Your Right to Choose

There was recently three blog posts posted to the alopecia Facebook group that I’m a part of. I read all three of them. Only one person out of a thousand women in the group liked one of the three posts.

One of the posts talked about one of this person’s clients wanting to shave his head because he had lost half of his hair to alopecia. She told him that that would be giving up and that he didn’t need to shave his head. I don’t doubt that her program works because she has a lot of success stories on her website. I just don’t agree that telling someone that shaving their head is giving up on their alopecia. In the blog post, she did say that her client’s hair did grow back after using her program.

I do agree with her saying that diet and exercise are important.

Certain treatments work for some people and some treatments don’t work at all for some people. Some people try a few treatments and some people just want to try natural treatments. Some people elect not to do any treatments.

Any choice that a person makes for themselves about the treatments they want is the correct choice for them.

I’ve had some patients choose to get a second opinion because they don’t agree with the treatment the first doctor presented. I’ve had some patients refuse treatment. Some patients take the treatment that the doctor offers. As a nurse, I have to respect the treatment plan that the patient chooses. I cannot force any patient to take a treatment that they have decided not to take.

When I was first diagnosed with alopecia areata, I knew that I wanted to go the natural route and not be on any medication for life. When the doctor offered some steroid injections, I knew that I didn’t want the injections. I wanted to wait to see what the blood tests showed before I decided on any treatments. It turned out my vitamin D and iron levels were low. So I decided that I was going to take some vitamins and see if my hair would grow back. Thankfully my hair did grow back but I do still have a very small bald spot that hasn’t grown back.

In the future, I may change my mind and get the steroid injections if my alopecia comes back. Whatever I decide will be the best treatment option for me. I will listen to the options that the doctor offers but it will still be my choice on the treatment plan.

I’ve seen some women in the group that have shaved their heads and said that it felt very liberating to them. They have said that now they don’t have to worry about their hair or it makes it easier to wear their wigs. I’m really happy for them. It takes courage as a woman to shave your hair off.

Don’t let any one else’s opinion deter you from choosing a treatment that works for you.

Alopecia doesn’t have a cure yet. So the treatments that are offered work for some patients and don’t work for other patients. Just know that you have a choice. You can try as many treatments as needed until you find one that works for you. If you are ready to stop any and all treatments that is your choice. If you want to wear toppers or wigs that is your choice. If you want to rock a bald head that is your choice as well.

It is not giving up if you have made a choice that works for you.

Taking My Life Back

I recently had a situation where I had to make a choice.

I had been renting a car from my old landlord. The car has been having trouble ever since I first got it.

The low tire light has been coming on every 2 months. The first time it happened, the landlord said to take it to a mechanic and have them put air in the tires.

When I did that, about a week later, the mechanic said that I need all new tires. He showed me some cracks that were in the tires and some bald areas on the tires. He also showed me what a tire is supposed to look like. From that time on, I was nervous to drive the car.

When I told my old landlord, he said the mechanic was just saying that because I was a woman and he wanted to make a sale. My instinct was telling me to trust the mechanic but I needed a vehicle at the time. He was giving me a good deal on the rental car. I wouldn’t be able to find a rental car for the price that I was paying. So against my better judgment, I kept driving the car.

Every two months, I would just text the landlord and he would come out and put air in the tires and check the car. I was too nervous to the drive the car when I went whale watching so I would rent a car from Turo. That was even more money that I was spending.

The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back happened in November.

I went on vacation the second week of November. The week before, the tire light came on and the landlord fixed it while I was at work.

When I came back from vacation, one of the tires was completely flat. I had to take an Uber to the grocery store. The landlord was in Mexico, so he sent his associate to take the car to his mechanic in LA and fix the tire. When his associate came he found that the tag was expired. The tag had been expired for 5 months. I didn’t even know because I didn’t look at the tag. The associate was too nervous to drive it to the mechanic, so he took the tire to the mechanic. He was supposed to leave the car that he drove with me and take the car to the mechanic.

When he came back with the tire, he told me there was nothing wrong with the tire. My gut was telling me that there was something wrong. A tire just doesn’t go flat. I told my concerns to his associate but he told me that if I was pulled over by the cops they should just give me a warning. The hospital that I work at is right next to a police station.

The next day, the landlord calls me and says that the mechanic stated that someone was probably letting the air out of my tires at work. He said someone didn’t like me and that the tires were good. Again my gut was telling me that something was wrong with the tires. I only drive the car to work and the grocery store. My job is 10 minutes away and the grocery store is 5 minutes away from the house. He also said that someone stole my tag. He said that he put the new tag on in November when he last took the car to put some air in the tires. That still means that I was driving on an expired tag since the end of June.

My brother is a mechanic so I decided to get his opinion. I sent him pictures and videos of the tires. He confirmed what the first mechanic had said. There were cracks in the tires and they were about 7 years old. He said that I shouldn’t be driving on the tires.

I made a decision after that. I needed to get another rental car.

My landlord is a nice guy and I had asked him about two times if he had another rental car that I could rent. He had said no. I had asked if he would get the tires changed and he kept saying that he would but he never did.

I talked with my life coach about the situation and after that conversation it was clear that my landlord didn’t care about my feelings. He only cared that I was paying him on time. His actions were telling me that he didn’t care if I got pulled over for an expired tag or if the tires kept going flat. He allowed me to drive with an expired tag for 5 months.

I do take responsibility for the tag situation. I should have looked at the tag and let him know that it had expired. I was the one driving the car. He also had a responsibility to make sure the tag was up to date too. When the tag on my car is about to expire, I get something in the mail reminding me that the tag is about to expire.

This car situation was mirroring the situation at the hospital. In the hospital, we are reusing PPE that I was taught in nursing school was meant for one time use. Up until March, we could not use the same gown between multiple patients. We could not use the same mask more than once. Sometimes I feel like my life isn’t in my own hands anymore.

At least with the car situation, I could take my life back into my own hands. I could just rent another rental car.

I felt guilty about telling my old landlord that I wouldn’t be needing his car anymore. He was going through a lot of rough situations. I had asked for another rental car. He had also said many times before that he would replace the tires but he always came up with an excuse for not doing it. I needed to do what was best for me.

Now that I have another rental car, I can say that I feel safer in the car. I’m not afraid of the tires going flat. With a rental car company, if something goes wrong with this car, I can get a replacement car. I’m saving money because I don’t have to get another rental car when I go whale watching anymore. Yes, I am paying more money but I have peace of mind with this car. I’ve had the new rental car for 2 months and the low tire light hasn’t come on and the tires haven’t gone flat.

I am a little mad at myself for allowing this situation to go on for so long just to save money. I wasn’t even saving money because I was paying for 2 rental cars every week. The Turo car would be about $200 per month because I went whale watching every week.

Now that I look back at the situation, I have learned a lesson. Listen to myself. My gut was telling me that something was wrong with the car and I didn’t want to listen because another rental car would have been more expensive. I am committed to listening to my gut feeling. It hasn’t stirred me wrong yet. It is when I don’t listen that I get into trouble.

Have you ever had a situation where you didn’t listen to yourself?

Killer Whale Lesson

I was recently having a talk with my best friends and one of them said that she admired me for going whale watching around the world. I didn’t know that she admired me for that.

We had had a conversation about how we had wanted to live our lives a few years ago and that was one thing that we had agreed on. We had agreed that we wanted to be able to relax more and not to work so hard.

One of the ways that I have found to do that is through whale watching.

One of the reasons that I love killer whales is how they live their lives. They hunt when needed and they also know that play is important. After they hunt, they celebrate and play.

I read in the past, how when they hunt whales, one part of the pod will hunt and another part of the pod will rest. They take turns during the hunt so that way all of them won’t get too tired while hunting. They work smarter and not harder.

That is one of the lessons that I get when I go whale watching. When the dolphins are hunting, they hunt and then when it’s time to play, they play. They don’t have to earn their rest, they just do it because they would be exhausted if they just hunted and ate all day long.

It is a physical reminder from God, that as hard as I work is the same thing I have to do when I play or relax.

Nursing is a hard job. It takes a physical toll on your body and a mental toll on your body and spirit. A lot of nurses have back issues because of the job and a lot of emotional issues because of what we go through on the job. Just the other day, I was talking with a nurse about the emotional issues that we have been going through since the pandemic started. It is still hard to see people die without family and friends around them.

Even killer whales mourn their dead. One killer whale mother held onto her dead calf for some weeks because she was distraught. That same killer whale mother is said to be pregnant again this year.

Animals know when it is time to hunt and when it is time to play and relax. They know that relaxation and play is important to their survival just as much as hunting and eating is important.

You never know what people admire in you until they tell you. I would have never guessed that my best friend would admire me because I whale watch. I whale watch because I love to see whales and dolphins and they remind me to work and play in balance.

What do you do to relax or play? Let me know.

Another thing I love about killer whales is that they don’t think to themselves that they can’t earn their play or relaxation. After they hunt, they play. It’s a part of their culture to play after hunting.

As a travel nurse, I try to work for 4 weeks and then take a week long vacation. Even if I don’t go anywhere I want to take a week off for relaxation. As a staff nurse, I wasn’t able to take a vacation when I wanted to. I had to build up enough PTO (paid time off) to go on vacation. Even when I had enough PTO saved up, I still had to put in a request for the time off. Even with that request put in, the hospital could still say no. The hospital had to have enough staff to cover my shifts. At one hospital, the staff couldn’t take their weekend that they were supposed to work off. It was a policy to work every other weekend. I remember one nurse asked to take a 2 week vacation and the hospital said that she could but she had to come back to work her weekend. No one wants to come back from vacation and work their weekend and then fly back to Mexico. She had planned a trip to Mexico and she ended up just spending a week there instead of the 2 week vacation that she had originally planned.

I’ve learned that vacations are a necessary part of survival as a human being.

I went 9 years one time without a vacation. I can say that I was miserable. I had wanted to go and even made some plans for a vacation but the plans always fell through at the last minute. At the time, I was scared to go on vacation alone. Trying to coordinate a vacation with other people and their work schedules was hard. Especially since I wouldn’t know if I could go until the hospital approved my request off.

Take a cue from the killer whales and work when needed and also play when needed. You don’t have to earn the right to work hard and play hard.

Room to Grow

I recently had some events happen to me that let me know that I still have some room to grow.

The first event happened a month ago.  I was whale watching and I wanted to see some whales.  It had been a long time since whales had been spotted.  By now I know that nothing is guaranteed with whale watching.  You could go whale watching every day and see something different or see nothing.  Nature is not scripted and if you do see something then you were meant to see it.

A month ago, we ended up seeing some Risso’s dolphins.  I have never seen any of those dolphins.  The captain and the photographer said that they hadn’t seen those dolphins in Newport Beach.  I was grateful and happy that I saw them but there was another part of me that was sad that I didn’t see any whales.

The other situation happened a few weeks ago.  I went up to Seattle to whale watch.  I was hoping to see the killer whales.  The killer whale season in Seattle is from the end of June through September.  I was within the season.  Even the resident killer whales are not a guarantee to be seen because their food source has been on the decline.  Unfortunately I didn’t see any killer whales but we did see some Dall’s porpoises.  I was also sad that day.  The reason I was sad was because I had wanted to see the killer whales because I had had a horrible dream about them about a month ago.  In the dream, every killer whale in the world wanted to kill me.  Usually when I dream about killer whales, they help me and protect me.  I wanted to see them so that I could feel better.  Then I read the whale blog on the whale watching company’s website and they saw some killer whales the very next day.  I just wasn’t meant to see the killer whales.

In each of those situations, I got to see something that rarely happens.  It wasn’t what I wanted to see but it was what I was meant to see.  These situations taught me that I still have room to grow.  Growing to be more thankful for what I do see.  I’m not going to stop wanting and traveling to see killer whales, which are my favorite animal.  But I am going to try to stop being sad when I don’t see what I want to see and be grateful for what I do see.  

Is there a situation where you know that you could grow?

 

Hindsight

If I had of known what was going to happen in 2020, I would have traveled more last year.  I didn’t travel because I knew that I was going to be in California in 2020 and I was going to travel a lot then.  Some psychics knew.  But you can’t prove a psychic right until the event happens until then it is just a dream or something that people think they made up.

Some people wear glasses or contacts to get 20/20 vision.  20/20 vision is perfect vision.

One of the lessons that I learned from 2020 is that some of the things that used to work for me, don’t work for me anymore.  I’m seeing very clearly what works and what doesn’t.  The things that are happening in 2020 are also teaching me that my actions can affect other people.

Another lesson that 2020 has taught me is hindsight really is 20/20.

I recently had another nurse ask me if my decision to stop dating helped me to get to know myself.  I told her yes.  It took me years to make that decision but that it helped me to get to know myself.  I used to put my boyfriend’s needs above my own needs.  I told her the story of my first boyfriend.

When my first boyfriend’s car broke down, I told him that I would drive him to work and pick him up until he got his car fixed.  He worked an hour away from his job.  At the time, I also had an 8 am college class.  I had to get him to work at 7 am.  I got myself up at 5 am and got to his house by 6 am.  At the time, I had a Plymouth Neon which was horrible on gas mileage.  I ended up having to fill up every day.  Just 4 hours of driving on the highway would deplete my gas tank to empty.

What happened to my 8 o’clock class?  I was always late for it.  I could make it there by 8:15 but never any earlier.  The traffic would get bad around 7 am with every one else trying to get to work.  The teacher could have kicked me out of the class because I was always late but thankfully he didn’t.

I took him to work for about a month and then I had to stop.  I couldn’t afford the gas.  I was only working one part time job at that time.

The old Shavawn didn’t see a problem with that.  Putting her college class in jeopardy wasn’t even a concern for her at the time.  She needed to be there for her boyfriend so that he wouldn’t lose his job.  The current Shavawn sees a concern with putting her dreams in jeopardy for a boyfriend.

In hindsight, I can say with certainty that giving up dating to get to know myself was the right decision.  At the time that I was making the decision, I didn’t really want to stop dating but I knew that it would help me.  At that time, I just wanted to be in love, in a relationship, and be married.  I put my boyfriend’s needs above my own and that wasn’t going to help me to get to know myself and get to know what I wanted and needed.

Is there a decision that you have struggled with that now you can say with certainty that it was the best decision for you?

I also told the nurse when I was making the decision to stop dating that I was with a great guy.  My ex got along with my family and my family liked him.  He was even talking about marriage.  I told the nurse that it is sometimes hard to find a guy that fits into your family.  His family was also close by too.  We could spend the holidays with both of our families and not have to choose which one to spend the holidays with.  At the time, I wanted to be married but I also knew that I really didn’t know myself.

This year is teaching me a lot.

What worked for me in the past, may not work for me now.  I will no longer put my needs on the back burner and ignore them.  I need to take care of my needs so that I can take care of and help other people.

What lessons has 2020 taught you so far?  I want to hear about it.

New Normal

I’ve been thinking about the world a lot lately.  I’ve been hearing a lot of people say that they want things to get back to normal soon.  While I would like that but I think that we all may have to adjust to a new normal until this virus is under control.

When I first got diagnosed with alopecia, all I wanted was to go back to normal.  I didn’t want to have to face a new normal for myself.  In this society, to be beautiful women are told to wear makeup, be a certain size, and have long flowing hair.  I don’t wear makeup and I struggle to be a certain size.  If I didn’t have long flowing hair, was I going to be attractive to men or to myself.  I had just fallen in love with myself and I couldn’t see myself without hair.  I worked with my life coach through my issues and I accepted my alopecia.  I don’t know if my alopecia will return in the future but I hope it won’t.  It was a grieving process that I went through.  I had to get used to having a huge bald spot on my head.

This week, I was had been planning to take the train to Seattle and go whale watching.  I decided that it wasn’t a good idea.  I work with covid patients and it is getting worse in the area that I’m in.  It wouldn’t be safe to travel right now.  I want to be able to travel but I have to not only think about myself but other people as well.  This is the new normal that I have to get used to.  I don’t like wearing a mask at work and when I go outside, but I do it because it helps.

Life is just a series of getting used to a new normal. 

For example, getting a new boyfriend or girlfriend is a new normal to adjust to.  Going through a break up is adjusting to a new normal.  Losing weight and eating healthy is a new normal to adjust to.  Getting diagnosed with a disease will be a new normal.  Getting a new job will be adjusting to a new normal.  Buying a new house will be a new normal to adjust to.  Getting a new haircut is a new normal to adjust to.  Getting a bald spot or losing hair is a new normal to adjust to.  Not being able to be with a loved one that is in the hospital is a new normal to adjust to.  Being a travel nurse and moving every 3 months is a new normal to get used to.

Sometimes adjusting to a new normal is not welcome like this pandemic.  Sometimes a new normal will thrust us into the grieving process.  Sometimes a new normal will change our lives for the better.

I learned that the more I try to fight a new normal the harder I make my life.

Right now a lot of people are adjusting to a new normal at the same time.  This virus has changed the way a lot of people are operating today.  I now have to wear a mask when I go whale watching, even when out on the ocean.

It does help to have someone to talk to about adjusting to a new normal.  That’s why I have a life coach.  If you need help, I am here for that too.  I’m training to be a life coach.  Message me if you would like details.

 

Trauma

I was recently having a talk with my life coach.

I was explaining to her that I was nervous and proud of my parents.  My parents had attended a march for civil rights.  I was proud that they went but there was another part of me that was scared for them.  We are still in a global pandemic and my mother has respiratory issues.  I was nervous that she would catch the corona virus.  If she had told me before she attended the march, I may have tried to talk her out of going.

My life coach told me that my trauma working as a nurse was leaking into my relationships.

I thought about that.  As a nurse, I do experience trauma on the job.  There are a lot of emotional trauma and even some physical trauma.  I had seen some nurses physically hurt by patients and family members.  It is emotionally hard to see another nurse get hurt at work and then you still have to finish your shift.  It is emotionally hard on nurses to see patients die with no family or friends around them right now.  Nurses can talk about it with other nurses but most of the time we can’t share it with anyone else except for a therapist.  Most hospitals have a counselor but most nurses don’t use them.  I know that I’ve never used the counselor at work.

I’ve been a nurse for 15 years and I have seen some things.  I bet most nurses could say that as well.

Nurses have to wear a lot of different hats.  We have to be not only a nurse but a therapist, wound care nurse, patient advocate, and those are just a few of the hats we have to wear at work.  We can’t share most of the things that we go through because of the laws.  That is why it’s so hard to tell someone who isn’t in the medical field exactly what you do.

I also realized that it makes my life easier to live when my parents are in good health.  My life would change drastically if they got sick, especially if they were sick with the corona virus.  There is no cure or vaccine right now for the corona virus, I would just have to watch them suffer if they got sick.  I don’t know if they would be the lucky ones to have no symptoms with the virus.  That is why I was so nervous when they went to that march.  I do understand that we are also in another pandemic with racism.  I just don’t want anything bad to happen to my parents.  I just have to believe that as the Universe always takes care of me, then the Universe will also always take care of my parents.

I would say that most nurses have some emotional trauma from work.  It would do us all good if we got a therapist to talk about what we go through.  It may not be enough just talking with the other nurses.  That is one of the reasons that I trained to be a life coach to help nurses.

My Story

I recently had another nurse ask me a question at work.  She asked me if she could ask me a question because I seemed comfortable being by myself.

She then told me that she felt like she wanted to be by herself to get to know herself but she was in a relationship.  She said she had never been alone.

I told her my story.

I told her that I used to define myself by the romantic relationships that I was in.  I hadn’t been by myself since high school until I took the time to be alone and get to know myself.  That was a process that took some time.

The last relationship that I was in was to a good man.  We didn’t really have a lot of issues.  I knew that I had to break up with him when he started to talk about marriage.  I wanted to get married but I knew that I wasn’t really ready at that time.  I didn’t know myself and I was still dealing with my eating disorder.

I knew that I needed to be alone so that I could get to know myself but I was afraid to be alone.

Who was I without being in a romantic relationship?  Who was I going to be?  Would I like myself when I was alone?  Could I deal with my eating disorder?

These questions kept haunting me.

The other scary part was that I wouldn’t know the answer to those questions until I took the leap and took the time to be by myself.  

So ten years ago, I took the leap and decided that I was going to take as much time as I needed to get to know myself and get help with my eating disorder.  That was the best decision that I made.

At first, I didn’t like being by myself.  I realized that I liked being in relationships because it helped me to ignore my problems.  I was ok in my eyes when I was in a relationship.

I told the other nurse that I had to confront my problems but that it helped me in the long run.  I was able to get help for my eating disorder.  It also helped me to get really clear about what I needed in a relationship.  In my past relationships, I didn’t really know what I was looking for and needed.  Now that I know myself, it has helped me to know what I need in a romantic relationship.

To get comfortable in being by myself, I also had to learn how to go in public and do things by myself.  I started off with just going to the movies by myself.  I would only go during the week and when the movie had been in the theaters for a long time.  I also would only go when the theater first opened in the morning.  That way I knew that there would not be too many people in the theater.  Doing that small action helped me to get comfortable doing things by myself.  I knew that I eventually wanted to be a travel nurse and I wouldn’t have a partner to go with me.

After telling her my story, she thanked me and said that that was exactly what she needed to hear.  I was proud that my story could help her.  I don’t know what she decided but that is irrelevant.  I like to think that my story helped her to make a decision that was best for her.

That is one of the reasons that I started this blog.  To share my story and maybe help someone with it.

Just remember that your story can help another person.  So when someone asks, don’t be afraid to tell.  She came to me because she saw and heard that I had done things by myself.

Self Source Scale

I have recently gained a little weight and I was mentally beating myself up for it.  I was weighing myself at least 3 times a week.

I had a talk with my life coach, Karlee, and I explained what I was doing.

I told her all the reasons that I was gaining weight.  I’m not moving my body as much.  At work, I usually get between 5 and 6 miles a day.  I’m now getting between 3 and 4 miles a day.  We are trying to save PPE, so we aren’t going into the rooms as much now.  The cafeteria is bringing up food for us since we can no longer go to the cafeteria.  We are getting a lot of food donations from restaurants.  There is one charge nurse who makes sure that us vegetarians and vegans have something to eat.  She will go as far as writing our names and saving us some food.  I felt like since she was taking care and looking out for me then I had to eat the food, even if I had brought my lunch.

My life coach said something so profound and simple, I had wondered why I had not thought of it.

I don’t have to eat the food that is brought just because I want them to know that I appreciate it.  I can use my words.  I can verbally tell that charge nurse thank you or I could write a note to her.  I really do appreciate what she does.  I had forgot my lunch one day and she wasn’t there and I only had a salad waiting for me.  The salad had some meat in it, so I had to pick out the meat.  I can also give the food to someone else.  I don’t have to eat it.  I was afraid that she would stop looking out for me or that she would be disappointed in me, if I didn’t eat the food.

I will not disappoint myself to avoid disappointing other people.  

My life coach also asked me why I was weighing myself.  I answered that I wanted to know where my weight was.  I equated my weight with how much I was showing myself love and taking care of myself.  I have been exercising after work because I know that I’m not getting as many steps as I’m use to at work.  I did tell her that I do feel stronger since I started to exercise after work.  My intention was good but it wasn’t making me feel any better about myself.

Again she said something so profound and simple.

A scale can only tell you a number.  It can’t encompass all that I am.  That scale can’t tell you that you have been taking care of yourself mentally or spiritually.  The scale can’t tell me that I need to call someone and talk.  The scale can’t tell me that I went whale watching.  The scale can’t tell me that I have been kind to myself.  That scale can’t tell me that I’m a good nurse.

My body is stressed like it has never been stressed before.  I have never dealt with the corona virus before.  I go to work and I’m stressed because I don’t know if we will have enough PPE for the day.  I worry about getting exposed.  She said that when you body is stressed, it craves food that you wouldn’t normally crave.  When my body is stressed, I crave cake more.  I have been fighting it and then when I do indulge, I over do it because I have been fighting the craving for so long.

That was the reason that I had been stepping on the scale more than usual.  I know that I had gained weight.  I was mentally beating myself up for not being strong like I usually am.  Usually I can say no to the sweets that are brought in to work.  Lately I haven’t been.

We came up with another idea.  The Self Sourced Scale.  The Self Source Scale is a series of questions that will help me to know if I’m taking care of myself.

Here is the Self Source Scale:

  1.  Do I feel physically strong?
  2.  Do I have enough energy to do the things that I want to do?
  3.  Am I getting enough sleep and am I sleeping well?
  4.  Have I meditated today?
  5.  Am I doing something that feels good today? (Like listening to music)
  6.  Am I calm and peaceful?
  7.  Am I giving myself grace?

With these questions, I can tell if I’m taking care of myself and not beat myself up mentally.

A scale can only tell me a number, it can’t tell me everything about myself.  As a woman, I think that we equate our weight with our happiness and self worth.  I know I did that when I was battling my eating disorder.  The number on the scale would tell me if I was going to have a good or a bad day.  If the number was where I wanted it to be, I was going to have a good day.  If the number wasn’t where I wanted it to be, then I was going to have a bad day and I was not going to eat a lot that day.

A number on a scale, can’t tell the whole picture of a person.

Now I can stop beating myself up and have compassion with myself.  I have to find a new normal because I’m not in a normal situation with this virus.  What worked for me before this virus, may not work for me right now.  I have to find new ways to take care of myself.  I usually go whale watching at least once a week.  I realized that being around water helps to calm me.  I haven’t been around the ocean in about 2 months.  I have to find other ways to take care of myself.  Maybe I can listen to the sound of the ocean on video or watch old whale watching videos.

I encourage every one to use the Self Source Scale.  I know I will be using it.   Let me know if it helps you.

The Year of the Nurse

Florence Nightingale is the founder of modern nursing.

The year 2020 is being designated as the Year of the Nurse.  What a year it has been so far.

My life coach quoted me something that I would like to share.  I don’t know the author.

A young man dies for a cause and a wise man lives for a cause.

That quote helped me to make my own quote about nursing right now.

A dead nurse takes care of no patients and a quarantined nurse can take care of no patients.

These quotes got me to thinking about my meaning of the Year of the Nurse.

Maybe this is the year that nurses realize that they are human.  By that I mean that their lives matter too.  You don’t have to be a martyr for your patients.  You don’t have to prove to anyone that you are a “good” nurse.

When I started to take care of myself, I realized that I also became a better nurse for my patients.  When I took my lunch breaks and bathroom breaks, I was less hurried and less tired at the end of the shift.  I had a clear head and was able to make better decisions.  I also decided that working a lot of overtime wasn’t helping me to take care of myself.  I needed more days off to recuperate.  Nursing is mentally, physically, and emotionally draining at times.  My days off are for getting myself back into tip top mental, physical, and emotional shape so that I can be the best me that I can be.

During nursing school, I think is when I started to think that is was okay to put my needs behind the patient’s needs.  During nursing school, I remember a teacher telling me to always bring something to eat for lunch that didn’t have to go into the microwave and that you could stand up and eat.  At the time this made so much sense to me.  Looking back now, I would ask why can’t I sit down and eat my lunch.  Going to the hospitals during nursing school, I would see the busy nurses and some of them didn’t take their lunch breaks because they were so busy and stressed out.  My idea of what nursing was was born in nursing school.

I can see how this thinking led to my burn out and stress.  This thinking lead me to not take my lunch breaks or bathroom breaks.  My first hospital job told me when I was hired to put a letter into the manager when I didn’t get to take my lunch break so that I would get paid for not taking my lunch break.  After the second time that I did that, I was called into the office.  The manager then said that I had a time management problem.  She wanted me to start taking my lunch breaks.  It was hard to take my lunch breaks when I had between 6-7 patients.  After getting called into the office, I just stopped putting in the notices to my manger that I didn’t get my lunch breaks.  I worked for free during my lunch breaks.

It is okay for nurses to put themselves first.  Even before your patients.  I know that may shock a lot of nurses but for me that is true.

For example, when I didn’t take my lunch breaks, I would feel physically weak by the end of the shift.  I would have a headache and my eyes would burn.  I didn’t drink enough water.  I felt like a dried sponge.  When I started to take my lunch breaks and drink water, those symptoms went away.  When I get my patient some water, I drink a glass of water too.  That simple act of getting water helped me to see myself as human and worthy of being taken care of.  No one was going to take of me for me.

It’s not selfish to take care of yourself first.

Nurses think that if they put themselves first then they are a bad nurse.  It doesn’t make you a bad nurse.  It doesn’t make you a bad nurse to say no to working overtime.  It doesn’t make you a bad nurse to refuse to take a patient assignment that you feel is dangerous for you.  Eight patients for one nurse is too many patients.  It is okay to say no to that.

I know we are going through a pandemic right now but it is still okay to take care of yourself first.  It is not selfish but necessary at this time.  You will be more effective when you are well rested, eating healthy, and exercising.  You won’t be as effective when you are tired, eating unhealthy, and not exercising.

Nurses I implore you to make this the Year of the Nurse.  See yourself as valuable.  See yourself as worthy of the same care that you give to your patients.  It is okay to be compassionate to yourself.  It is okay to be kind to yourself.  It is okay to take the time to love yourself.  It is okay to get the rest that your body needs.  It is okay to take a day off during this rough time.  It is okay to drink water at work.  It is okay to take a lunch break.  It is okay to take a bathroom break.  It is okay to say no to working overtime if you don’t want to.  It is okay not to allow yourself to be burnt out.  It is okay to take care of your mental health.

It is okay to take care of yourself first.