Alphabet Challenge: E

I’ve signed onto The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021.

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. 

Every day, excluding Sundays, I’m blogging about Places I Have Been. The last post will be on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

E: Eckhart Apartment

In the mid 80’s I worked in a clinic on the tenth floor of a subsidized building for the elderly on the west side of Chicago. The twenty-story apartment building proved to be a training ground for me: an inexperienced nurse practitioner and new to working with older people.  

I learned:

            that older folks were generally accepting and forgiving. That they enjoyed sex.   Some of them drank too much, hired prostitutes, carried guns in their purses, and chewed tobacco. Some sold their medicine for street drugs or money. Some were abusive and some were abused.

            that not all families wanted to care for their older members. That loneliness was the most pervasive condition among the group. I learned that family members, who suddenly showed up when someone was dying, might not be family. 

            how to plan a funeral, hand over firearms to the local police precinct, how to put folks in a nursing home, transfer them to an emergency room, and commit them to a psychiatric hospital.  

            to listen to a person’s story before I examined her. And that making a home visit told me more than I could ever learn from an office visit.

            that I didn’t need the support from a highly educated and professional staff but from people who were caring and didn’t walk away from a problem. And I learned that a sense of humor was a requirement when working with the elderly.

Alphabet Challenge: D

I’ve signed onto The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021.

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. 

Every day, excluding Sundays, I’m blogging about Places I Have Been. The last post will be on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

D: Disney World

I know some folks go to Disney World yearly. Yes, they do. I have gone three times. The second time, I learned a lesson. 

In 1978, when my children were seven and nine, we went to Disney World for the first time taking my mother with us. We rendezvoused with family who lived in Florida: my mother’s sister and her daughter, my cousin Evelyn and her family. The third and last time, three years ago, my daughter and I took my three grandsons there for the first, and so far, only time. Both visits were joyous, memorable events. 

On that second visit in the early 90’s, I flew down from D.C to meet up with my friend, Lois, who was attending a conference at one of the Disney World hotels. She extended her stay afterward so we could explore Disney World together. We laughed, walked, laughed, ate, laughed, reminisced and laughed some more. 

On our departure day, a severe winter storm hit the Midwest but Lois was able to fly back to Chicago. I sat on the plane parked on the tarmac for two hours before my flight was cancelled. The earliest I could get a ticket back home was in two days. Luckily, I was able to rebook the room Lois and I had shared. Later that day, I roamed Epcot with little enthusiasm to explore or taste the variety of foods. The next day I ate all my meals at the hotel and walked the grounds for entertainment.  

Lesson: Disney World is no fun alone. 

Alphabet Challenge: C

I’ve signed onto The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021.

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. 

Every day, excluding Sundays, I’m blogging about Places I Have Been. The last post will be on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

C: Coney Island

Last year, I had planned on taking my grandsons to New York City with a side trip to Brooklyn to scour the neighborhoods and check out the restaurants and, especially, to see Coney Island. The COVID-19 Pandemic interrupted my plans. 

Truth be told, I really wanted to go to Coney Island. I haven’t been there since the 50’s. My high school friend, Gloria, and I would take a couple of trains from Jersey City to Brooklyn at least once a week during summer vacations. Besides slathering baby oil on our bodies and roasting in the sun, we also went on the rides: 

Cyclone

Steeplechase horse ride

Parachute Jump 

I’ve read that the Parachute Jump still stands since it has been designated a city landmark but Coney Island as I knew it is gone. No matter, when I return the beach and ocean will greet me.  

Alphabet Challenge: B

I’ve signed onto The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021.

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. 

Every day, excluding Sundays, I’m blogging about Places I Have Been. The last post will be on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

B: Basement

My best friend, Carol, lived with her family in a basement apartment. Her parents were custodians of the four-story residential building near the corner of Summit Avenue and Mercer Street in Jersey City. I lived down the block. 

When we were in grammar school and I called on her to play, I had to walk down the three brick steps next to the apartment building. Facing a heavy door, I rang the bell. Carol would come to flip the locks and let me in. If Carol had to get ready, I usually told her I’d rather wait outside. Walking through the dark and damp basement to get to her apartment frightened me. I expected a stranger might be hiding in the shadowy corners of the basement waiting for me to walk by—and pounce! 

When I was older, I followed after Carol as she did her chores in the basement. Using the Dumbwaiters, Carol pulled at the ropes raising the box to reach each apartment. She rang a bell to alert the resident to place her garbage in the box. During this encounter, Carol and the tenant would exchange pleasantries, their voices echoing up and down the shaft. In the winter, Carol shoveled coal into the furnace. Throughout the year, she swept the basement floor regularly under the lone light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. 

In my teens, I spent more time visiting with Carol and her family (mother, father and older sister) in their cozy two-bedroom apartment. It was easy to forget that outside the front door, the basement stood in darkness. 

When Carol began dating, the slog from the front door to Carol’s apartment didn’t deter her suitors.  

After Carol and her sister married, their parents bought a single family home in southern New Jersey—for cash.

Alphabet Challenge: A

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. 

Every day, excluding Sundays, I’m blogging about Places I Have Been. The last post will be on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

AAunt Anna’s Apartments

Aunt Anna lived in an apartment above a florist shop in Linden, New Jersey. She didn’t drive but she could walk along Wood Street where Mom and Pop stores lined the road. Once, inside a large Polish deli where ropes of sausage hung on hooks from the ceiling, Aunt Anna insisted on buying smoked garlic Kielbasa for me to bring home to my Polish mother. 

When she moved to Carteret, she lost the vibrant neighborhood. But she also lost the long staircase she had to climb up to the second floor, the traffic noise from the street and isolation from her neighbors.

What she gained was a sun-lit, ground level one-bedroom apartment, closer to her grandchildren and great grandchildren, a quiet neighborhood with a front porch she shared with a woman who lived next door—a new friend. 

Aunt Anna, my Italian father’s sister, was the second youngest and now the only sibling still alive among her five brothers and five sisters. When I last visited, she was in her late 80’s, twenty years older than I. We laughed together as if contemporaries. Opening the bottle of Chianti I had brought, we played Mob Hits CD’s and shared a bag of potato chips. My husband never could understand how I craved potato chips with fine wine. “It’s in the genes,” I would tell him. 

Aunt Anna and I sipped our wine, sitting side by side on the sofa, listening to the Italian songs from my childhood. As the music played, nostalgia filled us with sadness for family members who had long since died. 

Living in North Carolina, I planned another trip to New Jersey in a couple of years. I never made that trip. Aunt Anna died suddenly. 

What would I have done differently knowing on that last visit I would never see her again? Wine and potato chips, Italian music and reliving memories—not a thing. 

I miss her. 

Alphabet Challenge

I’ve signed onto The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021.

Starting Thursday, April 1, I’ll begin to blog about Places I Have Been and every day going forward, except on Sundays, I’ll write a new post using a consecutive letter of the alphabet. I’ll end on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. For A, I’ll write about Aunt Anna’s Apartment. 

It sounds like a fun challenge. I hope you’ll follow my efforts during the month of April.

For more information on the challenge, click here.

Haunted Townhouse

Back in the 70s we rented a townhouse in Arlington, Virginia that was haunted. 

Now what made me remember this? Maybe because I, like many others, have been fixated on food while sequestered in my home over this past year due to the pandemic. Food and kitchens and houses. Now there’s a connection. Right? 

Back in the 70s, I was young and energetic and loved to cook and entertain—even though I had a toddler and worked part time in the recovery room at a local hospital. Some of my best creations came from that tiny kitchen in the townhouse. My husband and I often hosted dinner parties for the other young families who lived in our cul-de-sac. Once, inviting several couples, I made my husband’s favorite meal: Sauerbraten, sweet and sour red cabbage, potato dumplings and, from scratch, Black Forest Cake. Foodies out there will know that Sauerbraten marinates for five days and then is cooked long and slow and Black Forest Cake is a bear to make. Not to mention the challenge of that cramped kitchen. 

Back to the haunted townhouse. First, you have to know that we moved into a friend’s townhouse. Karl and his family outgrew their two-bedroom house and moved next door to a three-bedroom. He suggested we move into his vacated rental. We loved the idea of being close to our friends and having more room than our one-bedroom basement apartment, especially since I was expecting a second baby.  

Continue reading “Haunted Townhouse”

Through the Eyes of Nurses

On February 25th in the New York Times, two stories appeared about nurses. Both sobering. Both timely. Both essential.

In my last post, I celebrated the fact that although the pandemic is killing scores of people and putting a strain on resources, including health care personnel, nurses have been in the forefront of the media getting the recognition that they have long deserved. And more nurses are speaking out by telling their stories. Long overdue. 

However, the two stories in the NYT need to be read/viewed. One is by Theresa Brown who I have many times spot-lighted here because of her accurate assessment (my view) of nursing issues. A nurse herself, she has been calling attention to the nursing profession in the media and through her books. 

Brown’s piece: Covid-19 Is “Probably Going to End My Career,” is an exposé of what is terribly wrong in the profession and what should be done. She writes bravely and honestly about the precarious state of organized nursing. 

The second article, One I.C.U. Two nurses with cameras, is written, not by a nurse, but by a photojournalist. He filmed a fifteen-minute video that is raw footage of two nurses working with dying Covid patients in the ICU. Unvarnished, compelling and poignant. It’s a must watch that shows exactly what nurses experience during their shifts.    

I’ve attached the links to both essays. The fifteen-minute video is imbedded in both. 

Covid-19 Is “Probably Going to End My Career 

One I.C.U. Two nurses with cameras

Country Music

I’m not writing my second book whose working title was to be “Home Visits.” The Pandemic has cast a spell on my brain, resulting in lethargy and an inability to focus on structuring another book. So, instead, I’ve decided to take each home visit story and submit it to a literary magazine for potential publication as a “stand-alone” essay. I plan to email one of the stories, Country Music, at the end of this week to an online journal. 

Country Music tells the story of three patients that I cared for when I worked as a nurse practitioner in a home care program at a Veterans Hospital outside of Chicago. They were at various stages of dying. In the late 80s, the hospice movement was just taking baby steps into the medical/nursing world. I was learning about dying and death from my patients and their caregivers. 

The locations of the three patients’ homes lined up perfectly for me to make the visits to them conveniently in the same day. This lasted for about three months. On the day of the story, a dreary, rainy day, I show the challenges I faced working with my three male patients and their wives (few women were enrolled in the VA health care system at that time), how each man played the hand he was dealt and how the women dealt their husband’s decline. 

One of the men loved country music. Talking with him about songs and artists, rekindled my interest in the genre. I found a great country western radio station on my government-issued compact car. The earthy, raw lyrics telling of common human emotions became my therapeutic passenger that accompanied me on my home visits. 

While I am editing this story for submission, I find myself checking into YouTube to listen to the familiar songs that supported me so many years ago. This is more fun than writing that second book. 

Glass Half-Full

Dominated by political turmoil and the COVID-19 Pandemic, this past year has been a roller coaster ride with few brief moments of slow travel interspersed with deep dives of fright and foreboding. The highs that I have enjoyed come in part from the increased attention given to nurses. I have long complained that the nursing profession has been mostly invisible to the public eye, media and policy making sectors. The increase in visibility and status of nurses in these turbulent times looks to me like a glass half-full. 

I celebrate all the recent recognition direct towards nurses. When have nurses spoken up in great numbers for their profession, their practice, their patients and for their contribution to the world-wide challenge to defeat of the COVID-19 Pandemic? When have nurses received so much positive media awareness? Been frequently appointed to expert panels along with physicians and other health care professionals? Interviewed prominently by the news media? Featured favorably on TV shows? 

How much of a coincidence was it that 2020 was designated by the World Health Organization as the Year of the Nurse and the Nurse Midwife? 

In reviewing my posts of the past year, I have pulled out the ones that show increased focus on the nursing profession. I enjoyed revisiting them and am hopeful that the positive attention showered on the nursing profession continues. 

Nurses Gain the Attention They Deserve

Impressive List of Nurse Experts

United Kingdom Nursing Students Work on the Front Lines of the Pandemic

The Power of Nurses

Nursing Students Provide Insights into the Pandemic Media In-Depth Look at Nurses

Heroic Symbol: A Nursehttps://nursingstories.org/2020/05/26/badass-nurse/

One of the memes circulating on the social media platform Reddit created from a photo of UNC Hospital emergency room nurse Grace Cindric taken by News & Observer photojournalist Robert Willett earlier this week.

What Would Flo Think?  

Why Does It Take a Pandemic to Recognize Nurses? 

Nurses Transform Lives