I used to be a bad nurse.

THERE! I said it.

I’ve gotten so many comments from readers about what a wonderful nurse I am and how I’m so caring and compassionate but I’m telling you:

I used to be a bad nurse.

Have you ever worked with someone who was grumpy all the time? Someone who was dismissive?

You could tell they hated their job and they were so unhappy. They came off as rude and hurried. Their heart wasn’t in the right place anymore.

Well…that was me.

I’m sure you’ve heard of burnout. Burnout has recently been recognized as an actual medical diagnosis as burnout syndrome. I wanted to include this chart to clearly differentiate between compassion fatigue and burnout. I was 100% on the burnout side of life.

I want you to ask yourself these questions:

Are you spiritually, emotionally or physically exhausted?

Do you have a positive outlook on your future at your current job?

Do you feel like you see the good in people or give them the benefit of the doubt?

Are you suspicious of your coworkers? Are you afraid they are gossiping about you or have ill intentions?

Is it difficult to concentrate at your work?

Are you as productive as you could be at work?

Do you question your capability to complete your tasks at work?

Do you suffer from chronic headaches or abdominal pain?

Are you sick all the time for no apparent reason?

Do you dread going to work?

THIS. WAS. MY. LIFE.

My documentation wasn’t thorough. I had a negative attitude. I didn’t always show empathy for my patients. I was cited for coming off as rude to other departments and in a hurry and talking too fast. I acted like a know it all.

I was of the mindset “I’ll say it how it is.” One of the new ER nurses told me one day, “You just really have no filter do you?”

I thought everyone hated me. I thought everyone thought I was stupid. I knew I wasn’t good enough. I’m sure everyone was gossiping about me. I was at such a deep dark point in my life that Fall. I wasn’t happy.

I had withdrawn from my coworkers and my friends because I was so sure that they didn’t want to hear about my life or talk to me. I didn’t want to annoy them with my stupidity.

My mind was a battlefield. I was constantly hating myself for the way I looked. I was constantly telling myself I was stupid or I wasn’t good enough. My mind was like a broken record playing this mantra over and over again:

“Why set goals when you can’t achieve them? You’re so dumb. Everyone is watching you. They are gossiping about you. They think you are dumb too. They can tell you’ve gained weight. They can tell your scrubs are tighter. They don’t trust you. They think you’re a bad nurse. They think you talk too much. Stop talking about yourself. No one cares. You look like SHREK. Just go to work and do your job and go home. They don’t like you here. They don’t want to work with you. I feel bad they have to look at me all day.”

My supervisor approached me. She knew I wasn’t operating at my full potential. Other departments were complaining about my negative attitude. My heart broke. I had never gotten a negative review in my life. I’m telling you guys, I had NO idea how bad I was. I spiraled.

In hindsight, I am SO SO thankful that my supervisor came to me. I knew that I wasn’t well but I didn’t know it was effecting my work, my attitude, my work environment, and relationships with my coworkers. I didn’t know how obvious it was to everyone else how miserable I was.

If you knew me during this time, you probably didn’t like me. I’m sorry. I know that my burnout damaged my reputation. I still hear about how far I’ve come and how I used to be very rude. I know I offended people. I know that I wasn’t well liked and I want you to know that I’m sorry and I’m better now. But I also want you to know that this could happen to you too.

I enrolled in therapy in November of 2017. I have been attending ever since to address my deeply rooted body image issues and my need to be perfect. In other words, I am a recovering perfectionist. I am a recovering workaholic. This and my undiagnosed social anxiety put me at an extremely high risk to fall into the burnout trap. I have learned my triggers. I have learned effective coping mechanisms. I know how to recognize burnout in myself. I know how to recognize it in my coworkers and friends.

I want you to know I’m still at the same job and I love it. I want you to know that I was the one putting the pressure on myself. I want you to know that while I was working 60 hour work weeks, I was the one who picked up the hours. I want you to know that if you recognize yourself in this blog post that there is hope.

It was NOT easy. It was hard work. It took time to make progress. Every day was a battle. Every day I was working harder to improve myself as a wife, nurse, and mother. Part of that came in the form of self development. Here are a few things that have played a role in my transformation:

Brene Brown’s The Gift of Imperfection: This book needs to be read by EVERYONE but most importantly it needs to be read by recovering perfectionists. I have read all of Brene’s Books but THIS ONE really hit home and I highly recommend you check it out.

Sarah Knight’s Get your Shit Together: This was a basic introduction for me on working to maintain a work life balance. I remember listening to this on the plane to see my brother in Houston Texas in October of 2017. I was so desperate to feel like I had some part of my life together. Like I said, this book isn’t nearly as “in depth” but it is a basic introduction to getting your life back on the right track.

Here are a few mantras that I recite to myself to cope with day to day work stress that have helped tremendously:

Everyone is welcome.

We are all God’s children.

Will this matter in 5 years?

What is the kind choice?

What is my goal?

You don’t know the whole story.

No judgement.

You don’t know what they are going through behind someone else’s closed doors.

Productive Days I learned that a HUGE part of my problems were trying to find a work life balance. I would come home on my 1-2 days off during the week and just sleep. I was so exhausted I never felt fully accomplished at home or at work. I started putting together the beginnings of my “productive day” that I refer to often on this blog. Read more on that here:

http://www.thepinkshoelaces.com/2019/10/04/how-do-you-do-it-all/

Seeking professional help: I also highly recommend counseling. I LOVE going to see my therapist. She is so kind. I’ve been so fortunate that I have never paid a bill for one therapy session due to some AWESOME insurance. I have come so far, I rarely talk about my anxiety or my body issues anymore when we have sessions but it still feels so good to have a third party listen in and offer perspective.


So what is my goal with this post? I know that as you are reading you are thinking of someone. Maybe it is a coworker, a supervisor, a friend, a daughter or husband. Do you know someone in your life that is burnt out? Is their toxic behavior effecting your life or work environment? THEY. MIGHT. NOT. KNOW. Just like me.

It may be time to have an honest conversation with them or refer them to your company’s employee assistance program. It may be time to send them this blog post and see if it helps them recognize these feelings within themselves.

I was so upset with my supervisor when she first came to me. She was describing me in a way I wouldn’t have recognized. I was mortified. But that conversation changed my life in so many ways. I will always be grateful for her honesty and her professionalism. Maybe you need to be that person for someone.

Thanks for reading friends.

I TRICKED THEM! Incorporating Veggies on a Busy Schedule

I stole this picture from the recipe I found on campbells.com

I found a NEW FAVORITE RECIPE and I hope you enjoy it too! Here’s a link to the original recipe:

https://www.campbells.com/kitchen/recipes/cauliflower-mac-cheese-with-broccoli/?utm_source=pinterest&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=f20-veg-cooking&utm_content=video&utm_term=cauliflower-mac-cheese-with-broccoli

Without any further ado, here’s how to make it:

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces uncooked medium shell shaped pasta (about 3 cups)
  • 1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Campbell’s® Creamy Cauliflower Cooking Soup
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded 2% milk Cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat (2%) milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped thawed frozen broccoli florets

How to Make It

Step 1

Cook and drain the pasta according to the package directions.  While the pasta is cooking, heat the oven to 400°F.

Step 2

Stir the soup, cheese, milk and black pepper in a 2-quart casserole.  Add the pasta and broccoli and stir to coat.

Step 3

Bake for 20 minutes or until the mixture is hot.  Serve hot.

Okay, now here’s a few hacks:

I doubled the recipe to fit in a 9×12 pan.

I added leftover HAM and that now seems like an absolute necessity.

I used frozen broccoli because I can never keep fresh produce fresh.

I baked it at 285 degrees for 1.5 hours and oh man that was perfect.

I didn’t cook the noodles all the way so they wouldn’t get too soggy.

I used my food processor to combine the cream of cauliflower and the cheese and milk to make it creamier.

I’m halfway through a ROUGH week. I made this recipe on Sunday and threw it in the oven tonight. It was a great recipe for meal prep!

Plus, who doesn’t already have these ingredients in their house?

So creamy 🙂

Guys, for real this tasted BETTER than mac and cheese because I knew it was healthier! I’m starting to by the Cream of Cauliflower in BULK from Amazon because we use it ALL. THE. TIME. Here’s a link to amazon! https://amzn.to/2RYoydS

YOU GUYS! Carver ate all of his food. That does not happen. I packed some for lunch tomorrow. I’m so excited about this recipe. The broccoli was so cheesy!

Life update: halfway through a busy work week. I vow to never leave blog posts until the night before AGAIN! I love writing, I love keeping up with the blog, it doesn’t seem like a chore but man is it nice to have a full week of blog posts scheduled in advance!

I made myself do dishes and laundry and get groceries so I’m still keeping my head above water as far as chores go around the house. Carver is actually super helpful with chores! Here he is doing his own laundry:

I should hear back from Milwaukee tomorrow and get a solid plan for Gannon when he’s admitted in April so watch for that update on THURSDAY!

If you make this recipe, let me know if you love it as much as I do!

Failed New Years Resolutions

Do you guys remember how hopeful we all felt for the new decade about a month ago? And here we are 27 days into the month and I have nothing to show for anything.

My house is just as messy. My body is just as much weight as it was then. I’m no closer to smashing my goal to run a 10K or half marathon. My gym membership remains unused.

I’m essentially the same person I was 30 days ago. I’m trying to come to terms with my failed New Year’s resolutions.

Life got in the way hard this month. We started out January 2nd in the ER with Gannon. He’s vomited at least 75% of the days this month. The stomach bug has all run through our house. We’ve all at least had a cold once if not twice. We went on a vacation which was out of our normal routine. We’ve made a trip to Iowa City.

Before I know it I’m back to working an insane amount of hours between my full-time job, my regular part-time job, and the 24 hours of clinical/week I picked up on top of that. That all starts this week.

Our restaurant budget was out of control this month eating out and getting a quick bite to eat here or there. I haven’t meal prepped like I wanted to. Carvers had hotdogs for supper more times than I’d like to admit.

I blogged about how I was going to give up fried food for the month. I was about to place an order at work to have delivery and one of my coworkers reminded me that I was giving up fried food for the month. Whoops.

I was planning on drinking more water every day. I’ve not been loving the taste of water lately and I decided I would drink more Powerade zero. The last two times I’ve gone to Walmart they’ve been out. I can’t seem to stomach coffee these days either for some odd reason. Needless to say my intake of fluids has been rather poor leaving me feeling dehydrated. I know I feel better when I drink water why don’t I just do it?

A friend asked me the other day how my half marathon training was going and it made me stop and think. When things get hard, when I am not in my normal routine, when the kids are sick, when the planets are not aligned my auto pilot is unhealthy.

When I am my best self I make time for me.
When I am my best self, I drink enough water. When I am my best self I go to the gym.
When I am my best self I limit time on my phone. When I am my best self I read three books a night to Carver and Gannon.
When I am my best self I don’t eat fried food. When I am my best self Craig and I have date nights.
When I am my best self, I make healthy meals for myself and my family.

When I’m just me, when I’m on autopilot, I’m not that healthy.

What on God’s green earth made me think I could be a brand new person over night? Something about the change of a calendar was supposed to magically make my life easier and give me 12 more hours in a day? I don’t think so.

So if time has slipped away from you, if you’ve forgotten your New Years Resolution already, if you are like me and you are just the same person you were a month ago, you’re not alone.

I am enough. I am enough. I am enough.

I don’t need to change me. The turn of the calendar does not need to change me.

It doesn’t need to change you either. You are enough.

Sometimes self care isn’t caring at all. And Self care is definitely not beating yourself up for not keeping up resolutions.

Instead I’m, I’m proud of myself for keeping up with the blog through it all!

I’m proud of myself for taking time to REST when I’m sick.

I’m proud of myself for keeping up with the laundry through this all!

I’m proud of myself for not talking myself out of vacation last week.

I’m proud of myself for managing every other category on my budget.

I’m proud of myself for being able to be proud of myself even when I’m not my best self. Cheers to that!

That’s all I have for today folks! See you tomorrow!

Saturday

I’m laying in bed on Sunday night writing this. Nothing like procrastination. I had such high hopes for this weekend. I had so much stuff to do and so many events to attend but I barely did anything. I’m feeling pretty worthless right now going to bed at 7:30 on a Sunday night hoping I feel well enough to go into work tomorrow.

Tomorrow I get to meet my students for the semester and I help test out their skills in the lab to make sure they are competent before they go to the clinical facilities. It’s a big day and they are counting on me to be there but I just feel cruddy. I hope that if I go to bed early enough I can wake up and embody my Florence Nightingale.

This morning’s blog post, I wanted to give you a recap of my Saturday. On my way home from work on Friday night I was on the phone with my mom and I realized I hadn’t seen her or spent much quality time with her in a good week which is very unusual for us. Often times I see her at least once a day but after our Wisconsin dells trip and then working last weekend, I truly miss her.

Mom had told me she made rice pudding and chocolate cake for me to come on over on Saturday morning. My mom is the best mom.

She was working on her mystery quilt and wanted to get the top put together before noon. I sat and visited with her and ate her food while the boys played.

Testing out the super wide angle on my iphone
And my zoom in 🙂

Soon enough Carver need a snuggle buddy on the couch and I was still pretty tired from having worked the last two days. Gannon laid down for his nap and I fell asleep on her couch. I could have just as easily take a nap at my house but my moms house still feels just as much as home even though I didn’t grow up there. I think mom feels like home more than anything.

My moms couch is so comfy

When Craig got off work he came to my moms and picked up the boys. Mom and I were wanting to go to a little store a few miles down the road. It’s called Country view dairy where they make their own yogurt, frozen yogurt and other dairy treats. We know the owners through a few mutual friends and we wanted to go get some of their yogurt. It is the creamiest yogurt ever and we just love it. Not to mention since Craig quit smoking his sweet tooth is out of control and he’s been eating as much peach yogurt as he can get his hands on.

Continue reading

“What is it like when a parent is diagnosed with cancer?”

I’ve gotten this question before: What is it like when a parent is diagnosed with cancer?

I happen to be an expert in this topic considering both of my parents have been diagnosed with cancer.

As yesterday was the first anniversary of my dad’s lung cancer diagnosis, a thought occurred to me. At the time, my parents diagnosis of cancer was devastating. It was the biggest shock I’d ever had in my entire life. My mom’s thyroid cancer diagnosis actually came AFTER her thyroid was removed. My dad’s lung cancer diagnosis was found through a routine CT scan.

In hindsight, the diagnosis day was the easiest part of my dad’s cancer journey.

Was it shocking? Yes. Was it devastating? Yes. Now that I know what I know and I’ve lived through what I’ve lived through, the diagnosis day was easy.

I always hear people talk about how their pain scale is adjusted as they move through life. A 10/10 pain right now for my son is getting his finger slammed in a door as is for many 3 year olds. Now that I’m older my 10/10 was my gall bladder attack or walking for the first time after my c-section. I hope I don’t have a new 10/10 pain but I know that as I get older and progress through life, it’s likely my pain scale will be adjusted again.

My “hard” scale has also been adjusted as I move through life. It also adjusted as my parents have navigated their way through their cancer journey.

In hindsight, diagnosis day was a good 7/10. At the time? It was a 10/10.

It wasn’t easy but it wasn’t as hard as the next 129 days were. We were so hopeful then.

  • Watching my dad writhing in pain after a failed attempt to remove his tumor? 9/10
  • When his cancer turned from curable to treatable? 8/10
  • When his cancer went from treatable to terminal? 8/10
  • Watching my dad break his neck right in front of me as he was leaning back in his recliner? 9/10
  • Watching my dad, my big burly I can eat half a cake in one sitting dad, struggle to sip a milkshake? 7/10
  • When my mom called and told me the cancer had spread to his femur, iliac crest, colon, his lungs, his abdominal wall? 9/10
  • Picking out a gravesite with my parents after my dad was given 2-3 weeks to live? 8/10
  • Watching Dad say goodbye to his friends, family, fire department, first responders, neighbors and community? 8/10
  • Giving the eulogy at his funeral? 8/10
  • Listening to his final call come over the pager? 8/10
  • Watching dad say goodbye to his wife? 10/10
  • Watching my dad take his last breath? 10/10
  • Watching my mom’s tumor marker creep up month after month and they can’t find the cancer anywhere? 8/10

So as hard as it is when a parent or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, there are worse things.

If there is one thing I’ve learned through it all is I can do hard things. When I’m tired and I feel like I can’t pick myself up again or when I think things can’t get worse, I know that I can survive hard things. I am resilient and there is life on the other side of loss.

I can survive the 10/10. I can find happiness on the other side of 10/10. I have survived 100% of the horrible days I’ve had and you can to.

That’s what it is like when a parent is diagnosed with cancer. You test your limits, you build resilience. You come out stronger and wiser. Most importantly, has hard as it is, you survive even if they don’t.

For more posts from my perspective as a fatherless daughter, check out these posts:

January 24th, 2019: Day 1 of 129 – Diagnosis Day

“You will never forget this phone call.”

“Huh? What do you mean?”

“Dad’s CT came back. They released the results on MyCare It says he has advanced lung cancer.”

Immediate tears. Not even tears, sobbing.

“I’ll be right over.”

That is literally all I said. I hung up the phone.

I called Craig. Bawling. He couldn’t even understand what I was saying. I’m scrambling around the house. I’m trying to get Carver in the car. It’s so freaking cold outside. My huge pregnant belly is in the way. I have to scrape my car off. Carver wants to know why I’m crying. What do I even say.

I get to my mom’s house. I walk in the door. I’m okay for the moment. Mom is in the bathroom with kids. I can tell she’s been crying. She can tell I’ve been crying. I can tell she’s being extra chipper for the kids.

“The results are up on the computer.”

I read it over and over again.

Advanced lung cancer. 9 cm tumor. Critical result. Advanced lung cancer.

“Does dad know?”

“Not yet.”

Just then mom’s phone rang. It was Dad. He had gotten a call from the clinic. They want him to come in this afternoon to review his results. They didn’t tell him anything more than that.

“I’ll watch the kids. You can go.”

Dad came home. Mom showed him the results on the computer. Dad went down to shower before his appointment. He came back upstairs. I can remember the shirt he was wearing. Long sleeved navy blue striped. He was eating a cookie. He needed a haircut and to button just one more button. He was leaning on the baker’s cabinet he built.

“Were you expecting this?”

I was so nervous. This was so delicate. Dad and I didn’t talk about this kind of stuff yet.

“Well I’ve smoked since I was 13.”

“Yeah…”

“You know it might not even be cancer. Some people get misdiagnosed.”

Advanced lung cancer. 9 cm tumor.

“Yeah…true…” I mumbled…

“I really appreciate you watching the kids.”

“Of course.”

To think I’d lived 22 January 24ths without realizing how significant this date would be. Now I know better. I know how a phone call can bring you to your knees. I now know how any day could be that date that you’ll never forget.

I can still see the test results in my mind. Advanced lung cancer. 9 cm tumor. Critical result.

That was day 1 of 129. Diagnosis Day.