Saturday, May 31, 2008

also on my list...

One of our ER docs is a woman who is relatively new to our hospital. She is, in a word, a dream. Never gets flustered, always respectful of those around her, thorough, conscientious, smart...the list goes on. She's a born teacher, sharing her thought processes out loud with us so that every time I have one of her patients I learn something I didn't know before. A native of our neighboring "rival" state of Missouri, she wears her home colors proudly and was even known, once or twice, to roll her eyes during our recent sports successes- just a little. Not being a native Kansan, this is a rivalry I tend to stay out of (don't get me started on USC/UCLA or Michigan/Ohio State, though), but I had to respect the way she held her ground - in spite of considerable provocation. She looks like a cream puff. My gut tells me this is a facade.

Her husband is also a doctor. They've been married a while, with three kids and probably ten or twelve years under their belts. I don't know a lot about him, but on the surface he appears to be yin to her yang. He seems like a nice guy, don't get me wrong, but he's intense, doesn't talk a lot more than he needs to, looks to be more an action oriented type. (He is a surgeon, so this is no big surprise). He's only on our unit to consult or take patients to the OR, so when we see him it tends to be higher pressure situations where time is a real factor. They share the same focus. They are both amazingly good with the people they are caring for. They just go about it in very different ways.

I remember perfectly the first time I saw them together. She was racing around taking care of her patients. He was running to consult on a possible surgical candidate. And as their paths collided right in front of the unit secretary's desk, they stopped. I could feel the connection from across the room. He touched her on the arm, she looked him in the eye. They had a fast, private conversation that no one overheard, but when they quickly continued on with their tasks, both were smiling. They had touched base. Connection was made.

I've watched them do this several times, watched with a longing that gets stronger each time I see it. This is not a first stirrings of infatuation situation, it's a real, live adult relationship. And I want that. I want to have that feeling of connectedness, want to have that feeling of wanting to see my other half during the day. I want those stolen moments of perfect propriety that let you see afresh this person you share a life with. Because I don't know when the last time I had that was, or (frighteningly) if I've ever really had it at all. It seems like such a waste to go through life and never experience that feeling.

I want it with all my heart. Could we just change the surgeon part?

Friday, May 30, 2008

wish list

I want to go to the gym, but I can't because Sasquatch left my iPod earbuds over at a friend's house and I refuse to get on the treadmill without them.

I want to start getting out of the house more and shaking up my routine a little (or a lot), but when it comes time to actually put the effort into it I can't seem to muster any energy.

I want to be able to go to the public pool with the kids this summer and not have to wear a muu muu, but the local market is having a 3 for $10 sale on ice cream and I have a new deep freeze, so you do the math.

I want to be aggravated and jumping out of my skin when I have to be at work, and relaxed and calm when I get to be at home, instead of the other way around.

I want to know why, speaking of work, that I have become such a hot topic of conversation lately. I really do love to fly under the radar in the flight plan of life, and this has got my rudders in a twist.

I want to know why Sasquatch seems to feel that a good report card is the sign of a tragic life.

I want to know how the three foot long snake ended up in our trauma room at three in the morning, and while I'm at it I want to know why one of the docs felt compelled to pick it up and chase the nurses around the unit with it.

I want to know why I'm not more perked up by the fact that both George Clooney and Bill Murray appear to be back on the market this week, since I'm sure they'd both adore me if only they had a chance. (And if I laid off the mint chip).

I want something - anything - to go the way I want it to go and not take a sudden, unexpected curve.

I want to know - is that asking too much?

Thursday, May 29, 2008


For just a few months short of twenty three years the FG and I have shared an address. We've lived in six houses in two cities in two states. We started out as a living together college couple in Southern California and ended up middle-aged married parents in the Midwest.

Ended up.

As we count down the final days of sharing an address, the true measure of the real people involved is coming out. So considerate. So controlled. So much in love with their children. So stubborn. So conscientious. So ready.

So sad.

So very, very sad.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

chef boy

Surfer Dude strikes again.

Thanks to all of you for your potluck suggestions for Memorial Day. There were definitely things mentioned that I'm going to have to try. I especially appreciated that you all got the fact that I was trying to keep it ultra simple. I wanted to eat something good, and I wanted other people to like it too, but I didn't really want to spend much time on it. I was thinking - dip. It's hard to go wrong with dip.

Sunday was a bizarre day at work, slow enough that I spent some time on-line looking up easy dip recipes. And I found several that sounded really good. One was a hot dip that is supposed to taste exactly like a jalapeƱo popper. Another was a chipotle artichoke dip. (Can you tell we like spicy?) There were yummy sounding dip recipes all over the place, and I made lists to present to my mini chef for his approval. Alas, it did not go smoothly.

His nose wrinkled at the thought of dip. Too pedestrian, not enough panache, no real knife skills involved. I sighed, knowing exactly how this was going to go. He threw one suggestion after another out at me that I shot down, citing my guiding principles - fast, cheap and tasty. All of a sudden he jumped up and down and shouted, "I know! I know! It's perfect!...California Rolls!"

Let's not forget that he doesn't even like California Rolls. But they're showy and different and very popular with our crowd. He was already lovingly cradling Knifey as he danced around the kitchen, visions of cucumber filleting dancing in his head. I had other visions, like dollar bills and ticking clocks. I watched as he dug in the cabinet for sushi rice. Game over.

California rolls aren't difficult, but they are time consuming. They can be pricey, but as it turned out, we had everything we needed on hand except crab and a ripe avocado. I showed him how to assemble them and roll them up in the bamboo mat. He caught on immediately and after my first demonstration, took it from there. I cut the long rolls into bite size pieces and put them on the platter. He did everything else.

And when we walked in carrying them (and the bowl of mindless hummus I threw together since I was still in dip mindset) everyone oohed and aahed and attacked the plate. He stood there patiently, allowing praise to be heaped upon his beaming little head. They really turned out well, didn't cost a lot and were very, very tasty.

But jeez. I've got to talk to the kid about the definition of the word fast.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

memorial day

oh my god, is this what it actually feels like to be relaxed??

Monday, May 26, 2008

lesser of two evils

All day long at work, people would come through the door looking like they'd been swimming and say, "Good Lord, it's muggy out there." The forecast was for rain and heat in the eighties, but the storms held off. It just kept getting more and more humid as the thermometer climbed.

When I left work at 10 pm, it was still warm and humid, but there was a breeze. It was almost comfortable, and climbing into my car I thought that maybe the storms were going to pass us by after all. It's been wild, weather wise, the last few weeks, and it was nice to think that maybe we'd gotten a Get Out of Jail Free card on this one.

An hour later, I'm sitting in my living room as the sky lights up on all sides with lightning. I have big, old house windows and it looks like someone has a spot light set up outside of each of them and is randomly flipping them on and off. The thunder is rumbling enough to worry the dogs and the heat just continues to climb. I refuse to turn on my air conditioner since I'm still paying off my $700 heating bill, so I'm a little on the clammy side. And in the last few minutes, the rain has started pounding down.

My memory is probably off, but I don't remember this many nighttime storms until the last year or so. It could be crazy weather during the day, but at night it was usually calm. When you laid down your little head to sleep, you could feel confident that you wouldn't be waking up to the sound of tornado sirens in the middle of the night. But we've had some whoppers come through while we were sleeping lately, and it vaguely unnerves me.

The news doesn't help. I've just finished reading the on-line news about the tornadoes in Minnesota and Iowa. Just finished reading that the tornado fatality rate this year is the highest in something like ten years and we're not even halfway through the season. Just finished reading that our county is under a tornado watch until 4 am.

It's not just tornadoes, either. We actually had a lightning fatality here this week. Flooding has been an ongoing problem. And the wind here can be something else. I have the leaky roof to prove it.

The weather feels wild somehow, in a way I can't really put my finger on. When we moved here I was so thrilled at the thought of not waking up in the middle of the night to my house gyrating that I underestimated the power of a good old midwestern storm. I always said I'd take a tornado any day, because the last time I checked, the National Weather Service doesn't issue Earthquake Warnings or seismic doppler radar. No one warns you to take cover in an earthquake, you just run like mad for a doorway as your plants fly through the air and you wonder if this will be the one that finally brings your house down around your ears.

I'll still take a tornado over an earthquake. I'd just like to do it when it's light outside.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

same old coleslaw?

We're getting together Memorial Day with the two families we usually celebrate holidays with. We'll let the kids run wild, drink the host's lethal margaritas and officially usher in the summer with an industrial sized bottle of bug spray. It's going to be pretty low-key, just the way I like it.

So low-key in fact that we've not even gotten together to figure out the food. It'll be a potluck as always, and I can't figure out what I want to take. I'm working today, so it needs to be something that can be thrown together quickly since I'll have to shop and cook on Monday. I'm tossing around all my potluck go-to dishes, but nothing is really firing me up.

Any ideas?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

dream girl

I do my best to not bring work home with me. Sometimes it works (usually, actually) and sometimes it doesn't (and these are usually the ones I blog about). When I lose my detachment, it manifests itself in different ways. Some people flit across my mind over the next few days while I wonder what the final outcome was. Some people cause me to pay close attention to the obituaries for a while. Some people make me smile every time I think about them. And some people keep me awake at night worrying about them.

This is one of those stories.

My patient was a lovely lady in her sixties who was having a severe allergic reaction. She was the dream patient - articulate, precise, appreciative without being cloying and able to express herself in a way that both stood up for her own best interests and let us know she valued out input. If she needed something she asked for it, with none of the pussy footing around that happens so often, with people taking five minutes to apologize for asking for something that they have every right to have in the first place. (I do this myself when I'm a patient, to tell the truth, even though it drives me nuts when people do it to me). She was a clear ten on my own personal perfect patient scale.

She was also, due to the allergic reaction, losing her airway. Her breathing was becoming severely compromised and the trauma room was full of people trying to figure out the best plan of care for her. The obvious answer was to intubate her and put her on a ventilator, but for a lot of reasons I'm not going to bore you with, all the specialists decided it wasn't warranted at that time. The plan was to stabilize her enough to get her to the ICU and watch her very closely to figure out the next step.

It was at about this point that she lost her ability to speak, but her brain was still firing on all cylinders. We got her a pad of paper and she peppered every person who came in the room with written out questions and comments and pieces of her medical history. She wrote me notes that said she was scared and that she hoped her daughter would get there soon and thanking me for the care she was getting. I kept trying to get her to just try and relax and breathe, but she wasn't having any of it. I kept trying to give her meds to force her to relax, but she wasn't having any of that either. It took us a while, but I got her up to ICU in good shape, and, crossing my fingers, said goodbye to her and wished her luck. She waved cheerfully to me as I left her room.

She had been a 1:1 patient, which meant I didn't have any patients when I got back from ICU. Since we were getting slammed at the moment, I cleaned the room she had just been in, stripping linens, tossing used equipment and picking up lots of her written notes. I glanced at one that she had written to a consulting doctor and stopped cold. It said:

This is really hard for me. I'm one of those people who always has to be in control.

My throat kind of clenched at that, not only at a kindred spirit, but also at the thought of how horrifying it would be to be in that situation - completely dependent on other people, terrified, betrayed by your own body and without a single element of control in your grasp. I mentally said a little prayer for her and then went out to get some new patients.

They called the ICU Code Blue twenty minutes later. When they said the room number overhead I felt sick. Guess who?

I got a grip pretty quick, since I was on the Code Team that shift and had to go with a doctor to respond. As we ran full speed up three flights of stairs, I formulated a pretty good idea of what I thought had happened. (In between thinking this through I thought about other things. How grossly unfair it is to hire doctors who run marathons in their spare time, for one. That it's physically impossible to run fast up stairs in Crocs, for another. That I really need to lay off the mint chip, for a third).

A Code Blue means that without immediate, intensive and almost always invasive treatment of some sort the patient will die. Sometimes they're already, for all intents and purposes, dead when the code is called. They may not have a pulse. They may not be breathing. You can taste the adrenaline in a room during a code. It permeates everything.

As we ran into the room, we saw all the usual sights of a code. Sheets were thrown off and the patient was completely exposed. Pharmacy had arrived and was cracking the case that holds all the special meds needed. They would be there to mix anything that was needed in the right concentration and to draw it up for the med nurse to administer. The Nursing Supervisor was there "scribing"- taking notes on everything that happened and the exact time it took place. Respiratory Therapy stood at the bedside. IV Therapy was right behind us, as was Lab. X-Ray was on the way with a portable machine. The Chaplain came in breathing hard right as our ER doc intubated the patient. She was awake for a good part of it, unfortunately. I watched her hands and feet twitching, her note running through my head.

This is really hard for me. I'm one of those people who always has to be in control.

As soon as she was stabilized, we left her in the capable hands of the ICU crew. I was still feeling a little sick when we got downstairs. I already knew that this patient was pushing all my buttons. I just wasn't sure how to deal with it.

She coded again five minutes later. Marathon runner doc and I locked eyes and ran for the stairs. He beat me. Again.

And it was a repeat performance with the same cast and the same star. Stabilized. Again. Back downstairs. Again. Worried sick. Again.

I went home and for one of the few times in memory dreamed about a specific patient. I was worried enough the next day that I tempted the HIPAA gods to find out what was going on. I wasn't over the edge, but I was close. And it was all for naught, as there was nothing really concrete to learn. So for a full day I stewed.

Until a coworker came up to me and told me they had good news for me. Evidently, I don't hide my feelings as well as I'd like to, because enough people knew how freaked out I was that they went to the trouble to find out the rest of the story. And it was this:

She was extubated the next day. Her allergic reaction dealt with, she was discharged home directly from the ICU, which doesn't happen much. She left the hospital on her own steam with her daughter at her side. She waved cheerfully to the nurse who went out with her, and as she climbed into the car she said a very simple

Thank you all for taking such good care of me.

And you know what? It was my privilege.

For all you nurses out there - I know parts of this story don't add up medically. Blame it on the aforementioned HIPAA, but I'm afraid to get more specific. Trust me on the details. Weird as they are...

Friday, May 23, 2008

day one

My kids are officially out of school until mid-August.

They are bouncing off the walls at the idea of hanging out with their friends and lazy days and playing video games until their brains atrophy. Sasquatch is on the first sleepover of the 2008 Summer Tour. We have weekend plans that include Indiana Jones, a Memorial Day BBQ and a birthday camp-out. (Not ours, thank goodness).

And me? All I can think is that today I get to sleep in as late as I want. No early alarms. No school or work to clock into. No nothing. Just me and a fuzzy blanket and rain outside the open window and snoring kids and dogs.

It will take about a week before summer starts kicking my butt. And until the kids start realizing that the reality of their summer is going to be very different from the fantasy. I may as well rest up while I can.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I've realized through this whole parenthood thing that I'm not sentimental in the usual way. I don't get shivery feelings from old baby clothes, looking back at kid's school projects from years gone by doesn't give me wistful thoughts, and the discovery of a long lost pre-school toy doesn't make me want to conceive again immediately. I guess when you come right down to it, I'm not sentimental about much in the "normal" sense. Toys are toys, clothes are clothes - they're just things. Loaded with memories, perhaps, but still just things.

What does get to me is the occasions. I've teared up at more than one kid's orchestra performance or soccer game. Watching Gumby follow my passion and learn to play tennis makes me all weepy. I hide by the snack stand so I won't embarrass him, but I'm not sure it works. Listening to the other parents on the soccer team yell for someone to pass the ball to Surfer Dude so he can shoot it makes me goosebumpy whether he scores or not. And the first time Sasquatch got to the county spelling bee I knew I would never forget his worried little face (or the word he went out on - argyle). I'm a sucker for the everyday moment, which means, almost by definition, that I sometimes get sideswiped by unexpected emotion.

Tonight Gumby graduated from elementary school. It was a very sweet ceremony, and, like expected, I got all drippy. One of the sixth grade teachers lost it while she was making her speech and every mom in the place just bawled. At least all the ones right by us did. I'm morally obligated to go along with the crowd, so I joined right in to the sob fest. But I knew I'd cry before I even set foot into the stuffy gym, knew that the sight of my "middlest" on that podium would send me over the edge, knew that the knowledge that next year will be our last year in elementary school ever was adding to all the waterworks. It was emotion, all right, but not at all unexpected.

Afterward, Surfer Dude and I walked home together while Gumby hung out at school. He was poking fun at all the crying and made a seriously anti-feminist comment about sobbing women that I really should have nipped in the bud pronto. I was trying to explain to him why it all got to me, when he casually just reached over and took my hand. And as we walked down the street, with car after car of his friends driving by us honking and waving on their way from school, he continued to walk hand in hand with me - all the way home.

Where I promptly cried my eyes out. But this time I did it in private.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

night shift

My dogs may be lazy, but they're not stupid. They've somehow figured out a way to keep me awake the maximum number of hours a night with the least amount of effort from them. How have they done this? By specializing.

Dee Dee will bark at any animal, no matter how small, who happens to pass by, but once they're gone she feels she's done her dogly duties and she flops back to sleep with a completely clear conscience.

Isaiah takes the baton if there are any traffic noises or sirens. His hound dog ears pick up the slightest screech of brakes or a fire truck six miles away, but once they wind down so does he. Confident that the house is safe from runaway squad cars, he settles down to his true nighttime passion - noxious emissions.

Trixie barks at the wind, leaves falling off the trees and the sound of a toilet flushing across town. She takes her alpha dog status seriously, protecting the house against the refrigerator when it cycles on and the little old lady sneezing down the street.

At any given time - all night long - there are two dogs snoring and one dog going ballistic. They wake up in the morning well rested and ready to face the day.

I wish I could say the same.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

this is your brain...

A patient who came in with completely unknown (and completely active) TB, who upon further chart searching had a long history as a violent stalker, necessitating stints in both a state psychiatric facility and a federal prison. He told me I was the nicest nurse he had ever had.

A step-dad who made his wife and biological son watch as he poured tabasco sauce into the mouth of his five year old step-child. When he tired of that little game, he bit the child all over until his jaw hurt. Mom started crying, so he beat the hell out of her. When they came in, the five year old said "Dad threw mom into a wall. It was cool."

A drunken, suicidal midget who flashed every cop who entered her room. (And there lot of them). It took seven people to hold her down to medicate her, while she screamed at the top of her lungs for either her attorney or George W. Bush to come and save her.

You can't make this shit up.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fun Monday

I haven't done Fun Monday in a while due to one stupid thing or another, but I'm happy to join back up. I always enjoy seeing what everyone comes up with for their ideas.

Our hostess this week is Mariposa and she wants to know what we collect. Besides dust, demands for payment and mouthy kids anyway.


We all have them...and if you don't, you just may not realize it. For some reason or another we all collect something and we collect it for reasons that will definitely make for good reading. So on Monday, I want to see your collection. If you don't have or don't want or CAN'T (wink) show us a picture, then tell us what the collection is in 10 words or less. Then tell us why you started collecting it.

Okay, here is my ten word sum-up.

I collect recipes I don't cook because it calms me.

Say what?

I love to clip recipes. I love to file recipes. I love to read recipes and think of how good they would taste or which occasion I could make them for or which member of my family would go hog wild for them. There was a day when I would actually cook some of them, too, but not lately. My poor kids are eating the same recycled eight or ten meals over and over again lately. The whole recipe thing is more of a relaxation technique than anything else. I grab a stack of magazines and climb into bed and snip away. It's like Zen Clipping.

And it works for me.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


No news, nothing to report.

Alive and well. Tired after mega-soccer tournament. Didn't go to the finals, but did better than they should have. SD has turned into go-to goal boy. He's eating that up.

Multi-child meltdown last night led to said mother having similar meltdown.

Off to work.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

just one?

I've seen this all over the place lately, so I'm going to have a go at it. It's a lazy Saturday anyway - or will be after our (ugh) 7:30 a.m. soccer game.

What's up with the song? Well, it kind of fits...doesn't it?

And, hey, Surfer Dude -

Happy Birthday, baby boy!!

Answer all the following in one word...

Where is your mobile phone? - charging
You significant other? - riiight...
Your hair? - wild
Your mother? - California
Your father? - buried
Your favorite thing? - quiet
Your dream last night? - weird
Your favorite drink? - water
Your dream/goal? - writer
The room you are in? - living
Your ex? - dunno
Your fear? - snakes
Where you want to be in six years?- authentic
Where were you last night?- soccer
What you’re not? - trendy
Muffins? - absolutely
One of your wish items - travel
Where you grew up - Pasadena
The last thing you did - reboot
What are you wearing - sweats
Your TV? - silent
Your pets - snoring
Your computer? - mercurial
Your life - changing
Your mood - calm
Missing someone - mom
Your car - running
Something you’re not wearing - thong
Favorite Store - SuperTarget
Your summer - soon
Like someone? - sure
Your favorite color? - yellow
When was the last time you laughed? - today
When was the last time you cried? - April

Friday, May 16, 2008

round up

Sometimes with blogging a story gets started but never really followed up on. I know I'm guilty of this, and I find myself realizing it when I wonder how someone else's blog story ended up. For some reason, the last couple of weeks have tied up a few loose ends, so I thought I'd share. If I've forgotten something, let me know.

Last summer our friend Maggie was diagnosed with Stage3/4 ovarian cancer. In a show of support that can still bring tears to my eyes, the community rallied behind her and her family in a big way. This was just one example of a months long effort. Last week, she and her husband made the five hour car trip to the major cancer center she received all her treatments at. After multiple rounds of chemo and several surgeries, it was time to look at the results.

There's no cancer to be found.
She's obviously going to have to be hyper vigilant, but as we speak she's...drumroll, please... cancer free.

And making plans to go to nursing school.

My buddy Stacey, of the pulmonary embolisms, came home from the hospital after only being in for a day. She's still a little symptomatic, but is feeling okay and ready to figure out why in the world her body wants to keep forming blood clots. This is after her cardiac surgery (surgeries??) and other little roadblocks her body is throwing into her path. Getting older sucks.

And speaking of Stacey, here's how everything started with Maggie, and also a little more insight into my very forthright friend who tells it like it is even when you don't want to hear it.

My Mother's Day was actually very nice, thank you for asking. The boys brought me waffles and coffee in bed. Their dad supplied the waffles and some flowers and candles. I read the paper and ate my food and then took a nap before I went to work in the afternoon. It was a very sweet breakfast.

Thanks to Amy at Blog to the Bone, we now have a cell phone for the boys that works. Out of the goodness of her heart, she sent me a wonderful phone for the boys to trash. And there were Cow Pies in that package, too. Yummm.... Thanks again, Amy. Now how can I measure up to Cow Pies? Oh, wait...I know...

Speaking of Gifts from the Inbox, thanks to everyone who sent me recipes that were quick and easy. I really appreciate all of them and will be trying them out soon. I don't know why cooking has turned into such an issue lately, but it's nice to have some new options.

I haven't bitten my nails since my blog declaration that I was quitting. They don't look great, but they don't look like ass anymore, either. I may treat myself to a manicure after all. Just because.

Am I forgetting anything?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

men and boys - part 2

Everything I know about men I've learned from my boys.Every time Surfer Dude hurts himself it takes an entire box of band-aids to make it better. No matter how small the scratch, he has to completely cover it with layer upon layer of bandages. This, of course, makes anyone who sees it ask what happened, and he then launches into a story that (truly) bears very little relation to what actually happened. It's not that he lies - it's just that he has to put a little spin on the actual facts to make a better story. (Wonder where he gets that from?) And then, as the final badge of honor, he has a big ol' pile of band-aids to show off when he's all healed.

I had a patient who took a header off of a construction ladder and fell about fifteen feet. It was his lucky day, however, and his only injury was from a piece of splintered wood that he encountered somehow on his way down. This mega-splinter a) fortunately missed his eye entirely, but b) went completely through his eyebrow - in exactly the way it would have with a (planned) piercing.

He stoically laid there while we pulled out the "splinter", and raised his eyebrows (lopsidedly) when he saw the size of it. It was about three inches long and about half an inch across, so it was certainly worth gawking over, especially since it had been lodged about two inches from his eyeball. He asked if he could use his cell phone, but one of the docs was on the way in to suture him up, so I told him to wait a bit. He wasn't happy about it, but he did.

As soon as his stitches were in, he was on the phone, and just like the fish that got away, that bloody splinter got bigger every time he told the story. And closer to his eye, too. He dialed constantly the whole time I was cleaning and dressing the area. By the time I was discharging him, it had almost acquired 2x4 status and was mere millimeters from his eye.

As he stood up, I saw him gaze wistfully at the dirty suture tray that still had the splinter sitting in it. And because I recognized that look in his eye, I asked him if he wanted it. As a souvenir. He brightened up immediately, so I grabbed a urine specimen cup to put it in. I asked if he wanted the blood and hair washed off, knowing full well the answer would be no. And it was.

He walked to the waiting room with a big grin on his face, clutching his specimen cup proudly. I'm sure it made the full rounds at the construction site the next day.

At least that would be my guess. Not that I have any experience with this type of thing.
The Thursday Three sabbatical continues...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

step away from the cookies

This is my new desktop graphic. What do you think?

And speaking of lasting - one more celebratory food day at work like today and I may not last. Soft pretzels with cheese dip, funnel cakes, fruit smoothies, snow cones, chocolate for days...what am I forgetting? Oh yeah. More peanut butter cookies. I'm beginning to channel Fat Elvis again.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

not such a good idea

Our hospital is celebrating Employee's Week, so today when I walked in to work there was the biggest box of donuts I've ever seen just waiting to be devoured. So of course I ate one. I don't even like donuts but I ate one anyway.

A little later there was a reception downstairs where they had a huge fruit basket and some cookies. So of course I had some fruit. I had an apple and a banana and then some grapes.

Riiiiight. Forget the fruit. I had a cookie. A big, bakery sized snickerdoodle. And it was good.

Soon after that I had lunch. A big salad, full of chickpeas and beets and fiber filled leafy greens. I figured if nothing else, it would at least neutralize the cookies.

Soon after that someone decided that it wasn't fair to make us actually walk to the sugar, so they brought the sugar to us. We had a tray of bakery cookies in the break room that was roughly the size of my laundry room. I had an oatmeal raisin cookie and another snickerdoodle. Of course I washed this all down with my usual gallon of Diet Coke that fuels me through the workday. By the time I absently mindedly ate my second donut, I was noticing vague Mt. St. Helen's type rumbles from my belly.

This was right about the time they brought in the tray of peanut butter cookies, my biggest cookie addiction. It was all downhill from there, and by the time the beans and the greens and the carbonation and the caffeine and the sugar overload started duking it out in my gut I was ready for one of my own trauma beds. The last two hours of my shift I moaned more than my patients. And got a hell of a lot less sympathy, too.

Next year I hope they get us something useful, like a stomach pump.

Monday, May 12, 2008

and your point is?

I have a very good friend who is a very good Jew. Her religion provides an extremely strong identity for her, and she carries it into everything she does. She is the most comfortable in her own skin person I know. She comes from a super stable family, parents married forever until her father passed away a few years ago. If she's your friend once, she keeps you. I've never met anyone who was better about making people stay in touch. At her daughter's Bat Mitzvah in St. Louis last summer I've never seen a bigger collection of old friends in my life - people who had come from all over the country for this unbelievably moving weekend. I felt like sending her a thank you note just for inviting me to be there.

And for better or worse, she calls it pretty much the way she sees it. (Believe me when I tell you that I've come out on the losing end of this trait more than once). One day we were talking about my life and she hit on some of the highlights - that my dad was an Iraqi Catholic and my mom is a Scotch-Irish Southern Baptist (both of them non-practicing) from a deep south family, that my version of comfort food ranges from grits to grape leaves, that because of his accent my father died never once having pronounced my name correctly (a name he insisted on, by the way), that my first step-father was a hippie musician in the LA heyday of the late 1960's and 70's and that he and my mom did a fair amount of experimentation in various areas (including counter-culture religions), that my second step-father is (basically) an honest to goodness NASA rocket scientist, that I started out wanting to go to med school and then got a journalism degree which somehow led to television production and now here I am a nurse, that I married a very liberal man from a very conservative, military upbringing, that after all my belly aching about my father I married him (and to make it even more fun, I also gave birth to him five years later), that I swore up and down I would never have children until I woke up one day at 29 and did a complete 180 on myself and then never wanted to be away from them, that an avowed ocean junkie could move happily to midwest prairie-ville and so on and so on.

My friend shook her head as she recapped all this and said "Damn. No wonder you don't know what the f**k you're doing."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

where'd the fourth one come from?

The big question is whether any of them will remember that it's Mother's Day. Any wagers?

And Mom, I said this last year and it still stands. Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

susie montana

Surfer Dude was filling me in on the soap opera goings on in his classroom.

"Well, Julia broke up with Connor today but then Daniel got her on the rebound," he explained. "She decided that she really wasn't so into the bad boys and wanted someone who could make a commitment."

I listened mutely, afraid to even open my mouth.

"It all worked out though," he continued. " She and Daniel went out for about four hours once over Spring Break, so it isn't like they have nothing in common."

I took the plunge.

"Do you have any thoughts on the whole girlfriend thing?" I asked warily, fingers crossed behind my back.

"Nah," he answered. "Life's too short to be tied down."

They're in the fifth grade.

This particular girl has been a thorn in Surfer Dude's side for years, and to add insult to injury lives across the street from us. (As I write this she's on the sidewalk shouting his name, hoping he'll rise to the bait and come outside). I've always kind of thought of her as the Susie Derkins to his Calvin, but she's all of sudden gone from ten to about sixteen. She's wearing lip gloss and tossing her hair and is always perfectly accessorized on the playground. She's a little Hannah Montana clone, with a horde of female followers mimicking her every move. The kid has always been high maintenance, but it's getting a little scary.

SD is laying on the sofa next to me, trying to lay his disgustingly filthy socks on my legs. He's (surprise!) clutching the remote and watching Man vs. Wild, as the guy on TV is cooking and eating a slow puff adder. His jealousy is palpable. Simultaneously, he's trying to figure out how to talk me into letting him go all summer without changing his clothes and planning a burp contest for his birthday party next week. He's ten going on six.

Thank god.

Friday, May 9, 2008

ticked off

Say what you will about Sasquatch, but he's rarely boring. I can think of lots of other descriptive words that fit from time to time, but dull is not on the list. Take Wednesday for example. Any story that ends with him sitting fully dressed on the edge of the bathtub and includes hot matches, hydrogen peroxide, a flashlight and a bottle of canola oil is par for his course.

He had headed downtown after school to hang out with his friends. We are blessed with a true downtown area, and after school it is a big hang out, especially on early release days. He didn't call me until six, and that was to tell me that he was at one of his friend's houses and that he was going out to dinner with them. This friend's mom is one of my best friends, so I said go ahead and go, but how are you getting home? He said he'd walk, I said be home by eight and that's where we left it.

My phone rang an hour later.

"Mom," said my eldest, "I have a tick on my head."

A what? (Good grief. Where did they go to eat?)

"A tick. On my head. And it hurts. Can you come pick me up?"

So I drove to my friend's house and they weren't there. I called the Red Headed Step Child's phone and asked him where the devil they were.

"On the front steps. Just like you said to be."

I was looking right at the front steps, and I know my eyesight isn't what it used to be, but I swear they weren't there.

"On the front steps?" I asked skeptically. "Really? WHICH front steps?"

"The ones at the library," the RHSC said. "Duh."

When I got there there were three of them needing to be taken home, including
Evan, the one whose home I had just been at. (The same damn kid, by the way, who neglected to mention that his mother was in the hospital while this was all going on). I did my maternal boomerang trick and then headed for the RHSC's house, listening all the way to the two of them spouting reasons for me why Sasquatch shouldn't have to go to school the next day in his tick infested state.

"Listen," I said. "He's going to school tomorrow. I don't care if his head explodes - he's going to school. Besides, I haven't even seen this tick. I'm taking your word for it that you and Evan saw a tick on his head. It could just be a zit. It's not like the two of you have a clue."

The RHSC was affronted.

"Are you questioning our medical expertise?" he asked loftily. "Don't you know you're not allowed to talk back to doctors?"

That was rich, coming from Doogie Howser, and showed clearly that he's never seen me in action at work. (And he really does talk like that. He's been in Pre-Law since he was four). I simply repeated myself.

"He's going to school tomorrow. Drop it."

After we had dropped off the RHSC I said to Sasquatch,

"I have to hand it to you for originality. So you realized you didn't want to walk home from downtown. Most kids would just say they'd hurt their ankle or something. But not you. Nooo... you've gotta have a tick on your head. "

And then for some reason we both started laughing so hysterically that we ended up sitting in the driveway for a couple of minutes with tears rolling down both of our faces.

"It's not funny," he'd say every so often, and then we'd both crack up again.

"Oh, my god, what kind of mother am I?" I would ask every so often and then we'd both howl out loud.

Ahh. Good times.

The actual tick removal wasn't such a good time, but it all worked out. It took three matches to get the little bugger to let go, but it finally did. Sasquatch held the flashlight for me while I burned its little tick butt and then poured hydrogen peroxide on it. I didn't even need the stand-by canola oil. The younger boys were disappointed that I accidentally dropped it down the drain before they could see how big it was. It was big. A big, nasty tick. So much for my theory that any tick attached to Sasquatch's head would go hungry.

Lets see. Lice, mice, ants, wasps and ticks. Have I mentioned the animal that is living in the wall in our upstairs family area? Sounds roughly squirrel sized from all the thunks against the plaster, but who knows? I'm running a vermin drop-in shelter, and all beds are full. Take a number and come back in the morning. Bring your own blanket.

Sasquatch went to school the next day, dramatically rubbing the back of his head.

And I'm still waiting for the bill from his medical team.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

skittles and beer

Nothing about this day happened the way I planned, but it was okay. I woke up completely wired after a great night's sleep and ran all over the place today doing a whole slew of things I needed to do. It may not have been super restful, but it was productive. And that can be very satisfying.

We hung out on the playground after I picked the kids up from school, laid on the sofa and watched TV, had a very simple thrown together chicken caesar salad for dinner and was just ready to put on my jammies and reconnect with my old friend Mint Chip when the phone rang.

My buddy Stacey (of the recent cardiac crap) had called me yesterday to compare notes on feeling rotten. She was hoping she had the same yuck I do, but the more she talked the less I believed that. I said firmly that she needed to get into the doctor's ASAP. She wasn't convinced. I became more firm. She demurred. I think that was about the point where I (in her words) shouted repeatedly at her to JUST DO IT.

She did. She has a pulmonary embolism - a blood clot in her lung. As I write this I have just gotten back from two hours sitting in our ICU, where three of us gals took over the room and tried to divert her attention in any way we could. (My turn at center stage was all about Sasquatch and his cerebral hitchiker - stay tuned for tomorrow). Evidently I missed the phone call today where she called to tell me gleefully that she was in my ER and I wasn't. I drove her teenage son home today and he didn't say a dang word about it. Gotta love that chromosome.

She's hanging in there, but for god's sake - enough already.

Enough. Already.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

last of the random posts

I'm still in short attention span mode, so here are just a few things I've pondered lately:

Did you know that if you want to buy a haunted house there's an actual website (I'm sure there are more) that advertises haunted houses to buy and sell? Did you know that if your paranormal obsessed twelve year old finds out about this he all of a sudden becomes very interested in the inner workings of the real estate market? And that even though he's afraid to go to the upstairs bathroom by himself, thinks the idea of living in a house inhabited by a poltergeist named Big Bruno sounds like a great idea?

I had a slow moment at work Tuesday and logged onto Yahoo! only to find a list of Low Stress Careers for a more holistic lifestyle. Naturally, I clicked the link and almost spewed coffee onto the keyboard when I noticed that nursing was on the list. I would have shot them off a blistering email, but all the cops dragging in the bleeding from the head (and fighting like a maniac) suspected rapist kept me busy for a while. Who puts these lists together anyway?

On the agenda for Wednesday: Sleep. Sleep some more. Eat something really yummy and dreadfully bad for me. Do lovely indulgent things to make me feel more like a human and less like roadkill. (If I can stop looking like roadkill, so much the better).

Also on the agenda for Wednesday: Make some lists. Typical RC lists, to tell the truth. I'm mapping out my life. One list at a time. Why? Because I'm starting to look at the clean slate that is my future...and actually look forward to it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

deluded ramblings

I've started two different posts and when I read them back neither one of them makes sense. I've gone for poignant and funny and missed the mark both times. Maybe the list format is really my best friend right now. No pressure to be coherent for more than a couple of lines.

Some random thoughts:

When you come home exhausted but wired right before midnight, is it better to go straight to bed and toss and turn all night or stay up for hours until you feel like you could sleep?

Is a barrel full of caffeine to stay awake after 6pm really such a good idea in hindsight?

Will you go to hell for stealing someone else's wireless?

Cinco de Mayo is not for gringos. Especially frat boy gringos driving daddy's Beemer.

I'm off Wednesday.

The Webster's dictionary definition of "on call" is: Hell, yeah, we're calling you in.

I can't breathe. It hurts like a big dog.

Ninety percent of my patients today were PITAs. Pains In The Ass.

I'm sure they felt the same about me.

Why would someone tell you they couldn't possibly be pregnant because a) they'd just had their period and b) they hadn't had sex in months and then, when you tell them their test is positive, scream and cry hysterically because they've been "trying forever" to have their third child in four years?

I'm a big whiny biatch.

Why do people who become romantically involved in the workplace always think no one notices? I'm here to tell you that they do notice. Every single one of them. And they talk, too.

I think I'm done. Damn caffeine.

Monday, May 5, 2008

why ask why?

Why do most of our patients who are my age look so much older than I do? Or do they?

Why do I have the awful suspicion that the only reason my wireless has started working again in the last 24 hours is that we're hitching onto someone else's service? And why has my wireless server completely disappeared off of my computer?

Why was it so hard to keep a straight face when one of our older male frequent fliers came in today in a hot pink negligee and crotchless panties, clutching a bottle of tequila and a cordless drill?

Why do I think that my body is going to take matters into its own hands by making me sick? All day long I've felt like someone is sitting on my chest and it hurts like a mofo to breath. I never get anything respiratory and I don't feel like starting now.

Why did I pick up shifts every day this week except one? Am I nuts? If so, why?

Why did I get almost no lilacs this year off of my lilac bushes? Is there some gardening trick to make them lush that I've missed?

Why am I still up writing this when I just want to sleep?

Why ask why?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

sunday slacker


Your Personality at 35,000 Says...

Deep down, you prefer spending time alone to spending time with others. You enjoy thinking more than talking.

You are good with your place in the world. You are confident and comfortable with who you are.

Your gift is having a way with words. You know how to express yourself well.

You are inspired by what is unknown. You are drawn to the exotic.

It's very easy for you to feel happy. You can find peace with any situation.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

turning pro

Oh, you poor misguided people. While I thank you all for your generous spirits (most of you anyway, willowtree) in telling me that my whining isn't as bad as it could be, I had to laugh at those of you who inferred that I'm an amateur. So - because the stars have aligned in both blogville and real world-ville - stick around. I'm turning pro.

Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night.

I'm so damn tired I can't see straight. I've worked nine out of the last ten days. I have Saturday off and then I go back for two more days. I'm on call virtually every day I'm not already scheduled for the next three weeks and I just found out that there's a music program at school that no one told me about that takes place smack in the middle of a shift I picked up. I'm tired of drug seekers and charting and coming home with my feet throbbing so bad that I can feel my pulse in my toes for hours after work. Does anyone have a primary care doctor anymore? Because I'm sick to death of running like a dog all day to take care of people who have colds or need a prescription refill or think it's cheaper to go to the ER than to pay their clinic co-pay. It's called an EMERGENCY Department. I believe you when you say it hurts, but a hangnail is not an emergency. For every person that comes in I have to do a full body assessment (and chart it) and a full list of all of the medications they take ( and chart them) plus an entire medical and surgical history (and chart it). And if you come in and we tell you not to drink or smoke or keep shooting up or to make sure you take your meds and then you do none of the things we say, do not call me foul names and snap your fingers at me when you ask me for something to "take the edge off". I got your damned edge right here.

I slept so hard last night that I completely missed a severe storm that whipped through in the middle of the night. I didn't even know about it until my mom emailed me at work to make sure we were okay. I mean I knew there was a storm. I woke up in the middle of it.(It's hard to sleep with three quaking dogs on your bed). I just kind of missed the part that a lot of people seem to think was a tornado. The trees in the road driving to work should have tipped me off. Although in hindsight, the eighty mile an hour winds should have also been a clue. How can I take the kids to the Silence of the Lambs basement if I don't even wake up?

I' m tired of coming home and seeing dishes and trash and dirty laundry everywhere. Why am I the only person in the damned house who ever empties the trash cans? And which kid is it who unrolls a bunch of toilet paper every time he sits on the pot, so that when he gets up there is a pile of TP coiled up in front of (certainly not in) the trash can? Have they priced toilet paper lately? Not that it matters, since Trixie loves nothing more than to chew TP, leaving big gloppy clumps of it everywhere. Why do all of my children confuse the bathroom with the library? I wouldn't really care except that when they're done they leave their reading material laying on the floor in front of the toilet and apparently think the magazine or book is clever enough to put itself away. And how old will they be when they flush? Or turn off the light? Or the TV when they leave the room? And why does every TV in the damned house have to be on at all times?

I walked in the door tonight and within fifteen seconds Gumby was hitting me up for a sleepover and SD was wanting to go out running around the neighborhood with a kid who I think has some issues. It didn't take ten minutes before they were fighting and squalling over something stupid that involved a hidden soccer ball and a head lock. Sasquatch is out at a movie but I have no idea how he got there or when he's coming home. I would just call him on the kid's cell phone but it's broken and Verizon won't give me a new phone unless I pay them a hundred and something dollars because I still have a year on my contract and you can't get a cheap phone without a new contract. So I've been giving the kids my cell phone but I couldn't do that today because I was on call and I needed my phone in case I got called in, which of course I did.

It's not like I don't need the money. We found out there are foundation issues in the house, which will set us back thousands. The FG is moving out June 1st and there will certainly be money involved in that. We still have to have the roof looked at, although if these storms keep up it's anyone's guess what will happen to the roof. Maybe a big tree will come through in a part no one is sleeping in and we can just collect the insurance money. We have ants in the downstairs bathroom and I frickin' hate ants. With a passion. We have wasps on the sunporch and I frickin' hate wasps. With a passion. We may still have mice in the laundry room but I'm not sure. They've either gotten sneakier or they've moved up to our bedrooms. I frickin' hate mice. With a...never mind.

SD has an 8 am soccer game, which means we have to be up at practically the crack of dawn, or maybe it just feels that way since I want to sleep until noon. Gumby has a play in a class where I've already paid a boatload for him to be in it, but now have to pay for the performance tickets to boot. And the two of them tried out for a local summer production that is costing an arm and a leg, and even though everyone had to "audition", anyone who tried out got a part, because god forbid they'd turn anyone away at those prices. So for the equivalent of all the household utilities for the month (or a tank of gas), I'm the proud parent of two Oompah Loompahs.

I have a few friends who are totally pissed off at me because they're tired of my hiding out and not returning their phone calls. Some of them have taken to just hunting me down like a rat and dragging me out of the house kicking and screaming. Now that word has gotten around work about what's going on with me, I've started getting invitations to do things after work, which, being me, I totally blow off, which makes people either pissed or more determined. I've even heard the dreaded words "I have a friend who would be perfect for you." Cool. A blind date at some point in the distant future. That sounds great. As soon as I finish chewing my own foot off I'll get back to you.

Well, that's a start. Damn. That felt good.

Friday, May 2, 2008

broken promises

One of the things I promised myself when I started doing this blog was that I wasn't going to whine. Oh, I might complain a little or grumble a time or two, but I drew the line at whining. It's not a personality trait I do well with, so it made sense that I would try to avoid it myself. For the most part I think I've dodged it pretty well - maybe a closer shave from time to time, but in the end I've stayed a (relatively) low whine zone.

Until recently. I feel like all I do lately is whine. And bitch. And moan. I spiff it up a little and clean it up some, but when I send it down the runway it's still whining. It's just well dressed whining. And even though I hate it (because it simply isn't me), I'm still doing it. I'm afraid I'm becoming a downer - and who wants to read a downer day after day?

I'm really tired. When I walk in the door all the kids want my attention right away. The dogs put their tails between their legs every time they see my scrubs, doubtless imagining bladders full to bursting in their futures. I dance the computer dance every night - with so much competition for my time I feel guilty getting on-line. The wireless is still jacked up, which means I'm tethered to an ethernet cord. Some days it's a lot of trouble to blog. Some days it's a lot of trouble just to turn the computer on. But I've come to rely on this a lot - for moral support, for friendship, for places to check in on during the day. In so many ways this has become my social circle. I can't give it up. I don't want to.

But lately I'm also a terrible blog buddy. I don't get around as much as I used to. (Now there's a straight line for you). Even when I do read "my regulars" I don't always leave comments, which makes me feel rotten. I'm amazed that people still comment here, considering how I'm not holding up my bloggy end of the bargain. (I am well aware with how the game works. I just can't pull it off right now).

See? There I go. I'm whining again.

Hang in there with me, okay? I promise I'll get my mojo back. And I'll be a better blog buddy in the bargain.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

list break

If you're looking for The Thursday Three
This week it's just not going to be
A sweet little boy
My baby, my joy
Said Mom would you snuggle with me?

And that's exactly what I've been doing.