When I was a miserable nursing student, one of the things that I did to get myself through the long weeks was to try and find ways that I’d be able to use my degree once I finished. Ways that didn’t involve wiping butts and passing out medication. Because while that is an absolutely necessary job, it’s one I’m terrible at.

But nursing school, well, I’ve made it clear that it wasn’t My Thing, but the skills I have are valuable and I’d like to put them to use so that I don’t put a big mental red X over those two years of my life. If for no other reason than to prove to myself that all of those A++’s were fucking WORTH IT.

One of those things that I always wanted to do was to do a stint with Doctor’s Without Borders because while rubbing feet didn’t appeal to me, working in the field always has. Field medicine feels like real medicine to me.

I was going to do it right after I graduated, but they require a 6 month commitment and at the time, I’d barely seen my own son and I figured that I wanted to see him some before I went off to save the world, one Q-Tip at a time.

After the disaster in Haiti, I was reminded of my plans to become a volunteer disaster preparedness nurse when Dave bounded down the stairs, fooled by the American Airlines hoax. I was all for going until I realized it wasn’t really feasible.

At least, not yet.

I’m still looking to see if I can find another way down there to offer my services and if I don’t make it down there right now or in the coming months, because, let’s face it, Haiti isn’t going to rebuild itself in a week or two, I’m going to make sure I can join every civilian volunteer service corp that I can.

If not for Haiti, then for the next time disaster strikes, I’ll be ready to go.

Because it’s what I’m supposed to do with my skills, I can feel it in my bones. Me and my box of Q-tips and my bottle of medicinal vodka, we’re going to go and try to save the world.

66 thoughts on “A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action

  1. You rock! Doctors without Borders are one of the charities that I support. I am concerned about their facilities there: reportedly all destroyed beyond repair.

  2. Your time will come where you have both the time and financial support to do those things. I bet you could even get a group to sponsor you and raise funds for you to help!

  3. I know. I feel the same way. I was listening to the news this morning- a story about a Haitian man who survived without injury. He’s been sitting at a makeshift hospital for two days now, comforting the wounded. He was sitting with an eight year old girl with a broken arm while being interviewed. I found myself wishing there was a way I could be there to do the same. My first aid skills are minimal but I would do anything just to comfort someone who’s hurt. Especially children, the elderly, and those who are now alone. It’s so heartbreaking.
    A friend of mine who’s an RN flew to Haiti Monday on a medical mission trip. Can you believe that? She’s safe- she’s Facebooked everyone with updates but I can only imagine what’s she experiencing.

  4. I’m trying to figure out a way to put my time spent in school/ purgatory to good use, as well. My dad, a psychiatrist, got trained by the Red Cross or something to go into disaster areas to provide mental health services. Thanks for the push to get me to sign up to do that, too.

    Tell you what- you wield the q-tips and I’ll get the kleenex for people to cry. And we’ll both bring lots of deodorant for everyone, because I’m pretty sure that the people in the disaster areas don’t have access to their deodorant.

  5. Dude, Becky. I feel you! I went with a group called the Timmy Foundation (based in Indianapolis.. http://www.timmyfoundation.org ) to Guatemala 2 years ago. Nothing compares with the rocking-awesome feeling of helping people who TRULY need it… and who are eternally grateful for your help. Good luck with organization-hunting (Timmy no longer has a partner in Haiti)… if I find any, I’ll fire them your way!

  6. I wish you tons of luck, and hope that you can pursue field nursing sans the butt wiping and medicine administration – hey doesn’t that sound like a Mom’s job lol?

    I sometimes feel that I need to make more of an impact on the world too, but with children at home I feel like my first responsibility is to them. Taking care of the laundry, food, homework duties, “nursing care” when they are sick, and telling them each day that they are LOVED may not be bridging the gap for those in the throes of diaster, but it is my life right now (and I am grateful for it). But maybe when everyone is off at college I can go off to save the world – oh wait, there is that pesky thing known as “paying tuition”. Well maybe when they are out college, graduate school, etc… I will go. Wait, I will be around 67 when my youngest finishes grad school. Ok, so maybe I have made a spiritual and physical commitment to my family and it looks like I will be staying put.

    Here I will be, cheering you on Aunt Becky!

  7. Dang it! I want to help Haiti somehow… I wish I could do more than send a couple prayers their way… >_<

    Maybe I can donate a couple dollars?? : (

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  9. I had the application to join the Peace Corps and I was totally going to fill it out (by hand, the internets wasn’t that popular yet).

    And then I found out I was knocked up.

    Go to Haiti; I can baby-sit.

  10. After 9-11, I signed up with the American Red Cross. Nothing better. Start your basic training, so next time, you’ll be ready to go.

    Seriously. I was deployed (to Bakersfield Call Center) in Katrina, been on countless fire calls, to the floods in Washington.

    It’s the best.

  11. I sort of want to see if anyone is accepting used toys. I was thinking that the kids and I could go through all their toys and mail them somewhere in Haiti. I’m sure so many of the children lost everything, and having just one toy would mean a lot them. New or used….we have so many gently used toys that the kids don’t really play with anymore. . .I just think they’d like something to brighten their day.

  12. I have just been reeling with the level of devastation there. I wish that I had a skill like yours that I could share. I keep finding myself thinking of all of the orphanages there, and praying for the children that were just waiting to go home to their forever families. There are so many orphanages in Haiti due to the poverty level there. It breaks my heart on a whole other level.

  13. You are way a whole lot nicer than I am.

    It’s not that I don’t care…it’s that I don’t care as much as I should. Also, I don’t think they need data entry specialists down there just now.

  14. Was that number a 212 number? Because I saw a number on the news last night and the hispanic community actually is getting funds together to send people to Haiti. It wasnt on the Internet dude I swear.

    That said, Haiti wasnt safe before this happened, so I really dont want you to go. With people even more desperate its sure to be dangerous. Plus the disease from all the rotting bodies. You have 3 kids kiddo. I would send money.

  15. I believe volunteering at God’s Littlest Angels orphanage is done in 6 week rotations. Right now they need money (like everyone) and aid in getting passports and visas for the children already legally adopted. Most of the supplies are brought in on chartered planes or in the luggage of volunteers. Here’s their site: http://godslittlestangelsinhaiti.org/

    The adoption agency we used (Bethany) works with GLA and I’ve wanted for years to adopt from there (you have to be 30 yo, though.) Truth be told, even if the earthquake destroyed EVERYTHING, it still wouldn’t be more than most American’s have in their home. I mean, they’re asking for things like infant’s Tylenol and baby wipes. (although that kinda counts as wiping butts, huh?)

  16. Aunt Becky, you are awesome. Not just for wanting to do something like go to Haiti and help out, because that’s way cool. Most people freely admit that nurses are pretty much indispensable. Fewer people admit that no matter how indispensable they are, a lot of the job is just plain gross and boring. And very few people admit that they admit that they would like to do the ‘wow that’s cool’ stuff but not the gross and boring stuff. It takes balls, and that’s awesome.

  17. Aunt Becky, that sounds like an AWESOME way to make use of your skills and education. Could you help me find a way to use a master’s degree in biology that would matter? As always, you rock!

  18. I am terrible in any sort of crisis. All I can do is send some cash and prayers.

    PS Aren’t you glad that nursing stuff is going to be useful for something other than blog fodder? 🙂

  19. Becky, I joined the MRC (Medical Reserve Corps) in my area (OKC) and helped with Hurricanes Gustav and Ivan a couple of years ago. It was humbling to see so many people in need of such basic amenities crammed into an old electronics warehouse littered with cots of all sizes and endless rows of melamine tables and aluminum chairs.
    You might check out if you have a local chapter of MRC in the Chicago area.

  20. Let me get this straight … First, you kick off 2010 with a plan to take over the world. Okay maybe not the actual world but the literary world. Or virtual literary world?

    Anyhell, now you’re also putting on your Humanitarian Super Hero cape?

    Fuck it. I’m going back to bed.

  21. Seriously, when you find it, you call me. I am graduating from nursing school on May 7th ( but ‘eh, who’s counting?) I’d love to go. I had just looked at Doctors w/o Borders website a few days prior to the Haiti disaster. They NEED nurses! I’m not loaded d/t said nursing school, but I can give of myself!

  22. the hubster’s aunt puts her nursing degree to use through church mission. The Hubster (decidedly not churchy)has done a few missions (he welds). Right after we met he went to help out in africa for 3 weeks

  23. What a great idea, it’s such a perfect use of your skills. You know there is a UN Volunteer Program as well that is always looking for people with various skills to go to places, although as a nurse Doctors without Borders is probably a better match. I have also been watching the news and feeling a little twinge of wanting to be there, helping, wondering what it’s like to work for a disaster relief organisation.

  24. Ok, so I see you all around this blogosphere and decided it was time to follow. I also saw your tweets on twitter trying to get a celeb to follow you. I have met a gazillion celebs and now I follow you. Helpful? Even a little bit?

  25. I know if I saw you coming at me with a bottle of “medicine” I would immediately feel better! 😉
    Seriously though, this is a very, very admirable idea and I really hope you can do it.

  26. Good deal! I think you’ll find you enjoy helping people in their natural setting much better than any hospital. I know that I use my mental health training much more effectively in prison than I did anywhere else! Good Luck!! 🙂

  27. I am always very touched reading about and seeing on TV the medical professionals who rush to help. There are so many wonderful people in the world.

    I don’t wish for a disaster, but I do hope that if there must be another one, that you get an opportunity to help on site. That would truly be life-changing.

  28. i always feel the same need to drop my entire life to rush over to the latest disaster and start helping out.

    if i didn’t have little ones who needed me so bad, i probably would. i have a feeling that when my children are grown, i will stop resisting this urge.

  29. Good for you. Nurses (and people with nursing skills) are always needed all over the world. I am great at hand-holding and hugging and all those squishy things, but when it comes to practical assistance, I’m not very useful. And deciding to use the skills you have to help those who need it, that’s such a great thing to do–it’s hard sometimes to remember that no experience is wasted, that a lack of an “RN” doesn’t mean nursing school was a giant waste. I know relief assistance is something you’d be good at; you seem to have the practical skills, the toughness not to be entirely destroyed by it, and the compassion to be really there. Meantime I’ll fret and hand out hugs and donate blood, because that’s about all I’m good for, in a practical sense.

  30. Money now then get trained up for next time and there will always be a next time. Unfortunately for me it has to be money every time – rare is the natural disaster where people are calling urgently for lawyers.

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