Trishascoffeebreak began at a time when coffee breaks were at a premium. Over the years the blog has covered many subjects, but usually from a current vantage point in life, mostly in bits of nature where the author felt safe walking through blessings and scattering encouragement along the way. It seems a more fitting title for my blog now would be “Coffee With a View”, since the breaks are more leisurely taken, and I get to actually finish the coffee before it’s cold, perhaps staring out my window the whole time at whatever the seasons bring to view. Today my view took a backward look at the time when coffee breaks were few and cherished; the arena of life that has stayed off my keyboard because I always knew there would be readers with more experience, more knowledge, who were faster on their feet than I and left me feeling like I had no right to write.
Coffee breaks in my former life, were a time to catch your breath or catch up on the endless charting and restocking. Wash cloths, towels and emesis bags seemed to fly out the window if you took time for so much as a half cup of hot coffee. As sure as you decide to sit and enjoy a ten minute break, you’d end up in a delivery where Dr. Austin called for a 14-French suction catheter that wasn’t there and you’d be racing out to find one, wondering how you missed that when you checked to see if the room was ready. The 2-0 chromic suture box was full until a patient tore, or Dr. Cook cut an episiotomy when, sure enough, the box is empty. Coffee breaks were when you chose between restocking or refueling. By the time you empty the overfull bladder and grab a cookie from the box left two days ago by a grateful patient, to quiet the growling stomach during your next patient interview and assessment, there’s no time to stand in a cafeteria line for a fresh cup of coffee. I’m pretty sure God gave us “Preparation Time” that we mistakenly named “Coffee Break”.
On the days when you want to push your chair to the back wall and just breathe for a moment, you hear a co-worker coaching how to effectively push, then suddenly yell “don’t push – just breathe!” and you immediately know you must call their attending physician in for a precipitous delivery and breathlessly you arrive to help her escort a new life into the world. A world where you hope someone used their break too, to restock that room, and you’ll find warmed blankets and suction bulbs ready.
Some days a coffee break finds you sitting next to a co-worker who needs to spill tears for her latest breakup when you really just needed a moment to pray for your son’s failing marriage. But with cup in hand, you listen and sympathize, and make a mental note to drag an apology in with your weary feet tonight for some hasty word said when you left home this morning. You use the final moment of a much-needed break to remind the co-worker and yourself how we have to leave such things at home and give that space in our hearts to hold our patients’ woes, just for today.
Lastly, and less often, there are the days when you actually do have time to grab a cup of coffee and enjoy it, only to return to find a gurney rolling in with a patient who started bleeding and you find she only had a couple prenatal visits and those records are in the stack of prenatal records someone just left on the nurses’ station desk while you were gone. The next three hours are spent stabilizing the patient, speeding through paperwork and stuffing your guilty feeling into your scrubs for ever taking a break in the first place
I wouldn’t take a home in Georgia for my times and trials of nursing, but I am so grateful now for a break – to rest, relax and finish my coffee. Though those times certainly gave me gray hair and wrinkles and heart palpitations, they also gave me a world of appreciation and understanding I’d never have gained otherwise. As the reflection off those sharp edges begins to soften with the tarnishing of time, I know there are memories too big and mysterious for words. However, I have begun to try. As I sip my second cup of coffee from my Saturday mug, I allow those memories to begin falling one by one onto my keyboard in hopes of sharing my view. Prepare, pray and breathe, friends.