Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"We're all mad here..." - Lewis Carroll

Someone recently told me there is a fine line between being aggravated and being mad. I have found this to be untrue. Being aggravated is far worse. It’s an indecisive emotion. I’m not mad, but something is bothering me, something or someone is getting under my skin. If I am mad, I am angry or enraged. I am ready to take action. I am out for the kill. When I am aggravated, I just don’t know what to do.

I am aggravated now. I don’t have a good reason to be mad, but I’m not happy with the things that are going on. I don’t like to leave things up in the air. I want to make a decision. There has to be something specific to make me mad. When I’m aggravated it could be any number of small things. I go through these things repeatedly in my head, examining, probing, groping for something -just one little thing- to make me decide once and for all that I am PISSED THE FRAG OFF! The more I think about these things, the more muddled my mind becomes, and I just end up all that much more aggravated!

What is much worse than being aggravated with a situation is being aggravated with a person. Try telling a living breathing human being all the little things that have you aggravated. Of course, these things do not bother the other person nor are they even thinking about them! (You know they are no matter what they say!) Not only do you sound like a stark raving lunatic ready for a room at Bedlam, but in the end, you doubt your take situation and add to your indecision as well!

I suppose I have no choice but to keep being indecisively aggravated. If I tell him these things, I sound foolish. I keep them to myself and they fester. In the end, being aggravated drives you mad. For the love of God, I wish he would just piss me off! (Does it surprise anyone that I am aggravated with a man?)

These are just my thoughts. Laugh at them; make fun of me, whatever you want. I keep a blog to write about the things that make up my life. This is one of them. Maybe nothing I have said here fits the ‘dictionary meaning’ of these terms. If you have ever had an emotion in your life, you know that Webster’s opinions do not apply here!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Trust is a minor word for a major part of life. There seem to be two types. The type you are born with for your parents, family and caregivers that can be either nurtured or shattered, and the kind for the rest of the world that has to be earned. I argue that we have the former because we don’t know any better and really have no choice.

In my life trust has been given to, earned by, and shattered by more people than I care to count. My ex-husband violated my trust on a daily basis. He seemed to lie for no apparent reason about trivial things and at one point told me he liked to feel like he was getting away with something. In the beginning, he regained my trust on multiple occasions, but mostly because I wanted to trust him. In the end, he violated it so badly that I was not mentally capable of trusting him again, no matter how much I wanted to.

It doesn’t always take something major to make a person lose trust in someone else; rather it is the culmination of smaller things. A person says they will call and they don’t. A person says they will be there at a certain time and they aren’t. Someone tells you that he or she will help you with something, bring you something, do something, and when you are let down repeatedly, you lose trust in that person. At some point or another, my trust in 95% of the people in my life has been challenged. I have done the same to others and I have been fortunate enough to be forgiven and have a chance to rebuild that sacred bond.

Trust is such a fragile thing. Once it is lost, there is a chance that it will be impossible to regain. It’s like whittling a piece of stove wood. Every piece whittled away makes it weaker until it falls apart and nothing is left. You can’t put it back together. All you can do is hope for a new piece.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Vaya Con Dios!

His name was Jim. Vincent James Englehart was his name, to be correct. I was a new nurse. He scared everyone else out of his room. Nurses that had been there for thirty days or thirty years; I was accused of turning him against nurses who had been there far longer than I had. Maybe I was new enough to understand him, or maybe I just didn’t know any better. For better or for worse, Jim and I became fast friends. All I did was listen to what he said.

Jim was blind due to an abdominal aortic aneurysm and the sub sequential blood loss. I quickly learned that the key was letting Jim talk you through everything. He had three ‘ostomies’ , which was any nurse’s nightmare. Worse yet, they always came off, resulting in his ostomy plates and bags having to be changed multiple times throughout the shift. A sheer nightmare when you have twenty five patients to care for! Miraculously, Jim’s bags rarely fell off after I had put them on and while I was on shift!

Jim and I enjoyed watching ‘Hannity and Colmes’ together. Rather, Jim enjoyed listening to the program and I enjoyed spending time with Jim. It didn’t matter if we agreed on political stances; it was merely background noise for us. He told me about his family, his favourite memories, and told me about his wife, Jackie. I told him about my life and family, probably more than what is considered professional. Jim loved to tell dirty jokes, but I soon found that I was not ‘privy’ to them. Jim and I had a special saying: Vaya Con Dios. Jim told me it means 'Go with God'. We reserved it for our use only, like a little secret between friends.

Even as Jim’s nurse, I was not allowed in his room while he was using the urinal, and he didn’t want me to treat his male parts. When he had a particularly bad yeast infection he eventually allowed me to treat it and finally decided that only I had the cure. Still, though, Jim treated me more like a daughter than his nurse.

Somehow I hurt my back right before I was scheduled to go on vacation. I was off for several weeks and went on the vacation. On the return trip, Stacy, one of my nursing assistants, called to tell me that Jim had passed. I was silent for the remaining 6 hour drive home. My then husband didn't understand. At first I felt as though it was wrong of me to not have been there for him at the end, but came to realise it was probably better that way. In nursing they say you should not become emotionally attached to your patients. My personal opinion is that if you do not become emotionally attached on some level, then you are not doing your job right.

I still miss Jim, and think of him often. He taught me more about nursing than fifty text books. He taught me about life, love, and friendship. He taught me the importance of listening and understanding. He has been gone now for almost three years. Vaya Con Dios, my friend.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A stranger is just a friend you haven't met yet

In 1998 I moved out of my parents' house and got my very own phone number. From the start I received many phone calls for the people to whom the number had previously belonged, and to this day still receive one occasionally.

In November of 2003 I picked up the phone to hear an older gentleman ask for 'Jackie'. I politely explained this was no longer her number, and as I often did with people who called for her I said "You know, funny thing, I've had this number for (X amount of years) and still get calls for her." The people would say "Sorry for your trouble", and hang up. This time was different. "Well, Jackie is my niece and I haven't talked to her in a long time. I was calling to wish her happy holidays. I used to live there in Middletown, but I moved to Tennessee. The weather stays warmer longer. Do you live in Middletown?" I could tell by his voice he was lonely. I told him that I did. "I used to go to church out on Klingam Road. Is that church still there?" Near as I knew it was not, and I told him so. He sounded disappointed. "There used to be a Ralph Anderson that lived out there. You know him? No? Well how about a Paul Flannagan?" I did not want to continue disappointing my new friend so I said the name sounded familiar. "What's the weather like up there? Ohio winters always were bad." I told him it was cold, but we had not yet had any snow. I asked about the weather in Tennessee. "Oh, I'm sitting on the porch in my shirt sleeves. I'm a carpenter. Did you know that?" Of course I didn't, but I was becoming more interested in this stranger's life than I was in the lives of many people I knew. "Yes siree I am! I built this here rockin' chair that I'm a rockin' in right now. Been a carpenter all my life. Retired now, but I still like to do a little. I'm 73. My wife died last winter. In February." Things made a little more sense to me. This man was so lonely he reached out to talk to a stranger when he did not find the person he was looking for. This went on for 3 years. Practically the same conversation every time. I didn't mind. I was as lonely as he in many ways. I did not hear from him last November nor this November. I wish I would have written his number down. Sometimes I could use a stranger to talk to. I wonder if he is okay. I miss my friend.