Friday, March 24, 2006

Curiosity Didn't Kill the Nurse -- but it was close...

I had to have a "procedure" yesterday, nothing difficult, just a same day surgery to make life a little easier and maybe get the whole menopause thing to kick into a higher gear. I didn't even tell my daughter until the night before because it just wasn't that important.

Although I've felt better, I don't feel all that bad today...although I would have taken today off work if I didn't have a cart full of charts and a deadline in which to review them.

I wouldn't even have blogged about it, if it weren't for the mystery.

Who sent me flowers? 10 red and white roses, to be specific. Delivered to my desk in my department this afternoon and signed only, "Thinking of You".

They're not from Roger. I called the florist, and they can only tell me that someone from out of town sent them. My daughter didn't send them (although she says if she'd thought of it, she would have). Mom would have signed the card "Love, Mom". My brother would have signed it "ooga-booga" or "The Greatest Steve the World Has Ever Known". Robyn would have sent me something she made (she makes incredibly cool stuff). Gavin lives here (and has no money and wouldn't know how to go about ordering flowers). My sister lives here. My nieces don't have a clue where I work. A vendor or pharma company would surely have put something different on the card. My exhusband won't even send me his half of Gavin's dental bills, much less flowers. It's unlikely that any of my other friends from out of town know that I work in this who the heck sent them?

Curiosity makes me crazy. All my life, I've understood just how the proverbial cat felt.

Even so, someone's apparently random act of kindness sure made my day (and has the whole department talking -- and it's fun to be the object of office envy for a day). So, Mysterious Person, thank you!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Extreme Volunteering

I spent most of the day Saturday working with a pet rescue group, getting ready for OKC's Giant Charity Garage Sale.

Instead of working directly with pets (which I've found to be dangerous -- more on that later), I get to work with people's castoff stuff...unloading, pricing, packing and another couple of weeks, we'll move all of it out to the fairgrounds and then spend some very long days wheeling and dealing and amassing money by nickels and dimes for homeless animals.

This is a great thing to do in the springtime, in warm sunshine and balmy breezes, with a crew of similarly minded folks (pet rescue people tend to be a lot of fun). We work out of a storage unit facility, so there's no heating and no air conditioning, and little protection from the elements when the doors are open.

This Saturday it was 38 degrees and pouring rain. Most of the crew didn't show up (probably wimped out like my friend Bev), so those of us who did worked, not any dogs I know. My dogs tend to spend a lot of time lazing on pillows, even acknowledging my return home with a couple of tail thumps and perhaps an ear perk if they're feeling particularly lively. I suppose I could say that we worked like nurses...

Surprisingly, though, the bad weather brought out the donors in record numbers. Maybe it just seemed like record numbers because there were so few of us to get the work done, or maybe because the rain made for lots of extra work because the Oklahoma winds drove it sideways and right into our faces; we had to work so far back in the storage unit that it was hard to move around.

One couple dropped off 10 to 12 big, heavy boxes of stuff. When we opened them, they all turned out to be trash -- empty plastic bottles, burned out electrical equipment, broken pots. I can't figure out why they did this, unless they wanted a tax receipt without actually donating anything.

Most people, though, brought stuff that should be fairly easy to sell -- furniture, working small electrics, toys, craft stuff, clothes, shoes, dishes, pots, decorative and holiday stuff, even an English saddle...which someone marked $20 until I made them remark it. That riding stuff is expensive.

If you've gotten this far, you are probably wondering why I find it dangerous to work with the shelter animals.

Every time I do, I take one home. I just can't stand the thought of homeless dogs and cats. And since I'm down to two dogs and a lizard, I feel somewhat guilty that I haven't taken in another pet...all it would take would be pleading brown eyes looking into mine, or a hairy body leaning on my leg.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Nurse vs. Leprechaun

St. Patrick's Day is inextricably linked for me with my friend Bev. She has classical Irish good looks -- fair skin, red hair, and green eyes -- and is very proud of her Irish heritage. For the past 7 years, we've been talking about taking a trip to Ireland once Gavin graduates from high school.

I hope we pull it off. We're looking at B&Bs, couchsurfing (which I have actually tried and enjoyed -- thanks to Adele of Albuquerque), and a bicycle or walking tour; we hope to stay for 2-4 weeks. Bev's quite a homebody (she has perfected the art of "if you can't find happiness in your own backyard, you can't find it anywhere") but she assures me that we will make this happen. We're within a year or two of talking this trip, and I'm starting to get the trip planning itch.

She and I used to work together long ago, doing schizophrenia studies. On one St. Patrick's Day, we were visiting our patients in the hospital, and this conversation ensued with a psychotic but gregarious young man. Bev was wearing an apple green blouse that day, which really set off her eyes and hair.

Patient to Bev: "Are you a doctor?"
Bev (head down, writing a note in a chart): "No."
Patient: "Well then, are you a leprechaun?"

Both Bev and I are very good at accepting whatever we hear without a blink, but I can't begin to tell you how hard we laughed at this. Luckily, the patient seemed to think it was hilarious too.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

His eyes are closed, long lashes black against the roses of his cheek. Golden stubble covers his chin where his beard has started to grow in. His chest moves up and down. The vein at the side of his neck pulses rhythmically. He looks peaceful; and it seems as though he is sleeping soundly, but might wake at any time.

Except that he won't; the scans all indicate that there is nothing left of Jeron's intellect. I hope his spirit stuck around long enough to see how much his family and friends love him.

They will turn the machines off tonight. He'd elected to give the gift of himself to someone in need, so perhaps he will spare another family the grief he has given his own.

Goodbye, Jeron. Someday I hope to see what you look like with your wings on.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

No good news -- Jeron still has no gag reflex, no pain reflex, little pupil reflex, and is breathing with the aid of a vent. More tests tonight, and my daughter and her husband are here.

In the past few days, I've begun to question my own kids' emotional stability. Well, that's not entirely true -- Alex is very free with her emotions, thoughts, and feelings, so it's never very difficult to know what her mood is and what she wants or needs...and she doesn't just give up if she doesn't get what she needs, either. She will get it one way or another. She is a very caring person, though, so she never tramples others to get her needs met.

Gavin, on the other hand, rarely ever shares his inner landscape (although he, too, is an obviously caring individual). If Alex is a force of nature, Gavin is the immovable object. A struggle of wills between these two is like witnessing worlds collide.

Since I figured he wouldn't tell me he was depressed even if I asked, I told him he was never allowed to commit suicide, hoping to determine his thoughts on the subject by his reaction to the question.

I shouldn't have worried.

Raised eyebrow, extremely surprised look: "Mom, why would I ever do that? Oh, wait...what if...[furrowed brow]what if...[suddenly speaking faster, words gushing out] what if I were captured by evil Commie Overlords and I alone knew the key chemical combination to make a biotoxin that would kill millions, and they were torturing me, and I was afraid I'd break down and give it to them...could I kill myself then?"

I gave him the Mom Look instead of an answer. But if it came to that, then yes, Gavin, you may kill yourself to save the Entire Free World. But even then, I'll still be mad at you.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Brothers -- Davin and Jeron.

Monday, March 06, 2006

It's been a long time, and I needed the break; the holidays were tough, but I managed, and now it's spring and things are blooming, love surrounds me, and life goes on.

Except sometimes it doesn't, or it doesn't in the way you wish it would.

There's a guy who works here at the university. He's a janitor, a little older than me, short, overweight, adores his wife (who has some major health problems), always has something kind to say, remembers everyone's name, has a smile and a greeting for all, and never, ever complains. You look at him, and your thought is: Happy. He's content. He's glad to be alive. Yet another man in his position might resent the job, avoid the people, complain about his wife, and keep his eyes on the ground. Instead, he makes everyone's day a little brighter. You just know that he carries joy with him, all day long, and by giving bits of joy away, he gets even more back.

I like to call this the "Little Mary Sunshine" method of life motivation. It's not for everyone. There aren't that many of us out there, and most of them are far sunshinier than me, but that's OK, because it isn't a competition. It's a way of life. Life is good, even if it hasn't been quite what I expected, and even if it took way too many years to realize that and find the joy in every day. My off-the-straight-and-narrow-road adventures have made me the person I am today, and I'm not sure I'd trade that for an easier ride.

Last night, though, a 26-year-old man, the brother of my son-in-law, decided to try and cut his own life short. He's in ICU and no one can say if he's going to pull through or not; there is no way to know.

He's young, tall and handsome, never had to worry about his health. There are so many "if only"s from his family members, so many "why"s, "I wish"s or "I should have"s. I have them too, even though I was only peripherally involved with his life. We want to be able to blame ourselves, even though that won't make things better and will only make us feel worse.

It was a struggle for me to learn to live and thrive with the crap life has given me, but somehow I managed. Why isn't it easier to share that hard-won knowledge?

I wish I could have helped. While I know there wasn't anything for me to do, I still feel as though I have somehow let everyone down; and if I feel this way, how must his mom feel? His brother? His dad? Yet, in the end, there was really nothing any of them could have done either.

I'd give him all the years I had left if it would bring him back and allow him to understand that life is good. Even if all you can do is sit and feel the sun on your face.

If anyone out there is reading this and contemplating suicide -- please, PLEASE tell someone, and keep telling people until someone understands that you are serious. Give life a chance. Give your friends and family the chance to help you; asking for help is not weak, and it is not too much trouble, and you are not a burden.

For anyone else who reads this, I hope you take the time today to sit in the sun (or some other place that makes you happy) and enjoy that sense of being that is so freely given to all of us. Take joy in your life; I hope Jeron will someday, somehow find a sense of joy in his own.