2021 was a rumbling, steaming, forceful train that sped towards us and collided into 2022. As a healthcare worker family, we battled burnout, lack of childcare, and chronic sleep deprivation, but sought joy in the small, seemingly mundane moments. Let’s recap!
Riding his bike, an elderly man approached the intersection. His military green cadet hat and faded jacket looked familiar.
“Pbu! Jum reap sua! (Uncle! Hello!)” I crossed the street to meet him, placed my palms together, under my chin, and bowed my head. In Khmer, we call our friends, and our patients, family.
But he didn’t always feel the same way about me.
Over a month ago
Thump, thump! Staccato steps hurried down the hall.
“She is wearing a mask,” my coworker whispered. Seeing the patient in the hallway, she ducked into our office to distance herself.
In the setting of a pandemic, I thought it’d be normal to see people wearing masks.
But I understood. We were all a little scared.
~ ~ ~
Forks dropped against porcelain plates in the sink, as my husband washed dishes at home. “What if one of us gets sick? Who will care for our kids?” He worked in the hospital, and they were preparing for the worst. Continue reading
Reaching over, the parents handed steaming hot, half peeled sweet potatoes to their children. One for each. Their kids, actually, growing teenagers, grabbed the sweet potatoes with huge smiles and bit into them, steam hitting their faces.
“Wah! I really miss sweet potatoes!” I declared, watching that TV scene. It reminded me so much of my family. “Did you ever eat sweet potatoes with your parents growing up?” I nudged my husband.
“Huh? No,” he continued reading. He didn’t bother looking up from his book, sitting beside me as I watched a Kdrama.
“Ahhh… but I love sweet potatoes,” I sighed.
Growing up, Continue reading
A knock on the door interrupted my lunch.
“Soapie? They’re calling downstairs. Someone can’t breathe.”
Standing up, I swallowed my last bite then flew down the stairs.
Sweat dripped down his pale face. His chest heaved up and down, as if he were struggling to carry a boulder in his arms. Continue reading
This morning, I discovered a pleasant surprise.
It was snowing.
With dizzying speed, the snowflakes closest to me skydived from the clouds. They crashed upon our patio, sometimes pressing upon the glass right before me, revealing intricate designs that only our Maker could create.
My eyes wandered up, towards the trees. As the winds blew, it carried the snowflakes tenderly in its arms. Why did it seem so peaceful, in this perspective? It was like seeing snowfall for the first time, breathing in the sheer breadth of its beauty, as the whiteness shimmered across the expanse of the landscape. Like a male lead with his gentle but firm hand behind her back, the wind guided, and the snowflakes followed, in a delicate waltz.
Life has been a frenzy for me, the past few weeks, like those snowflakes crashing right in front of my eyes, aiming for the ground. Oh how dearly I need to pause, take a step back, to reflect upon the bigger picture. I could see myself as one snowflake falling towards doom, or as one amongst many, performing my part in a grand waltz.
Let’s dance. =)
~ ~ ~
I’m humbled and honored to have been chosen by Lani at Life, the Universe, and Lani for the Liebster Award. With witty humor, sincere storytelling, and a unique voice, she writes about working and living in Thailand. Continue reading
Glimpsing beyond the shutters, one eye half open, I gasped in awe.
Breaking through the clouds, a radiant light shone upon the trees. Its autumn leaves basked in the sun, reflecting a golden hue. The last time I saw the sun magnify like that was during a chilly November in Versailles, France. When the sun’s rays shone upon the palace exterior at sunset, the rich yellow walls melted into a luminous gold.
I had a piece of Versailles outside my window. Continue reading
It’s been 2 years since Mom, my mother-in-law, passed away.
Missing her is a constant feeling. Walking down the street, when the flowers are plucked off the trees and carried in the wind, I smile as I think of her. Other days, I’m overcome by waves of sadness. Like last weekend, at my sister’s wedding. Seeing my sister get married to my now brother-in-law filled me with unspeakable joy. But when I thought about Mom, how much she loved them both, and how she would’ve wanted to celebrate with us, my chest ached.
I cannot count all the things I miss about Mom. I miss her cheerfulness, how it filled the room with sunshine, even if the curtains were drawn. I miss her enthusiasm to try new things, like toasted squid in Tai O Fishing Village (in Hong Kong), butter and garlic crawfish (one of the last meals we shared before she died), and embracing the cold to go whale watching (during a chilly New England autumn). I miss her presence, even if she was asleep or quietly watching tv, how it brought so much comfort. I miss her cooking skills that introduced the vibrant flavors of Hong Kong home cookin’ into my life. I am so thankful for her, how she accepted me, how she loved me like I was one of her own, how she embraced me despite my flaws, how she welcomed me into her family from the very beginning.
But it’s what Mom taught me, that stays with me the most.
In memory of Mom, I wanted to reblog an old lesson she taught me: the Chinese proverb about the frog in the well. Continue reading
All my nights here are really depressing… I’ve completed 4 shifts so far orienting at my new job. And so far, it’s pretty sad.
Night #1: My patient was really sick. As it turns out, he didn’t have any family so we didn’t even know who to notify that he probably didn’t have much time left.
Night #2: Family feud… felt like a soap opera.
Night #3: “Till death do us part.” My patient was hospitalized on their wedding day. =(
Night #4. A young patient who met tragedy all too soon…
But he did much better than anyone expected. I stayed at his bedside all night, and watched him go from “tragedy” to “tremendous.” Originally he was on a breathing machine, then he started to breathe on his own without the machine. By morning, he started to wake up and communicated with me by writing.
Imagine a square hospital room with a bed in the middle, and two nurses standing on either side of it.
It looked something like this:
Patient hands us a piece of paper and it reads:
(in shaky letters since his wrists were filled with IV’s, tubing, and soft restraints)
~ ~ ~
Reading this article, “A Patient’s Eye View of Nurses,” reminded me of my ICU experience, inspiring this repost.
He was late.
I walked into the room and started speaking.
I cannot hear you, he signed, his hands dancing in the air.
“OH.” Continue reading