We are presently here in Temple, Texas, checking in on Mary's mother who is in ICU following carotid artery bypass surgery. Tonight, I will do the midnight to 6am shift (most of which will be spent sleeping in the recliner behind the curtain by the window) so that she can have her needs met if she wakes in the middle of the night. (There's nothing more miserable than having a nasogastric tube down your throat and nobody around to feed you ice chips when you're parched.)
Overall, though, this "caregiving visit" is a relative breeze: time by the hotel pool, writing emails and blog posts on the hotel computer, chatting with my father-in-law and the nurses as we sit in the room passing the hours, or wandering this strange Texan town. Plus, it's 80 degrees and sunny all day.
Beginning a leave of absence from nursing and being in such a hospital/medical environment could very well set off my stress buttons, but my role here is so minimal---so "nurse lite", if you will---that it is a pleasure to be of service. My skills are helpful in identifying when, for instance, Mary's mom's oxygen saturation is getting low and she needs the cannula back on, or perhaps to listen to the doctor and translate some of the medicalese for her dad. Energy output and stress? Almost zero. Value? High.
Anyway, nurses serve a purpose in families, and my "nurseness" certainly does come in handy at times like these. As long as my boundaries are clear and self-care remains of primary concern, no harm done and all is well.
So, dear Reader, remember the end of Daylight Savings Time tonight, set those clocks back, gain that hour of precious beauty sleep, and enjoy your Sunday, wherever you fare.
From deep in the heart of Texas,
A Nurse at Rest