Sunday, January 21, 2007

What’s with the title?

One of the reasons it took me so long to start a blog (beyond my usual ability to procrastinate like no one’s business) is that I was having a hard time coming up with a name. I didn’t want it to be too cutesy, but I also didn’t want it to be too boring, and I wanted it to say something about who I am and what is important to me. I wanted something that made the nursing and hospice connection.

So, an explanation: Dame Cicely Saunders is commonly considered the “mother of modern hospice.” She has a long and fascinating history, more of which you can read about in many places including here. One of the seminal stories about Saunders his how she was inspired to start a hospice after meeting a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto David Tasma, who she cared for as he was dying of cancer, in loneliness and anguish. He bequeathed her 500 pounds and said he’d “be a window in your home.” Her conversations with him, and her determination to relieve his pain – not just physical but emotional and psychic was the impetus to her working to create the modern hospice movement.

So I liked the story, and it make a title that was both apt and a bit cryptic. But more than that, I think it reflects one of the most amazing parts of what it means to be with people when they are dying—it is such an intimate time, such an honor to be allowed into someone’s life. And ultimately, the gifts you get from being a witness to this last chapter of their life is beyond measure.

Hello World!

Well, probably at this point there is no “world” out there for me, as I have no readers. I am not yet sure who, if anyone in my personal/professional/academic life I will let know about this little project— My plan is to remain anonymous and use a pseudonym (although if any of my friends do find me, they’ll know who I am, as I’ve been using the name for quite a while now).

So, where to start: perhaps with why I decided to have a blog. I’ve been toying with the idea on and off for several years now, but always found myself too overwhelmed with other things—and other ways of procrastinating. I think the tipping point (besides finally coming up with a name I liked) was the realization that there are times that my responses on other people’s blogs are so long that I might as well be writing my own! Of course, since then I have posted at least one more long response and still haven’t gotten this one started. I think I’ll just crib my post and make that my second post here (stay tuned!)

So why have I been thinking about blogging? I think for the same reason that many do—I think there are things that happen in my life and in the world around me that I want to comment on and share. I have become an avid reader of nursing blogs, and as well as blogs feminist, political, academic and few miscellaneous (Blog roll to be completed as soon as I can). I realize that I have stories that others may find interesting or entertaining, and, as final justification, I realize that this can be a form of self-reflection, which, as both a health-care provider and a student are Good Things to Do. I will also confess that Kim over at Emergiblog has been an influence—she is such a cheerleader for people to pick up the habit, and she finally got me to take the bait. We may have different politics and, at times perspectives but I admire her energy enthusiasm, passion, and writing.

Oh, one other reason to do this: one of the fine arts of grad school is devising wonderful ways to procrastinate doing all the things you Really Should Be Doing. This seemed like a quite elegant time sink.

OK, so that’s a bit about Why, now, perhaps a bit about Who.

For starters, I am an RN. More specifically I am a hospice nurse. I am also a middle-aged woman, who has only been a nurse for the past 3 years. Clearly, this is not my first career. I have, in the past and among other things, been a Sign Language Interpreter (specializing in health care interpreting), a conference planner (for a company that made OR scheduling software, and an office manger for, among other places, a complimentary health clinic. It seems I circled this field of health for a long time. Sometimes I wish I’d figured out what I really love sooner, but ah well that’s life.

As I say in my profile, I work for a Large Federal Health System in the U.S. Where I live there is the acute hospital, the clinics, and the long-term care (LTC) facility. The LTC is where I work. It has three units: a skilled care unit, a rehab unit, and a hospice/palliative care unit. My heart is in the hospice/palliative care unit, but, because I work such sporadic hours because of school, I am often over in the skilled care side. I love our patients—mostly men, many with a wide plethora of chronic illnesses as well as mental health and substance issues. Comes with the territory. War, and it’s aftermath is truly hell. I will likely tell stories about work (including why I became a hospice nurse) as time moves on, but I can’t include everything in this first post, now can I?

I am also a doctoral student with a focus on family caregivers of persons at end of life (EOL). At this time, it looks like my dissertation will be a follow-up study of one that I have been a research assistant on, looking at hospice care in Assisted Living Facilities. (ALFs). I will finish my course work in June, and then take my comprehensive exam, and, providing I successfully pass it, start working on my dissertation.

These two topics (work and school) occupy most of my time and energy, and will probably be the source of much of my posts, however I must add that I also have a lovely partner, S. also known as The Basement Troll, as she spends most of her time in her office in the basement. We have another person living with us, an old, dear friend, Ms. Evil Boots, also known in the blogosphere as Magpie. Then there are the 5 cats – only two are mine, but they all run the house pretty much.

So, that’s more than enough of an intro. I am not known for being succinct, so it’s not surprising I’ve gone on for so long. Hopefully not too boring. Stay tuned for more engaging material down the road.