I am a Nurse

A couple of years ago, my dad was getting ready to move, and so he needed to go through all the stuff our family had collected over the twenty years or so that we had lived in that house. I came across a pile of mementos from my grade eight graduation. One of the things our teachers had done for us graduates was ask the younger kids what they thought we would be when we grew up. When asked about me, one of the children had responded with ‘pediatrician’- ooh, so close, kid! I am not a pediatrician, and though I have nothing but respect and admiration for the many pediatricians I know and work with, I would not want to be one. Because I am a nurse.

To me, and to many of my colleagues, nursing is not just a job. It is not just a profession. It is a calling. It is part of who you are at your very core. I did not get into nursing for glory or for money. I did it because I felt called to it.

I think I first realized I wanted to be a nurse when I listened to my sister’s stories about nursing school. Something deep inside me said, “You would be good at that. You should be a nurse.” But I was too scared to listen to that voice at that time.

A short while later, my mom’s health went into steep decline. She spent years in and out of hospital. In all that time, as much as I appreciated the care she received from the physicians on her health care team, I could see that it was the nurses who had the most impact on her health and on her quality of life. They were the ones who made sure she got her showers or bed baths (my mom adored her showers and hated to go more than a day without bathing). They made sure her medications were tailored to reflect the latest lab results. They talked to her and to us and they listened and they advocated. One of my mom’s good friends, Lise, was a nurse, and she went above and beyond the call of duty by coming to our house to my mom’s bloodwork so that Mom wouldn’t have to venture out to a lab- an outing that could take her days to recover from. Lise did that, not just because she was Mom’s friend, but because that is what nurses do.

Over the years, as I saw, time and time again, the positive impact that nurses had on my mom and our family, that voice inside me got louder and more insistent until I finally couldn’t ignore it anymore- I applied to a nursing program and I am now living my dream- truly, I am. I wish my mom had lived to see my graduate, but I feel her presence with me, and I know she would be happy and proud.

Nursing is not glamorous. There are no red carpets, unless you count sheets stained with the blood of the patient who fought you like crazy when you were inserting their IV. There are no fans clamouring for autographs, only patients asking for help. There are no endorsement deals, just overtime because you cared for an acutely ill patient and supported their family. And I love it, because I am a nurse.

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I Did It

My 10k run was yesterday and I am proud to say that I crossed that finish line successfully. I won’t lie- it was hard, mostly because it was really damn hot. The first 6km or so were the worst- once we were closer to the lake, the temperature cooled down a bit and there was a breeze, which was wonderfully refreshing. But those first 6km…within about thirty seconds from the starting line, I was roasting. It was hot and humid and there was no air flow AT ALL. I am not used to running or working out in heat like that (gotta love the temperature-controlled environment at the gym) and so I definitely struggled. I had to slow my pace considerably because I did not want to collapse from heat exhaustion before the finish line. My time ended up at 1:14:15- I was hoping for better, but that’s okay. I am still quite proud of my accomplishment.

I think running is a bit like being in labour- in the moment, it is hell, and you vow never to do it again. But once it’s over, the memory of the pain fades and you contemplate giving it another go. Hours after my run was completed, I was already thinking about next year. Meanwhile, I distinctly remember thinking while I was breathless and wiping sweat out of my eyes, “Why am I doing this? This is awful! I want to die! I am never running EVER AGAIN!” And then I crossed the finish line, high-fiving strangers along the way, and I got my finishers medal and saw my completed time, and I thought, “Huh, this is pretty great! I am definitely going to do this again!”

Thank you to all my supporters- those who donated to the cause and those who sent me messages of encouragement and love. You all helped me push through the pain and keep going. You are awesome and I love you all (yes, I may still have a bit of a runner’s high as I’m writing this). As it was Mother’s Day yesterday, I wished my mom could have been there with me, but I certainly felt her presence as I ran, encouraging me to keep running. Now I need to figure out what my next challenge will be- another 10k? Half marathon? As I have now proven to myself, anything is possible!

Before the race

Before the race

After! Penelope loved my medal!

After! Penelope loved my medal!

72(ish) Hours to Go

Well, May 10 is coming up rather quickly. Way back in February, when I signed up to do this run, it felt like it was so far in the future, and I was full of confidence. “Oh yeah,” I thought, “I can run 10k by May 10- no problem! Piece of cake!” Now that the moment is nearly upon me though, I am more nervous than I thought I would be, and not nearly so confident. Now, the fact that I have recently completed a 10km run is serving to reassure me, but my anxiety is still creeping in. What if I fall? What if I’m too slow? What if my body fails me somehow and I just can’t complete the run?

I am trying not to let these thoughts consume me. Deep down, I know I can do this. And I’m also trying not to be overly dramatic about it- for God’s sake, I’m participating in a 10km charity run, it’s not like I’m a neurosurgeon, about to open someone’s skull and operate on their brain. No one’s life is at stake here. It’s just a run. And all the support I have received from family and friends in this venture of mine has been amazing (check out my fundraising page– I’ve surpassed my goal!) and that has gone a long way to keeping me focused on my goal- to cross that finish line.

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So over the next few days, I will continue to attempt to stay calm and focused, and to psych myself up for Sunday. I’ve already got a pretty good playlist to accompany me- what are your go-to songs to get yourself pysched up for a workout? And how do you stay calm before a big event?

Oh, and if you want to see how I’m doing on Sunday morning, you should be able to search my name (Julie Steel) and track my progress through Sportstats. See you on the other side of that finish line!

Party Planning

In less than a month, my baby girl, Charlotte, will be FIVE years old (sob). She has been looking forward to her birthday since, well, the day after her party last year. I have endured nearly a year of “How many more sleeps til my birthday, Mommy?” Soon, that momentous day will finally be here, and as such, I have begun the party planning.

The first lesson I have learned through this process is that she is not really old enough, or perhaps just not decisive enough, to make many decisions about her party. She has told me she wants to do gymnastics, dancing, baseball, karate, soccer, playing in the snow, and music at her party. Ummm, okay- soccer it is! No thanks to her input.

And then there is the matter of her cake- she has told me she wants a butterfly, Frozen, a Peppa cake like last year, flowers, Elsa, a rainbow, and chocolate. So, right now I’m thinking it will be a chocolate-flavoured, Frozen-themed cake. How hard can that be? Okay, you can stop laughing now.

Now that she’s in school, trying to figure out the guest list has been difficult, to say the least. Many of the kids she talks about I know by first name only, and I only know a handful of the parents of the kids in her class. We did finally, agonizingly, get the list sorted out, and she and I made the invitations last night. She did surprisingly well at writing out names and only required a couple of “practice” envelopes. The next feat will be ensuring that said invitations actually get delivered to their intended recipients- a task I’m not quite sure how to handle. I love Charlotte, but there is NO WAY she will be able to deliver all the invitations to the right people on her own. I’m hoping her teacher or the EA will be able to put them in the kid’s backpacks (as if they don’t have enough to do in a day).

So that’s where things stand in the party planning process. I have to admit I have been scouring Pinterest for Frozen-themed party ideas, and the ambitious part of me says, “Sure, I can absolutely make blue-ombre Rice Krispie squares and melted Olafs and blue cake pops and white chocolate snowflakes!” And the realistic part of me can’t stop laughing long enough to form a response to that notion.

The soon-to-be birthday girl, keepin' it real in her Peppa pjs!

The soon-to-be birthday girl, keepin’ it real in her Peppa pjs!