Archive | November 2012

1971 BOSTON LIFE/PSYCHIATRIC NURSING

 

leather skirt and coat I had made for me.

 

LIVING SITUATION

In September, M and I decide to move out and get our own apartments, leaving this one to the guys. I find a place in the Brighton/ Alston area which is a neighborhood of single and multifamily homes and not as densely populated as the apartment area.

Walking in the front door, you see the fair size bedroom straight ahead with one window and a door for privacy. From the entrance to the right around a tight corner small hallway you enter the large square living room with two windows flooding the area with light.

When you continue to head toward the back of the apartment you go through a small narrow square hall with a small bathroom on the right that has just enough space for the tub on the right, the toilet in the center and the sink against the left wall with mirror and cupboard.

The kitchen is the last room straight back. In the kitchen I have a table and chairs I brought from the apartment. This place is more open, less walls and lets in more light; the buildings are not as tall or as close together compared to where I moved from creating a feeling of privacy.

My mother and Bill help me paint my new place white, which is what is allowed by the landlord. I really appreciate all the help they give me, getting my place done quicker than if I had of done it on my own. I have lots of years of experience in painting and wall paperhanging with my mother; she is superb with wallpaper, the old fashion way, with that clumpy glue for she doesn’t like the paper with the glue on it.

 

I go antiquing on the weekends from Massachusetts to RI looking for good inexpensive deals. I find an antique brass bed for $35, because the brass footboard is cut off, I polish it to a bright shine. I purchase a red satin bedspread to place on the bed. I love getting up on cold mornings and standing on the red mohair rug with its long plush fake fur fibers that I have placed on the floor.

I bought three antique wooden furnishings that took lots of hard work to remove the paint, stripping them down to the wood then applying the stain, doing it all right in the empty living room. I discover that my purchases are well worth the money I invested: there is a red mahogany dresser with a matching mirror; a walnut armoire with a door that opens exposing four lingerie draws that pull out while the lower third has 2 large drawers on the bottom; and then a walnut smokers table that is carved and has inlaid work on it.

 

MY ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIFE

My apartment is right down the street from a bar. My daily routine for this year involves: getting up 5am to get ready for work; taking the crowded subway trains for an hour like sardines in a can; working the day shift from 7am to 3:30 pm; getting back on the rocking shaking trains back home; eating a cheap dinner; napping till 9 pm; walking down the block to the local bar; dancing and drinking till 3 am; stumbling home; then going to bed while the room whirls around me.

Sometimes I wake up puking whatever fruit I ate in the mixed drinks, I love Maraschino cherries. Once I vomit up liquor, I become nauseated just smelling it thus I’m no longer able to drink it. The next night I start with something new, I have not tried before, making it my drink till I get sick on it, and that’s my pattern throughout the year. I average 4 drinks a night and usually only buy the first one. I spend the night on the dance floor moving my body to whatever music the live band is playing.

On the weekends M and I go bar hopping around Boston where there is amazing live music like The Platters, Mannheim Steamroller, and BB King. I spend many hours drinking and dancing, using alcohol to deal with my social anxiety, to takes away my many inhibitions, and to self medicate to deal with my long standing anxiety and depression. I find myself in some tight spots; gun held to my head for example, but my guardian angel seems to be protecting me and I always arrive safely home.

 

PSYCHIATRIC/MENTAL HEALTH NURSING

With a year’s experience under my belt as a psychiatric/mental health nurse and before the next new residents arrive; we decide on the programs we want to do for the year. We are interested, in sharing our assessments with the patients, while researching their ability to deal with the information. Thus every morning we have the patients read their previous day chart notes and encourage them to write an honest note underneath it, it is OK if they disagreed with the staff notes. We then discuss what is written, what healthy behaviors are, the feelings behind the behaviors and the steps to better mental health. In the end some of the individuals do well with the process, some get paranoid while others get agitated, and some are withdrawn and into pleasing so they are hesitant to share their responses.

 

 

MY MENTAL HEALTH

The therapist in the Psychodrama Group is finished with her year of training us in this approach and some of the members decided to continue this group therapy without a leader. We become a close knit group of women, there are new issues brought up for the first time, for half are gay lesbians who are struggling to come out of the closet and are feeling safe and supported in sharing their secret.

 

I start working on my issues with my mother; I get in touch with my anger towards my mother for not protecting me and my protecting her. My mother has emotional and mental health issues which results in her exhibiting fugue states and flashbacks; she acted as if she is in a past situation, except she is experiencing it as if it’s happening now, when she is questioned they are memories from the past.

 

Sometimes on the weekends I drive to RI to visit my family. On one visit I gathered all my sisters and mother around the kitchen table and talked about my shadow experience. I thought I was exposing my sisters to something they were unaware of, and realized I was just bringing it out into the open, for we were all keeping the secret, not wanting to “hang out our dirty laundry for all to see.” I feel very alone.

 

MY COPING MECHANISMS

I bought a white, convertible MG Midget right before moving to my own place. The salesman spends an hour teaching me how to drive a clutch up and down hills; it takes me a good week to get the feel of it. Usually my car is parked on the street, moving it twice a week for street cleaning. I continue to take the subway to work except in the winter when it isn’t running due to the weather. I have difficulty getting through a snow storm, because the snow get compacted under the low clearance of the vehicle, so I get out and remove it in order to keep going.

 

 

One day it feels like I have a flat tire and I am lucky I have AAA, when the guy shows up he states “You are lucky you were not on the freeway or you would have been injured. It is more than a flat tire, your front axle broke.” It cost an arm and a leg to get it fixed. I always take the roads to work because there is less honking, not as much traffic and not as much time idling and now they have proven to be safer.

 

 

Once I decide to drive as fast as I can, trying to get it up to ‘95mph on 95 freeway’. As I hit 95 and going downhill, looking in my rear view mirror, I see a cop car’s flashing lights, instead of breaking; I eased up on the gas. I pulled over and he asks “Ms. Powers, do you know how fast you were going?” “No Officer, my Speedometer is broken” (which it was). “Well, Ms. Powers you were going 80 miles per hour. I am going to give you a warning this time, and I do not want to catch you speeding again, you understand?” “Yes, Officer, Thank You!” Boy was that close.

 

 

M and I frequently drive around Boston checking out the sights, our first jaunt out we were in the smack dab middle of Harvard Square when the car died, a nice man stopped to help push us out of the traffic and after lifting the hood and trying to start it he said “Lady, you are out of gas.” How embarrassing is that! Gas is 25 cents/gallon, filling my tank for less than three bucks.

 

 

M and I go to the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island in my MG Midget in the summer. We park in the parking lot across the street, planning to camp there throughout the concert. The concert is outdoors, a chain link fence has been placed around the hill, to keep people out that have not paid. On Saturday night a crowd develops on the other side of the flimsy barrier, listening for free, but they are not happy with that, they are piling up, with more and more squeezing into the area, pushing on the fencing till it is down, then all hell breaks loose. The song “What the World Needs now is Love” is being sung by Dianne Warwick while we are being evacuated from the fairgrounds, with the police raining tear gas down upon us, tears are pouring down my face while I try to decrease my exposure by breathing through my clothing. The concert ends early and we go back to the car and camp out for the night.

The next morning we wake to the police standing at attention, on the sidewalk across the street, in riot gear, plastic shields and Billy clubs. We are told to leave because the music festival is cancelled chaos brakes out, people are yelling and screaming, one guy tells us “It is best if you leave quickly.” We put our tent away, get into the MG, and while I am trying to drive out of the parking lot the police are upon us, one officer starts banging my car with his Billy Club. We exit swiftly safe and sound.  We paid a lot of money for those weekend tickets and are never refunded for the rest of the week.

Later we find out what has happened. “Early on Saturday evening, crowds of young people occupying the adjacent hill, high on everything from alcohol to acid surrounding the concert site. The police command force was called to clear the area, but they never came. The young people breached the chain link fence during Dionne Warwick’s set.

The stage was soon overflowing with a crowd who tore the lid off the piano, smashed everything in sight, and the police began lobbing tear gas canisters. It was announced that the city had ordered the Festival shut down. Traffic was halted on the bridges allowing only residents and people with legitimate business in.

At 7AM Sunday the police moved into Miantomoni Hill with bull horns telling everyone to put out their fires, fold their tents and leave within 15 minutes. Within an hour the park was cleared, and police moved on to the parking lots and cleared them.

It wasn’t Dionne that sets off the riots. There was a new band called the Allman Brothers a white blues group which was really a pioneering southern rock group, that wasn’t popular and no popular rock groups were hired because “After Woodstock, no one would allow rock festivals”. So in January they were hired and by July they became rock monsters. So the kids descended on Newport and they broke the fences down and the festival was cancelled.”

 

 

I have had lots of interesting experiences during 1971 living on my own in Boston, being in therapy working through issues, developing caring skills as a holistic psychiatric nurse and having fun in the first car I ever bought. What more could a girl ask for?

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1970 LIFE IN BOSTON / A NEWBIE PSYCHIATRIC NURSE

 

LIVING SITUATION

In August we hitchhike to Boston to find an apt to rent. We get the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald newspapers and go looking at places to live. There is this one place we really like; when the black landlord tells us “This is not a safe neighborhood for you girls, I will not rent to you.” We walk out of their thinking it was our choice to make, that maybe he was being too protective, because we did not feel unsafe walking in this neighborhood, but then again it was not dark yet.

 

We check out a variety of places until we end up down the street from the jazz school. It needs a lot of cleaning, painting and repair work; which we are willing to do; and the landlord is willing to provide the paint and supplies. We are in a red brick building on the top floor paying $75/month, having to carry very heavy furniture up 4 flights of stairs for here is no elevator. Neighbors come by and welcomed us to the community and the building even bringing us food; it is great being surrounded by lots of friendly people.

 

Our living room windows looked into the apartment about 10 feet away on the other side of a narrow walkway, privacy and space is a luxury in this densely populated city. As you walk in the front door there is a long narrow hall the length of the huge living room and small alcove which is barely big enough for a twin bed, the door way is on the left. My friend’s brother F has a brown Afro; a husky dude who is happy to pay $25 to live in the alcove while he attends the jazz school. Within a short time one of his school buddies has moved into the living room and is sleeping on the couch.

 

My friend M’s room is on the same side of the building as the living room with a window facing out towards the building next door. M has always been very messy, so she keeps her door closed most of the time. She is of Irish and Italian descent with beautiful red hair worn in an Afro.

 

The medium size rectangular kitchen is at the end of the hall which consists of wooden counter space with cupboards above and below on the 2 long walls, while the sink is in the center of the counter space on right side, the stove and fridge are along one of the shorter wall near the entrance, and we place a small table with 2 chairs at the window in which minimal light comes through. The first night we walk into the kitchen turning on the light and see hordes of coach roaches running all over the place to escape being seen, this really freaks us out. It looks so nice after being freshly painted white, deceiving ourselves into believing it’s clean. We decide to store all food in glass containers to keep out the roaches. We have a contest at night with a fly swatter; we quietly sneak in, quickly turning on the light and seeing who can kill the most coach roaches. We only use the kitchen to store food and cook in it.

 

Next to the kitchen, on the right side of the hall, across from M’s room, is the rectangular bathroom; with a large porcelain tub, a small sink and toilet and a window overlooking the courtyard. The Coach roaches are in too but not as many as there are in the kitchen

 

The entrance to my large room is also on the right side of the hall across from the living room. The window in my room overlooked a square courtyard that is only accessible on the first floor by windows; there is even grass on the ground. Sound traveled and echoed well; like in a tunnel or a canyon in the wilderness, lots of music students live here so all kinds of instrumental noises reverberate as the artists practice their scales throughout the building. I furnish it with a full bed, a bedside table, a LP record player and a chair.

 

I love buying new LPs that stack up and play throughout the night, I still need a distracting and comforting sound to be able to sleep, in order not to be awakened by sounds in the environment that my brain tries to make sense out of. I am dealing with a trigger that is connected to the Shadow.

 

 

PSYCHIATRIC MENTAL HEALTH NURSING

In September we start working at Boston City Hospital at the Mattapan Psychiatric Facility located outside of town. There are a few buildings situated on a hill, which are isolated by being outside of town, like many similar structures built at the time. The Psych Building is a two story structure with the Substance Abuse unit upstairs while the psychiatric/mental health patients are on the first floor. The building is rectangular with one hall way and the rooms coming off both sides; there are 2 patients to a room. There is a large Day Room in the center of the hall with a large therapy/meeting room across the way. Next door to Day Room is the Nurses Station which contains the medical records with table and chairs for charting. The medication room door is only accessible from the nursing station. There is a locked box on the wall that houses the controlled substances which we count every shift.

 

At one point a patient is having frequent seizures even though he is on medication, we start investigating the cause, when we examined the pills which are suppose to be Phenobarbital, and realize they are being replaced by Artane which is used for EPS. A staff nurse must be involved because they are under lock and key and are the only ones with access. Barbiturates are very popular medications being misused and highly addictive.

 

Phenobarbital is a barbiturate that is the oldest and most widely used anticonvulsant that also has sedative and hypnotic properties. It is use as first-line for partial and generalized tonic–clonic seizures also known as grand mal.

 

Our emergency response to a generalized tonic-clonic epileptic seizure is simply to prevent the patient from self-injury by moving him or her away from sharp edges, placing something soft beneath the head, and carefully rolling the person onto their side which is the recovery position to avoid asphyxiation, so the tongues does not block the airway. If a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, or if the seizures begin coming in ‘waves’ one after the other it is called ”status epilepticus’’ which we treat by administering Valium IV push. We believed a person could swallow their own tongue during a seizure or bite their own tongue, so we placed a padded tongue depressor in the mouth.

 

After a seizure, it is typical for a person to be exhausted and confused. Often the person is not immediately aware that they have just had a seizure. During this time a staff person stays with the patient – reassuring and comforting them – until they appear to act as they normally would and have returned to their normal level of awareness. Many patients sleep deeply for a few hours after a seizure, and headaches may occur. Those present at the time of a seizure would make a note of how long and how severe the seizure was.

 

We treat many people with Psychosis, which comes from the Ancient Greek word meaning “psyche”, for mind/soul, and “-osis”, for abnormal condition or derangement which refers to an abnormal condition of the mind, and is a psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a “loss of contact with reality”. People suffering from psychosis are described as psychotic. Psychosis is given to the more severe forms of psychiatric disorder, during which hallucinations and delusions and impaired insight may occur. The term psychosis is very broad and can mean anything from relatively normal aberrant experiences through to the complex and catatonic expressions of schizophrenia. Sometimes we get people off the streets experiencing a bad acid trip that are psychotic. People experiencing psychosis may exhibit personality changes and thought disorder. Depending on its severity, this may be accompanied by unusual or bizarre behavior, as well as difficulty with social interaction and impairment in carrying out daily life activities.

 

The Antipsychotics, we use to control psychoses such as schizophrenia, include: chlorpromazine also called Thorazine, thioridazine known as Melleril, and haloperidol called Haldol.

 

The extra pyramidal motor system is a neural network located in the brain that is involved in the coordination of movement. Extra pyramidal symptoms therefore are symptoms that manifest themselves in various movement disorders. The extra pyramidal symptoms, often known as EPS, are a neurological side effect of antipsychotic medication, also known as major tranquilizers.

 

Extra pyramidal symptoms can begin within a few hours, days or weeks or even years after commencing treatment with an antipsychotic medication. Common signs and symptoms include: Involuntary movements, Tremors and rigidity, Body restlessness, Muscle contractions, Mask like face, Involuntary movement of the eye called oculogyric crisis, Drooling, Shuffling gait, Increased heart rate, Delirium and Symptoms can be very distressing and frightening.

 

We are Psychiatric Staff Registered Nurses functioning as: Primary Therapist, Group Psychotherapist and Family Therapist. I become a Psycho-dramatist and am a Consultant for the Rehabilitation Unit, to assist non-psychiatric staff in dealing with difficult patients and psychiatric problems.

 

The nurses supervise the medical workers staff trained in Psychiatric Care. The nurses have clinical supervision with the nursing director. Clinical Case supervision is a hospital Policy for all staff, which is for one hour a week to discuss and get feedback on: patient care, to explore patient transference and staff counter-transference. We do follow up and Home Visits since there is a state policy to integrate the mentally ill into the community. All staff is required to attend a weekly therapy group focused on issues with patients and staff.

 

I am exposed to new theories and treatment approaches for mental health nursing, learning to work with families from Virginia Satir, and experiencing many great teachers through the connection with Harvard residents. Nurses get to define the program every year before the new residents arrived this has already been done before we started working.

 

We have an open door policy on this Adult Psychiatric Ward with 20 in-patients; which including 3 barbiturate addicts, alcoholics detoxifying, and 10 Day-Care patients receiving services during business hours. The ward functions on a team approach using the therapeutic community milieu approach to care which is holistically oriented. We have daily community meetings with the patients; to give positive feedback for improvement made; and to discuss issues that have come up; and exploring ways to resolve conflict and encourage growth.

 

When we first started treating the barbiturate addicts we gave them Pentobarbital, also known as Nembutal 100mg, and the street name is yellow jackets, we administered it every hour till they were feeling elated, we would then total up the dose given, which would be their starting dose, then it was decreased over 7 to 10 days. They literally are “bouncing off the walls” as they stagger from side to side down the hall, their arms out as their hands contact the walls. The major problem we have with this approach is when there is liver involvement, for example: once a patient all of a sudden passed out and required immediate intervention. We detoxify the alcoholics with Librium which mellows out the cravings and delirium Tremors as long as they give a true report of the amount of their alcohol intake.

 

Our 10 Day Care Patients are on the unit Mondays through Fridays, from 9am to 3pm. All in patients and out patients participated in the program’s activities. During those hours: we played indoor games such as cards and dominoes; outdoor games such as volleyball and baseball. We have individual sessions with all patients, a variety of therapy groups, community meetings and morning meetings to start the day.

 

 

MY MENTAL HEALTH

I start personal group therapy as a requirement for my job; I co-lead a Psychodrama group with another staff, so we are in a therapy group, which lasts about a year. There is a woman in the group who had recovered from Polio and has a son about my age thus we do a lot of work together, she plays my father while I play myself or she plays herself while I play her son, after awhile it doesn’t really seem to matter for the roles blend because the issues are similar. I work hard on my father issues: feelings of loss, guilt, anger, and abandonment; development tasks of trust and security. It is easier to role play the issues rather than talking about them because I am less guarded.

 

Sometimes on the weekends I go visit my family in Pawtucket, RI. One weekend Mother and I play with the Ouija Board; it appears to move on its own, picking up speed and darting all over the place very quickly, saying “I am sorry it is not your fault”. I did not know what that meant; tears were running down my checks, because a part of me knew what was being said. My mother starts to tell the story of how “You wanted a bike”, “Your father was working a lot to pay off a hospital bill from my miscarriage”, “You would cry when he would go to work” and “We lied to you, telling you he was going to work to get you a bike, we didn’t think it would become a problem”, “It’s your father who is telling you ‘It is not your fault he got polio.” It was freaky, scary and comforting all at the same time. I realize that my father chose not to get vaccinated or maybe he was just putting it off for a more convenient time and seeing that he was overworked it made him more susceptible to getting polio.

 

I am still seeing D who has also moved to Boston in a high rise of 15 stories and it is difficult for me to look out the window or even go near it. Being 22 yrs of age I now drink more frequently, to the point of blacking out. I am using alcohol to be more social, it has helped me relax and give myself completely to D so I won’t lose him, besides it decreases my inhibitions which also contribute to other risky behaviors.

 

My experiences with drugs start. At our first work Christmas party with the psychiatrists and staff, I asked M “What is in the pipe they are passing around the circle.” I am so naive. We have a Christmas decorating party at our place, inviting about 20 people, and placing chairs up against the walls of the living room. Someone passes around a pipe and within a short period of time we are experiencing an inability to control our limbs, come to find out we have been smoking animal tranquilizer called angel dust/PCP, I will never do that again feeling to out of control. The group was so out of it giggling and laughing, we were all connected by a large string of white lights, while we were replacing the burnt out bulbs before placing them on the tree which was set up in the alcove.

 

I am obsessed with D, one night I realize he is in his apartment with that same girl again! I take Benadryl 50 mg to go to sleep but it has the opposite effect on me getting me so agitated that I go to his place banging on the door but they pretended they are not there. I decided to confront them both, so I sit in the hall waiting for them to come out. I so want the truth to be brought out into the light of day.

 

In the morning they are surprised to see me; they back up into the room. She has a box of boots in her arms that D bought on one of our shopping trips, I comment asking “Are those the boots we bought for your cousin?” She throws the boots at him. He now has to explain to both of us what is going on. I am so emotionally distraught and want everything out into the open, even if it means more pain and suffering, so I say “I thought we have been planning on getting married?” He responds with “Yes we were, but I love both of you.” I go into shock and disbelief as does she while he talks like a two headed snake. I leave to go home to lick my wounds.

 

I continue to see him for a short while, as I allow him to seduces me with more lies, but I know I do not want to be with a liar, and that I need to move on. So I act out by dating an x-patient which is inappropriate and doesn’t last long because he becomes an obnoxious substance abuser, besides D finds us together and makes the guy leave. D gets jealous, becoming very controlling, and slapping me across the face. This is the last straw for I refuse to allow myself to be physically abused; later after he leaves I realize that he has stolen my month’s supply of birth control pills. He leaves and refuses to believe it’s over, and when he calls to apologize I refuse to ever see him again. So much drama, anxiety and pain, while I explore why I continue to be attracted to unavailable men, who are unwilling to commit to one person, looking at my relationship history and thinking I must also be projecting my stuff on them. I must not be ready for a committed relationship.

 

 

MY COPING MECHANISMS

I love walking all over Boston: from my neighborhood to Cambridge, downtown and to all areas of the city. On Saturday afternoon, we Folk Dance on Harvard’s courtyard campus, where they teach a dance, which we do over and over to different songs, I love group dances. I take a silkscreen class in Cambridge to stimulate my creativity, and planning to do it on clothing. We participate in the Anti-Vietnam demonstration near our place; the police are on horseback with riot gear, Billy clubs and dogs chasing us out of the park. “Johnnie Got His Gun” The Movie was briefly at the theater for 2 weeks before it is banned because of its controversial nature.

 

Weekly we treat ourselves by going out to eat at McDonald’s; coke, fries and cheeseburger for 75 cents. We buy cheap food at the market; lots of chicken pot pies and Kraft macaroni and cheese each costing less than 25 cents, sometimes 5 for a $1 and we really enjoy these meals.

 

This has been a great year living and experiencing life in Boston Massachusetts, learning and working in Psychiatric Nursing, and looking at and exploring my own Mental Health Issues through a commitment to my own therapy which is the underlying reason that I have found myself here.

1970 SUMMER: LIFE ON THE EAST SIDE, NURSING AT MIRIAM HOSPITAL, IN PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND

East Side

My friend and I hitchhike, with our thumbs out, on the 95 freeway going into Boston Massachusetts to find work. We obtained a job interview at Boston City Hospital Psychiatric/Mental Health Facility, contemplating working with substance abuse, while the nursing director tells us “You need psychiatric experience first.” My friend’s frustration is reflected in her response “How can we get experience if no one will hire us?” Thus her open and honest remark gets us the job, which is to begin in September. We decide to live and work on the East Side for the summer, which is our most favorite place where culture, history, and earthly beauty, is surrounded by a college atmosphere that is comfortable while also stimulating on many levels.

 

The East Side is a combination of neighborhoods in Providence, Rhode Island on the famous eastern part of the city. It officially comprises the neighborhoods of Blackstone, Hope (commonly known as Summit), Mount Hope, College Hill (once known as Prospect Hill), Wayland, and Fox Point. The East Side contains numerous parks and green spaces. It is approximately four miles north to south and two miles east to west which is great for my love of walking.

 

Mostly residential, the East Side is the most affluent partof the city with higher property values, lower unemployment, and higher income levels than the city as a whole. Approximately 20% of the city’s 175,000 people live on the East Side.

 

Roger Williams founded Providence along College Hill; in 1650 it is the place of the first colonial settlement plots. The East Side contains the oldest section of the city. The Providence Preservation Society and the Rhode Island Historical Society have preserved numerous historic buildings in this area. As you walk the streets you see mental planks on the houses with the dates it was built, symbolizing that the structure is being maintained as it was originally constructed and owners are not allowed to alter it in anyway.

 

To the west is the Providence River with many bridges leading to Downtown Providence with Interstate 95 separating downtown from the rest Providence. Let’s start our walk in this area at Smith Street, heading south on North Main Street. We come across the Roger Williams National Memorial  situated between North Main Street and Canal Street (along the canal) which was established in 1965 to commemorate his “outstanding contributions to the development of the principles of freedom in this country.”

 

Roger Williams Memorial Park

 

The memorial, is a 4.5 acre urban green space located at the foot of College Hill, includes a freshwater spring which was the center of the settlement of Providence Plantations founded by Williams in 1636.  It is on this site that Williams, through word and action, fought for the ideal of religious freedom.

 

As we continue south on North Main Street we arrive at The First Baptist Church in America which is the oldest Baptist church in the United States, founded by Roger Williams in 1638. He called the city “Providence” because he believed that God had cared for him. This colony was a “shelter for persons distressed of conscience.” Providence had soul liberty and the founding principles of the separation of church and state, which were so powerful that subsequent settlers in Rhode Island adopted them. All the other colonies had established churches and religious requirements.

 

First Baptist Church

 

We walk a short distance, turning left on Meeting Street; we go a block up the hill to Benefit Street, where we find The Marine Armory, built in 1839 and was in service during the American Civil War by the Rhode Island Militia. Also known as the State Arsenal and called the Benefit Street Arsenal is a historic site at 176 Benefit Street.

 

Prospect Park

 

We continue heading east up Meeting Street, we go 2 more block up the hill turning left onto Congdon Street and continue down the block. We are now at Prospect Terrace Park also located in the College Hill neighborhood, founded in 1867, which overlooks the city’s downtown area. Our eyes are drawn to a 35-foot white stone statue of Roger Williams gazing over the city, built in the late 1930s on his burial site, commemorates his founding of the state of Rhode Island and his promotion for religious freedom. His remains are buried in the tomb beneath his statue. Here is where the flashing lanterns were placed, during the revolutionary war, warning the citizens that “The British are coming”. I love the view from the here, overlooking Providence and have spent lots of time here while in nursing school, where everyone hangs out day and night for the city lights are something to behold, especially the brightly lighted state house.

 

 

Prospect park

 

We return back to Meeting Street turning right, the way we came, going 2 blocks down the hill, turning left onto Benefit Street. Benefit Street may be only a mile long, but it is considered the most historic street in the city of Providence. Its construction began back in 1765, and it has undergone innumerable changes since then. It remains, however, culturally, architecturally, and historically rich today. There are many cobble stone streets in this area.

 

Historic Benefit Street

 

Let us continue our stroll south on Benefit Street for 2 more blocks until we come to Waterman Street. As we look east up the steep hill we can see many of the Rhode Island School of Design‘s buildings that are along the slope of College Hill, and most of the Brown University‘s facilities, include the Main Green, the Rockefeller Library, the Pembroke Campus, and the School of Medicine. Instead we will check out The RISD Museum located on the corner of Waterman and Benefit Street. I often visit the basement; I love Rodin’s white marble sculpture of the hand of god holding the world which is also a man and woman entwined.

 

RISD

 

Brown’s Clock Tower

 

Going another 2 blocks we find ourselves standing in front of The Providence Athenaeum, the fourth oldest library in America. It is well knows that it is here where Edgar Allan Poe and Sarah Helen Whitman hung out during their stormy romance. Whitman was considered one of the “best female poets of America” who lived down the street from the library and had special privileges there for almost 75 years.

 

Athenaeum

 

In the spirit of freedom, which the area was known for, was “The Scruples shelf” containing books “Banned in Boston” which was originally stored in a drawer the staff called “the sewer,” that kept authors such as D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller and others, safely out of the view of young innocent eyes. The practice of hiding the books started in 1922 and continued until 1971 when the Board of Directors voted that it be “scrupulously and without fanfare desegregated and redistributed.”

 

Continuing south for 4 large city blocks we come to The John Brown House Museum, the first mansion built in Providence, on the corner of Benefit and Power Street where famous people such as John Quincy Adamsand George Washington had tea. Home of the wealthy merchant John Brown (1736–1803), a china trader, slave trader, Federalist, owned distilleries and his family financed the establishment of Brown University. He was the planner and leader on the attack of the Gaspee in 1772.

 

John Brown House Museum

 

We continue walking south on Benefit Street, to Wickenden Street which goes in an east/west direction and named after the original plot owner, (like other East Side streets e.g. Arnold, Williams, Angell, Waterman) we walk all the way to Gano Street turning left and heading North to East Manning Street where we live in Fox Point.

 

 

Benefit Street

 

If we were to continue to walk north on Gano Street we’d find ourselves at the top of College Hill at Waterman Street or Angell Street which go west/east directions, we usually turn left heading west to Thayer Street where the Brown University Bookstore is located and the notable Avon Cinema which dates back to the early twentieth century. Numerous cafes, restaurants, and shops are located along Thayer Street, adjoining Brown University at Veteran’s Gate, and along Wickenden Street, South Water Street. Both streets are home to numerous small and independent shops. I frequent the area, eating bagel and cream cheese or a hot fudge Sunday at the little quaint Bob’s Big Boy and love buying clothes at India Emporium.

 

Avon

 

To the north, the East Side is bordered by Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The most scenic route to there from our place is Blackstone Boulevard where there are huge expensive houses with large yards, being one of the most affluent white neighborhoods in the city with a median family income nearly four times that of the city.

 

Blackstone Boulevard Park is a green space between northbound and southbound lanes of Blackstone Boulevard. It consists of 19.3 acres with 7.8 being parkland and a 1.7-mile path, right in the center surrounded by forest of old beautiful trees, for jogging and walking. Blackstone Park is at the end of Waterman Street in Wayland which is a 40-acre city park with 2,400 feet of shore frontage on the Seekonk River.

 

To the East, the East Side is separated from East Providence by the Seekonk River. It runs all the way from Fox Point up behind Butler Hospital. We are surrounded by water everywhere we turn that is why Rhode Island is called the Ocean State.

 

We applied to work at the famous Butler Hospital, located off Blackstone Boulevard, which is Rhode Island’s only private mental health hospital. Founded in 1844, the hospital offers psychiatric and substance-abuse treatment programs. We are not offered jobs, they express strong beliefs about patients’ rights and nurses responsibility to protect patients from abuse, stating “You did not report and expose the conditions that are going on at Howard State Hospital”, we explained that our school’s nursing director warned us that we would be kicked out if we intervened in any way.

 

I know on an ethical level they are right, that to take on the system no matter the consequences is the right thing to do. I lacked the courage and fearlessness to follow through due to my own needs being more important. I understand my response of not taking action is related to my own abuse issues and keeping quiet about it, in addition to being the oldest child in my family and conditioned to keep secrets, the same pattern was repeated and reinforced with my Nursing Director so in order to accomplish my RN goal I bit my tongue and let the behavior continue. We leave Butler and head west to Miriam Hospital where we are hired for the night shift.

 

To the south, the East Side abuts Narragansett Bay, which is formed by the confluence of the Seekonk and Providence Rivers. This is where Roger Williams landed after crossing the Seekonk River and is marked by a small park called Roger William’s Landing. Also we have India Point Park, the largest park in the area, is located along the northernmost shore of Narragansett Bay. It is the only large expanse of Bay-side shoreline in Providence reserved for public use. Interstate 195 separates the park from the rest of Fox Point. We can easily walk to these areas to enjoy a beach like atmosphere close to home for we do not have a vehicle to drive to the beautiful distant beaches of Rhode Island.

 

India Point Park

 

We live on East Manning Street in Fox Point, on the top floor of a double-decker; our landlord is an elderly Portuguese couple who live downstairs on the first floor. The old man with his quaint European attitudes is always instructing us on what is “Proper behavior for young women”, telling us “It doesn’t not look good that you had different guys over”, “You each need to pick just one young man each” while we explain they are just friends, we have invited over for a home cooked meal. The place is furnished with nice antique furniture, which is ideal for us at this time. The wooden structure is well built, with beautiful wood staircase and floors that are well maintained. We feel like we are living in the lap of luxury with our rent being $100/month.

 

In July, after we pass our State Board Exams, we are hired for the summer, despite the fact we are moving to Boston, by Miriam Hospital a private, non-profit hospital located along 164 Summit Avenue in the Hope (Summit) area which is part of the East Side.

 

 

Its history started in 1902, when a handful of women raise the down payment on “a place to care for the indigent sick of the Jewish faith.” To fulfill their dream, 450 people joined their cause, going door to door, they raised $80,000. As a result of their efforts, the first Miriam Hospital was founded by local Jewish organizations and opened in 1926 with 63 beds and 14 bassinets. A year later, another $82,000 was raised to help defray the “burdens of caring for charity patients.” The Hospital and the Jewish community formed a relationship that has endured for generations. After the war years, $1.3 million was raised for a new 150-bed Miriam Hospital which opened on Summit Avenue in 1952.

 

We ride the bus, for approximately 3 miles to our job, at 10:30 pm Monday through Thursday evenings. We call in sick on Fridays, because we figure that our income with the night shift differential, is equal to what we would make working 5 day shifts a week, they are so happy with us they do not complain about it.  In September when we resign, they give us each a beautiful letter of recommendation, thanking us for the great care we gave, and letting us know that we could return at any time.

 

My friend is Night Charge Nurse on The 70 bed Medical floor. Our job descriptions are similar we just work on different floors. I am the only Registered Nurse on the floor; my title is Night Charge Nurse on a 70 bed Surgical Unit, with 4 staff member who I assign patient care to and supervise. This is a very challenging job that I have been well trained for. My responsibilities include: hanging bags of Intravenous Fluids with Medication Piggybacks, administering all medications, ministering post-op care and managing emergencies such as surgery sites opening up and having to rush them back to surgery.

 

There is no time to sit down and comfort distressed patients, especially those in pain. I become skilled at short brief kind words that reflect my caring attitude, combined with the technical comfort measures available, so that medication is not my only intervention, making my the relief of the patient suffering my prime concern.

 

I struggle internally knowing more is needed and facing the reality of the situation. This reinforced my desire to do psychiatric nursing because my heartstrings are always being pulled on. When I assess and find a nursing intervention with a time restraint that is preventing me from following through, I feel sad. This is known as culture shock which all nursing students experience when entering the profession and learn what the real life situation is like. I make $977 working there for the summer. The first thing I purchased is a singer portable sewing machine: to continue developing seamstress sewing skills and for my creative endeavors towards designing my hippie style wardrobe.

 

I loved living and working on the East Side, where we have spent a great memorable summer hanging out, nursing in the real world, and weekends hitch hiking to Boston. I always enjoy walking around on the East Side even in the rain enjoying the muscle burn up its hilly terrain. The beautiful cobblestone roads make great music that bounces of the brick structures that line the streets, making it a truly pedestrian community.