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Pickle Jars and Roses

August 4, 2005, Vol. III Issue 16

Dear Friends,

This publication date is the day before my wedding, so needless to say, I’m writing it ahead of time. The past few weeks have been such fun, I’m on Cloud Nine. As preparations escalated, so has my sense of anticipation and joy.

A new dress made just for me, flowers, gifts, new shoes, jewelry, even a make-up makeover (long overdue, I might add), manicure, pedicure and a luxurious facial. And parties! What woman wouldn’t be happy? The very best part, however, is the friends and relatives we’re getting to see, many we haven’t seen in years. Some have already arrived. They’re coming from Florida, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, North Carolina, California, Montana, Washington, and the Czech Republic.

And the very, very best part of it is this wonderful man I get to marry. What most of you don’t know is that he edits this newsletter, and always makes it better. (Now he will say better than what?) Oh dear. As the song Jana Stanfield will be singing at our wedding goes, “You Were Worth the Wait.”

Please enjoy our guest columnist, LeAnn Thieman, author of Chicken Soup for the Nurses Soul, and other Chicken Soup books. LeAnn received her Certified Speaking Professional, CSP, designation at the recent National Speakers Association meeting in Atlanta. If you haven’t booked a nurses week speaker for May 2006, now would be a good time.

Yours truly,

Pickle Jars and Roses

My work as PM charge nurse in a small convalescent hospital brought many frustrations, but the biggest was the lack of qualified help. Still, everyone working there had a genuine love for the patients, and we all did our best to care for them.

Alice, a tiny, alert elderly lady with bright blue, twinkling eyes was everyone’s favorite. Her only living relative was her son Jack, a large, tough man in faded filthy jeans. A scraggly beard grew haphazardly on his chin and tattoos covered his arms and chest. No matter how cold the weather was, Jack always wore a tank top so the dragon and snakes could be admired by all. His loud and gruff manner terrified most of the staff.

But this monstrous man loved his tiny mother. Everyday he roared up to the hospital entrance on his old motorcycle, flung open the front door, and tromped down the hall to her room, his clacking boot heels loudly announcing his arrival. He visited at unpredictable hours so he could surprise anyone he suspected of not taking proper care of his mother. Yet, his gentleness with her amazed us.

One particularly bad evening, three aides called in sick, the food carts were late and cold, and one of the patients fell and broke his hip- – and Jack came in at suppertime, as usual, to help his mother with her meal. He stood gawking at me in the nurses’ station as I busily tried to do the work of three nurses. Overwhelmed, and near tears, I avoided his stare.

At the end of the shift, after the patients were finally fed, bathed, and put to bed, I sat at the desk and put my head down on my arms, exhausted. Then the door burst open. Startled, I thought, “Oh no! Here comes Jack, checking up on us again!” As he stomped to the desk, I looked up to see his burly hand gripping a pickle jar with a bit of colored yarn tied in a bow around the neck. And in the jar was the loveliest, long stemmed red rose I’d ever seen. Jack handed it to me and said, “I noticed what a bad time you were having tonight. This is for you, from me and my mother.”

With that, he turned around, marched back out the door, and with a roar from his motorcycle, rode out into the darkness.

Of all the many gifts I’ve received from the many grateful patients over all the years, nothing has touched me more than the red rose in the pickle jar so many years ago.
—  Kathryn Kimzey Judkins, R.N.

We could use a lot more pickle jars and roses in our lives as nurses today, couldn’t we? Being a nurse is stressful, working longer hours with shorter staff. As we leave work with achy feet and often achy hearts, it’s important to remember, though, that not all stress is bad. There is a positive stress called eustress. It’s the kind of stress found in every biological life form on earth — it’s what helps them cope, to be creative and productive, to make changes that help preserve themselves. So some stress is good, but a little goes a long way! Nurses are crying, “Enough already!”

The U.S. surgeon general says eighty percent of people who die from non-traumatic causes die from stress-related illnesses. Nurses see that in their patients and sometimes feel it in themselves. Many claim they are beyond eustress and stress and are in distress.

To cope with all our stressors today, we must have our lives in balance physically, mentally, and spiritually. We must take time daily to balance our lives in these three ways. But usually we’re so busy taking care of other people, we forget to take good care of ourselves.

Everyday we teach patients how to care for themselves physically, but often don’t apply those lessons personally. We educate them about the 4 Basic Food groups, the dietary pyramid of good nutrition, and the importance of drinking six glasses of water a day, yet regularly forget to consume it ourselves. We remind them of the importance of sleep yet frequently deprive ourselves of it. We encourage them to get exercise every day, yet are too busy to get it ourselves.

How are you going to take time everyday to eat, sleep, and exercise? To nurture yourself physically? To care for yourselves as lovingly as you care for others?
LeAnn Thieman L.P.N., Co-author Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul

Kathryn Kimzey Judkins, R.N. has lived in California since 1962. Since retiring in 1998, she spends much of her time writing poetry and short stories. Married fifty-five years, she has three children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul co-author, LeAnn Thieman L.P.N. is a nationally acclaimed professional speaker, author and nurse. To learn more about this book or her speaking presentations, visit our website.

Take Time Out

As much fun as I’ve been having with wedding preparations, stress is ever-present with timelines and questions, delegating and making decisions, and my perpetual list of things to do, errands to run, shopping and calling. OH, and then there’s that thing about sleeping. I’ve been taking care of myself by taking time to go to Nia where I dance it away physically and emotionally, and taking time to stop, sit and breathe (even if that’s just at a stop light!). Oh, and one more thing, I stop and spend time with my sweetie and my pets. We took time out for a great day at the beach last week, just for us.

Until next time, take care of yourself, for your well being and those you love.

Yours truly,

The Speak Well Being Group specializes in providing exceptional speakers for health, wellness and women’s events. Because we’ve worked with so many hospitals and healthcare groups around the country, we speak your language. Our hand-picked speakers are attuned to your needs and adept at addressing the issues while delivering information in an entertaining way, or simply providing a good time with a light message when that’s the ticket. When you work with us, you’ll come back for more “How are we going to top that?” speakers.

You’ll find many of our speakers on our website.
Or please call anytime and let us assist you: 503-699-5031

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