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Choose Well

Everyday we are faced with decisions we know we should choose, but for some reason or another, we do not choose it. An easy example is exercise.

know I should get up before the sun comes up and workout simply because I will not have time in the evening, and it will get overlooked fairly quickly. Physical activity early in the morning is good for my body as well as my brain. Still, oh, it is so much easier to hit my snooze button and sleep and extra 15 minutes. By that time, I can rationalize not even working out because I need every single minute to get ready for work. Since I’m not going to workout, I can sleep another 20 minutes. Yay!

And then I get out of bed – 35 or 40 minutes later – upset at myself for not working out because I know I will literally not have time for the rest of the day to make my physical health a priority in that way.

Exercise is the simple example. We have these internal discussions all the time in both our personal and our professional lives because we know how to choose well and still don’t want to do so. Interestingly, when I’m faced with these kind of decisions, I almost always regret not choosing well, but I never regret actually choosing well. That makes choosing well the subsequent times all the easier.

Choose well today, Friends.

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From Insecure Leadership to Excessive EHR Alerts: A Nursetopia Reading and Education Mashup [Part 4]

Here are a few of the articles that caught my attention this week:

What reading grabbed your focus this week?

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Seeing Red: One Woman Dies Every Minute from Heart Disease

Why wear red today? What’s the big deal about women and heart disease?

Heart disease causes 1 out of every 3 deaths among women in the U.S. – one death every minute. 1 in 31 American women die from breast cancer each year while 1 in 3 die from heart disease annually. Almost two-thirds of women who died as a result of coronary artery disease had no previous symptom.

Yeah, heart disease among women is that much of a problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention map below should cause us all to see red. This female epidemic is ludicrous.

CDC, 2012
CDC, 2012

Risk factors associated with heart disease include diabetes, overweight/obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use. According to the American Heart Association, nearly 90% of all women have one or more risk factor. 

Help spread the awareness of the greatest killer among women – heart disease. Tell the women in your life. Change your own habits. Let’s stop seeing red.

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Walk the Water Stations

It’s over. I completed my first marathon Sunday, and yeah, it was pretty easy to decide it was going to be my last marathon, as well.

Twenty. Six. Point. Two. Very. Long. Miles.

I spent most of Sunday listening to music, looking at the vibrant San Antonio scenery, and oh yeah – running. Still, it was a special moment for me – completing something I never thought I would and pushing myself beyond pre-conceived limitations. Crossing the finish line was a surreal moment and now a cherished memory.

One piece of advice an Olympic runner gave a small crowd on Saturday was to “walk the water stations” at each mile. Honestly, 99.9% of us really aren’t running for professional reasons, and walking while drinking the water not only helps to get the water in your system (rather than all over you – albeit that was helpful, too, with the South Texas heat and humidity!), but it also gives your body short moments to recuperate. Ten to 20 seconds and the body feels recharged to give another burst of energy to likely carry you farther than if you had run through the water station.

It wasn’t hard to take her advice. I knew I’d be running a good portion of the day. Walking, hydration, and increased energy all sounded like good ideas. Turns out the three-time Olympian runner was right. Imagine that.

As I walked through the many water stations, counting down the miles, I thought about her advice in relation to life – how we need to slow down, get recharged, and then head into the next journey. So not only did I run a race this weekend, but I also “walked this water station” of a mini-getaway with my Love – sans children. Amazing how three days, when walked among the race of life, felt like a week or more. Good thing, too, I’m going to need that burst of energy to carry me on.

What about you? Be sure to “walk the water stations” along your hurried path, as well.

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Just Keep Running

It’s been two years since my first half-marathon. I’ve “competed” in a few more since then, and this year I made up my mind to run a full marathon. I trained and trained and trained. Morning after morning of 4:45 AM workouts, weekend an after weekend of previous long runs turning into my short runs. All for this moment. Tomorrow I run my first (and likely my only) marathon.

I say “only” because 26.2 miles just isn’t very fun to me. 13.1 miles…sure, but 26.2?? Well, that’s just nuts. People keep reminding me that’s how I felt with the half-marathon. Maybe I will do another marathon. Who knows. One thing I do know: I’m glad the day has come. I’m ready. I’m anxious. I’m scared. I’m excited. Send me a tweet or Facebook comment tomorrow. I’ll be running for a looooong time, so I’d love your encouragement!


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Running is Fun. I Can’t Feel My Legs. You Should Try It.

I couldn’t help but laugh as I remembered this video. I woke up at dark o’thirty, put on my already laid out workout clothes, and went for a quick six-mile run. Yep. This video is so true. Runners, you will particularly enjoy it. If you’re not a runner, don’t let the video scare you away…it really is fun.

Have a great day!

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LIVESTRONG Matters to Healthcare Professionals and Our Patients

Living in Austin, Texas, global headquarters for LIVESTRONG, and working in the oncology care community, the recent events surrounding Lance Armstrong is big news. I honestly have not thought a lot about the controversy since news broke, but a 12-mile run at a local YMCA gave me plenty of time and visual fodder to think through the noise.

Headphones in, sweating away, and I see a dear and familiar face on the television screen in front of me. Jonny Imerman, a cancer survivor and founder of the amazing Imerman Angels, a nonprofit providing free, one-on-one cancer support to people all across the globe, was selected as a CNN Hero. There’s no one else more perfect for that title than Jonny, who has connected cancer survivors and patients in more than 65 countries. The television feature showed a few familiar photos of Jonny like the one where he attended the LIVESTRONG Global Summit three years ago, further spreading the vision of Imerman Angels. Not too long ago Imerman Angels became a formal partner with LIVESTRONG to connect patients with support services as they call the LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Center.

Oddly enough, the very next seconds on CNN were occupied with a discussion about Lance Armstrong banned from cycling with LIVESTRONG images catapulting from the screen.  The spot didn’t last long, and I caught myself laughing at the juxtaposition of the back-to-back features. I looked around. Yellow LIVESTRONG bands were everywhere. LIVESTRONG Austin Half-Marathon and Marathon runner and medical staff shirts bounced on the treadmills in front of me, and the LIVESTRONG at the Y program flyers encouraged participation on the wall behind me.

LIVESTRONG means many things to me as an oncology nurse. I have personally referred patients, friends, and family members to the LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Center, Imerman Angels, LIVESTRONG at the Y, and many other LIVESTRONG services and partners like Planet Cancer, Sharing Hope, and the Patient Advocate Foundation. I have witnessed the life-changing and life-saving impacts of each of these programs and services.

Am I biased? Absolutely. LIVESTRONG has poured time, effort, and money into me professionally as a nurse. They’ve done the same for you. I am not an employee of LIVESTRONG, but I am extremely proud of the work I’ve done with them and the Nurse Oncology Education Program to reach literally thousands of nurses and other healthcare professionals about adolescent and young adult cancer and now cancer in the Hispanic/Latino population, a new continuing nursing education video which will release soon. LIVESTRONG has done the same kind of education and resource-creation for physicians, educators, community leaders, and community health workers, as well.

LIVESTRONG cares about people impacted by cancer. That means they care about nurses and the millions of providers worldwide who care for the 28 million people globally living with cancer.

I have never personally met Lance even though I’ve seen him many times at events and in and around Austin, where he’s done incredible work for the city, local healthcare organizations, and cyclists as well as other health-conscious folks. As much as Lance Armstrong has done, LIVESTRONG is more than Lance Armstrong. It’s about life – your life, my life. With 1 in 3 Americans developing cancer in their lifetime and cancer as the leading cause of mortality with 7.6 million deaths worldwide, we all need an organization like LIVESTRONG, one that works alongside grassroots to global organizations to impact health in our communities and around the world. LIVESTRONG makes a difference for people impacted by cancer. LIVESTRONG makes a difference for healthcare professionals. LIVESTRONG makes a difference for our patients. LIVESTRONG makes a difference for you.

That won’t ever change. LIVESTRONG.

Full disclosure: I worked as the program director for the Nurse Oncology Education Program (NOEP) for almost five years in which I worked closely with LIVESTRONG to educate nurses in all fields of practice about their role in cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and survivorship care. I continue to work with NOEP and LIVESTRONG on continuing nursing education activities, the most recent one scheduled to release on August 29, 2012. I did not receive remuneration to write this post. These are the opinions and thoughts of a masters-prepared oncology certified nurse in clinical practice and a person whose family is impacted by cancer. 

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Borrowing Motivation

The will to do something is 99% of the effort of actually completing something. We typically have the strength or power or knowledge to complete most things; we just need to decide and commit to doing whatever that is. The closer we get to the goal/action, the easier it is to complete the action. At least that’s how my mind works…You’ve already gotten this far. Finish. 

But what about when we’re far away from the goal? Faaaaaaaarrrr, faaaaaarrrr away? Yeah, it takes a lot of motivation to get started. It reminds me of that law of physics – an object at rest remains at rest. If I can just get out of bed to run in the morning. If I can get my workout clothes on in the evening after putting the kids to bed. If I can divert my brain from thinking about the chocolate chip cookies in the break room. If I can find the motivation, I can do it.

Sometimes I cannot find the motivation. Sometimes I have to borrow someone else’s. Fortunately, I have some pretty generous motivators around me who push me out of the bed, who place my running shoes right in front of me, who hide the cookies, who nudge the laptop towards me (or rip it out of my hands depending on the day).

I’m a borrower at the moment. I’m looking forward to being the lender again soon. For now, I’ll rest in the encouragement of others and learn from this season of others.

Are you borrowing or lending motivation this season?

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Disciplined Passion

We are not always born with tremendous talents or knowing our passions. Some times it takes trial and error and hours of repetitive practice before we fall in love with an activity. Essentially, we “learn to love.” We call the teachers around us “great” because they help us do just that – they invest their energies into their passions, teaching us how wonderful those passions, like math, science, and art, really are. They teach us to recognize and love our passions.

Things I really enjoy now weren’t always enjoyable. It took discipline to get to the point of passion. I’ve learned to love reading, running, writing, evaluating, and yes, even numerous aspects of nursing.

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Why Aren’t We Focusing on Nurses’ Physical Health More?

Copyight puuikibeach,

Today’s #HAWMC writing prompt inquires why I write about my health. I do write about my health – specifically my journey towards a healthy BMI. My physical activity and nutrition are night and day difference from nearly two years ago. When I look at pictures, it is hard to believe I was ever 65 pounds heavier. Yikes! As I’ve seen my weight stall at a numerical value I am honestly not always happy with, I keep reminding myself I continue to lose inches. My body fat percentage is decreasing, and I do feel better than ever. Unfortunately, BMI doesn’t capture that. Drat.

Still, my story is similar to many nurses, yet there’s not a lot happening around the topic. Sure, there are smatterings of programs and initiatives, but where is the uproar about this? In light of nursing shortages, an aging workforce, and increasing patient acuity and long shifts requiring physical stamina, where are the nursing health evangelists? We talk about safety and horizontal violence and compassion fatigue and…hellloooo? Nurses’ poor health is an issue. No one is talking about it, though.

I don’t mean we need to keep obese nurses from the bedside or any other position. Not at all. I’m saying we – a concentrated, powerful, profession-changing “we” – need to recognize the concern within our profession and work to correct it – bettering ourselves and the millions of people we collectively serve.