WEEKEND WARRIORS

Where are my weekend warriors at? I love love love my weekend crew. A weekend warrior at the hospital works every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. My oldie nurses usually refer to this as “baylor shifts”. Back in the day they used to pay nurses a crazy differential to work just weekends. Why did we do away with this? Give me all the weekends.

As a single mom, working weekends works much better for me. I can be home with the kiddos during the week. Then home during the week to take them to school, pick them up, and everything in between. I don’t have to worry about child care during the week except for rarely if I go out of town without the kids. Majority of my weekend coworkers are single parents, have small kids, spouses that work during the week, are in school, or prefer the laid back atmosphere.

Years ago my co-sister and I had worked the weekend, then when we got off on Monday morning had breakfast and hit the beach. This younger college student came up to us and asked us what we did for a living. She was like, I was just wondering what you did that you’re able to be at the beach on a random Monday while everyone else is at work. We told her we were nurses and work the weekends in the ER. By the look on her face I think we didn’t really give her the answer she was looking for. When her response was “on purpose?”, we knew she wouldn’t be seeking a nursing career.

If you ask anyone that works weekends they will tell you it has its pros and cons. While everyone is chaotic and filled with the Monday blues, you are enjoying the start to our days off. The perks of weekends are: increased shift differential, no traffic coming to work, beer breakfast being acceptable, no management, being home during the week, and the all hands on deck culture.

All we have is each other on weekends. This is a recipe for on outstanding family atmosphere with teamwork written all over everything we do. When things get crazy and chaotic everyone jumps in to get whatever needs to be done….. done. Nobody drowns. Nobody gets left behind. We are all in. We are weekend warriors hear us roar! Ok just kidding. Being dramatic would never fly on a weekend shift. So to my fellow weekend warriors, you are for sure made of sugar and spice. Keep up the good work. May we raise our coffee cups high my friend and know we are needed/appreciated even if it’s just by each other!

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Nurse and doctor relationships…

Well July is coming to an end. For anyone that works at a teaching hospital, you know exactly what I mean. I have such a respect for residents because I’m the first to admit that I could not maintain their schedules, performance pressure, and my sanity. I would’ve just quit probably as a med student.

Nurses and physicians work so closely together that it is imperative that we have a great relationship. When doctors and nurses have good working relationships patients have better outcomes, workplace satisfaction goes up, staff turn overs decrease,  and stress levels drop.

I say this all the time but it is just like a marriage. We are both committed. We wont always like each other but we have to make it work. If you find yourself getting easily frustrated in any way then here are somethings to consider about nurse and physician relationships:

#1- Take ownership that the relationship is 50% your responsibility.

#2- Over communication beats no communication every time. Communicate about everything. All things patient care. I’ve never had a doctor tell me that I’ve told them too much. They use all the details to come up with the best plan of care for the patient.

#3- Listen to what each other is trying to communicate. I always tell my kids… God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.

#4- Respect each other. Nurses don’t always agree with physicians decisions and physicians don’t always like how a nurse is managing their patient. Speaking to each other calmly and nicely goes a long way. Body language is everything. A patient or their family should never be able to tell the nurse and physician do not agree. The bedside is never a place to disrespect each other. This makes the patient and their families lose confidence in the care being provided.

#5- Give each other kudos for a job well done. Being acknowledged for doing a good job always makes for a closer relationship. It always means a lot for a physician to recognize a good job. They need it too.

#6- Team members work together. I almost lost my mind when a resident came into another patients room to tell me to go back into the room they just came from and give them the urinal sitting on the counter…….. but all the physicians that have taken patients off bedpans or done an incentive spirometer have made up for it.

#7- Trust is earned on both sides.

#8- Always be quick to apologize for doing or saying something you shouldn’t have. This speaks volumes of your character and tells the other that you care enough to right your wrongs. Needless to say I feel like my apology game is strong. I try to be quick to apologize and in turn it has brought my relationships with physicians closer.

We have both mad the decision to be in the people business. We see the good, the bad, and the ugly. Being their for each other and having good healthy relationships is a culture that promotes success for everyone. Love the heck out of your baby doctors and nurses because goodness knows they need it for putting up with us!

Until next July……………………………………………..

Holding in the ER again…. You got this!

For many ER nurses like myself, we actually invite the constant turn over of patients. Literally there are no two nights of work that are the same…ever. I love my job and I can’t see myself doing anything else. When patients come to the emergency room they are either admitted or discharged. At least that is the case a majority of the time until there are no open rooms in the hospital. Then we are holding our patients in the ER and then we instantly become both ER and floor nurses. This sucks for patients, nurses, and doctors. The ER isn’t designed for holding since we have to be ready to take whatever comes in the door and we cant turn anyone away.

According to the Center for Disease Control, based on 2015 results emergency rooms across the country are seeing approx 136.9 million patients a year. Among those patients, 12.3 million are admitted to the hospital. There isn’t an Emergency Room in the world that is exempt from holding patients at some point. There is good news though. It doesn’t have to be miserable and it’s up to us to make it better! We can’t control holding patients but we can take responsibility for what we can control.

Every time I have a patient that is admitted and know they will not be getting a bed anytime soon I make a quick reference sheet. I get a sheet of printer paper and place a patient label at the top and fill the paper out accordingly. I just make note of  the patients allergies, brief history, diagnosis, systems review, things to do, IV, medications, and family. If the patient is progressive it’s not as detailed as if the patient is ICU status. If the patient is ICU then I also jot down things I need to make sure I chart. For example, hourly assessments, I&O’s , and restraints. Pictured are the differences between the two (excuse the man handwriting). A quick reference sheet makes it is easy to keep track of what I need to do and makes giving report very easy. You have it all at one glance what you’ve done and what needs to be done.

When I orient a nurse to the ER, I always tell them there are three things you focus on when you have an admitted patient. Those three things are: bathroom, medication, and comfort in that order!  If you address these things right off the bat then I promise you it will save you ALOT of running around.

Bathroom:

  • Clean your incontinent patient. Even if they do not appear soiled. Provide peri-care and a new brief. (Make sure you document it.) That way you know for sure that the patient was dry and all the linens are not bunched up underneath them.
  • If they can ambulate  without assistance, then make sure they go to the bathroom so they know where it is.
  • If they need assistance to and from, encourage them to go to get it out of the way. Then make sure you communicate with them to let you know as soon as possible because it is the ER and it can chaotic at any given time.
  • Provide urinals if the setting is appropriate.

Medication:

  • Make sure home medications are reconciled if possible.
  • Whatever medications are scheduled then work with pharmacy to get the medication so you can give it. Yes even the stool softner….
  • If pain medications are due then give them.
  • When you look through orders if the patient needs pain meds, muscle relaxants, tylenol/motrin, anti-coagulants, anti-reflux, or anti-nausea meds then be proactive in asking for them from admitting physician.

Comfort:

  • Make sure they’re in a gown and socks.
  • Provide warm blankets and pillows. (If your facility does not provide pillows in the ER or notoriously runs out, then you keep asking management for them. This is a cheap and easy way to make the beds comfortable and aid against skin break down like floating heels.)
  • Check their diet status and if they can eat and drink then make sure they have something available.

It is VERY easy for nurses to do the bare minimum for admitted patients but you don’t want to be that nurse. You want to be better than that. You want the patient to go to the floor and ask to go back to the ER because the nurses took such good care of them. Communicating with them about what is going on will help decrease their anxiety of wondering what is going on. Make sure you are updating them and the family. Holding patients isn’t ideal but it is doable. It’s what you make it!

 

 

 

Tapped out! Surviving 2018….

As the new year came, I’ve had so many “new year, new you” conversations with friends and co-workers. A few years ago I was taking care of a patient on New Years Eve and they said, “Honey don’t you know what you do for the new year is what you will be doing all year?”. I haven’t worked another New Years Eve shift since!

Last year was such a tough year. I have been through some crap in my life but last year was one for the books. One of my sweet co-workers asked me why I had not blogged about all the craziness. I laughed and replied, “Because nobody would believe it!”. It’s literally been one thing after another as if being a single mom was not chaotic enough. The truth is there is something so vulnerable about putting yourself out there. My sweet daughter said, “Mommy maybe there is someone out there that is crying about the same thing but when you stop crying they keep crying.”. Out of the mouth of babes.

When you don’t have the words to say many times tears do the talking. There have been lots of tears shed in 2018 and now I feel like I’m so soft I can cry at the littlest thing that has me in my feelings. No really, have you watched a YouTube video on dachshund puppies? All the sniffles. When I was going through my first divorce I was so broken, I asked God for a favor. I asked Him to help me not have a hard heart. To turn my hard heart into tears. Well He answered my prayers in abundance.

After this past year, I will never be the same. I’m absolutely not going to rehash everything here but the following is a recap of 2018:

  • Unexpected break up with someone I really thought I was going to grow old with.
  • The death of my best friends husband.
  • My son decided to go live with his dad. (Ok started tearing up just typing that).
  • Found out my other son was involved with the wrong crowd and had his hand in drugs. (NEVER trust a teenager).
  • My other other son was arrested for fighting his brothers bullies at school. (Oh the repercussions such as court hearings, community service, therapy, alternative school).
  • Then on top of all of that, I had to have a hysterectomy and went into instant menopause.

Can we just say holy anxiety attack? Any number of these things piled on top of all the day-to-day stuff like Kelby breaking her wrist or having to pay for braces could be enough to send someone over the edge……………………… well it almost did. Something I have never experienced in my life until about 4 months ago is anxiety attacks. Mental health is such a touchy topic and nobody wants to really talk about what they’re really feeling, including me. However, here we are. Hitting your max of what you can handle is a very unsettling feeling. I was already at the point of “I cant handle anything else” and then boom. The cops show up to take my son away in handcuffs.

The littlest thing would feel so overwhelming. Like what do you mean you’re out of Publix fried chicken? What are my kids going to eat for dinner? I wasn’t planning on cooking and now this?! PANIC! Sounds crazy to even say but when your anxiety is at an all time high things that seem so easy feel like road blocks. I knew something had to give because my poor kids were freaked out. My oldest son said, “Mom I don’t know what’s going on with you but I really need you to chill out”. I needed to hear that. So I had to lean in and dig deep and get through this.

So here is how I survived the hardest year to date:

  • COUCH TIME! Snuggling up on the couch with my comfy comforter and just laying there. Sometimes the girls would snuggle up and we would watch You Tube videos about slime or painting squishes. Other times were when the boys would hang out and watch a movie, or two, or three. Being still and being together was everything right. (Disclaimer: single moms usually get little to no couch time ever).
  • Journaling. Writing out my feelings has always been something I’ve turned to in hard times. There is something about it that helps you clear your head and leave whatever it is on the paper.
  • Music. I always try to have music on because is calming and can set the mood.
  • My dogs. I don’t feel like a crazy dog lady but I might be. img_5575Even after a long shift I will snuggle up and pet the dogs til I fall asleep.
  • My soul sisters. I can’t put into words what it means when your best friend shows up with cake and flowers. Then another one shows up with dinner and cookies. One of the worst anxiety attacks my sweet love stayed on the phone with me until I calmed down enough to fall asleep. The unconditional love received by my friends has always seen me through but this past year meant everything.

I’m so thankful to be out of such a dark time. Everything that I was met with and had to go through was hard but looking back all of it made me stronger. Break ups are tough but you always learn from them. Losing someone to death only made me stronger in my faith. My son deciding to go live with his dad was hard but was an opportunity for my son to go to a better school and now our time together is even sweeter. Showing my other son tough love and seeing him through making better choices than a lifestyle of drugs made our bond even closer and taught him a lot about self-worth. My other other son has learned that being arrested doesn’t define you and has taken away so much from therapy. The time home recovering from surgery helped me have time off from work to deal with everything.

If you are going through something hard find what calms you and do ALOT of that!!

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Must have girls weekend….. it’s a must…

Welp…. As a single mom of 5 kids going away without kids is next to impossible. It requires ALOT of pre-planning and re-planning down to the last detail. Anybody who knows me knows that I absolutely suck at both planning and details so I have to work extra hard to make a girls weekend happen. I can count on one hand how many times in 15 years since I became a mother that I left the kids to have some time for myself. However, girls weekend is officially a must and I’m not going to be making any apologies for my new found MUST!

My sweet co-sisters from work convinced me months ago that I needed to get-a-way. Maybe it’s all my new wrinkles or the constant stressed out look I’ve had or all the weight I’ve gained. Whatever the reason they were right! I was locked into going from the first Venmo of paying my portion for the room. Which surprisingly ladies when you split a room between friends you really cant beat the price. Leading up to the trip I experienced some health issues. I went to the doctor and he was like ok well we need to schedule your hysterectomy within the next couple weeks. I of course cried talking to the surgery scheduler. Im like… “Listen lady I have a girls trip paid for and I really want to go. I deserve a weekend.”. Without hesitation she said “No problem. I totally get it. How about the day after you get home from your trip? He would prefer a different day but he will understand.”. PERFECT! She clearly knows the importance of girl time!

I had an amazing weekend filled with my favorite tequila and the best co-sisters. We laughed. We danced. We shared Ubers and country concerts. We swam. We sunbathed. We napped. We took the stairs (at least once). We encouraged each other. We celebrated us. We already started planning for next year. We deserved time away from our everyday chaotic lives to refocus, recenter, and take a breath of fresh air. I never felt bad about it for one second.

Why don’t we take more time for ourselves? My mom is a selfless woman. She always has been dedicated to her job. Nights and weekends are spent keeping up with the house, running errands, and now helping with all of her grand kids. She never took girls weekends when I was growing up. When the kids were younger I felt like I needed them with me at all times if I wasn’t at work. I see the error of my ways. Mommy needs a minute….. or two. Good gracious I am only one person and can only do so much. My friend Gina vacations with her mom and sister a few times a year. I want that for my girls more than anything! Permission to get-a-way and just be.

On my drive home I started thinking about self love and what that looks like and means. I’m interested to hear and learn more from other mothers and full time bread winners what self love means to them and how they find time for themselves through the chaos!

 

Ladies do yourself a favor a plan a girls trip right now! Text your friends and get the date on the books! We aren’t getting any younger and we only live once! Your family and job will survive a weekend without you… promise…

Good Grief

After writing this post, I deleted it at least three times. Something about grief makes me feel very vulnerable. Grief comes from a broken heart over someone that once was part of the glue keeping your heart pieces together. There are many people in my life that I have lost or love from a distance. There is a pinterest saying that says something along the lines of “grief comes in waves”. That could not be more true. Sometimes it is so strong that it hurts to breathe but nobody can see how much pain you’re in just that looking at you. We can grieve those that have passed and those that for whatever reason are not in our lives the way they once were……….. or the way that we want them to be.

Recently my dear friend asked her closest friends to go to the beach and celebrate what would of been her and her beloved husbands 9th wedding anniversary. This spoke volumes to me for a couple of reasons. For starters she knew that it would be a very hard “first” for her to face without support. She knew she didn’t want to face their first wedding anniversary apart by herself. She never dreamed that last years anniversary would’ve been their last together. When she mentioned it to me a month in advance (she is very much so a planner), I knew in her voice she needed us there. Secondly she invited us to grieve with her. She opened herself up to others during a very vulnerable time. That takes some serious strength. I couldn’t even post this before deleting three times and breaking out in a cold sweat when hitting the “publish” icon.

As we made plans to meet, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s been very hard for me to watch my friend miss her husband so much. On bad days I want to jump in and save the day but their isn’t anything I can do. I just let her talk and we cry. On good days I enjoy seeing that beautiful smile again. Her husband loved to make her smile. They were so in tuned that a glance across the room would put these goofy grins on both their faces. I’ve always wanted that kind of love.

So, the day came and we all gathered at the beach. She picked a hotel on the beach where she and her husband had made some precious memories together in years before. The day was beautiful. We shared smiles and laughs. Told stories of our beloved friend. Ate chicken wings in his honor. Even if we all would’ve been there and not said one word we were their in one accord. We miss him. Nothing changes that. For the first few months after he passed the shock felt like it wasn’t real. Like he was going to come back at anytime. Now eight months later we grieve. I cant explain to you exactly why it was so comforting to have us together to celebrate their anniversary, but it was comforting, beautiful, and needed.

Giving ourselves permission to grieve gives us freedom. Freedom from suppressed emotions that make clouds our thoughts. Everything doesn’t stop just because we’ve lost someone regardless of how we lost them. There is still laundry to be done, groceries to get, work to clock in and out of, and for many kids to raise. There is something about losing the ones that love you unconditionally. Some uncertainty about the future. You have to keep going and allow yourself to time to miss them. Overtime you’re still going to miss them and grief is going to come in waves. You take those moments to remember them. Take as many as you want or need to remember them and what they mean to you.

As far as watching someone you love grieve. All you can do is be there for them. Most people don’t because they don’t know what to say. Just listen to them. Let them tell as many stories as they need to. Never tell them to get over it because they’re never coming back. Don’t you think they know that? It’s a process. We are never going to get over it. Our hearts wont let us. We will continue to move on and press through. The waves of grief are sometimes like a hurricane and sometimes they’re like a two foot surf. Nobody controls the weather. Nobody.

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I love you my sweet friend and I’m going to weather this storm with you as you have done for me….

The Keys on a budget!

Raising five kid’s aint cheap. After my divorce I committed to making memories for my kids. I made it a priority. With that being said when you’re broke you don’t have a lot to work with and requires lots of planning ahead. People have asked so I wanted to share my tricks on how to get out of town and have complete down time with your kids. Uninterrupted, focused on them, down time. Priceless.

 

#1 Go over the money rules BEFORE you arrive!

  • “Mommy is NOT buying a bunch of crap from the gas station so don’t even ask.”! Literally kept coolers full of cold drinks and snacks from the time we pulled out of the drive way to prevent dropping a fortune at the gas station.
  • Told them we would only be eating out one meal a day and the other meals we would be eating in. Never once did anyone complain.. (WIN!)
  • Planned meals and shopped all the bogo of the week deals at Publix. Then of course loaded up on deli meat and cheese to make sandwiches ready to eat.
  • No souvenirs. You must find shells or sea glass. However, ended up having extra money from saving they did get to pick out something. I got a wine bottle koozie that I’m SO happy about!

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#2 Airbnb Baby!

  • Soooooooo easy to navigate the app and use the filters to find exactly what you want within your price range.
  • They have this very unique feature that if you book far enough out from your trip your payments are split into two. Literally the best thing. Pay half at the time of book and then the other closer to your trip.
  • We rented an awesome RV located in a gated RV park with its own down and community pool. Also came with kayaks! Literally the most peaceful set up!

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#3 Plan activities!

  • We brought all of fishing stuff because of course that was the kid’s main goal. I told him I was only going to buy bait when we got there. Ended up buying a bag of hooks to but I let it slide.
  • The boys brought their xbox for down time at night. In preparation for rainy days we brought cards and board games. It never rained during the day but one night we all were exhausted and played board games for an hour or so and crashed.
  • There is a ton of stuff to drop your money on for experience purposes. We didn’t charter a boat, swim with dolphins, or ride in a helicopter. However, we did pack our lunch, went to two state parks, and a beautiful secluded beach that we couldn’t get enough of. We did make a lot of memories and had some precious quality time together.
  • If you know me then you know that Im actually a horrible planner. I usually have a general idea of what I would like to do but that is as far as I go. Well ideas need more than just a thought. So things went very smoothly when I was like ok we are going to go to this beach today and that beach tomorrow. Kids do better when they’re in the know.

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So there you have it folks. That’s the science behind this broke mommy taking her gaggle to The Keys. I’m already planning next year but I want to go for WAY longer. My heart is SO full and happy from the sweet quality time we had together<3