Saturday, August 29, 2009

100 Blog Posts To Read Before Going to Nursing School

I am pleased to report that a post from Digital Doorway has been included in a list of 100 blog posts to read before going to nursing school. The list can be accessed by clicking here, and I am honored to have been included in the sub-section entitled "Getting Through School".

Friday, August 28, 2009

H1N1, Fear, and the Need for Calm Vigilance

As the public health infrastructure gears up for the coming flu season and the potential resurgence of H1N1 from its summer lassitude, those of us on the front lines of that infrastructure are left with many questions.

First, as we await the first shipments of seasonal flu vaccine (which should begin arriving soon), we are faced with questions from the public about whether they are eligible for the seasonal flu vaccine, whether or not they will be able to receive the H1N1 vaccine, and how they might protect themselves against these strains of flu that threaten to sicken and perhaps kill thousands of people. We are also faced with the public relations nightmare of explaining the different criteria for the two vaccines, based on the fact that younger people are more susceptible to H1N1 infection, whereas the elderly more often succumb to seasonal flu. While there is some overlap between groups susceptible to both illnesses, a great deal of education will need to be done in order to allay fears and identify who will receive vaccinations.

Next, there are fears that schools, municipal offices, police and fire departments, hospitals and other critical services may be seriously curtailed or shut down if large numbers of employees become sickened with a virulent form of the flu. Just the other day, I attended a meeting with a number of local school officials, and weighty issues of great import were discussed at length as the group wrestled with contingency plans that may or may not come to fruition.

It is the fear of the unknown that drives the anxiety surrounding H1N1, and the potential for widespread illness and death does indeed stoke the fires of the media machine and the conspiracy theorists alike. For me, on the front lines of local public health, my job is to allay citizens' fears, prepare for a double-pronged mass vaccination campaign (for seasonal flu and H1N1), and meet with local officials and others in order to answer questions and suggest ways for citizens to be healthy and maintain a calm but alert vigilance.

This will be an interesting flu season, without a doubt, and it will only be hindsight that will inform us whether our preparations were thoughtful, wasteful, alarmist, or simply prudent.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Nurse Jackie Revisited

Several months ago, I watched the premier of Nurse Jackie, a new Showtime "dramedy" about a dysfunctional nurse struggling with infidelity and drug addiction, and I lambasted the show's producers and writers for choosing to portray such a flawed and troubled character who happens to be a nurse. Not having cable TV, I have not been able to watch the remainder of the season, although I hear through the grapevine that most nurses are quite unhappy with the show.

While I in no way wish nurses to only be portrayed as angels of mercy, the premier of Nurse Jackie did indeed leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Suzanne Gordon, a brilliant and insightful author for whom I have the highest esteem, has written a post about the end of the first season of the show. Ms. Gordon takes this opportunity to react to nurses like myself who have shunned Nurse Jackie out of self-righteous indignance, and she offers her own evaluation of the show, it's portrayal of 21st-century nurses, and how we as nurses may or may not be seen by the public.

I thank Ms. Gordon for her writing and her opinion, and when I do indeed watch Nurse Jackie on DVD some day, I will take her position into consideration and perhaps reevaluate the feelings that were stirred up when I first watched the premier.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Moving Mania

Dear Readers, 

Well, amidst the heat and humidity of a New England August, we have brought our new RV home, are moving out of our house, and getting ready for the official sale and closing on August 31st.

Life is currently in hyperdrive, so blogging has by necessity taken a back seat. I can't wait to return to the keyboard and sink my writer's teeth back into the many subjects that capture my interest, among them travel, health care, nursing, Laughter Yoga, health and wellness coaching, and life in general. 

Please check back every few days, and we will hopefully be back in full blogging swing by the beginning of September!
 
Blessings!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

45 and Ready to Thrive!

Greetings, Readers of Digital Doorway! 

Today is my 45th birthday, and I am thrilled to report that I plan for this coming year to be the best year of my life so far. I had the honor and privilege of spending today with my beloved wife, my son, and my future daughter-in-law, soaking up the sun, swimming in a local pond, and sharing laughter, stories and tears as we all move into a new phase of life. As I have written so recently, my wife and I are moving out of our home and hitting the open road in an RV in order to seek out adventure wherever we find it, and our son and his new life partner are driving to Taos, New Mexico next weekend to build a life together as newlyweds. 

In this year, I will quit my job as a Public Health Nurse, continue to blog, pursue more work writing online, begin the certification process to become a Health and Wellness Coach, and strike out into the unknown with my lovely wife and our trusty old canine companion. 

Thank you for visiting Digital Doorway, and blessings to you today and always. Please stop by frequently as the adventure continues to unfold. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Contemplating the Stress of Change

As my wife Mary and I prepare to radically change our lives, quit our jobs, eschew the trappings of the workaday world and hit the road to see America, I often take time to contemplate stress and how it manifests in my life.

This process of detaching ourselves from our home of eleven years, our hometown of 17 years, and all that is familiar and normal, is a process fraught with pain, pleasure, anticipation, anxiety, excitement, and plenty----plenty---of stress.

Now, don't get me wrong. I blame no one for this situation in which we find ourselves. We created this situation. We asked for it. We designed it. We will reap the rewards, cry the tears, and feel the highs and lows as we open a life chapter filled with uncertainty and adventure.

As we move through the process, stress settles in my body, curls along my spine, throbs in my neck, and disturbs my sleep. I toss and turn, I eat haphazardly, too much at one sitting---or not at all.

At work, I'm distracted, restless, frequently inefficient. I feel guilty for leaving my public health job just as flu season and H1N1 begin to heat up. Then again, I'm relieved that I'm skipping town before the infectious feces hits the proverbial fan.

After thirteen years as a nurse, I need to step away from the desk, put down the syringe, close the file cabinet, and look towards a new way of being, both professionally and personally. The stress of work has taken its toll, and it's ironic that the stress of detaching ourselves from our lives here in New England is taking its own toll on my body and mind. That said, the day will come when we weigh anchor, pull up stakes, and listen giddily as the miles roll beneath our RV's eight wheels.

I look forward to sharing the journey with you, dear Readers, here on Digital Doorway and on our new shared travel blog. It will no doubt be a wild ride, and along the way I'll be exploring and
reporting on American health care seen through the eyes of a nurse traveling the highways and the byways of America with his trusty dog and loving life partner at his side.

I hope you'll come along for the ride!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Our New Home is Born!

Here is a photo of our new (mobile) home, a 29-foot 1993 Scotty HiLander, complete with solar panels and a 6-cylinder Cummins diesel engine with only 57,000 miles. It runs on diesel, biodiesel or a diesel/veggie oil mix. 



We will be moving out of our home in Amherst, MA on Sunday, August 23rd, and thus will begin our journey living full-time in our new rig. Until some time in October, we will be "practicing" the full-time lifestyle here in our beloved Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts until we officially set sail! 

Please stay tuned as we pack up, put things in storage, jettison most of our belongings, sell our home, and embark on this new adventure! 
 

Monday, August 03, 2009

Happy Birthday to Emergiblog!

I want to take this opportunity to say Happy Fourth Birthday to Kim and her blogging brain-child Emergiblog. Kim birthed Emergiblog four years ago, and like one of my blogger colleagues said in a recent email, she is a force to be reckoned with. 

Emergiblog is on the top of many lists of the best health, medicine and nursing blogs, and Kim has strengthened her spot as a top blogger by creating the inimitable and widely recognized Change of Shift, a blog carnival devoted---but not limited---to all things nursing. 

This is simply a moment to reflect on the gifts that Kim has given to the world with her passion for writing, blogging, Health 2.0 and nursing, and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for all she has done to advance our collective cause. 

Happy Birthday, Kim and Emergiblog---and many more!