The month of May is home to Nurse’s week. Across the country hospital administration will thank their soldiers on the ground with pancake breakfasts & inspirational quotes. Nurse’s don’t need a quote to tell them what a beautifully hard job this is. This year will mark my five year anniversary of becoming a nurse. Even typing it out, I feel the need to quickly double check the math. It doesn’t seem all that long ago I was dawning bright white scrubs & learning how to take vital signs. In some ways that shy, timid nursing student seems like a person I was in another lifetime. I’ve spent the last five years working in an Emergency Department in San Francisco. In that time I’ve started countless IV’s, wrapped broken bones, compressed lifeless chests to see life return & seen patients in their final moments.
Nurse’s week for me isn’t about the free breakfasts, or new company water bottles. It’s about remembering the amazing mentors I have had a long the way & the nurses I continue to strive emulate even today. A wise nurse once told me that ER nurses are notorious for carrying “emotional backpacks”. Events happen so quickly in an ER that you often don’t get the opportunity to process things fully until much later. So as sad, painful, ugly things happen we put all these heavy feelings in a back pack that we carry around with us. And as you clock out & get home you have to find a way to empty these things out in order to go back to work again in 12 hours. Some things you can let go of as you swipe your badge and walk away, others require a long run, a good cry or a stiff drink! If you don’t figure out a way to empty your backpack frequently it’ll eventually weigh you down. Nurses week is about remember that we all carry our own backpacks & recognizing that we can help one another when it gets too heavy. I’m ever thankful for my coworkers who not only make me laugh but are side by side with me as we are faced with the unknown of the emergency department each day. This job at times is painful & hard & other times is exceptionally wonderful & in that contrast there is beauty. The friendships I have made inside those windowless walls are some the strongest & I can say with certainty it’s what keeps me coming back. Only your fellow nurses will understand what it’s like to give yourself fully for 12 hours a day, over & over; not just Monday through Friday, but weekends & Christmas. My fellow nurses are some of the funniest, smartest, most thoughtful people I’ve ever met & I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of the club!
This year I happened to be on vacation during the actual nurses week (which btw not an entirely bad way to celebrate), but I wanted to post something to recognize this wonderful calling that only strongest are drawn to & wish every nurse out there a happy nurses week & remind them they’re incredible!
^^ #TBT to nursing school, when finally getting to wear scrubs, even if they were white was cool!
When it comes to traveling, especially abroad, I always pack a few musts to both prevent & treat the unexpected! As a ER nurse I know the worst way to spend your vacation is in an ER so this blog is meant to give you a list of some simple over the counter items you can pack on your next trip to keep you feeling your best.
Hand sanitizer – the number one way to prevent getting sick is to wash your hands. Sometimes that’s not always an option so having hand sanitizer easily available before you put your hands on a delicious sandwich or tapas is one of the easiest & most effective things you can do. I like taking a hand sanitizer with a mist spray that way the first thing I can do when I board a flight is to spray down my tray table, seatbelt, armrests etcetera. I know this may sound crazy OCD but those planes A: don’t get cleaned after each flight & B: sick people fly all the time. So if the person before you had a nasty head cold you’ll be picking up all those germs.
Emergen-C – These little individual powder packets are a great way to also keep your immune system up. Pour one into that little airline cup of water they bring you & you’ll thank yourself. Side note: they also make for great hangover prevention if you drink one or two the before you crawl into bed (tried & true)!
Visine / Eye Drops – Nothing dries your eyes out more than recycled airplane air. I usually opt for glasses over contacts, especially for long flights, but putting a few drops of Visine in your eyes intermittently or before you pop your contacts in can make you feel like a new person!
Ibuprofen – The cure-all. I never go anywhere without it. Headache / back ache / hangover you name it. 600mg & you’ll feel right as rain.
Tea – I was never a huge tea drinker until a few years ago & now this is something that I pack with me when I travel. I pack a handful of different teas, they’re small and compact so even if I don’t drink them all it’s no big deal. Not to mention airplanes are typically freezing so drinking something nice & warm that isn’t coffee can be really nice. Air travel can make your body hold onto excess water so I like to pack Weightless Tea which helps relieve excess water. Along those lines a nice Detox Tea is good to have on hand. Often when we travel we’re eating & drinking things that we may not normally which can then in turn impede on our normal routine so Smooth Move Tea can help if you find yourself struggling to adjust to new cuisine.
Medicine Kit – What kind of nurse would I be if I didn’t have a little mary poppins-esque medicine kit for all the ailments. In here I put individually enclosed doses of: DayQuil / NiQuil, Benadryl, Non-Drowsy Allergy medicine (loratidine), Zantac for heartburn, & Sudafed. I don’t pack tons of these meds but enough for 1 or 2 doses. And someone non medical might read this & think it’s excessive, but I will say that I usually use something out of this box per trip & it’s cheaper / easier to just bring it ahead of time. As an aside (in most states it’s illegal to have unidentified pills, so make sure they’re individually wrapped & marked with what medication it is, otherwise you may find yourself having to do some explaining to a TSA perosn). I found the little medicine box in the Dollar Spot at Target & just grabbed a couple.
Fem Wipes – These are great to have on hand just in case. You never know when you might find yourself in a restroom that’s out of toilet paper or when you may need a quick refresh. These are small & easy to stoy in a little pouch. Like most things on this list it’s easily packable & better to have than to be frantically trying to find an alternative.
A must that I take with me on all trips but I didn’t include on this list because a prescirption is needed is a small course of antibiotics. I’ve found myself across the country with a UTI trying to find a pharmacy while in terrible pain & discomfort. Definitely a less than ideal situation. Most doctors are willing to write a prescription for this just in case scenario. I just talk to my doctor before I leave on a trip. Again, it’s far easier to reach in your bag & have what you need then be scrambling & feeling terrible.
Last Saturday twenty five ER nurses traded in their glorified pajamas (aka scrubs) for ball gowns & bow ties & enjoyed a night out benefiting the Glide Foundation. The amazing men & women in these photos work side by side with me, caring for some of San Francisco’s most underprivileged residents. Glide serves the exact same community & has been for decades, providing meals, spiritual services, medical clinics & homeless outreach. It doesn’t take much to convince this group of nurses to hang out, however this event was made extra special because one of our very own helped organize the evening. We jokingly called this event our “Prom” & we pulled out all the stops, including going as a group to Dry Bar ahead of time to get our hair done! It was such a great night getting to spend with truly some of the best human beings I know. When it comes to nursing: Our job is to love people when it hurts, when it’s awkward, when it’s uncool & embarrassing. Our job is to stand together, to carry the burdens of one another, & to meet each other in our questions. And I’ve never met a group of people who embodied that more. I would never be able to come to work each day, if it were not for the team I’m surrounded with & this night was such a great reminder of that.
A few weeks ago my coworkers & I went on our annual trip to Lake Tahoe, it was such a fun getaway. I love everyone I work with & it’s so special when we’re all able to be in the same place at once, not working!! We stayed right near Fallen Leaf Lake & were about a 10 minute drive from Kiva Beach on Lake Tahoe. Kiva beach, is a fairly large, dog friendly beach. At the beach you have gorgeous panoramic views of the whole lake & behind the beach is a beautiful meadow with the sierra’s lining the background. It was mid July & the mountains still had snow caps on them!
Like I mentioned before, it’s so special when we can actually coordinate all of our busy schedules & find a time when we can all be together. Many of us work more than one job, so finding a 4 day stretch where we can be together is a miracle! My nursing family is amazing, I’ve learned so much from each one of them & am constantly inspired. It’s so rare to find such an amazing group of people you work with. Granted, many have moved on to other jobs but we’ve all remained close. Nursing is a tremendously hard job & if you can’t find balance in your life then you’re going to have a hard time coping. Weekend getaways like this one remind me what incredibly compassionate, generous, hilarious women I’m surrounded by, & push me to expect more of myself. I just had my 4 year anniversary as a nurse & a lot of the girls in these photos were there from the very beginning. We encouraged each other & helped one another become the amazing nurses we are today. One of my favorite quotes that embodies nursing is this: “The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others”. As true as this is, I think I’ve also found myself working side by side with these gals. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of others I work side by side with that I consider to be my Nurse role models / mentors, but these girls are gold.
Stay tuned for more photos with them because this weekend we’re headed to our first ever black tie event together… just keep in mind these are girls who wear glorified pajamas to work each day (scrubs).
^^ heart eyes^^ Juno’s Frenchie Boyfriend Jax Driving home through vineyards…
This weekend we camped in Mendocino Lake, about 120 miles north of San Francisco, through wine country. It was absolutely beautiful & the weather was spectacular. It is so nice to get out of San Francisco’s mid to high 60’s & actually experience some summer heat. I always forget how great camping is, it just really makes it feel like summer. And I must admit I think it’s a lot more fun with a dog. Juno got to hang out with her Frenchie boyfriend Jax & a 1 year old golden retriever so needless to say she had a phenomenal time. Although sharing a 3 person tent with a seventy pound labrador puppy is less than ideal. It was so nice to unplug and just enjoy being outside with good friends. Hope everyone had a great weekend!