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Behind Closed Doors: Resolutions for a Better Year
Achieving my aims will seem easy after living through 2020.
Paula Watkins
Publish Date: January 5, 2021   |  Tags:   Opinion

I've never been so happy to watch the ball drop on New Year's Eve. As soon as it touched down and ended the year we want to forget, I looked forward and focused on setting some self-care goals.

  • Roll up my sleeve. My social life could use a shot in the arm, so I'm getting vaccinated as soon as possible. They say side effects include flu-like symptoms, but I'll endure a few days of fever and chills to feel relatively comfortable around people again. I still have misgivings about my fellow humans getting too confident during the vaccine rollout and throwing away their masks before herd immunity kicks in. For the time being, I'll avoid crowds by doing my food shopping among the overnight shelf stockers.
  • Kick my eye-rolling habit. I used to think eye rolls aimed at smart-aleck surgeons or cantankerous coworkers were better than making snide remarks. But then I realized my eyes are the only parts seen through PPE, and surgical professionals who have mastered the art of non-verbal communication notice every eyebrow arch and sideways glance. Maybe I should just mutter behind my mask like everyone else.
  • Stop wasting free time. I can no longer complain about all the things I don't have time to do because of my demanding job. It's been several months between travel nurse contracts and I still haven't started writing my screenplay for a feature-length film about a snarky surgical nurse from the south who's into picking out produce at odd hours and sarcastic eye rolls. Its working title is Bedside Banter, and I've pegged Reese Witherspoon to play the lead. That reminds me, she still hasn't returned any of my calls.
  • Start an IFU notebook. Instructions for use from device manufacturers are helpful if you've got three hours and a degree in mechanical engineering, but not so much when the surgeon's favorite gadget is on the fritz five minutes into a case.

I'm determined to create a personalized, quick-reference guide on how to operate finicky OR equipment. I'll jot down workarounds and troubleshoots, and use my own abbreviations. Anyone know shorthand for cuss words? Anyway, with my notes about how equipment really works, I'll finally be able to keep that "upgraded" arthroscopy tower up and running.

  • Thank my colleagues. It's time I recognize the behind-the-scene heroes that make facilities tick. I'm talking about the amazing workers who clean ORs between cases, the hard-working sterile processing techs who pack case carts with immaculate instrument trays and the tireless individuals who keep supply cabinets fully stocked.
  • Document my likes. For Christmas, I got a handy-dandy pocket pad that I'm using to make personal preference sheets. I'll note my favorite circulating nurse, preferred scrub size and the surgeons who need to maintain a social distance so they don't see me rolling my eyes at their nonsense. (I honestly don't see that eye-rollin' resolution lasting.)
  • Focus on the positives. Like a cat, I tend to hiss and extend my claws when confronted with Debbie Downers or Negative Neds. It's a waste of valuable energy that should be focused on patient care and my screenplay. Besides, what's left to complain about after last year? I'm counting on feeding off good vibes as we take on life with a newfound perspective and regain the human connections that sustain our emotional and physical well-being.

Happy New Year, dear readers! May the months ahead be filled with plenty of happiness, humor and worry-free hugs. OSM

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