Attending the AHNA conference in Florida last week gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about holistic nursing, and also a bit more about myself. Since my brain surgery in August 2014 I have been plagued by fatigue. It is always with me. If I don’t meditate twice a day, I am totally exhausted by late afternoon. I was telling my girlfriend Carol about this and she pointed out that although I meditate, I also keep going and going and stay very busy all day. It struck me that although I teach students about the importance of self-care, I have only tricked myself into thinking I am engaging in appropriate self-care for someone with post-brain trauma fatigue. I Googled the topic today and found that fatigue after brain surgery is very common and can last for a few years. It’s time I quit denying this. I am competing with the person I used to be. Before surgery I had tons of energy and was constantly on the go. I like that! It is so hard to face that I am just not able to live at the same pace as I used to. Ugh! So when I got back from Florida I spoke to my supervisor we decided I will go back to teaching 2 classes instead of 3. It was very hard to admit that teaching 3 classes is more than I can manage. I was planning on spending the summer preparing for fall classes. Now I don’t have as much to prepare. And now I’m going to look at what else is on my plate that I can eliminate. It’s time for me to step back and take charge of my self-care instead of letting life wear me down. I love being busy, but I guess it’s time for me to learn to love taking it easy. Wish me luck!
My nursing background, besides holistic nursing, is in public health. I just love learning about population health and communicable diseases. For years I have had “Visit the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)” on my bucket list (things to do before I kick the bucket). And yesterday my son and his family took me to the CDC Museum in Atlanta. I was in Heaven! I just loved being there. In another life I would have worked there. I always thought being an epidemiological field investigator would be so satisfying. So yeah, it’s a strange bucket list item, but I have checked it off! Take a look at my pictures below:
Yesterday I took a tour of the Corkscrew Swamp Nature Reserve here in Florida. I was actually in the Everglades! So beautiful. I enjoyed spending time with other holistic nurses, and I learned so much about our ecosystem and how we’re sort of wrecking it. It was very educational and a bit scary. I saw a tree that was 500 years old, so Ponce de Leon may have touched the same tree I touched yesterday. It was cool and damp to the touch. The tour guide talked about the interconnection between all the plants and animals in the swamp, which was meaningful because our holistic nursing conference is about innterconnectedness. He illustrated how destroying one species of tree could destroy the butterfly that uses the tree as a breeding ground, so we would lose the tree AND the butterfly. It reminds me of decision-making. I do the best I can but my decisions often affect others, or affect my future in unexpected ways. I think I should think things out a little more carefully…
I’m having a great time re-connecting with fellow holistic nurses at the American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) annual conference in Bonita Springs, Florida. I was fortunate to spend the morning with Ellie Slette my long time friend and mentor. She lives in Minnesota but we have stayed in touch. We served on the AHNA Board of Directors together and she was my Adviser to the President when I was the AHNA President. She and I have been through challenges together and her wisdom, patience, love and acceptance have been a huge strength to me. Having a mentor is such a wonderful blessing. It’s so nice to have someone wise to talk things through without being judged, and just totally accepted. I am a blessed woman.
We watched a Near Death Experience (NDE) video at conference last night. It talked about how healthcare providers need to accept patients’ stories about being out of their bodies, with acceptance and caring. The video had examples of people who had NDE’s and were judged harshly or ignored by their care providers. I gotta say, I shared my NDE with my care providers, and they were all accepting and understanding, and interested. So I guess I’m lucky. Oh yeah, like I said in the previous paragraph: I am a blessed woman!
I really missed Steve yesterday. It was his job to trim the shrub in the front yard. I’m not really tall enough to reach all the places on the shrub, and get dizzy easily when wielding the electric trimmer. But I sucked up my determination and went for it. There was a long electric cord that had been repaired with duct tape in several spots. I attached it to the trimmer and fired it up. After about two minutes, the trimmer quit working and I could see that I actually cut right through the electrical cord! That explained all the repairs to the cord. Did Steve have the same thing happen to him a few times? I’ll never know. I just know it was an expensive mistake as I went to purchase a new cord. He could have repaired it for free I think. When I finally finished the shrub trimming I dug up and repaired a sprinkler. I found myself saying, “I wish Steve were here to do this.” Then I remembered that sprinkler repair has always been my job. I guess not having a back up person here threw me off a little. Anyway, my spring cleaning has begun, starting with the yard work and graduating to cleaning out the garage and storage shed. So many memory-laden things to take care of.
I’m off to Florida this week for the American Holistic Nurses Association annual conference. I’ll be teaching a workshop on dreamwork. I’m looking forward to seeing all my friends there. After the conference I’ll visit my son and his family in Atlanta. Life is good.
I celebrated my 63rd birthday on Sunday with my family. They planned the whole thing, now that Steve is gone. Since I am on the Whole30 eating plan, my daughter-in-law prepared a wonderful dinner of zucchini noodles with pesto. And since I don’t eat grains, she made a cake out of a watermelon! Delicious and sweet! My girlfriend Donna made a “regular” chocolate cake and my family loved it, too. When my son Brad asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday party I said I wanted us all to dance. And we did! Sid and Melissa gave me a karaoke machine and we had a blast. Once we used up all the songs, Sid gave me some dance lessons and we all just danced. I love that. We raised the roof right in my living room! We totally wore out the grandkids. Yeah, it wore me out too, but it was a perfect birthday. I’m looking forward to buying more karaoke CD’s so we can rock on.
I had another wonderful encounter on the train (we call it the TRAX) yesterday coming home from campus. I happened to sit by a nursing student. I taught her in Health Promotion a couple of semesters ago. She told me about how overwhelming the summer schedule is for her. Sixteen credit hours, 5 classes and tons of homework. She has 3 children and her husband is out of town. It struck me how much we all don’t know about each other. Currently I teach 8 clinical students who I see twice a week. I’m in the dark about what they do when they are not in my class. I give them assignments and assume they have plenty of time to complete them. But they are getting assignments in other classes too and they are very busy. College can be so stressful. I imagine students don’t know what I’m up to when not in class with them. My point here is… hmmm…we just can’t judge each other. We don’t know each others’ “whole story.” Our perspective is narrow and limited. We have windows of opportunity to love and respect each other and we should take advantage of that, and release judgment. We can learn so much from each other.
This morning after tai chi I was tired and watched a movie, Temple Grandin. It was no coincidence that it was about how a woman with autism perceived the world, and how we really cannot judge someone with a disability – they see the world differently. They are different, not less. We all have unique ways of being in the world. We should honor and encourage each other. I cried watching it because it allowed me to remember that although my daughter has a mental illness, she is different, not less. We are all doing our best with what we’ve been given.
Anyway, it’s interesting how my experience on a train and then watching a movie can be connected and promote my learning. I can learn so much if only I pay attention.
It’s hard to decide sometimes what to blog about and what to just not mention. There’s been a lot of drama in my life lately. I don’t like drama, so I don’t like to blog about it. So I will write the short version. My daughter has become homeless, without transportation, and deeply in debt due to someone taking advantage of her generosity and lack of clear boundaries. She is living with me now. She has a job but will soon be downsized. And she broke her shoulder while biking home from work. Trust me, what I just said is just the tip of what’s happened. Trips to the ER, trips to Ogden, dropping her off at a homeless shelter and a psych hospital, and oh the list goes on. She is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and a personality disorder. Mental illness is a terrible thing to live with, for the patient and for the family. I used to think she would get better as she ages. But she is 38 now and not well at all. I used to rescue her a lot but I just don’t have it in me anymore. I have realized I can’t live someone’s life for them. I’ve been enabling her to depend on me being the safety net. My focus now is to allow her to help herself and solve her own dilemmas without me running to the rescue. I think that’s best. It’s hard, but I can do it.
I had the strangest experience on Monday. Perhaps you can figure out what it means. First, I was on the elevator on campus (where I work – the University of Utah College of Nursing). A lady entered and I said, you look familiar. She said “You don’t know me but I know you as Glenda the Good Nurse. I have seen you present at a couple of conferences.” That’s unusual because I’m really not famous. Her name is Elois and she is the director of the Psychiatric Mental Health Doctor of Nurse Practice program at the College of Nursing. She is very interested in holistic nursing, functional medicine, and integrating nutrition education into the curriculum. We just had so much in common, we decided to have lunch together. We just talked and talked about our common interests, focusing on nursing education. I loved it.
Secondly, I went to the Honors for Nursing award ceremony in Salt Lake City to honor Steve’s hospice nurse Jolene who received an award (I nominated her) for outstanding, caring nursing. There were 500 in attendance. Afterwards, I got aboard the train for home. I noticed a nurse was sitting by me who had an award in her hands so I said “Congratulations!” and we started talking. Get this: She is very interested in and committed to holistic nursing and like me infuses holistic nursing principles into her teaching at the College of Nursing. Her name is Sheila. She is only on campus on Tuesdays, and I am only on campus on Thursdays, so we have never met. And guess what? She teaches with Elois, who I met for lunch that day. They also work together in the same clinic. Again, we just talked and talked about our common interests, focusing on holistic nursing. It was so fun!
Now seriously, what are the odds that I would meet Elois on the elevator and discover how much we had in common, and then out of 500 people I would end up sitting next to Elois’ colleague on the way home, with whom I also had a lot in common? I don’t really believe in coincidences. This was a synchronicity. What does it mean? On the way home in my car I giggled and looked up at Heaven and asked, “What are You up to?” My best guess so far is that this is a message that I am on the right track when teaching holistic principles in my nursing courses, and there are others on faculty with the same interests. This is a big change from just 10 years ago when I was the only certified advanced holistic nurse in Utah and the only one on faculty (at another college) who was interested in holistic nursing. At this point, I will remember this synchronicity and see what unfolds.
This was our first Mother’s Day without my husband Steve. The kids weren’t sure exactly what to do because Steve usually invited them all over for a barbecue. I didn’t want to do that because, well, it’s Mother’s Day and I’m supposed to relax and let others take care of the planning, right? My son Brad and family said they would come visit me after church. I was running late to church and wondered if I’d be OK without Steve there. As I rushed down the hall toward the chapel, I looked up and to my surprise there was Brad and my grandson Marlo waiting right outside the chapel doors for me! This meant SO MUCH to me. I don’t know how Marlo sneaked out of the house in his suit behind my back! Steve would have been so proud. It was just so thoughtful to get everyone all dressed up and in church just for me. I didn’t have to sit alone, and I was surrounded by loved ones on Mother’s Day. Perfect! It brought tears to my eyes, knowing how much I am loved. Aren’t kids great?
After church we had a wonderful visit and Brad gave me a foot rub. So relaxing! Then we talked to my son Andy and his family on FaceTime. They are wonderful. And then I went to Sid’s new house and spent some time with his family. It was a GREAT Mother’s Day. All the way to Sid’s house I was smiling and giggling. And then I won 2 rounds of BINGO at Sid’s house! I am a blessed woman. Oh, and then when I got back home my daughter Pepper and Marlo had cleaned the living room and kitchen to shining perfection. Whoever invented Mother’s Day – THANK YOU!