Filling My Cup

I took the time last night to open my eyes and really pay attention to the people around me. It wasn’t easy but it was so worth it! See, with my job I feel like I give and give and give all day. I take care of 5-10 patients over the course of 10 hours and most of them have cancer, so between the mental rigors of making sure I’m giving the correct meds and chemotherapy, I also have to make sure they’re doing okay physically, mentally, emotionally. It’s rewarding but usually by the time I get home, I’m tired of making small talk, thinking, communicating at all!

So yesterday I’d had a long day at work. I’ve also been battling some horrible Crud for about a week and by most afternoon the fatigue just hits me like a brick wall. To complicate things, my bus was 35 minutes late. At one point when I heard a vehicle approaching, I opened my eyes hoping for my bus (no dice) and noticed an older gentleman wearing shorts, black socks, one dress shoe and one old flipflop. I noticed the flipflop was my favorite brand: Locals. I wondered why he had such funny footwear and started a nursing assessment in my head: Most of the time people wear different shoes if they have a wound or swelling. His leg didn’t look red and inflamed like he had cellulitis (skin infection). And it didn’t look more swollen than the other side–likely no DVT. Maybe mental illness? He didn’t look crazy. No, crazy was the lady being thrown out of the bus tunnels by security, screeching and talking about things that none of the rest of us could see. I gave up.

My bus finally came and was more crowded than usual as the 6:55 and 7:25 people were trying to get home. Fortunately I found a seat at the back and let myself get lulled to almost-sleep as it bounced down the interstate. When it started dropping people off I awoke again because of all the commotion. The shoe guy was standing in the aisle near me. That’s when I noticed he had an “English for Beginners” book in his hand. The plot thickened! The bus kept clearing out, he ended up sitting in the seat in front of me, and, snoopy me, I watched him take forever to read a page in a children’s book. Finally I asked, “Are you learning English?”

We ended up talking the entire way to the transfer station. He had immigrated from Iran eight years earlier and was trying to become educated here in the U.S. I never got a chance to ask about his shoes but the interaction made me smile.

While waiting for my husband to pick me up, I ordered dinner. At the sandwich shop I started chatting with one of the workers. She was funny and bubbly and I found out she was turning 25 today. We reminisced about “the good ol’ days” when all the cares we had were passing notes and bubblegum Lipsmacker. We talked about getting the Internet and learning to use a mouse.

By the time I got to the car, I felt remarkably full instead of empty, buoyant instead of deflated. And all because I actually opened my eyes.

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