Monday, February 17, 2014

Confidence Builder

Finally finding a career I want to do for the rest of my life has been life changing for me. Each and every day that I am at my job there is a moment where I have that "Aha Moment" and realize that I am exactly where I want to be in the path to my life-long career. 

I have been feeling more and more comfortable at my job these last couple of months. Instead of running everything by my supervisor, I've learned the things that I can do with my own discretion. I have taken on more responsibility, and I have been learning and successfully performing new skills. It's not often that I feel proud of myself, but right now I certainly do. 

I finally bit the bullet with a co-workers persuasion and decided to start doing rapid streps and influenza screens. I watched them be done a handful of times, but never had the courage to do it myself, being too afraid I would do it right. That I would stick the swab too far up a nose, or not get the right part of the throat during a swab. But as I was told with Strep screens, "If you gag them, you're doing it right" and with Influs "You're just tickling their brain and if they don't hate you after you're done, you did it wrong." Boy are they right! I've now done them several times and I think I've finally got it figured out. I definitely can't be afraid to be mean doing these, and it's something that I really, really hate doing. But I've sucked it up and have volunteered to go them. Something I didn't want to do before!!

I was also pretty uneasy with doing blood cultures on my own. It's difficult to transfer blood into the bottles while keeping pressure on the venipuncture site. I would always either go and just watch, or have someone help me. But once again, I bit the bullet and started volunteering to do them myself. I have successfully done 3 or 4 with no help and I feel like I've done a good job with it.

I have also started to volunteer to go draw ERs that we have. I was always very nervous when it came to people coming through those ER doors. You never know what you're going to encounter. Traumas, breathing problems, heart attacks. It's just scary because you don't know the kind of shape they are going to be in. I would stay behind, answer the phones, do outpatient draws and whatever I could do to help out as long as I didn't draw them. That or I would have a tech come with me as my moral support, or backup. I finally decided that enough was enough and that I needed experience or I wasn't going to get any better with it. My adrenaline really kicks in as I'm walking down the hall to ER and I used to start shaking really badly, which, naturally, makes it really hard to do your job. 

But I have sucked it up, taken a few big deep breaths, and told myself that it's OKAY to take my time. I do have to say that for the most part, I have overcome the ER fear that I used to have. I still do not do well with traumas or things like car crashes, and I have someone either come with me, or go draw themselves, but I'm trying to overcome that as well. 

We have seen a lot of sick kids and they are tough to draw! None of us like it, but a couple weeks ago my supervisor encouraged me to draw a little 3 year old. One of my co-workers went with me, as is needed to support their arm and help with distraction. I ended up missing, but she backed me up and got it. But it was a good experience for me and showed me that I can do it without freaking out. My problem was going to shallow because I used a butterfly needle in the antecube and I'm used to going shallow with butterflies due to being in the hands. But I then drew a 6 year old successfully even though he was super nervous. That's the youngest I've done successfully. We put so much pressure on ourselves to draw those kids and make sure it's a 1 time thing. So much pressure that I often chicken out. But I KNOW I can do it... and that's a huge deal for me. 

My confidence has grown significantly. In the ability I have to do my job, and the confidence that I have in myself. My co-workers believe in me and know I can do it, too, and that plays a huge roll. I've drawn a lot of really difficult patients recently. And I've done it without a problem.. only after sweating it for a few seconds before sticking the needle in their arm. Just praying I've hit the vein that I can't see and can hardly even feel.

Today I had a very, very nice complement. A lady who doesn't normally hand out compliments came up to the lab and asked if my co-worker was there. I told her that he wasn't working today. She responded with, "Well then I don't know if you'll be able to get any blood out of me!"I kind of giggled because a lot of people say that. My co-worker is known for getting some pretty tough sticks when the rest of us can't, or chicken out. He's been doing it a long time and while we are all capable of doing it, he is gutsy and just goes for it. I think that's one reason why he's so successful with his draws. But I digress. She told me, "You get 2 tries. That's absolutely it!" I giggled again and told her before we even got into the draw room that it was okay, we'd take a look and see what I can find. She then looked and me with a straight face and said, "No I'm serious. Only two tries. That's all." My other co-worker was coming back into the lab and heard that conversation. I went back into the lab and she just laughed at me and said, "No pressure at all!" I was a bit nervous, but was going to try anyway. I found one that felt pretty good and decided to go for it. I got it on the first try and after I pulled the needle out and smiled she seriously told me, "You're even better than Mike." That's the best compliment that I've ever received because, as I said, she doesn't give out compliments and he can get just about anyone. Everyone asks for Mike. 

Today I was also able to get a man who never let me draw him before. I've won him over and now he doesn't ask for anyone else when he knows I'm the one that's going to do it. After I was done he told me, "You're just getting pretty good at that." Usually he flinches, a very low pain tolerance, but this time he didn't move an inch. 

I love my job. I love my patients and I love the residents at the home. I just love what I do. It's been a good few weeks and work and I'm looking forward to when I can go back to school, and maybe even come back for a year or two to learn the ropes as a tech. They have all said they really want me to come back after school. It's such a good feeling to be wanted.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Grief Patterns

I have noticed, I guess, somewhat of a pattern in my grief. It seems like there are a few months out of the year where I really miss Spencer. During those months I really feel the loss and I miss him clear down to my core. It's not that I don't miss him daily, because I do, but these months he just consumes nearly every thought.

Year one it was off and on. At times I was numb, and at times I was completely exposed and vulnerable. It came in waves and was different at each moment. Year two, it really hit around December as I approached the first year mark of his death. Things got a little bit better, and then I got terribly sick and I had a rough time around March through May. It got better once I started feeling better. The rest of that second year wasn't terribly bad. I got back to 'normal' and he didn't consume my thoughts.

This year, for some reason, February has really kicked it off. I think a lot of it has to do with all the focus and time I put into writing an article about our love. (Hopefully it will be published soon and I can share with you all.) I delved into things that I haven't thought about for so long. I faced the reality of him being gone.

Then I struggled with the date that marked 26 months of him being gone, 2/11. I don't know exactly why this hit me so hard, but every time I wrote 2/11 down at work, thought about that date, or saw it on the calendar, all I could think about is "Oh, that's the day my husband died." For the most part, I have gotten well passed these monthly reminders (The 11th of the months). I hardly even think that it marks another month gone. But this month it consumed my thoughts. On the 10th every time I thought about it a lump would form in my throat and I just wanted to cry. I was pretty busy at work on the actual day so I didn't think about it all that much, but for the first 2 hours of the day it was tough.  Valentines day quickly approached and while I love the day, I hate what and who it makes me miss. It just added to how much I've been missing my husband.

And unfortunately it hasn't improved too much since then. I have been missing him constantly. Always thinking about him. Sometimes I sit here entranced in a memory of him, replaying it over, and over in my mind. I find myself wishing I could tell him something or wanting so badly to share a memory with him. Wishing that we could have went to all the places we wanted to go and that we could have done all the things that we wanted to do. Wishing I would have handled a situation a little differently or said something more to him.

I just miss him, so much. I miss what we had and what we will never get to have together. I wish there were adequate words to express how much it hurts sometimes. It doesn't often make me cry anymore, but there have been a couple times where I've been brought to tears. I'm not used to that. I don't like feeling so vulnerable. I don't like feeling so alone.

Just last night I was scrolling through my facebook and came across a post in a grief group I am part of on there (which I probably should just leave). Someone posted something saying, "I can't believe that he's gone. Forever." It stopped me in my tracks. Of course I know that Spencer is gone. Dead. But when I think of the finality of it like that, it is literally too much to bare. Maybe that's how I get through. I look at the life I have ahead of me. I think of all the amazing things that I can do with it and what all I can become because of it. I see the potential in my future because I know that I cannot change my past. I don't dwell and sit and think that wow... This is forever. I am never going to get to see my husband again in this life. I will never get to hold his hand again, lay beside him, hear him laugh, watch him breathe. I know this... but when I think of it in that way, it hurts and reduces me to tears. I wish I hadn't have seen that post. But I can't now undo what I have seen. I'm just going to try my best and not think of it in that way.

Sometimes it seems wrong, or that I am living in some kind of made up world that I don't think of the finality of his death. The forever part of things. It's like I'm just pushing aside the reality. But how else am I supposed to keep living my life if I don't do just that? I would be forever crippled by the pain of his loss if I stopped to think of that. I guess it's just whatever keeps me going. It's not that I'm ignoring the "Forever" part of things... it's just that I choose not to think about it.

There is some comfort, a lot actually, that I know there is something out there after death. I can't call myself very religious or strong in my faith right now. I don't go to church, don't read my scriptures, don't pray. I won't get into that muddy mess. But it doesn't stop me from my core belief that there is something more after we die. Will I get to see Spencer again when I die? I don't know. I can only hope that I will be reunited with him again. I can only trust and believe that I will. And sometimes that's what keeps me going.

But forever on this Earth is such a long time without him.

I miss my husband. And lately, it's almost been too much to bare.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentines Day

Oh Valentines Day... I'm not going to lie, I really love Valentines Day -- Well at least I did. And really, I still do, I'm just sad that I don't have that special someone to share it with. I have so much love in my heart and I find it so fun to have that extra little excuse to share it. But as so many people have already pointed out, I never did need a specific day with Spencer to show my love. I was always doing sweet little things for him. It was just extra fun to see all the cheesy valentines day gifts I could get for him. We had fun with it.

This year a resident at the Hester Home asked me to be her valentine. She truly is the cutest little lady I've ever met! I go up to the Home and draw blood at least once a week. Mrs. R (as we will call her here), is so sweet to me, no matter how early I wake her up, or how often I have to draw her blood, which is really quite frequently. I know she doesn't like it and she gets frustrated with it, but she is always so kind to me and very sweet. I oftentimes have to wake her up at 6am, but she always shares her smile with me. 

Last week after I took her blood, I gave her a red bandage and told her the color was just right for Valentines Day! She responded with, "Oh! That's right! It's coming up, isn't it?" I told her it was and then she said, "Well, will you be my Valentine?" with a cute little grin. How could I resist?! I giggled and told her that I would love to be her Valentine. She was so excited and proceeded to give me a big hug. So the other day when I was drawing her again, I told her to expect a nice treat from me. She insisted that I didn't get her anything, but I just couldn't help it :) 

I went up to the Home after work and gave her a small container of cookies and a card. They were in the middle of a Valentines Party, but I quietly sneaked in and told her it was waiting for her in her room. She was so thrilled to see me and gave me a hug. I chatted with her a few minutes and went on my way. It really made me feel good and I'm so glad I took the time to do that for her. I don't know her very well, and I don't know if she gets a lot of visitors, but I sure do enjoy seeing her and chatting with her when I'm up there, even if it's just about the weather. I know I become a bit attached to these residents at the home, but they are so nice to me and I really truly enjoy seeing them and spending a few minutes with them when I draw their blood. It's completely worth it to go that extra mile and sit when them an extra moment when they are a little down, or to look at a picture of their family with them, or read a card with them that they have gotten in the mail. They are so excited to share with me when I come. :)

A couple of years ago for Valentines day, the first one I spent without Spence, I picked 5 people to exchange Valentines with. I made cute little owls out of toilet paper rolls. They turned out SO cute. I had a really fun time giving them and it was fun to see what they sent back. Last year I went to visit Spencer's grave and I went to Olive Garden, as we always used to to. 

I'm glad I've found ways each year to make this day special for me. It's tough not having my husband around to share it with, but I enjoy sharing it with other people. I think I'm going to pick back up the exchange with friends next year. I didn't do it this year for some reason, but I think having Mrs. R as my Valentine was the perfect way to have it :)

Even though I don't get to express my love directly to Spencer anymore, our love is still there and it is still very tangible to me. There are a couple of quotes I just love by Mitch Albom that perfectly describe the love between Spence and myself. 

"Death ends a life, not a relationship."
"Lost love is still love, Eddie. It takes a different form, that's all. you can't see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move around a dance floor. But when those sense weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You dance with it. Life has to end," She said. "Love doesn't." 
And our love will never, ever have an end.