Two years and two weeks ago, I published the blog post, “The Poetry of the IV,” on this site. In it, I reflected upon the thoughts I was having while placing IVs during shifts in the cardiac cath lab where I worked at the time.
Shortly after the post went live, an author from Ireland named Carmel Sheridan contacted me to see if she might excerpt it in her forthcoming book, a primer about nursing mindfully. After some dialogue, I agreed. Since then, she’d update me on the book’s progress from time to time.
Today, I received an unexpected package from Ireland in the afternoon mail. In it, I found an autographed copy of Carmel’s book, The Mindful Nurse: Using the Power of Mindfulness and Compassion to Help You Thrive in Your Work, along with a beautiful card from Carmel.
As I searched for my excerpt, I enjoyed what I saw. Just this morning, I had strained to think of ways to conjure up mindfulness in the many moments that I found myself feeling impatient; while filling up the watering can to water my plants, waiting for the shower to get warm, standing in line at the store. I was sure I had learned something about finding beauty in these moments, but couldn’t conjure it. As I read her book just now, I saw that many similar moments for mindfulness were outlined alongside practical strategies, and ones to maintain mindfulness in far more complex scenarios, too.
Perhaps my struggle for mindfulness in the mundane today is not much different than the premise I wrote of in this excerpted blog post – I had been inserting many IVs at that point in my career – almost too many. The rote nature of the intake & recovery area of the cath lab that I worked in was getting me itchy. I liked my colleagues and the new kind of setting, but I missed the intricacies of the ICU that I knew so well.
Being mindful with IVs helped me refocus and enjoy my patients and my work – not the skill or task, so to speak, but the connections I was able to work at creating with my patients while inserting them. By seeing past the work and into its elements, I found beauty where I might’ve only felt boredom or frustration.
I am happy to see the paragraph about these connections on one of the pages in Carmel’s book. Looking back, learning to use IVs (and any other skill or task, for that matter) as a moment for laughter, conversation, silent assessment, became one of the most important lessons in mindfulness that my bedside practice has yet to teach me:
Now, IVs are a chance to chat – to talk with patients about where they live, what they do, how they feel. It’s amazing how easy the moments become – even when I miss or blow a vein – if I focus on talking with people. I enjoy myself, the pressure lifts, and I assess through our conversation. Patients bare deep wounds amidst these tiny moments.
Feels great to hold this book in my hands and see my name in it within the chapter, on the reference lists, and in the index. I started this blog as a way to vent as a new graduate – as healing for myself. To think of its contents resting in the hands of others as they read, teach, workshop and grow is a privilege and encouragement.