My (conflicted) love letter to 2009…

2009 has been a challenging year, filled with some incredible highs, and some pretty low lows. So as we finish up this year, here’s a look back at the good, the bad, and the ugly. (I’d love to hear what topped your lists in 2009, so feel free to let us know in the comments section, or as so many of you like to do, shoot me a note via the Contact form above.)

The Good:

  1. AEquitas. Eighteen months we spent planning, strategizing, writing and editing. When it actually happened we were all too stunned to even believe it. But now 6 months in, with plates full, we’re still walking around grinning like idiots that this is actually our job. An amazing team and the ability to focus on projects we love, it’s the number one best thing about 2009 in my book.
  2. FHO. I started this site almost one year ago, as a way to help make information more accessible to everyone who needs it. Fifty one weeks later we have hundreds of subscribers, and a global community of readers visiting the site on a daily basis; partnerships with a great publishing house, an independently hosted site, and a substantial repository of information available at your fingertips. I have a feeling 2010 will be even better, as we add new sponsors, and a new regular feature here at FHO (anyone else interested in a virtual journal club?).
  3. The iPhone. I embraced the iPhone in 2009, and while it has some seriously irritating features (like auto-correcting the word @#$* to duck, which puts a crimp in my texting, don’t you know), I have found its myriad apps to be pretty useful, particularly when wandering new cities or being stranded in airports. The newest app in my arsenal? Awesome Note, which keeps me nicely organized and is aesthetically pleasing to boot.
  4. The archivable webinar. No, webinars weren’t invented in 2009, but it seems like this is the year they were universally embraced in our professional sphere. The fact that you can download them later to review if the initial session doesn’t fit into your schedule (and that most of them are free) just makes them incredibly handy. Here at FHO I try to add the archive links to the initial posts as they become available. You can browse the entire year’s offerings by clicking on the Webinar link under Topics in the left hand nav.
  5. The 17th Annual IAFN Scientific Assembly in ATL. Hands down, the best conference of the year. I was tempted to put it under Ugly, only because so many of us were incredibly sick during or after, but the reality is, even hacking up a lung, it was a great week. A consistent healthcare focus, a production of the Vagina Monologues that left me literally gasping for air (because of the aforementioned hacking up of lung combined with non-stop laughing), and a killer sustainability workshop (if I do say so myself) made this one for the ages.

The Bad:

  1. Cancer. Boo. I’m hoping it’s been contained to 2009. If it’s spread to 2010, I am going to be very irritated. (Thanks to everyone who sent me lovely notes about dad, BTW. He’s bouncing back nicely and prognosis is looking pretty great, knock on wood.)
  2. Healthcare in America. Oy veh. We continue to see so many patients coming into our programs who don’t have access to routine maintenance or preventive care. Here’s the message I sent my senators about this issue: when patients are getting the most comprehensive healthcare of their adult lives during a sexual assault medical-forensic exam, the system is irretrievably broken. (See also: my  2010 resolutions over at the Sustainability site.)
  3. Sexual assault in the military. I really struggle with this war, but what makes it even harder for me are the continued reports of women in combat being sexually assaulted by their fellow GIs, like this one that appeared in the New York Times on Sunday. The flip side is the number of close friends I now have in the various branches who are devoting their careers to effectively addressing the issue. Their efforts give me hope, but there’s so much work to be done.
  4. Sympathizers, apologists and collaborators. Not new for 2009, but also no better. Whether we’re talking about Roman Polanski, Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Sheen (his wife was drunk when she called 911!) or the general response to sexual assault on campus, it seems like there are plenty of folks out there ready and able to minimize or make excuses for violence. No doubt every one of you could open your local newspaper and find many more examples of this from the past year. That being said, there are some great blogs out there regularly confronting sympathizers and their ilk: ShakesvilleThe SexistFeministing, and Yes Means Yes to name but a few. Check them out and give them some love.
  5. The fall of gay marriage initiatives around the US. I have gay friends, gay family members and a gay business partner whose relationship has outlasted most hetero marriages I know of. It saddens me to no end that so much energy and so many resources go into defeating legislation that would allow for gay marriage in the US. Really, people–could we channel some of that commitment toward violence prevention and putting us all out of work? And while we’re at  it, Mr. President: about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? Because I really thought we’d be seeing the ass-end of that by now…

The Ugly:

  1. Ripley the wonder beast (left). It’s quite the story, one I cannot tell at this time. Sit down with me in 6 months, buy me a cocktail and I’ll tell you whether it will ultimately go into the Good or Bad category for 2010.
  2. SANE programs as hobbies. SANE programs are nursing services, like hospice and homecare. They need structure, staffing and leadership to thrive and survive. They cannot be fueled by a single person’s passion and commitment–not for the long-run anyway. They require a commitment to healthcare and collaboration that’s often lacking. Want your hospital to support your program? Then make your program an unmistakeable part of the healthcare response. Because if you put yourself out there as an arm of law enforcement and not as focused patient care, there’s little incentive for them to fund you, help you appropriate staffing or carve out space in that new ED they’re building.
  3. Role confusion. This goes hand in hand with #2–leave the investigating to our friends in law enforcement. Be a really good healthcare provider instead. A small percentage of our patients will see their cases in the criminal justice system, but 100% of them will have the potential to develop serious healthcare sequelae from the violence in their lives. Don’t believe me? Google “health consequences of violence” and tell me I’m wrong. Need a template for making this happen in your own program? Look no further than your neighbors to the north, because Canada is all over this one, and they have been for years.

What I’m looking forward to in 2010:

  1. Girls’ Vacation Club. That’s right–we’ve started one, and you could start one, too. You know those women in your life you keep meaning to go away with but can never find the time? Well, we’ve made the time. It’s only 4 days, but it’s 4 days in Key West in February with some women I adore. I’m gathering up the frequent flier miles, the sunscreen and the phone number of a bartending ADA down there and I’m hitting the beach. (Guys you can do this too, but you have to call it something else. My husband calls it Bonnaroo.)
  2. Sustaining the sustainability project. Our funding’s coming to an end, so time to start working on the next phase of this project. Can’t wait. Have some thoughts on where you’d like to see the project go? I’d love to hear them.
  3. Making FHO more global. We’ve branched out with Canada. Any of my UK, EU or Australian readers want to help me work on the next round of dedicated pages? You guys make up the bulk of my non-North American readership, so it’s the logical next step.
  4. Meeting more of you in person. My travel schedule for 2010 is ridiculous, but that’s not all bad. It means I get to actually meet many more of you face to face, which I love. And it’s amazing what happens when even a couple of us get together and chat. All kinds of great ideas stem from those conversations.

That about does it for me. I will be back on January 4th with new posts. Until then, here’s hoping those of you taking call on New Year’s Eve (alcohol and a full moon–woo hoo!) have a quiet one. And for all of FHO’s readers, peace and health in the new year. Enjoy the rest of the holiday season!

6 replies on “My (conflicted) love letter to 2009…”

My (completely) UNconflicted thoughts on leaving 2009 behind
As President of IAFN this past year I have been impressed both with what we have accomplished as a Board, and what we have accomplished as members as we collectively promote the art and science that is forensic NURSING. Special kudos must go to Carey Goryl, Susan Chasson and Jenifer Markowitz for my own successful survival. Amazing women all.
The SUSTAINABILITY project. I’ve done quite a bit of consulting in the past decade but never have I felt like I put my knowledge and skills to better use than what we did on this project. My hope for 2010 is continuation in any form that may take on.
The WOMEN I call my friends. It does always come back to these amazing ladies. You damn well already know who you are!
Realizing HOME. You really can always go home, and it is always the best place to be.
The Chuck Norris Total Gym. Yes, this is the best thing for achieving ongoing sanity without the need for witnesses.
The BAD:
The realization of MORTALITY. Ten years have passed since the death of my own husband, and yet this year I sat at the funeral of the husband of another friend where I could count the number of female friends who have been widowed during this past decade. What I am truly calling the widow’s club, not a group worth joining, but a group I am do grateful for.
Being 3000 miles from the SEA. I am a pisces, but did not necessarily appreciate the pull of the ocean on my heart until I spent my summer vacation at it with the girls.
My complete and total addiction to teh iPhone, realized ionly when I had dropped it in the toilet and had to go without for a 48 hour period of time
Well, many things, but none I am willing to post on your site, even if you are Markowitz and I do love you. Happy New Year!

@JPW: Outstanding! I love other people’s lists! Happy new year–and thanks for helping *me* get through the wackiness of 2009…

I’m so glad I found your blog during 2009. It’s always informative, and I really enjoyed your wrap-up of the year. Best wishes for a happy, healthy New Year to you and to all those who are fighting the good fight to end sexual violence.

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