Why Don’t We Listen to a Loved Ones Wishes?

If your loved one made a wish-do you abide by it? Do you listen to it? Do you approve of it?

If you don’t agree. Do you resend it with excuses? Do you excuse it based on your own perceptions?

As a nurse, we are greeted with a lot of differences. It could be a different belief from a patient to a nurse, from nurse to nurse, from doctor to patient. But it can also be a different belief and wish from patient and their family. I am talking about end of life discussion.

Some people do not want to talk about it. Everyone should talk about it. Some believe, that maybe if we don’t talk about it-maybe it will not happen? But we all know, we are guaranteed two things in life 1) birth and 2) death. Everything in-between is not set in stone.

If a person is of sound mind and the make a decision that they do not want any extraordinary measures-why is it morally okay for a family member to come into the picture and reverse it when the person loses consciousness.

Even with written documentation, it appears to happen every single day in healthcare. I wonder how this can be okay? How can this be legal? How can it be changed? ::it is often legal because family members will say “they were not of sound mind when they agreed to that” even if they were::

I will tell you, my best friend is my healthcare proxy. She is in the medical field. If there is a point in no return, don’t keep going. Just let me go. I will tell you-if you (my best friend, my family, etc) go against my sound mind wishes…when I’m dead-I will come back and haunt you.

I understand hoping for more. I understand wanting more. I understand guilt, regret, sadness, grief. But is it okay to put your wishes ahead of your loved ones?

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Enjoying the Moment

Where I’ve Been:
I had deep thoughts of suicide when my grandmother died (I was 9). I remember a couple of incidents where I probably came home from school, after being treated horribly, going into my room and crying. And looking at a bottle of pills. It could have been something as simple as a bottle of Aspirin or Tylenol. I was ten at that time-I thought it may work. Looking at the bottle and thinking about my life and what it was or will be. How can I continue if people keep treating me like this? I did not want to endure it. I also remember another time, taking a sharp kitchen knife and going into my room. Self cutting was never my thing because I knew it would just create more pain but I do remember thinking of holding it up and aiming just to the left of my sternum and thinking about jabbing it into my heart. I figure that is where the blood pumps, that probably would be the fastest way to go! If I slit my wrist, I think I probably would have stopped as soon as it hurt, never going deep enough to make a difference. I never thought about hanging myself, as I thought that would be a slow death and I did not want to suffer anymore. And though my grandfather had guns-aside from the BB gun, I did not know how to work them and not to mention I did not know where my grandfather kept them. My mother never owned a gun.

But I never went thru with it. I am not sure why. I do not know if I felt, deep down, maybe I will have a chance later in life or not. I do not know if I saw the light deep in my thoughts when my eyes closed and tried to envision the future.

In the early 1990s, I remember watching Free Willy and watching the music video before the movie started. It was called “Will You Be There” by Michael Jackson. I watched him move. Of course, everyone knew who Michael Jackson was but I never really paid much attention to him or his music. Prior to this realization, I did not think about him or what he represented-including Thriller, Billie Jean, Bad, Smooth Criminal, the moonwalk, the sequined glove.

I saw the Will You Be There video and I was just mesmerized by his movement. So much so that I rewund the tape after the (music) video and watched it again. I, again, did not really pay attention to the lyrics but just the man himself. At the end of the music video, I had to rewind it again and again. I was finally paying attention to what the song was and the lyrics. I was hooked right there. It was before the 1993 allegations and I knew that I was a forever fan. I actually listened to the lyrics of “Will You Be There” and they spoke to me. I was like “WOW! He understood where I was coming from!”

“Hold me like the river Jordan
And I will then say to thee
You were my friend.
Carry me like you were my brother
Love me like a mother
Could you be there?”
These lines describe my life that all I want is a friend to count on. Or a mother to be able to soothe my hurt and pain. A guidance for a young child to right a wrong. For anyone to love me. The way that I am. For all that I am. For anyone to listen to me. For anyone to protect me. For anyone to hug me.

“When wary, tell me will you hold me
When wrong will you scold me
When lost will you find me?”
My mother was there physically but mentally she had her own issues. She could barely guide her own life and well being much less ours. This was not her fault. I was very intune as a child to know that the guidance was not there. That she could not help it. It was an illness. She indeed loved us the way that she knew how. Inturn though, I missed a lot. I did not understand why people were the way that they were. I did not understand why I was born different. I did not understand why people treated me different. I did not have a teacher to say it’s not me, it’s them. I did not have an authority figure to step in and say “you are fine the way you are. You are perfect”. In part, when it came to my mother. I did not let this happen because I often did not tell her what I was going through in school, with my peers. It was partially my fault because I did not want to worry her. She had enough problems of her own. Often times she was working two jobs. She was trying to raise kids. At the same time, I felt that “how could no one NOT know? Hello, I was physically different? You are supposed to know that people are not kind in the world to those that are not normal.” Again part of this was my fault because even during the all day facial clinic when I had to talk to a therapist/social worker-I pretended that life was good. It was not. I was depressed. I felt embarrassed of myself. Of ME. I felt like I was alone in the world. I understand that people cannot and should not assume.

“But then they told me
A man should be faithful
And walk when not able
And fight ‘til the end but I’m only human”
This struck me because you are supposed to go through life pretending life is good. Your world is good. Everything is fine even if deep down you’re hurting. Everyone is supposed to continue life like everything is peachy, even if it is not. You’re not supposed to talk about the bad. You’re not supposed to air your “dirty laundry”…life is full of rainbows, lollipops, and happy unicorns.

“Everyone’s taking control of me
Seems like the world’s got a role for me
I’m so confused will you show it to me?”
You’ll be there for me and care enough to bare me.”
For me it seemed like people had control of me. I was an emotional and verbal punching bag for me peers. That was their role for me. In my mom’s world, I was quiet and perfect. I did not do much wrong. I did not step on toes. In my sister’s world, I was the smart one. Always getting the good grades because I did not have a social life and my life remained in books. In everyone’s eyes-they have their own role. In my eyes, I was a lost soul. I did not know what to do with myself. I did not want to endure daily teasing. I did not want to avoid school. I did not want to avoid people. I did not want to stay inside my room because that was the safest place to be. It was lonely.

“Love me and feed me
Kiss me and free me
I will feel blessed.”
“Lift me.
Lift me up slowly
Show me you care.”
Show me that I mean something. My peers often disregarding me. Someone that didn’t appear to have feelings or a heart. I was no one. I was a void in a human body.

“Need me.
Love me and feed me
Kiss me and free me
I will feel blessed”
Guidance. Life. Love. Hugs. Pat on the back. Security. Those are the important things in life. Those are the things that matter to the human soul.

I watched this video over and over again. I listened to the lyrics. I decided to figure out what album it was on and purchase it. And I did just that. I fast forwarded it to “Will You Be There” of course and then I listened to the song right after. It was “Keep the Faith” in the USA (it’s my understanding that other pressings had a different order for songs). I listened to that song too. It was a bit edgier. But the lyrics were strong and powerful. A song with a great message. This song following Will You Be There-I felt like Michael Jackson was talking to me. Not really but in a sense. Like he knew how some people felt in the world. Lost, alone, not being able to trust-with the lyrics of WILL YOU BE THERE. To a song of hope, triumph, you can do it attitude with KEEP THE FAITH. It was a gift that it was in order in that manner. It made me, who was struggling with who she was, to listen and understand. In return it opened his life to me.

The song KEEP THE FAITH:

I started paying attention to him and his life. He was not a perfect human. Who is? He had flaws. He had self doubt. He clearly did not like the way he looked, perhaps from his upbringing of his father Joseph Jackson. But did that constitute people criticizing him? Did that mean he was fair game for names and jokes and digs? Did that mean that he was not human? Did that mean he did not care? Did that mean he did not have feelings? Granted he was so rich and secluded (because he had to be) that did not mean that he still did not have the core that was in all of us. That still did not mean that he was untouchable emotionally. That did not mean that his soul could not be broken either.

The behavior and treatment of others towards him just made me want to follow him even more and understand him even more. I believe this was the case for a lot of his fans-which is why he had such a great following. He was no more of a freak than anyone else in this world. His treatment by others just made me want more of him.

Where I Am:
Because of my self reliance, I have come along way. This journey could not be made possible without people in my life. From my mother-who taught me not to give up. I saw that in her because no matter how many obstacles life gave her (either her own doing or others) she continued on the best she could. My best friend during my adult years. Without her, I wouldn’t remain sane through Nursing School. My therapist & now friend-without her I wouldn’t have been able to bounce things off and she taught me the way life could be, not just the way life has to be. My friends/co-workers-without them, I couldn’t have made it through nursing school either. Coming into work after a test that I practically failed, cheering me on that I could do it. My clinical instructors and teachers-“C equals RN” is the motto of Nursing School. I remember one clinical teacher saw my test score and was going to take me aside from the rest and say “what’s going on?” Instead she said it in front of my other peers and continued “what I am seeing in clinical is NOT what I see in those tests scores. So much so that I went to the director.” That made me feel good and encouraged me. Not to leave out my patients through the years-teaching me that life is short. Teaching me that I am a good person. Teaching me that we shouldn’t take life for granted.

Where I Am Going:
Who really knows? All I know is that I am enjoying the moment. Preparing for my medical mission trip to Madagascar. Than who knows? I know that I am enjoying traveling and seeing other cultures. Something that I never got to experience growing up because we just couldn’t afford it. In 2013 I went on an African Safari. 2014 Inca Trail, Machu Picchu in Peru. 2015 Japan and Mt Fuji. Not to mention the career that can take me throughout the country in America and perhaps even further (I’ve talked with American nurses working in Australia).

I am lucky. I know it can be taken away at anytime. Life is not promised. Life is not meant to be all rainbows and unicorns. I’m now just enjoying the moment.

To write a memoir or not write a memoir?

In my previous post, I mentioned about writing a memoir. There are so many things that go into writing a memoir:

  • Who am I writing it for?
  • What’s it’s purpose?
  • Who would be in it?
  • What time would it surround?
  • Who could be offended?
  • Who would approve/disapprove?

Other questions often go through my mind as well:

  • What if it’s not interesting enough?
  • what if people do not like it?
  • What if I do not like it?
  • Will I regret it after I click submit?
  • Will I be too vulnerable after I write it?
  • Is it worth it, to open up?

Among other questions and concerns. I certainly go through many more thoughts than just those listed. Which is why I go back and forth.

Telling my story to people, just in general conversation-a lot of people are impressed that I have made it well for myself. They often tell me that I have a lot to offer other people that would help them through their situations. I once worked with a friend who was going to school for neuro psych. She needed volunteers to run thru her tests/study. I said sure without knowing the full details but she had me in mind to begin with because of my family history vs my personal being, etc. These were general tests, almost like IQ tests. She told me, “I think you would be good for the study because of your background.” And of course, as I mentioned in my last post-my 9th grade English teacher said that I should write one.

I came from a broken home. My father left when I was about 3. There was question of him doing some inappropriate things, however-I do not know him, so I cannot speak on that. Eventually my mother re-married. My step-father had 4 boys. One of which did something inappropriate with my sister. The other, sexually assaulted me when I was 7 (he was about 18). My step-father physically choked my mother. We spent 3 months in a Woman’s and Children’s Shelter. Only to leave and one morning my mother woke us up from a deep sleep, we took the city bus to the greyhound station to take another bus 5-6-7 hours to my step-fathers house in another state. They would fight, we would move back to our home state-the wound make up, we wound move back with my step-father; fight and leave, make up and go back. Back and forth, multiple times. In fact, I was held back in the SAME year at the two schools; the teacher in my home state said it was because I was “missing too much school” (though I wasn’t); the one in my step-father’s state said it was because they “couldn’t understand me”.

By the way, I was born with cleft lip & cleft palate. I was a preemie, I had about 15/16 surgeries from about 6 weeks until I was about 18. I had a rhinoplasty (nose job) when I was 14. So I looked physically different from my peers. I had/have a speech impediment. I was suicidal from about 9 until I was about 13 years old. I was suspended from school 3 times; including fighting with a boy. I was physically assaulted in middle school, while the teacher was present and did nothing to stop it.

I eventually did go to high school, I managed to go to 4 different high schools in a year and a half (my mother called herself a gypsy). I, however, never felt like I fit in. I eventually dropped out of high school; took my GED. Moved on the other side of the country without a job or perm place to live-by myself. Sooner or later-I made my way into college-eventually graduating Nursing School and now I’m a nurse that travels.

My mother had a mental illness, often self medicated with alcohol. Won a large amount of money at BINGO, bought a bar, lost the bar. Was never physically abusive but had her share of being emotionally abusive/manipulative.

Every now and again, I read on a cleft lip/palate board of someone struggling. Struggling with life. Wanting to give up. Hating people. Hating themselves. Hating the way they look. Hating the way they sound. Hating the way people are treating them. Not being able to see the bigger picture in life. That life can be good. When I read things like that, I want to write the memoir. But I think will those types even read it?

Do You Pay Attention?

When you’re out for a walk-even if it’s a short distance (from the car to the store entrance) or a long distance (a hike thru the woods)-do you take the time to look around? To pay attention to the surroundings? Do you hear the trees? See the birds? Smell the skunk? Or are you too busy to notice? Lost in your own thoughts? Which is not a bad thing. Or looking down at your phone?

I notice this a lot. People looking down at their phones. Or just generally not paying attention.

The other day, I did a 5 mile walk. A walk that I commonly do. I tend to take my headphones but I definitely pay attention. It probably takes me longer to walk the 5 miles than usual because I stop to look around. Sometimes I even take a photo.

These are the three photos I took the other day:

Common Conehead vs Fork-Tailed Bush Katydid

Common Conehead vs Fork-Tailed Bush Katydid

This little fellow was directly in my path, on the road. I noticed it before I even approached it. I bent down and took a photo with my phone. He didn’t seem to mind. The funny thing is, there was a lady that passed me. She wasn’t wearing headphones but I don’t even think she noticed to what I was looking at. Since he was in the road, I did take a leaf and got him off the road.

Dead snake in the road

Dead snake in the road

This Eastern Milk Snake was dead in the road. I just assumed he was probably trying to cross the road and someone ran him over. It makes you wonder-did they run him over because they don’t care for snakes? Or maybe they ran them over because they were on facebook behind the wheel and didn’t see him?

Moth on a tree

Moth on a tree

This was not exactly on my 5 mile walk. I was back at the house, watering plants. I notice something flutter and I watched him. He went around the tree and landed. Wings opened. I took a photo. I never saw one like this. Though I know it’s natures way to blend him into a tree but he reminded me of a pencil shaving after sharpening. Would I have noticed it, if I was looking down at my phone texting a friend while watering? Probably not.

So do you pay attention to nature when you’re out and about? It’s bad enough that we have to point out that you should put down the phone awhile being out to lunch with friends. I would imagine that people do not pay much attention to their surroundings-nature included-anymore. Heck, if they don’t while with friends-why would they for nature?

We are missing a lot.

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