Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Living the Dream

It has been about a year since I retired. I was an RN triage nurse in a busy rural clinic of about 15-20,000 patients. Life was busy from the minute I came to work until well after I was scheduled to go home. I would receive calls from patients with questions about everything from possible bat bites received at Walmart, ATV accidents, someone bucked off a horse to suicidal thoughts or attempts and even sexual assaults. The calls ran the spectrum of human concerns.

Every Friday at about 4PM a call from a patient referred to as Bud (Lite) would come. He would call and tell me he was about ½ way thru his 12 pack and thought maybe he should stop drinking. Every Friday at 4PM. And every Friday, I would tell him if he wanted to, we could get him help to stop drinking. And then he would laugh and tell me he would think about it. And that was our conversation, every Friday at 4PM.

Many calls that would come in could be treated over the phone quickly and successfully with the patient agreeing to follow the advice or come in and be seen. It went well, for the most part. But there were always the calls that would come in and when the recommendation was given for them to come to the clinic or Emergency Department, they would beg to differ on the advice that was given. It made a person wonder why then were they calling? I would try and explain in a different way why it was important to come in rather than stay home. If the patient continued to refuse, I had learned to ask them matter-of-factly if they had someone with them in case or when  they lost consciousness they weren’t alone. You know “is there someone there that can call 911 if you collapse.”.  That usually worked and would get them to come in and be seen. 

Oftentimes shortly after taking a call that needed the patient to come to the ED, there would be an overhead page “cardiac team to ED STAT” or the whirling of the helicopter at the landing pad by the ED could be heard. They would transport a patient to the Cities hospital. And the triage nurses would always know it was their patient. It usually would cause a sigh of relief from all who knew what the call had been.

After 12 years of doing that job on a daily basis, I was both ready for retirement and somewhat afraid to stop. I had been successful and comfortable doing this job. In looking back, it was as stressful making the decision as doing the actual job itself. Questions like can we afford it financially, what will I do with the time on my hands?, Would I be happy and content? The questions I am pretty sure most people ask when nearing retirement. I never did get any solid answers to the questions I was wrestling with in my mind.I just did it. ANd to my astonishment, it has worked without a problem.

A few months after retiring, our nation went into a pandemic with the Covid-19 virus hitting everywhere in our nation. That more or less stopped thoughts of traveling too far away. I more or less became homebound except for getting groceries. But never fear, I found more than enough to keep my life busy.

First order of business was to declutter the house..the closets, the garage, the house. As we call it here in Minnesota, I was “Swedish Death Cleaning”. What a feeling of accomplishment to clear the clutter. Spring came and there was 10 acres of land needing some attention. Gardens were planted, trees trimmed, sheds painted. One of the grandkids and I even built a shed for a chicken coop. We now have 11 chickens and 2 roosters occupying the “Chicks-Shall-Lay” coop. Fresh eggs once again after many years too busy to keep chickens. And my favorite thing about retirement is being able to hang out with the grandkids and teaching them music and learning from them so many things. 

The past year, I have had the great opportunity to spend time doing so many projects that were on my “future list” to get done. You would think by now the list would be pretty well cleaned up and getting empty, but that is not the case. Things get added. 

It has been such a blessing to be able to retire. Are there any disadvantages?...Nope, none that I have encountered yet. Would I recommend retirement for anyone that is ready and able to retire. Absolutely! Over the past year, my life has been a journey, both physically and spiritually. There now is time to quiet down the brain and see all that life has to offer. I have finally been given the gift of living life in the moment, in the now.. I’m living the dream right here, right now, right in this moment.

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