Monday, September 29, 2008

Farewell Ramadan...and Eid Mubarak!

Its that bittersweet feeling again. You know, the one where you look forward to celebrating Eid-ul-fitr with friends and family, but at the same time are saddened to see the blessed month of Ramadan come to an end. I don't know about you, but subhan'Allah I feel like Ramadan just started! I cannot wait for it to start up again next year insha'Allah (I pray that Allah (SWT) blesses me with the ability to witness another Ramadan) when I don't have any school so that insha'Allah I can devote all my time and effort into making the most out of this blessed month. Of course, school is not an excuse!

I find it funny how we (and by we, I mean me) take advantage of our young age and think that we are so invincible, I mean, how could we possibly get ill or die at such a young age. I am so guilty of it at times, I often find myself rationalizing my inability to attend tarawih because of my exam tomorrow morning with the idea that there is always next year. Subhan'Allah how naiive. When these thoughts creep into my mind I quickly remind myself of the friend of mine that is battling cancer and the 2 friends of mine that shockingly passed away earlier this year. They too were young, they too probably thought that they would live to see Ramadan again. How blind we are.

I am reminded of something I heard this Ramadan, during a program on the last ten days where the Sheikh said, 'if you live to see the morning, don't expect to see the evening, and if you live to see the evening, don't expect to see the next mornig.' How true it is, yet how many of us really think like this?

Anyways, I can ramble on and one, but I won't. I really just wanted to wish you all Eid Mubarak! Please remember me, my family and the Muslim Ummah at large in your dua's. Also, lets all make dua that Allah (SWT) blesses us with the ability to witness another Ramadan.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Alhamdulilah for Catharsis

I have had many discussions with people who question me as to why I do the work that I do. These people aren't necessarily asking me for an explanation as to what makes me tick but rather they ask in a manner that I find insulting, I get this especially from brothers who feel like women should stay home and simply cook and care for their children. Granted, I think its good to be a good mother and insha'Allah when the time comes, I will embrace the opportunity with open arms and an open heart - I think children are amazing.

Why on earth would I want to be a nurse? Why would I put myself in a position in which I have to work so closely with men, in a profession that requires me to touch them when necessary. My answer is usually followed by a whirlwind of anger and frustration that the question was asked in the first place, but here it is:

My desire to be in this profession came about from my fascination for the human body and the Iman rush I get from studying it and from seeing how intricate it is - Subhan'Allah its amazing. I wanted to do something that in my mind benefits society and what better way to do so than caring for the ill? And yes, my job requires me to touch men, but giving a shot, hooking up an IV and bandaging a wound in my mind isn't something that is going to lead to fitnah. And while I agree that it is not proper for a woman to view a man's awrah - situations such as that only arise when the patient is too incompacitated to care for himself. I remember helping an old man bathe and the whole time he apologized to me and told me how embarassed he was that he couldn't even do that much for himself. I pray that Allah (SWT) sees the compassion in my actions and judges it accordingly and that He keep us all in good health so that we may be able to bathe and clean ourselves without assistance.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a patient of mine that moved me almost to the verge of tears that I had to excuse myself. She's my age, we share the same birthday ironically and the fact that she has borderline personality disorder only (I say it like its no big deal) I find it rather easy to connect with her - she's almost like a friend. She's full of life and makes it a point to make me laugh, smile and and feel at ease, despite the fear that is all too visible on my face as I walk onto the unit. Masha'Allah she's amazing. I asked her if anyone ever visits her at the hospital on the weekends or while I'm not at the hospital and she said "no." Here is our conversation:

Me: Well, do you have family?
Her: Yea, my brother is in Kansas and my mother is in jail.
Me: What did she do to go to jail?
Her: She used to sexually and physically abuse me and my brother.
Me: (Silent)
Her: I wish I never said anything, I feel bad. Cuz, I feel like if I never said anything I would be with her right now, and not here.
Me: But you know you didn't do anything wrong right? It's not your fault.
Her: But I mean, I should have stayed queit, it couldn't have gone on forever, it had to have stopped eventually.
Me: Its possible, but you don't know that. I think you did the right thing, you have nothing to sorry for.
Her: You know, sometimes you feel like having a family like normal people, having a mother to talk to and being able to enjoy weekends - I don't have that. I have the people here, but its just not the same.
Me: (my heart stopped and I could feel the cry bump starting to form and the tears starting to well in my eyes - I excused myself and returned after I had regained composure).

If anything, I like my job because it teaches me to be greatful for what I have. Until today I haven't understood how families can just erase their members simply because they are sick. I wonder if my patient's family members think about them. I don't accept that you can just ignore it - I mean, how could you?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A memo from God

I'm doing a rotation with mentally ill patients - basically I'm working at a Psych Hospital. Keep in mind, its not just any psych hospital, its one of the worst hospitals out there. I have a wide variety of patients the majority are either Schizophrenic or Bipolar. At first, I was scared of them - almost terrified - until I heard their stories, but now, I cry almost everyday when I come home. I work with a population that isn't represented by society, a population that is practically swept under the rug - out of sight, out of mind. These patients live behind the locked doors of the facility and while they are aloud outside, they are never allowed off grounds unless they are on good behavior. Some of these patients have never seen their families or have had their families check out. A lot of them come from abusive families who's torment caused them to turn out the way they are. I used to laugh at statements like "I hear voices" but now realize how horrifying it could be to have multiple voices in your head telling you to do things like hurt yourself or others, or telling you that you are worthless.

I have had the opportunity to talk to a lot of the patients on my floor and to here their stories, and while I try very hard to hold my composure, I can't tell you how much I just want to break down and cry. One of my patients has been in the mental health system since she was just a child, she's in her late 20's now. She tells me about how both her mother and father live in states miles and miles away from the Hospital. She tells me how neither of them call her, write her, visit her, how she doesn't have anyone to talk to and how she's all alone. I can't imagine how any mother could turn her back on her child and completely abandon her simply because she is sick. How do you just erase that part of your life? This particular patient of mine is getting much better, but is lately starting to deliberately exhibit signs of aggression and agitation because here, she has family - one nurse is her play mom, the other is her sister, and so forth. She doesn't have a family, so she creates one - and she doesn't want to leave them, even though it means finally getting a chance to live in a less crazy place.

I was looking through another patients chart earlier today and her marital status is labeled as married. It seems like a stupid comment to make but she is one of my patients who is tormented by her hallucinations. She makes absolutely no sense when she speaks and often times words are not decipherable when they come out of her mouth except when she says things like "wedding dress, chapel, I'm getting married, dress with lace." I wish I could speak to her more, but it seems as though her illness struck her sometime during her wedding or when she got married.

I have one patient who has been an alcoholic since he was 13! Yes, 13. He started drinking when his father died and it as he said "made me go crazy, and now I see demons." He see's demons - I can't image how terrifying that might be.

I can go on and on, but I don't know if anyone would understand me if they haven't been there, perhaps I just needed to share. But the reason I wrote this is because I attended one of the wellness classes my patients participate in and one of them handed me this piece of paper (I've seen it before in an email Forward) titled "A memo from God." I read it and told her how amazing I thought it was and she told me, you know...that right there is how I get by every day in this looney bin.

Here it is:

To: You
Date: Today
From: The Boss
Subject: Yourself
Reference: Life

I am God. Today I will be handling your problems. Please remember I do not need your help.
If life happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do not attempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the SFGTD (something for God to do) box. It will be addressed in My time, not yours. Once the matter is place into the box, do not hold on to it.
If you find yourself stuck in traffic, don't despair. There are people in this world for whom driving is not a privilege.
Should you have a bad day at work, think of the man who has been out of work for years.
Should you despair over a relationship gone bad, think of the person who has never known what its like to love and be loved in return.
Shoudl you grieve the passing of another weekend, think of the women in dire straits, working twelve hours a day, seven days a week to feed her children.
Should your car break down, leaving you miles away from assistance, think of the paraplegic who would love the opportunity to take that walk.
Should you notice a new gray hair in the mirror, think of the cancer patient in Chemo who wishes she had hair to examine.
Should you find yourself t a loss and pondering what is life all about, asking what is my purpose? Be thankful. There are those who didn't live long enough to get this opportunity.
Should you find yourself being the victim of other people's bitterness, ignorance, smallness or insecurities, remember, things could be worse. YOU COULD BE THEM!!!!

Ok this wasn't really a Ramadan Post, but I thought it was worth it. Besides, Ramadan is about being Greatful! A friend of mine was just diagnosed with stage 3 cancer (I don't know what kind yet) please, please, please keep her in your dua's. Subhan'Allah life is so unpredictable. I hope that you are all in the best of health insha'Allah.

Have a good one.

Monday, September 1, 2008

10 Goals for Ramadan


Insha'Allah everyone's fast went well today. I know I promised to take notes on 186 Rules of Ramadan, and Insha'Allah I plan on doing so, its just that my school load is a tad heavier than what I had anticipated and I have taken on a new goal (memorizing as many surah's as possible this month). I have been longing to compile a good, Ramadan-related post and Insha'Allah when one comes to mind, I will.

I came across this article that addresses 10 goals that anyone can set to acheive this Ramadan. I hope you find it useful.

Eat, drink and be moderate

Almost all of us do it - once Iftar time hits, we just keep plowing food and drink into our mouths till it's hard to move afterwards. And those of us who do it know this is totally contrary to the spirit of Ramadan, through which we're supposed to learn self-control not self-indulgence. Let's try to stick to the Prophetic rule on eating: fill our stomachs with one-third food, one-third water and one-third breathing space, even in Ramadan.

Give a dollar a day in charity...or five or ten

The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was always generous but even more so in Ramadan. Let's open our hearts and dig a little deeper in our wallets this year. Even less than a dollar a day adds up. Whatever you can give, it's the intention that counts.

Memorize 4 new Surahs

Memorizing the Quran often seems like a daunting task. But the key is doing it in small bites. Since there are four weeks in Ramadan, try to memorize one new Surah a week. Start off with a short, easy one. Once you've started, you'll build momentum and may even want to memorize a longer one the following week.

Go to Tarawih prayers

Post-Iftar, the first urge is to sleep after an exhausting day. But try your best to head out to the mosque for Tarawih prayers. Praying alone is wonderful, but doing it in congregation is fantastic. The community spirit is part of Ramadan's blessings. Don't miss it this year. If going every day is not possible, try going at least once week.

Attend the Tarawih prayer in which the recitation of the Quran will be finished

Call the local mosque and find out which day the Imam will be finishing the recitation of the Quran in prayer. Attend to not only hear part of the Quran's recitation in prayer, but also participate in the heart-rending Duas that follow it.

Stop swearing and/or backbiting Ð with a special box

It's hard not to shoot our mouths off when someone's upset us. Whether we utter those four-letter words or backbite about someone to our family and friends, we know this isn't the God-approved way of letting off steam. In Ramadan, when we want to build our spirituality, we've got to wage Jihad against our bad habits.

Try this: get a box and every time you catch yourself swearing or backbiting put some money in it. It could be a buck or less. The point is to choose an amount that makes it feel like punishment.

At the end of the month send the money to a charity or buy a gift for the person whom you've backbitten the most against.

Call/email your relatives

You'd think that given the easy access to email, competitive long-distance calling rates, phone cards, etc. these days, we'd keep in touch with family and friends more often. But the opposite seems to be the case, as we get caught up in life's "busyness."

Strengthening ties with family members and keeping in touch with friends is part of our way of life and an act Allah is very pleased with. This Ramadan, call family and friends or at least email them a Ramadan card and ask them how their fasting is going.

Go on a technology diet

Even if you work in the IT industry, you can do this. Avoid checking personal email and surfing the web during your fast. After Iftar, instead of plopping yourself in front of the screen, go to Tarawih. The same goes for the television. The point is to try to give our full attention to spiritual elevation this month.

Read 5 minutes of Quran a day...just five, not more, not less

Even if you feel you've got absolutely no time, set a timer or the alarm on your cell phone and find a relatively quiet place. You can read the first page of the Quran you open or follow a sequence. The choice is yours. The point is simply to connect with God through His revelation in the month of the Quran.

Forgive everyone who has hurt you

Still got a festering wound from the fight with your friend last year? Still upset about something your spouse said during a heated argument? Or are you still bitter about the way your parents sometimes treated you as a kid? Let go of the anger and pain this Ramadan and forgive those who have hurt you. Forgiving someone is not only good for the body, but it's also great for the soul. And in Ramadan, ten days of which are devoted to Allah's forgiveness, shouldn't we lesser beings forgive too?

If you find it very difficult to forgive everyone, forgive at least three people.