We've all had them–those moments in life that make you wonder what you did to tick off the universe. In the space of about 9 days, I experienced my car window being shattered while driving because some bozo with a gun hiding in the woods in the dark of night decided to shoot at cars, an unfortunate encounter between my foot and a 45-lb piece of luggage, and food poisoning from airport quiche. On the bright side, the projectile went through a back window without hurting my husband or me, X-rays of my foot were negative, and let's just say that the food poisoning episode passed quickly. In the grand scheme of life, I lucked out.
What do you do when bad stuff happens? I've come to believe that you have to examine that bad stuff from all angles, do something with it that's constructive, and then move on. From my most recent escapades, I have a new story to tell (albeit a frightening one), some great pictures of a hematoma for a future extremity trauma lecture, and a new anecdote for an upcoming food-borne illness presentation.
Sometimes it's a struggle to see a silver lining when real tragedy strikes. I found myself in that position nearly a decade ago when both of my parents died in the aftermath of a car crash. After a lot of soul searching and healing time, I decided that the insights gained from experiencing trauma as a family member instead of as a trauma nurse might be helpful to others in the same situation—and could make me a better nurse in the long run if I let it. Getting to that state of mind isn't easy, but it's absolutely necessary for healthy coping.
The mental and physical health benefits to a positive outlook are obvious; it's really a survival strategy. Developing a “glass is half full” mentality as a way of life can certainly have its challenges, but the personal growth potential is far better than that associated with the “glass is half empty” worldview. Rough roads can build character strength. We each possess the ability to choose our attitude along the way. So, the next time life gives you lemons, commit to making lemonade. And don't miss this month's Transitions: Issues in palliative and end-of-life care, where our columnist Harleah Buck offers her unique perspective on how to cope with the uncertainties life throws at us (see page 12).
Until next time—
Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM
Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2012 Vice President: Emergency and Trauma Services Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.