Close Encounters at The Grocery Store: Thanksgiving

It’s the weekend before Thanksgiving, and I’m grocery shopping. Pushing a cart through throngs of people looking for that special can of yams, I wish I’d pinned a sign reading, “Don’t follow, Makes frequent stops,” to my rear, so people might stop running into me.

photo: jparadisi 2012

photo: jparadisi 2012

Surprisingly, most of the shoppers are in good moods. I hear the words, “Excuse me,” “After you,” over and over. Only the very young adults, shopping for holiday meal preparations for the first time, I presume, express out loud their bewilderment at the crowds. Suddenly, their attention to space and time is required. This means they have to get out of the way while text messaging, instead of stopping abruptly in the middle of an aisle where more seasoned shoppers will trample them.

In the produce section I pull a thin plastic bag from a dwindling roll to fill with Brussels sprouts. Another woman poises to do the same. I’m sure she’s a nurse, like me, although I will never know. Simultaneously, we pause at the large bin of loose sprouts, realizing we have to gather them with our bare hands, because there is not even a rudimentary tool for the task. We eye each other, smile, then I say, “Wow, how many pairs of dirty hands have been in this bin before mine?”

She laughs. “I know,” she says, “I’m thinking the same thing. I’m going to have to scrub these well, and remove the outer leaves.”

“Me too,” I say.

I’m sure she’s a nurse.

Happy Thanksgiving from JParadisiRN

*This post was originally published on JParadisiRN in November 2012. 

Close Encounters at Thanksgiving: The Grocery Store

It’s the weekend before Thanksgiving, and I’m grocery shopping. Pushing the cart through

photo: jparadisi 2012

throngs of people looking for that special can of yams, I wish I’d pinned a sign reading, “Don’t follow, Makes frequent stops,” to my rear, so people might stop running into me.

Surprisingly, most of the shoppers are in good moods. I hear the words, “Excuse me,” “After you,” over and over. Only the very young adults, shopping for holiday meal preparations for the first time, I presume, express out loud their bewilderment at the crowds. Suddenly, their attention to space and time is required. This means they have to get out of the way while text messaging, instead of stopping abruptly in the middle of an aisle where more seasoned shoppers will trample them.

In the produce section I pull a thin plastic bag from a dwindling roll of them to fill with Brussels sprouts. Another woman poises to do the same. I’m sure she’s a nurse, like me, although I will never know. Simultaneously, we pause at the large bin of loose sprouts, realizing we have to gather them with our bare hands, because there is not even a rudimentary tool for the task. We eye each other, smile, then I say, “Wow, how many pairs of dirty hands have been in this bin before mine?”

She laughs. “I know,” she says, “I’m thinking the same thing. I’m going to have to scrub these well, and remove the outer leaves.”

“Me too,” I say.

I’m sure she’s a nurse.

Happy Thanksgiving from JParadisiRN

Shift Observations: On Luer Locks, Voting, Taxes, and Thanksgiving

While tightening a Luer lock connector to its mate after starting an IV, I curse myself once again for not playing with Legos more as a child. Working with the catheters and tubing used for delivering intravenous medications requires combining fine motor skills (action) with the ability to see how they connect.

Instead, my childhood preference for playing with dolls foreshadowed a love of the human body in my dual roles of artist and nurse. I’m more interested in muscles, ligaments, and the miles of vasculature and nerves connecting the anatomy of a human being, than the plastic bits and pieces carrying medications into them, yet they are tools of my trade. I secure the caps and connectors snuggly, while carefully keeping their tips sterile.

Likewise, I am more interested in relationships, the way human beings connect to one another: nurses to patients, coworker to coworker, artist to model, family member to family member. Would connections between people be more resilient with some sort of psychosocial Luer lock, or would we chew at such connections with the single-minded determination of a wolf gnawing off its paw (or someone else’s paw for that matter) to escape a trap?

Someone has said,

“The building block of society is the individual, not the family unit.”

This statement conflicts with what I was taught,

“The family unit is the building block of society”

It seems to me that the problems of adult life, everything from, “At which family member’s home will we spend the holidays?” to, “Does this issue deserve my vote for funding from higher taxation?” arise from the conflict between these two statements.

Seriously, whose bright idea was it to combine Election Day, property taxes, and Thanksgiving during the month of November? Are they trying to put people in a bad mood?

Politics and holidays: at times they bring out the worst in us. Whether making decisions in the voting booth, or negotiating family holiday plans, I’m learning, with difficulty, that people are more important than the Luer locks connecting us.

Photo Op: Happy Thanksgiving From JParadisi RN

How to Make a Turkey Mask With Simple Objects Found at Work:

Find a respiratory mask, then raid the unit secretary’s desk for forbidden White-Out, Sharpies, and Post-It Notes to make this Turkey Mask and entertain your coworkers for hours during a Thanksgiving shift, or until they force you to get back to work.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Turkey Mask Made From a Respiratory Mask. mask & image by jparadisi 2011

The Season of Poverty and Thanksgiving

Street Art (unknown artist) photo: jparadisi

You know it’s going to be a long shift when you open your first chart of the morning, and the doctor’s orders are written on a Post-It.

I admit it: I’m feeling kind of overwhelmed this week. November begins what I fondly dub “The Season of Poverty.” I’m not really impoverished. It just feels that way in November, as soon as the property tax bill arrives, followed by Thanksgiving, a couple of family members birthdays, then Christmas, then more family members birthdays clear through the end of February. *  Before spinning out of control, I remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and regain my perspective. Holiday anxiety is a luxury.

In the midst of this angst, something happened last week and I keep replaying it in the YouTube of my mind.

I was walking on a downtown street, minding my own business, when seemingly out of no where a man walked up to a metal street sign and, with his bare fist, slammed it with such violence I thought he was going to bend it. Shouting obscenities, he hit it again and again, barely a few feet in front of me. I froze where I stood, looking for the nearest exit to safety, as the man came forward in my direction. From behind, a woman wearing dirty clothes said, “Ma’am, come here, behind this chain,” as she lifted the chain blocking off a driveway. Grateful, I did as directed, waiting until the man I was afraid of passed by.

That’s it, nothing more. But I keep thinking about the concern this woman showed for my safety. If someday she seeks help in the emergency department of a hospital or becomes a patient, I hope she receives the same concern and courtesy she gave to me. She didn’t judge me by my clothes for not belonging in her neighborhood. She did not think that I deserved to suffer violence for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She simply extended safety to me.

Happy Thanksgiving.

*Dr. Dean Burke offers financial advice to nurses at The Millionaire Nurse Blog.

You can show your concern for the homeless in Portland, Oregon by donating to Sisters of the Road.

Thanksgiving Day 2009

photograph by Adriana Paradisi

Thanksgiving is the holiday of peace, the celebration of work and the simple life…a true folk-festival that speaks the poetry of the turn of the seasons, the beauty of seedling and harvest, the ripe product of the year-and the deep, deep, connection of all of these things…

David Grayson

     Wishing safe travel for everyone on the roads today.  Thanks to all of the nursing and medical professionals who are missing holiday meals with their loved ones so that patients can  receive care in hosptials and nursing facilities.  Happy Thanksgiving to all!