Insights from a Girl Who Knows Better

Sep. 17, 2015

I have been doing a lot of thinking about my profession since the episode of The View earlier this week.  Upon initially watching the segment where the ladies referred to scrubs as a costume, accused a nurse of simply reading her email, and calling a stethoscope a doctor’s, I have to admit that I wasn’t initially too bothered by it all. I found their comments to be rude and catty but overall I just chalked it up to them being people of below average intelligence and went on with my day.  However, along with a high percentage of Americans I continued to be inundated with opinions regarding the whole incident on all facets of social media.

Using my super-enhanced listening skills, I began to actually hear what my peers were saying.  I believe that the reactions of nurses nation wide is simply a symptom of the disease that is our profession.

I find it interesting that nursing continually lands a slot in the top three (and generally first) of respected professions in polls across our country.  As an ER nurse of almost 20 years, I do not feel respected and I have a small inkling that I am not the only one who feels this way.  I didn't become a nurse to get rich.  I didn’t become a nurse to be respected.  I became a nurse because God himself knocked on the door to my heart and told me that it was my responsibility to make the world a better place and to use my love and my intelligence to help the ill and injured.  It is not an easy job.  It is physically exhausting and on any given shift I never walk less than four miles.  I lift obese patients.  I bend over to start IVs.  My hands look like a construction worker’s hands because not only do I wash them 60 times a day but I am also foaming in and out of every room even when I just stick my head in to explain that I will be back in a few minutes to talk to them about their plan of care.  Nursing is also mentally and emotionally exhausting.  Choking back tears when someone’s grandparent dies or watching a parent fall to the floor when they hear that their child will not live to see tomorrow can drain your energy for days.  Double checking calculations and physician orders and plans of treatment knowing that someone’s life literally depends on it is also a taxing ordeal. I may not have become a nurse to be respected but by no means do I think that this is too much to ask.

Please don’t insult me by telling me that it is time for me to move on if this is how I really feel.  Frankly, you are wrong and it is none of your business.  I could write a novel comparable to the size of War and Peace filled with joyful reasons and emotions about my profession.  However, that isn’t what this week is about.  This week is about how nurses everywhere are feeling.  I believe we are feeling disrespected.

People can say that they respect us however on any given day many patients and visitors roll their eyes at us, curse at us and question our every move.  Just yesterday, I was shoved by a person because they were upset regarding the long wait time.  I have been punched in the face.  I have been involved in a hostage situation… And it isn’t limited to patients.  Not too long ago, I was explaining hospital policy to a resident who completely disregarded my words and then proceeded with what they were doing despite my knowledge of policy and procedure.   I also recently had a discussion with a physician who stated that “nurses don’t know how to properly take an oral temperature.”  ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? I truly wanted to explain that I know how to take temperatures of every route and was willing to demonstrate this on him starting with a rectal.  He was so convinced that the entire staff coincidentally received an email reminding us of the proper technique.  It didn’t come from him but I knew where the topic originated.  Situations like this prove that we are not truly part of a team but instead the "water boys" for their team.

The most respected of all professions?  This certainly doesn’t feel like respect.  Nurses receive push-back at every turn from patients, visitors, doctors, administration, and even from each other.  We complain to each other and about each other.  It is such a cut-throat, negative environment in which we work.  Nursing shouldn’t be such a struggle.  The negativity has to end but there might actually be hope. What I have seen this week proves to me that we are the family that I have always believed we are.  It is a bit like the old adage of “i can’t stand my sister but if you cross her I will kick your ass.”  

Poor Joy and that other lady that I have never even heard of…the one that thinks Alzheimer’s is funny….nope...Michelle something?…still can’t think of her name and won’t waste my time googling someone that I will forget in another week or so. Anyway, my point is that much like the nagging back pain that turns out to be a metastasized carcinoma, our outrage of this woman’s comments are the tell-tale symptom of a much larger problem.

We shouldn’t have to beg for respect from anyone…Not from patients, not from physicians and definitely not from each other.  Let’s work together to find a way to end all of this disrespect. I am truly sick of it.  Let’s band together for change.  #respectnurses 

 

Aug. 23, 2015

I am sorry.  I didn’t even know you existed until Thursday and for that I am sorry.  I am sorry that we live in a society that is more concerned about national football titles than the safety of its citizens.  I am sorry that in this country we can forgive the most heinous of crimes committed by those who have the potential to lead a university to a win on the football field.  I am sorry that the university in which you attended cares more about alumni donations than it does helping you recover from a violation that no woman should endure.  I am sorry.

I remember how excited I was when I left home for my freshman year at a Division I school.  I was a small town girl who was going to conquer the world.  I think most of us feel that way.  Moving into the dorms, starting class, and experiencing my first football game at Jones Stadium as a student was indescribable.  Even as I type, I am imagining how you must have been feeling while you were getting ready for your first homecoming as a Baylor Bear.  You were proud and excited.  You were attending a university that had made the move from the bottom of the football totem pole to the top.  They were running over everyone on the field.  In 2013 the Baylor Bears were declared champions of the Big 12 Conference.  Every Baylor Bear was screaming that from the rooftops but they were hiding a dark secret.  The very people who were gaining recognition and monetary donations for successful efforts on the football field were stuffing you in a tiny little drawer.  The police department, the coaching staff, the administrators… they all had a hand in making sure that what happened to you wasn’t going to tarnish their golden reputation.  Not only are they a Christian school, as of 2013 they were champions, too.

They played 7 more games in the 2013 football season after homecoming and then 13 more games in the 2014 season.  That is 20 games that they played while you were hiding in that tiny little drawer.  TWENTY games in which you were waiting to be heard.  TWENTY games.  TWENTY games.  I know this is about more than football for you.  It’s about more than football for Baylor University, too.  It’s about power and money and clout.  A winning team and a shining reputation bring all of those things.  That’s why they kept you hidden in that tiny little drawer.  I can only imagine the hell that you have been through waiting to be heard.  Waiting to feel safe.  Waiting for your predator to be locked away for stealing a part of your life in which you should have been spreading your wings and learning to fly.

You waited and you are still waiting.  In the State of Texas, most cases of sexual assault are a 2nd degree felony and are punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison, but not for your rapist.  He was given 180 days in jail and 10 years of probation on Friday, August 21, 2015.  The jury wanted his punishment to be even less.  I would love to hear the reasons the jury felt sympathy for him.  I do not feel sympathy for him. He deserves to rot in jail. I hear he cried on the stand.  I hear he wiped his tears away when they read his verdict.  Sadly, I do not think that even one tear was shed for you.  I am guessing that his tears were shed for his football career.  We learned this past week that even monsters cry.

In October of 2013 you were raped by Samuel Ukwuachu.  Later that week you were raped by the Waco Police Department when they decided that they didn’t have enough evidence to make an arrest.  Soon after, you were raped by Baylor University when they performed a biased investigation into the event that they had more than likely known from the beginning would end in their up-and-coming defensive end being found innocent and thus eligible for play.  This week you were raped again by a jury that seems to care more about their precious local university than they do about you. 

This didn’t end in your favor but it doesn’t have to be over.  I suggest a hefty lawsuit against this private university and its supporters that have been repeatedly raping you for the past 2 years.  A university that has deep pockets and a blind eye should be punished.  I would feel exactly the same way if this abomination were happening at Texas Tech. 

Sam Ukwuachu is currently serving out his 180-day sentence.  Thanks to Baylor University, you are on day number 669 of yours.

My wish for you is to move past this.  My wish for you is empowerment.  My wish for you is that you achieve every goal you have ever had in spite of this horrible ordeal.  You are a champion.  You deserve the best.  You deserve to be taken out of that tiny little drawer so that you can have the beautiful life God intended for you. 

God Bless you Jane Doe.  Whether you believe it or not, YOU have started a movement and I thank you.  We thank you.  Universities all over the nation now know that the public doesn't support athletic programs who support rapists.  What we are is outraged.

Aug. 4, 2015

As I sit on my back porch listening to the sounds of Kenny Chesney, my heart is aching for the Tropic of Cancer.  Yes, I know I just returned to North Texas after a 10-day stent snuggled up in the belly of Mother Ocean.  What some of you don’t and can’t really understand is how I constantly hear the water calling me.  When I am not able to smell the salt there is always something missing from my life.  To kneel on the bottom of the ocean floor, 80 feet from the surface, while sharks swim figure 8’s around me, touches my soul like nothing else.  It is a feeling of truly coming home.  No stress, no responsibility except for staying alive.  It is magnificent.  The way the sun glistens through the water and lights everything up to the most perfect shade of azure blue…sometimes during a dive I truly think I have died and am in heaven.  I literally have to pinch myself to make sure I am still alive.  Gazing in to the eyes of a grouper the size of my torso and wondering what he’s thinking…how they just stare back at you, unafraid; It’s as though they, too, are wondering what thoughts you are having.  

 

On one of my morning dives, I was blessed to swim with a gorgeous Hawksbill Turtle.  We just swam, side by side.  He would occasionally glance over as if to make sure I was still there.  Not out of fear but instead he was glancing almost as if to say, “Thanks for hanging out with me today.”  What a glorious gift it is to actually share the water with its inhabitants.  To have the ability to be part of their world, if even for a short time, cleanses the spirit and clears the mind like nothing else does. It was on this dive that I scraped the palm of my hand near my thumb on some coral.  It was painful.  It bled.  It still hurts a week later.  I catch myself running the roughness of my healing wound across my lips and remembering how I felt at that very moment and something occurs to me…I hope it leaves a scar.

 

Jun. 26, 2015

 

Today marks a great step forward in equality in our country.  I have many friends and family members who until this very day could only dream of making a life and a home and reap all of the benefits granted through marriage: The right to sit next to their partner in life during their last days in a hospital; The right to share health insurance benefits; The right to cosign on a loan; The right to have a legally binding contract that ensures that they can have all of the things that my husband and myself have in our marriage.  These are all privileges that heterosexuals take for granted.  I cannot express the number of joyful tears that have streamed down my cheeks today.  With all of the recent racial arguments and all of the tension in our country, today has been a nice change for me.  I was focused so much on the joy of this news until I got a text from one of my dearest friends who wanted me to read some of the posts on his Facebook page.  And then it happened…reality began to set in.

 

I haven’t heard so many horrible condemnations from people in years.  I just thought that racists had a loud voice.  Judgmental Christians are even louder.  Their argument is that homosexuality is an abomination against the church and that marriage is between a man, a woman, and God.  Interesting.  What about those that are agnostic or atheist?  Where are all of the picketing Christians when a man and a woman want to marry without God in the equation? What about Muslims who marry with Allah as the partnering deity for their union?  Isn't that also an abomination?

 

I feel like a broken record.  I am so tired of other people’s beliefs being forced upon me.  I am a Christian.  I love Jesus Christ.  I love all mankind.  I wash the feet of the homeless and protect the jewels of the wealthy.  I show kindness to those I encounter.  I was raised in the church and have heard many things throughout the years regarding my religion.  What I have taken with me from these teachings is the love of Christ.  I have also learned that it is through my own personal walk of faith that others will be able to see the love of Christ shine through me.  Am I a cherry picking Christian?  Why yes, I am, but chances are that you are probably one, too. Our pastors do it every Sunday when they preach to us.  They choose a few verses here and there and discuss them with us.  That is great.  It helps us learn the word of God.  We must seek the word of God for our own walk with Christ.  

 

But that isn’t what marriage equality is about, is it?  I said earlier that gay marriage isn’t for me because I am heterosexual.  That’s the truth, plain and simple.  I am thankful that as a heterosexual I have the right to marry.  My rights have not been violated.  As of today, finally the rights of my homosexual counterparts aren’t being violated either.

 

Government control should scare us all.  I am fully against the government taking away any of my civil rights.  I want free speech.  I want guns.  I want a speedy trial.  I want all of the things granted to me by the constitution.  It’s interesting to me that I am hearing mixed messages from the people of the United States of America.  In one instance they are saying that a business owner should be able to refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding but then a few months later they are saying that they don’t support Amazon’s right to pull the confederate flag from its hypothetical shelves.  They say that they should have the right to bear arms but then say that same-sex couples shouldn’t be able to marry.  When did it become acceptable to only support the rights of people who believe exactly as you do? 

 

My government teacher in high school taught us that we were free from the tip of our noses to the tips of our fingers.  What he meant by that is that our freedom should not hinder the freedom of another. Honestly, does it literally harm the freedom of a Christian who is against gay marriage when a same sex couple marries?  I think not.  How does this affect them personally?  Seriously.  Someone please explain it to me because for the life of me I cannot figure it out.  No one is forcing Christians to believe in gay marriage.  No one is telling people they can’t fly the confederate flag at their home.  No one is telling people that they have to love or even like people with skin color that doesn't match their own.  What they are telling you is that there is no place for discrimination in government.  If you think that gay marriage is wrong, then attend a church that refuses to perform same sex marriage ceremonies.  If you want to fly a confederate flag, do it at your residence but don’t get offended because it won’t be flying at the state capitol.  If you want to buy sex toys, don’t be offended that they aren’t selling them at the Christian bookstores. 

 

We do not all have to believe the same things.  We can exist with each other and have differing opinions.  My 12-year-old daughter recently told me this:

 

“We should always be willing to listen to the opinions of others.  Most of the time just doing that pushes us to explore ourselves and become better people.”

 

I find so much truth in her words but more than anything, what I find is hope.  Hope for a future where all freedom is supported.  Hope for love to prevail. Hope that the world is actually becoming a better place.

Jun. 14, 2015

I recently read an article via Huffington Post regarding "7 Appeals to Moms from Women Without Children."  It was an interesting article and given from a perspective that many of my friends have.  I have multiple friends without children, some by choice and some by chance, and have heard them mention many of the bullet points of the article throughout the years. I can honestly admit that I am absolutely positive that I have put my foot in my mouth upon numerous occasions to my friends without children. I didn't mean to.  Honestly.  I love my kids and am thankful for them. My freckled faced princess and my tiny ball of terror make my world go 'round, seriously they do, but there are other days that tell a completely different story. There are days that I feel like I have been captured by enemy forces and am rotting away in a room with concrete walls making tick marks on the wall with each passing sunrise. The article in The Huffington Post portrays women with children as inconsiderate souls who don't consider the feelings of others before they speak or act. I encourage you to read the article and I have provided the link at the bottom of this blog posting. The Huffington Post article has a detailed list of what-not-to-say to women without children...here is my rebuttal.

7 Appeals to Women Without Children from Moms

1. We aren't really stupid; our kids have stolen our brain cells and are holding them hostage.

If we ask you why you don't have any kids, it isn't to isolate you or make you feel inferior.  We are asking because we are wanting to get to know you better.  It is part of your story.  If it's too painful to talk about, then say so. Maybe someday you will trust us enough to share that piece of your history.  If it's because you didn't want them, then say so.  You should feel confident enough in your decision to be able to tell us.  If you think it's none of our business, for God's sake, say so. What you don't understand is that even when our children aren't with us we are distracted.  It is a constant worry regarding their well-being and safety. Is the babysitter about to kill them?  Are they maiming another child in day care with their T-Rex impersonation? Are they being bullied at school?  Women with children can't escape...ever.  Even on the beautiful island of Bora Bora there is absolutely no way to quiet a restless mind worrying about our offspring.  Trust me.  It's no cakewalk.  I equate it to having several TV's turned on in one room, each of them tuned to a different channel with Phineas and Ferb, Girl Meets World, Paw Patrol, Dora the Explorer and Barney.  (Of course you don't realize what a nightmare that would be because you have one TV tuned to something fun like Real Housewives of Orange County or Scandal.)  It is literally impossible to remain focused when you have children.  Please allow us a little bit of grace.  We don't mean to offend.  

2. We don't pity you...we secretly envy you.

Every woman on planet says that parenting is the most amazing thing they have ever done.  It is amazing.  It can be fun.  I can be an adventure. It is literally and potentially so many wonderful things. What it is also is ENDLESS.  This isn't a job you can quit.  This isn't a vacation that ends.  People compare parenting to a rollercoaster.  That's complete bunk.  YOU CAN GET OFF OF A ROLLERCOASTER. My mother still worries about me.  My mother still comes to my rescue.  I am 42 years old.  That means that for the last 16,000 days my mother hasn't had one single 24 hour period in which she was able to focus solely on herself. (And I am a person who makes good decisions.) Can you imagine what it would be like if you were the mother of a child who is in and out of trouble?  Excruciating.  All I am saying is that next time you receive a look from a woman with kids, maybe you are reading the situation wrong...maybe it is a look of longing and not one of pity.

3. We aren't judging you, we are remembering.

Oh yes...I remember when I could go out dancing with my husband and stay out as late as I wanted to.  I remember sleeping in on Saturday mornings. I remember being able to go hiking alone.  I remember being able to travel on a whim. I remember having the ability to dedicate myself to my job. I remember a lot of things...Ahhhhhhhh.  It's nice to remember...now that third glass of wine on Saturday means that I will be miserable until Wednesday because my 30-pound alarm clock will be wanting breakfast at 7am.  He is literally a slave driver.  There is also tennis practice for my 12 year old and shopping for new outfits so that she can look new and fresh at every social event.  Yes, I can still go hiking but what you don't know is that on a hike someone is always hungry or thirsty or has to pee.  I never see wildlife because children have a scent about them that sends even grizzly bears into hiding for fear they will be destroyed. A trip that used to cost $2000 now costs $5000 and let's be honest...that is a huge jump in cost.  When our friends without children are talking to us over coffee about their lives, we are living vicariously through them remembering a time when we could do things that interested us and us alone.

4. Don't assume we like kids just because we have them.

Yes, we live with children and most of us love our own children.  We feel great joy listening to the laughter of our children and seeing happiness in our homes.  It's a ton of fun.  Listening to your daughter battle the drama that accompanies middle school, getting to know her friends, watching her with her crushes, helping her with projects, shopping... the list of the greatness of all of these things goes on and on.  Seeing your preschooler learn to read and watching him torment his sister... hugs with dirty hands...giggle after giggle...it truly is priceless.  I am so thankful for my life and my kids. They are amazing. However, you ask me to chaperone a party at Dave and Buster's, I almost go into panic mode. Not all kids were created equally.  Some kids don't have any respect for authority.  Some kids are troublemakers. The larger the crowd of children, the higher my level of disdain.  Six Flags on a Saturday in June?  I would rather have dysentery in public.  Seriously.  It took me a while to realize it but just because I like my kids doesn't mean that I like all kids. 

5. Don't exclude me.

So many times I hear my friends talking at work about things that they did over the weekend.  Festivals, races, sporting events, concerts, and parties...they all sound like things that I would like to be part of.  Unfortunately, something happens when you have children.  At first, your friends without kids continue to invite you but after a while the invites just stop.  I understand why.  It's because they asked so many times and were told no that they eventually just stop asking.  Women with children can't go anywhere without getting a babysitter.  Babysitters cost money.  Depending on how long the even lasts, parents can count on tacking on an extra $50-$100+ just to go out for an evening or an afternoon.  Having said that, babysitters aren't easy to find.  Sometimes they are all unavailable.  Then there are weeks when work has been demanding and we don't get to see our kids at all.  Those are the weekends that we can't go because we have that maternal need to spend time with our families.  All we ask is that you keep on asking.  Yes, you will probably be told no but it makes us feel good to have been asked to participate.  We promise to invite you to kid things and give you the opportunity to decline if you promise to ask us to adult things for the same opportunity.  Eventually our kids will get older and we will become much more available.

6. Don't only see us as mothers.

Many mothers have jobs outside of the home and love that part of their lives.  Many mothers focus solely on their work at home.  Many mothers volunteer countless hours at shelters, at schools, at libraries, theaters, etc.  The point is that we do not want to be seen only as mothers.  While being a mother may be our most important job, chances are that there are many other things that we are.  We often lose sight of that.  It would be such a great service to us if you could help remind us that we are more than "just moms".  Help us remember that we are smart, beautiful, women behind the yoga pants, ponytails, and carpooling.  We need that from you.

7. Don't be rude.

Here is a list of things that you should avoid saying to women with children:

"You don't really understand what it's like.  You have kids now." 


"You should have more children. You're such a great mom." 


"Not having kids was the best thing I ever did."


"Who will take care of your kids if something happens to you?"


"It really doesn't matter what you look like because you have kids now."


"It's okay that you have those stretch marks, you have kids."


"I would invite you but there are no kids allowed.”

“Please.  You don't have fun anymore you're a mom.”

“You can't be dedicated to your career anymore because you have kids."

 

So there it is...my rebuttal. Most of this is pretty tongue-in-cheek, taken a little to the extreme and meant to be funny.  The last line of the article is one that really rings true for all women and so I will use it to close this blog entry:

"We are all beautiful women with choices or circumstances that have put us in this place of being with or without children. Let's not waste any time judging each other. Let's support one another. We can lift each other higher if we stand together."

 Here is the link to the original article (you will have to copy and paste)...ENJOY!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/helene-tragos-stelian/women-without-children_b_7300970.html