Sunday, September 27, 2015

Autumnal Aquanet

There is no messing with Mother Nature.

After what has felt like a ridiculously short summer, autumn has arrived.
The air is beginning to have a twinge of coolness in its breeze.
Pots of chili are popping up on Facebook and Instagram.
Catalogs feed our dreams of cozy, cushy sweaters.
Birds are beginning their migrations.
Summer flowers are bursting forth with their final bright blooms as reds and rusts and yellows begin to dominate the autumn palate.

Oh wait.
I mean the Summer Hairnets are bursting forth their final bright blooms...
It is a little known fashion rule. No red Nets after Labor Day.

And are slowly going to seed....
A rare Heirloom Black-Eyed Suzanne Net. Remarkable staying power. This one has been waving for 4 weeks solid. Look out when it finally lets go.

Wave on little Hairnet!
We'll see you in the Spring!

(Thank you to astute reader Liz for the rare red net photo!)

And - a big Coast of Illinois hug goes out to Laurie at  A Square of Chocolate she gave me the blogging equivalent with a Blogger Recognition Award! Please check out her site for some delish recipes and a laugh or two!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Just Nurses

Yet another celebrity has put her foot in her mouth and peeved off an entire profession.

I couldn't decide if I wanted to let this go.

First a Miss America contestant stands up on stage and gives a monologue about being a nurse as her 'talent' portion of the program.
I didn't see this. I did see the posts on Facebook but didn't bother watching it. Seemed like a whole lot of blah blah – how sweet – blah blah. (I did finally watch this, before writing this essay which is why I am posting the link.)

Next some women on a daytime talk show attack said contestant, questioning her performance of a monologue as an actual talent, questioning her profession as an actual talent, commenting on her 'costume'.
I didn't see this either. In fact, I had no idea what was going on until I got to work this morning and was shown the subsequent Facebook page in support of said profession.(I did finally watch this. Although it wasn't easy, without morning coffee and a gun to my head. Which is why I am NOT posting the link to that site. Outside of the Today show, I have no use for morning talk shows.)

Then I got tagged in numerous posts regarding this incident and suddenly found myself defending the supporters in the midst of a discussion over being overly sensitive and too easily offended.

And last, as expected, the talk show mouths put forth something they called an apology but really sounded more like a slap in the face and an accusation of inability to take a joke.
I DID see this little gem.
And then I spent three hours reading posts on the supportive Facebook page.

Because I am a nurse.
I am not a nurse who considers her profession a 'talent'. Although I have worked with many nurses who truly could make this claim.
I do know a little bit about writing and performing my work in public. THAT is a real talent and the Miss America candidate should be congratulated for not only giving a unique performance but doing so on a beauty pageant – but we are really a scholarship program – stage.

It seems that the women on The View questioned why the contestant was wearing a 'doctor stethoscope' on her 'costume' and was simply reading emails.
These comments sent the nursing world into a frenzy.

Which is why it was suggested to me that maybe we as a profession was being too sensitive.
Well, world, let me explain.

That 'doctor stethoscope' probably cost the nurse wearing it at least half a 12 hour shift's wages. Stethoscopes are not provided. We have to purchase them and good ones cost a lot of money. We buy good ones because the patient and the doctor are counting on us to really HEAR what is going on in heart, lungs, grafts, bowels. Many times we are the first to hear changes and report our findings to doctors who are trusting us to do just this very thing.

That 'costume' is called scrubs. And guess what – they are usually not provided either. And, shocker, they are not very cheap. We have worked hard to wear those navy blue pajamas. (Some of us worked really hard to wear those white dresses with matching hose and caps!) But in a way, those scrubs are a costume. Because when we put those clothes on we leave behind our families and our friends and for 8-10-12+ hours we do things we never imagined: hold pressure to stop bleeding, insert hoses in orifices that should never have hoses inserted into, compress hearts to make them start beating again. And again.
That 'costume' gives me the strength to NOT cry as I listen to a woman my age lament the fact that she has been told she won't live another year, leaving behind her children, who are the same age as mine. That 'costume' gives me the strength to understand it's out of fear that an irate family member gets in my face and curses me because they do not like the outcome of their loved ones diagnosis.
But shedding that 'costume' does not mean I leave those things behind at the end of my day. Everything I experience in my scrubs becomes another stitch in the fabric of me. Some days those stitches begin to unravel and I wonder if I am just going to fall apart. Yet in the morning I get up and pull my scrubs on and those stitches pull tight for another day.

Miss Colorado, Kelly Johnson, performed a monologue about her experiences as a nurse. Her monologue was not 'emails'. Click here to watch. It was an essay. And my guess is, it was written as part of a professional nurse development program at her place of employment.
What's this?
A professional nurse development program is just what it sounds like. It is a way for nurses to develop themselves as professionals. At my hospital that program requires at least one essay be written a year. The theme of those essays revolves around what the nurse has done to improve a patient's experience through care they have provided. This is only a portion of the program.
I have watched many nurses who participate in this program take real ownership of their careers.

The women on The View touched a nerve by singling out these things in an attempt to be topical and funny.
It backfired.

This is a Facebook page which, in less than 24 hours, has gained over half a million members. Not just nurses, but doctors, EMT, paramedics, respiratory therapists, students and all the other members of the healthcare team.
All in support of nurses.

Which leads me to the folks who suggested that nurses were being too sensitive; that perhaps why is it worse to insult a nurse?

It is not any worse to insult a nurse than to insult a politician or a sports figure or a television talk show host. Taken at face value, the comments made on the View were just silly, poorly crafted attempts to be topical and cutting edge.
Why has the nursing community reacted so strongly?

There is the real question.

I can only speak for myself here.
I did not become a nurse as part of a calling. I became a nurse because I knew it was a dependable job which paid well. There have been many days, especially after 30 years, that I wonder if I had been 'called' then maybe these days would be easier somehow.
I am proud of what I have done as a nurse. But not because I AM a nurse. I am proud of the strength I have found within myself to do things I never thought possible; see things which are un-see-able; connect with people whom I would never have met in any other life. I have learned as much about myself as I have learned about medicine.   
The nursing profession has changed in so many ways, for better and for worse. We have more responsibility than ever before. We care for sicker patients. We work longer hours. We are active participants in meeting the ever more difficult criteria for financial reimbursement to hospitals: keeping readmission rates down, keeping infection rates down, keeping patient satisfaction up.

I feel nurses and the nursing profession are hitting a critical point.
And the women on the View made a fatal error in attacking one of our own.
We have allowed society to make jokes at our expense for years – the nurse on the soap opera who is scheming to catch a doctor, the 'sexy' nurse costumes at Halloween, the vindictive Nurse Diesel and Nurse Ratchet. Not to mention the millions of raunchy 'head nurse' jokes out there.

But we know those things are just in fun because we know that those things are not completely real. Of course there are nurses who marry doctors, there are nurses who are 'sexy', although none of them wear ridiculously short skirts with crinolines, and as tempting as it might be, we do not act vindictively.
And we probably tell way dirtier jokes than the general public can imagine.

But, women of the View, you attacked our realities.

So we are going to post photos of ourselves proudly wearing our stethoscopes. We are going to post silly memes. We are going to dissect every word that has been said. When you need medical care we will provide it to you, reprimand free. Although we may make a joke and ask you how to use our stethoscopes.
And tomorrow we will return to work a little stronger and a little prouder.
Because we are more than just Nurses. 
Thirty years ago

and today.

For more thoughts on nursing click HERE or on the It's a Living link above.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Why is it so Crowded in Here?

Ah September.
Do you remember...

Sorry. I can't help it. I here 'September' I hear 'September.

It has been an entire month since I have updated the Coast of Illinois. Probably not the smartest marketing plan for a blog but personally this was a wise decision. Nothing bad going on. I just needed a breather.

Don't get me wrong.
I love writing and I get a huge kick out of writing this blog and interacting with other bloggers out there in the world of cyberspace. But for all my enjoyment, every time I sat down at the computer I seemed to draw a blank.
Oh sure, there were plenty of ideas spinning around in my cranium. They just couldn't seem to circle the drain long enough to flow onto the computer page.

Every time I attempted to write and came up empty handed my internal editor, who sounds an awful lot like Ed Asner as Lou Grant would start up.
'What's the matter with you?'
'You can't come up with one lousy page?'
'Where's Sue Ann?'
This would activate my inner Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards and I would burst into mental tears at which point Lou would shout, 'Mary!!!' and Mary would plaintively cry, 'Misterrrrrr Graaaaaant!' At which point Marlo Thomas as That Girl would enter and begin to reprimand Lou, who would get in her face and just when it became certain that That Girl's questionable boyfriend Donald would show up but instead the mental door would open and Valerie Harper as Rhoda would enter, begging for help tying her super cool headscarf as she regaled the room with her latest dating antics, bringing everyone to question, not only her fashion sense but also her moral fiber. Eventually the whole crew would file out to the tune of the Dick Van Dyke show and I would be left exhausted and without a single word on the page.

I gave myself permission to take the month of August off.
Ridiculous, I know. Giving one permission to stop doing something which, at this point in my life, is essentially a hobby.
(Don't get me started on the heated discussion that transpires when I make that 'writing as hobby' mental comment. Let's just say there is an awful lot of Ernie challenging everyone to fight and then inviting the entire cast of my mental breakdown to Africa to shoot lions. At which point Marlo Thomas and Valerie Harper, as themselves, throw a monstrous shit fit and call in Betty White as both herself and Sue Ann to challenge Ernie to a duel....)

Anyway. You get the idea.

I spent the first four weeks of August fending off moments of guilt for temporarily abandoning something that I love. I slowly moved on and began channeling my creativity in other directions.

I cleaned out my fridge.
Lay your eyes on that baby! Makes me wish Shape magazine would call and do one of those 'what's in your fridge' stories on me. 

I reorganized my clothing drawers, after much discussion with a friend over the proper cosmic way to do so. 
Yes. Everyone of those t-shirts gives me joy. Don't judge.
I rediscovered sewing and made a skirt:
wrap skirt. couldn't be easier. unless you bought it already made.

And I created my interpretation of Marion Cotillard's dress in Midnight in Paris. (I also rediscovered why I quit sewing for myself after trying on said dress only to discover that, while I cast aside vanity and used the actual pattern measurements the dress is still a little too tight in the midsection. A problem which could be remedied by the use of a dressmaker's mannequin. However, owning a dressmaker's mannequin would result in hours of me running through the house in a panic in the middle of the night when I caught site of the 'stranger' standing in my sewing room trying on my clothes...) 
the movie dress is drop waist but I think I captured the overall feel - innocent yet sexy; classy yet trashy; delusional yet...oh wait, that's only me, not the movie character.

this is the back. in case you were wondering.

I attended two amazing concerts. (Blog post to follow.) I got to visit with my Great niece who is actually my GREAT niece! (No blog to follow. She wishes to maintain her privacy. One year olds. Really.)

 I read Stormy Weather and LuckyYou, both by Carl Hiaasen. (Hello NETFLIX? HERE is the material for the next NETFLIX original blockbuster series. Seriously. These are the most hilarious books I have read in a very long time.)
I also started reading ADangerous Summer by E. Hemingway, after watching the running of the bulls everyday for a week on the Esquire Chanel. (Not a big fan of the bullfight but I have to admit, the pageantry and tradition behind it is amazing as is the lifestyle of Hemingway and his crew.)

Sadly there was no sailing during my hiatus. Hot August weather does not lead to winds which play nice on the lakes in this area. (It does lead to an awesome album by NeilDiamond, but I already promised Earth Wind and Fire the video spot so you are going to have to take my word for it.) The lack of actual sailing did not stop me from studying sailing via my husband's ASA Cruising Handbook. It also didn't stop me from committing to making pirate shirts for our invasion of Jamaica later this year.
I can't seem to flip this the correct direction but I think you get the gist. There are four men and four women in our invasion. Oh, and I am nuts.
What happened next really surprised me. I was afraid that after a month away from writing anything longer than my Target Cartwheel list there would be nothing left to miss.
But, by the end of August, my head was spinning with new ideas which were just itching to fling themselves into the computer.
And let me tell you. It feels great.
I have plans for several blog posts stockpiled and notes to actually begin, for real, a novel I started years ago. I can't say, at this point if the novel will ever be complete or available on Amazon but it's September.
And as Earth Wind and Fire so eloquently put it:
Ba de ya, never was a cloudy day!!!