The best way to learn a foreign language is to be submersed in the culture. You need to order your breakfast, ask where the toilets are, and pay for movie tickets in the native tongue. Medicine is the same thing. You can’t dip a toe. You have to dive in.
If you’ve never been to nursing school, it’s nothing like college. This is hard. You study (yes, even the really smart people who never have to study have to study) like a maniac, then get up at 5 in the morning for rounds. You take care of actual live human beings and try really hard not to fuck up and hurt them. You work until you want to cry some days. You run every time there is a bedpan to empty or a bed to change because you have to prove yourself. You have to want to succeed and you have to prove it to your instructors and the hospital nursing staff. You clean up puke without gagging, you do procedures that hurt the patient and you don’t cry. You suck it up and keep going. Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning. Then I remember that drama isn’t going to help me, so I get out my books.
This piece is called “Waiting Room.” It is hand embroidery with cotton and linen floss on a scrub smock from the Army hospital where I was born. This shirt used to be a deep burgundy, but it has seen countless surgeries, lives and death. This shirt has seen blood and vomit and tears. It’s been washed too many times to count. Now I see the blood and the scrubbing and I watch to see how it will change my colors.
I’m just plain grateful to be a part of medicine.
My husband is getting promoted August 1st. I’m pretty excited about it. I’ve been getting ready for the ceremony. We’re also looking at houses. Our VA loan came through and I have my eye on a 4 bedroom on a corner lot with a fireplace.
I know that this blog uses a lot of emotions–most of them painful. I want to make it clear that my life is full of joy. I’m tired of keeping my happiness a secret because I’m afraid to hurt the feelings of someone who is miserable. I’ve done that for too long.
So many good things have been happening. I’m in nursing school. My husband is getting a brand new stripe on his arms. We are buying one of three beautiful houses. I am getting close to seeing the end of 20 years of medical problems. I’m off Prozac. I’ve lost 25 lbs since my birthday. I’m training to run a 5K in November. I have the most beautiful, smart, and hilarious second grader. My husband loves me more now than he did when we got married. I have two of the best dogs on the damn planet. Life is really good.
Art works. It’s the best form of therapy in the universe. I am a whole person. My past doesn’t hurt. I embrace my mistakes for making me Alexandra.
Blah, blah, blah…whatever. I hope you readers are doing well, too!
“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”
My life is full of simple tasks that bring me joy. I make art. I keep house.
That’s my version of Zen. I’m not really calm or enlightened, but I enjoy my small tasks and appreciate what I have.