weather was mild and we were due for a storm that hit late Sunday night.  The photos probably look dull and unispiring but to me they look like spring in Alberta.  

This photo is of the approaching storm front on Sunday afternoon.  Lots of wind, some rain, some snow and some thunder.  Fortunately none of our roof shingles blew off this time.  The weather is getting weirder, or at least weirder than I've seen in my lifetime.

We took the little guy to visit his father on Saturday at a mall.  My son was acting very strangely.  Conversations that went round in circles, paranoia, agitation and a lot of anger.  We finally left after an hour because my son wouldn't keep his mask on and kept arguing about it.  I didn't get angry in respone, I stayed calm and we just packed up and left.  I did cry in the car though.  He's my son and he needs help but I can't give it to him.  

The little guy is with us this week as his mom works evening shifts this week.  He's not feeling great, a runny nose, cough and fatigue.  Lots of cuddles and his bottle.  He's stressed but I'm thinking it's just because he's not feeling great.  He follows his poppa around like a puppy and doesn't want to let him out of his sight.  The big guy smokes in the garage and my grandson locked the mudroom door on him yesterday morning.  There was a lot of banging and crying before I made it downstairs and unlocked the door.  There is a key hanging in the mudroom now, just in case.

I'm off for five days which is heavenly.  The weather is even warming up so we'll get outside more.  Yesterday morning with the windchill it was -18C.  Tomorrow it's supposed to be 16C.  

I'm tired but not depressed which is nice.  I keep going, one foot in front of the other and sometimes I cry but mostly I'm ok.  

Last fall I collected acorns and stored them in my fridge over the winter.  Much to my surprise and delight, they survived and I am now growing oak trees as well as tomato plants on my kitchen counter.  I'm going to plant these future oak trees out of the way at the dog park and in one hundred years there will be some lovely oak trees shading the pathways.  The trees aren't for me, they're for my great grandchildren.

I can't remember where I saw this but it fit and makes me smile.  I always joke with patients that I'm losing my marbles, that there is a small hole in the bottom of my marble bag and that if I shake my head, I can hear the last two marbles rattling around inside my head.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

It's cold and cloudy this morning and we had a dusting of snow last night.  Springtime in Alberta.  On the weekend it was warm and sunny and now, not so much.

The cat is following the sun around the house again.

I've been collecting data at work to present to our manager as an argument for management to add another full time nurse to our complement.  When I started working in DI ten years ago we had four nurses on the floor and did approximately forty CT IVs a day, plus another ten in MRI.  We had no recoveries and did fewer central lines.  Today we still have four nurses but CT puts through sixty patients on average each day, we do more central lines, usually two recoveries and still do the difficult IV starts for MRI as well as accessing their central lines.  Our workload has exploded, so, data.  It's more difficult to argue with data.

The other day at work I typed into google, why am I so angry all the time?  I'm not nearly as angry as I used to be when I was younger but I still struggle with my anger.  Women aren't supposed to get angry or at the very least, aren't supposed to express their anger.  Angry women are called bitches, harpies, witches and other less pleasant names.  Anger isn't always a bad thing though.  There are reasons to get angry such as discrimination, racism, sexism.  But there are other reasons too, feeling unappreciated, feeling attacked or unsafe, feeling disrespected, feeling powerless which I'm sure most women and some men have felt at some point in their lives.  

At work I often feel disrespected by my employer who not only doesn't understand my job but also doesn't seem to care.  I am completely replaceable, except my patients don't think that and for that I am thankful.  I am asked to do more than is humanly possible sometimes.  I am asked to put patient safety second so that we can increase our numbers and make our director look good.  It's not about good patient care, it's about numbers.  Except people aren't numbers, they're people.

Last week I had a twenty-nine year old young man with metastatic colon cancer which has spread to his liver and lungs.  He has an eighteen month old son at home and he wants to watch him grow up.  He's not a number.

Yesterday I had an indigenous woman, ten years younger than me, with obvious metastatic colon cancer.  Her abdomen was huge, she looked pregnant, because her liver was filled with tumors.  I'm guessing her signs and symptoms were brushed off as women's complaints and/or she didn't have good access to health care because she's indigenous.  She won't live long, her cancer is advanced.  She has six grandchildren.  She isn't a number.

Yesterday I listened to a man whose wife has breast cancer.  He's frustrated with how slowly things go and wants to know why.  Why does his wife have to wait so long in the waiting room for her scan?  Why do they ask patient's names and birthdates so often?  Why can't things be more efficient?  What he was really saying is, "I'm terrified my wife will die?  What will I do without her?"  So I listened to him.

It's goes on and on.  My patients are people and they all have stories and often they need to tell their stories.  A couple of weeks ago I listened to a man for ten minutes while he told me his cancer diagnosis story.  That's not in my job description but it is.  It's a part of him and he needs to tell it so that he can figure out how to wrap his head around it.  

I remember when I had my kids, telling my birth stories to my girlfriends.  We all did it.  I didn't know then that's how we process things.  For years I had to tell Katie's story because I did not know how to process that pain.  I don't have to tell her story so often now, the grief has worn down and although I still carry it with me, it doesn't break me anymore.  But stories matter, patients matter and time spent with patients matters because we are humans giving care to other humans.  My patients are all carrying grief around with them, so are their families and their friends.  We are not just starting IVs, we are dealing with grief in it's many forms.

So, am I angry.  Fuck yes I'm angry.  I'm angry that the goverment of Alberta disrespects me and my work.  I'm angry that my employer disrespects my work and I'm angry that my patients are treated like numbers on a spreadsheet. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

The little guy was with all last week.  Work was brutally busy, except for Thursday which was a maintenance day for one of the CT scanners.  

We were both off yesterday so after we picked up the little guy from daycare, we walked straight to the park.  He had a good time.

I took the dogs for a walk this morning but it's still icy and snowy in the trees.  The dogs don't care but I'm terrified of slipping and falling now.  My chin's still numb from my fall in December.  

Out of the trees, the park is ok.  Muddy but not really slippery which I can cope with.  

I'm collecting data about our numbers at work compared to staffing levels.  Our workload has gone up significantly without a corresponding increase in staffing levels so, data.  

My son and his wife showed up for a visit last weekend with the little guy.  It didn't last long as the little guy had been up for two hours in the middle of the night, not really sure why, and he was a little cranky and just wanted his poppa.  Wasn't a great visit and my son cut it short. 

So my son said he left his wife and then they show up together and now her facebook page says they're divorced so I don't know what the hell is going on.  To be honest I don't care, the little guy is still our primary focus, keeping him safe and his life predictable.  We have him next week as well.

I made progress in dealing with my anger and irritation with my coworker that drives me insane.  Last weekend I was listening to a radio program about how covid and the lockdown is messing with our brains.  People, a lot of people, are having a hard time, not just me.  Apparently some people just check out or don't pay attention to what's going on around them.  I've never really been able to do that but my coworker is a rock star at checking out.  Twice in the last week she either lost paperwork for a patient or didn't finish up with the patient, didn't access their port before taking the papers to CT.  

I told her what happened, without anger, and asked her to be careful.  She denied responsibility for either inicident, even though it was her.  She even said it was other coworkers.  She didn't own it.  We all make mistakes but she doesn't own her mistakes so never learns from her mistakes.  I get she's stressed and apparently from the way she normally behaves, she's been under a lot of stress for the past ten years that I've known her:)  I left it and told my manager what was going on and asked my manager to talk to her and then let it go.

One of my other coworkers is Chinese and said to me the other morning, "I'm so glad you're not racist."  I said, "Well, I'm glad too.  And thank you."  Apparently the coworker I talked about above harrasses her about taking breaks.  At first I thought, no it's not racist, our coworker is just an idiot but who knows?  Maybe it is racism.  I've never lived in any other body than this one so I can't say.  

So I'm trying to mind my own business which reduces my mental stress but the physical stress of running my ass off at work is tough.  I almost cried the other day because I had so many people waiting for IVs and then three tough IVs back to back which can take up to an hour to deal with.  

And now it's the weekend.  Laundry and cleaning.  I hate cleaning.  I hate a dirty house more than I hate cleaning though but I hate cleaning.  I hate cleaning toilets the most.  

A friend of mine at work sent me this morning.  He knows my sense of humor very well.

Best of all, I haven't fallen down the rabbit hole of depression.  I survived the winter of covid!

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Another day off which is lovely.  My grandson who isn't a baby and also isn't a big boy yet, lying in his poppa's arms, safe and content with his purple blankie and his new Elmo.  Last night he slept for eight hours, in a row.  Heaven for nana.

Work is busy, as usual.  We have a new doc which is interesting and she wants to learn interventionals.  She's loud and laughs and seems quite easy going, maybe a bit of a cowboy.  I like her so far.  We did two central lines together, both young men with crappy cancers.  

One of the guys had multiple myeloma and it has left him unable to walk.  He's 6'2" and 280 lbs, not a little guy.  I'm worried about him because he's a big guy and he's crawling on his hands and knees at home and sitting on his bum and pulling himself up the stairs backwards.  I gave him some information about adaptive stuff that he can borrow for home that will make life easier for him.  He said the doctor told him he would get five years out of his stem cell transplant and he seemed okay with that.  I wonder if he thinks he can just get another transplant in five years, not really, or maybe he's okay with only five more years of life.  I didn't ask.  He either has acceptance or hope and both are good to have.  His mom is a mess though and she broke my heart a little.  

It snowed the last couple of days but has mostly melted and then it got really cold again last night, so spring in Alberta.  On the weekend it's supposed to be 11C which will be wonderful.

I'm hanging in there okay mentally which is something of a miracle.  I'm getting better at not doing too much on my days off and being okay with that.  I don't always sleep well and try not to stress about that because there is always tomorrow night.  I'm letting roomba vacuum most of the time which helps and I'm learning to ignore dog footprints on the floor, kind of.

Next week the big guy and I will both qualify for the AstraZenica vaccine, not because of where we work but because of our age.  Nothing like being kicked to the curb by your employer.  I'm a very loyal person but they've burned through all of my good will.  

My son texted me to say he's left his wife again and now he's gone missing.  In the wind as the cop shows always say.  I did say a prayer for him last night.  I always hope he'll get sober, turn his life around, be there for his son.  I no longer see him as the child I once knew.  He is a man I don't know or trust which breaks my heart still.  

Things I'm thankful for today.

My grandson, his smiles and laughter and his curiosity.  This morning he dragged around his potty and wanted to sit on it more than have a shower with his poppa;  so he sat naked on his potty in the bathroom while poppa showered by himself.

My hubby who accepts me as I am, my strengths and my flaws.  And he's an amazing hugger.

A solid roof over our heads, actually, not quite solid.  Some of the shingles were ripped off in a windstorm in January but they'll be fixed soon.

Spring, birds, sunshine, tomato plants pushing through the soil as they sit under the grow light on my kitchen counter.

A quilt to bind for a wonderful little girl.

What are you thankful for today?