Wednesday, December 30, 2015

the unbearable lightness of being bald

I wrote this post on July 15, 2015:

Life is full of decisions. Every day we have to decide things. What to wear, what to eat, when to get up, when to go to bed, what to read, what to watch on television, what to read and comment on, browse etc on the internet. When I take a day off from life, I usually try to limit my decisions to no brainers, or things that are easy to choose and use minimal brain cell energy. Do you have days like that?

Most of the time my brain is whirring away with the next idea, the next thing I want to do, the next thing to learn or see or listen to.

Until May. I don't remember the specific day, but I remember what I was doing. I was having lunch with Wretch when I got the call that changed my life as I had known it. The call that made the suspicion a reality. From that point on, my thinking changed. I had trouble concentrating and finding words. I still do at times. That is probably because I have turned off part of my brain lately.

I want to be left alone. There are many times I don't want to talk to anyone, or listen to what they have to say. I have absolutely no ideas running around inside my head part of the time. Just this......void. A sort of nothing. There are times I go numb. I can't feel any emotion, I can't connect to any thoughts. I

This doesn't last all the time, thank goodness. Because if it did I would begin to resemble a vegetable. Broccoli most likely. Not for any particular reason, but because I like broccoli. It can lay down, or stand up, and even though it has a big head, it doesn't do much thinking. It describes how I feel a lot of the time lately. Standing, big head, and no thoughts going on inside that big head.

It has been a long 2 months since that fateful phone call. Sometimes it feels like a dream that I will wake up from.

I'm still waiting to wake up.

December 30, 2015:

Today my outlook and thoughts are a bit different. This year has definitely been a challenge on a personal level. I hit some low points I never thought I would have to face in my life. I'm not one to natter on about stuff, but I would like to share some things that happened to me, with the hope that if anyone else faces breast cancer, they will have some knowledge of things happening to them.

In May, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Not all breast cancers are equal, and because of a yearly mammogram, I was lucky. My cancer was very early stage, and very small. And very treatable. I felt at that point that I had won the cancer lottery.

At the end of May I had surgery, and then I had to have surgery again in June. It seems pretty common that when a woman has a lumpectomy, there is often a positive margin that requires a second surgery, or resection. I had some pain, but the main thing was that I was limited in what I could do, and that was frustrating for me.

In July, I saw my oncologists. In my brain, there would be one oncologist, but that isn't the way things work. One doctor handled the medication I would be taking, and the other the radiation I would be receiving. This is standard treatment for very early stage breast cancer. The staff at the cancer center were wonderful, and I felt an atmosphere of support, and a camaraderie among the patients, because we were all in the same boat, rowing with identical oars.

At the end of August, two things happened that would make September and October the most difficult and challenging months of my life. I started taking Femara, a medication that blocks your body from producing any estrogen, a pretty vital hormone for women. My cancer was estrogen positive, which increased the risk of it returning. I was taking estrogen at the time, and was told I needed to stop taking it. So the day I swallowed the first Femara, I stopped the Estratest. Cold turkey, no tapering, just did it. I also started taking radiation treatments 5 days a week for 6 weeks on August 24th.

By the third week in September I was feeling hopeless. No energy, fatigue so extreme that many days I had to leave work early so that I would be able to walk up the steps and in the front door of my home. I've never felt anything so overwhelming in my life. I finally told the nurses at the center how I was feeling, and that if the next 5 years of taking this medication were going to make me feel like this, I didn't want to go on.

I'll never forget what they said to me. "Oh you are depressed! You need to go to see your primary care doctor, and ask for something for anxiety, depression, and something to help you sleep." I was dumbfounded. First, because I hadn't been able to figure out what was going on with me (I am a nurse after all and have cared for people with depression for many years). At the same time I was SO glad they had put a name to my misery. I was so depressed, I couldn't even cry, or laugh, or feel any emotion. Take my word for it, that is a pretty miserable place to be. I hated the thought of more medications, but at that point was willing to try anything.

The second thing that struck my mind when the nurses chirped out that information to me, was that I was not alone.  Even deep in this dark place, I felt less alone, less isolated. The next week I saw my family doctor, and we opted for Clonidine for sleep. Even though it is for blood pressure, taken at night it can help with sleep. He also prescribed a low dose of Celexa, an antidepressant that also helps with anxiety. Another recommendation was Black Cohosh, a natural supplement that helps with hot flashes, because at that point I was also going through menopause for the second time in my life.

Three days later, Stevie Wonder said "you're feeling better aren't you?"

And I was. I could already feel the effects of the medications. When the medication is right, it makes a big difference in the quality of your life. So depression was zapped, but I was having other side effects from the Femara. Bone and joint pain from hell. Some days it was so bad I could barely make it through the day. I lived on ibuprofen just so I could function. I even took it at night, because just turning over in my sleep could cause me to wake up from the pain. I have a high pain tolerance, and this medication found that spot and tap danced on it with spike heels.

At the same time, my right breast, which I thought was going to escape burns from radiation, decided to let me know that my luck had run out. My boob began to resemble a piece of fried bacon. And let me tell you, the smell of radiated flesh dying and sloughing off in sheets is not something you want to have going on with a part of your body that is located right under your nose. And of course, with burns there is pain too. I guess you could say that the bone pain distracted me from the burn pain a bit. Thank god for ibuprofen.

image from
Then my vanity took a hit. My hair had begun to fall out. Just a bit at first. By October it was coming out in handfuls. This hurt my pride, because I had spent almost a year letting my hair grow out, something I hadn't done since I was 10. There was my effort, going down the drain. I was a bit miffed because my family doctor and oncologist both said they thought it was temporary. The Onc thought it was male pattern baldness from loss of estrogen (GREAT), but I realized two things. One, there was NO male pattern baldness in my family (even my sick 84 yr old mother had a headful of hair), and two, male pattern baldness affects the top of your head, and my hair was coming out all over.

The good thing about the hair took my mind off the pain, and gave me a chance to try out some really expensive shampoos and hair treatments that I would never have had a chance to try. I decided I was going to keep this hair I had grown until I looked like Gollum in Lord of the Rings. I also had a follow up appointment in December with the oncologist, who decided to stop the Femara, and start another medication. As of today, the bone pain has stopped. eyelashes and eyebrows are starting to fall out. I have to laugh though. I made it through the darkest time of my life, and came out smiling.

...every day is a new adventure...  ~cat
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Sunday, October 4, 2015

on reality and the randomness of thinking

Life has been crazy busy lately. I have a (fairly) new position at work that fires my enthusiasm in a new way. Daily radiation for breast cancer treatment has become part of my life like my first cup of hot tea every morning. Life isn't static, and in a few days mine will take a turn in the road. Everything that has happened has made me a bit more introspective, and when I haven't been working, which takes most of my energy these days, I am resting (fatigue is a side effect of radiation I discovered). With all this resting comes a lot of time to think, and I have lacked the will and/or the energy to write any posts sharing my thoughts.

One thing that has always remained constant in my life is art. I have always turned to it when I am stressed, life is difficult, or when I have a lot of thoughts and emotions running around inside me. It is my therapy, my solace, my friend. A safe place to go to when I just don't want to have human contact.

Recently during one of those times, I turned to digital art. My daughter Jen had recommended an app to me a long time ago, I had tinkered with it once or twice, but never devoted any time to it. One day, when I was feeling really down, I picked up my iPad to read and instead opened the drawing app. I started doodling, and then drawing, and before I knew it I was totally immersed in it. Paper by 53 is easy to use and doesn't require a large learning curve, right up my alley at this time of my life. I started doing some drawing in the mornings, and in the evenings if I wasn't too tired. It helped to level and recenter me, just as art has always done.

One aspect of Paper is a community you can post your artwork to, that can be seen by other artists, or "remixed" by them and reposted. Mix is a way to share ideas, doesn't require a lot of communication, and lets you see some inspiring art and ideas. I also noticed that there are a large number of children on Mix, and I see them commenting on works of art, wishing they had better art skills, and asking for tips which most artists are glad to give. It is a unique community.

As I watched these children (from grade school, middle school, and high school in age), it bothered me to see them beat themselves up about their skills, and I thought about what art is for me. I have seen many skilled artists in the social media sites I participate in, many of them lucky enough to be working artists, some who do it on the side just because they love it, like I do. I remember as a child wishing I could draw like a girl in my class, or a boy. I can close my eyes and see their art and their faces, forever children in my mind. I don't know if they followed this into something professional, or if they even continued to pursue their talent. I do remember my angst, even though I realize now I had fairly good skills for my age. Always wanting to be like someone else, it created negative feelings and self doubt in me at times.

I look back now, and realize that at some point in my life, I stopped wanting to be like other artists. I use my art now to bring me joy, and as a way to express my thoughts and feelings. (My photography is much the same, an extension of my inner thoughts and feelings..) With that release from envy, or longing if you will to be like someone else, came freedom and pure joy at what I do now. I wish I could convey this to those children, and tell them what they feel is normal, not to give up, to keep practicing their art, and learning. Since space is limited I found the best way to do that was a quote from one of my favorite artists, one who spent most of her life living in her artist-husband's shadow, even though she was a gifted artist in her own right.

When I was reading the posts today for Friday Reflections, I saw a prompt that induced me to finally...FINALLY... open my computer to write again.

The prompt is:
Reflect on a quote that has touched you this week, or that has made you laugh.

The quote that touched me, that resonated with me this week is by Frida Kahlo:
"I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality."

Be true to yourself. Paint your own reality, with whatever you choose to express yourself.

...never stop is good... ~cat
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Thursday, August 27, 2015

missing gabe

Gabriel and Steve
Most of us take pictures everyday, not thinking much about anything but the moment captured. We file them away with all the other pictures we take and often don't think much about them after that. Until something happens.

Sunday, August 23, 2015, we lost a member of our family. I can't even call Gabe a furry member because he was as much a part of our family as any of us were. I still think if I go to the back door and open it I will hear him stir, grunt and peek around the end of the deck to say good morning.

Gabe at 10 weeks
I'm not telling you this just for sympathy, but also as a way to share some information. Gabe died from a heat stroke. Sunday was no different than any other day, and not that hot in the scheme of things. July had been much hotter than Sunday. It had rained at daylight for a long time, and it was overcast and humid, but the temperature was only in the mid 80's. Our morning routine was the same as it had been for years. Steve would go outside at some point during the morning, let the dogs out for some exercise, and then drive to town on his daily trip to "pick up a few things", leaving the dogs out. The dogs were just as predictable. They would watch Steve back out of the driveway, and then lay in the shade in the driveway or under the walnut tree in the shade and wait for Steve to come home.

Except yesterday was different. After Steve left, Gabe decided to take a walk out to the end of our road. When Deb left to get some things at a local store for her cat, she noticed him coming home. Then she noticed he had foamy saliva coming out of his mouth. She came back home and ran inside screaming for me.  I ran out and even though I am not a vet, I could see he was in respiratory distress. Gabe had made it back nearly to the front door before collapsing. He was struggling for air, and as I took his collar off, I could see in his mouth, all the way down his throat.  Jim had run to the house by then and checked to see if there was any obstruction. There wasn't. Gabe's tongue was blue by this point, and Jim and I checked him for snake bite, a common occurrence here in the south, and something both dogs had experienced in the past. I got a wet rag and wiped his mouth, stumped by his symptoms. Deb got another wet rag and started wiping his head. We had no idea that Gabe was having a heat stroke. If he had been human, I would have suspected it immediately. But we had never heat stroke in a dog, and we were baffled. I briefly considered hosing him down, and will always bitterly regret that I didn't, because it might have saved his life. But as I thought about hosing him with water, I thought I had better not, because it might stress him more to be sprayed. I wish now that I had. How I wish I had.

Gabe and Caesar
But I didn't, and Steve, who had been called by a panicked Deb, soon arrived home. Jim picked Gabe up, they loaded him in the truck, and took him to an emergency animal clinic in Birmingham. That was when we found out Gabe had a heat stroke. I was baffled, because he hadn't been out long, it was fairly early in the day, and it was overcast and a bit cooler than it had been for weeks. Our dogs always had plenty of water, and Steve even kept a kiddie pool full of water for them to get in when it was hot. So how did this happen?

It was Gabe's age. He was almost 13 years old, and I later learned life expectancy for a Lab was ten to twelve years. When I checked information on heat strokes, I saw the mistakes I had unknowingly made. I am going to share risks and symptoms with you here. It is important to know if you are a dog owner, and I hope you will share it with anyone you know who has dogs.

Very old or very young dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke. Breeds that are bred for cooler climates also do not do well in extreme heat.

Symptoms of heat stroke in dogs include:
  • Panting
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive drooling (ptyalism)
  • Increased body temperature - above 103° F (39° C)
  • Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body
  • Production of only small amounts of urine or no urine
  • Sudden (acute) kidney failure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Irregular heart beats
  • Shock
  • Stoppage of the heart and breathing (cardiopulmonary arrest)
  • Fluid build-up in the lungs; sudden breathing distress (tachypnea)
  • Blood-clotting disorder(s)
  • Vomiting blood (hematemesis)
  • Passage of blood in the bowel movement or stool
  • Black, tarry stools
  • Small, pinpoint areas of bleeding
  • Generalized (systemic) inflammatory response syndrome
  • Disease characterized by the breakdown of red-muscle tissue
  • Death of liver cells
  • Changes in mental status
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors
  • Wobbly, uncoordinated or drunken gait or movement (ataxia)
  • Unconsciousness in which the dog cannot be stimulated to be awakened
Risk factors include:
  • Previous history of heat-related disease
  • Age extremes (very young, very old)
  • Heat intolerance due to poor acclimatization to the environment (such as a heavy coated dog in a hot geographical location)
  • Obesity
  • Poor heart/lung conditioning
  • Underlying heart/lung disease
  • Increased levels of thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism)
  • Short-nosed, flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds
  • Thick hair coat
  • Dehydration, insufficient water intake, restricted access to water
Gabe didn't make it through the night, and I wanted to share the lesson we learned too late.
If you have dogs, make sure you learn how to deal with hot temperatures, and how to prevent heat stroke. We have brought Caesar, Gabe's constant companion and our other chocolate Lab, in the house now, and watch him closely to make sure he doesn't get too hot.
Caesar looking for Gabriel

Caesar is having a tough time. Since Sunday night, he has paced the floor every night, whimpering and unable to rest. We have had a hard time adjusting to Gabe being gone, but I think Caesar has suffered the most. We buried Gabe Monday. Tuesday, while Steve was doing yard work, Caesar spent most of the day lying on top of Gabe's grave. It's been a hard adjustment, and will take time. For now, none of us are getting much sleep as we miss Gabe, and try to help Caesar with his grief.

I know the hurt and sadness will eventually ease for all of us, but we will never stop missing Gabriel.

[For more information on heat stroke in dogs you can click here or here. There are also many other resources on the Internet for more information.]

...missing someone is part of loving...  cat
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Saturday, August 22, 2015

sisters don't suck

I haven't been much in a writing mood lately.  I started a new medication to prevent a recurrence of the breast cancer they just scooped out of Goliath.  My hands hurt like a toothache that won't go away, I have hot flashes that make me glisten with sweat like a greased pig, along with white-eyed insomnia, and a total lack of energy that makes every step an effort. I feel almost guilty that I am bitching about this at all, and I should sound grateful that the cancer was caught so early that I have a marvelously high chance of beating it. And I am grateful, make no mistake.  Every minute that I am miserable I am grateful for my luck. Grateful for the machine that found the lump long before it could be felt by hand.  Grateful for the surgeon who cut it out. Grateful for the radiation oncologist who will soon be barbecuing my boob to kill any cancerous cells lingering around. Grateful for the oncologist who prescribed this pill that has caused side effects that have placed me in temporary (hopefully) hell.  

And today I am grateful for my sisters.  They are so much a part of who I am that sometimes I feel we breathe for each other. They are the best part of my life, during the worst part of my life. They taught me about trust, laughter, anger, happiness, and what being a sister is all about. They also taught me that love is unconditional. I've learned acceptance, and how to listen to their counsel. Growing up, I was the one they looked to for advice, being the eldest sister.  Those tables have been reversed in the past several months as I struggled to deal with this cancer. They are MY rock now, the ones who make me laugh when my mood is dark, the ones who I know are always thinking about me.  They are still part of me, have always been part of me, and will be until the day I die.
vix and dooj
So today, in response to the Friday Reflections prompt "Tell us about your brother or sister", I share my love of the two remarkable women in my life that I am privileged to call sisters.  This is for you, Vicky and Debbie.

I love you.  Thank you for being my sisters, and for being who you are.

(More about Dooj and Vix here and here.) is good. ~cat
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

the starry night

One night last week, I found myself lying on a lounge chair under the stars, with my youngest daughter Deborah lying beside me on another lounger.

It had been a difficult week for both of us. I had been to the radiation oncologist and was one step closer to getting my boob barbecued.

Deborah's week had been equally difficult.  Life has been sending her curves for a while now, and every time she gets a foothold and feels as though she is beginning to move forward, something knocks her down.  This time the something was enough to make her feel hopeless for a bit, before she righted herself and decided to plunge forward.

So there we were, watching the Perseid meteor shower on the peak night in August when they were shooting across the sky leaving long trails, talking about a lot of different things.  It brought to mind a favorite song about one of my favorite artists and that song ran through my mind while we lay there star gazing.

The talking included a couple glasses of wine, so that may explain why our conversation ambled along about these subjects:

Nocturnal cow mooing.  We thought it was a romantic time of the month for cows, and the meteors were putting them in the mood.  One cow in particular bawled her way across the pasture from where we sat, mooing loudly from one end to the other.  Occasionally another couple of cows would chime in.

Tiger chuffing.  Not to be mistaken with roaring.  Deb said it was a sign of her lack of a social life, that the last thing she searched for on her iPhone was tiger chuffing.  It was replaced by cow mooing, which is when we discovered it wasn't cow sex going on, but one cow trying to find the herd.  Which totally burst our romantic notion about cows.  I was irritated at this point by the cow screaming across the road, so I.....

Stirred the cows up with my iPhone flashlight.  I know, totally mean of me, and I paid for it by being flogged by a million bugs rushing at the light and up my nose, in my eyes and ears, and...well you get the idea.  Deb also was eaten alive while Googling cow mooing.

Our California road trip.  Possibly the best road trip of our lives.  While we reminisced about the trip, we also talked about our own insignificance in the scheme of the universe, watching the sky light up with orange meteors shooting past in the sky overhead.  Then things deteriorated again when we decided to move our lounge chairs to face the house because it seemed like the meteors were coming from there.  That was when....

I peed my pants trying to get up off the lounge chair to move it.  I hadn't been to yoga in a couple months due to recouping from surgeries, so my abdominal muscles were jello, and so were my legs, which led to the above.  After we got settled down, we realized that the meteors were actually more visible in the direction we had just turned from, and somehow I made it up off the lounge, then Deb said something, I laughed, and peed my pants again. Just a little.   At that point, we started to laugh and talked about....

Estrogen levels and how they affect homicidal behavior.  I had just been taken off all estrogen, given a tablet to block my body absorbing any estrogen it might try to produce on its own, and told that the pill would probably give me hot flashes.  By a doctor who was smiling so kindly at me when he said it that I thought seriously about slapping him.  Just for a second.  Which means this ain't gonna be good, if I felt like that while I had estrogen still floating around.  About this time a leaf blew off the tree and hit Deb's shoulder, and she screamed loudly.  Which made a cow start mooing again and made us....

Laugh at shadows, more bugs, and leaves.  About that time we were sipping the last of our wine, and didn't notice Steve slip out and say something in his booming deep voice.  I jumped and screamed and so did Deb.  I thought a cow had gotten loose, circled around behind us and was about to charge us.  I invited Steve to join us, but he said no, he was going back to bed, which caused me to wonder out loud why the *#&$ he had bothered coming out at all.  Except I knew why.

He wanted to make me scream and pee my pants.

Because he is evil that way.

Thanks Deb, my Wretched Daughter, for being there to watch stars with me.  Let's do it again kiddo. Same time, next year.

(This post is in response to two prompts on Friday Reflections, how I deal with anxiety, and reflecting on my favorite song.  Somehow, this week, they were both tied together.) is good. ~cat
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

steaming isn't the same thing as vaping

Right now I am steaming mad.  I got up this morning, meaning to write a blog post about something on my mind.  Then I saw a post on Facebook and saw red.  It also hurt me, because it brought back my own memories and how easy it is to hurt someone's feelings.

School started just days ago for my grandkids, and already the cruelty has started.  My daughter posted on Facebook that some little girl had told my granddaughter Maddie that she is ugly.  Maddie told Jen about it with tears in her eyes.  As I read the comments from Jen's friends and family reassuring Maddie that she is beautiful, I felt something else.

I felt anger.  And shame.

Anger for all the times I remember enduring things people said that were hurtful.  I keenly remember how unkind words can rip at self esteem at a time when it is fragile and growing.  I remember wondering if maybe the person who said the ugly words was right, and what they said was true.  I remember wondering what I had done to deserve the words.  I know now I had done nothing, but because I reacted to the words at the time, a few other kids joined in, and hammered me pretty relentlessly for a time, until they tired of the game and moved on to new prey.  Back then we knew what bullies were, and these girls were bullies.  I know now that I wasn't much different than the other kids.  But it was the ability to make me THINK I was different that gave this small group of cruel girls the power to hurt me.

Shame.  I feel shame for all the times I have said cruel things to other people.  I see how hurt Maddie is, and realize how the mean things I have said over the years to other people have hurt them. Sometimes it was unintentional, but sometimes I said things deliberately to hurt others, when I had been hurt.  There is no way to be unhurt by words, and saying cruel things to others doesn't undo what has been done to me, and this was brought home to me by Maddie's reaction to that little girl.

That is what I want Maddie to understand.  How we treat others has a lasting impact.  Words hurt, but it is important to understand that the person saying the words doesn't really know her.  The person saying the words is trying to hurt her, to get a reaction from her.  If I could, I would give Maddie the strength to laugh in the face of anyone who says anything mean, because words like that, in the end, are not what is important.

The important thing to understand is her own worth as a person, and to understand that people say things for different reasons.  I could go on and on about the whys of it, but the important thing is to know the truth.  That we all ride on the same planet, and in the end, there isn't much different about us.  We are the only species that tries to feel like we are different from each other, and better than each other.  But we aren't.  We are all one family.  The family of man.

That sounds a little smarmy.  I would still love to grab that little girl by the ear and ask her just what she means by those ugly words.

But Grammys shouldn't act like that.

Most of the time. is good. ~cat
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

house of the rising sun

In response to Friday Reflections bonus prompt: What did I enjoy this week? Check out Reflections from a Redhead, and reflections from me for more about this wonderful blog link up...

This much I know is true...
When I can't get my writing brain going, photos or art speak for me:
Seeing the rising sun immediately brought music to mind:

Sometimes, words aren't necessary. is good. -cat
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Friday, July 31, 2015

jump back

dahlia, watercolor, pen & ink
I think I had something really good to say.  But, like so many thoughts lately, it left.  When your brain gets too busy, it tends to do that you know.  Lose things.  Thoughts.  Gone.  As someone once said: if you can't remember it, then it wasn't important.

I have a renewed interest in art lately and spend much of my time there, drawing, painting, and photographing things that catch my eye or mind.  It takes less brain effort for me to do that.  It is my comfort zone.  Where I have spent most of my life.  Especially a good spot when thinking takes too much effort.

But I am jumping back in.  Life has a way of cycling like that.  You're in, you're out, then back in again.

Along the way I have been making decisions.  There is too much online that is distracting to me. I am going to be trimming my life, weeding out what I don't really love, and I mean LOVE, doing online. No more saying yes when I don't want to do something.  I have been stretched too thin, and find that when I dabble in too much shit, I end up creating shit. So I will do what I feel most passionate about.

The first thing I have done is separate my Instagram accounts.  My @jonesbabie Instagram will be the everyday shots of my life, stuff that is don't spur of the moment.  For my art, @cathyjonest will be the account I use.  I decided it is time to dig deeper into what I am capable of and want to do.

So there it is.

Come along if you like.  Because I found out yesterday I am going to be around.
don't hit that sun! is something fun for you iPhone app called Prune...a simple game with no just prune trees...yes there is a point and you can lose your trees, but no mad dash to win, no hyperagitated tensed up feeling...just....relaxation...a truly minimalist zen game... is good. ~cat
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

just face it

Two prompts for the Friday Reflection for June 10, 2015 caught my eye. Prompt #1 was a quote by Lauren Bacall, who said "I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that." At my age and with my experience in life, writing about my face would be easy peasy. A bit too easy. So I decided to add another prompt into the mix and combine them for a twist on the Friday prompt.

Prompt #2 was look through my photographs and choose one to write about. This is the photo I chose:
That was me about 4 weeks ago, on the morning of my first surgery for breast cancer.  I say first, because I found out that a second surgery was needed a couple weeks after the first one, and that was not an easy prospect to face. In this photo, I was positive, and just ready to move forward. Who doesn't want to get past something like breast cancer and move forward?  Being positive was easier with that first surgery. The second surgery was more difficult, because negative thoughts began to creep in and take over my brain.

It was hard to overcome those negative thoughts. I am not a negative person by nature, and won't whine and bitch about what was going through my mind. I won't give a lot of advice about the experience either. There have been tons of articles written about breast cancer and survival, etc. Sooner or later I will write a more personal post about my experience, so that maybe someone else who is diagnosed with breast cancer and starts combing the internet for information, will come across my little post and have a few questions answered.  But that time isn't now. I am not ready to dig that deep into my thoughts.

So I will focus on the photo of me.  Sans makeup, it shows me smiling, which is something I do most of the time. I have had a mostly good life, a magical life, with just a few life bumps along the way. Until this year, when I seem to be traveling a mostly bumpy road. Since January I have had to deal with things that are new and difficult for me to comprehend and work through. I have gotten past some, and some are still happening. I've decided that the best thing to do to get through a year like this year is to just take one day, one step at a time. To look forward too far is to sabotage where I am right now. And to look backward with regret is a waste of energy, because nothing will change, and again, it sabotages where my life is in the present. It prevents me from working through what I am dealing with at this moment in time.

So I will drag out my copy of A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle one more time, and thumb through it, and regain some insight into my mood and way of thinking, which lately has been self defeating. I will do this because I am that positive person my dad had a big influence on. I have that strength in me, waiting to be tapped into. I will do it because I am a get it done type of person, and not possessed of a victim mentality. 

I will continue to depend on my family, reconnect with old friends, make new friends, stay connected with my sisters (who were the first best friends I ever had), and find joy through my art and photography. I will tap into the strength inside me to overcome and deal with anything and everything, and it will show in my face.
My face, my eyes. An open window to my soul. isn't always good, but it is always real... cat
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Photography is an extension of every thought that I have. - Trent Parke

I love social media.  Where else can you have conversations with people who fire your own imagination to new heights through an ongoing exchange of fresh ideas and innovations?  For years I have watched people online who brought their own thoughts to life through their art, and by sharing their work inspired me to areas of thought I would never have experienced without the exposure to social media.  This has been what has driven and influenced my own work.  I am passionate about art in all its forms.  The one thing that makes being human unique is the ability to experience and enjoy creativity in forms too numerous to mention.

As a child I got that exposure through books, then movies and television.  With the advent of the computer age, there has been a veritable explosion of sharing, at a speed that is mind boggling.  I can't say mind overload is unique to social media and computers, because even as a young child I would read so much so fast that my eyes would go blurry.  The main difference between past and present is that I am now more keenly aware that there is no way to experience it all.  For someone who loves to see and do new things, this has created anxiety and sadness at times, the fear that I will miss something, the knowing that I do miss so many things.

But juxtaposed against the anxiety and sadness at what I can't see or do, is the joy I find in everything that I get to ex[experience and learn.  The joy greatly outweighs the negative emotions, and keeps me pushing myself to use my imagination.  The joy that has led me to try to capture my life and thoughts, to share with others, but most especially for my family to have.  I find a lot of comfort in the thought that someday my grandchildren, and their children, will be able to see what I saw, and know me through what I have done.  That is my hope.

It is why I write my thoughts, and put what I see and think on canvas and in photos. It is an extension of me.

Just my thoughts....

...imagine life is good, and it will be... ~cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

tunnel vision

Been looking at this tunnel for months now.  This year hasn't been the best, but I really can't gripe much, because it could be worse.  Yes, things can get worse.  I've had those years too.  It's been a while since I felt like pieces of the sky were falling, and hitting my head, but this year has taught me that it is time to bring out the safety helmet before the next piece of sky whacks me.

I don't mean to sound negative, and I am sure that there are plenty of oh woe is me blogs out there, and I am really not that type of person.  Mostly I've been numb and just not dwelling on this cancer in my breast.  I am good at avoiding stuff. When things get tough, I have a knack for just not thinking about a problem if there is nothing I can do about it. I have to say, this problem has given me pause though. Time to think about where my life is, where I want it to go, and things I haven't done that I want to do.  We all think about things that way sometimes, right?  I mean, I know I can't be the only person who has felt these things.

I feel like I have kind of skipped all those stages of grief that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote about, and just went straight to numb. As numb as the armpit and shoulder where the lymph node was removed.  I'm glad for small things, like finding out this cancer has a 94%ish cure rate, and that the lymph node was negative.  It almost makes me feel ashamed for feeling this numbness.  But it is there, and I can't make it go away, so I am focusing now on the light at the end of the tunnel.  And allowing myself to be numb for the moment.  Thinking as I watch the clock tick away and the hours go by until this next surgery later this morning to remove the cancer cells that were missed, and that the tissue biopsy revealed.

So I look at Goliath and wonder what it will be like to have a breast with a crater in it, dread being put to sleep and the loss of control over my own body, dread the discomfort and pain afterward because I am so effing ready to be well again, and not this recovering surgery patient.  I want my effing life back, things back to normal.  I have SHIT TO DO.

So, hurry up sunrise, and let's get this show on the road.  I have a life to live.
the light at the end of the tunnel
 My parting shot is a favorite Pink song, that exactly fits my mood right now...(alert, explicit language)...
Is there anything in life BETTER than rock and roll???? is good, dammit, so raise your glass!!... ~cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Monday, July 6, 2015

favorite places and spaces in my mind

tea time
The prompt for July 3rd that caught my eye at Friday Reflections has had me thinking for days.  How could I pick one favorite place?  There have been so many of them.  I think about all the places I have traveled, the things I have seen and done.  How could I possibly whittle it to one favorite?  Janine Ripper at Reflections From a Redhead described her favorite place so colorfully, I was ready to pack a bag and leave right then.

But picking my favorite place?   It finally dawned on me.  The place that is my favorite of all is....
the grapes of cath

my mind

That's right.  All the places I have visited, the things I have seen, are all trapped in lovely memories.  They are stored away, like a filing cabinet full of cards and photos, and I can revisit and think about them whenever I want to.  This ability to pull memories and close my eyes and be there is something I have always done.  It is especially helpful right now, at this moment in my life when there is so much going on with so many people in my life that I often wonder what will happen next.

watercolor, pen & ink
Today, I have pulled out a memory of one of those places.  My sister Vicky's back yard (garden for those of you who don't call a yard a yard) and one of the most peaceful places I have ever been.  It is a place I can sit quietly, looking at the flowers, birds, bees, and listening to the breeze blowing gently through the trees, stirring the leaves to a soft rustling sound.  It is a place I have painted, photographed and long to be when things are overwhelming.  It is my morning refuge, my favorite place to drink my tea and think about all the vagaries of life.

vix, watering her plants
It is a place I return to at least twice a year...and where I will return once more in October of this year.  Until then, I have my memories, filed away in my mind to pull out and relive over and over whenever I feel a yearning for peace and quiet.
morning in the garden

the perfect rose is good. ~cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Sunday, July 5, 2015

finding the glass slipper

It's been a bummer kind of week.  I have a not fun week coming up next week, and I was mulling it over in my mind this week, and getting kind of cranky in the process.  Then I went to the movies last night with Wretched Daughter, my youngest, and one of my nieces.  We had been planning to see Magic Mike XXL, and I wasn't sure what to expect.  The first Magic Mike movie had been ok, but was a bit on the heavy side, taking itself way too seriously.  This second time around it was played lighter, more for laughs, and about ten minutes into the movie we were having a great time.  The script was a good match with the acting, and there were some classic lines in the movie.  There were also 4 women sitting in the row in front of ours, having as good a time as we were.  I think we were all stomping our feet, hollering and dancing to the music at times.

And as I watched the movie, and laughed with the girls around me, I forgot all my worries and just enjoyed the moment.  And what moments those were!  The music was good, the guys were luscious and the best part of the movie was Joe Manganiello's hunt for the perfect glass slipper.  To find out what that means, you will have to see the movie yourself.  I'm not about to spoil it.  As far as I am concerned, gorgeous Joe stole the show.

When the movie was over, the women in front of us stood up, and the one closest to us said "come on, we are headed to Atlanta to a male review.  We can be there in 2 1/2 hours."  When the three of us started laughing loudly at her tone and sound of determination, she grinned at us and said "y'all are welcome to go too".  We were still laughing when we went out the front door on our way home.

Life isn't perfect, but there is always something good to focus on, and something to make you laugh, if you let yourself find it. is good when you spend it laughing. ~cath
  i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Thursday, July 2, 2015

ambulance chasing

June 26, 2015 was an important day for Stevie Wonder. Due for the first checkup since nearly dying in April when his pacemaker had to be replaced after an epic failure to pace his heart (read about it here), he was understandably nervous because he had developed atrial fibrillation after the new pacemaker was placed in his chest.  His recovery from the second surgery was a bit rough compared to the first time.  I tried to reassure him that he was doing ok, and just had to give himself time to heal.  He was a bit whiny about the whole thing in my opinion, but I think that was because my patience was thin from dealing with my own breast cancer and surgery, which was taking place almost simultaneously to what Steve was enduring.

The twins were staying with us for a few days, so they went with us to the clinic. We were going to wait for Gramps to get all his tests finished, then go eat a late breakfast. We left at the crack of dawn for an hour long drive to the clinic. Duncan used the seat belt as a hammock for his head so he could sleep.
Duncan in a head sling
As we walked into the clinic (it was attached to the main hospital), I was explaining to Maddie what an echocardiogram was and the way I watched Gramps heart beating on the monitor when he was in ICU, before his pacemaker was put in. Her response to what I felt was a brilliant description was: "Disgusting!".
the long wait
 As we sat waiting, we talked, and I played a few games of checkers with the kids. Time hour, then two. As we began our third hour of waiting the kids were about to mutiny from hunger and thirst.  So I took them to another part of the clinic to get some juice and a snack.  As I was digging money out of my purse to buy juice for the kids, Maddie (who was standing near the hall) uttered the fateful words: "There goes Gramps".

I figured she meant he had walked past and was headed to the waiting room looking for us.  I said as much, and that was when she lowered the boom: "No, he wasn't walking, he was on one of those rolling tables."

"WHAT?" I said.
"He was on a rolling table Grammy."
At this point I looked a little panicky because I was caught between putting a $1 bill in a machine for a snack for Maddie, and taking off after the gurney. Maddie made my mind up quickly when she said: "I don't need a snack Grammy!"
So we took off down the hall. The hall took several turns, like a snake. Maddie had run ahead to scout Steve's location as I brought the rear up with a still sluggish Duncan. She would get to one turn, I would shout at her "CAN YOU SEE HIM?", she would shout back "YES I CAN", and then we would advance to the next bend in the hall.

In my mind the whole time was that SW had collapsed during the stress test, and they had come looking for me to tell me they were transporting him to wherever they needed to go to fix him, and couldn't find me because I WAS BUYING EFFING SNACKS FOR STARVING GRANDKIDS.

After what felt like a mile of scouting, reporting and running, I ran out of steam as I made it to the last bend and saw the end of the gurney and a nurse waaaaaaaaaaaay down the hall just going out of sight. I decided we would go back to the waiting room and wait until someone found us and told us the bad news.

So we sat there, they split Duncan's honeybun and drank their juice and I fidgeted like I had ants in my pants. About an hour later, Steve walked in the door of the waiting room.
bubba gramps
WALKED.  I jumped up and almost shouted at him "ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?"
He looked at me like I had lost my mind and said "yes".
I said "did you go by on a gurney about an hour ago?"
"No" he said.

Then it hit me.

I had been chasing a stranger down the halls of the hospital. I asked Maddie how she knew it was Gramps on the gurney. She said: "because he had white hair and was wearing a mask like Gramps does when he is sleeping."  Steve saw my face and knew something was up, so I had no choice but to tell him what had happened.

He started laughing.

He was still laughing 4 hours later every time someone called to check on him and he got to tell the story again.

an anticlimactic end to the morning, at Waffle House
I thought I had finally lived it down until Steve said a few hours later:

I would have loved to see what happened if you'd caught that gurney and saw you'd been chasing a stranger down the hall.

Steam started coming out of my ears at this point.

I am now the victim of another Steve story, which grows with "embellishments" every time he tells it. is like chasing gurneys, you never know where you are going or what lies ahead. ~cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Monday, June 29, 2015

book launch: Living an Alive Life! by Tara Schiller

I have the privilege and honor to have guest blogger Tara Schiller here today, on a very exciting day for her! Today is the launch of her book, Living an Alive Life!  Tara is an author, life coach, business woman, and mom of four who will help you discover your true self, and live your life with purpose.  In Living an Alive Life, Tara shares her life experiences as she provides valuable exercises to help you discover how to live life fully as the person you are intended to be.  Please take the time to read Tara's post here, and to visit her blog, Absolutely Tara.  Without giving away any spoilers, I will say that I discovered it is ok to be selfish.  (I was surprised about it too!).  I had several AHA moments as I read Living an Alive Life, and I know you will too!  Read on, and learn how  you too, can life life fully.  (You can also follow @taraschiller on Twitter.)

From Tara:
If I could tell you one thing, it would be that you are amazing. And that you are absolutely and completely worthy of love for anything and everything that you are. I’d tell you that all those parts of you that you feel are ugly, bad, or worthy of shame, are in fact, what makes you so uniquely beautiful in the first place. Because you’re interesting. You’re full of character, and emotions, and life.

If you could see your heart through my eyes, you’d see perfection alone. You’d know that anyone who didn’t love you was completely out of their mind, and you’d feel sad for them because they missed out on something great in their lives by not knowing you.

But even if I told you these things, would you believe me? Would you take it in and protect it with your life? Maybe for a minute.

The reality is, most of us aren’t able to see ourselves this way. We’ve gone our whole lives being told what makes us accepted by others and what drives them to reject us. And since our mind is wholly devoted to protecting our heart, it has produced an acceptance gathering projection so we can feel loved.

But the problem is, we don’t just want to be loved, we want to be known. Being known is what connects us, not only to others, but to ourselves.

The mind doesn’t like that idea, because it can’t control how others react to our true hearts. It can’t create a good and bad master list and ensure we behave accordingly. And if it can’t do that, it won’t be able to protect us from rejection. The mind hates rejection. And so we aren’t known by others, and we aren’t in touch with who we truly are.

How do we overcome this? How do we retrain the mind to value the truth about our hearts over the acceptance of others? That’s what my book is about.

In Living an Alive Life, I focus on retraining the mind to value your true self, then turning those discoveries into something real and tangible with an actionable plan, and dealing with the emotional obstacles that will surface along the way.

If you go through this process and learn to value your truth, you will be able to live a life that fits you, not one that you’ve been told you’re supposed to live. And when you can become who you truly are, you will come alive. And an alive version of you will leave the world in awe!

-Tara Schiller

Friday, June 19, 2015

life, washed down with cherry garcia

These thoughts go hand in hand with #FridayReflection prompt:  Reflect on the following quote: "Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got." - Janis Joplin

When life throws me a curve, I head for my standby coping  Lately it's been music from my past, and last night it was the Grateful Dead.  I decided I needed some ice cream to add to my cope plan (that is my weapon for extreme emotional punches to the gut).  And my go to flavor is Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia. I grabbed some, and then spotted my newest coping obsession beckoning enticingly from a shelf on my way out.  I swear I didn't intend to do it, but suddenly they landed in the cart.

So last night was a time for ruminating, minimal communication with my family to keep them in my loop, and just vegging with music and a sugar high.  Because let's face it, the Grateful Dead still effing rocks, and Cherry Garcia slides soothingly across your tongue.

Along with a big ahhhhh of a bite of Banana Hostess Twinkies, a new flavor in a cake that is as big a part of my past as the Beatles, Disneyland, Santa Monica Beach and on and on.

And I realized as I slurped, chewed and listened, that what is happening is a bump in the road, and not a mountain. So it is time to deal, and move on, not to whine or worry.  Time to focus on the present, and let the rest take care of itself.

Sometimes, when you are grateful to be alive, all you need is the Grateful Dead in your ears, and some Cherry Garcia to wash it down. is good with a little cherry garcia on it...  ~cat
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Saturday, June 13, 2015

rubberband man

Two weeks ago I opened my closet door, searching for the lightest material I could find. It had to be light as gossamer, and not add one ounce to the scale when I stepped up at the doctor's office. I knew jeans would add at least a pound of fake weight, so I dug through sweaters, tops, pants, jeans, searching...searching...beginning to feel desperate.

Then I saw it. Tucked back out of sight, never worn because it had always been too clingy. Too revealing of bulges and bumps I didn't want on display. The dress. Just a simple navy, scoop neck knit. You ladies know the type of dress I am talking about. I twisted my lips as I wondered if I could get into it. Then I lifted it off the hanger and my decision was made.

It weighed about 2 ounces. Perfect. If I could just squeeze my ass into it. I went to ask Wretch if she had a slip I could borrow. It had been so long since I wore a dress that I didn't own a slip. Wretched Daughter handed me a slip as she uttered the fateful words:

"It's a slimming slip."

That should have clued me. The key word was slimming.  I didn't have time to think it through so I grabbed the slip and headed to the shower to get ready for work. That is when the fun began. I learned some valuable lessons as I struggled to get this piece of spandex hell on:

1. Never put on anything spandex while your skin is still damp from a shower. It sticks like glue and refuses to budge.
2. Never use lotion before putting on spandex for reason #1.
3. Never EVER put it on over your head.  STEP into it.
4. Once you have put it on over your head, you are trapped.

It was nice and soft and stretchy when I was holding it in my hand. Once I got it over my head and under my armpits, it turned into a boa constrictor. It rolled up firmly under my armpits, and refused to budge. I couldn't reach it to pull it over my head, and I couldn't unroll it to pull it down.

I was stuck. At that point, I got a bit panicky, and started to sweat like a pig. Which made the boa constrict tighter. It began to feel like I would die, and end up with a rubber band buried up in my armpits.

I pulled from the front. Then realized I was pulling the bottom of the slip out over the top and it couldn't roll down. Not even one inch. I tried to unroll it from underneath, but it decided that it wasn't going to budge that way either. I tried to reach behind my back and pull it down from there.  Nope. I tried to pull the whole nightmare of a slip off over my head. Nope. By then my body was swelling from having the blood flow constricted, and it was buried even deeper into my flesh, if that was possible.

I was running out of time and made one last effort. I grabbed the front of the slip and yanked on it like I was pulling down a shade. It hesitated, then suddenly unfolded. I rolled it down my thighs, and then stopped to catch my breath.

Suddenly it felt pretty good. Or maybe it was that I could breathe again. I slid my dress over my head and looked down. Bumps, bulges and odd spots all under control. It really was a miracle slip. Wretch cautioned me that it wouldn't remold me (dang it) but that it would smooth me.  It sure did. I felt like a tire with a new tread. Today was going to be great, I could just feel it.

I drove to work. When I got out of my car, I realized that the rubberband slip was going to let me know all day who the boss was.

Because every time I sat down all day, the backside of the slip slid up and cupped my behind. I spent the entire day feeling like my ass was in a sling.

All that effort to save 6 ounces on the scale at the doctor's office.

The dress went in the garbage when I got home that night. The slip is still embedded in my skin.'re bound to lose control when the rubberband starts to jam... ~cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

sex, drugs, and rock & roll

#Friday Reflection prompt: Reflect on how it's important to make the most out of life.

Several weeks ago Wretch noticed the Steve Miller Band was going to be performing  in concert  in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in June. I told her to book three tickets and we would drag Stevie Wonder along to it. We'd missed the Magic City Art Connection and Corks and Chefs on April 26 because SW decided to break his pacemaker that weekend. We gave away three tickets so that Wretch and I could spend the weekend watching SW lie in a hospital bed in ICU waiting for a new ticker on Monday.

At the end of May, after a couple months of testing and retesting with mammograms, ultrasound and needle biopsy, I got the verdict. Breast cancer, caught early, and was told the recommendation. Surgery (lumpectomy), radiation, and oral medication for a few years. Not a problem. I was ready.

Then it hit me.

The concert I had waited patiently for was in a couple weeks.

Oh hell no, I thought to myself. I am not missing this concert, or dodging elbows with a boob that is in a sling. I talked to the surgeon, and although my oldest daughter wasn't keen on it (neither was middle sister when she found out later on), Wretch understood where my brain and heart were. With the music. The surgeon assured us I that I would not drop dead if I put my surgery off for 3 weeks.

So I did.

Sunday my ass was sitting in a pool of sweat in a plastic stadium seat heated to oven temps by the 90F setting sun at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. I sipped a glass of red wine in a plastic cup, groped SW a bit, and enjoyed some of the best music from the 70's played by a couple of great bands, now old farts like me. (Steve Miller is 71.)

And damn, they can still play.

Some things just get better with age.

...rockin the good life... ~cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Thursday, June 4, 2015

make it snappy

Truth is stranger than fiction. It's a fact that I am blind as a bat without my glasses. I wear contact lenses.  There is a small period of  time when I remove my contacts, and before I put my glasses on my face, when I am blind and lack depth perception.

Tonight I took my contact lenses out. I reached into the cabinet, got out my glasses in their case. What happened next is what caused the chain of events below.
I opened my eyeglass case upside down.

My eyeglasses fell out, headed for the ceramic tile floor (brand new glasses by the way).

I grabbed at the glasses with my left hand to catch them before they fell to the floor and got scratched (only you eyeglass wearers can appreciate my panic).

As I grabbed with my left hand at my glasses, I reflexively closed my right hand.

Eyeglass case in my right hand (spring loaded closure) snapped shut with a loud crack.

On my right nipple.

I screamed and yanked.

I'm still afraid to open the glass case. 

I think my nipple may be inside.

...make life snappy... ~cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

why we eat our young

Someone recently told me something that disturbed me deeply. It was something I had heard before, but I chewed on it this time for a while and have been pondering about it since. It involves human nature, and behavior. This was the story:

"A young woman recently graduated from nursing school, and went to work in one of the larger hospitals in one of the largest cities in the state.  She was hired in as a new grad nurse in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and was excited and enthusiastic about being a nurse.

Her joy was short lived however.  The staff treated her so poorly, and were so rude and unhelpful, that eventually she quit, and now works as a nurse in a non-nursing position, away from the bedside nursing she had dreamed of doing."

Two things disturbed me about this. The obvious thing was her maltreatment from her peers. It isn't the first time I have seen this happen. Over the years I have watched nurses who are rude to the nurses they are training, who don't have patience to take the time to give them the guidance and support they need to become excellent nurses. They often do this because they feel they don't have the time to spend training and mentoring due to their own workload (this is another issue I will talk about at a later time), or they just don't have the skill to teach. Not every nurse is cut out to be a teacher/mentor.

The other aspect that disturbed me is the administrator who hires a new nurse and puts her in a high stress area to work, where extensive, expert skills are needed to keep a patient alive, straight out of nursing school. A nurse does not begin to even understand her job for the first six months, and functions at a very basic level. The book that brought this home to me and taught me a lot about the stages of experience for a nurse was a little book written by Dr. Patricia Benner, From Novice to Expert: Excellence and Practice in Clinical Nursing Practice.  In simple terms, it takes 2 to 3 years to reach the third, or competent, level of nursing doing the same or similar type of work.

To gain experience in an ICU, you have to work in one. This is where it is important to choose the proper preceptor for a new nurse hiring in, give her a workload she can handle with the added responsibility of training a new nurse, and monitor the relationship to make sure that it is the right fit for both nurses. I have to say that in 20+ years of being a nurse in many different areas, I have never seen this happen. EVER.

As I heard the story of the young nurse's disillusionment and resignation from her job, I was saddened, and thought of the saying "nurses eat their young". Simply put, it meant we don't take care of the new nurses coming into the profession, but instead throw them in on their own, with little or no support from the experienced nurses. The meaning hit me full force, and I felt anger and frustration. Anger at the nurses who didn't bring this new nurse on board, and support her as she tried to gain her footing in a highly technical, stressful job. Nurses too burned out, too overworked, too see this nurse as the future for all of us, not only nurses, but also patients. Someday those nurses will be patients in a hospital, and facing the same kinds of attitudes they displayed. I wish it wasn't so, but I fear it will be.

The ultimate responsibility though, goes to hospital administrators who don't encourage a different culture of training and mentoring for new nurses. Who think of nurses as a disposable commodity, with access to a never ending supply. As long as nurses are thought of this way, this type of behavior and treatment will go on.

It doesn't happen everywhere, on every unit. But to lose even one new nurse, full of enthusiasm and desire to care for people, is a tragedy. One we will all pay the price for, ultimately.

Let's stop eating our young. is good. ~cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter