Sunday, February 26, 2012

Live and Let Love

The past few weeks have been very overwhelming and stressful.  I have been taking a CNA (certificated nursing assistant) class for three weeks.  It's every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 5-9.  Needless to say I've been busy.  I am required to take this class if admitted to the nursing program and I figured I would get it out of the way so I can take a biology class over the summer; so here's  hoping I get in! Now for those of you who don't know, I volunteered in the oncology ward at Mercy Hospital the end of senior year until I left for school in August.  I loathed going to volunteer, ya I know I'm a terrible person. But it was slow, I felt under appreciated, and the patients were cranky and old.  So on the first day of class when my teacher said that this course was centered around nursing home care I was peeved.  My thoughts went something like this, "ew," "I just want to work with kids," and "great I can't wait to wipe people's behinds." The last three weeks I've learned how to transfer, feed, change, rotate, and bathe people.  The last three weeks I've had a negative attitude about the class I and even more than that I've had a negative attitude about the two clinicals I would have to attend.
Well yesterday I went to my first clinical at a very exclusive and pricy nursing home. I was extremely nervous and was praying that I would get the independent residents; however, I was placed in the more dependent Alzheimer's and Dementia unit.  The CNA I shadowed was amazing; she helped me as little or much as I wanted, gave great advice, and answered a lot of my questions.  My first task was to feed a patient with Parkinson's Disease. I've never met anyone with Parkinson's so I was intimidated and a little scared.  As I was feeding this man I was looking around the room at all the pictures. There were drawings from grandchildren, photos from weddings, and of course UK posters everywhere.  They made me smile but they also made me sad. Obviously everything went smoothly and throughout the day I became more confident in what I was doing.  At the start of the day I was viewing the patients as simply that, patients who I did not want to harm, not people who just want love and care.  Towards the end I saw them as grandparents, moms, dads, brothers, and sisters.  Although this was quite the breakthrough for me it made it a little more difficult.  I couldn't help but realize that someday that might be my parents, brothers, and even me.
I gained much more than new nursing skills.  I gained confidence in my abilities as well as a new found compassion for those who are old and can no longer care for themselves.  I loved talking to the residents about their families.  One woman is living the real life version of "The Notebook."  When she was a newlywed her husband asked her to keep a journal of their lives together.  She is now 96 and has kept a journal for over 70 years.  Now that her Alzheimer's is developing she is going back and rereading her life story to help her remember.
Some of my other favorite memories:
--the couple that literally held hands the entire time I was there.  I checked on them while they were napping and they were still holding hands in bed.
--the old man who lives in a duplex across the complex and comes in all day everyday and stays with his ailing wife.
--and despite the fact that most of these people can't remember where they are, who they are, and even who their children are they can still remember that they are in the Big Blue Nation. And you best believe that every tv was blaring the UK vs. Vandy game at noon.
After caring for all these people I truly believe that through all the challenges life throws at us we all just want one thing, love.

A fitting song:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Let's Raise Awareness!"

Ah! Greek sing. And no I'm not talking about Greeks singing. I'm talking about the dance competition between sororities and fraternities. The competition is a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish, and for those of you who don't know how Make-A-Wish works I'll try and fill you in. Most people think that only children who are dying get a wish, however any child who has a life threatening disease gets the chance to make a once in a lifetime wish.  Each wish is then presented to donors who somehow come up with the money to make the child's wish a reality.  I really can't explain Greek Sing. It reminded me a lot of Spirit Week at St. Francis, expect I'm not going to lie, nothing can ever top Spirit Week.  I mean yes it's a dance competition but we're talking about sororities and fraternities here.  The girls, of course, prepare months in advance and stress about every single detail.  Whereas the guys, well they are drunk for dances that they probably practiced three or four times.  Side note: After Greek Sing I'm convinced that I am supposed to be in a frat I mean they literally just went crazy on stage.  Who doesn't want to do that?
Now because this is a competition you can almost guarantee that most people lost sight of the real reason for this fundraiser.  It's funny how everyone can agree on the important things in life but when people get together we just completely forget about them. I know that I am guilty of this too but sometimes I found myself just sitting there thinking, is all this yelling worth it? I mean is this little girl going to be mad if our fists aren't together? Would her wish be any less special? I know, I know, we all want to look good but at the same time we want to have fun and help a girl's wish come true. Next year I challenge us all to remind ourselves each practice what it's all about, think back to that girl onstage bald as can be cracking jokes, next year let's do it, not for other sororities or judges, but for her and all the other Make-A-Wish kids.
The timing of Greek Sing seemed to be fitting.  Just as my wish was starting to become real the greek community was helping another girl's wish become a reality too.  Some of you know that I had the chance to make a wish two summers ago (woah it's crazy that it has already been two years).  I wished that I could go to the 2012 Summer Olympics.  I love London and sports; what could be better?  My Make-A-Wish coordinator called my family in January to let us know how the planning was going.  It turns out Make-A-Wish would be paying for my whole family (5 people!) to go to the Olympics.  A couple of thoughts: 1. That's a ton of money and I'm so grateful 2. My family was my biggest support system throughout my journey and they, like other Make-A-Wish families, deserve a wish as much as I do.  Here's the catch, I would be going to London July 28th-August 5th.  I'm 99% sure I'm supposed to be in Kentucky on August 4th.  Ya, ya I know it's the Olympics but for those of you who don't know me well, or anyone who isn't my mom, I stress out if I'm not on time.  I know that the whole time I would be stressing about packing, driving to Kentucky, and then unpacking everything all in time for Recruitment to begin. So I voiced my concerns to my mom; she understood where I'm coming from and, of course, she calls my coordinator and tells her my dilemma.  I suggested giving my wish money to another chid or even to the kids of a family we know who's mom has cancer but my coordinator said that there was no need to feel guilty and that she would help me through the whole process.
So now where do I stand? I'm unsure.  To go or not to go?  I can potentially make another wish but if you could wish for anything in the world what would you wish for?

Song of the week: 

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Hi there
So this is my first post on my first ever blog! Now although this is MY first blog it isn't however, my first experience with blogging.  In April 2010 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma which is cancer of the immune system.  My mom blogged my whole journey; I love being able to look back at that blog and think, "wow. I've come so far." or when I'm feeling down, "wow I'm such a badass." If you want to check it out here's the link; my mom is an amazing writer so let's hope I got that skill too! I lost and gained so much during that time and I regret not writing down my thoughts. I never want to get the chance to do that over though, I mean cancer sucks. So I guess that is why I'm starting my blog now...better late than never right? 
I'm a freshman in college 2,000 miles from home. I grew up in Carmichael, CA, a suburb of Sacramento,recently named the fifth most miserable city in the US, but Sac-town is the best city ever! I loved growing up there and I love knowing that I can always go back there. But right now I'm in Kentucky. Yes Kentucky and for those of you asking "why would you leave California and go to Kentucky?" I wanted something different.  I mean, when else in your life can you live somewhere completely different for four years and worry about nothing but school? I know that this blog will be my outlet when I'm feeling homesick or want to share my thoughts on college. 
The name of this blog is I Am Not My Hair.  It's a song actually. A song that I really like, clearly. When I finished treatment I was really self-conscious of the way I looked. I find it funny that it took me almost eight months to realize that I was actually bald but I guess I was too busy kicking cancer's butt to even worry about such a trivial thing as the way I look. My best friends heard this song on Kairos.  They couldn't wait to show me and make it my theme song. In the song India Arie sings that she is more than her hair more than her appearance and I think that everyone can relate to that. We are all more than the way we look,our GPAs, clothing,jobs,etc. I think that teenagers,and I guess everyone else too, can get so caught up in the materialistic and unimportant things that we forget, in a way, who we are and what life is really about.I'm trying to live out my life remembering that I am not my hair and I think that college is the hardest place to live that out but I've had my fair share of challenges and feel as if I'm ready for a new one!  Well that's a little about me and what I'm about. I'm excited to start blogging and I hope you enjoy reading! 

Here's the song: Check it out