Wednesday, December 31, 2008
This was the year I was sure I was going to have to send my husband off to war...
...The year we became tougher as a couple.
..The year we said Goodbye to Holly, John's grandpa. The one who reminded me of a Norman Rockwell portrait with the suspenders and wire-rimmed specs and round rosy cheeks. As the years took his memory away, he never forgot John or Evan and showed me what a Grandparent is, having never known my own.
...The year that "brain" and "tumor" were put together in a sentence to wreck my world.
... The year I was faced with my own mortality and learned that my life is not a given.
...The year I had to worry about what would become of Evan and John if something were to happen to me.
...The year the rug was pulled from under us, the walls came crashing down and we had to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and build anew.
...The year I learned that we could pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and build anew.
...The year we learned that our son truly is extraordinary, not just in our eyes, but to the rest of the world as well.
...The year a tragic event pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to do what I had always said I wanted to do.
...The year I came home.
...The year I finally bit the bullet and decided to go back to school in my hometown. I have never failed at anything I truly wanted. After this past year, I have learned that I am tough enough to take the risk. I am throwing caution to the wind and doing what I came here to do.
...The year I became a little bit stronger, a little bit wiser.
Would I relive 2009? No. I would not. Through all of the events of my life, I have never said I would not go back and do something. Even the most tragic event has taught me at least a little something. I get through them by chalking them up to lessons learned about myself and the world around me. This past year has been no exception, but I will never say I want to relive that hell. This past year has done something to me. I am changed, whether it be for better or worse, and I cannot go back and erase any of it. Never again will I take my life for granted. Never again will I assume that tomorrow is a given. Ever since March 12th, I have hugged my son a little bit tighter, kissed John for a little bit longer. I stopped leaving the house without a hug and kiss for them both, with a hearty "I Love You".
2009 can be nothing but better for us. I hope it is for you as well.
Now, here is my favorite song for this time of year. Happy New Year!
I was not Mommy's Angel by any means. My much older brothers and sisters recall the dysfunctional bits of our relationship. My tantrums and issues. They don't know about this. My mother's relationship with her kids was not collective. She was different to all 7 of us, and their memories of her are not the same memories I have of her. Yes, I was a brat. Marcia was the Good One. David was the Crazy One. Connie was the Middle Girl One. Mike was the Oldest One. Spud was the Troublemaking One. Rick was the Middle Boy One. Me? I was the Smart One. The Spoiled One. From the day I was born to the day I die, I was/ am/ will be The Baby. I got everything I wanted to a level of obscenity. When explaining this to others, my excuse for this is that she had already raised 6 kids by the time I came around and she was just tired and gave in. I did my share, too. The games Evan plays now to get what he wants? They are very familiar. I invented them.
Several years ago, this song came out. I was chatting with someone online and they were telling me about this song called "The Baby" and how beautiful it was. Thinking it was going to be some sweet song about being a mother, and being a mother myself, I looked up the lyrics. Before I even heard the song, I was emotionally wrecked. I actually looked up the writers because I was convinced it was someone who knew me. From the mention of Cincinnati, to the mention of a family picture, to the verse about not getting to say goodbye, it was my story. There was this one birthday of hers where my grown brothers and sister snuck and had us all meet with this photographer for a professional portrait of all of us kids together. I remember the little purple dress I wore with the ribbon sash. Remember my sister curling my hair. I was in second grade. The mention of a photograph in the song reminds me of that picture of us all. She was so proud of that picture.
Mom died on the night I returned to college after taking a leave of absence when she signed the "Do Not Resuscitate" order. I made the return trip with my brother-in-law driving 90 miles per hour, thinking she was sick, but not knowing she had already passed away. I didn't know until I entered a room full of my brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews that she was gone. I can still hear in my head the phone call from my sister telling me I had to come home NOW. I heard from my those who witnessed her passing that her last words were to tell my father "Just make sure my baby is taken care of." I was 19. I was the one who still needed my mother more than anything. I was the only one she did not get to see on their wedding day or witness the birth of their first child. For some reason I thought this made it worse for me than it was for my siblings. Silly me. I am no longer 19, and I have the family, as they all did back then, and I still need her just as much as I did then.
I miss Mom. Every day. She was my biggest fan in life. She did what she thought was best for me, ensuring I had everything she wanted and needed and never had. She was tough and strong. I know my earlier adult years had to be a disappointment to her, if she is indeed watching from up there. I hope my life since then has made her proud. I wish more than anything that my husband got to know her. I turned out more like her than anyone would have realized. I have some of the same flaws and some of the same strengths. My brothers and sisters say I look more and more like her with each passing year. I wonder if she knows that I see her daily in the faces of my patients. That she is the reason I do what I do for a living. That I now understand the struggles she had raising me: the spoiled, spirited, gifted kid. I have one of my own now. I wish now more than ever that I could see her face and tell her that I love her, that I am who I am because of her, whether by nature or nurture.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Okay, so the next day, my arms are sore, and I cannot figure out why. I hadn't done anything. Then I tried to play the game again. Sure, enough, the repetitive motions of the boxing revealed to me just exactly what cause the muscle soreness. This is not the ordinary video game.
This is the commercial for UC to air during the Orange Bowl on Thursday. I am a big 'ol sap. I got a little teary-eyed watching this earlier this afternoon. This is my school. This is my hometown. It's great to be back, doing what I have always wanted to do, in my hometown. I will not leave again.
I actually was scheduled to be off at 11Pm tonight. With codes in the cath lab and patients in crisis all over the place, 2 out of the 4 ER's in Northern Kentucky already on diversion, and ours attempting to, I felt guilty leaving my coworkers in that mess. The problem is that I have literally worked 70 hours in 7 days. In over a week, I have not had a single day at home with my family, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and my anniversary. I am also scheduled for two more nights before I have any time off, and even then, it is only one day. I really needed to leave, so I did all I could to make it easier for the person relieving me of the units of the hospital to which I was assigned. On top of that, it has been a crazy night: patients falling, going MIA, ripping out picc lines. I am tired deep down in my bones. So now I am home. I miss John and Evan.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
So Anyhow...Class starts January 5th. Somehow I managed to end up in a little Chemistry marathon on Tuesdays and Thursdays, between the lecture, lab, and recitation. Monday and Wednesday are reserved for Calculus, which I have not touched since I was a senior in high school, circa 1995. Monday and Wednesday nights are my biology nights, which should be easy for me. Yes, I actually think biology is fun. For me, the Krebs cycle is as much fun as shopping. I threw a history course in there somewhere, but I forget where. I knew UC would expect me to take something other than my science courses. They actually expect me to be well-rounded. Ha!
How am I going to do this with work? Good question! It's really too bad that I do not work at the other campus of this hospital. The RT's there maily just sit, read, play on the computer, watch movies in-between doing an occassional EKG or nebulizer treatment. They rarely touch a critical care patient because those patients are all sent to us here. There was actually even one situation where an ambulance picked up a patient who went down in their ER parking lot and brought the patient here instead of taking them there first. My point is that there, I would have alll of the time in the world to study. But the clencher is that I would be bored to tears and any critical care skills I have would go completely soft. Plus, here, I rub elbows with some individuals who could potentially write some very impressive letters of recommendations here in a year or so. In other words, I'll keep my job.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Let me just say, without faltering, that even when I had no job, when I was a full-time student, when we needed public assistance to buy groceries, I still managed to provide the child with everything he wanted.
My in-laws came in this past weekend because I have the work schedule from Hell and we were sure this was the only way they would be able to see him for Christmas. I had already had a conversation with Evan, explaining to him that people do not stop being sick just because it is Christmas time, and that Mommy has to work. In fact, Mommy does not have a day off of work until January 2nd. Together, we decided that it was acceptable for Santa to come late for Christmas so we could all enjoy the time together as a family. Secretly, I was delighted because this agreement meant that around the time I would have a day off of work to shop, there would be the enormous after-holiday sales. I had it all planned in my head: this obscene display of lavishness where John would get Evan out of the house so Santa could come. Evan would return to find this spread of everything he wanted. Everything! Keep this background information in your mind.
So this past weekend, they come into town. They are armed with cash to spend on Christmas gifts for Evan. We visit Toys'R'Us, where Evan is to pick out what he wants within his budget. Evan rattles off the list, and we start to fight the most insane crowd you could imagine in a toy store the weekend before Christmas. One of the items on his list, like every other kid in America, is a Wii. I had planned on buying one for him. But despite the crowd and the demand for the game system, they actually had them in. His grandma explained that if he chose the Wii, that would be it. Instead of getting a large quatity of cheaper presents, he would just get the one big one. He was fine with that. I was as well, thinking that it would be better for him to get it now while they had one in. I just planned on spending the same amount of money on accessories for it, which can be pricey.
John's sister comes up with the idea of taking Evan down with her for a visit this week. Yes, it is Christmas, but I will be working anyhow. We all agree that it is fine. It sucks that my son is not going to be here on Christmas, but neither will I. It is better for him to have some sort of celebration with family. We pack his stuff and when they make the return trip to Southern Kentucky, Evan goes along.
Now here we are. Evan is with them until Saturday. After a heated discussion with John's mother, it is revealed to me that I apparently spend no money on my son, that he is deprived. I cannot believe this is being said about the child who wears nothing but designer clothes. The child who has a room that looks like a toy store, whose mother works 60-70 hours per week to provide him with a private education because public school was not offering enough of a challenge. I am completely dumbfouded and have to step back from the situation for a minute to even think of a response to this. After a minute, I call his mom back and ask where she could possibly get an idea like that.
Where did she get it? From Evan. From my poor underpriviledged, malnourished, neglected little angel. You see, one day Evan had asked me if Santa could fit through the little fireplace at the new house. It didn't seem like too illogical of a question. The fireplace in the living room is small, and Santa is fat, right? My response?
"Well, Evan, Santa has magic on his side. Even when our house didn't have a chimney, Santa still found you, didn't he??? So Santa will find you."
Apparently this got twisted just a bit. My angel went and told John's family that he was told that Santa couldn't fit through our chimney, therfore no Santa this year. As a result, John's mother and father have gone and bought a whole new batch of presents for Evan to open down there on Christmas to make up for his alleged non-Christmas here at home.
Originally, I felt shocked and sad that my baby actually believed I was not going to get him anything for Christmas. But then I stopped and thought back through all of the conversations we have had about Christmas. I made it clear that Santa was going to come. I even made sure Evan understood why he would come late so as not to upset him. If he didn't understand, I would've found a way to celebrate on Christmas and not late. If this were some other child, I would feel like I had failed. This isn't any other child!
This is my gifted son. This is the child who knows exactly how to manipulate others to get what he wants. He has a memory like you would not believe and he knows what was said. This is not miscommunication or confusion. This was a lie. I know my son better than John's family, apparently. They got played. He knew what he was doing all along, and it worked. They got upset and felt badly. Despite the fact that he already got wonderful presents from them this past weekend, they went back and bought him more out of sadness for the poor little boy without Christmas gifts.
I do not know whether to be mad at my son for the conniving way he played them, or angry at my in-laws for not seeing through it. I think it should be a combination. One look at Evan shows anyone he is not deprived. They have seen his bedroom. They have seen the clothes I buy for him. They know he is in private school.
I have not decided what I am going to do about this. I am tempted to not buy him anything for Christmas. I don't know if that is a good enough lesson. I think he needs to learn about true deprivation. I cannot decide if this should mean that he will need to personally box up all of the extra Christmas gifts and physically hand them over to charity, or if I am going to take him to a soup kitchen and make him do some age-appropriate task for them so he can see what it is like. That while he is throwing around these statements and ideas, there are others without food or shelter. There are children living on the streets, with no warm clothes or hot meals. Heaven forbid the Wii was his only Christmas gift fro his grandparents.
This morning, he met me after work in the hospital cafeteria in an effort to have breakfast together before I went to bed for the day. He was sitting in the cafeteria, alone at a table, watching for me to come through the door. I came through the entrance on the other side, and could not see him. I turned the corner, and saw him sitting there quietly, waiting for me. In that instant that I saw him there, my heart skipped a beat. In the instant that followed, I was in awe that the sight of him can still have that effect on me after all of these years. And in that small moment, after a stressful night working the ICUs, I was home. I was safe, and nothing could touch me.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
But then I did the dreaded thing: I checked on Disney rates. No, I do not want Mickey to be our officiant. But little Evan has never been to Disney, and the child wants to go so badly that he has even tried to register for flights online. (Thank God he does not know about my debit card, or the flights would be more of a reality!)
So I discover that for almost the same exact price, all three of us could take off to Orlando for some Disney fun. The price was only like $4K and included airfare, lodging, six days of park admission, car rental, and 3 meals plus 2 snacks a day for everyone. Basically I would have to take about $1K for spending, and that would be the only other expense. A romantic trip for John and I, to a Jamaican resort for 5 nights/ 6 days will run me about $8K if I do not skimp on the room I want. I could save about $3K here, but I want to be in luxury, not just so-so accomodations.
So I am sitting here and pondering the decision. I'm a Mom. 10 bucks says I end up choosing Disney.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
But with each passing hour, it was getting worse, and one of the doctors I work with noticed my limp. " Andrea, why don't you let me x-ray that?", she asks. Well, because even if it has somehow managed to fracture itself, I cannot take the time to go upstairs to my purse to get my insurance card, wait for registration, sit through the x-ray, and more. I had a job to do, and the little "Bong Bong" sounding alarm that signals the announcement of a Code Blue seemed to be the soundtrack of the night. So I continued to limp.
By 7:00 in the morning, I was regretting my decision. I was actually getting teary-eyed from the pain, and I am not a wuss. After I gave report to the oncoming shift, I hobbled down to the ER and checked myself in, no longer caring that someone I worked with was going to have to smell my feet after a twelve, and completely forgetting that I couldn't remember the last time I had shaved my legs.
So I am there, in the ER, surrounded by my coworkers. They completely baby me. Someone brings me a Diet Coke on ice. Another brings me a warm blankey and dims the lights, knowing I have had the night from hell and must hurt pretty badly to stay 3 hours after my shift has ended to be seen. What was the diagnosis? Plantar Fasciitis, which I must admit I thought was one of the B.S. diagnoses they give you when they have no explanation for what is going on. Just about every hypochondriac I have known has complained of this ailment. But this shit really hurts. So I read up on it some more, and am convinced they are wrong. I have no pain in my heels or even in the soles of my feet at all. The pain is in the metatarsal area of the top of my foot. But regardless, I continue to work my shifts over the weekend.
Monday morning, I return form another twelve and go directly to bed, only to wake up to the most horrendous stomach pain, followed by some bodily functions I will not speak of publically. I am very sick. I stay on the couch for the rest of the day, hoping and praying it goes away. Of course it does not. I had to call-in sick Monday night, which absolutely sucks. Nobody minds a day off of work, but I didn't want it to be a day of sickness. Plus the idea that some other overworked RT is having to cover for me makes me feel even worse. I hate calling-in sick. But I have to do so Tuesday night as well, as I am too weak to even stand by this point and am only able to hold down teensy sips of strawberry Powerade Zero.
Finally it is Tuesday night. The vomiting has subsided, but I am still terribly weak and miserable. I feel dehydrated and haven't washed my hair in days. Yuck. John brings me a refill of my Powerade (and my evening meal of 2 whopping spoonfuls of Jell-o). I but my left hand on the back of the couch to try to hoist my rubbery self up to a semi-sitting position so I can eat/ sip. But the problem is that there is a leg on the back corner of the sofa that has a stripped screw that needs to be fixed. I shift my weight, the leg comes off, the sofa crashes to the floor, and my left hand that was grasping the back of the sofa get crunched between the window sill and the solid sofa frame. Naturally I scream in a voice not my own that my hand is stuck and some other choice expletives. John just stares, mouth agape, with my Jell-o in one hand and my glass of Powerade in the other. He finally sets both of them down and goes for my hand---the one that is most obviously not stuck! This leaves me to scream some really not-so-nice things at him, when he was only trying to help. (But c'mon really! I am screaming that my hand is stuck in a scream that lets you know it is agonizingly painful, and you look and see that the hand in front of you is free. Do you stop and puzzle over it or do you realize, that, hey! I have 2 hands, so it must be the other one that is causing me to scream out in pain!) I should've gotten it splinted, but I cannot bear the thought of another bill this week.
So...I am limping around, still weak, with a finger that resembles black/purple tie-dye. Woe is me.
Friday, December 12, 2008
So yesterday, I am getting undressed to take a shower, and I see it: A huge black bruise on the very area that was hurting. The diameter of this thing is about 4 inches, no joke! I don't remember running into anything or bumping it in any way. All I know is that it hurt, and now there is this.Well, with this realization came this new problem: all of the sudden, it hurts again. I just know it is because I now know it is there. If I never would have seen it, I would have been fine.I have gone completely nutso.
There is Beowulf. Beowulf is our neighbor's German Shepherd. Beowulf looks out-right frightening, as if he could unhinge the Gates of Hell. That is not the issue. He actually is gentle enough that I have found myself comfortable with Evan playing with him unsupervised. But he is enormous, and therefore has enormous...droppings. It never crossed my mind to be concerned about this. I assumed that, being that we are all living in close proximity in an urban setting, Beowulf's owners were being responsible pet owners. When one has their own lawn, one can be free to allow the dog to leave enormous piles of crap everywhere. But this is a shared lawn. And I have a 7-year-old little boy who loves nothing more than to scoot around on his knees in dirt with huge toy trucks. These two scenarios just do not mesh well.
I didn't realize this. Our short time here has basically been composed of me going to and from my car, down the front walk, as I am coming and going from work. But this morning, I am trying to sleep in a little as I work tonight, and John and Evan are in the bathroom, where John is helping Evan with his unruly hair. I hear muflled voices mumbling something, and it went like this: "HMMMMMmmm mmmmmmmm hhmmmmmm DOG POOP." Huh? What? I ask John what he was saying. "Nothing", he replies. I insist he tell me.
Apparently, my sweet son has taken his miniature version of solid white leather shoes I have provided and tread directly into the center of a pile of Essence de Beowulf. What's more is that the boys hid this from me. I don't know if I need to elaborate on this or not, as there was an entire post in days past devoted solely to the type of shoes I buy my son. As we speak, right now, John is deconstructing the shoes and placing all of the parts into my washing machine with enough Clorox that I can smell the bleach through the floorboards. I am trying to figure the most diplomatic way to address Beowulf's parents, and am wondering if gift-wrapping a Pooper-Scouper for the holidays is entirely too passive-agressive.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Christmas is just a matter of a couple of weeks away now. Most people think of snow and presents and religious figures. I think of John.
Christmas Eve will be our 8-year Anniversary. I cannot recall, other than the night we were actually married, in 2000, a single time when we have celebrated this occasion. We are always too busy playing Santa for Evan, who was born nine months after we married. Our acknowledgment of this day is always a quick kiss and a "Happy Anniversary". Christmas for a child is a magical time, even more so for the parents who love them so dearly, and we have always been too wrapped up in that to take away from it by celebrating anything else. But it does not mean that I do not think about it, about how special it is.
The other night, a colleague of mine asked me about John. They know of his struggles to find work but that is all. She asked me if I was truly in love with him. This got the gears in my head turning. I don't have to think about the answer to that. I am as in love with this man now as I was the day I married him. But for her to ask that question now, of all of the times out of the year, when my mind is raw with thoughts of John...
I did not know everything about my John when we married. I only knew that I loved him and wanted to be with him after only three months together. I have always considered us an exception to some rule about marriage: the ones who married quickly. There was a time where I wondered if we married too quickly. I have always stopped myself with the reminder that no amount of dating could teach you everything about a person. There are just some things you have to learn the hard way, by living day in and day out at someone's side. This has been the case with us.
Does John have his flaws? Absolutely, as do I. But John has some amazing qualities that go unmentioned, or not mentioned enough. One of my imperfections as a wife is that I get so caught up with my work, responsibilities, being a Mom, and my education and goals that I fail to remind him enough of what he means to me. What are some of those qualities? He can have days where he is completely selfless. He has the biggest heart of anyone I know. He is a great father to our son. He's smart and capable, and tough as nails. He is always there for me.
Did you know that each and everyday I return home from work, and my feet feel like they are breaking, he will sit and massage my feet until I fall asleep. If I am thirsty, I say so and he brings me something to drink without my even asking. If I am cold, I say the word and I am wrapped in a blanket. Right now, if I wanted to, I could go nudge him from his sleep and tell him I can't sleep, and he would stay awake for as long as it took, playing with my hair until I dozed off. Nowadays, this is worth more than diamonds and flowers and romantic getaways. He takes care of me more than even I realize.
Yes, I am in love with John. He and Evan make up my whole world. I don't need my career or my education, or anything else, in sight of losing either of them. I would give up everything for them, for him. The beauty of our life together is that I don't have to. He is my partner, so that my success is really our success.
I am a proud, headstrong person. I like to think I am tough and independent, but the truth is that I am not. I honestly do not think I could do any of what I do without John. It is not widely known, but John is the reason I have my career today, the reason I am able to approach my whole dream of becoming a doctor. Several years ago, he was in school and I was not. He was having some trouble, and asked me to go with him to meet the Dean of Academic Affairs. I went along, only to find out that he was meeting with her to talk to her about getting me back in college after surrendering my higher education almost a decade earlier when my mother died. I had always wanted to, and didn't think I could. John took me around, from the Dean's office, to the admissions office, and more. I left that day enrolled in courses that started 2 weeks from that date. After his help in making that first step, I realized that my dream of being a physician never really left me. I have been at it ever since. And when I was recognized at commencement, when getting my degree in respiratory therapy, it was his voice I heard cheering for me the loudest. When I was scared to death of my credentialing exams, he waited for me outside of the testing center, in the car, in 100 degree heat, until I was finished and had the piece of paper in my hand saying I had passed each and every exam. I honestly could not imagine finishing pre-med or Med School without seeing his face.
I am so blessed to get to spend my time here on Earth with a man who loves me. I get to laugh and cry and cheer with him over life's moments each and every day. I get to see him change, to evolve as a person. With each passing Christmas season, though we do not celebrate it, I can bask in the knowledge that we are closer as a couple, that we have managed another year together in a time when marriage is disposable. That is enough for me.
Yep, I stole that pic from the internet. But notice the lovely PB 840 Ventilator in the lower left corner??? By far my fave!
Here is the deal, peeps. We do some things that are uncomfortable for a patient when in an ICU. The list is numerous: chest tubes and a-lines and don't forget intubation. A tube made of polyvinylchloride is not a pleasant thing to have jammed into your airway. But we do it out of necessity. Not rosey and cute. But required. Then occasionally we have the patient who is having trouble breathing and we try to intervene on their behalf to actually avoid intubation. Whatever unpleasantness I could be up to is nothing compared to days of mechanical ventilation, I assure you. What am I getting at? Well here it is:
I know the patient I am taking care of may be your sweet mother. I completely understand that. I had a mother once before. I know you do not want to leave her side. Your presence at her bedside 24/7 is as much your way of ensuring we are giving her adequate attention as it is for tou to assure her with your presence. But when I come into an intensive care room, it is a sign that sweet Mom is just not breathing so well on her own. She needs some sort of help, whether that be in the form of aerosolized meds or oxygen, bronchial hygiene or mechanical ventilation. But please know that I am good at my job, even if that job is not all sunshine.
So you are at Mom's side. Great! But when I tell you I am about to do something unpleasant and encourage you to leave the room, please follow my advice. The most recent situation was the nasotracheal suctioning of an elderly lady unable to speak, and unable to adequately clear her airway with cough. DO NOT insist on watching me thread a catheter up her nostril, through the pharynx and into her trachea. She is not going to like it. She will cough and gag, and naturally try to fight me, at which point I will have to firmly insist she stop. I need to do this. I do not want the process to take so long that she becomes hypoxic or starts to brady down. That would be bad ju-ju. What I can say is that, while unpleasant, she will feel better when I am finished and have removed the nastiness from her. She may hate me, but she will feel better.
Please do not watch me, then get angry because I upset dear Mom. I am not concerned with Mom being upset with me at all. My job isn't to have tea with her or to convince her that I am worthy of her adoration. My job is to ensure that her respiratory function is intact. Making her mad is just a side effect.
If you can't handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen? More like if you cannot handle the unpleasantness, stay out of the ICU (other than for standard visiting hours, of course.)
Wow! I apparently have a lot to say if the number of the day's posts is any evidence! I guess this is what happens when I am away from my computer for long periods of time and am actually productive! But.....
I am supposed to be working on this! I have slacked off in a major way recently. Now I have a couple of much-deserved days off of work, and there are so many things I need to do that I am having a hard time hitting the books. If I keep to the plan, I should be taking this exam very soon. Must.....study.....now!
I knew it. Just knew it. I am at work the other night, working with S (name withheld to protect the innocent), and he laughs and tells me that every night he is working, I am The ER Therapist. Fine by me. I really do, though I gripe about it, love the ER. That is the only place in the hospital where I actually get to see my patients, use my full assessment skills (yes, I have those), and actually, at some point, come across everything within my scope of practice. The part I do not like about being assigned to the ER for a shift comes in the middle of the night. From 2100-2300, you have just the ER. But at 2300, all of the 1100-2300 people leave and the hospital's arsenal of RT's whittles down from 7 or 8 to about 4. Your assignment changes and you usually, on average, have about 4 other units of the hospital along with the ER. This can be okay, on nights that are not so busy. But during Respiratory Season (Haha! November through March when flu/ RSV hits!) this is not the case. You could be clear across the hospital and be paged to the ER to meet a full arrest. You have to break out in a run to get there in time. ER patients always come first. This may be to the dismay of a nurse on a med-surg floor who thinks her patient is your only patient, but is still the case nonetheless. I am always the ER therapist. It's fine. They know me down there, and I like to think that they like me.
I was very shocked this past week. I worked 6 12's in a row, only to find that I was not assigned to the ER for a single one of them. For the past 3 work nights, I had the SICU and Cardiac Surgery Recovery (CSR) Unit. I would run into people from the ER as I made my way around the building, and they actually had thought I had taken a vacation because they had not seen my face around. Ha! No asthmatic kids. No croup or RSV. My patients were intubated and silent, other than the occasional vent alarm or monitor beep. It was actually kind of nice.
In other words, @#$%^&*! I hate Lot Stalkers! They have been plaguing me since I started my new job back in July. They have always been present at Wal-Mart. But since it is cold out now, and also Christmas time, it is getting worse, as it does every year.
WTF is a lot stalker? These are the drivers who will circle the front row of a parking lot, waiting and waiting for someone to move their car. You know you've encountered them!
So picture this: You are in the store. You have just come for a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, and some Diet Mt. Dew. You have a Veruca-Salt-ish little boy with you. He wants/ needs/ will die without everything! I swear, one day I was in the pharmacy section to get some Advil, and he even managed to throw a fit there! Over what? What could a 7-year-old boy want in that area? Fricken Ironman band-aids! He would even throw a fit for an enema if it came in a colorful box!
So you make your way through the store. The three items you came in for in the first place? You did manage to actually pick them up, but you wouldn't know it by looking because they are at the bottom of the shopping cart, buried beneath the box of cereal the kid had to have (Hey, no added sugar, so it is good for him and you just cannot say no.), the shampoo you forgot you were out of at home, the packages of socks that were on sale, the book that looked too good a read to resist, and much, much more. There is a cart-load of generalized crap. You have heard "BUTMOMMYINEEDTHISFOR_______" so many times that you are contemplating just exactly what you were thinking in the first place when you decided to reproduce. The love of your life is with you, your partner in this fine mess. He is no help, because he alternates telling the kid to shut up in a tone you just know will result in a call to social services by an onlooker who has not had the priviledge of navigating a store with a kid, with asking you if you really need whatever you have absentmindedly thrown in the cart most recently. (Yes, John I really do need the tampons!) You get to the checkout line, and Grandpa Moses is running the register and manages to comment on every single item the 500 people in front of you in line are buying. You absolutely cannot wait until it is your turn (so, do you find that Super Plus is really all that more absorbent than Super?????). And the beauty of it is this: You are at your wits' end. You are about to kill your loved ones. You really need a cigarette because, at this point, it be worth the risk of lung cancer. The old man at the checkout is taking forever, and this is where they put.......wait for it.............The CANDY! The BUTMOMMY's go into overdrive at this point. By this point, you are at the register and pay $300 for the three items you need that should have been about $10, but is not because the list grew. The kid demands his own bag for every little thing he wanted, so between frayed nerves and telling him to just be quiet, you have to make Grandpa repeat the total 3 times so you can pay him.
After you have paid for your load of crap, and you head to your car. You manage to get the kid into the car and get the heater going for him so you can load up the crap without giving him a nasty case of hypothermia. You try and smoke your cigarette while you load the crap into the car because you cannot smoke in the car. The cig may be worth the risk of lung cancer to you, but never ever for your baby. You are taking your time because, though it is raining/ snowing/ sleeting/ cold out, it is quiet out there. You are at peace for the first time since you pulled into the parking lot 2 hours earlier. You casually turn your head, and you see it! The string of traffic, backed up by some woman who must wait on you to empty your parking spot because it is all-so-much-closer than the empty one two spots down! You really want to teach her a lesson and lean against your car with folded arms until she gets tired of waiting, but you feel badly for the mom in the mini-van stuck behind her who just had the same experience you did and wants nothing more than to get the hell out of this parking lot and get home. So you have to hurry up and finish what you are doing, run the cart to the corral to save the brand-spanking-new beemer parked beside you, and get in the car. Find the keys that you just had in your hand, resulting in emptying the contents of your extra-large purse, only to realize that you are so frazzled that you didn't even know they were in the ignition in order to allow the child to have heat. You try to navigate your car out of the spot with the 2 feet of room the haeffer has given you to back up. You are on your way and turn the corner to leave the lot, when you end up getting stuck in yet another string of traffic waiting for yet another spot to open up.
I have many problems with this, but I'll address that in a sec. These lot stalkers? They are at work also. I came outside from a grueling night shift. I was tired, as I had just finished my 72nd hour for the week, and it was freezing out. Whetever was falling from the sky was a mix of snow and little ice balls. My car had been in this for 12 hours, so my windshield was encased in ice. I have no gloves yet, and have managed to forget to put the ice scraper in the new car, so I have no choice but to wait for the front and rear defrosters to work so I can at least have a 1-square-inch window through which to see. Cue the Lot Stalkers! Follwed by the string of traffic behind them of drivers who just want to pass and find a spot that is open anywhere or drivers who just want to leave that God-forsaken place after a night similar to mine. I have no choice but to wait until I can actually see to drive. I need to find my phone in the bottom of the bottomless purse so I can charge it. I need to find some hardcore tunage to keep me awake for the drive home, which means I have to find the IPod and then find the adapter and plug it into the stereo. And I am being rushed by these #$%^&* people.
So here is my problem: I am fully aware that everyone covets that spot near the front. This desire is 10-fold when it is cold or raining or snowing. I also fully realize that some people cannot walk well, and need a spot close to the front of the lot. But those people should have handicapped parking permits, and thus should have the good spots available to them. I also realize that people are in a hurry to get done whatever task is on their agenda. But is waiting that long for me to leave really worth it when comapred to the 2 seconds it would take you to pull into a spot that is only 2 feet away and already empty?
Don't get me wrong! I don't exactly relish the idea of walking across a vast parking lot after the trip to the store described above, or after a long-as-hell night of saving the world. But I look at like this: I have spent hours walking by that point. What's a few steps more?????
So.....I guess the moral of the story is this: Do NOT be a lot stalker, lest my wrath be upon you!
So Pixie came to live with us. She is so little and cute and taking to us like a duck to water. Her previous owner told us that she loved blankets. Boy does she ever! John and I were lounging around the living room watching tv last night and she went to whoever was the snuggliest. But she doesn't just run to the blanket. She buurows down into it to find the warmest place. She kept me legs warm last night while I slept. And as for the house-breaking: I was scared. We were told a dog was house-broken before, only to find that he had been trained to pee somewhere with hard floors. The result was disgusting, with a male dog peeing all over the kitchen. Gross! But it would appear that she really is. She stood in the living room, looking at us while we were dressing Evan for school, as if to say "Hey, I need some help here!". She did her business outside like a champ, and I was singing her praises until I stepped into my office and found the tiniest dog turd I have ever seen in my life. There it was, in a sea of carpeting. John cleaned it away and scolded her, and thus the adventure begins.
In the meantime, it has been raining like crazy here. Thank God it is not cold enough to freeze or we would be in a perpetual ice rink. It did snow quite a bit the other day, though it is all melted away now. But it snowed long and hard enough for me to learn something about myself. When we were in Southern Kentucky, which was not so long ago, I used to complain about the drivers there. A little bit of flurries and everyone would reach a standstill on the roads, and I would cuss and complain about how they just did not know how to drive in the stuff and were going to get people killed by the accidents they caused.
So it snows one night while I am in the safe coccoon of the hospital, working away. I come outside in the morning and the ground and all of our cars are covered. I get in my car, and try to maneuver it around the lot stalkers (more about them later, as they deserve their own post!). And it finally dawns on me! I have become one of them. I am almost in a panic as I start to head home. I am worried as I maneuver through the residential area of the city, where parked cars line both sides of the street. I can just picture my new car sliding into one of them. It took me until about the halfway point of the trip to realize that, hey, I live back home now! They actually treat the roads days in advance. And my fellow navigators on the road actually know how to drive in the stuff. I will get my chops back eventually.
This leads me to the last thing I need to discuss, other than the lot stalkers, for the day. I am seriously contemplating having "Santa" visit my house late this year. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is that I literally work or have worked everyday in December, other than 6 days. In plainer terms, I have only 6 days off this month. Whoopty-Doo, right? Well think about this: The average American works five eight-hour days per week. This would leave an average of eight days off a month for them. But my standard work week is 3 12-hour days. My standard workday is 12 hours. Before you go thinking that I get 4 dyas off a week and that would be such a treat, I would like to remind you that it generally takes that long to recover from what they have done to me while at work. So then add to the mix that I picked up all of this overtime to make up for the fact that my husband is still not employed. Most of the days I picked up are 12's. That makes for a lot of hours! A lot of aching feet! A lot of fatigue! Two of those days are Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!
If you add to this equation that I am completely broke from the move, and that I am getting thousands of dollars back in the form of a financial aid refund at the beginning of the year, you could probably understand my idea of postponing Christmas in the Ferguson household. If I wait just a week, I could not only afford to grant every Christmas wish my boys have, but can also actually be present to spend the time with them. After all, Evan wants a Wii for his bedroom, and John wants a new PS3 for the living room. That alone is about $800 without the games and accessories! So financially, it makes sense. With regard to my schedule, it makes sense. But I am scared to death that this is going to push me over the edge and I will become a part of the Bad Mommy Club. Any thoughts?
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
....For this. Okay, so maybe some background info is needed here. About 2 years ago, my squishy self decided I wanted to make my great return to the pool since almost a decade earlier. At first it was terrible, providing me a heart-wrenching blow to my ego. We all relive our glory days, knowing, just knowing, that, should we choose to return to our sport, we could pick up right where we left off. But I did return, only to find that I could barely swim 25M without looking like I was drowning. Thanks to a lifeguard at the YMCA, I kept up and by last summer, I was swimming over 70 laps, sometimes twice a day. I didn't lose weight, but I sure felt better.
I kept swimming anywhere I could...The YMCA lap lanes, the community pool. Some of it was comical. Picture me in full garb: competition suit, cap, goggles, force gloves. Surrounded by senior citizens who do not want their hair to get wet and small children with their mommies. I will never, ever forget the old man who said to me "Nice rack, sweetheart" as I waited for him to quit floating in my lap lane.
So this link, the one I provided at the start of this post, is the University of Cincinnati Recreation Center's pools. Yes, the plural was intentional. And they shall be mine, all mine because access is free to students. I have the greatest intentions. I can see swimming laps after class before heading home. Add this to my work routine and study schedule, but do not ask me when I plan on sleeping. I haven't figured that part out yet. You can add that one to the Questions-Not-To-Be-Asked List, right along with this one: Andrea, where are you going to get the courage to parade around in a swimsuit amidst 18-22 year old girls??? I don't want to think of that one either, as I have no answer other than that the sweats and tee will stay on all the way until I am completely submerged.
But in the meantime, this all shall be mine. All 50 sparkling meters of chlorinated excellence. In the words of my hubby: "OooooRAHHHHHH!"
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
WARNING: This Video contains some female nudity! Don't report me!
Okay...I do not even know how to start this post. I am completely flabbergasted by this. John and I were watching television and we surf through the channels and find this documentary on "freebirthing". I am intrigued, as is John. We stop here and watch the piece.
Women, discouraged by either unsatisfactory prior birth experiences or by those of friends or family, are deciding to give birth at home. Completely unassisted by any medical personnel. Yes, women went through this daily in ages past. But do we really need to do this now?
So we watch, and I become more and more disgusted by the sheer negligence of it all. After all, as an expectant mother, one is expected to surrender their needs in the interest of the baby's well-being. I, myself, had to make such sacrifices, submitting myself to months and months of preterm labor/ contractions that were excrutiating. I wanted the pain to go away. I was exhausted. I could not afford the medical bills that were piling up before my eyes. But here is the thing: I didn't matter. Evan Robert did matter. I endured all of it for him. Up until the very end, I had the most invasive, intrusive, horrendous pregnancy experience one could have. Even his delivery was not something I would tell around a campfire while singing Kumbaya. I was strapped to an OR table with a suction catheter rammed down my throat to clear out the vomit I was at risk of aspirating. I heard him cry, and my tears started flowing because all I could think of was that they had told me his lungs would be in trouble because of his prematurity. He came out with a big lusty cry, which is very rare for c-section babies. I remember thinking "There is nothing wrong with his lungs. There is nothing wrong with his lungs." Over and over again. Then, before I even laid eyes on him, I heard a nurse tell John "Boy, you sure can't deny this one!" followed by John's laughter, so I knew he looked like his daddy before I even saw him. I remember shouting "Can I please see my baby???" And when I did see him, it was from a distance, a brief glimpse of this tiny little miracle swaddled in a receiving blanket. Not exactly a Mother Earth, One-With-Nature story. Was it what I would wish as my last childbirth experience? Probably not. Was it a smashing success? Absolutely! The evidence of its smashing success is asleep in the next room. He still looks just like his Daddy and still has the most robust set of pipes I have heard.
So these women are deciding they want the romantic version of giving birth naturally. That's great. It is true that medications given to Mommy during labor have an effect on Baby. Natural Childbirth is great if you can do it. Medicated Childbirth is great too. Pick what suits you for that stage of the game. But medical personnel are not just present at births for the Mommy. We are there for the baby just as much, if not more. And when you choose to do what these women are doing, you are making the choice to have no one present with the skills necessary to intervene on your baby's behalf if something were to go wrong. I am sorry to say this and burst any bubbles, but a bystander CPR course does not replace a team of medical professionals well-versed in neonatal resuscitation.
I am appalled by this. I am all for choices. For " birth plans" to give a woman and her family the experience they would like to have. But this should not be a choice. At least have a midwife present during your home birth.
So I start looking at some articles on this ghastly practice. I come across the website of the woman who has been so vocally advocating the practice, and I start reading some of the justifications for this "freebirthing". She actually stated that women have been doing this as long as mankind has existed. Yes, very true indeed. But that is because there used to be a day when we did not have such access to medical care. Cars didn't exist. Roadways were not present. Homes were far-flung. We also used to think that smoking was great for the body and bloodletting cured disease. So I keep reading, and see that she goes on to say, in so many words, that infant deaths have actually increased since hospital births have become the norm. I am not sure where she got her figures, but perhaps she is referring to the dark ages when medical personnel were not as skilled as they/ we are now. There was such a time. Furthermore, when Sally gave birth in her bedroom in a farmhouse way back when, and the baby did not survive, did we really have an acurate manner of keeping such records and statistics? Now, when a woman gives birth, there is this unbelievable string of documentation that must take place, These are just a few flaws in this woman's train of thought that I could pick out off the top of my head.
I think these women should be held accountable. If the child were to die, these women and any one participating in the act should be found guilty of manslaughter. I find this as neglectful as it would be for me to try to deprive my son of food or clothing or shelter. If these women do not want to be held responsible for these actions and accept these consequences, then they simply should not reproduce.
So I hear this song, and it gives me chills and makes me cry. So here it is.
So I come home and cozy up on the sofa with my husband, and I watch a little television. Grey's Anatomy. ER. John is prone to choose Trauma: Life in the ER or Code Blue. Those last two are pushing it a little, as they are actually real cases and very close to work. Does this make me a freak? Or maybe I am just blessed to love what I do and do what I love???
There was one place I could go to escape. A swimming pool. Swimming laps seems to wash away everything else, from financial woes to a good ol' marital disagreement. And my hero in this H2O world has been Michael Phelps, long before he was the world's hero after the Beijing Olympics.
So...Imagine my dismay to see this on YouTube.
My dearest has been working on the laundry so I can relax a bit after getting my new office set up just the way I want it. I do not know how he managed to do this, but it came from the dryer still hot and wrinkled. My scrubs are mangled beyond comprehension. I am so pleased that he wanted to chip in and help. I have been feeling very bogged down with the move in addition to insane hours I have been keeping with work, plus getting Evan started at a new school. He knows this, and thus decided to help me. What a great man I married, but really...I mean really, I want to say " Honey, just please don't help with the laundry. Now I have to iron my scrubs. Scrubs are not meant to be ironed.
The new house, well it has been interesting. Cable hook-up was an adventure, and my phone and internet were installed before Thanksgiving and we never knew it because apparently the phone jack was not hooked to anything other than the wall. But all is well now. I am back where I have always belonged. Cincinnati.
So I am here in my new office, just off of the kitchen. It is very drafty in here, but I like things cool anyhow. I can see cozying up in here with thick socks and cozy sweats with a piping hot cup of coffee, studying away. The house, or better yet, the part of the house we are renting, stretches straight back. In order, it goes like this: Our bedroom, Evan's bedroom, the living room, the bathrooms and pantry, followed by the kitchen. My little area is at the very back, and all I can hear are noises from the street. Absolutely perfect.
Okay so what next? Evan's school...We started my baby boy in his new private school. It is amazing how they treat the children when you are paying them large sums of money. His first day was consumed by testing. He did very well, scoring 92% overall for the tasks he should have mastered for first grade. On many of the sections, he scored 100%. The principal said he is "exceptional". There are some areas that need work, such as handwriting, so they kept him in first grade. But because they have such small classes, they were able to tailor-make a curriculum just for him, so the areas in which he excels will be handled differently for him than they are for his peers. When we went to pick him up from his first day, his teacher actually walked him out to our car and told us how he did that day. Our only main obstacle is that we need to find uniforms for him. Nothing major: a baby blue polo with navy blue khakis. No problem, right? Wrong! Have you ever tried to find a little boy's baby blue polo in the middle of winter? I am hoping that now that I am back online, I will be able to find what I need via the internet.
I guess the only item left to update is my great return to a higher learning environment. I have officially been admitted to the University of Cincinnati as a Cell and Molecular Biology major. I just officially accepted my small fortune in student loans to pay for this next step in reaching my goals. The stage is set. I'm ready.