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Category: Nursing

Just Choose

June 15, 2013

I am one week away from a major life change. I am leaving my teaching job in California, packing up some stuff, giving even more stuff away, and heading to Austin, Texas.

When I say this out loud, people look at my quizzically. They aren’t sure they heard me right. Texas? Why on earth would you want to go to Texas when you already live in California? Of course, the thinking goes, EVERYONE wants to live in California. If you don’t want to stay here, you are missing the point.

My answer doesn’t make them feel any better.

When asked why I’m moving to Austin, my answer is: why not? I’m not married and don’t have children. I don’t have any other family living in the area either. Sure, I’m giving up what many would consider a “good” job, but I am a nurse. I have faith I can find a job no matter where I go.

Besides, why do I feel compelled to justify every decision I make? Why isn’t it okay to choose something and go after it? Why is everything a debate?

I need to make it alright to just choose and then just go. I spend so much time agonizing over the alleged “right” or “wrong” decision that I suck all the joy out of a new and exciting adventure.

While I might not know how my move is going to end up or even if I’ll be happy in Austin (I really hope I will be), I do know this: It’s okay to jump. Check the depth of that pond before you swan dive through the air and make sure there aren’t any rocks directly in your path. Beyond that, you just have to let go and make the leap.

The leap makes you free.

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The End of the Shift

September 15, 2015

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

To think that I do not have her.

To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.

And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

–from ‘Tonight I Can Write’ by Pablo Neruda

Yesterday I lost a dear friend.

I’ve known Andrea for over fifteen years. We met and “worked in the trenches” together at an urgent care in San Diego. Later, she became my supervisor in the same urgent care. She never let the title go to her head, though. She was just as down-to-earth, spunky, and kind as ever. She was the supervisor every nurse hopes to have: she supported her nurses and showed us genuine respect.

Andrea was so much more than an amazing nurse. She was a friend to many, a wife to Brian, and a mom to a lovely three-legged dog named Gracie. Andrea was also a long-time diabetic who, after years of suffering with the disease, received the gift of a kidney/pancreas transplant. Despite being cured of diabetes, she continued to work tirelessly and volunteer her time to help raise money and awareness so that, one day, no one would have to live with this debilitating and life-shortening disease.

Her energy was boundless.

Last year, when I decided to become a living donor and give one of my kidneys to my friend David Ybarra, Andrea was my touchstone. She was someone I could speak openly with about my fears and hopes, who truly understood what it meant to share such an amazing and unique gift with another human being. She helped me to navigate successfully the complex and sometimes overwhelming emotions associated with organ donation.

She held me in high esteem, even when I doubted my abilities and felt like a fuck-up. She always reminded me what a wonderful person I am, how smart and capable, how kind, and (with that Wisconsin accent) “Oh my gahd! That voice and that hair!”

Just like with her patients, she saw the good in me and shone a spotlight on the most positive aspects of my personality. During the tough times, she reminded me I would make it through and come out whole on the other side. These are the same qualities embodied in an exceptional friend and nurse.

My shock at her loss is matched only by my belief that the world has lost a vital, bright spirit.

Andrea, even though I told you on more than one occasion how much I appreciated you (and thank goodness I did), I will never be able to thank you enough for everything you meant to me. As a friend and a fellow nurse, you are deeply missed by all of us who loved you and remembered for the countless lives you touched.

Your shift is over. It’s time to go home and rest.

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