I’ve been taking a summer U.S. Health Policy class at my university as part of my graduate curriculum studies. At first, my mind was so fuzzy and I read so slowly. I was astonished at how much I have regressed — six years since graduating college, has my literacy and reading comprehension degraded so much? Apparently it has!
Regardless, I’ve gotten up to speed with things. As I read page after page after page about how the world runs, especially regarding my field of healthcare, I find myself scared and excited at the same time. I am scared because I’m learning and becoming accountable for things I had never previously been before. The administrative decisions and changes in my hospital are starting to make sense as I am reading about the changes in healthcare due to the Affordable Care Act from 2010. I’m being thrust into the light of healthcare reform, and with this knowledge comes responsibility in my own personal career and duties, I know.
I’m also excited because I’m “leveling-up” as my darling, video-gaming husband would term it. I’m evolving into a new creation. I am personally growing, and the old me is disappearing as I become more self aware of the policies and issues in healthcare. I’ve been entrusted with this knowledge because I require it with my forthcoming graduate master’s degree. A heavy sense of burden but also a feeling of awe strikes me. This stuff is being taught to be because I am taking a greater role and responsibility in this world. Cool.
The thought that keeps coming back to me in my life is this: quality. My life has taken many remarkable turns and I can say, looking back, that I have evolved gradually into the thing I am today. The one resounding theme that ties me all-together is my desire, my need, my emphasis for quality to be the element that defines me. At the end of the day, at the end of my life, I want to be remembered as a person with quality — who was superb in all she touched, who cared deeply and fully, and a person who had a soul that emanated a simplistic purity for excellence. Maybe you don’t believe in people having souls, but I do. To me, the soul is that element in a person that is fundamentally you — who you REALLY ARE TO THE CORE — physical attributes aside. And I want a soul that is beautiful, pure, one of quality.
Sounds scary, but I believe in a reckoning of my soul. It drives me — keeps a sharp edge in every step and decision I make.
In some ways, I languish slowly at the thought of my fate — I love nursing and I love healthcare in the sense that a woman who had an arranged marriage eventually loves her husband through time and experience. My indecision and lack of will in my youth has sealed my fate to working in the healthcare field forever, by default — I think to myself painfully. My years of experience in the hospital and my age reveal that I have trekked down this path proudly and for so long that it would be difficult to turn around and do some other work that might possibly excite me more.
One thought jolts me back to realize WHY I should care for my profession — everyone gets sick. Everyone gets old. Everyone will die. Everyone I love will die — my parents, my husband, my family, my grandmother. As healthcare evolves and changes into some different beast, will I ignorantly step aside uncaringly, too busy in my own social interests and activities, and allow my loved ones to be the eventual subject of future hospitals and healthcare systems? Uninvolved and uninvested as I would be? Or will I work hard, in passion and true care and quality, with the realization that I can possibly offer even the smallest ounce of change and help so that when my parents do get sick, I can be more assured that they will be doing so in a healthier health care system that I could help to usher in?
Evolution, I realize, involves this understanding: WE ARE ALL CONNECTED IN THIS WORLD. My apathy in my profession will come back to haunt me, I truly believe, someday.
Maybe it’s karma, as my hubby, a normally logical guy who doesn’t entertain too many supernatural thoughts, fearfully upholds and believes in. Maybe I believe in karma too — I believe in souls and I believe in karma.
This perhaps irrational fear, I believe, will keep me humble, will keep me being a good and uncorrupt person who doesn’t just want money and fame and conquest in this world. I just want quality.
Maybe I’m over thinking things. Maybe I’ll have a few children and will realize that all I want in my life is for my children to live happily and freely. All I know is that I’m at another juncture in my life to pick paths in which I shall journey. Before I die, I pause at this intersection to contemplate seriously, because I want to make sure I’ve made the right, good, true, loving choice in life.
Someday, my own reckoning will reveal to me everything.>
Hello dear sweet personal blog site!
Life has sure been busy. I got accepted to graduate school, got married, helped my baby sister get married (2 weeks after us!), went to Cancun for our honeymoon, moved into my husband’s apartment, and trembled nervously as I handed in my resignation letter to my boss (3 months in advance!). I have been going through the process of getting ready for my summer school course (one class to ease me back into the process of studying again) and trying to change my last name. Oh, also, a humungous stash of blank “Thank-You” cards lie collecting dust as I slowly fill them to thank each guest for attending the wedding. I have about 80-100 more thank you cards to write!
Other than these things keeping me busy day to day as well as finishing up my final few months at work, I have not felt any pressing deadlines and have fully enjoyed myself in leisurely girl dates, as well as lazy weekends with my new husband :)
Marriage — it’s odd and altogether wonderful at the same time. It’s a fundamental change in my mentality, in my daily activities. My husband and I are now inseparable — we go everywhere together, do everything together, and every big financial decision or social event I want to attend, I must first discuss with him and vice versa. It’s strange because I feel so restricted in some ways (no longer able to meet girlfriends for dinner, no longer able to go on random shopping sprees since I will face prosecution and judgment from my husband, no longer allowed to go to bars without the husband for girls’ nights) but I’m realizing it’s actually very relieving and wonderful. I am trading a set of independent freedoms for a promise — to love and be loved by the greatest love of my life.
Before I was married, there existed an intense pressure in my being. Every day, I felt pressed to make something of myself — to reach out somewhere in hopes that I would be accepted, loved, appreciated, made into something special and desired. This sense of urgency kept me moving — I lacked sleep because I was always thinking of what I needed to do next in order to make something of myself. I would meet with multiple different friends all the time because I didn’t want to feel cut off and lonely or isolated.
My now husband met me at a time when this possessive ghost was driving me the hardest. We would get into arguments and fights because I’d let the spirit dictate my actions on most days. His presence into my life affected the driving force that was taking over my life. He was slowly fighting an uphill battle to regain my mind, my heart, to claim it as his. My passion for being accepted and loved by society and others began to slowly be replaced by my passion to be accepted and loved by him, to please him and be wholly devoted to him.
The fulfillment of our decision to be married has been the final point of relief for me. If I still want to do great things in this life and touch others through my work, I can certainly pursue these efforts — but knowing that I belong to someone who already loves and cherishes me as I am removes a large burden from my small and somewhat hardened shoulders these past years living on my own and pursuing my dreams. It’s like I no longer have to prove anything to anyone anymore. The hard part of my life, or perhaps just of my youth, is over. I’m no longer lonely. I’m no longer lonely! And that is a great relief :)
I severely enjoyed my 20’s. Perhaps I enjoyed it a little too much and should have gone to grad school earlier, as I anticipate the upcoming year with mixed feelings of apprehension, fear, and dread. Am I as smart as I used to be in my undergrad years? Will I be self-disciplined in my studies? Will I even be able to comprehend the material? Will the commute make me go semi-insane? Will I revert back to my high school self when I move back into my parents’ house with my husband? These questions hang above my head, but I keep telling myself that it’ll only be 2.3 years from now until I can pick my life back up to where it is today. The time is short and long at the same time. By then, I will have been married for about 3 years! Imagine that :)
I love being married. I love being a wife! I don’t know how most marriages are, but ours is as blissful as I have imagined. We don’t have real fights — we can communicate through most any disagreement we have. We both have mutual respect for one another, and we both encourage one another to pursue our work and educational opportunities. We have similar visions of having lots of kids in a house that we can buy in the future in a good and safe neighborhood area. I have visions of perhaps not pursuing ambitious career opportunities as much as just being a great mom to my kids and a great wife to my husband. I not only want this.. I long for it achingly. I guess this is what people call “baby fever”? But more than the baby, I just want a family to take care of, to call my own, to teach them about love and life and beauty and meaning and kindness and goodness. I want to share with them this exciting world I have discovered and have grown to love and appreciate and want to help contribute to. I want to teach them about God and His goodness, His blessings, His love, and His sovereignty over this world.
The volatile 20’s is slowly coming to a close, as I turn 28 this August, and I find that I am happy and just as excited for the future. I am excited to be more settled, to be more secure in my goals and hopes, to grow in discipline and love. To really practice love daily to my husband, eventually to my kids. To truly learn the meaning of love — the feeling, the discipline.
The prospect of children makes me reevaluate how I’ve been living my life, and how I’d want to teach them about life. My children will learn the most through my example of daily living — can I be a role model for my children? Can I represent the goodness and the discipline of life? Can I teach my children to be excellent human beings who contribute much to society? As I eventually enter my 30’s, these will be the next obstacles I grapple with.
Thank you, sweet personal blog of mine, for lending your ever listening ear about my little life :)>
Clean. New. Refresh.
Dear personal blog site,
I am happy to announce that after three extremely enjoyable years in Arlington, I will be kissing goodbye my coming-of-age years in this cramped, exciting little studio apartment that I shared with my wonderful roommate.
I remember when I first moved in to my beloved home away from home. It was June 2009 and I was itching for my independence from my parents after they semi-tricked me into moving back into the same room after my undergrad years.
"You’ll save tons of money! We need your help with things around the house anyways!" They cajoled and wheedled me constantly, relentlessly. And like a good little daughter-slash-sucker, I fell for it hard and sat patiently for a year, biding my time.
At the time I was an imaginative dreamer. College tends to have the effect where ANYTHING and EVERYTHING is possible and open to the one open of mind, open of heart. I was equal parts both— to the fullest possible extent. Performing music, creating music, art, and creativity were at the forefront of my mind and I was almost possessed— to the point of throwing away my college degree for the sake of my obsession. I didn’t care about being poor, I didn’t care about meeting somebody, I didn’t care about my future health or anything other than just to make excellent music and try to make a difference in the world. That one-track mindedness was useful in getting things accomplished, in living purposefully every moment.
Therefore, I plotted and schemed and gleefully / secretly checked for apartments I could escape to. My rationale, after utilizing my college degree after all, was to work enough only to pay rent and food so that I could fully indulge in my passion for music. No ultimate responsibilities, nothing and no parents to stop me due to my financial independence.
I found the perfect little spot— a studio, with a going rate of $899 a month nonetheless! Located in Arlington near the top floor of a high rise with all the perks (such as trash bin two doors down and laundry/dryer 3 doors down the hall) and close to my beloved IOTA for open mic nights, I was set.
My parents had a rude awakening one sit-down dinner in the city as I off handedly informed them I’d be moving out two days later. I confirmed that I paid the safety deposit and was only awaiting to actually move my belongings, which I planned to minimize.
It was difficult for them to register at first. Shock, then slow grumbling, then predictions of doom and failure and hell on earth. I never saw a more disappointed look in my father’s eyes as he told me, “The path you travel leads to destruction,” as he shook his head. I couldn’t understand at the time why they couldn’t just support me and encourage me in all my ambitions. Looking back at it now, I’m realizing they were probably just scared for me because I was really, in all honesty, probably completely insane and scaring them to death. How did their angelic, perfect, sweet little daughter become this maniac who seemed only bent on derailing herself from the perfect sweet path that her loving parents steered her in all her life? I have no idea. Maybe heartbreak from a first love, maybe all the optimistic and world-changing ideas engulfing her constantly at her university, maybe a bit of naivete and innocence. Maybe a combination of a little bit of it all.
Three years have flown by. I created an album of songs of which I am still hugely proud of to this day. I met the love of my life, singing at a fried BBQ Chicken & Beer restaurant in Centreville on the fated November 16, 2009. I still remember his expression that day, how he carefully placed down his drumstick mid-chew to clap for me after every song and then proceed to eat again. We are getting married sometime in 2013.
I was part of a 3-piece band, a dream I’ve always had. We created an album of original music, music I am EXTREMELY proud of and know I could have never done alone by myself. Incapable of the musical geniuses alone.
I got to perform in Santa Monica, California, Baltimore, MD, and New York, New York. I’ve met a lot of people, made a lot of friends, had friends meet each other through my music. I got to help various charity events such as for Breast Cancer at Woo Lae Oak hosted by my friend and musician Amanda Lee Vega, Break The Cycle at the Hillyer Art Space in DC hosted by Tu-Anh Ha and the lovely ladies of Fashion Fix.
I got to travel. A LOT. I went to California multiple times. New York multiple times. Philly and the outskirts of Pennsylvania multiple times. Chicago multiple times. Seoul, Hong Kong, Saigon, Beijing/Narita, Cancun.
I got to see my little sister who is not really my sister graduate in one of the best schools for the arts, SAIC.
I got to work in Inova Fairfax Hospital in one of the most dysfunctionally managed units with the most lovable people. I then got to work in the Medical Surgical ICU, working towards my dreams of becoming a CRNA.
I returned to church again. I pray again. I pray to God again and hope again.
These past three years have been ones filled with triumphs, heartaches, growing pains and realizations. In the very same studio apartment did I enter as a young girl and now exit as a full-fledged, grown, contributing member of society.
My obsessions, my ambitions, my passions have changed over the course of time. The things I want are different now. While I still adore and completely love performing music and will always see myself as a kind of rock star as I go throughout life, I don’t have the freedom from responsibility quite as much these days.
Someday, I’m going to be responsible to my husband. I’m going to be responsible to be there for him when he is lonely, sad, hurting, bored, angry, hungry, sick. I have to love him as if he is a part of me, as if he is me. My decisions will revolve around him and vice versa. We will slowly become as close to being one organism as possible.. as close as two separate entities can be, at least.
Someday, I am going to gain more responsibility to my patients as an advanced practice nurse. I’m going to have to dedicate my mind and heart to the art of anesthesia, the human body, and make every outcome safe and good and excellent. I want to be an excellent practitioner, skilled, knowledgeable, EXCELLENT. I want to be a rockstar badass at my job and save tons of lives or at least prevent any sort of complication during surgery. I’m going to rock and I’m going to rock hard.
Someday, I’ll be responsible for my possessions, living or non-living. I hope to have a house someday, maybe with a garden in a safe neighborhood where my husband and I can take strolls after eating a homemade dinner. I want to donate my blood when I get more healthy again and do various volunteer activities to freely give of myself to better my society, my surroundings, my community. I want to take care of any future pets, cars, plants, flowers, pots and pans, dining tables, laundered clothing.
Someday, and someday soon, I’ll have a child. 1, 2, 3, and maybe 4. I am going to give my life to them and pour everything I have, every good thing in life, every lesson I’ve ever struggled with and learned in my life into them. They will be the reason I am here, the reason I went through it all, had to learn the hard way, had to go through it at all. I will make sure they know I love them, and I will make sure that they will be disciplined and through their life they and I will better our society at large. I need to be healthy— I need to run, I need to have regular menstrual periods (a phenomenon that halted when I stopped eating meat and has never been the same since), I need to take vitamins, I need to condition myself to the best of my abilities to insure a healthy baby (or 4). I need to prepare my body for the biggest test of physical limitations and endurance that I will have ever faced in my life thus far.
Someday I will get old, and I will look back on my life before I approach the end of it and ponder if my life has been one lived without regret, one with meaning, one that has made a difference in the world, changed the world. Those are the days I live for, that I live in a slight fear will someday look back in disappointment.
Though I’ve become a woman, an adult woman, maybe my ambitions have not changed so much after all. That desire to change the world, to prevent a wasted life, to do the most good for myself, my husband, my family, my community, my society, the world is still active and present. It has just manifested itself in a perhaps more mature and realistic way.
"I wish I could change the world," I told my fiance one day maybe 1.5 years ago.
"You are. You change the world everyday as a nurse. You change the world by being a good person." He said and smiled so sweetly at me that I couldn’t help but melt a little.
The measure of contentment and dissatisfaction wage war within me. It’s a tense measure of both that will help me live a fulfilled life I think. In the end, you can only do what you can do to the best of your abilities, to what you’ve been handed in life. It’s about your reaction to your circumstances, your refusal to give in that is going to get the ticket. Your attitude against all odds. That kind of beauty, that kind of beautiful attitude, I hope to possess by the end of my life.
So now I am moving out of this little studio apartment. We have really lived quite well in it, as my possessions stack neatly in piles everywhere. A kind of organized mess, clean clutter.
I will be moving into a condo in Fairfax, with my own room and my own bathroom. I will be planning for a wedding, and then living with my husband. I will be entering a ginormous Vietnamese family as the new daughter-in-law, and take my place to please and make happy my new parents. I will hopefully be going to school sometime, and training my body in expectations for a child at any moment.
My studio was perhaps an innocent haven and dream world, incantations and unseen spiritual protections undoubtedly covered every crevice as my parents have probably prayed for me every moment of my life. Their charm of good luck, good deeds repaid in life drenched on me every moment of mine just cause I’m their kid as I have luckily encountered no real problems and no real issues living pseudo independently.
My real life in the real world begins now. Game on.>
Today I helped one of my coworkers take care of a famous man— or rather, the father of a very famous person. I googled this person naturally and discovered that he/she directly had a hand involved in many historical moments in our country. I was shocked that such an accomplished person was coming to our unit and admit I was a little star-struck— I couldn’t really meet the fixed gaze whenever the attention was on me.
With a little time, it became tacky because this person had an assistant who hung up a gigantic poster of some published work, handing out little promotional cards with every handshake. I looked at the patient— in a coma-state, intubated, hardly aware of his surroundings. After a little while, it was not difficult to treat them like I did with any patient I have ever cared for. The accomplishments dissipated from my mind as I helped to turn, clean, change.
On the other hand, I was assigned a patient, the father of another person, who was a professor of art history from out of state. This person did not show up on google, had no published work blatantly posted in the room, and was not quick to reveal his/her own accomplishments. Instead, this person quietly cried at the bedside, holding the patient’s hand, calling his name, speaking to him. Devoted, heartfelt grief at the state of the father. Telling me stories of how much he/she loved him, how they would learn and tinker together, how the patient helped him/her become who he/she was today.
Whether it is loud and publicized or quietly private— everyone dies. Nobody can take their possessions or their accomplishments with them when they pass away. Nobody can use their status or power to manipulate death. Death levels us all. Only as a nurse could I learn this.>
The strangest sensation of nostalgia overcame me. Feeling at home in a land I’ve had no memories in. Maybe my feelings are ingrained, biological, inevitable, and only make sense when my feet are walking on your soil, my lungs breathing your air. I bury the deepest part of my heart in you, Korea. I am always with you and you are always with me even though I’ll never have you the way I want you in this life.
Plant your most exquisite fruit seed within me,
that others may taste it and be inspired
to plant that same seed within themselves.
The excitement of an unbroken seed
Or the beauty of an ancient tree
Branches like arms
Swaddling the nesting birds
Who come looking for a home.
What am I?
I am somewhere in between.
My only compass, my guiding light
The most earnest map I know
I complain a lot about my line of work as a health care provider. My boyfriend’s company rents out a whole amusement park with free food for the majority of the east coast region as a way of showing appreciation for their work. I hear about other people who receive a free iPad2 as a bonus. This year, I didn’t even get a raise— we received a one time percentage bonus. Times are tough, money is tough. I just don’t feel valued in my work.
Focus back on the patient I had this past Tuesday night. The man had suffered an unfortunate injury requiring surgery— a laminectomy— to his cervical spine. In recovery, he was unable to be weaned off the mechanical ventilator, which was fulfilling the respiratory functions that his now paralyzed body couldn’t do. He was not even 60 yet.
He came to us from an ill-repudiated nursing facility with an overwhelming infection from pneumonia, common to people on long term ventilators. All of this happened to him within 2 months. His life flipped upside down.
My preceptor is supremely astute and swiftly assesses situations and makes micro incisions of what needs to be done for the patient, what is coming next, what has to happen. She assessed that he was probably not going to live for much longer, and if he did, it would be a miserable existence.
She initiated having a family meeting with the patient’s wife and father and with the doctor. We gathered together in the critical care conference room and the doctor quickly divulged that the patient had a 10-20% chance to live. He laid out all the options on the table, and the golden-hearted, well-intentioned little wife was weeping in midst of attempts to maintain a strong face.
Hugs, tissues, hand holding, and gentle understanding in the eyes were exchanged. The decision was quickly made to let him go the next day.
I was so quiet it was like as if I was mute. I reverted back to my middle school self when my best friend was crying to me in the bathroom at our church when her grandfather, whom she loved dearly, had passed away. I didn’t know what to say, I couldn’t offer a hug or any words, not an “It’s going to be okay.” I just didn’t know how to deal with the situation.
And now I realize, this is the kind of work I’m going to be dealing with. Daily. I’m going to have a lot of these kinds of talks. Because people die in the intensive care unit— they die all the time.
My job is a sobering one. It awakens me to the reality of things in unexpected and frightening clarity. No wonder I think about death and the future and children and life and quality of life on a daily basis. I’m surrounded in it. My friends who get iPad 2’s and who get free happy hours are a little.. sheltered, I suppose, away from real life occurrences that will happen to all of us. I’m becoming inoculated— I hope to become strong. I hope to be a light for my loved ones, for people around me, when death and reality and grief come knocking at the door.
So when I don’t know something, I try to read about it to get a handle on it. I found this little bit from a website that really helped me out.
“Guiding people and advocating for them through emotional and spiritual transitions at the end of life is illustrated in the following excerpt from the text. The nurse spoke of her work with a terminally ill man who was a widely recognized writer and speaker in the medical field. He had been trying to complete his doctoral dissertation but was having more difficulty accomplishing this goal because of his physical decline. This patient was able to share his innermost feelings and thoughts with the nurse because she listened and accepted him unconditionally. She was able to help him transition to a state of self-acceptance in the final stages of life.
It was a lot of work to be present with him as he came to realize that what was important was who he was versus what he did. And as he progressed through his disease, he felt worse and worse that he wasn’t doing those things (lecturing, writing, publishing)…his sense of feeling: I’m letting people down; I’m betraying people by not finishing (the dissertation); I’m not honoring and living up to peoples’ expectations. So I helped him process through what it means to be. To be valued as a person and to be valued as an individual and that, basically, we can stand naked and be so thrilled and so self-loved that we’re just who we are and that’s OK. And I got him to the point of saying “I’m so much bigger than a PhD, I’m so much bigger than initials and names and recognition.” He really came to that point and was at such peace…But if you’d known the amount of work he went through on his journey…which was realizing, I am valuable just as me.”
My character sharpens a bit. My profession requires me to remove my rose-colored, shallow perspective on life and people. I must heartily embrace the suffering, the loss, the beauty, and the innate value of each individual human being. This is my calling, I will respond.>
I am sitting, drinking my cup of tea that I got from a friend who currently lives across the country after having a lovely dinner with another old college girlfriend tonight.
I am content. This also means that I am happy.
Today at work I said a lot of goodbyes. This Friday will be my final shift at my current unit, the Cardiac Telemetry Unit. In the short 10 months I’ve worked, I strived to have an upbeat, positive attitude, to work hard, and to be friendly and loving to all. I tell you, even though I could have easily seen this past year as just a means to get to an end, I am extremely happy with my efforts instead to build relationships, to give honestly and wholly of myself to my work, and to be kind and good and happy. I am preparing to lay down my youth in order to pick up the neatly pressed and form-fitted version of my future self. I am growing.
This transition to my new job is cardinal. It represents an understanding that we cannot all continue to live our optimistically unrealistic, youthful dreams, sweet and beautiful as they are. I will kiss my irrational and radically dissatisfied self in order to prepare for the future, in order to bear the burden of caring for children, of the sick, of the needy. I trade my in-the-moment thoughts for ones that weigh consequences with a heavy burden. I trade my selfish desires of only what I want for what might serve and help others better. I trade the impulsive actions of fulfilling my carnal wishes in order to practice self discipline, in order to be a productive being for my community, human society, our world and universe.
I’ve always wanted to change the world. I still do. But growing up means realizing that maybe I need to realize my place and embrace my position with humility. I cannot do all things. Some people are born more privileged. All I can do is do what I can with what I have in my own time. Maybe the way I can make the world a better place is by being a good girlfriend, being a good wife, a good mother, a good friend, a good daughter, a good sister, a good nurse, a happy coworker. Maybe it just means being kind to strangers, more than necessary.
I think morbid thoughts sometimes. When I am with my parents, I acutely see the day when they will no longer be with me. This thought terrifies me— I’m not ready for anything like that to happen. It’s terrible but it also puts things into great perspective— it makes me love my parents and spend more time with them and appreciate them. I think death has the effect of putting things in correct perspective. Who can hold grudges and become angry all their life when you realize that someday you will die, that everyone around you will all die?
Death is sobering. It might sound morbid, but it just puts things in crystal clear perspective for me.
All good and bad things come to an end. How do I deal with this? I must fully embrace, fully love, and fully give of myself for the people in my life, for the humans in my community.
I used to think being an individual was sexy. I now believe that being responsible is sexy.
Damn, I must be getting old.>