I Don’t “Pink Up”

I had cancer – several times. Though I thought it was the same recurring, my physicians said, after two 5 year hiatuses, it was a new cancer – until the final four years; then, it was a recurrence. I did not have breast cancer. My cancer was and is not glamorized nor even addressed in the mainstream media. My hope is someone, somewhere, shares their years long breakthrough with other researchers so others won’t lose part of their tongue, or neck, or clear speech, or swallow….

I’m also a nurse, an RN, who uses the stethoscope around my neck, which I bought; it is purple on purpose – a physician won’t long borrow it in such a color. I see people “surviving” terrible illnesses every day, yet they are not called survivors nor heroes (that now ubiquitous word, the true meaning of which is being lost in almost everyone being a “hero” these days). They lean on family and healthcare workers, they depend on insurance, family, church, and government assistance to survive and when there is none, they often die or come close to death because they cannot afford their medicine or the gas to get to the physician.

After and during my cancers, treatment, and side effect treatments still occurring, I rescued and now foster dogs, preferably Beagles. I drive transport legs, so one to three dogs get to a better home or rescue from a kill shelter or backyard neglect. I train my dogs in my home. They learn to become dogs again, not things, not beaten, not ignored, but treasured. As a now foster home, I collaborate with several Beagle rescues as a short term foster home for those close to me till a foster there is available. Then, the fosters move on to their longer term rescue foster or to their new home.

I am not just cancer, yet the effects of my disease affect me every day. I’m done with cancer. I support many venues, but I won’t, I don’t Pink Up. I don’t need to be reminded and pulled around a walk every year. Of course, I donate, but I donate to systems where the research and need is actually supported and met, like the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Pets of the Homeless, Partners in Health….I listen, and I try to hear the back story to my patients’ pain and treatment, to understand and appreciate that “all behavior has meaning” every shift I work, and in my community at large.

I’m done with cancer as a definition of me…and yet, it always will be so. I’m try to keep it at bay as much as I can. I just want to be a normal person…and I never will be again.

The most charming comments on my change in appearance and sound came from a 3 y/o girl at my vet’s office (sometimes my second home!). She walked up to me and said, “You have a crooked face.” “Yes, I do, ” I replied. She gasped and said, “You have a crooked voice, too!” and I smiled as her dad got all apologetic. “Please,” I said, “she means no harm, she is making a simple observation…and a charming one at that.” Out of the mouths of babes. I don’t Pink Up – everyone carries a burden; if not now, later in life. Carpe diem. Or, at my house, carpe osseous (seize the bone).

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Snowballing

OneWord2013_EngageI’m close to retirement and very in debt.  Thankfully, I have an Edward Jones advisor alarmed at what I’m paying each month and my total debt.  He immediately set out to adjust my financial status. By the grace of God, had I not needed several large withdrawals from my Roth IRA, I would be doing very, very well – even so, it is doing very, very well. We hope to keep it that way.

We took out enough funds to pay off my car. That monthly payment will now go toward paying off, in 8 months or less, a credit card. Said credit card is a Chase card with Blueprint. Blueprint helps you pay off your cards and/or use them more judiciously than I have in the past. Not only did we, Conrad and I, set up a payoff plan; I also set it up under Blueprint. I’ll receive monthly reminders of my progress from them, too.

What this reminds me is ACTION. When confronted with a concern or worry, I tend to stew over it way too long. Instead, I need to take action and engage, whether it is paying off debt, studying for a certification, or getting regular exercise. Setting up a PLAN is immensely helpful no matter for what the plan addresses.

I’ve known for a long time about the concept of snowballing: paying off one debt, in this case my car, then adding that payment to another to pay off a second debt quicker. It had been a long time since I sat down and did it.

I’m excited about this New Year. Not only do I have a job which pays well, is flexible and yet full-time, I see progress for my financial future.

Next up – prayer, study, and exercise!

Over 2,000 year…

Over 2,000 years ago, our Lord left his heavenly throne to join us at the table of our humanity. He became our friend and kept us company. He was God in our midst.

~ Nancy Jo Sullivan blogs at NancyJoSullivan.com

Taking time out from the hustle and bustle of Advent…to enjoy the purpose of this season, and one another.

Health Care in Flux – Again

English: Electronic Health Records flow chart.jpg
English: Electronic Health Records flow chart.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Healthcare is in flux again.

I work as a night shift float RN; I qualify to work ICU as well as all the “zones” in my hospital. The only place i’m not comfortable is babies. And I don’t need to work there unless they are in a real bind and then, I will be a helper, not take patients.

Sunday night I was on surgical. Sure, it was Sunday, a day traditionally without many surgeries, but still, the census was half what it was the last time I was there. Tonight, I’m on “ETO standby.” This means I stay available to come into work till 11;30 PM. Since I’m writing this at home, I didn’t get called in.

The census dropped dramatically. This is not a normal low census time and yet, over the early to mid summer, we saw a drop and now, with ACCRA struggling out of the gate, we again are seeing more fluctuations than normal. I read of nurses being laid off. NURSES! Those of us who are baby-boomers are coming on strong and yet, we are being laid off.

The last really huge fluctuation I remember in census and my hours being affected was DRGs. DRG is Diagnostic Related Groups. As a speaker I recently heard said, “it was the end of health care as we know it.” Sure, things changed but for that first summer, I took lots of vacation days because my hospital and others didn’t know what to expect.

I presume a similar thrill is threading through providers today – insurances are cancelling on people, maybe some are covered but until the end of March 2014, we won’t know squat. CMS, the Medicare/Medicaid part of the Fed. Govt., is no longer paying fee for service, but pay for performance – and we need to perform and prove through out care but even more so (sadly but necessarily) through our documentation.

And don’t get me started about electronic records. Sure, I like charting on a computer but reading paper records spit out by someone else’s system is crazy, plus, systems don’t talk to one another. I heard hope by the same speaker above from Apple, working with two very large medical records firms. I hope so.

Too bad they weren’t brought in for ACCRA.

BTW, I don’t mind being home tonight and the heat cycles, noted in previous entries, is ending. TBTG.

Holy Dying – Engaged

Jeremy Taylor is depicted in this portrait at ...
Jeremy Taylor is depicted in this portrait at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This past Saturday, I attended a workshop on dying, holy dying, with several other members of my church. Both lay, clergy, and nursing/medical professionals were there. The title comes from Jeremy Taylor‘s two books on Holy Living and Holy Dying. His premise was and cont. in these classic works that to die well, we must live well.

Carpe diem to the max.

My tug this day, though I deal with many dying patients and their families in my work, was another workshop on dog rescue in TN. If I had to leave my home at 0600, then I could get to TN just as fast as St. Louis (or, as the Mapquest voice says, “Saint Louie“).

But I didn’t – I drove my car with two friends. My friends are gracious women – they accepted my eccentricities with good humor – “Don’t touch my side mirrors; they are set up for no blind spots.” “This is how you set up the cruise control.” And my practice of getting up to speed in the on-ramp before entering a freeway – Driving 101.

The workshop was joyful and informative, diverse in topic:

  • Advanced directives (decide NOW how you want treatments you do NOT want and in what circumstances when you truly are dying).
  • ORGAN DONATION!
  • Disposition of your body – to science, to the grave, to cremation.
  • Hospice care
  • Volunteering for the dying – GREAT point: not everyone can handle bedside care but one person called and offered her accounting expertise to help get all papers in order; another shoveled snow, etc.
  • Avoiding probate – prepare and let your family know.

Please consider your end of life here on Earth. Be prepared not only in your paperwork and wishes, but by fully living every day.

My Meal Setting

Meal Setting

When one can’t swallow, taste is lost; other senses step up to enhance meal times. The beauty of a pretty pitcher for the liquid nourishment; smell, from the coffee, cinnamon, almond, or vanilla, and hot chocolate; hearing, listening to good music, and vision, reading WordPress blogs. Life is good.

Engage #5 – Books AND Dogs

Way late in getting this post in, though, come to think of it, I totally missed last week’s!

I was able to engage in an activity in which I haven’t been involved for a long time due to my speech impediment from cancer surgeries. I had a blast, though, and good things are coming of it.

I addressed and hopefully, engaged, a series of high school classes at our high school regarding our community’s United We Read book for this year, A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. It is a book close to my heart. Doing dog rescue as well as growing up a bibliophile, I was delighted when one of my recent adopters who teaches high school English, asked me to present/speak.

The basic story is from the perspective of a dog who, after he dies, is reincarnated as another dog who remembers his previous life and what he learned living it. As I spoke to students, few to none of whom read the book, I tried to encourage them to take the best from each phase of their lives as a help for the next phase, and so on….similar to how the dog enlarges his purpose with each reincarnation, building on what he learned before.

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Trifold done for Silverwalk Hounds by my scrapbooking volunteer, Abigail, who also adopted Herman and invited me to speak

 

Engage #4

I’ve been super busy with work and dogs, not with engaging in the world/community outside my milieu, the goal this year to which I aspire. Sigh – new habits are hard to begin and sustain.

Work is just insane – the people are so sick, it’s not just the flu, and we all work extra shifts. If you’re “on call,” you may as well come in because we need you anyway. This is good for my pocketbook, but I wonder about the causes.

The dogs changed hands last week with one finalized today. Sydney Beagle won over the heart of older Beagle Katy with his Beagle bay. Unlike Katy’s meeting with Gidget, the dog Katy’s mom was originally interested in, Syd and Katy met nose to nose, dropping them in a pas de Deux of tracking (what, we had no clue) joined at the hip. Our jaws dropped and Sydney went to a wonderful new home.

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Lemon Drop’s potential adopter picked her up on Friday for a weekend trial; she passed with flying colors and is now fully adopted with a name change to Shadow because she follows her mom around all day. Sweet.

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Simply meeting these people pulled me out to meet people I normally would not except both are interested in Beagles. The very sad note is my Border Terrier mix, Margie, died in the change of weather while I was gone. She had developed a habit of digging out no matter what I did; I finally found her after dark at the back door I rarely use, This is the first place I’ve talked about her loss.

Back to work tonight and frankly, one of these nights very soon, I’ll take myself off to a motel or my friend’s extra room for some deep, uninterrupted sleep, or start exercising as I planned – something to get my body back in gear.

OK – that was totally off topic. I have another post in the wings awaiting an editing; sad to say, it will need to wait longer. I promise it will be a better read than this :).

OneWord2013_Engage

Engage #3 – Another Dog

DenaliFace

Oh, dear, I had the chance to

  1. go to the opera (which I like); I fell asleep (at home, NOT at the opera!) and missed the opening yet didn’t push myself to go at intermission
  2. go to church – a friend reminded me and I simply slept in.

And this is why I slept and slept: I went back to work this past week – 3 12+ hour night shifts – after having been off a month for surgery and recovery. It took energy and concentration not only at work but rearranging my daily habits at home. I’m counting work this one time as engaging because it was such an adjustment; I would rather read, play with the dogs, and be financially independent  :).

And yes, I took in another dog which made me meet a friend whom I hadn’t seen in some time, who is volatile re: animal rescue, animal care, and politics and whom I forgot, truly forgot, to let know when I was in hospital; he lives in the St. Louis area and would have been a wonderful visitor.

My planned “Engage” activities did not happen but the others filled the void, though they aren’t out of my milieu, which is one of my criteria. C’est le vie.

The new dog I took in is “Denali.” She is a Spaniel type, small/medium size dog ready for adoption. My vet said “This isn’t your normal type” when she saw her (true – I normally take in Beagles); I then told her she was 14 years old and no rescue, not even the senior ones, in St. Louis, had room or inclination to take her in. I told the rescue friend who posted her “Send her to me,” sight unseen.

I won the Lottery with Denali. Not a bad week at all….even survived getting back into the groove at work though the dogs were in tailspins.  And Denali is 11 years old with excellent teeth and perfect house manners – HA.

OneWord2013_Engage