home…

What can I say, where do I start, how do I answer the question, “where are you from?” I’ll be honest, many times every time someone asks me this I cringe. I cringe with embarrassment as most people immediately jump to the whole, “oh the state where white people kill black people and then start riots.” I love the state in which I come from, I am proud to be from the beautiful state of Minnesota at the same time so very sad. My heart hurts for my children, friends, and their families.

As Minnesotans, we are known to be “Minnesota Nice,” we treat everyone with compassion, empathy, and love. No matter the situation, we pull together and help each other – doesn’t matter the situation and of course when I flew in from New York to Minnesota on a whim my beautiful friend Brianna dropped everything and came to pick me up! Of course the drive from the airport was not near enough time to discuss life, and all that life had thrown at us in 8 weeks but it was better than nothing. We laughed, we laughed, and laughed some more; it was simply amazing to be with someone else who “gets it.”

Once I arrived in Albert Lea it was all surreal; being in a place that was one mine, once a place I called home…now my children’s home. The home in which was built for them is filled with love, laughter, and is full of daily adventures. I was welcomed by Hans and his mother for the entire time so I could be with the kids daily which was fantastic. We enjoyed lots of grilling, jumping on the trampoline, movie time, snuggles in the morning and of course at bedtime, ice cream by the fountain, and many other adventures.

For now, MY home is New York and New Jersey which you will learn more about in upcoming posts; no not because of dating but due to the economy and schooling right now this is where my home will be.

Ultimately, home is where we determine it is…whether it is a 10×10 hotel room, a 6,000 sq foot house, maybe a tent by the river, maybe a sleeping bag on the sidewalk, again a home is what we determine it to be not by what society defines a home. My children have the best home that any two children could ever ask for; fresh bedding, warm meals, two amazing puppies, a grandma that helps with homeschool, a dad and step-mom full-time–correct, they are living the dream!

I hope that each of you are enjoying your dream, enjoying your home wherever that may be. I would love to hear from more of you; in fact my dream is to fill my wall with pictures, letters, and post cards in my current home.

Much love and thanks,

Liz

fun evening on the trampoline! Faces like these are priceless

Destruction

Destruction, I think that is where many of us are at right now as travel nurses. Sure we chose to pack up our lives into suitcases, travel the United States amidst a terrifying pandemic; leaving behind our family, friends, and the comfort of all that most of us have ever known. That being said, take a minute…just stop…look around you tell me could you or would you be able to do the same thing? Would you be willing to pack your bags and jump with two feet into war zone. Many of you may say yes until you learn what I mean when I use the word destruction –

My heart has be destroyed in more ways I could have ever imagined

My empathy and compassion for others has been worn thin — due to pure destruction from Covid and the sheer amount of hours that was required given from all of us to each of our patients and their families.

My emotions are a teeter-totter most days ok daily now that July is here (all new residents)! None the less, working nights you want to just come in and do your job; give your patients your all but you can’t because Covid destroyed the desire that was once there.

Friendships; this is a difficult one to swallow…I have figured out real quick who my true friends are and who my true supporters are through all of this. I think that many people think that because New York is no longer a “Covid hot spot” support and encouragement is not needed – WRONG. Not only is Covid still here, we now (traveling nurses) are here in the hundreds working around the clock taking care of level 1 and level 2 trauma victims in the many different ICU settings. I have started building a good network of traveling nurses as well as local friends which is really nice. It is wonderful to be able to jump in the car on the weekend and head to a beach and relax for the day; previously I would spend the days in my room so with time that is changing. I still miss hearing from many of you back home!

Here in New York things are different; especially working for the city hospital system. Working for privately owned hospitals is all I have ever known; we had what we needed when we needed it and now here in the city it is the exact opposite. There are nights we run out of bedding for our patients. Best Practices —HAHAHAHA the nurses here don’t even seem to know what that phrase means. All of you who know me and know me well, know that I take my profession very serious. I live by standards.

Standards are set for a reason; nurses live within the realm of standards because we should always be showing up every single day to do no harm and always put the needs of the patients first. Here I consistently get a laugh and, “welcome to Harlem, we don’t do things in the city that way, people are cheap around here.” At the end of it all, I do the best to work within the means that I have (not easy let me tell you).

I think Covid has honestly destroyed little bits and pieces of each of us. Our kids are more observant or may have developed anxiety, students have been forced outside of their comfort zone to learn online both school age and college age. Parents, well parents have not only had to be full-time working parents they now have also become full-time educators. To that I say, I FEEL YOUR PAIN. Being an educator is not easy, it is emotionally challenging, it is taxing, it is everything you never thought it would be and more. Ultimately I think I broke many parents and at the same time created so many new bonds between parents and their children as well as fostered growth between parents of the same age group to learn from each other.

Please remember to acknowledge your own shortcomings since covid; I guarantee you we all have something that Covid has stolen from us. Will that/those pieces of us come back, I am never sure. What I can tell you is this; wake up each day and write down three positive things for yourself and then throughout the day challenge yourself to give three random strangers compliments — it is amazing how quickly you feel amazing!

This is not the end, it is only a bump and we will see that rainbow amidst all of this craziness!

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Thoughts

As I sat on this gorgeous patio basking in the sun enjoying lunch I was taken back by this structure that was right in front; it was the only thing one sees when sitting outside here at Harlem Hospital aside from the blue skies. As I sat, I wondered why the hospital would leave such an eye sore amidst this beautiful new addition to the hospital? I’ll be honest, I left still contemplating this but felt God had put this on my heart for a reason.

This building, very ugly in nature, full of holes, damaged and broken bricks, but most of all empty spoke to me in ways I had never imagined. I think many of us who have worked on the frontline whether we admit it or not have some suppressed feelings; feelings of emptiness, damaged hearts, and a sense of immense loss.

Daily on the news we see brief snapshots of those who have lost their life to covid-19; we see their face, we hear their story, and we learn about their legacy. As I sit here this morning (4 days after the picture was taken) I am reminded of how quickly life changes; not only for us as humans and individuals, but also as a nation.

I would bet that many of you right now may be feeling unsettled, lost, confused, and clearly just befuddled with what is happening in our communities and throughout the nation. This sense of emptiness is depicted so well by the building above; so many windows for opportunity, change, improvement….yet here we sit crumbling as a nation.

Do not let the media fool you, we still have many covid patients in the hospital here in New York; much like everywhere else our numbers are beginning to rise. Our numbers are rising slowly, but they are rising. How many body bags need to be zipped up?.How many more lives need to be lost for people to quit complaining about wearing a mask.

Wearing a mask is one thing…I invite you to come work the hospital where we wear two masks, face shield, two pairs of gloves, and a gown…oh and the gowns are plastic so when we exit we look like we have taken a shower in our scrubs.

I challenge you during this time of change, this time of tension in our nation to do the RIGHT thing. Don’t worry about what everyone else does, worry about YOU and how YOU can make an impact!

Liz

Big Changes…

I know in my last video I posted, I mentioned I would discuss upcoming changes and forgot to do that; with all the unsettling events the announcement of my change got pushed to the back burner.

So here it is…..

As you all know, I signed a contract for 13 weeks which would take me to about the 3rd of July. Due to New Yorkers getting their act together ❤ we decreased the number of NEW daily positive covid ICU patients therefore decreasing significantly the number of travel nurses needed throughout the city and surrounding Burroughs.

When that happened my ICU contract got cut; I was blessed though to then have another contract. This other contract was/is at one of the saddest, scariest, most fraudulent places I have ever seen; I will share those stories and details in upcoming posts. That location took a severe emotional toll on me and has taken some time to heal.

So, recently as the city began to open up, prepare for phase one, enter phase one, and then deal with the riots….numbers are now steadily increasing at the same time as operating rooms are opening. I was blessed to have been offered another contract…

So what does all this mean? Well, right now given the crazy economy there are no solid travel positions in Minnesota; positions that I can consistently count on to pay my bills and raise my children. At this time, in speaking with Hans and his amazing significant other Sarah, right now I need to be here working. I will remain here on contract through at least the end of October. With all of that being said, I will be visiting my kiddos frequently and Hans and I are planning weekend trips to meet half way and all visit.

Another change is that I have enrolled in Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program. I will be finished in less than two years; while I am on the East coast I am able to complete clinical hours at outstanding hospitals like Rutgers for example which is know for amazing Pulmonary Care!

I had no idea when I packed four suitcases, and two bags that I would be traveling and become a minimalist. I had no idea the emotional anguish I would encounter as not only a nurse but as a human. This journey has not been easy and our societal standards don’t match what I am doing, right? I mean normally it is the dad that travels and the mom that stays home and works locally; this time we have reversed roles and our children are flourishing.

During the upcoming weeks and months ahead I would appreciate all of your support and encouragement ❤. I am excited for this incredible journey called life; as a firm believer and follower of Christ, I feel that God is leading me in this direction.

My new position will be a conglomeration of PACU, ICU, and ED; this time rather than working for a private hospital I will be working for New York Health and Hospitals which is “the city hospital system.”

Stay tuned for my next post about our nurse get-away!

If anyone is wanting to send cards or packages…i have had more requests for my address:

244 W. 99 Street

New York, New York 10025

Riots, Protests, and Changes Galore!

I am not sure that many of us would have or could have imagined that 2020 would be defining itself this way for decades to come. To be honest I am not even sure where to begin; my heart is full, happy, sad, disgusted, and at times fearful for what is to come. Do we even know what is to come, that is the scary part?

We all know the recent situation in Minneapolis so there is no need to discuss that situation; I will say that many have reached out since that situation to ask how NYC is and if I am ok. In short, yes, I am ok. In the long, I think we all have a lot to process; especially essential workers here in NYC. I am not disregarding other cities, towns, or states, I am just speaking to what I know so please do not be offended by that statement.

As many of you know NYC is referred to as “the city that never sleeps.” I have seen this city sleeping and I have now seen the government attempt to force the city to sleep to keep those of us who follow directions safe. When I first arrived March 30th the city was “asleep,” no traffic, no business, and 99% of the residents of NYC were doing what was asked of them, which at that time was to STAY HOME! A few blessings came from that, the local market owners and employees know me on a first name basis, local police officers have seen me repeatedly out and about since I am an essential worker, as have other small essential business owners. I have gained an entire new family since being here, not just at the hotel but in this little area in which Hotel 99 sits and for that I am ever thankful during this time of unrest.

As the events unfolded in Minneapolis nobody dreamed that it would have the ripple effect that it would across the nation, including here in NYC. Now, NYC on a good day is a bit hectic CRAZY, now add in the riots and protests and it is beyond chaos and unrest. Times Square, Madison Avenue, Columbus Circle, and really anything downtown so literally four blocks south of me is where all the protests and riots were. I have included some images of what the riots led to and it is quite disturbing.

Boarding up all the stores along Broadway to protect from Looting
Looters broke in the night prior – attempting to protect what is left of the store

Looking back on the last several weeks life has changed for all of us; to even think that life will go back to the way it once was is silly. Life as we know it has changed; changed the economy, our schools, how we look at each other, etc.

I find it disturbing that right now we praise all of those in healthcare, yet our police officers not given the same support. Now, because of this insanity not only are the hospitals faced with Covid, they are now faced with gun shot victims, traumas, you name it.

As always, wash your hands, wear your masks, and be kind to others. Remember it doesn’t cost anything to smile.

Liz

Imagine (May 27, 2020)

Riverside Park – walking path along the Hudson Bay

Imagine if each day we awoke excited for whatever lay ahead?

Imagine if we awoke and were present for each moment, not consistently wishing for the day to hurry by, or for the next big event, or nap time, etc.?

Imagine if we all smiled a little bit more? Just think how you feel when you smile…

Imagine if we all began focusing on smiling with our eyes…making it a point to make eye contact.

Imagine if instead of tearing each other down we lifted each other up — NO MATTER WHAT!?

Imagine the possibilities if put the politics aside, we put differences aside, and we all came together and united for the greater good?

When you look at the picture above that I took this morning on my walk, what do you see? What do you envision? I see an opportunity for conversations and friendships, I see area for great art, I see great buildings that house people, and most of all I see an outlet for people to escape and enjoy nature. You see what you want in that picture, remember that beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. You are responsible for your joy, at the same time how can you use your joy to lift others during this difficult time?

During my time here I have done things like paying for the meal behind me, buying the front desk staff breakfast on a Saturday morning, etc. It is the little things that truly count; you don’t need to do something extravagant it is truly the small things in life that matter.

Hudson Bay

Each of these posts, small and large, short and tall matter. They play a role in the ecosystem. They contribute differently, most importantly they contribute. So to that I say, slow down, enjoy the small things, and remember you matter. Short or tall, it doesn’t matter we all make a difference.

My apologies for getting this posted late…a lot has been going on…..for all of us. Spread joy, smile today, and simply sit back and imagine.

Liz

Transferred

My heart is jumping with joy as I write this post; simply because it is the rainbow amidst all the chaos! While working in the intensive care unit one becomes very knowledgeable about particular patients as we tend to care for the same individuals over and over. My first assignment in the ICU was surreal as I care for a man that I actually cared for in the green pod. As I walked into the room my heart sank that night. My heart sank as I saw his chest rising and falling; not because he was doing it but because a ventilator placed to the left of the bed was doing all the work. The vital sign monitor was beeping due to a low heart rate, eight IV pumps were infusing, and of course, most importantly my patient, my dear friend, brother in Christ lay in bed with tubes everywhere.

I was incredibly moved with emotion; why I am not sure? I have seen these exact sights before…this time was different though. There was no family allowed, there were no friends allowed instead, we as medical staff immediately became this mans family. We held the swollen hands, we wiped away the tears when they coughed from the suctioning, we were there for them through everything. This is nursing…

My dear friend I am happy to report has moved out of the ICU! This was a long process, a painful process, and honestly a process that most of us did not think would ever happen. It is small major events like this that remind each of us during this time of crisis that we are making a difference, we are doing what we were called to do.

Brooklyn apartment building: each staircase and landing representing milestones of our patients…they are running a marathon not a sprint and every so often they plateau (landing), or they go backwards. If you look closely you see the sun radiating off the windows; emitting hope amidst a time of uncertainty and chaos.

I should note that the previous story I shared with you from my journal is “old,” old by date but so very raw and fresh in my mind. I simply have not had the time or energy to keep up with online posts; with that I have daily jotted down words or phrases for each day to assist with creating my online blog here for each of you.

I pray that as each of you reads this you wherever you may be you stop and realize that this gentleman could have easily died many times. This gentleman is a husband, father, uncle, son, brother, and most importantly loved by many. This gentleman is not a political pawn, he is not a vote for 2020, he is not an example of what we should or shouldn’t do, he is one of us that has feelings and deserves to be treated as such.

Please, take some time and think about all of those that have passed. Say a prayer. Think about those of us who are still serving actively on the front lines…

Prayers and Love

Liz

Buried

Where does one begin? I have sat down and attempted to update you all many times and I either am purely exhausted, overcome with emotion, or simply running off to the next shift. So, here it is 5:44 a.m. in NYC and I am determined to get you all somewhat updated.

Most of you will recognize the name Florence Nightingale, the mother of nursing who believed that a patient needed love and care to regain their health; part of that is making sure that the client has a clean environment to be in during this healing process. Just think for a moment can your rest let alone heal when the garbage is overflowing, there are needle caps on the floor, wrappers on the bed, lights left on, oh and don’t forget the door left open? HECK NO! Not only did these theorists play a role in my life but I want to take an opportunity to shout out another person who shaped me into the nurse I am today, making sure that my patients have the cleanest rooms NO MATTER WHAT! I cannot count how many times I have been asked or told, “you do realize we housekeeping to take out the trash.” I’m sorry, NO I am not sorry, none of us are above taking a garbage bag out of a patients room or putting a clean bag in the hallway ones when EVERYSINGLE patient is on isolation!

So this individual that I want to give a shoutout to is my previous boss, Diane Foss. Diane really instilled in me the importance of a clean room and more than that; she had standards for our unit. You could walk the hallways on my floor at Methodist hospital at Mayo Clinic and they were 99% of the time impeccable; ok she did usually have to push in chairs and lower key boards in the north and south halls EVERY SINGLE morning BUT the residents used those and just kept moving. She always encouraged that at the end of each shift, make sure your garbage is taken out, your linen is taken out, counters are clean, if your toilets are dirty use the brush and clean them!

The entire month of April at Mt. Sinai was beyond frustrating, these humans, who call themselves nurses do not understand what keeping a clean environment means. It hurts my heart; for those of you that know me, yes I go behind all of them and pick up their trash because it drives me absolutely crazy! Our patients may be ventilated, paralyzed, and sedated, but let me tell you……as Diane always said and as I always told my students if something goes wrong (which these days there is a code hourly) you need space, the ability to trace lines quickly, and know what you have and what you don’t.

With that being said, thank you Diane; thank you for instilling a sense of pride and ownership. There were many times that discussions were had about remembering to take out the trash at the end of the shift, take out linen bags when half full, etc., it is because of you Diane, and those conversations that stations 6-2 employees were always applauded as outstanding and why today I want to dedicate this post to you!

Don’t worry, I know I am WAY behind in updates. More posts are coming!

Blessings,

Liz

The Beat Goes On….

The ❤ heart of New York right now is centered around Healthcare workers, essential workers, and really just keeping people safe. Each day the beat is a little different; for my nurse friends the days and nights range from a steady or “NSR,” to incredibly fast paced aka a little “SVT,” or on most occasions its rapid and ever changing, “rapid A-Fib.”

As many of you know I have done all types of nursing and love working in a fast paced environment 🙃…well life here inside the hospitals is exactly that! Since being here I was moved from Med-Surg to Emergency Room Staff and now this week have started working in the Intensive Care Unit. I had 24 hours notice of switching from days to nights as there is a dire need for nurses to work in the ICU, let alone get them to work night shifts. I obliged, as I have said from day one, “I came because I had a calling, I stepped up and here I am, I go where I am needed.”

At any given moment Med-Surg nurses may have 10 patients, yes 10:1…is it ideal, of course not. Let me tell you one thing though, these nurses that work on the floor are amazing. You want to see an example of teamwork, come on over! In the Emergency Department it isn’t uncommon to have 6 or 7 patients; remember these are 90% of the time patients that are having chest pain, difficulty breathing, and some literally gasping for air. Covid-19 is no joke! So imagine you’re one person and trying to get all 6 or 7 oxygen on oxygen, IVs started, labs drawn, EKG, Xray, etc. it is a bit chaotic. Now, I am located in the ICU where the game gets interesting…

The game of Life, that game that we all played as kids is almost coming to life, just different options. Options are life and Death, unfortunately how these patients are arriving at their final resting place is tragic; tragic for the nursing staff, families, and most importantly the patient. Many times patients can pass peacefully, this disease strips our patients of the ability to breathe. They gasp, they struggle, they are in agony and it is painful to see and attempt to help when you know there is nothing to help them.

As we each go about our day today, tomorrow, and in the weeks and months ahead; remember this beat, remember the tune that it went to. I challenge each of you to dig deep and not only find your beat and your tune amidst the current chaos, find your message.

Do you bring a message of hope to those around you? Do you lend a helping hand even when it may be uncomfortable? Just stop and think what tune you would want to deliver if you were a nurse and even more important as a family member what message or tune is going to be helpful?

Stay safe, stay warm, smile, help a stranger (from 6 feet away), give extra hugs, and say a prayer for all front line workers; we would all be lying if we said were not struggling.

One Down…

Well I am happy to say I survived week one here in New York City! The last week here was exhausting both mentally and physically; between working 12-16 hours a day, the non-stop running and rushing about inside of the hospital, and trying to figure out how to get to work each day. As I awoke this morning from my amazing little boutique room, I could see the sun peeking through amidst the tall buildings and glistening off the fire escape. I love waking up to this view every morning on Broadway. It is very calm most mornings; allowing time for reflection.

Many of us, especially those of us who are parents are feeling very frustrated at this point and beginning to feel burned out being shut in; I challenge you to really enjoy this time. Take some time to look at the clouds, what shapes do you see? In fact yesterday my sister Kelly took a super neat picture of clouds that looked like pillows, would she have done that had she been rushing around as normal? If you are going to work each day take a step back and slow down, appreciate your co-workers, show them you appreciate them because you never know when may not see them again. Life here in New York has always been different than in the midwest and it has really rattled me.

Staff here move at lightning speed; I know, many of you are thinking that I consistently move at lightning speed however this pandemic has really caused me to slow down and really give my patients extra TLC. I have really attempted to embrace my new co-workers and my surroundings and what I see makes my heart huort. These nurses are in such a hurry ALL the time…..amidst all of this they cannot seem to slow down and realize that these patients are laying here struggling to breathe on their own, they lay with us for hours or days ALONE, sometimes even dying alone in the ED. Can you imagine? Think about that? Is life worth running that fast all the time or can we stop and give someone a smile that we normally may not? I consistently hear, “we don’t have the Minnesota Nice in us, you need to figure it out,” well guess what, I will not stop showing compassion. Yes, it is busy, chaotic at times, given that I will NEVER waiver on the compassion I give to my patients and co-workers.This past week was nothing short of eye opening; between learning how New Yorkers talk to each other, seeing the wide range in the patient population, seeing the homeless population is incredibly sad, and most importantly seeing how the Corona virus is truly devastating this state. Often times we see the same individual who may not have a home upwards of three to five times a day, the streets are empty, there are no traffic jams, stores are closed, and people on the sidewalk legitimately walk 6 feet apart!

I must say I am impressed with how New Yorkers have embraced the social deficiency; walk six feet apart, wearing gloves and masks to grocery stores, and in generally wearing masks.Continue to do your part!!!

Liz