Saturday, September 04, 2010

it's amazing...

I have never ever ever done anything harder than nursing school. Keep in mind I have a master of oriental medicine. And moved across the country with an 18 month old. And pushed a giant watermelon out of my coochie. So I speak with a bit of authority when I say that.

This week has been especially arduous (and sadly it is only week TWO of 2,238).

The week opened with a two hour math test covering all kinds of med dosing, metric conversions, needle gauges and such. People scoring below a 75 would not be permitted to start their clinical rounds. Yikes.

OK Phew! I made a 94! 75% of the class did not pass :(

Then there were two quizzes, one on pregnant ladies and the other on neurology.

Wednesday brought a three hour cumulative exam that included most of what we learned last semester. This was a computerized, standardized test. Once again scoring below 900 would get you on a remediation track...and scoring below 800 would mean even worse.

Once again I did fine, scoring a 960. Even fewer of my classmates passed this exam.

Thursday was my first day in clinicals - a ten hour rotation through the neuro floor at the hospital. What type of patients are there, you ask? Very very sick folks. Sick folks who have something wrong with their brains. They are sick and sad and usually waiting on surgery.

I hit the floor and get my patient. At this stage we just get one and the care we give is basic. We bring ice chips, help them get to the potty, or reposition in the bed. We also do a general assessment of vitals and practice figuring out the kind of nursing care we would give when we are all grown up.

After my ten hour shift I went home to complete four hours of paperwork - and on Friday I was back at school first thing in the morning to turn it in and have class. After class were competency exams in the lab where an instructor watches me stick a fake arm with an IV and get fluids going.


At this point my body feels like a big nerve ending...

And I have spent more time crying than smiling...

But the thing is...the thing that keeps me the patient that I had on Thursday. A brave older woman facing down a terrifying prognosis...her faculties slipping each hour I was on the floor. She was surrounded by family and friends who adored her and ached to be there watching her decline.

All I could do was stand with them, tell them how brave they were. Offer coffee and blankets. I asked to hear stories of my patient as the wonderful mother, sister and wife she clearly had been. It was an amazing day. I left the hospital feeling like the luckiest woman on the planet for walking just a half a step in that family's path.

So yep, I wanna be a nurse. Let's see if my old body can hang on and get me there :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Now accepting applications...

My friend posted this on craigslist in hopes of finding a new employee...but honestly this same criteria would be valid for my ad. Just substitute "girlfriend" for "garden" ;)

Small residential garden maintenance company in search of part time gardener
Flexible schedule
Right now at least 2 days a week and could offer up to four in busier times of year
The gardens are in San Francisco and are designed by landscape architects or garden designers. They are interesting and beautiful. Our main focus is regularly scheduled maintenance on existing gardens but occasionally we will be doing small installations. Experience in both areas a plus.
You will be working with Queer, smart, open minded, gentle, creative, personable, optimistic, happy people with wide ranging interests and a strong work ethic. It would be great if you also cultivate these qualities. We work humane hours, take a 30 minute paid lunch, enjoy each other’s company and work hard to get the job done and make the gardens look amazing.
Expect to pay your taxes on the income from this job. It is not under the table.
Pay rate determined by your skills and experience.
Our scheduling is organic and revolves around existing jobs, new projects, various vacations and our/your other jobs/commitments. Work is steady. You will have more, never less, hours if you want them.
You have:
Experience with maintaining outdoor ornamental gardens of various styles.
Interest in and experience with ornamental plants and their care.
Used brooms, shovels, clippers, ladders, hedgers and hoses and understand their various applications and how to work with them safely.
Worked outside in all weather and know how to keep a good attitude while cold, wet and wind blown.
Experience pruning small fruit trees, roses, vines.
Knowledge of irrigation systems, low voltage lighting systems. Handyman or carpentry skills a big plus.
A valid DL, clean driving record and are able to drive and park a 20 foot truck safely and with confidence.
Your own truck and own tools (a plus but not necessary)
A strong back.
You are:
The perfect combination of burly and delicate… as in you can lift up to 50 pounds and carry that 50 pounds up several flights of stairs over and over for a couple of hours or you can step lightly in flower beds and deadhead tiny pansies without crushing them to a pulp with your boots.
Self directed, reliable, punctual
Observant, organized and keep your work space and tools clean
Quiet and focused when working, disciplined, respectful of clients' homes and privacy
Someone who likes to work alone and also in groups, you take direction well but also can figure out what do to without micro management
A good listener and communicator
Not afraid to get your hands or clothes dirty, or of insects, spiders or small furry mammals.
A non smoker
Dog friendly.
If you eat healthy you will get along great with us at lunch time. We don’t stop for fast food.
An active nightlife and the the accompanying recreations are probably not a good fit since working outside tired and hungover is a drag for you and for the rest of us who have to work with you.
If you think you want a trial run on this team please get in touch to set up an interview.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The things we do for love...

I remember going off to college wanting to know if I was a lesbian or not. All throughout high school I was clueless about which team I wanted to play for...I was pretty sure everyone merely "tolerated" their boyfriends (as I did) and lived for sleepovers with their best gal pals (I had a lot to learn!).

College is the archetypal time to experiment. I kissed some boys just to get to kiss the girls, and finally lost my heart to a woman. I hadn't had sex of any kind so I thought this would surely be the litmus test of my sexuality! YAY! After weeks of platonic hanging I took a deep breath and calmly invited her back to my place for the evening, trying to appear as indifferent as possible. Luckily I was SUPER sophisticated in college ;-) My futon was on the floor. I didn't have any clean dishes. I grew basil and pot on the windowsill. With all this going for me it was surely going to be easy to seduce her...and it was.

The next morning I was full of smiles and eager to impress her. I hopped out of bed and cooked up biscuits, eggs and bacon. She ate it up and headed off to class. I was sure I was a lesbian! And I was confident I had a girlfriend!

About a month later she and I moved in together and I was SHOCKED to discover she was a vegetarian! How could this be?! She had eaten bacon on that fateful first breakfast! Bacon is the devil's meat! The worst of all meats! She sheepishly admitted that yes, she had eaten the bacon on that first morning together because she had lost her mind a bit (no doubt from my incredible charm). But that bacon had been the first meat she had eaten IN HER ENTIRE LIFE!

OK. Seriously? Let's forget for the moment that we later discovered this girl was a pathological liar and just take this story at face value. Her parents were strict vegetarians. And she had never eaten meat. Ever. Yet she ate the bacon up without so much as a HINT of trepidation.

Now I was young and didn't know this facet of relationships. This was my first of many exposures to that crazed phase of new attraction that makes vegetarians loony enough to eat bacon. Not sure if it has a name...some say "Honeymoon phase" or maybe "How About You Tell Me You Are a F-ing Vegetarian And I Won't Make Bacon Phase".

In the years since that experience I have wondered about our brains...or hormones...or whatever it is that has the power to make us behave that way. How in the heck can a cute girl get you to sit through a movie like Hot Tub Time Machine and actually ENJOY IT?!

And we all know we aren't fake laughing to the stupid jokes in Hot Tub Time Machine - we are actually enjoying that infantile humor just because the hand of a girl is ever so slightly resting on your leg.

At least my 20 year old self was astute enough to recognize that first moment I witnessed it...though I can't say I understand it any better now. Biologists may say that it is our body's chemistry conspiring to ensure the propagation of the species. Religious nuts...well they think it is a sin so let's not go into that. But to me it feels like you leave your "self" a bit. You leave your routines behind, plug into a new connection, and see what new things there may be to learn.

I can tell you that my college paramour became a carnivore...and though our relationship lasted about six months, her love of bacon persisted ;) And to her I say "You are welcome".

And learning how to laugh at Hot Tub Time Machine with new friends and an amazing girl at your side? Well that is a skill I am grateful to have the chance to acquire.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Boston Med: My new favorite show!

It may be wrong - but I count watching it as "study time" :)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Five dollars

Three weeks ago my elderly mother called needing tylenol. She didn't want the name brand "over priced stuff"...would I mind running up to Publix, getting a bottle of generic tylenol, and scooting over to her place?

Keep in mind that she has a nursing station one elevator below her that stocks tylenol. I figured she just wanted some company so I did as she asked.

Two weeks ago she called again, complaining that the "off brand" generic wasn't working. Would I run back to the store and pick up some extra strength tylenol? She was sure that would do the trick. Ever the dutiful daughter - I did as I was asked.

Last week my mother called - this time in tears - and said that the only kind of tylenol that she had ever used with any success was the liquid gel filled. She knew it was a bit much to ask...but could I run to the store and get her a bottle?

I am sure that at least a part of my mother feels that it is my fault she resides in an assisted living facility. Without me asking the doctor "unnecessary" questions like "Would you consider someone in my mother's condition able to live on her own safely?" then life would still be grand. She would still be out driving her Lincoln into mailboxes and trashcans getting her own damn tylenol. So some of the errands she asks of me seem to be just for the sake of making me run all over town. But hey, if it makes her happy...

Last week when she called I was about to have a friend over to study and wasn't in the mood to drop everything to help. I gently reminded her that she had two other kinds of tylenol and even VICODIN at her disposal. Yes I understood her sciatica was bothering her but I was busy.

I hung up the phone and the guilt came creeping up. How cold-hearted does one have to be to ignore a 78 year old woman crying?!


I called my study buddy and explained I had to cancel on her and run some errands. First stop was Publix where I got liquid gel filled tylenol, liquid gel filled advil (anticipating next week's call!) and some ointment. I go to the register and that's when I realized I had left my wallet at home. Luckily for me (or for my mother I guess) the cashier was a woman I had seen over the years out around town - our kids had gone to preschool together. And without me even ASKING she reached over the counter and swiped her debit card. "Just come by tomorrow and pay me back".

Sometimes I can't believe the kindness out there in the world :)

Next stop, my mother's. By this point it is pouring down rain and I run up to her room soaking wet. She is thrilled to see me and clapped her hands thanking me over and over. Her next sentence was "I guess you want money - or is this your treat?"


I told her that YES she had to pay me back. The total was $35.

"All I have is two 20's - could I just give you one?"

The bickering went back and forth for a bit before she finally gave me the $40. And she ended up getting so mad that she won't return any of my calls. I suppose when she asked me to go downstairs and get her $5 in change I should have said HELL YEAH! rather than AREYOUFUCKINGSERIOUS?!?!

Maybe I should keep calling over and over again until she picks up and "forgives" me.

Or not.

Friday, July 30, 2010

My baby...

This is a story my son wrote last year for school. The topic he selected was based on an experience he had doing some "eagle watching" as a junior Audubon volunteer. We would go out to a protected bald eagle nest site with his gifted teacher on the weekends and record all the activity we witnessed. It was one of the most spectacular things I have ever done...

But holy cow how can a nine year old write so well?!?! Even my wonderful, perfect, handsome nine year old!?!?!

Translation below for those who can't make out the original...and yes I corrected the spelling because I am OCD like that - LOL!

Riding in a black and white car under the canopy each leaf looks like a star glistening in the warm rays of the sun. Finally we were here! Each cloud hopped like a rabbit across the sky. I walk along the moist grass brushing against my feet felt like silk tickling me. My mom and me walk over to where we could observe the majestic bald eagle. I set up the telescope camera just right so I could see its nest. It looked like woven gold swaying in the wind. It takes weeks to make. Suddenly I saw a fuzzy image of a bald eagle zooming across the landscape in the blink of an eye. I took dozens of blurry pictures but I was not fast enough. It only rested for a heart beat. My camera could not focus that fast. Only one more picture "click" got it!!!!!!!!! And that's the time I got a rare picture of the bald eagle.

I am so proud to spend time with my proud to see the kind of person he is turning into :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My Dad...

I miss my Dad :(

He died years ago. Decades of drinking put holes in his liver...those holes wept fluid into his body and poisoned his blood. Watching him die was excruciating for so many reasons. First and foremost was the fact that he refused to acknowledge he was sick, much less dying. It is awkward to try and set up hospice care for someone who is denying the disease.

I scooted back and forth between Tallahassee and Lady Lake many times the last month of his life...bringing my 3 year old son in tow. I made hard decisions that set in motion how the end of my Dad's life would be - and to this day I wonder if those decisions were for the best.

His funeral was soon after Christmas - and only a handful of people were there. I knew my father didn't have many friends and he wasn't close with his family - but it was sad to look out at the empty pews. Those that did attend were shocked to know how long he had hidden liver failure. A testament to his quiet strength...or stubbornness I guess ;)

When the time came for family to speak I stood up. I had so many memories of my Dad and until that morning didn't know what I would share. I stood at the alter and remembered a story that best summed up what my father had meant to me.

I was 21 and decided to drop out of college. Not the first nor the last brilliant idea concocted while on a road trip :) My girlfriend and I were traveling out west on summer break when we stopped in Boulder, CO. Never had she and I seen a town that felt so much like home. Hippies everywhere! Thrift stores and food co-ops on each corner! So that was it. We headed back to college - withdrew - sold everything that wouldn't fit in my Ford Fiesta - and returned to Boulder to make a new home.

It was at that point that paradise began to crumble. There were no jobs for college drop outs - and the only house we could afford was WAY up in the mountains. And it only had an outhouse. Literally. As in, no toilet in the house. But we had each other, and love, and a view of Boulder from up on high.

The money ran out before we could find a job - and I started to realize what an incredibly stupid thing we had done. I was pooping outside people!!! IN AN OUTHOUSE! And it felt cold even in July. I had to come home. Which meant I had to call my parents.

You can imagine how completely pissed they were about this whole new life I was making. They were mad I was off playing house with a GIRL and furious I had dropped out of school. But I was worried we wouldn't even have gas money to get home. Drastic times called for drastic measures.

This was before the days of cell phones...and I still remember the gas station at the bottom of the mountain where I used the phone. Mom answered...but I asked her to put on Dad. I cried as I told him how I was scared and broke and he had been right that dropping out of school was stupid. I told him I was coming back.

And then the silence.

I didn't know what he would say...and his pause seemed like it lasted hours.

He told me he would get on a plane right away - meet me in Boulder - and drive us all home together.

What a guy :)

Not "I told you so" or "you've made your bed now lie in it"...

He just wanted to help his lesbo-hippie-college drop out-baby girl :)

And I'll tell you what - that man always had my back. But that was the day I realized it. And just him being willing to reach out his hand gave me the courage I needed to turn that Fiesta back east and make it home.

Thanks Dad.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer of sand and sea...

It is very strange to be a person who loves order and routine and have your world turned upside down. Or, more specifically, to be a person who created as much consistency as possible and face a lay-off as a single mom. Not just a lay off as in "oh dang now I have to get another corporate oh my how I hate interviewing"... This was a lay-off in the midst of NOW. The ego crushing reality of not being able to find a job even remotely in my previous income bracket was...well...there aren't words to describe how hard it hit me.

So for a year I allowed myself a descent into despair...selective despair. I still was a mom who cooked and cleaned and played. My little man and I read books and laughed and walked the dog...

But then at night as my little light fell asleep the fear of uncertainly was in every corner of my room.

Most of my friends were rock solid next to me (thanks ya'll!) though a surprising number split. I suppose it was pruning...

And for weeks the only thing that motivated me was knowing what I could *not* accept. I could not accept, for example, a job that required travel. I could not accept a job in Boston, or Santa Cruz, or St. Paul. I would have preferred to know what the hell I actually DID want, but I was content to know what I did not ;)

Fast forward eight months and you'll see me today - top of my class in nursing school and stretching long dormant brain cells into totally new positions. Learning the difference between a stage 2 and stage 3 decubitus ulcer and trying to navigate the halls of a hospital with confidence. I have held my breath to keep myself upright during an especially brutal ostomy bag cleanse, and been nearly knocked over with the strength of an 88 year old woman as she chooses to turn away from treatment and face her mortality.

Nursing school is hard, unpredictable, and exhausting. The instructors are disrespectful and unnecessarily cruel. But I am loving it :)

I am 100% sure I have no idea what my future holds...but I am in the exact right place to find out :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

my home...

Sometimes it doesn't feel like one little family is very compassionate, always recycles, doesn't shop at wal-mart, marching in the streets family is enough to stop the bad guys from ruining everyfuckingthing.