The City that never sleeps

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Ahhh, that feeling.  You clock out of work that last time before heading out the door so fast they never even see you leave. PURE BLISS.

Cue the frantic packing, long lines at the airport, Uber’s and hotels, way too expensive food and drinks–Congratulations! You’re on vacation!

Well, this week that was me and my destination was the City that never sleeps, the Big Apple, the city of dreams…New York City in all her glory.  I flew with one of my daughter’s friends to see where my daughter Hannah has been working in NYC all summer. We spent the week with her sightseeing, and this evening we’re heading home on the plane to Oklahoma.

What a week! Have you ever been to New York? I visited Niagara Falls when I was about 18 or 19, but I have never actually made it to NYC until now. And WOW! I had so many misperceptions about the place–probably due to the news, movies, tv shows, anything that portrays NYC in the media.

I was happily surprised!😊.  I realised about a day or two in that I was much safer than I thought I would be walking around town. I quickly lost the fear of being robbed, kidnapped, or on the next episode of Law and Order SVU.

So, here are some things I noticed that are unique to NYC.  First of all, traffic was as congested as I assumed it would be, but it was a stark contrast to what I experienced in Europe.  Although there seemed to be about a gazillion buses, Ubers, and taxis, it seemed to be mostly stop and start traffic.  There was not that insane honking, frenzied, all-out sense you were in a NASCAR race the whole time. Europe has Craaa–zzzy traffic. 😳. Another thing I discovered was that New Yorkers are not the rude, power-walking get-out-of-my-face stereotype that we see on TV. Almost everyone we talked to was polite, smiling, willing to help answer questions for us. It was a good feeling.

The subway.. well, it was the subway. You feel like you’re descending into the pit of hell every time you go into it. It is so hot you start sweating buckets the minute you go down the steps. And then you sweat more buckets while down there waiting on your train. We did get to experience the buskers singing or playing in the subway stations– some of them were really talented. One thing I didn’t expect was to be cornered so often by homeless people begging for money. They’d accost you in the subway trains, going from car to car making announcements about needing money and going from person to person. Or doing it while you’re standing in a bus line and can’t get away. Or come up to you while you’re checking out of a store, asking for change. Few of them looked truly needy, as they were quite aggressive and seemed able bodied and able minded enough to hold down a job. That DID frustrate me. But, who am I to judge? I tried to help the ones who appeared truly needy and ignored the rest.

Did you know it cost 46.00 a person to go up the Empire State Building? Or that you need to reserve tickets four months in advance if you want to go up the Statue of Liberty? Yeah, me neither. So guess what I didn’t do this trip. 😳🤔. But we did get to go on a cruise that took us close to the Statue of Liberty so we got a great look at her. And let me tell you, she is as tall and proud and beautiful as she is in pictures. I was awestruck. I also felt a little bit like an idiot that I didn’t know she was on a different island than Ellis Island. You know, where all those people used to come to read about Lady Liberty holding up her lamp to welcome the masses, while they registered to enter the United States. Yeah, two separate islands. Duh….🤦‍♀️

Ground zero was heart-breaking. I cried when I saw the Survivor Tree. I told my daughter and her friend that they were so lucky they couldn’t remember that day in history. How each of us who can remember it can recall in detail the horror of that day and the following days and months. The agony we felt as a nation.  Almost everyone of us knew of someone who was affected some way, some how by the events of that day. In a sense, we are all survivors of that day. We came thru as individuals, and a nation, forever changed. Life as an American changed that day and we can never return to pre- 9/11. And while visiting Ground zero gave me a huge sense of loss, it also kind of felt like a pilgrimage to holy ground. I was able to pay my respects to those lost, and to their families who lost so much when they died that day.

We unexpectedly got to see a Yankee’s game! That was incredible! We walked up to sight-see the stadium, and a security guard gave us free tickets and sent us on in. We absolutely loved the experience!! My 13-year-old son wouldn’t even talk to me the next day when he found out- he was so mad I got to go to a game and he didn’t. He is a HUGE Yankees fan, and he couldn’t believe I went to a game without him. Poor kid 😊😊.

Brooklyn was quite a bit different than downtown Manhattan. The Brooklyn Bridge is absolutely beautiful and we loved Jane’s Carousel down by the water. It’s definitely a different vibe there than across the bridge. We didn’t stay long, as we had a plane to catch, but I enjoyed sitting by the waterfront watching the river and skyline view.

Our hotel this past week was right across the street from Madison Square Garden and about two blocks from Macy’s, with the Empire State Building just beyond that. We hit up Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Saks 5th Avenue, Tiffany’s, Swarovski’s, Fao Schwartz… we did the circuit. And had oh-so-much fun doing it! One evening we watched the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.  The next morning we went and stood by the same window Audrey Hepburn did, and ate a croissant there like she did in the opening scene of that movie. For my theatre major daughter, it was epic. ❤️

I saved the best for last, of course. On Wednesday night, we got to see one of my most favourite actors in the world. Tom Hiddleston (“Loki”) starred in the opening night performance of his first Broadway play. We were ten rows back in the audience and I KNOW, I just KNOW that he made eye contact with me at one point. 🙀😉. That man can do no wrong, know what I mean?? 😜😂. He is that rare combination of being a beautiful person, both inside and out. So, highlight of the trip, right there.

Well, that mostly sums up my NYC experience. I enjoyed the bus tours, street vendors, sidewalk artists, gift shops, little street markets,… there was so much to see and do. We didn’t see it all, but we sure did pack in a lot of fun in five short days.

In short, the Detweiler’s took Manhattan! 😊😊

Do nurses ever truly clock out?

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Ahhhh… Vacation.  Gotta love it.  Nurses tend to joke around about never truly being on vacation.  We make t-shirts about it, send each other funny memes, laugh about it at work.  But really, we do tend to try to avert anything that looks like it might turn into an emergency, because hey, everyone needs a mental break sometimes.  Even nurses. That being said, we also jump in and help without hesitating if the need arises.  Even on vacation.

Last weekend I met up with a girlfriend of mine for a weekend away from home.  We met in St. Louis, which makes the most sense for us while trying to meet halfway.  (I live in Oklahoma, she lives in Ohio.)  We had an awesome weekend just catching up, trying some new restaurants, seeing some great sites and places.  We even managed to get in on opening night of Miss Saigon.  I did not manage to get away from being a nurse for the weekend, however.

We were hiking up the concrete steps of the Gateway Arch when it happened.   I was blazing a trail to the bathroom (which seemed a good half mile off in the distance) when I hear my friend call my name.  I turn around and see her.  One of the sweet little elderly ladies we had just talked to is lying on the ground, clutching her head, groaning softly, a grimace on her face.  My friend later told me “her head sounded like a melon cracking open” when she hit the ground.  She has fallen down the concrete steps onto the equally hard concrete pavement below and taken a direct hit to the back of her head.  My friend motions me over, saying “You gotta help”, and I’m doing a split minute decision on whether my bladder will hold out for this emergency, or if it will become the main emergency itself.  I can’t NOT help her though, so I rush back to her side.  I gently address the elderly group surrounding her– “I’m a nurse, may I help you?”  The look of relief is evident on their faces.  I quickly assess her while someone goes for help.  She hasn’t passed out, and she is talking to me without difficulty, so I know she is okay for the moment.  Soon a physical therapist stops and offers help, and bystanders are quick to help with whatever they can–keeping her shaded from the bright sun shining in her eyes, something to put under her head to pillow it from the concrete ground,  etc.    Her friends are praying out loud, panicky, scared something terrible has happened.  My training kicks in–regardless of what has happened, calm the patient and those around her.  I quickly point out to her and her friends that she is stable for the moment, and that emergency services will be here shortly for further assessment and to take her to the hospital.  I talk directly with the patient then, discussing her condition and telling her what needs further testing and why.  She insists she doesn’t want to slow down her group of friends, which has not yet gone up in the Arch.  I gently remind her that she might have suffered a brain bleed from the fall, which wouldn’t necessarily be obvious in the few minutes that have passed.  At the very least, she might very well have a concussion.  I convince her to keep from moving until Emergency Services get there to take over.  Once they arrive, I step back and let them do their thing.  We leave after they have taken over and have things well in hand.  I still really need to use the restroom, and it’s almost time for our tour to go up the Arch.  For all I know, that elderly group of visitors may have been slated to go up on the same tour as us.  We’ll never know; neither will we ever know how things turned out for her.  We did ask a park ranger after the tour if they had any updates.  Apparently, she was still refusing further medical care and was not taken to the hospital.  I laid awake that night, worried for her.  Was she okay? Did she eventually get worse as time went on? Was she near help if she did worsen?  As I lay there, I thought of all the things I could have done differently to help her.  Did I miss something? Was there anything else I could have done before EMS arrived? And other thoughts I had…Why are the steps and walkway designed like they are at the Arch? How many people fall on them each year?  How much worse are they when it’s actually wet?  How do they respond to emergencies inside the Arch? Or at the top? How far is it to the nearest hospital?  Where DID those emergency workers come from so quick? Why aren’t there better signs posted around the Arch, directing traffic?  Sometimes I have a hard time shutting down the “what if” questions. 

Nurses are trained to look at scenarios to find out what’s wrong and to try to fix it.  I guess that’s something you don’t just turn off when you clock out and walk out the door.  I had a great weekend in St. Louis, but I came away with a few golden nuggets of wisdom.  1) Allow plenty of time to reach your destination, in case something unexpected happens.  2) Never turn down a bathroom break when it’s presented to you, as you may really, really wish you would’ve taken it a little while later.  3) Always be prepared to lend a helping hand to those around you…you’ll be so glad you did.  

To the sweet little lady who fell, I hope you are okay.  I hope you and your friends were able to go see the Arch.  I hope your vacation was all you dreamed of.  And… here’s to many, many more adventures for the both of us. 

                   Nurse Ames, RN

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