Monday, September 28, 2009

One for September

I don't have any pictures of things I have done lately so I always wonder, will people bother to read what I write if they don't have a visual to go with it? We shall see. It's been a month since my last confession - I mean posting.

There are many big things going on in my life (with Marty) right now. Let's start with swimming. It's not like I've never had lessons, but those lessons were when I was about 4 years old and I doubt I was taught the breast stroke. I wasn't afraid of water growing up, just afraid of being out in water where I couldn't touch and having to stay alive. I never learned how to swim for real and so now I'm tackling that fear head on. Heidi Tidwell, my good friend and neighbor has been competing in triathlons lately and wanted to do better on her swimming. She asked if I would join her in a class given at Bountiful's Rec Center called Masters Swim Team. If that isn't the most intimidating title for a class I don't know what is. But I said yes with a knot in my stomach. I felt like this was my opportunity to finally figure this stuff out and at least become a better swimmer for my kids' sake. I literally had anxiety about this for 3 weeks before the big day. The only thought that calmed me down was that I had decided that if I really wasn't comfortable, I could always leave. Well, the class we went to started at 6am. I know. I barely slept the night before. When I got there, I soon realized how ill prepared I was. No goggles, cap or athletic swimming suit. I got in anyway and tried to get myself from one end of the pool to the other. I learned a drill that day that basically got me from point A to point B without having to worry about breathing. I pretty much did that for the entire hour. I knew I looked like the world's biggest fool in that pool. But since we basically swam in turns, nobody saw what I was doing to get to the other side of the pool and back (except the instructor). I knew I couldn't do that drill forever, though. The instructor said if I had proper equipment, it would be a better experience and gave me a store to try. I went to that place intent on getting a nose plug (at my instructor's advice) because I was always getting water in my nose. The cute English guy who worked there told me no. He would rather lose the sale than let me learn how to swim incorrectly. Because of his accent, I didn't push him. He proceeded to explain to me how I should be breathing. Nobody had ever really told me this before. It made sense in my head. After getting my proper equipment, I was ready to try again. This time we had a different instructor and I told him that I had a problem with breathing. He wasn't much help besides telling me that I'm going to have to put the top of my head in the water at some point. No kidding. I was trying! About halfway through class, it finally clicked with me. I kept thinking about my little breathing lesson from the guy at the store and started to breath out through the nose, in through the mouth. Sounds simple, but for a person who usually runs to work out, this concept was backwards for me. I was used to breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. Anyway, I finally did it with more than 2 strokes. By the end of that class, I was able to make it all the way to the other side. I had the rhythm down and it made all the difference. Now, my kicking, strokes and everything else are horrendous, but one thing at a time. At least I'm not afraid anymore. My third and most recent class was the best because I was able to breathe and concentrate on trying to fix some of the other techniques. Heidi and I were only going to go to this for a month, but have decided to do it for one more because we are liking it. I never thought I would be comfortable swimming and though I still have a long way to go, I'm satisfied that I've mostly conquered my fear and that I'm learning something new and valuable to me.

If you're still reading this, I'll go on to the other big events. Marty and I have been remodeling our basement and part of the upstairs for the last 3 months. We are almost to the point of posting before and after pictures so look for those later. I just had to say that I'm so happy to have Marty who is so capable and expert at what he does. Our entryway, semi-formal dining room and kitchen now has beautiful tile, the downstairs has a finished bedroom and nearly finished entertainment room. We are putting a bathroom in downstairs as well that is the least finished. We have carpet down the stairs and in the basement and have the doors hung. We are also redoing the wet bar which is about halfway done. So that's my excuse for not blogging. WE ARE BUSY!

Finally, I just have to say that this year has been one of miracles. I won't write them all, but this is another one to add to my personal list. I have been very unhappy with my job in the float pool for the past 2 years. Pretty much since we got a new manager who is more concerned about pleasing corporate than the nurses in her department. It has been a losing battle trying to find some semblance of the happy times the float pool used to be and I have been frustrated with a number of things. One miracle I will backtrack and mention happened in April when I got a call out of the blue from the manager of a floor that I had been trying to get on for 7 months. I had almost forgotten about it when this manager, Troy, called to let me know he had a position for me. I would be a shared employee, with the float pool being my primary department. That was fine because at least I could have some guaranteed shifts and they were in the Cardiac Procedure and Recovery Unit which I enjoyed working in. This unit was closed on weekends and holidays and shut down at 9pm every night. I am per diem which means I make about $10 more per hour by waiving my benefits than if I had benefits and was full or part time. The drawback is that per diem nurses are considered the most expensive so we are the first to be cancelled if the census is down. This hasn't been a problem until this year. I averaged 44 hrs/week last year, but this year it's probably more like 30. Huge difference. It's frustrating to plan on working one day, getting cancelled, and then scrambling to fit the hours in somewhere during the rest of the week. After 9 months of it this year, it has gotten old. It makes planning nearly impossible. Guaranteed hours were the way to go, but a tough thing to find for a per diem nurse. The only way I could still keep my per diem status was by being shared. Well, as time went on, I realized that when I went to work a float pool shift, I was pretty whiny about it. But I was happy to go to work on Troy's unit. Liz Packer is the only other nurse in the same position as me. Way cool girl. Anyway, we both happened to be working on Troy's unit last Thursday, complaining about the pool. Troy came over to talk to us and we complained to him (again). He said that he has wanted to have his own little cardiovascular specific per diem nurses who would float only in the Heart and Lung building but had never seen a way around it. But this day, he was determined. After about 30 minutes, he found us and said that by the end of the day, we would no longer be employees of the float pool and he would be our only manager. What blessed words! He was right. Liz and I couldn't believe how fast he made it happen and we were free from the pool forever. So now we get called by the schedulers of the other 4 floors in that building and get put directly onto their schedules (guaranteed hours). It's the only gig like it in the entire hospital and Liz and I are the only two who have this position. Such a dream come true. No more required weekends and holidays and best of all, no more ridiculous pool requirements to keep up on. There is a sad part of this story. I've worked for the float pool the entire time I've been with IHC which is 11 years. I have a vast knowledge from working at so many departments and know many people. It's been awesome to look at the experience and growth I've gained in my career. I have voiced my opinion in some of the changes the pool was making and got labeled a trouble maker. It seems that a nurse with a variety of experience would be asked to stay where she could be used most effectively and share with others some of what she has learned. Yet I left without my manager even blinking an eye or thanking me for the years I gave the pool. But she is new and climbing the ladder, not caring how she gets there. For that I am thankful to make this change and have a manager who goes to bat for his nurses and cares about them. I will miss the people, but not the floors. Nurses are the first place corporate makes their budget cuts because we are their biggest expense. This is becoming more and more evident as nurses get burnt out sooner as the workload continues to increase. I will not miss feeling like even after giving all I have, it is never enough. I love the population of patients I work with now. I have more time to visit with my patients in this setting and that is not usually possible on the acute care floors. Most of the time I come home feeling like I made a friend or was uplifted in some way by the stories of people I serve. It is a good change for me and one I feel blessed to have.

If you read all of this, you get points in heaven. :)