Some Reasons Why I Moved

Locals ask me, “Why did you move heeere?” with a questioning sneer. It’s simple really: small town living, even with its different political/religious views, over-abundance of Bud Light, lack of “things to do”, is more palatable at this point in my life than ever before.

I love my little trailer. Sure, it’s a mess, but it’s our mess to change, clean up and fix up.

I love that I can drive to work in 10 minutes or less. I actually love that my in-laws are 20 minutes away, more because it makes my wife very happy to be close to her mom.

Most of all I love that it is quiet. Before I moved we heard gunshots daily, sirens all the time, noisy neighbors, bratty neighborhood kids screaming at all hours, general noise. I’m sitting on my porch and all I really hear is the wind in the trees and the occasional traffic on the highway.

Did I mention trails? Yeah, that too, literally right around the corner.

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Some nice double-track in the pines.

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Nice vistas.

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Where the pavement ends.

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And hills.

Yeah, I’m a happy camper right now. Hopefully in 6 months I’ll still be signing this tune!

I’m not dead, yet.

Truly, I’m not dead. I just feel dead.

In the week I moved I climbed thousands of stairs. Never, ever, living in a three story building again.

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It took 2 days, well, actually 3 if you count the two hour jaunt the first day, to travel 1500 miles. The wife and I, along with our two cats in the front of a 24 foot Budget truck filled to the brim towing a vehicle.

Now comes the fun adventure of homeownership with all the little things. And finding a job. Yeah, still need work, but things are looking up.

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Things are a’changing…and I couldn’t be happier!

Personal Archaeology

The thing about moving is finding all the stuff you know you once had but had seemingly lost at some point.  Case in point, found a box of old NES cartridges buried in a box deep in the basement.  Next to them was a box full of old nursing school books… why I kept them I have no idea, but there they were in their spine-busting weight.

On top of those things I’ve been rewinding my personal mixtape thru Spotify, revisiting songs from years ago, finding new ones and having a good time.  One tangent led me to an old favorite, Less Than Jake, I can remember spending hours with them as the soundtrack of my life back in the late 90’s, reading some of the books I found in another box,  like The Master and Margarita and a collection of Lord Byron’s writings (I was a humanities major the first time through).  Heady stuff.

Thanks to YouTube I can pseudo-relive seeing them live.  The venue is very similar to where I saw them twice.  Small, dark, dingy, hot and sweaty.  They put on a crazy, zany goofball show, and I had a blast.  Seeing them again makes me smile.

Some True Words

And, as always, those that complain get their way, and those that are strong take the patients. And those who smile and chat up the manager the most get the kudos, all the recognition and the praise. Then the administration wonders why staff satisfaction is down.

This is from a comment an ex-coworker posted which I had to share because it’s true. Toxic workplace much?

Being unemployed has brought some true clarity to my career and it’s been good. I realize that I was (still am) pretty burned out and am taking steps to remedy that. Breathe. Meditate. Reflect. Exercise. Sleep. And while I’m stressed out about moving, finding a new job and starting over, I feel like I can go back to being the nurse I want to be (again). It will work out.

It’s Been A Week

English: U-Haul van being refueled on the Rout...

It’s odd, I figured this unemployment thing would be like a vacation.  Sit back, relax, catch up on things left unread, do some housework while slowly getting things for the imminent move together.  I figured I would not miss working, prepping for work or the actual time spent going to work.

Yeah.  Wrong on all counts.

Admittedly I’ve done a fair bit of relaxing.  There have been many days of sitting around in sweats like some somewhat thinner suburban version of Jabba the Hut, dropping whatever snacks were within reach into my maw, ordering minions to do things (at least in my head).  I’ve spent some quality time on Twitter, on some blogs, scoping out new places to ride when we move, but have done little of anything constructive.  The place looks pretty much exactly like it did the week I stopped working.  Packing?  Psshh.  Attacking the list of things I need to accomplish for the week?  Did (the easy) 50%.

Never thought I would say it, but the hardest thing is not going to work.  I see the #nocshift tag come up on Twitter for all those headed to slay the dragon of work and while I may be there in spirit, I’m really just an impostor now.  I wish them luck and go back to doing nothing of consequence.  But it’s the odd things that seem to mean the most to me.  Not buying food specifically for work.  Not staying up ’til all hours to readjust my internal clock to stay up for the next three nights.  Not having the in-person interaction with my friends as we strive towards a common goal.  It has made me slightly off-balance and I don’t like it.  Coming from a long line of Scandinavian hard working folk, the need to work is etched indelibly into my DNA.  Go too long without and I become insufferable to be around, pacing like a wild animal trapped in an enclosure but unable to do anything.

Worst though it has allowed my fear of not getting work even more real.  It has allowed that nagging voice, the one that I used to continually tell to “shut the fuck up!” a little more volume.  That little voice has been very, very talkative of late.  Doubt, the killer of initiative, has been working overtime.

All this after only a week.  I’m going to be a psychic wreck by the time I get to Arizona.  And I will have probably driven my wife insane.

At least though, things are slowly coming together.  It appears we have a place to call home lined up.  There seems to be some jobs in the area that I could pursue.  I just have to realize that things will take some time.  This isn’t going to happen overnight, no matter how hard I want it to.  The last time I was unemployed was so painful, more for factors beyond not having a job/income, that issues I thought I had dealt with long ago are bleeding into the current discussion which makes this more stressful.  I have to remember that this is not like last time.  I have experience.  I have money coming in.  I’m not running from death, disappointment and despair.  Instead I’m running to something new, exciting and different.  And you’e all along for the ride!

The Strong Suffer

English: A right MCA artery stroke.

~this was originally written the week before my last day

We are in the midst of the transition that prompted me to volunteer to quit my job and it sucks. Each day makes me realize what a good decision I made, but makes me worried for those left behind.

One of the biggest issues is that we’re combining two different units, one a typical med-surg/renal unit, the other a progressive care unit. Two very different staffs with different skill sets. The tele nurses are all ACLS and stroke certified, the others not. The tele unit started and built an observation unit and got used to and accepted the turn and burn mentality where you admit and discharge like there’s no tomorrow. The folks coming in rarely admitted in the levels we did and came from a more laid-back mentality.  SO yes, it’s a huge transition, especially for the new folks on our staff, huge changes in both practice and mentality. Add to that increased patient ratios and people are already starting to question the status quo.

The worst though is for the nurses perceived as “strong”. You know the ones that can take anything you throw at them, rarely bitch and just take their lumps, the ones with the advanced skills. They get the more difficult patients, the sicker patients, and more of them.

The other night was a perfect example of that for me. I started with 4, a decent mix of patients. (yes, I know, our ratios are low compared to some, but we have minimal support staff, it’s all about perspective too). Charge nurse comes to me with a proposition: drop one of my patients to take stroke admit. She figured it was easier for me to do this instead of giving the only other stroke nurse a 5th when she had never taken 5 patients before. This is a full on stroke, large MCA nastiness and there are a lot of things to do since we’re in the acute window. What choice do I have? I’m not gong to be a dick and say “no, let ’em suffer” am I? Not really. So I admit the stroke and considering now the CT looks, I lucked out. Then she comes back asking me to take a chest pain admit since the only other nurse just “can’t”. Whatever. They ask because they know I will only say no if I truly can’t. They ask because “you’re strong and can handle it, the others can’t.”

The last night I worked it happened again, I get the admit while the others don’t because “they haven’t done it.” And it’s not like I don’t want to work, I take my lumps but I believe it should be fair, at leadst to an extent. Give an equitable load, don’t dump on the strong nurses because you can. What comes out of that? Burnout. Demotivation. Animosity.

A good friend of mine who is staying mentioned all of this to me the week before we changed over.  He’s a guy who never complains, I mean NEVER.  And he was upset, worried and generally disaffected.  Did I mention he is a guy who always has a smile on his face, even when glove deep in poop?  To see him so upset truly shows me the folly of the madness being inflicted on us.  Here’s a nurse who smiles through everything, who gets every single LOL to love him, who’s clinical skills have grown immensely since hire to be a very competent, caring and effective nurse who will be put through the wringer because he’s “strong” and they run the risk of losing such an employee. But in the end “they” don’t care, it all comes down to money.

That is why I feel bad for my former colleagues.  It’s going to get worse before it gets any better, if it ever does.  The unit we spent years building was destroyed in one fell swoop and is reverting back to a mire of poor management, burned out nurses, massive regular turnover of nurse, disaffected staff and a manager who is crushed by those farther up the food chain.  Sadly it all lands on the patients and while there will be nurses who strive to keep the level of care the same, you can only fight the tide for so long.  Hopefully the worst of my prognostications doesn’t cone true.  One can only hope.

~disclaimer: I know there are places with far worse ratios and worse conditions, we’ve been incredibly lucky for a long time.  Leave it at that.

A Little Nostalgia

The wife picked me up a couple of beers last night at the corner mart, a Rainier and an Olympia.  Both were huge regional favorites in the Pacific Northwest growing up and I vividly remember the commercials growing up.  When I used to drive up from school home to Seattle I would pass both of the breweries on I-5, you can still hear traffic guys refer to traffic on I-5 being “backed up at the brewery.”  Sadly, they’re both gone, although the beers are still being brewed by powerhouse SABMiller.  The old breweries have still stand though,  one is an artist’s rental space, however the other is empty.  It’s odd though, for a region where craft beer really took off to have forgotten about these old monuments to brewing.

But thanks to YouTube, the commercials still exist.  (these bring back childhood memories!)

First, Oly (it’s the water)

Second, another classic from way back (not a “local” though, but I remember it well)  From the land of sky blue waters…

Last, the best use of the doppler effect in advertising ever.  The Rainier motorcycle commercial…

Now, go have a beer!