On Teachers, Nurses and Mothers – My Week of Celebrations


This has been a great week of celebrations – and reflection for me. Teacher Appreciation Week. Nurses’ Week. Mother’s Day. Three jobs I have held. Three jobs I have loved.

I have to admit I wasn’t always on the Teacher Appreciation bandwagon. I thought having summers off should make up for any minor annoyances a teacher might have to endure during the course of the school year. Then I became a teacher – first at the college level, then at the public school level. My eyes were opened.

If I calculated all the unpaid hours I put in grading papers, designing websites, trying to create interesting lesson plans, looking for free resources…I would probably be making minimum wage. There is not enough funds to buy all the things my classroom needs – I buy things out of my pocket. I have students who are fixated by social media, drama and the myriad of daily minor/major catastrophes that make up high school. My analogies are that it is like herding cats or nailing jello to a tree.

I have students who don’t have food in their homes, but their parents have nice cars, fancy phones, tattoos, and fake nails. I have a student who has taken her mother to the emergency room 6 times this year because she (the mother) got drunk, fell and hurt herself. I have students who are somehow honor students who can’t do simple math. I have students who don’t want to be in the nursing program who were pushed into it by their parents and I have to get them through the year without having them puke during patient care or pass out during a blood draw…

But I have students who have a tremendous desire to not only succeed, but to excel. My heart is alternately filled with joy, and burdened with sadness for these beautiful young people. Sometimes when I am trying to corral them all at the hospital or keep them awake during a lecture by a guest speaker, I think – yes, this is hard work. Yes, this can be thankless work. But yes, this is MY work.

 

I haven’t always been a nurse, either. The profession has changed profoundly over the last few decades. Unsafe staffing ratios, long shifts and endless paperwork take time away from deserving patients. Your patients are not always at their best – scared, hurting, alone – and there is a fair amount of abuse toward caregivers. I personally have been called fat, old and stupid by a patient because I did not put enough ice in his soft drink. I have been choked, swung at, and even had an elderly gentlemen get me in a headlock with his legs when I tried to put a catheter in. But I have also had patients who came back to see me after their discharge and thank me personally for caring for them, and caring about them. As a nurse you can make a real difference, if only for one shift. You can calm, reassure, comfort and educate. You can encourage, support, and relieve pain. At the end of the day, I still think nursing is a good way to spend a work day.

And Mother’s Day. Being a mom – The. Best. Job. Ever. The pay may not be great – but the benefits (including grandkids) make up for that. I was lucky. My kids were good kids for the most part, and there weren’t health issues of any consequence. I made a fair number of mistakes, and had some near misses, as well. But we all got through it. My kids are grown, but my work continues to pay off.  I continue to drink wine…

So to my fellow teachers, nurses, and Moms – I hope you enjoy the celebrations. If you aren’t a teacher, nurse or mother…at least this past week you could have celebrated Cinco de Mayo (Monday) National Shrimp Day (Friday) and Liver and Onions Day (Saturday). Somehow, I think my celebrations were better.

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2013 Kicked my Ass

I've had a bad year - leave me alone

I’ve had a bad year – leave me alone

2013 was a very bad year for  me.  I started with a concussion, went through a wee bit of depression (sort of like being a wee bit pregnant) and spent nearly 2 weeks in the hospital where I could easily have died.  I slept most of the rest of the year, in a pathetically weakened state, due to side effects of medications.  I was passed over for a promotion I really wanted (and deserved) by an employer that was pretty content to have me effectively doing two jobs for one paycheck, while driving 80 miles a day to do so.  I had homesickness of epic proportions and spent more than a few days wondering “What is the point, exactly?”

Now that it only has a few hours left to kick my ass, I just want 2013 to know…

I learned to appreciate some things this year.  Like my devoted spouse who spent countless hours worrying over me, suffering when I suffered, nagging me when needed, giving space when needed as well.  I learned that I am much loved by many – kids, sisters, grandkids, friends, cousins, in-laws, outlaws and others –  I am truly blessed.

I learned that a few wonderful friends are all you really need.  Friends who just knew what I needed and when, who cared for me, cared for my dog, and supported by husband through all the crap.  Who texted, caught up with me on Facebook, or e-mailed – and understood my aversion to phone calls.

I learned that being appreciated by your employer for your contributions is better than having the “princess office”,  newer technology or deeper pockets.  I learned to go after what I wanted because no one was going to give it to me.  And I found a job that fits me (and is much closer to home with summers off).

I learned that all of the medical knowledge in the world won’t help you if you are nearly unconscious or too sick to advocate for yourself.   Appoint someone who can.  I learned that health care coverage is not to be taken for granted as my bills would have totalled nearly a$300,000 for all the care and services I received.  I also learned which hospital to avoid if I should ever need medical care again.

I learned that life can change in an instant and although my crises were really minor in comparison to those of many others - my life did not feel like mine at all.  I learned that by putting one foot in front of the other – no matter how tired or weak I felt – no matter how overwhelmed I became, I could just keep going just as I always have – just as I always will.  I learned that I am strong, capable, and unstoppable.

I learned that my body will not take neglect or abuse forever without rebellion.  I will listen.  I will appreciate the gift – a strong body – that I have been given.

So 2013 – I am not sad to see you go.  Sayonara, 2013.  Suck It.

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BlogFestivus 2013: A Christmas Carol – Ghost of Christmas Present

Scrooge struggled to open his eyes and shook his head to clear the fog. A woman clad in a tight body suit with a bear on the front was gyrating wildly with her tongue hanging grotesquely from the side of her mouth. Scrooge yelled for the medics who had mysteriously disasppeared, leaving only a sickly sweet aroma.

“Guys, she’s having a seizure!” Scrooge yelled. “Hurry.”

“Nah, I’m good” the strange young woman said, straightening up. “Come with me.”

“Who the hell are you?”

“THe Ghost of Christmas Present” she said. “Follow me.”

They stood in front of a homeless shelter. A woman struggled up the stair with arms full of packages. Scrooge recognized his secretary.

“Patty, get me out of here.”

“She can’t hear you, old man,” the young woman said. “Or see you.”

They followed Patty up the stairs and into the shelter. She handed the gifts over to the receptionist, then dug in her purse and withdrew an envelope.

“It’s all I can spare this week. My boss didn’t come through with a bonus, as usual. I wish I could do more.”

“The children appreciate it, Patty.”

“I know, I spent a Christmas or two here with my Mom. I’ll be back Christmas morning to help prepare the dinner.”

They followed Patty back outside and down the street to a dingy apartment bulding. Patty pulled a key from her pocket, unlocked the door, and disappeared inside.

“She lives here?” Scrooge asked incredulously. “I pay her a decent salary, she can afford better than this dump.”

The strange young woman was gone, leaving Scrooge holding a large styrafoam hand with a finger extended. He threw the foam oddity to the ground and drifted off again.

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BlogFestivus: A Christmas Carol – Ghosts of Christmas Past

Scrooge opened his eyes, completed disoriented.  He was lying on a gurney in a moving vehicle.

Ambulance, he thought.  His chest and ribs ached mightily.  Oxygen flowed through a tube into his nose.  He swam in and out of consciousness.  Struggling to sit up, he noticed the driver of the vehicle had on a flannel shirt and jeans and was smoking a joint, which he handed to a similarly dressed man in the passenger seat.

“What the hell is going on?  Take me to the hospital at once.”

“Aw, hang loose, dude.  You don’t need a hospital,” the driver said exhaling slowly.

“Let me out of here now,” Scrooge yelled, pulling at tubes and tapes.  “Who are you?”
“Co-ghosts of Christmas Past,” the passenger said.  “You want a hit?” he proffered the smouldering joint toward Scrooge.

Cheech and Chong 188

The vehicle screeched to a halt, and the men jumped out, ran around and opened the back doors.  The gurney slid out and the men helped Scrooge to his feet.  Scrooge recognized the neighborhood as the college campus of his alma mater.  A rowdy crowd gathered under a window, carolling slightly off-key.

The window above the crowd flew open and a younger version of Scrooge appeared.  “Get out of here.  Move on.”

“We’re collecting donations for the local food bank to feed the homeless,” a beauty with golden curls yelled up.  “Your family is richer than God, Scrooge.  Share the wealth.”

“My family is keeping the wealth.  Move on.”

“Well, Merry Christmas anyway,” the sweet-faced blonde yelled up.

“Merry Christmas, my ass” Scrooge countered.  “Get the hell out of here.”

The group wandered away, mumbling.

The two men bundled Scrooge back onto the gurney and into the vehicle.

“Who was the blonde?” Scrooge asked.  “She looks familiar”.

“Her name is Patty,” the driver said.

* * * * * * * *

happy-blogfestivus-2013

I crazily agreed to participate in BlogFestivus again this year (I pooped out last year).  I hope you’ll visit all these talented writers who are tossing out 200 word offerings during this year’s festivities.

Linda penning at linda vernon humor

Tom over at Shouts from the Abyss

Steve from Stevil

Maria-Christina blogging at MCWhispers

Dylan of Treatment of Visions

Sarah from Parent Your Business

Dawn blogging at Lingering  Visions

K8edid from k8edid

Dave bringing it at 1pointperspective

Eileen from Not The Sword But The Pen

Lindsey at RewindRevise

Kandy of Kandy Talk

Sandra writing at In Love With Words

Natalie from So I Went Undercover

Jen at Blog It or Lose It

Amelie from In the Barberry

Cee Cee blogging at Cee Cee’s Blog

Ashley from LittleWonder2

BD writing Blogdramedy

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BlogFestivus 2013: A Christmas Carol – Ebeneezer Scrooge

scrooge

“Time for the Christmas party, Mr. S” Scrooge heard his secretary’s smooth voice from the doorway.  He did not look up.

“You mean that salmonella-fest pot luck the employees have every year, Patty?  Well, they better be back in their cubicles at 1:00.  I’m not paying anyone to sit around singing sappy songs and exchanging gifts.  Nonsense.”

“Yes, sir.  I e-mailed that reminder you dictated yesterday to all employees.”

“I suppose you are going?” he asked, finally looking up at his longest-tenured employee.

“Yes”, Patty said icily.  “I’ll be back at 1:00.”  She headed toward the cafeteria, where delicious aromas and raucous laughter spilled out each time the door was opened.  Coworkers greeted her warmly and a plate appeared in her hand.  Her Secret Santa gift was placed under the bedraggled tree in the corner.

Scrooge looked up from his spreadsheet, muttering about the cost of holiday pay. Why couldn’t this be one of those years when the holidays fell on the weekend?  He sipped his coffee, which had grown cold.  Damn, Patty was at that blasted party, he’d have to get his own warm-up.

He stood, then clutched his chest.  Cold sweat beaded his forehead and ran down his neck.  He fell back into his chair with a thud.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

happy-blogfestivus-2013

I crazily agreed to participate in BlogFestivus again this year (I pooped out last year).  I hope you’ll visit all these talented writers who are tossing out 200 word offerings during this year’s festivities.

Linda penning at linda vernon humor
Tom over at Shouts from the Abyss
Steve from Stevil
Maria-Christina blogging at MCWhispers
Dylan of Treatment of Visions
Sarah from Parent Your Business
Dawn blogging at Lingering  Visions
K8edid from k8edid
Dave bringing it at 1pointperspective
Eileen from Not The Sword But The Pen
Lindsey at RewindRevise
Kandy of Kandy Talk
Sandra writing at In Love With Words
Natalie from So I Went Undercover
Jen at Blog It or Lose It
Amelie from In the Barberry
Cee Cee blogging at Cee Cee’s Blog
Ashley from LittleWonder2
BD writing Blogdramedy (this is me)

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