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Behind Closed Doors: Giving Thanks
In life and in the OR, there’s a lot for which I’m truly grateful.
Paula Watkins, RN
Publish Date: November 18, 2021   |  Tags:   Opinion
Huddle

After what we endured in 2020, you’d think it’d be easy to find more than a few reasons to be thankful this year. But some folks are having trouble letting go of the chronic-complaint, woe-is-me mindset that was so easy to adopt as the world seemed to collapse all around us. Look, I like a good gripe-fest as much as the next overworked nurse, but this time of year always fills me with gratitude and I’ve learned just how much emotional and physical stress I could endure. Sure, I have a few regrets and disappointments, but there’s been more highs than lows, more happy memories than sad ones.

Yes, I do my fair share of good-natured surgeon slamming on this page, but I also believe in giving credit where credit is due. I’m amazed at the level of skill, talent and lack of ego I’ve been fortunate enough to share the OR with over the years. Even today, if I was in dire need of abdominal surgery here in Arkansas, I’d consider booking a med flight to get operated on by a particular scalpel-wielding savant in Wichita Falls.

I love working shoulder to shoulder with talented professionals. Throughout the toughest days of the pandemic, these surgical saints faced the toughest challenge any of us could’ve ever imagined and gave everything they had in service to their country.

Due to an illness, I’ve been unable to work as a travel nurse since March. Sitting on the sidelines of the sterile field has been difficult, especially because my favorite destination hospital replaced me with a nurse who I’m going to assume can’t hold my Crocs. I wanted to cry when I heard the news.

The best ability is availability — in sports and in surgery — and thankfully I’m on the mend. I’ve been so anxious to get back into the OR that I’ve been practicing IV sticks on my cat. When that traveler who took my spot is ready to move on, I’ll show up masked, vaxxed and ready for a new contract.

Recently, I saw a phrase on Pinterest that really hit home: “My mind thinks I’m still 25. My body thinks my mind is an idiot.” Even though my gut is telling me to get a grip on reality, to hang up my scrubs for good and settle in for the golden years ahead, my brain has other ideas. Recovering from my illness has taught me that I’m not going to be a happy retiree. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I can no longer scrub in.

Maybe I’ll dedicate my Saturdays to watching SEC football. I’m thrilled college stadiums are again packed with coeds and BMOCs. I recently watched my home team lose, but was so grateful to see a sea of red in the stands that I didn’t even mind.

Or I’ll continue to keep myself entertained with the absurdities of life. I always thought it was funny how we turn the radio down when we’re driving so we can concentrate on looking for addresses or names on street signs. I recently saw a man bring his mask down to his chin to look at the keypad on his cell phone as he dialed, then pull it back up to talk. 

Or perhaps I’ll dedicate a few minutes each day to counting my blessings. This is the month to pause and reflect on all that’s good about life, even during these trying times.
I wish for you all a festive Thanksgiving filled with fun, family and friends. OSM

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