Saturday, November 22, 2008

How 'Bout Dem Cardinals? Dem Bearcats?

Okay, so at one time, I was a student a lovely Ball State, which we lovingly called "Testical Tech". Gotta love that cheer: "BALL-U..and U..and U and U and U...." Haha! The first pic up there is a pic of their marching band, The Pride of Mid-America, of which I was once a part. Didn't know that, did ya? I played flute. I distinctly remember freezing my arse off in the stands waiting to take the field for halftime, and I still to this day remember the words to the fight song, because we had to sing it, accompanied by a drum cadence. Anyhow...The Cardinals are still undefeated. Go Ball U!

Then there is UC, my new school, from my hometown, making their play for the Big East title. Forget my earlier post.....It isn't just great to be a Buckeye. It's great to be a Buckeye-Cardinal-Bearcat! God, I love college football!

This is Sparta

Just for this afternoon, I am a Spartan. As in I am rooting for the Michigan State Spartans, praying that they beat the blue hell out of the boys from Penn State. My Buckeyes need a trip to the Rose Bowl and subsequently, the Big Ten Championship. It has been a rough rough couple of years.

5 In a Row For the First Time

My boys did exactly what they were supposed to do today. The first quarter scared me just a bit. But they smashed those asses from Michigan once again. This makes our streak against the Armpit of America 5 years running. It's great to be a Buckeye, especially today.

I must admit some sadness as we face losing Laurinaitis. He has been my favorite for years.

Here are some of the statements shouted during the game in my living room:

"Run, Beanie, Run!!!!"
"Bye Rodriguez." (John hates losing to OSU!)
"Who has the ball? Who has the ball???? Is that Morgan Freeman? Oh wait...He's an actor! I meant Marcus Freeman!"
"They missed the field goal???? They can't even make a field goal??? It's right there!"
"Andrea, they cannot hear you through the damned television!"

Again, I leaked around the orbitals just a bit. John hates losing to OSU, and therefore to me. But I sure do love when my boys beat Michigan!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Little Fires Everywhere

In healthcare, we have this saying. We call it "putting out fires". This is when you run around like crazy all day, attempting to get something accomplished, and never seem to succeed or make a dent in that to-do list because of little things that crop up randomly. Yet you work your arse off that day. Mr. X's SPO2 has dropped and you need to tweak his oxygen. Patient A calls saying she is short of breath and you must stop and give her a PRN treatment. Mrs. Y's ventilator keeps setting off crazy alarms, to which you must be attentive, even though she is ventilating well and everything seems to be in order. So you put out these fires all day, and when your twelve hours are over and you look back at the day, with feet that are screaming and a level of mental exhaustion you thought impossible, you wonder why you were so damned busy in the first place.

We put out little fires at home to, I suppose. With the upcoming move, I have been busy organizing and checking off tasks from my mental list. I was so releived after Monday night, knowing I had days off, thinking of all of the time I would have to accomplish these tasks, and even planning on getting some other stuff done as well. Well, here it is: Friday night. I am off tomorrow for the much-anticipated OSU/ UM game (Go bucks!), but then I report back to work to start a 72-hour work week on Sunday night. What in the blue hell did I do withh all of that time?

Yes, I did manage to arrange the move. The surveyor from the moving company came by today, so that is done. I have placed orders for the new phone service and internet access (Zoomtown, Yay! It has a very good rep). I paid the deposit on the new property and have the old electric bill paid so we just have to make a call and it will be transferred to the new address. The packing crew is coming by on Tuesday to pack, then the stuff will be delivered to the new address on Wednesday. I guess I did get some stuff done. It just doesn't seem so.

But then little fires kept cropping up. My husband, my soulmate, my light of my life, was to call the phone company and let them know we were to be moving no earlier than December 1st to ensure that we would have telephone service for the duration of our remaining time here. He did call the company, but failed to mention the date, so suddenly we were without home phone service. We tried to get the account reactivated, because at the time, we had no idea we would be moving this week. They actually expected me to pay an installation fee and everything to get it started again, with a new nyumber and everything, as if I have never lived here. For one week??? I don't think so. So I figure for emergencies, I always have my cell. Wrong answer! I forgot that when I activated my cell account, it was mainly intended to be used for the days I work (weekends/ nights), plus I could pick 5 numbers I could call at anytime. So basically, my phone was free to use at the times I needed to use, and I did not need the expensive plan withan enormous amount of anytime minutes. So...Without a home phone, with only my cell with a pitiful number of available minutes, we ran through that resource within 48 hours. Sad...Mainly, right now we are relying on email to communicate. I am praying that the new phone is activated early.

So we go to pay the deposit on the property, and the owner mentioned that there had been missed deliveries. Huh? It seems that the day after I ordered the new phone service, Cincinnati Bell decided to deliver the phone I ordered. But UPS did not leave it. So I was left with this tag that was dated 3 days earlier, letting me know that in 5 days, my package would be returned to the sender. It was 2:00 and John and I had to be back in Indiana by 4:00. But there was no way in hell I was going to make a special trip to Cincy just to pick up this phone. We were 10 minutes away. So we head across the river....

Holy Crap! John is driving because I still am not completely used to driving the new car in close traffic. I can, but judging distance has never been my thing, and cars zipping by me, close enough for me to reach out and touch, in a brand new car kind of freaks me out a bit. As is ohmyGodtheyaregonna sideswipemynewcar! So John drives. Did that fix it? Not really because John is not as accustomed to downtown Cincinnati as I am, and he had trouble negotiating the grid of one-way streets, and I could see his blood pressure rising as I was thinking ohmyGodtheyaregonnasideswipemynewcar! All to pick up the new phone. Not even a cool new wireless phone, but instead, just a boring new cordless for the house.

So then UC decides to mess with me. About a week ago, after making sure I had met the deadline and getting my official transcript sent, I started checking the status online. And it kept telling me the same thing: my file was incomplete. So I would call and check, and the people in the transfer office kept reassuring me that all was golden, and they just have not put it into the system yet. So I wait... Then I call 2 days ago just to be sure. That is when I find out that they need the transcript from a college course I took in high school. Way back in 1995. Are you kidding me? I completed 98 credits in 4 semesters with a perfect GPA as recently as 2 years ago, and they are worrying about one class from over 13 years ago???? Seriously? But it gets better. She then tells me that that day in particular is the very last day to get anything in, and I can have it faxed. So I call the college. I get lucky because they don't purge their electronic files until after 15 years have passed. Yes they can fax it, but they need a written request with a signature! The only way to do that is by snail mail. I have no scanner. My digital camera died about 3 weeks ago. What am I going to do? Then I spy my phone laying on the table. I quickly scrawl my signature on a piece of paper and snap a picture. Then I email the picture to myself so I can save it to my computer and insert it into the typed email to the registrar. An hour later, UC has the needed transcript. Now I play the waiting game for them to put it into the system as well.

So tonight, I have ditched the clothes I have been wearing throughout the day in exchange for the most worn-out comfy sweats that say "Diva" across the butt (which I refuse to wear in public. The person responsible for that trend should be shot!) and I plan to tackle the very last bit of Molecular Genetics, followed by a chapter on Evolution in my MCAT review. Once I get that finished, I will have polished off the entire Biological Sciences portion and can start on my Chemistry review. But Chem will have to wait, as I have purchased a copy of Phillipa Gregory's The Boleyn Inheritance, the sequel of sorts to The Other Boleyn Girl, which I loved. I bought the book expressly for my vacation, and have only read a small bit of it. It is calling my name in a chorus with the comfy spot on the sofa.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Please Explain This To Me

Okay. In order, these are the rankings right now. For the Big Ten: #1 Michigan State. #2 Penn State. #3 Ohio State.

WTF? Why does Michigan State outrank my boys when we clearly BEAT THEM??? I can understand record, and all of that business. But wouldn't one think that the better team would have won the match-up? I do not understand football ranking. This pisses me off. There went the Rose Bowl over this stupid crap.

Home Again Soon

These are photos I found online of the historic area to which we are moving. They are not my pics, as my digital camera is on the fritz. The first pic is the clencher. This is the view across the suspension bridge from Covington to Cincinnati. You can see downtown behind the bridge. This is the view I missed the most in all of my years away.

Just down the street from our new home are all of these older, gorgeous houses. This one is about a block away from us.

These streets will make a wonderful backdrop for family walks each night.

The cathedral. John and I were going to get married here before we decided to elope all those years ago. Now that my son is going to be going to a catholic school, I will be revisiting my catholic roots. We have talked about John converting to catholicism. We have been wanting to renew our vows on our ten-year anniversary, to have the ceremony we missed out on by eloping. Maybe, just maybe.....

What I Should Have Been Doing All Along???

Okay, just hear me out. John and I have not had an easy row to hoe since we got married in 2000. Things just do not go right for us. We are always fighting against the grain. (Let's see how many cheesy cliches I can use in this post!) Some of the struggle has been the direct result of some really unfortunate events. Some of it, because I am an adult and not above admitting this, were the result of our own poor choices. But regardless of the precipitating factors, we have had a struggle. And we have fought and fought and fought. And some of it has been recent, as recent as this past summer.

So we decide that we need to move closer to my work, which just happens to be in my hometown. We tell ourselves that we are going to take our time and find a place that is right for us. We realize it will be difficult. The events of our lives have left our collective credit in a pretty crappy state, and all of these rental properties will look at credit.

We find this place that sounds great by description over the telephone, so we take a day to go and see it. It is not great. It is a dup of such proportions that we do not even pause as we are driving by. We merely look at each other and say a resounding "No!" in unison. We get turned around on a one-way street, and we see it. An old mansion, like I love, that has been converted into rental units. John reads the phone number off of the "For Rent" sign in the front yard, and I hastily jot it down. We go to a nearby friend's house and we call.

It sounds perfect. Huge rooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces. Completely remodeled kitchen and bathroom. And rent cheaper than we are paying here in Indiana. So I explain that we have some issues with credit, but I have a great job and great ability to pay. I explain that I am in the process of completing the requirements for med school, that we need to be closer. He says he is not concerned with credit, so long as we are good people and can afford the property. We make arrangements to meet, and John and I love the old house. It is in a historic district near downtown, on a street filled with character that you cannot find in any modern neighborhood. We can see ourselves there.

I contact my employer, and they agree to cover my relocation. I call the utility people and the phone people, and no one needs deposits or anything. We tell the landlord that we would like to move in around December 1, but he had other plans and would like to rent it sooner than that. He says he needs to speak with his wife, and he will call back. An hour later, we get the word that they would really like to rent to us, that they would rather wait for us to be ready to move than to rent to one of the others that have shown interest in the property.

We are about 2 weeks away from D-Day. It is all falling into place. I have the new number, have signed the lease. The relocation company has called and we are sure that we can arrange the move without me even missing a beat at work. John took one afternoon and went and applied for jobs at any place he thought he would be qualified to work, and within the week, he already has had some bites. This is way more than he has accomplished within 2 years in Indiana. We met with the administration of a private school for Evan, and within 2 minutes of the conversation's start, they said what I have been wanting the school he attends now, the people who have known him for 2 years, to say all along. "It sounds like he really needs some extensive testing before we place him in a grade level." And should they not deem it appropriate to place him in second grade, to skip him to the next level, the classes are very small and they insist that they can give him more advanced work in the areas in which he needs a challenge.

So what am I getting at with all of this? For the first time in a long time, it is all falling into place for us. I'm not even going to have to pack. Hired men will do that for me. And it all makes me wonder.

The pessimist in me wonders what is gonna happen to wreck this. Things just do not go this easily for my family. But the other part of me, the one who believes everything happens for a reason, is left to look for the hidden meaning in all of this.

I left my hometown in 2001. I remember the tears as I watched Cincinnati disappear through the passenger side window of a U-Haul. I was scared, and I felt this sense of dread, even though I truly thought I was doing what was best at the time. Time marched on and we stayed gone for a long time. We would come up to Cincy and spend long weekends during those years. We would spend our visit doing things tourists normally don't do. Instead of visiting aquariums and zoos and amusement parks, we spent our time visiting our favorite stores and restauraunts. We would get our fix of home, then go back to our residence in Kentucky or Indiana or wherever we were at the time. And everytime I left, I felt like I was leaving the city all over again.

When I graduated from college,and I started to look for work, I loked up here. When I got an offer from a hospital in Southeastern Indiana, I figured that would be close enough. But Indiana has not felt right to us. We would still go to Cincinnati to do things like shop or go out to eat. And we would cross the Brent Spence bridge, where you can see the skyline with such clarity, and I would feel that tug on my heart: This is home. This is where you always will and always have belonged. Where people think like you and talk like you, while still being so different.

So are things going so easily for us because this is what I should have been doing all along? For the past 7 years? Because this will be the place where John and I can be a normal couple again? Because this is the place that has everything I could possibly need to live my life and achieve my dream? I cannot help but feel as if someone is trying to tell me something.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Because the Time is Near

Gunny, Come Home!

I swear this shall be my dog. Our family needs a dog. Well, not really, I suppose. But I want an English Bulldog. But these pups are very expensive, and so ugly that they are actually cute. John insists that, should we get one, it shall be a He-dog and his name shall be Gunny. That is the Leatherneck in him speaking. He shall have a camouflage bed with his name embroidered on it, with an Eagle, Globe and Anchor. I mentioned we wnated one to the new landlord, and he smiled and said that he has an English Bulldog named Baxter. But we want our Gunny.


I have finally experienced the ultimate level of tiredness. An exhaustion you can feel in your bones, your teeth, your hair.
I go to work Wednesday night. It is not the typical work night, as I usually work weekend nights, so I am already out of sorts. I do my twelve hours, not assigned to the ER, but instead to the Surgical Intensive Care unit. I have vent patients in 3 different units of the hospital and spend the night shuffling from one unit to the next, all while weaning a patient in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). Weaning is rather labor-intensive. As in turn down the FIO2, check a blood gas. Turn down the rate, check a blood gas. Turn down the PEEP, check a blood gas. When you get the settings so low that the vent is doing virtually nothing for the patient, you turn the vent to a mode of spontaneous ventilation and let the patient cruise for a bit. Order another blood gas. Looks good? Extubate. So I do all of this. And once 02:00 rolls around, and I am starting to hit my wall, as I do every night, I start counting down the hours until the day shift people come in and I can go home.
But then I remember. Mandatory Inservice. 6 stations of things we do in our scope of practice, but we do so rarely that it is difficult to stay fresh. This is the hospital's way of ensuring that when I have that rare patient who must go to MRI in the middle of the night, I know how to use the primitive ventilator with no metal in it. This wouldn't seem like a big deal to someone who knows nothing about mechanical ventilators. But a vent is not necessarily a vent. The big microprocessor vents are awesome. User friendly. Easy-peasy. And we are all spoiled with those. We forget the fundamentals of ventialtion. How do you dial in a rate if there is no specific way to set a rate? You want the rate to be 12. That means a breath every 5 seconds. In order to get the tidal volume you want, you had to set the flow and inspiratory time. So I-Time can't be changed or you will mess up your volume. I-Time is 0.75 seconds. So to get a total cycle time of 5 seconds, you need to set expiratory time at 4.25. Because TI+TE=TCT=5. Lovely.
But the primitive ventilator is not the only issue. How do you ventilate (safely, without barotrauma) the 1 lb. preemie? What is the best way to complete a protocol on the acute vs. the chronic illness upon admission into the hospital. There is a difference.
So the inservice is mandatory and only being offered on two days. Wednesday and Thursday morning. I intentionally skipped Wednesday's because why would I drive an hour and a half for that? So I planned to go Thursday morning when leaving from my Wednesday-night shift. Completely forgot all about that.
But wait! That isn't it! I also have to do my anual fit testing to ensure that the disposible mask I wear upon entering a TB patient's room will fit me adequately enough to keep me from bringing home the present of tuberculosis to my family and friends. Keep in mind that I failed this fit testing last time. I just do not have much of a nose, and when I would nod my head, as the tester made me, it would create this enormous air leak. Did that mean I got out of seeing TB patients??? Hells to the nah! I am a respiratory therapist! Instead, I had to wear this hood looking thingy. Ridiculous. And it had this fan that worked with it, to circulate the air, so it made this woosh-swoosh sound. I looked like the Ku-Klux-Klan Grand Wizard meets Darth Vader. I refuse to miss the chance to test again, to get the chance to just wear the disposable N-95 mask and not the crazy hood. So I am tired, but I go. And when it gets to the part of moving my head up and down, as in an exaggerated nod, I keep falling asleep with my head in the leaning-back position. Thank God the tester was the mother of one of the other RT's who works night shift. She brought me a very caffeinated a beverage as I was walking out the door. But I Passed.
So I have maneuvered all of the little inservice stations. I have completed the fit testing that is to free me from the Dork-Hood for at least the next year. Now I have to drive home. One and a half hours.
So I know tired now. The tired in your bones, your hair, you teeth. By the time I arrived in my house yesterday morning (I think it was yesterday!) I had been gone for over 20 hours. Blah.

How Do I Feel About This? A Loaded Question

If I say I hate it, I am a bigot, a raceist. a white supremacist. If I say I love it, I am going against anything I have said thus far. So that makes me a liar, a hypocrite. What if I say I have mixed feelings? Does that make me a chicken? A fence-rider?

I don't feel like any of those titles. So instead, I will stick my neck out and say I was not pleased with our nation's choice of leader. I still doubt he will do all he says. And I am scared for the future of my family in a share-the-wealth America. I donate to charity, and I pay a ton in taxes. I do my part. But I do not feel I should have to the share what I earn with individuals who will not get out and even attempt to improve their lives. So I am scared.

There really are a few points of Obama's election that give me that warm, fuzzy feeling. I love that our nation has reached the point of being able to elect an African American POTUS. Progress is beautiful.

I also was quite impressed with our President Elect's address the following day, when our economy is chaos. It was what we naysayers needed to see.

My guy lost. And I am scared, but I guess I may have to just wait and see what Obama has in store for us. I hope all of the hype will not turn out to be an elaborate way of smack-talk.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Poor, Poor W.

He will be missed, and here is why:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sicko Ballot

This is the greatest day to be American. Our day where we all do the same thing, complete the same action by voting, to choose our leader. I mentioned this to my Marine husband, fully expecting agreement from him. After all, he is one of the many who fought for my right to do what I am about to do. But his reply was this : "The SuperBowl is the greatest day to be American!" Not quite what I had in mind. Maybe the BCS Championship would run a distant second in my book. But definitely not the Super Bowl.

So I am schlepping my arse to cast my vote. I would not dream of not voting. I have voted in every presidential election since the day I turned 18. And yes, I voted for W. Both times. Not my proudest point. The first time was a gimme. The second time, I wanted to give him a chance to straighten out the Iraq War. But after 4 years, it is time for another guy to have a chance at it. McCain, you're up.

And I'm sick. I mean sick. I am pretty sure I have been visited by influenza early in the year. It started a week ago with mild sinus symptoms. One of the ER docs wrote for an antibiotic, which I waited to fill, assuming it would go away. A week later, the same symptoms are there, but actually worse. Plus I keep developing low-grade fevers, having chills, then breaking into horrific sweats. I ache all over, and my nose will not quit for anything.

But dammit, I am voting. Let's just hope the local Senior circuit has had their flu shots.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Baby Steps Toward My Dream

I started the process today. I completed my online application to the University of Cincinnati, arranged for my official transcripts to be sent for my transfer, and am working on the financial documents as we speak.

I am petrified. It seemed almost surreal as my mouse pointer hovered over the blank space on the application for admission where I was to indicate my career objective. P-H-Y-S-I-C-I-A-N. As I typed out the letters associated with my lifelong dream, a montage played through my head. Mom telling me all those years ago that "Medical school is for the rich, Andi". The choice I made an age ago to major in music instead of Biology, based on my love for music. Years and years of wondering if I was wasting my life and my abilities. The day I surrendered my higher education when my mother died. Going back to school after all of those years away,only to complete my respiratory education with such ease that I knew, just knew, that I could be doing more. Tearing up after a conversation with the Dean of Admissions for UC's College of Medicine, when he told me I was the perfect candidate for med school. And the struggles...all of the strugglees John and I have faced together. This is my dream, not only for my career, but it is also my way away from all of it.

It all seems so scary to me right now. When I had to select my major, I sat there staring at the "Molecular Biology" link. It seemed to taunt me, as if to say "You think you can??? I dare you to try."

Before you think I have crossed that line, that I am going insane, let me say that I know the link was saying nothing more than "Molecular Biology". But clicking on it, adding it to my application, and then finalizing the app was the scary part. The little ominous window popped up to let me know that that was the point of no return.

I want this more than anything. Every fiber of my personality screams "Medicine". If I could not go to medical school, I do not know what I would do. I cannot see myself doing anything else. I can't even see doing what I currently do for the rest of my life.

So here we go.