There will be no pictures in this post... they will come later.
There will be no recipes in this post... they will come later.
There is only uncertainty.
I am 55 years old and have worked my entire life to become the best nurse that I can be.
I have held my hands in a gaping wound that was welling up with blood while an Attending Physician was desperately trying to get an OR room to fix a situation that was rapidly deteriorating.
I remember getting drunk for the first time in my life at the venerable Woodlawn Tap in Hyde Park after my first patient died. He was a well known sports writer for the Sun Times. I was supposed to lead Youth Group at church that night, but was destined to not get there on time. Well, actually, I never made it at all.
I have used coarse language to try and convince a biker guy that it was worth his time to learn how to straight catheterize himself so that he wouldn't develop serious bladder infections after an injury that damaged his spinal cord. He took my advice and was discharged with what we call modified independence in regard to bladder sphincter control.
I have held the hand of a frightened patient in the middle of the night as she was sure that she would die. She did die.
I took a trip to Maxwell Street at 3 A.M. to get a guy a Polish before being discharged to a nursing home the next morning. The smell of the sausage and fried onions infused the entire unit and is one of my fondest memories to date. I sat in his room enjoying my Polish with him and encouraged him to grab whatever he could from the time allotted to him on earth. I had, without remorse, violated a number of hospital policies.
I watched a Master of Library student die after his infected left ventricular graft site deteriorated and blood poured out of his open chest. He had done IV drugs only occasionally, but enough to develop a mycotic infection that led to the surgery that eventually would fail. He was awake until his blood pressure dropped low enough to induce unconsciousness.
I picked up a guy who I saw fainting in the hallway outside of J303 at 5 AM and carried him into his room as my feet sloshed through blood after his swollen AVM ruptured. I took care of him three weeks later as he was hallucinating after a grafting procedure fastened his arm to his forehead to help re-establish vascular continuity. He made it, eventually, a triumph of incredible skill by dozens of highly trained professionals.
I was present when a new class of drugs, calcium channel blockers, were first used to stop arrhythmias that are now treated with drugs that are several generations removed.
I was hit in the face by a sister trying to hit another family member while discussing the discharge plans for their mother. I was punched in my face by a low level Mafia hit man from Taylor Street while trying to put a Texas Catheter on him to keep him dry at night. I am sure he thought I was trying to abuse him.
I have saved more than one life by making instant decisions and acting, then letting the doctors know what I did, getting their "orders" after everything was done. I have taught many residents how to survive in the complex system of an academic medical center without getting into the "Doctor vs. Nurse" game.
I could tell you dozens and dozens of stories like those above. Over 33 years, I have seen about everything there is to see and I have tried to learn from all of my successes and failures. When I walk into a room to handle a patient's concerns, I bring a lifetime of experience to bear.
I love my patients, I love my staff, and I love my profession.
But... I went to orientation at Kendall College today to begin my transition into becoming a Professional Chef. It is something that I have been moving toward for three decades, mostly unconsciously. I have loved cooking for family and friends for years and have read hundreds of cook books and thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of recipes. I am passionate about taking the best ingredients, thoughtfully preparing them for optimal freshness and presentation so that those around me could enjoy them. I believe that if people are brought to each others' tables, they will begin to understand each other. They will begin to understand that we are all God's children, with needs that can be met if we cooperate.
Will I do as well in the Culinary Arts as I have in Nursing? Will I be an instrument of God's peace by teaching people about the value of the "Table" as I have by caring for medical needs? Will the business I eventually run serve to further God's kingdom in ways that are not as obvious as hands on physical care?
Have I made a mistake?
I hope not.