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Return to Travel Nursing

So I’m super excited I finally get to be a travel nurse again! I have missed travel nursing immensely and am looking forward to the new adventures. I’m going to start out with some local travel to San Antonio hopefully and just work like a beast between my current job and a travel assignment in hopes of preparing for longer distance travel. I’m starting the “dating” process again with agencies and will see what happens. I’m in a great position to be selective and wait for the right opportunity so that’s awesome. 

Of course if I get Hawaii then I’m just gonna shout “IM OUT, BITCHES!” and send everyone postcards 😉 here’s to new adventures!! 

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I got this

Another 45 minutes of exercise in. I can’t believe what a difference a couple of weeks can make. I got the ps4 Just Dance 2014 game, and it is fabulous. There are exercise routines, sweat mode, and calorie tracking. It is a game, one that gives you stars and trophies and instant feedback. Silly that, it took something like a game with instant gratification to get me moving again. I finally feel like I have broken through the barrier that was holding me back. I am determined to get a minimum of 30 minutes a day in, up to 1 hour. This seems to be working, both on the days that I go to work and the ones I don’t. This coupled with my food changes is radically altering my energy level, my weight loss and my overall fitness. 

I have not felt so motivated to be fit in a long time. It never ceases to amaze me how simply “acting as if” can have such a transformation on my life. That by starting small, with something as simple as a “game” every day, is making me feel happier, more confident and more at peace. I finally feel like I got this.  

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“The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” Hunter S. Thompson

Very honest, lovely blog post. My sister struggles with depression, it is so hard to see her go through it, powerless to do anything to alleviate her suffering. It is a comfort to know there are other such wonderfully talented, literate, thoughtful people also struggling, but surviving.

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Sub blog

I have not posted anything here for a while. I actually have started another blog, to kinda separate my ooey gooey spirituality stuff from my nursing things. They do overlap quite a bit, as I realized from a post I made on my other blog. If you are interested in reading it, the site is findingmybuddha.wordpress.com

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Today is the Day

Well, I finally made it to Hawaii. for those who don’t follow me on facebook or twitter, I am on the cusp of huge changes. I am getting married today.

It’s funny..as I wake up today I think about, what makes today different from any other day? We have been together almost 6 years. Why should doing this make any difference? Yet it does. There is something about getting married, an added layer of legitimacy to the relationship, a validation of sorts. Part of me is so excited for this, to have this moment in time where I can say beyond a doubt that this is the person I choose to be with, let no one come between us. And yet, there is part of me that is scared to death. I was married once before, for about 5 minutes it seems like. the divorce process took longer than the marriage lasted. I had no interest in ever getting married again. I was badly hurt, and it seemed to me to be the ultimate lie. I never thought I would ever meet someone that I wanted to do that with ever again. I realized 2 nights ago when we landed and I was feeling so anxious what that was. I have no doubt that I love this man, and he loves me. Yes we have had hard times, and ups and downs. Things are never perfect. But I am human, and I am scared of being hurt. I do not ever want to suffer like I once did, to feel your world crumble beneath you as the person you gave your heart to crushes it and throws it back in your face.

The avoidance of pain is one of the strongest instincts a human can have. But what happens when that instinct becomes the driving force in your life? What opportunities get missed because one is afraid of being hurt? Of making the wrong choice? Ultimately, I do not have any regrets. When I think back on my life, good and bad, it has made me who I am today and that is a pretty awesome person. I have the fortitude and determination to tackle anything in life that comes my way. I have a compassion born from having suffered, an ability to connect with humans by placing myself in their shoes. I have a passion for life that can only come from almost losing it. And I have a capacity to love that is infinite.

These experiences in my life have shaped me, have molded me, have given me so much. I do not have to let fear and anxiety rule me, but can instead choose the path of acceptance and hope. For me, that is the ultimate power of leading a life not run on fear but on love. Today is the ultimate manifestation of that trust in the universe, taking the next step on the amazing journey of mine. To all of those who have impacted my life, I thank you. And to those of you that I have not yet met, look out here I come!

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The Freedom of Travel Nursing

I was dozing last night, when I had a random odd thought- travel nursing has freed me from the constraint of myself. How often do we get in a mode of being that caters to others expectations of who and what we should be? We get this idea of what nursing is, we go to school, we model ourselves after someone we admire, we get feedback from our managers that we are not meeting expectations but how often do we really get to be our most authentic selves?

This thought process was inspired by a talk I had with someone recently. I have been blessed to have met so many interesting awesome amazing people on my journeys. From random foursquare postings that have brought great friendships into my life, to coworkers whom I can honestly call friends. I have been exposed to all these truly wonderful characters, full of quirks and complexities.  But what has been the most astounding is the discoveries I have made about myself. I have discovered that I am, in truth, a social person. I truly like people, and I enjoy talking with them. I am in fact, a happy person. I don’t have to be weighed down by my past, or my notions about myself. Which most of the time are based on old judgements and suppositions garnered from negative experiences. It is possible to let go, and step outside of yourself when you are not constrained by “what everyone thinks” or “how it has always been”. By being a new person in a new place, it allows the freedom and space to try out different aspects of myself, that maybe I would have been too afraid to try before. I am not worried about judgment or opinions when I am traveling. I can be the real authentic me in a way that is not possible when surrounded by people who have expectations based on how I have always been. I do not need to feel self conscious, because I can approach each experience new, without fear of reprisals or condemnation. What is the worst that can happen? Someone will spank me and take my birthday away? They don’t like me? They decide I am annoying beyond all reason? The reality is nobody can make me feel badly about me, except for me.  It is truly liberating to be able to approach each new interaction without fear of rejection or results. to just be in the moment, full of possibilities, aware of my power to shape my experiences for the better. Maybe its a mid-life crisis thing, maybe because I am turning 40- I don’t know. but I am going to go with it. This is fun!

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Decisions

ok, well oddly enough I have found myself in the same place for almost a year. this means I am approaching the need to make some decisions. I like where I am, but I also need to consider everything. The main issue, is that I have opted for the tax advantage program of pay- this allows me to work for less of an hourly rate, but receive a large stipend tax free in my check each week. this helps me when I do overtime, because I do get an overtime bonus- but I don’t get knocked into the next tax bracket. when I work for straight hourly pay, a large portion goes to uncle sam.
so that being said, you can only do this for 12 consecutive months in the same location, or you have to change to the straight hourly as “non traveler”.
now, there are pluses and minuses to both. I am comfortable where I am, its close to where we are living, I like the area and I like the people I work with. the down side is the financial. the hospital corporation has its own agency it uses, and their pay rate is significantly higher, but they only offer a 401K plan, no insurance of any kind. I don’t have insurance currently, but I was going to enroll with my agency this month for that. If I convert to hourly with my agency, I will end up with a significant pay cut, at least 400 per week. that is not a good thing at all. plus any overtime will be taxed at the higher rate, which frustrates me beyond all reason.
so…basically I can either take something with my agency for 13 weeks and add an hour+ commute everyday, go out of state for 13 weeks, or change to the hospital staffing agency. the other option is to take something for 3 days a week in McAllen, and go with the local agency for 1 day a week where I am. that at least should get me 4 days per week consistently. I don’t know though. lots of things to consider.

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Nursing is a Gift

“Compassion is a mental quality that can bring us true lasting inner peace and inner strength”.- the 14th Dalai Lama.

Nursing is a gift. it is a gift you give your patients, your patient’s families, your coworkers and yourself. No other profession allows for the level of compassion and human contact that nursing does. We see people at their most vulnerable. We help people when they are most desperate. We often are the link that keeps them hanging on, or the one that gives them the permission to let go. We are the soul of medicine. I believe that with all my heart.
I recently had two radically different experiences with a patient’s death. In the first, we had a patient who was all alone. His family wouldn’t stay with him. They would come, visit, and leave. This poor man had been through countless surgeries. He had wounds and machines and had suffered. His family had elected to make him no code status- to allow nature to take its course. We knew his time was limited, and we tried to encourage his family to stay with him. They decided not to. The night he died, he was all alone. Except for nurses. I looked up at the monitor, and saw that his heart and breathing was slowing. I went into his room, pulled up a chair and sat down. I held his hand and told him it was ok. I wasn’t his nurse, just a nurse working that night. His nurse was frantically busy trying to reach the family, but they wouldn’t answer the phone. I held his hand as he died, and saw his soul leave his body. I cried for him. It tore at my heart, but he did not die alone. I do not care what your religious beliefs are, but I maintain that you can tell when that “spark” is gone. Even when someone is not responsive anymore, when they are no longer conscious, you can still tell when they have passed away, machines or not. As a nurse, and as a human being, I cannot bear the thought of someone passing their last moments on this earth alone. Not if it is remotely in my power to prevent that. Eventually we were able to reach the family, they came and signed papers and left. It was hard on all of us to see that.

The next day that I worked, I had a vastly different experience. A patient that I had taken care of for many weeks was gravely ill. Multi system organ failure, no hope for recovery. No evident brain activity. I had become close to the family over the preceding weeks. His daughters came back to town in order to assist their mom and to say goodbye. I was not his nurse that day. but the family asked for me. My time was spent hugging the family, being a shoulder to cry on, and giving them permission to grieve. They were in limbo- not able to move forward because he had not yet passed away, but he was for all intents and purposes gone. They elected to withdraw care and let him pass. It was difficult and hard, and I cried with them. The funny thing was, my “nursing” was for the family. We had already done everything we could for the patient. We were there to ease any residual suffering- but he had family to be with him as he passed from this world. What the family needed was our support to tell them it was ok. That was the gift that I could give them that day. To acknowledge their pain, to validate their feelings, to support their decision and to tell them it was ok to feel exactly how they were feeling.

As I see the flurry over advanced education for nurses, I am struck by how little people seem to know. I realize that what people are struggling for is a way to quantify what nurses do. I don’t think that can be done by a piece of paper. There is no degree in compassion. There is no certificate for empathy. You can have the technical skills of a god, but if you lack the ability to connect with another human, you cannot be an effective nurse. You can memorize charts and drugs and machines and abnormal values. But if you cannot put yourself in the shoes of your patients and their families, you are doing everyone a disservice. Whether it is holding the hand of a nervous patient and telling her its ok, or bringing a sandwich to a worried husband, all of it is part of nursing. It is a gift, the gift of loving someone, even if only for that moment. And I am always enriched by that experience, no matter what form it takes.

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Update

well, I have not posted anything for a while. things have been going ok for the most part. I completed 13 weeks and renewed for 6 more. I am having some issues with my manager in my department. it is odd, because I have no problems with anyone in the facility except for her. I can say, that there is usually a reason that a place requires so many travelers. the ICU has lost a total of 14 core staff since May. this has caused so much moral problems and issues. at night we are almost all agency. there are nights I work when it is only agency working at all. there is a lot of polarization going on because of the union that has come to the hospital. it is unfortunate. I have wonderful feedback from my coworkers, from my patients and from the doctors. at this point, I am hoping to renew my contract but for the ER. I have had a great time when I have been there, and they have been very welcoming and happy to have me. it is a great opportunity to grow and get over my pediatric phobia! I love the kids, and get along well, have good patient rapport. I just am terrified of sticking needles in them! I need to get over it though.
Brownsville is lovely, and I have gone ahead and rented a house for a year here. There are so many hospitals to work in within the Rio Grande Valley, that I have lots of options. I hope things continue to go well here. so far, so good.

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car update

well the car ended up being a problem, but I was able to trade it as an even exchange for a ford taurus. the AC is not working, tried to recharge it but it must have a leak because it stopped running cold again. oh well I will be on the highway and should be ok with the windows rolled down. I swear, people change cars here more than clothes! but according to my brother in law it should be a better car.

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