Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I always said I wanted to be a doctor. I guess secretly I never believed it could happen. But then something crazy happened, and I made the first step that was more of a leap of faith. And then came progress. And before I knew what was happening, everything I have always wanted was right there within my reach.
I did that for myself. Suddenly the idea of Evan being an only child wasn't so bad. It meant I could have everything I wanted: a career in medicine, a husband I love, being a mother. I didn't have to sacrifice a thing other than sleep and some elbow grease. Perfect.
But God, if He or She exists, does have a sense of humor. Immersed in my world of school and work, I never noticed that my boobs hurt that badly until one day when I stopped to pay attention. So I took the test that had nothing to do with pre-med, and it was positive before I could even put it on the counter to wait the requisite three minutes. Of course it had to be wrong, so I took another. Same result. So I called a doctor and got orders sent to a lab, just to be sure. Yes. We are having another baby.
I was completely in shock. Not according to plan. Evan will be 9 about two months after this one is to be born. Then I thought about how I was almost done. About applying to med school with an infant in tow. About another mouth to feed. And I was upet.
But nature took care of that. Over the weeks, as my belly first turned softer, then started to firm with the swelling of new life. And I saw the flutter of a heart beat, strong and persistant, on a screen. Saw the smile light John's face and the excitement flicker in Evan's eyes. And suddely, my outlook changed.
I get to try it all again. I get a chance to amend the errors I made with Evan, as we parents do sometimes. I get the last chance to be the perfect mother. To smell thebuttermilk breath of a newborn and feel the flutter of batting eyelashes against my cheek. I get to sing lullabies again without anyone insisting they are too old for them. I get to witness first steps and first words again. To hear a baby's giggle. To buy those tiny clothes and smell baby lotion.
So considering names, I go for meaning and not trends. And my first inclination is the Emily I have always wanted. But then I see Amelia's meaning: work, strain, effort. And I know that this is the one. But what for a boy? John and I could not agree. Until, at the very end of the alphabet, I found one that brought tears to my eys.
The meaning of Zachary: God remembered.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I have one more day off, then back to class I go. Kinda excited, kinda nervous. Calculus has never been my thing, but it has to become so this quarter. I dropped that physics course and 3rd chem course due to my illness over the summer, and they are prerequisites to all of my fall classes. Most professors are forgiving, and are letting me slide. Except for my Genetics professor. She isn't very favorable to my staying in her course, but if one of my advisors has anything to do with it, I will remain in the course. (Yes, I said one of my advisors, as in I have 3: one for biomechanics, one for molecular biology, and one pre-professinal advisor who is going to help me get into med school. As if things weren't confusing enough...)
My feelings of "I am really doing this?" have turned into "Am I really going to do this?" The idea that I am on the track to accomplishing everything I have ever wanted in my life is so surreal. I envision myself graduating medical school, of reciting the Hippocratic Oath, of doing it, and in the back of my mind are these doubts that it will really happen. I've always been Andrea, the girl at the top of her game. But I haven't really been competing, thus far, with a slew of others at the top of their games as well. Is my "top" good enough to compete with theirs?
I've made up my short list of where I am going to apply. I should be starting that process later this year. So here it goes:
Universty of Michigan
Ohio State University
University of Kentucky
University of Louisville
University of Cincinnati
Wright State University
Hopefully one will bite.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
I was completely selfish that day. I remember instantly thinking that my husband, just three years out of the Marine Corps, would be going to war. A war I would ultimately end up watching on CNN and Fox News nightly while I did my housewife duties. I know so many people who have served in that war. And John was almost one of them. What would I have done? It's hard to imagine. I know I would have waited faithfully for his return home. But I could not imagine the constant fear that he wouldn't be coming home. And livng my life daily wthout him here with me.
So on the 8th anniversary of 9/11, I spent the day thinking about them. About the boys who fight for us, about their wives and kids who wait here at home in a world that does not stop for them because their husband or daddy is away. About all of our brothers and sisters we lost, whether directly or indirectly, because of that fateful day.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I have had anaphylactic reactions before. Only none of them were so memorable. I woke up intubated after one of these episodes, but my only memory of that was feeling nauseous and waking up fighting against the tube. Other times, I sought help before it got to that point. I never felt myself slipping away like I did this past week. A later recounting of the experience to my doctor confirmed that I was dying that day, that I was almost gone. Now there are just a few reminders of it left: bad memories, a bruise on my arm from the EMT's rough injection technique, and fear. Fear that my body can react so violently to something to which I have been exposed my whole life without incident.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Here is to a fresh new school year. To learning more, and making new friends. Harder math and more challenging reading. Improved handwriting.
But for us, as parents, it is always about so much more...
I don't know about others, but for me, it is always about being one year closer to the day he will leave the nest. One less year to have him with us. It is always the year I will be more involved, more patient about teaching him new things. Watching him grow a little more. One sad day, I will be able to sit back and see that my work is finished. But now, in the middle of the greatest responsibility the world has to offer, I am amazed and realize that these are the days for which to live.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I remember the faint burning in my chest to tell me that I was coming down with something. I remember the taste of illness in my mouth when I would cough. I don't remember how I got from the onset of a mild chest cold to the panting, dysneic existence I knew the night John rushed me to the emergency room. I just knew I couldn't breathe. I felt like I was dying. And the life of my mother flashed before my eyes, like her choices were manifesting themselves into what was to become of me. Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency. That was all I could think. Genetic emphysema aggravated by several years of just plain ol' self-neglect in the form of Marlboro Lights. The last time I mentioned te disorder to a doctor, I was asked if I wanted to know how I would die. I said no. When death is the culmination of drowning in your own fluids, who wants to know of its appraoch? Certainly not me, so I declined the test. But this time, when I mentioned it to the pulmonologist, he didn't give me a choice. He just nodded and scribbled somethng down in my chart. An hour after he left, a lab tech showed up in my room to draw some blood. No questions asked. No chance to chicken out.
I will not die her death any more than I will live her life. The test was negatve. I have the time and the chance to make the choices necessary to ensure that I will not have the same demise. Those goals I have set for myself? They are still attainable. As I lay in that hospital bed this week, I told myself that, should the test be positive, I would abandon the whole doctor thing. I would instead focus on my son and my husband and live my life leaving well-enough alone.
Instead, I didn't have to make the choice. Instead, I was branded with bilateral pneumonia with secondary areas of atelectasis. In layman's terms? I had pneumonia in both lungs that was bad enough to require a week-long hospitalization, and was horrifying enough to cause some collapse of several lobes of my lungs. In other words yet? I became my patient. And for the first time in my life, I did not want a cigarette. I was scared. I was confronted with my own mortality. So now, here I am making soe major adjustments to my life.
Incidentally, this is what happens to an arm after 15 gazillion needle sticks and IV attempts.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
We ge down to CT without a hitch. Once there, I move to the other side to the bed to arrange IV lines and such for a safe transfer from the ICU bed to the CT scanner. That is when the very sweet patient transporter starts pushing the bed. Right over the top of my right foot. The ICU bed that weighs as much as a car, without the squishy air-filled tires.
But I am a trooper. I stay, balanced on one leg, bagging the patient until the ordeal is over, then hobble to the ER for x-rays. This is where I learn that the male RNs in the ER really are knights in shining armor. Poor Ben gets down on his knees and takes my shoe and sock off. My rubbery shoe. After working 11 out of 12 hours. And he says nothing, even tough I am crying and blubbering about smelly feet and stubbly ankles. Then Steve comes in to make sure I can walk on crutches. Don't even get me started on Norm, the security guard who wheeled me into my room and filled out the incident report for me. They are all angels. You just can't see their wings through the scrubs they wear.
As for me? Outlook not so good. I am on crutches. I am off of work, which I hate. The employee health nurse was teasing me about my control issues and workaholic tendencies. She asked me if I was taking my pain meds, and I told her no, that they drug me up, and she laughed and said that it is because they make me lose control of the situation and sleep. She's probably right. So for at least this week and next, I am just a student.
And I am bored.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I love this commercial.
Okay so what's up in my world? The same. Work and school and homework and just a little sleep thrown in. And now working out again. Back to the grind in the gym. I started back last Thursday. I have already lost 10 more pounds and almost 4 inches of of my waist. Go me!
Though I love swimming, the pool hasn't bee my friend recently. Read about it here.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
By far my favorite pic of the entire trip. The goat kept trying to eat Evan's shirt, so Evan would giggle and step away, then try to pet it again. Each time, it would get a mouth full. It didn't tear the shirt, but it did give me a great photo op.
Too cute for words.
This damned thing. I was leaning over the glass, trying to get a good shot of the sea lion that was underwater playing with a ball. All of the sudden, this #$%^& popped it's head up at me, scaring me to death. Note that the camera was not zoomed for this pic!
Lucy wouldn't wake up for me and I was very disappointed. (See below.)
Awwww. Lucy the Baby Bearcat. Sponsored by the University of Cincinnati. Go figure.
The seductive ape. I kindly left the other one out of the pic, who was showing its hand in its mouth repeatedly. I had just said "What is it, bulimic?" when it purged its food into its hand to feed its baby. Disgusting.
This is "Francois". Some type of monkey that had Francois in it's name. It had a faux-hawk and white muttonchops, and was the coolest monkey ever.
I don't know what in the hell this thing was, but when we went to walk away, it made some weird crying sound until we came back.
The polar bear insisted on showing me nothing more than his browneye as he ate his lunch.
I think John was making funny faces behind me.
So peaceful here. I didn't want to leave this spot.
The big one and the little one take a break to eat popcorn.
I have this horrendous phobia of snakes. Just walking into the reptile house was a huge step in conquering my fear. And it was packed too. As I looked at the snakes through the glass, I was sizing people up to see how much effort it would take to knock them out of my way if I needed to make a break for it. Then I saw this S.O.B.....
Evan kept calling this rhinoceros "Clyde". I have no idea where he got that name.
Evan poses with the likeness of his father.
Is that the Fergie family? Mom, Dad, and Evan.....
The gorillas were pensive.
The bearcat would not be still for her photo shoot. I swear I stood there for about 15 minutes trying to get a good shot. No wonder UC thinks this is a good mascot....stubborn as hell!
I think I interrupted the sexy time of the "Giant Bait", as my hillbilly husband called them.
These lizards were looking at me.
The lemurs. This is when Evan screamed "Look, Mommy, it's Zoboomafoo!"
Monday, July 6, 2009
So fast forward a couple of days later. I think it was a McDonald's we were at for breakfast. For the umpteenth time that day, I caught little Evan scratching his nether regions. He never does that. Well, being that he is getting older and more aware that Mommy is girl, I sent John into the bathroom with him to inspect. Yep, you guessed it! He had a tick fully embedded.... there! So John tries to get it out, to no avail. I call the doctor, and she is going to get a male colleague to get it out if I will just stop by the office. At this news, Evan starts wailing. He doesn't want the doctor to do this. So I call the in-laws. They're country people and know more about this crap than I do. My father-in-law tells me to hold a match to it. Seriously? Did he even hear where I told him it was on Evan's body???? But the heat idea....hmmmm. So I get Evan in a hot shower, hoping it will back out enough to get the sucker out. Of course not.
I have no idea how I did it, but I managed to convince the kid to let me have a crack at it. I hope no neighbors were looking through the windows, because I had to have my son lay on the floor, and I had to get my face very close to see what I was doing. But armed with nothing but a pair of tweezers, I got the damned tick out. Ewww. The entire time, Evan was whimpering about the "ball surgery".
So here we are a month later. The spot where the tick was located looks awful. And Evan has developed this horrific rash all over the lower half of his body. We have tried every over-the-counter cream there is, from anti-inflammatories to anti-fungals. Nothing is fixing this rash. A week later, when it is actually worse, we take him to the doctor.
My child has lyme disease. So now we are on a one-month, three-times-a-day course of antibiotics. So much for summer!
Friday, July 3, 2009
I immersed myself in kid lit. I had to see what the fuss was over, and now I see. I finished Eclipse late last night and am now reading Breaking Dawn of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series. This is the last book, then I can go back to big-girl books.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
A Patient is completely alert and oriented. She is intubated and has been on a ventilator for days, thought the initial problem had nothing to do with her lungs. Now she is awake and demanding to be extubated through hand gestures. Her vital signs look amazing. She has an order for a wean in the morning. But she insists on now. The family is called in to speak with her, and the family agrees with the idea of honoring her wishes. Her doctor, on the other hand, did not give the order, but did not tell us not to extubate, either, but simply made the statement that extubation would be at her wish and not his order. You put her on a t-piece and monitor her. There is absolutely no change in vital signs for 2 hours. You get a blood gas, and it is textbook-perfect. What do you do?
I'll tell you what I did. I pulled the damned tube, documenting heavily on her stability and the family and patient's wishes. Apparently, this has been the talk of the MICU. My director, critical care coordinator, and supervisor have commended my actions, saying I did exactly what I should have done in that situation. The director has even gone so far as to copy my charting to place in my personnel file along with a typed commendation from him. Only one pulmonologist has said anything. She wanted to know if it is "standard practice to extubate a patient in the middle of the night without a physician's order". Absolutely not. But to honor a patient's wishes while safely monitoring the patient's cardiopulmonary status...My intent throughout the whole ordeal was to watch for anything that would indicate that she would not be able to handle extubation. Had anything come up, I would have immediately had a discussion with the family regarding my concern. But nothing did. I could find no reason to leave her intubated against their wishes. And the outcome has been phenomenal. She hasn't needed so much as a breathing treatment since I did the deed.
So my Big Boss is recognizing me, stating that I have done a tremendous job for the hospital since I have been employed with them. Up until recently, I didn't even know if he knew that I work for him. But according to a phone conversation this morning, he has been getting a lot of positive feedback about me. Kind of makes my ears burn a little bit, wondering what has been said and when. But overall, it feels great to have your hard work recognized.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
I went online to look at my account for UC to see what this would do tto my tuition. This is when I found out that I would not be getting my S.M.A.R.T. grant. Uh-oh. Furthermore, they did not kick-in my metropolitan tuition rate that I became eligible for when I changed majors then picked up the double major. Big Uh-oh. The grant left me about $1300 short, then I was assessed a $4800 surcharge for being out-of-state. The moral of the story is that I ended up owing UC over $2K. Lovely.
First they told me that it had to be paid this week or my classes not only for summer, but for fall as well, would be cancelled. I asked about what would happen if I just dropped the rest of the summer courses, and that was no good either. In stead of owing $2K, all of my loans would drop out because I would no longer be enrolled, so I would owe 50% of my tuition with no aid. About $7K. What to do? And regardless of what I do with UC, I cannot just transfer to Northern Kentucky University (with their much cheaper tuition, but much lower academic standards) because until I satisfy this debt, there will be a freeze on my transcripts. Grrrr.
So the plan is work. Work. Work. Work. And save. No more eating out or quick trips for coffee. No more of going to the video store and renting literally piles of movies. No more. Thanks to UC, my summer has turned into nothing more than work and school, school and work. Not that this is a change from previous quarters, but I was hoping to find some time for at least a little bonding with Evan while he is out of school for the summer. Instead I have to be content with just going to work. I did finally speak to someone in the collections department, and she said what the university did to me is ridiculous, and has set me up on a payment plan. 2 payments of $1000. Thank God I have the type of job with the type of pay that I can work about 3 extra shifts to make $1000. Well, maybe 4 or 5 if consider how my dear Uncle Sam rapes my overtime pay. I've already made a start. Instead of being off from Monday through Thursday this week, I have picked up shifts on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Which has the added benefit of putting me in overtime by the time I get to my scheduled shifts on the weekend. If you consider that The 4th of July is this coming weekend, and that will be holiday pay AND overtime, so double overtime for those 2 nights, I may be able to satisfy the first part of that $2K obligation this coming payday.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Before I know it, Summer will be gone. Evan will be back in school. And starting tomorrow night, I am back to the grind. By the time I get off of work on Monday, it ill be time to head to another quarter of classes. And at the end of the Summer, this baby of mine will be 8 years old. I know I will not be getting a break until we are both off for Christmas.
I look at those brown eyes and I miss it all: the sloppy kisses and macaroni and cheese faces after dinner. The cuddling and giggling. Getting his bubble bath ready at night. Making sure he learns math. And I look at the stretch of time ahead of us and I realize that by the time I finish medical school, this little boy will be 13 years old. Is it worth it?
I had a talk with Evan just now, asking him if he wanted Mommy to go to school to be a doctor, even though it is going to take a long time. He looked at me with those big brown eyes and said yes, very emphatically. When I asked him if he would still think I was a good Mommy if I continued to be away, he said yes again. I asked him why he wanted Mommy to be a doctor, and he told me that he has the smartest mommy in the world, and he knows I can do it. So now I am sitting here at my desk typing this, amidst the crepe paper flowers and finger-painted rainbows he has given me from art class in school, and I have found out the truth.
I am so very blessed. For some reason, whatever higher power is out there has decided that I am deserving of this amazing little person in my life. How lucky could I be?
We went to the grocery store as a family, which is usually a mistake. For the first time in a long time, little Evan was very well-behaved. When I told him no to the sugary crap because it wasn't "good for our bodies" he replied with an "Oh, okay". He helped me keep track of what we needed here at the house. Overall it was a nice experience. When we get to the checkout, he asked for a candy bar. I thought it over and said he could. Hershey bars were 2 for $1. He got 2.
Later we get home, and I have finished putting the groceries away. He comes up to me with this huge smile on his face and hands me one of the candy bars. I ask if he is sure he doesn't want to save it for another time. He shakes his little head and says, "No, Mom. This is for you because you did such a good job picking out groceries."
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I hadn't been into my office in days. I have instead been vegging out with the laptop on the sofa, which is infinitely cooler than the office in the absence of AC.
So today, I walk into my office only to discover that my desktop on the big computer is covered with icons for those free game trials you can download online. I have spent all day getting those off of there and making the computer like Fort Knox so I won't ever have to do that again.
And Chhez-Its. All over. The carpet beneath my feet looks like a pale shade of orange because they are ground into the carpet. They are between the keys of the keyboard, in the mouse, everywhere.
The kid is now banned from the office.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Considering what is going on in our world, I have been pondering this question. In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand tells the story of the "Producers" of society, and the world that saps the life out of them.
Who are the producers? We are. The people who go to work every day and perform a function from which society can derive some benefit. This could be in the form of a beautiful opus that we all enjoy, a knowledge of medicine and the power to heal that comes with it, or a delicious meal that we can cook for others. Whatever the contribution, we make one. What is our thanks? We get taxed. We pay through the nose. If we put our foot down, we are "selfish". Don't we want to help our fellow man? When is enough enough?
I want to put my foot down. I want to say "No more!". I am sorry that the Jones' next door do not have health coverage. I truly am. But since when is it my responsibility to pay their bills? Did they lose their job do to the collapse of out auto industry? Well, I tried to help. They were selling their ability to make cars and I contributed to their cause by purchasing a new vehicle.
Now Obama is wanting to tax our health benefits. My gut reaction, in the face of even more taxes, is to quit. I obviously will not be doing that, but I want to. If we all did, the powers that be would have to find another way other than taking it out on the hard-working people who break their backs to make this world go round.
I think I need to revisit my old dog-eared copy.