Lessons Learned

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Spring break with my boys. Lake Louise, Alberta

 

I’ve never been a dare devil.  My entire life I’ve played it cautious.  How in the world did I create these three fearless characters??

A ski holiday was not my idea.  A warm beach after a long cold winter is more my style!  But being a supportive parent, I acquiesced to the pleas of, “Can’t we go skiing this winter?”  It turned out I learned a valuable life lesson along the way.

My first day skiing I was rather like Bambi.  Sam, my seven year old stuck by my side for only about the first hour….then it was too slow and boring for him!  He really wanted to leave the “bunny” hill and brave the mountain, so up we went.  I know some people really relish the feeling of freedom on skis, love the movement and flying snow….I just wanted to make it down the mountain alive .

I managed three runs down the mountain, each time I  couldn’t wait to get to the bottom.  Ben, my thirteen year old decided he would stick by my side on the last run.  On shaky legs, about half way down the hill, I fell.  Not enough to hurt myself, just my pride, but it took me at least ten minutes to work my way upright. (No, I never thought to take off my skis…)  At that point I will admit I was near tears at the thought of having to make my way down the rest of the mountain.  As I painstakingly worked my way down, I swore I was absolutely not going back up again.  Skiing would have to be a Dad and boys activity.  I was fine with that.  I could sit in the chalet with my lap top and get some work done or read a book!

Finally at the bottom of the mountain, I saw my boys waiting for me.  I looked at them and realized it would be a huge mistake to just quit.  As much of a struggle as it was and as much as I just plain didn’t like it, quitting was not the example I wanted to set for them.

Instead, I shared with them my struggle. The fact that skiing did not come easy for me, nor was I enjoying it.  It was rather terrifying actually.  However, I understood that it was something they really loved.  They wanted it to be a family activity, something we could do together without work or chores interfering with our time together.  And sometimes one member of the family has to make sacrifices for the good of the others, and for the good of the family.

So I did go back up that mountain the next day.  I gained some skill and finished the day without mortal injury.  I still don’t love it and would prefer many other activities over flying down a mountain with sticks strapped to my feet.  But the lesson learned was valuable, and one I hope my children will emulate.

Pocket Wisdom

I was rifling through a box of papers from the days of my first few years of practice in the small town of Chemainus (1994-1998).    The beginning of learning how to care for patients and fit into the medical system.   I came across a folded up piece of paper that I recognized as one I had carried in my lab coat pocket for many of those early years…

Ode to Patient Care

If we speak with the tongues of specialists and consultants,

and have not love, we will have nothing more than the noise

of our own voices and the clanging of pet ideas.

If we develop new methods, write new curriculum,

and learn new techniques,

and if we understand all about the five stages of dying

so that we are not surprised when a patient is angry or depressed:

and yet we have not love, we are useless.

If we give up our old anxieties about talking with patients

concerning their true feeling,

but we have not love, we gain nothing.

Love never ends.

As for tumour conferences,

they will pass away;

As for workshops,

they will cease;

As for inservice training,

it will change.

For our methods are always imperfect

and our plans often don’t work out.

When I first became a helper, I thought like an idealist

and talked like an expert.

As I began to mature, I realized that I too was afraid

and the patient often taught me.

For now we see only reflections of sickness and death,

but someday we will see them face to face.

And the time will come when we will know for sure what it is like,

and we will be sorry we ever judged.

So methods, techniques, case conferences, care plans,

seminars, small group experiences, counselling-

There is all this and much more we would suggest for

gaining insight and increasing effectiveness:

But greater than all of these is love.

Dan McEver

Now posted once again where I practice daily so I can be reminded of what really matters….

Judgements of Motherhood

A friend of mine will soon see her baby for the first time.  Due in 2 months and preparing for her baby’s arrival, her life is about to change forever.

I remember those first couple years of motherhood.  Suddenly you are in “the club” only you are a rookie; and sometimes the club is not too kind to the newbies.

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I can remember being told: “You shouldn’t put your baby to sleep in that manner, he will NEVER learn to sleep on his own.”  

Or how about, “Really, you need to give that baby a soother.  He will NEVER stop sucking his thumb!”  

Or my favourite (being a pharmacist), “Dear, you just need to put ‘blah blah blah’ on that rash and it’ll be cleared up in no time.”  

All this well-meaning advice can be hard on a new mom.  While finding their way and trying to do what is best for their baby and themselves, it can be difficult to stand your own ground.  Unfortunately, the sense of self-doubt tends to stay with moms as we continually wonder if we are making the right choices for our kids.

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As I became more experienced as a mom I began to see my own judgemental nature.  I was a mostly ‘stay at home mom’, an ‘attachment’ parent who kept my babies close at night and in a sling by day.  Wasn’t that the BEST way to be a mom??

Now, after many years of homeschooling, my kids are in school full-time and I am running a full-time professional practice.   I am still the same mom.

I have met many stay at home mom’s who feel it is the ONLY way to raise a child.  And I know many working mom’s who feel that THEIR way is the only way.    Having been on both sides of the fence I can say that there just is no “one right way” to be a mom.

What IS the right way is to lose the judgement.  Moms need to support each other.  It is one of the most difficult journeys helping a child grow up to be responsible, kind and a positive member of society.

As for the well-meaning advice….Ben now sleeps like the dead, Noah hasn’t sucked his thumb for at least 6 years, and the rash….that was food allergies.

Nod and smile… and remember that there are many paths.

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at least one of us is tired..

Worth It

ccFlickr shared by Eduardo Llanquileo

It’s been awhile since I’ve been here…. I’ve gone from regular posts to a lapse in writing of over two months!  Even worse for my professional site which has been three months!  I sat down today and thought about what had changed and why I haven’t been writing.

I guess I have just been tired… It has been an overwhelming couple of months with many changes.   Changes that have taken the pharmacy practice I love into the scary place of perhaps not being sustainable.  Government decisions, which have been short sighted and without consultation with the front line health professionals who are affected, have been devastating.  Even as the government back pedals on some of their inane decrees in an attempt at damage control, the changes will continue and have a vast impact on the health of Albertans’ and the sustainability of pharmacy.

The emotional roller-coaster of connecting with hundreds of other pharmacists across Alberta who are in the same position has been both inspiring and enhausting.  I have met so many professionals who are utterly committed to their patients; but it is heartbreaking to hear of some colleagues, near retirement, who may lose the value of their practices they spent years building.

I am many years from retirement and am hopeful this will not be the case for me, but there have been days I have walked into the place I love and found it difficult.  Wondering if decisions, which are in government’s hands, would take away what I have been building.

Then yesterday I received a letter from the College of Pharmacists that I have been anxiously waiting for.  For over a year I’ve been putting together my case to apply for prescribing rights.  I finally completed the process and sent it off.

While I have had limited prescribing rights for years, there have been many times when caring for patients that I have felt like I had my hands tied when I couldn’t prescribe what I knew they needed.

My son handed me the letter from the College, and when I opened it he asked me why I was grinning like crazy!

I had received my prescribing authority; and it was more than the expanded ability to serve my patients that had me grinning.  It was hope.  I could see that I had been losing my joy…the reason I was building my practice in the first place.  This affirmation caused me to take a step back and realized that I am exactly where I always wanted to be.  I practice with colleagues whom I highly value and continue to learn from and I am in my own pharmacy able to care for my patient’s exactly as I want.  Definitely worth it.

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“The Talk”

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I just had “The Talk” with my kids.

It started like this:

“Boys, when I need to hire someone do you know what one of the first things is I do?”

Nope, they had no idea.

“I google them,” I said. “I see what they post on Facebook, Twitter, blogs. If they have posted anything that is calling someone else down, is sexually inappropriate, or if they’ve made blatantly disrespectful comments on other people’s postings, I would tend not to hire that person.”

Social media is a relatively new invention. Young kids now are posting things on the internet that will follow them into their adult life —>for the first time in history, creating a permanent personal digital identity. This is the first generation creating that type of history, and without being aware, kids can be damaging their future unintentionally.

So far, my boys only foray onto social media is Instagram. It is a starting point, and I am allowing them to learn as they go. So tonight, I asked my son to come sit with me and show me what he has posted so far (yes, I look at it regularly, but I wanted to encourage discussion.)

Among the mostly silly pictures, there were a few I would consider inappropriate (mostly for language). I asked him about them and he said, “Mom, I like to post things that make people laugh.”

Yup, that’s good, I said. So I asked him what kind of job he wanted to do when he grew up, and he said a musician. So, I told him to picture the future scenario of a man who had to choose between him and another musician to come entertain his guests. If the man googled Noah Oleksyn, what would he see? It would be terrible to not get that job, or the next one because of some dumb stuff you posted when you were a kid right? I repeated a similar conversation with my other son, substituting “Fifa Soccer player” for musician. What I heard from both of them is that they hadn’t thought of that at all.

I think as parents we need to do three things for our kids:

  • Be aware of what our children are doing on the internet
  • Be on sites with them and teach as they go.
  • Be examples with our own digital identity.

I love this post shared by Royan Lee. Great questions for all of us to keep in mind.

Kids using social media and posting content on the internet without any sort of direction is like dropping them off at a grocery store and saying, “Choose some food.”

Without some education on healthy eating and good choices, mine would definitely come out with a bag of chips and a case of pop.

We teach our children how to talk in a respectful manner, how to keep healthy, be kind, have manners and a myriad of other things throughout the time they are entrusted to our care. Today, becoming literate digitally is just as important as learning to read and write. We need to be alongside our children in this new area that encompasses so many aspects of their life. Social media and interaction on the internet is not going anywhere, and as with talking about sex or drugs, our conversations need to be continuous as they grow up in the digital world.

True Love

I came across this quote today, and it reminded me of what true friendship and love really is.  I feel fortunate to have experienced such love in my life.
 
 

“Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.”

African song

ccFlickr shared by smig44_uk

Visitation

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Carlene and Carl

I was born on his birthday.

I share his name….and every year from the time I was born until I finished university and moved away, we would celebrate our birthdays together.

The baby years where all I wanted to do was grab the cake, through the awkward years where I was “too cool”,  to our last birthday together when he was in hospital.

I didn’t get to see him before he died.  Family members all went to be with him, to be present, say goodbye.  But I was too far away to get there.  I figured it was okay.  It hadn’t been that long since I had last seen him.  But when I got the call that he had died I felt not only loss, but a horrible sense of Scan 2 - Version 2guilt that I wasn’t there.

That night he came, in a dream that wasn’t a dream. He said to me that it was okay.  It was okay that I hadn’t been there, and that he loved me and he would always be with me. That was it.  So brief, yet with complete certainty it was him.

Today is our birthday and he is on my mind.

I know others who have had such visitations; from a child lost as a baby, a grandmother, a beloved dog.  The stories need to honored as much as the memory.

Scan 3 - Version 2Happy Birthday Grandpa.