Sunday, January 31, 2010

50 Best Blogs for New Nurses

Digital Doorway has been named as one of the 50 best blogs for new nurses on the Nurse Practitioner Schools website. It's an honor to be on this list of excellent and interesting nurse bloggers, and I hope that Digital Doorway can continue to live up to such attention.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Digital Doorway Turns Five

On January 18th, Digital Doorway quietly turned five years old, and this important anniversary passed me by without notice.

Over these last five years, this blog has been the repository of a great deal of my musings about nursing, health care, medicine, spirituality, life with chronic pain and chronic illness, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, and many other notions and experiences along the way. While some nurse bloggers focus keenly on nursing, Digital Doorway's life has been an itinerant one, wandering from subject to subject, meandering through many doors along life's innumerable corridors.

Blogs have a life of their own, and this blog has lived through any number of permutations. Along the way, there have been awards and recognition, and my writings here have actually led to paid work as a writer both in print and online, with some projects still underway.

I'm grateful for the opportunities that writing this blog have afforded me for the last five years, and although I may have lost some readers by not staying more clear and focused in my choice of subject matter, it has been a consistently gratifying ride.

Since my wife and I are still on the road and blogging about our experience, my blogging attention has admittedly been drawn elsewhere, but Digital Doorway will continue to be a place where I document my life, my thoughts, and my future work as a nurse when our traveling days are over.

Please stay tuned as I continue to retool and reevaluate what Digital Doorway is truly about, and thanks for being here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Change of Shift, and Digital Doorway Makes the Cut!

Well, folks, I finally made the cut and submitted two pieces to the most recent edition of Change of Shift, the ever wonderful nursing blog carnival that consistently pleases and enlightens readers around the globe every two weeks! Please click here to read what's on offer this time around!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Fundraising for Haitian Relief

Dear Readers,

On this Martin Luther King Day, I am taking action by creating a personal fund-raising page on the website of Partners in Health, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the poor of the world.

Founded by Dr. Paul Farmer on a shoestring budget decades ago, PIH now works in a number of countries around the world, but has worked specifically in Haiti for more 20 years. With boots on the ground in Haiti for so many years, PIH was able to be one of the first organizations to respond to the recent disaster, and I am honored to actively raise money on their behalf. My goal is to raise $1000 in the next week, and I ask that you consider donating today in memory of Dr. King and his historic legacy.

Please click here to visit my personal donation page on the Partners in Health website.

Thank you!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Responding to Haiti

With news of the devastation in Haiti coming to light, we all pray for the survivors, relief workers, and those searching for missing loved ones. With the death toll rising in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, it is hard to fathom how much more the people of Haiti can take. President Obama pledged $100 million in aid today, and there is no telling how much it will take to rebuild the country, bury the dead, and tend to the wounded and traumatized.

As I write this, a National Public Radio reporter is crying as he reports on the plethora of injured children and adults laying on cots in a hotel driveway in downtown Port au Prince.

Money is pouring in from all corners of the globe, and you can make a difference by donating to organizations such as Partners in Health and Doctors Without Borders. The online organization Care2 offers a useful selection of information on the crisis, and National Public Radio also has a list of resources available on their website.

When making donations, please be cautious that you are giving money through a secure and reliable website, and be aware that some scams have already been detected as people scramble to donate money quickly.

There have been some rumors circulating that American Airlines is offering to fly nurses and doctors to Haiti for free, but I have not been able to independently confirm that information.

We keep the people of Haiti in our prayers and thoughts, and join with others in the sense of helplessness that many of us can feel when devastation strikes. May we all do what we can, give what we are able, and hold the people of Haiti in our hearts and prayers.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Happy New Year From Change of Shift

The first edition for 2010 of Change of Shift, everyone's favorite nursing blog carnival, is up and running. I thought that I had submitted a post for this edition which is inaugurating the new year and new decade, but alas, I didn't make it this time. Still, there's plenty to read over there, so enjoy!

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Demise of the Public Health Nurse

Back when H1N1 was on the rise, the city of Worcester, Massachusetts laid off all but one of its public health nurses, much to the consternation of the public health community. Public health has rarely been understood by Americans in general, and perhaps the H1N1 pandemic has brought the benefits of the public health infrastructure into the spotlight for both the public and politicians.

Back in October when I left my position as a public health nurse for a small college town in Western Massachusetts, I felt guilty that I was leaving at a time when I was needed the most. Luckily, I was quickly replaced by a skilled and capable nurse who was able to pick up the gauntlet and lead the town through the maze of H1N1 prevention and immunization clinics.

Now I have learned that the public health nurse position in that particular town has been eliminated, and the new director---a former public health nurse for the town---will fulfill the responsibilities of both nurse and department head, a monumental task that seems altogether untenable, no matter how capable and earnest this individual can be. From the surveillance of infectious disease to the management of tuberculosis, public health nurses need time and resources to fulfill their duties, and more and more nurses are being asked to decrease their hours and the scope of their practice, significantly limiting their overall effectiveness.

Public health is often seen as an expendable expense by politicians and bureaucrats, and the signs all point to the fact that public health---and public health nurses---are still not appreciated for the ways in which they safeguard the health of the population and work to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

The gutting of public health programs around the United States is a travesty, and when the ability of a local public health department to fulfill its responsibilities is emasculated in the interest of saving money, everyone loses.

Digital Doorway Nominated as Top Nursing Blog

Digital Doorway has been nominated as a "Top Nursing Blog" by Nursing Programs Online. I am honored and pleased at the nomination, and invite readers to visit their website for more information about other outstanding nursing blogs. Thanks to the committee at Nursing Programs Online!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Learning From Pain

Living with chronic pain is like living with a psychic hitchhiker who never pays for gas or food. Pain comes along on vacation, but never picks up the tab after an evening at the night club. Pain robs one of ambition and drains the energy out of the day.

Pain is also a teacher, and we can learn to use our pain as a focus point for learning and growth. Yes, the pain can dog us throughout the day, but we can rise above it, ignore its desperate calls for attention, and even experience moments---perhaps even minutes or hours---without being conscious of its determination to be heard.

My pain is a nagging sensation along the right side of my spine, sometimes coiled there like a viper, at other times stretched out, enjoying its ability to take up space, coercing other nearby muscles to join the party. It doesn't move around much, but it has some contacts in other areas of my personal geography, and sometimes they chat and collude together. When the pain is more dispersed, my discomfort and unhappiness can grow exponentially, and the pain seems to thrive on my misery.

Sometimes, I realize that I haven't been conscious of any pain for minutes on end, and at other times I'll notice that it's been hours since I felt any pain. These are moments for celebration, and my deepest wish is to string together periods like this so that, eventually, I have entire pain-free days.

This morning, it's like a metal rod has been surgically implanted along the right side of my spine, and even if I stretch and pop a few vertebrae, the pain does not relent. Still, I expect that there will be moments and minutes today when I won't even notice it, when I am so enraptured with what's in front of me, leaving no space in my consciousness for something as measly and undeserving of attention as pain.

My pain gives me pause, makes me focus on my body, bringing me into the moment even when that moment is not a pleasurable one. Pain sharpens my awareness, reminding me of my corporeal reality, and can sometimes be a window into the suffering of others.

Several months ago, a dear friend of mine took his own life, partly due to unrelenting back pain that no doctor or healer could explain or assuage. My pain is similar, in that it cannot be identified or quantified by x-ray or MRI, and only one healer has had even a modicum of success in temporarily relieving it.

I understand my friend's motivation to end his own suffering and finally be without pain, but I am determined to beat the pain at its own game, turn it on it's head, show it who's boss, and leave this life naturally when my time comes, having lived a full life, undeterred by something as selfish and decrepit as pain.

Pain will not control me. It may limit my activities and make me think twice when there's wood to chop or water to carry, but it will not lead me deeply down those darkest roads of self-pity and fear. Yes, I have walked those roads and they are not pretty, but those are temporary visits, and I return to the light once more.

Pain is indeed a good teacher, and it is teaching me that life is for the living, and pain simply will not stand in the way of a life well lived.

Friday, January 01, 2010

2010: Cultivating a New Garden

It's a new year and a new decade, and with 2009 behind me, I am thinking about what qualities I would like to cultivate in this new year. Here is a list of what comes to mind on this blustery January 1st in rural southwestern Georgia:

Optimal health

This list could go on forever, but the true rebirth of the New Year is in knowing deep within me that all will be well. So often, I walk in fear, worried for the future and fretting about the past, all the while missing out on the glorious present. I want to reject regret, forget about worry, forgive myself for fretting, and simply allow myself to live in the moment and embrace the present for the gift that it truly is. This is one of my greatest growing edges in this life, and my hope is that 2010 will be the year when I finally embrace the challenge and truly "get it". This is my hope, and I am sharing it here in this public venue in order to make it more real, and also to be held accountable as the year progresses.

Happy New Year to all, and may the newness of the year bring myriad blessings upon you and yours.