October 21, 2011
Who were you then? Who are you now?
Such a drag, to want something sometime
One thing leads to another.
-- The Pretenders, "Talk of the Town"
Maybe it's finally here. The moment I've spent nine, no sixteen, no thirty-seven years waiting for. "The revolution is upon us," I wrote to my co-workers as I reported on my meetings with nurses. Finally, people are waking up from recession-fatigue and realizing that we don't have to take whatever punishment our employers hand us. Together, we can be strong. We have rights. It was 2001, just November of 2001, when one of my nurse activists said, "Ladies, this is not Afghanistan." We have rights, but only if we are wiling to enforce them.
It's been such a long time coming. A long dry spell... nobody would even give their name when they called me to say they wanted the union. "I'm sorry but the union fairy can't land on your rooftop," I wanted to say.
Now things are different. Within a month we have been contacted by multiple hospitals with smart, brave, motivated nurses ready to do what it takes to take back the power.
It's exciting times. Times when I am so busy that I can barely hold my eyes open now. Getting home at 11 and out the door again by 6. But I'm happy... it's about time. Nurses talk about being able to give the care they were trained to deliver. I am ready to do the organizing I was trained, bred, born to do.
Of course holding onto healthy habits is hard when we're busy, but it's even more important. Making sure I keep up with my healthy eating and exercise when things are busy is more essential than ever because I have to be in top form.
So what did I eat today?
Out the door at six to meet nurses. Brought my two hard boiled eggs, lovingly boiled and bagged by MR, as well as my 30 g almonds. Drank two cups of coffee at morning meeting and then ate the breakfast while doing a million things in the office.
Caught a noon to 12:50 yoga class before my 1:30 meeting. Worked out hard. Working out is essential to my health and sanity (not like those two can be separated!)
At Starbucks for 1:30 meeting. Ate the tuna salad box (380 cals) and fruit cup (80) plus green tea. Delicious! More carbs than usual but am losing weight a bit faster than necessarily would want to these days so didn't worry about it.
Excellent meeting with one of my favorite nurses ever, then got home close to six, put together MR's dinner (eggplant stuffed with broccoli and cilantro with Mrs. Dash's Fiesta Lime, lime juice and chipotle Tabasco) and a side of mustard green stems, broccoli and cabbage. It was my first night having dinner at home since Sunday, and it was nice to have Kieffer purring in my lap and MR enjoying his food at his place at table while we caught up.
I had 300 g of MR's excellent mashed cauliflower (95 cals total) with 2 laughing cow lights melted in topped with 1 tsp flax oil and two glasses of red wine. Finishing the second now and about to fall very asleep!
Tomorrow is grocery shopping, yoga, house cleaning, school work,and work calls. These days I find everything balances each other out: I love doing the big meetings where I can help nurses get the power they deserve, and I love withdrawing on the weekends or late at night or early in the morning into the world of cancer research, burying myself in the letters of Lasker and Farber and letting the epidemiologist take over for a few hours.
"People are scared now," I said last night in a meeting. "But over time, as more and more of you come to meetings, you will acquire herd immunity. You will protect the weaker ones through your own strength."
That's a slightly more elegant paraphrase of what I actually said, but it's true. Social epidemiology is a field because it is real: you are what you think your peer group thinks you are. As your peer group becomes less afraid (or thinner, or more health conscious, or less likely to smoke, or you name it) you become more likely to become so.
"Find out what you are and be that," was a quote from the old movie, "Dead Again."
I am an organizer epidemiologist and an epidemiologist organizer. I see health care as a house of mirrors with each aspect reflecting back on each other one. My nurses face short staffing crises and can't give the care they were trained to deliver; in my classes I learn how the system is stretched to its financial limits.
Coordination, education, and prevention are the cornerstones of solving the problem. When I work with nurse leaders I am ecstatic to realize that I am meeting the next generation of problem solvers.
Maybe tomorrow, maybe someday
You've changed your place in this world
sing the Pretenders over my iPod.
I do believe the moment is here. It will come in fits and starts, but the groundwork is laid. The Revolution is here, and it will be a peaceful revolution of nurses gaining the power they deserve, to stand up for their patients and the profession of caring for others, of being the advocate for those who can not speak for themselves.
It's about time.
Posted by april at October 21, 2011 5:58 PM
"herd immunity"--love that!
You would like the movie "Contagion." It's really all about epidemiologist heroes.
Posted by: Kathy W. at October 23, 2011 7:31 PM
Love that idea: Herd immunity - now that's a good one to remember.
Posted by: Yvonne at October 26, 2011 7:29 PM