It's 3:04 AM. That's the title of this post, yes it is. And the reason is, that's the truth.
Oh, 3:05 already. 3:04 is in the past. It's over.
I am at work, in Lincoln, Neb., where I am a nurse on the night shift. I have a travel nursing contract here for a little while. I shant say anything about my work because that would be (a) illegal and therefore (b) cause for immediate termination and revoking of my license. So let's just say, I'm taking a break for a snack of chocolate chip cookies whilst my beloved patients slumber. And to write this note.
A person can accomplish quite a bit working the night shift in a hospital, theoretically when his/her patients are fast asleep and resting reasonably confortably thanks to the wonders of pain-controlling analgesics. Sometimes, the quiet doesn't last. Like many things of beauty, the silence is fragile. Shh.
But back to my productivity. When a person is forced to sit, and contemplate life, through nighttime hours of silence, it brings out the best or the worst in that person. Some people wallow in boredom, numbed by the enveloping dearth and the lack of stimulation. Then others, their imaginations run wild listening to the chorus of what would otherwise not be heard, due to competition from the noise of daily life. Your dreams? Your aspirations? Your bucket-list goals? These are spoken with the language of Quiet Times, of isolation, of working the night shift. Dreams are not forgotten. People just can't hear them anymore, once they start working and the blather of Daily Life fills their brains.
So shh. Listen. Do you hear them? They are still there, trying to get your attention. Don't hold a grudge against them. They never left you. Pick up where you left off, like old friends.
I have a question about preserving antique furniture. I found an old dresser, and it is made of somewhat flimsy wood but the top is marble and it is really interesting. There is a manufacturer's stamp in one of the drawers that is dated 1871. The top is marble. Pretty cool.
The wood seems very dry, and the whole thing seems to be decomposing a little bit. I feel like if I put moisture back into the wood somehow, the dresser would hold itself together better.
How should I do this? I have heard recommendations of lemon oil and paste wax. But it seems to me that paste wax would just seal it, but not revitalize it in any way.
We created the clinic by typing ropes across the church's main (only) room, and then draping sheets. A few 2x4s were hammered into the ground for a little support. It worked pretty well.
A group of coffee farmers walked down their mountain to get various issues treated. Included in the group was this boy who showed up with skin that had become the greyish-beige color of oatmeal. He was super-sick with a respiratory infection, apparently some sort of pneumonia. We blasted him with repeated breathing treatments and gave him antibiotics, although if it is viral then he just has to wait it out. At least when we were done, he could breathe. We then gave them a ride back up the mountain to their adorable village of hobbit houses in the clouds, surrounded by coffee plants on the hills. I tried to take photos but through the haze of the clouds the pics were just a blur. But take my word for it, amazing.
This gentleman sat down in front of me and explained that after he comes in from working on his farm all day, he is "tired." He's 83. His blood pressure, pulse, and blood sugar were all better than mine. I told him there is nothing we could give him that God hasn't already been giving him his whole life. The man is EIGHTY THREE and he still runs his farm. Amazing. Meanwhile, I just ate a donut while typing this.
The church is next to a basketball court, which the church rents out to farmers to spread out their corn to dry. Lots of work.
When we washed out people's ears, one of us walked across the road to this woman's house, where she kept a kettle of water boiling over a fire. The water needs to be at least the temperature of your body, or it throws off your inner ear and you get dizzy and throw up. She was a vital team member with our clinic because of that water.
Cute kid. You can tell a lot about a place by the eyes of the little kids.
I went to Honduras on a medical mission. Honduras, like much of Central America, survives on the perpetual arrival of foreign missionaries, usually groups from churches who bring engineering or medical expertise to the underserved masses.
I believe very strongly that there is terrible poverty in America, and if we all spent one day each month doing something to help, our country would be a completely different place. I don't intend to overlook anyone's situation here. With that said, I enjoy working in other countries because I come away having learned more from the people than I feel I was able to teach anybody, so that's why I spend so much effort going to faraway places.
Enough poetic blah blah blah.
We have hundreds of photos of our Honduras trip. These are a selection from the first batch I saw.
So here I am, terrifying a young Honduran girl with my stethoscope. We set up a health clinic in a church, where saw hundreds of people with conditions like diabetes, hypertension, venous insufficiency, wounds, and a few wicked cases of pneumonia among coffee farmers who live up in the mountains and breathe in clouds all day.
Anyone who could get themselves to the clinic, by foot or by bicycle or by horse, could get a free checkup and a month's worth of whatever medicine they needed. Many "medical brigades" from numerous countries go to Central America, so it is feasible for a person to bounce from town to town visiting the different pop-up clinics and get the basic essentials of what they need--blood pressure meds, metformin, antibiotics, etc. They have no way of paying for any medicine. One month of pills would cost an unfathomable amount of money.
Conditions in the clinic were sparse but we made the best of it. Notice the IV fluids hanging from a rope stretched across the room.
Honduras is gorgeous, with mountains and green valleys everywhere. All that green means it also rains a lot, which takes a toll on the roads. After big downpours, holes in the pavement get washed out and turn into craters; so industrious locals then fill in the holes with dirt to make driving easier. They then stand on the holes they filled and wait for tips, theoretically from grateful drivers who appreciate having their tires saved.
We tipped that guy in the photo above.
It made him really happy.
In my opinion, the most important thing we did on this trip was not in the medical clinic itself. A few people from our group visited schools in rural areas and gave hundreds of fluoride treatments to kids.
This is a big deal. Preventing tooth decay for these people is a life-changing intervention. In rural Honduras, when a person gets a cavity the only option is to pull the rotted tooth. There are no fillings or root canals. At a certain point, some people just want all their teeth out so they can find a cheap set of dentures.
People lined up at our clinic to have their teeth pulled.
Our two dentists pulled 86 teeth that week. (...with anesthesia.)
I would like to address the police officer who saw me today.
I was the person chasing a medium-sized black dog across the very busy Quivira Rd. at the intersection of 109th. I'm 100% certain this officer saw me, and the dog, as he/she paused to let the dog run around, and then swerved to drive around me.
This letter could take issue with the fact that this officer was driving what appeared to be a Chevy Yukon; I'm certain we aren't expecting any blizzards in the next several months, and the off-roading opportunities in the middle of suburban-sprawl Johnson County are few, so the use of this vehicle's 15 mpg seems to be quite an arrogant waste of taxpayer's money. But I'll proceed with more selfish issues, mainly myself and that dog.
The motorists in the intersection slowed down and pulled over, with some eventually stopping and offering their help, due to what was obviously my pursuit of that dog--yes, that dog wearing a collar with the frayed end of a recently-snapped leash, running away from the sweating, yelling, slightly pudgy and red-faced middle aged man who was holding what was the leash's other half. That man was me, and that dog is not mine but I was watching it.
Despite the helpful nature of the other Midwesterners who offered to help, the officer drove on, and left me and the damned dog to run in traffic on our own.
I do not know what the officer was doing at that moment. I can only offer two details: 1) This officer drove away at a rather leisurely pace, so presumably there was not a mission underway; and 2) This officer was headed south on Quivira, driving into what is one of the safest, lowest-crime areas anywhere in the metro area. My parents who live down the street once had a police officer knock on their door to remind them their garage door was open and it was getting dark. There isn't a lot keeping these officers busy. So I can only presume the officer who saw me, as is often the case in southern Overland Park, wasn't super-busy at that moment.
I don't make it a habit to run around in traffic in busy streets. However, even if I did partake in it for some particular reason, the sight that the officer drove past was certainly an abnormality, and he/she could have considered the catastrophe that could have unfolded, with cars swerving around each other, and around me, and around the damned dog that I will never offer to take on a walk ever again. So there's the public safety issue.
However, let's talk about decency. When strangers, who presumably have places to go that inspired them to get into their cars, pull over and offer to help, that's nice. When a police officer who obviously is going nowhere important--and God forbid I ask he/she gets out of the enormous truck to help, no way--could prevent iminent death by simply turning on his/her flashing lights, yet that officer instead drives around other motorists and around me and around an out-of-control dog, that officer is an asshole.
Please let that officer know that if he/she ever drops to the sidewalk with a heart attack, and I see it happen, I'll stop to help. Why? Because 1) I am in a professional role to be helpful in that situation, and 2) I'm not a dick.
Thanks for nothing. Enjoy my taxes. I'm glad the residents' garages are well-protected with you on patrol.
I don't miss living in Miami. I have a love/hate relationship with the city, much like an ex who drives you crazy but you still have a few fond memories. It's best it is over, but still, there were good times.
There are a few things I miss.
I miss the mango tree in my back yard, which had mangoes that popped off the pit like an avocado, none of this "how do you slice it?" nonsense of store-bought mangoes. And the taste...the best taste ever. I had to wake up at dawn to pick them off the ground or my neighbor Phyllis would go out and steal them all for herself.
I miss walking 6 blocks to the hotel strip and sneaking into the fancy hotels to use their gyms and pools. I also miss not having a need to buy a bottle of shampoo or a bar of soap for 7 years because I could just raid housekeeping carts. I never stole towels, however. Whenever I took a towel, I brought it back and left it by the pool for them to collect. No need to be rude.
I miss the filthy coffee place with the best café con leche, on Lincoln Road. And I miss pastelitos.
I miss driving to work or class in the morning, and listening to the morning shows on the salsa music radio stations. Everything was so optimistic and happy.
I miss the guy from Jamaica. I miss the guy from Colombia with the tattoo of the Colombian flag. I'm sure they don't miss me, but still...
I don't miss the beach. I rarely walked over there. But I do miss walking in Key Biscayne, through the mangrove trees. And I miss finding a private mini-beach in there when the tide was out. (...see item directly above this one.)
Finally I miss the smell in the air. The humidity had a very specific scent.
I don't have any fancy internet viral-video extravaganzas featuring celebrities dumping buckets of ice water on their heads. That may be to my disadvantage. I'm just doing this because I think it's a good thing to do.
Last year, some of my nursing school instructors went to Haiti on a medical mission, and I joined them to get a sample of what the experience was like. We set up our clinic in an orphanage. There is no place more depressing than a Haitian orphanage. Most of the kids had ringworm and, of course, intestinal parasites from drinking the water. And then we opened up to the local community, and that was just as bad. It was really sad, and frustrating, but the people were grateful for the little bit of help we were able to provide. And I ate goat, which was not as shocking as I thought it would be.
So this time I'm going to Honduras, which just as impoverished and perhaps a skosh more violent. Good times.
As fortunate Americans, I don't think there is any point in apologizing for our own lifestyles, affluent or otherwise. But we also need to be aware that there is a world around us. I, sitting at my computer right now, did not create the political and economic problems of Honduran society, but I can go there and use my skills as a Registered Nurse and help out a little bit. Just teaching them basics about health care, I can help a lot, perhaps.
Anyway--if you would like to donate to providing health care around the world, please give a few dollars. I will gladly take $1.