Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Kirsten's Kitchen: of vegan creations: Vegan Parenting

My daughter, Maria, is guest posting at Kirsten's Kitchen.  I thought I would share that post here as a lot of people ask me about her vegan diet, especially as it pertains to her 2 yr old daughter as well as the baby she is carrying.  Although I am not vegan, I am proud of Maria and Eric for their diligence as they strive to remain well informed and healthy.  I just thought some of you might be interested in understanding how they do it.

Kirsten's Kitchen: of vegan creations: Vegan Parenting

First Thoughts

What are your first thoughts when you awaken?  Do they follow any kind of pattern?  I want my first thoughts to be something like, "Thank you for this new day, God!" or at least thoughts representing honor and appreciation.  It seems like a pastor's wife should be able to pull that off, wouldn't you think?  Well, it just isn't so in the case of this pastor's wife.

I wake up weird.  When I wake up in the dark I often can't remember where I am.  I don't mean that I can't remember if I am on a trip somewhere; I mean I truly can't think of where I live!  This has been the case for most of my life and I expect it is because I have moved a lot... a LOT.  My most common first thought upon awakening is just that, "Where am I?"  It is usually followed by the vital question, "...and where is the bathroom?"  Sometimes I sort it out quickly but sometimes I lay there in the dark for a few minutes before I am alert enough to at least know where I live.  It's important that I know where I am so I don't bang into something when I do get up.

Mike loves to wake me up with confusing questions.  This usually happens when I've gone to bed before him.  Sometimes he stays up late playing his guitar or something.  When he comes into the bedroom you'd think he'd be as quiet as possible but instead he takes pride and joy in asking me nonsense questions.   He says it is funny to watch me.  I should be responding with something like, "Shut up and leave me alone" but instead I try to be polite and accommodating and I really want to give him the correct answer.  I often don't even remember all this in the morning or it may come back to me later in the day and I have to get clarification from him.  I remember one that I struggled over for awhile had something to do with a question about Elvis being just a few inches tall.  See what I mean?  Nonsense!

After I figure out where I am I often take a little time trying to figure out what day it is and what do I need to be doing.  My job is mostly 12 1/2 hour shifts and no week is the same.  I may work 2 night shifts, be off a couple of days and then work a day shift.  I may be working all weekdays or there may be week-end shifts thrown in. Are you understanding a little more about why I may wake up confused?  Working a mixed bag of shifts can throw a lady off a bit so I may not even know if I've just slept through the night or if I worked all night and just slept through the day.  After working a night shift last week I fell asleep almost instantly.  When I woke up I checked the clock and learned that I'd only been sleeping 25 minutes!  It's all so confusing.

Well, today I woke up and went through all that mental configuring and reconfiguring and realized that I am not going to work at hospice today.  It is a day off and I have a long, long list of errands and projects.  I get to spend time with family.  The sun is shining.  I am healthy.  I've had a cup of coffee and all is well.  Now, I am ready to say it, "Thank you for this new day, God!"

Death Can Bring Out the Best or the Worst in People

One thing I've learned as a hospice nurse is that the death and dying process can bring out the best or the worst in family members.  It is part of our job to educate and comfort family members as well as the patients.  We teach them what to expect, what symptoms may develop, how we will help them and things like that.  Sometimes we have to help family members understand each other.

There are times when family members cause a patient more pain and suffering than their disease process causes.  Two adult children arguing over a parent's possessions, while the parent is still present, is a heart-breaking event.  In some cases there may be one family member who has been the caretaker for the patient for months or even years,  only to be criticized by another who shows up near the end.  There are times when a hospice nurse has to guide people to being their best version of themselves.  Sometimes a hospice nurse has to remind people that they have the choice to forgive or hold on to their anger.  These are not things I expected in nursing, but I find satisfaction in the effort.

More often than not, though, I see examples of remarkable sacrifices and acts of love.  I encounter people who guide me to be a better version of myself.  I see spouses spending all day, every day, at the bedside of their loved one.  I peeked in to check on a patient this week to find her in her bed asleep, with her spouse in a chair pulled up close to her bed.  They were holding hands.  They were both asleep.  Is that not sweet?

I've seen adult children who do everything they can to keep their parent as healthy and happy as long as possible.  I've seen them sacrifice of their own time to care for them when they could not care for themselves.  I've often heard statements along the lines of "I will do whatever needs done."  Sometimes "whatever needs done" can be tasks that are not so very pleasant, tasks that are humbling for both patient and caretaker.  I hear family members telling me how remarkable their loved one was and why they would do anything for them.  I love that.

These are the things I'm thinking about today.  Thanks for "listening".

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