Messes and Buckets

This post has stuck with me all week so I thought I would share it in it’s entirety.

A Reason To Celebrate

–posted by Dodo on Jul 7, 2012

Numbly, I left my husband, Marty, at the hospital where I had been visiting two of my children and headed for the grocery store. Since it was eleven p.m., I drove to the only store I knew was open twenty-four hours a day. I turned my car motor off and rested my head against the seat.

What a day, I thought to myself. With two of my young children in the hospital, and a third waiting at Grandma’s, I was truly spread thin. Today I had actually passed the infant CPR exam required before I could take eight-week-old Joel home from the hospital. Would I remember how to perform CPR in a moment of crisis? A cold chill ran down my spine as I debated my answer.

cc Flickr shared by j2dread

Exhausted, I reached for my grocery list that resembled more of a scientific equation than the food for the week. For the past several days, I’d been learning the facts about juvenile diabetes and trying to accept Jenna, my six-year-old daughter’s, diagnosis.  In addition to the CPR exam I’d spent the day reviewing how to test Jenna’s blood and give her insulin shots. Now I was buying the needed food to balance the insulin that would sustain Jenna’s life.

“Let’s go, Janet,” I mumbled to myself while sliding out of the car. “Tomorrow is the big day! Both kids are coming home from the hospital. … It didn’t take long before my mumbling turned into a prayer.

“God, I am soooo scared! What if I make a mistake and give Jenna too much insulin, or what if I measure her food wrong, or what if she does the unmentionable—and sneaks a treat? And what about Joel’s apnea monitor? What if it goes off? What if he turns blue and I panic? What if? Oh, the consequences are certain to be great!”

With a shiver, my own thoughts startled me. Quickly, I tried to redirect my mind away from the what ifs.

Like a child doing an errand she wasn’t up for, I grabbed my purse, locked the car, and found my way inside the store. The layout of the store was different than what I was used to. Uncertain where to find what I needed, I decided to walk up and down each aisle.

Soon I was holding a box of cereal, reading the label, trying to figure out the carbohydrate count and sugar content. “Would three-fourths a cup of cereal fill Jenna up?” Not finding any “sugar free” cereal, I grabbed a box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and continued shopping. Pausing, I turned back. Do I still buy Fruit Loops for Jason? I hadn’t even thought how Jenna’s diagnosis might affect Jason, my typical four-year-old.  Is it okay if he has a box of Fruit Loops while Jenna eats Kellogg’s Corn Flakes?”

Eventually I walked down the canned fruit and juice aisle. Yes, I need apple juice, but, how much? Just how often will Jenna’s sugar “go low” so she will need this lifesaving can of juice? Will a six-year-old actually know when her blood sugar is dropping? What if…? I began to ask myself again.

I held the can of apple juice and began to read the label. Jenna will need fifteen carbohydrates of juice when her sugar drops. But this can has thirty-two.  Immediately I could see my hand begin to tremble. I tried to steady the can and reread the label when I felt tears leave my eyes and make their way down the sides of my face. Not knowing what to do, I grabbed a couple six-packs of apple juice and placed them in my cart. Frustrated by feelings of total inadequacy, I crumpled up my grocery list, covered my face in my hands and cried.

“Honey, are you all right?”  I heard a gentle voice ask.  I had been so engrossed in my own thoughts that I hadn’t even noticed the woman who was shopping along side of me. Suddenly I felt her hand as she reached towards me and rested it upon my shoulder. “Are you all right? Honey, are you a little short of cash? Why don’t you just let me…?”

I slowly dropped my hands from my face and looked into the eyes of the silvery haired woman who waited for my answer. “Oh, no, thank you ma’am.” I said while wiping my tears, trying to gather my composure. “I have enough money.”

“Well, Honey, what is it then?” she persisted.

“It’s just that I’m kind of overwhelmed. I’m here shopping for groceries so that I can bring my children home from the hospital tomorrow.”

“Home from the hospital! What a celebration that shall be. Why, you should have a party!”

Within minutes this stranger had befriended me. She took my crumpled up grocery list, smoothed it out, and became my personal shopper. She stayed by my side until each item on my list was checked off. She even walked me to my car helping me as I placed the groceries in my trunk. Then with a hug and a smile, she sent me on my way.

It was shortly after midnight, while lugging the groceries into my house, that I realized the lesson this woman had taught me. “My kids are coming home from the hospital!” I shouted with joy. “Joel is off life support and functioning on a monitor. Jenna and I can learn how to manage her diabetes and give her shots properly. What a reason to celebrate.” I giggled to myself. “I have a reason to celebrate!” I shouted to my empty house.

“Why you should have a party,” the woman had exclaimed.

And a party there will be!

It is an amazing thing when a complete stranger can enter into someone else’s pain, stay there awhile and offer a new perspective.  It can be difficult to do even with a close friend.  It is much easier to walk by that person reminding myself of how busy I am, or just say a few words of sympathy and close off the conversation.  It takes courage, vulnerability and fortitude to truly listen and be present…as well as the precious commodity of  time.  A person’s struggle is not something we can easily solve.  It’s messy stuff.

Another particle of wisdom from this post, the reminder that no matter how overwhelming something is in my own life there is always another perspective.  More often for me it is reminding myself of the many many others whose situations are not just overwhelming but dire.  My own struggles are but a drop in the bucket.

Jumping In

So…I decided to do something that scares me. It is out of my comfort zone, I haven’t done it for many years, and I’m not sure if I can reach my goal….

I’m going to write an exam. It doesn’t sound like much when I type it out, but I haven’t written an exam involving therapeutics and patient management since my University days. It will require many hours of research and studying…time that I don’t really have actually. Between my sometimes more than full time work hours, home schooling and the boys hockey schedule, I’m not sure where I will carve out the study time. It seems crazy to add something so time consuming to my life.

The exam is to help me reach a goal I’ve been thinking about. Over the past year I’ve been contemplating what type of specialty I might pursue within Pharmacy practice. Not that I need one.  I can continue to practice Pharmacy as I am now, but to specialize will allow me to work more one on one with patients, as well as apply for further prescribing rights. So I decided to write the Certified Diabetes Educator exam. In essence this means working one on one with patients that have diabetes, but it also encompasses what I am passionate about:  being engaged with people, empowering patients with knowledge, and optimizing drug therapy.

As I’ve started to gather the material to study, I’ve felt myself many times wanting to just back out. What would be the big deal? I can go on as I am, I have a good career.  I don’t need a few extra letters behind my name and all this extra work.  Who needs career goals anyway?

And if I don’t tell anybody I’m working on this….well…if it becomes too onerous I can just not do it.  (I’m not even sure I’m going to hit the “publish” button on this post!)

So this week I’ve really thought about what it is I am truly afraid of.

Hard work? …..not really.

What I am afraid of is failure. What will it say about me if I fail?

During this week, within my circle of friends and colleagues there have been a few that have inspired me to just jump in and do it.  Their inspiration was unintentional and comes by way of them sharing parts of their lives with others; so I thought I’d share these inspirational people with you.

This week I took time to check out a web-site created by a couple colleagues of mine.  Hugo Leung and Kit Poon developed Pharmbase,  a site for Alberta Pharmacists to connect to each other outside of differences in practice.  It took a dream, an enormous amount of time and I’m sure significant financial resources to develop the site, and in my opinion, courage and fortitude to put it out there for their colleagues.  That is inspiring.

Over the past few months a friend of mine had to come to terms with the delayed growth and development of her youngest daughter.  Stephanie, a photographer and home school mom, stepped outside her comfort zone to allow her daughter to be poked and prodded by specialists,  and watch her baby go through numerous assessments and medical tests.  Reading her story continues to inspire me.

Licensed by flickr Shared by thriol

Another source of inspiration for me this week is a friend who was striving to reach a professional goal.  George, an educator and speaker who works for Parkland School Division, set out to produce a Keynote video.  Having never produced such a video, it was a task that took an enormous amount of time and energy, caused some frustration and had him working within uncertainty.  He persisted with the project and in the end completed his goal.  I’m sure there were times it was tempting to walk away from it, so I found this to be inspiring in my own decision to move forward and jump into a new challenge.

In deciding to do something I was afraid of, I also had to consider what I was teaching my boys.  I don’t want them to be afraid of trying something for fear of failure, therefore I need to model that.

 So, I have decided to just jump in.  To fearlessly move forward.  If I don’t do it, then the choice is to remain stagnant, and that is just not me.  I refuse to be defined by success or failure.

And perhaps I will have to re-read this post a few times along the way.