My Tattoos Define me, But Not The Way You Think

” Did you think about what you will look like 50 years from now when you got those tattoos?”

Yeah…I’ll look 75 years old, just like you. There is this natural, unstoppable process in life that we all go through (Except Jennifer Aniston) called aging. We’re all going to get old, that’s the way it goes. So please refrain from implying that your wrinkles will look so much more divine than mine due to my tattoos.

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I am not here to sway your opinions of tattoos but, I am here to try and show some perspective. Growing up tattoos were often perceived as “trashy” and NSFW. Tattoos were only for burly bikers or soldiers. Tattoos to a women’s back were labeled a “tramp stamp ,” implying she was now of lesser value than before.

Often people seem to have the view that tattoos are ruining your body or tainting you. My most recent experience with this was having a modeling agency director tell me “It’s a shame you have those (meaning my tattoo’s) because you have such an angelic face, and your tattoo’s ruin it.” I felt so small and belittled in that moment.

What she doesn’t know is my tattoos all have a story and give me strength.

“Qualis mater, Talis filia” is scrawled across my right shoulder stating “Like mother, also like daughter” in Latin within my mothers Sagittarius constellation. My mother has been a pillar of strength, love and loyalty and I strive to be the same. But that woman would never know that, because she was too busy judging the ink rather than reading it.

I have a large Phoenix rising on my back because I rose from the ashes of a dark and helpless place and carried myself out. But she wouldn’t know my struggles nor see I am a warrior. She just see’s blurred color on a “ruined” canvas.

She wouldn’t know the flowers on my ribs, I drew myself. Or that my Dad and I both have the solar system on our skin. She would never know the anatomical heart on my arm represents the science and intelligence of my nursing career with poppies throughout to remind me nursing is about nurturing and growing as well. She wouldn’t know anything about me because she didn’t care about me as a person, she cared about my appearance. Unfortunately, a lot of people think that way regarding tattoos; that tattoos define you.

And in a way, they do define me. My tattoo’s define me because they describe my struggles, my victories and some are there because they’re beautiful pieces of art. But no matter the reason,  there is so much more to me that I wish people would be willing to see. People don’t have to like tattoos or want them but I really wish they would respect me despite me having them. See me for who I am and not what I decorate my body with.

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With that I say Good afternoon and may you have a wonderful day filled with Coffee, Cats and Cusswords

Instagram: coffeecatsandcusswords

Just Because You Can’t See it Doesn’t Mean it Doesn’t Hurt: Living With Ulcerative Colitis

I was 19 years old when I had my first Colonoscopy. Yes, you read that right, 19. Most people dread their 50th birthday for this procedure. But me? I was a sophomore in college, attempting to get into the Nursing program and trying to pass exams.

What started as occasional abdominal pain turned into severe weight loss, constant nausea and pain so severe I would crumble to the ground in pain- no matter where I was. I would lay in bed for days at a time, only getting up to crawl to the bathroom.

By the time I received medical attention I had lost 15lbs, couldn’t stand longer than 10 minutes due to weakness and was anemic due to the blood loss.

The day I was diagnosed was one of the best and disappointing days of my life. To finally be able to justify what was happening to me and put a name to the illness was such a relief. But the next thing the doctor said was “incurable.” This was something I would have to deal with; for life.

One of the most frustrating struggles of this illness is that there are no immediate outward symptoms, so when you miss work/school/events because you physically cannot move from pain, people don’t take it as seriously. When I am frantically searching for a restroom in public people tend to laugh, rather than realize the embarrassment and pain I am feeling.

For those of you who are unaware Ulcerative Colitis is an Autoimmune disorder that targets your colon. Your own cells attack your colon and create inflammation and ulcers.

Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain/discomfort
  • Blood or pus in stool
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent, recurring diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced appetite
  • Tenesmus: A sudden and constant feeling that you have to move your bowels

There is no definitive cause of Ulcerative colitis, therefore making it incurable, but manageable. Remission can be managed with medications and a balanced diet. I managed to remain in remission for 2 years until recently.

I relapsed this January requiring adjustments in medications, less than desirable treatments and time off from work (hence my absence from the blogging world.)

I appreciate you taking the time to read this not so interesting, but informative post on one of my struggles. I encourage all of you to do your research when people confide their struggles in you, so you can support them in ways they need.

With that I say Good Night and may you have a wonderful day filled with Coffee, Cats and Cusswords

Instagram: coffeecatsandcusswrds

Please support the fight for a cure! Mightywell is donating 50% of all proceeds to The Crohns and Colitis Foundation. Buy a tee shirt and support finding a cure for me- and millions of others.

It’s not JUST Three Days a Week: The Schedule of a Nurse

Aloha, and my apologies for being MIA from the blogging and social media world. I have just finished a stretch of working 84 hours in 8 days.  I realize that it doesn’t sound like a lot. And for some, it’s not. But for a nurse, it’s a nightmare.

Often people say to me “Oh that’s such a nice schedule only working three days a week!” And in my head I’m going “only?!” and then imagining myself hitting the person who said that with a frying pan.

I frequently have to remind myself that most people do not know what I know, see what I see or do what I do for a living. They don’t realize that for the upwards of 13 hours I am on my toes, literally and figuratively. That when the clock strikes 7pm I may not sit back down again until 1am. I may not get the chance to pee or eat for 8 hours, until I literally beg an equally busy nurse to watch my patients so I can use the restroom.

We don’t rest because for 13 hours our patients, your families, are in our hands. Nurses minds are constantly thinking, analyzing and problem solving. With every medication we administer we stop and think of the outcome, is this the correct dose ect. We are on the front lines and in the trenches with our patients.

When a patient loses their pulse and goes into cardiac arrest we are the ones pounding on their chest, breaking their bones to save them. We’re holding their hands while painful procedures are being performed. We hold loved ones as they say goodbye to their wife/husband/mother/father. We help patients keep their dignity by shielding them from their families while they vomit, cry and appear weak.

We also do the amazing things; we help you learn to walk again. We wean patients from life saving drugs and ventilators. We get you up for the first time after open heart surgery. We can help give people a second chance at life.

And after these 12 hour shifts I drop my vomit/pee/blood covered scrubs to the bathroom floor after being away for 14+ hours, slip my throbbing feet out of my clogs and take a scalding hot shower to wash away any microbes I came into contact with. If I am lucky I will have 6 hours to sleep before getting up, putting new scrubs on and doing it again.

Would I change my career? Never. It’s the patients who thank me for holding their hand and not their doctor who performed the procedure. It’s the patients who have breathing tubes and write on a piece of paper “hold my hand please.” It’s the patients who wake up from sedation and thank you for visiting them in the ICU, they could hear your voice when they were under. They are all worth it.

It’s not just three days of work a week.

With that I say Good Afternoon and may you have a wonderful day filled with Coffee, Cats and Cusswords

Instagram: coffeecatsandcusswords

Why Self-Love is Not Only Important, but Necessary

The other night I was scrolling through Instagram, as I too often do, and a stranger had left a comment on a recent selfie I posted. The comment read:

“I aspire to your level of shameless self love” With a laughing emoji.

When I read this comment my first instinct was to feel embarrassment. Had I posted one too many selfies? Did people think I was full of myself? I debated about deleting the comment for over 20 minutes, I wouldn’t want anyone else to read it and think negatively of me like he did!

But, then I thought about it. What is so wrong about loving yourself? What is wrong with looking in the mirror and thinking  to yourself “You’re killing it today.“? You know what is wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. 

I have fought long and hard battles for years to even reach a place where when I looked in the mirror, and I wasn’t disgusted. I built myself from the ground up, from a lonely 17yr old girl to the confident, beautiful and successful woman I am today.

We all need to get into this mentality that we are enough.

I have lived a life full of self hate and discouragement, I have hurt myself and others because I thought I wasn’t worth anything.  I have let peers negative thoughts of me cloud my view of myself. Many times people think of it as selfish to put yourself first, but if you don’t care for yourself, how can you care for others?

Think of the longest, most stressful shift you have ever worked in your life. The feeling of exhaustion and defeat. Your head is heavy as you realize you have to do it again the next day. In that moment, how well do you think you could care for others? After those days we all just need some TLC and that is not only okay but necessary. 

There is nothing bad about self-love and about celebrating the skin you’re in. We only have this one life, we might as well all strive to be the best people that we can be and live it to the best of our abilities. As corny as that is, its true. Say sorry when you’re wrong, and stand by yourself when you’re right. Tell those that you care about that you love them, but most of all, never forget to tell yourself.

With that I say Goodnight and may you have a wonderful day filled with Coffee, Cats and Cusswords

Instagram: coffeecatsandcusswords

New Years Resolutions: and Why I Think They’re Bullshit

I suppose I should rephrase the title so you don’t all assume I am some pompous jerk who doesn’t believe in bettering yourself.

What I mean is I don’t believe in this “New Year, New Me” business. Why do you have to wait till the New Year? Why don’t we better ourselves now, in the moment we feel like we need the change?

I think most New Years resolutions fail because it is a choice not fired by a passion or drive, but because it’s the New Year. The biggest example of this is seeing gyms jam packed in January and by March they will be thinned out and only the truly dedicated will be left. And those people left are succeeding because those people don’t care what time of year it is, they are committed to this change.

I myself have started many New Years resolutions, and to date I can only say I have stuck to oneAnd the reason I have stuck to this one resolution was because it is something I am extremely passionate about; I stopped using products being tested on animals in Deceember of 2014, and have never looked back. This was and still is a difficult choice to make, but I have stuck to it because it is so meaningful to me.

Now, to reiterate, I am not trying to poo-poo on your goals and resolutions. I am all for positive change and bettering yourself. But I want people to be successful! I have seen so many failed New Years resolutions and I truly believe its because we have a mentality of “I ‘ll start after the holidays” No! If you want to make a change do it now. Start today, December 28th 2017. A day with seemly no meaning- but to you it will be the day you changed your life.

With that I say Goodnight and may you have a wonderful day filled with Coffee, Cats and Cusswords

Instagram: coffeecatsandcusswords