Monday, June 25, 2012

Lazy Days of Summer?

 Not so far.

I think that statement is reserved for school aged children and teachers.

Because it seems to me as if the rest of the world is continuing with life as before...

I still have to go to work.  The house work still piles up along with the laundry.  The family still needs food.  Only if you have a love of pretty flowers you have heaped another chore onto your plate.

Unless you have school aged children who are now doing a large chunk of your house work.  Not as well as you might have done it.  But as long as you're not doing it, who can complain?

Saturday I weeded my flower beds while the girls picked rocks.  Brent was at the church weed eating.


Oh!  Are you wondering WHY on earth my girls were picking rocks?  Because we got a new septic that's why!  Woot! Woot!  I swear I was more giddy over that septic than any gal ever was over a measly ole diamond...

But that septic probably cost more than the vast majority of diamonds.  

We are having a party next weekend for Independence Day.  My flowers are looking fabulous.  My grass is green and my weeds are limited.

 I'm not sure how  to make the pile of dirt and rocks disappear or at least appear attractive by next Saturday.  However, if I wait for the yard to look perfect, I will never have people over because I live in a land of unfinished projects.  Ninety percent of which are projects I myself have started.  So, instead of freaking out over it and working frantically tomorrow (which is Sunday) to make it look like it's been there forever, I think I will float in the pool with the girls.

What things do you do to make summer time a special time?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Burning Down the House One Can Opener at a Time

So, since my girls are at the ripe old age of ten and eleven, we have forsaken the baby sitter...

After all Bookworm is going into seventh grade.  And she's scared of, like, EVERYTHING, what's the worst that could happen?

I came to the brilliant deduction that a baby sitter is a teenage girl that you HOPE is going to keep your kids from making bad decisions.  After all, if an intruder tries to come in a teenage girl is going to do the same thing the girls will do:  Panic.

And between basketball camp,  vacation Bible school, church camp, a week at my parents, and maybe even some time with friends or at my sister's, the summer is practically over.

Last Friday was their first full day at home alone.

 Bookworm nearly burned the house down.

No joke.

She was annoyed with her sister for using the microwave sauce pan to make Ramen and decided to make herself some mac and cheese in the microwave.

In a metal sauce pan. 

Yep.  She mixed it up, programmed 3 minutes into the microwave and walked away.  At the end of the three minutes she returned to the kitchen and noticed a strange odor.  She did NOT notice that the handle to the pan was melted.  She tried to finish the mac and cheese, which was strangely "disgusting" and abandoned her concoction on the kitchen stove.

Brent came home two hours later to find that the microwave was still hot, and carried it out of the house, to:
A) Ensure it did not cause a delayed electrical fire.
B) Get the stinky thing out of the house.

When I got home he told me all about it.  "How embarrassing if the kids burned the house down while we were gone."

"Yes.  Clearly.  Embarrassment would be the biggest issue here."

"Well, and of course the guns.  If we weren't home, who would rescue my guns?"

Gentle Reader, I will not even bother to clarify who made what statement in that little conversation...I will allow you to use your critical thinking skills and come to your own conclusions.

Zoiks.  Yes, she knew metal canNOT go in the microwave.  She just "forgot."  I was reminded of a conversation I had with her fourth grade reading teacher.  I was expressing frustration with her inability to keep track of things and to just not pay attention as she should.  Like bringing home papers.  And special assignments.  Y'know.  Small stuff...

"Oh, that's common of highly intelligent kids like her.  Their minds are on loftier things."

Is that what they mean by having your head in the clouds?  And by the way, I do NOT use high intelligence as an excuse to be a flake...

So, we had some safety talks.  Lots of them....And I left for work Monday morning, with a lovely list of chores for them to accomplish.

They did such a FANTASTIC job that I decided to kick things up a notch and left them directions for cooking dinner.  Because y'know.  They are TEN and ELEVEN.  Clearly they are at the prime age to assume not only all of the house work duties, but also providing meals for the family...

After all if I'm bringing home the bacon they can fry it up in the pan, right????




So, at about 11:30 I notice that I had missed about three cell phone calls from the girls.  I called them to see what was up...

"Mom!  We can't get the cans open."

"What?  Just use the can opener!"

"We don't know how!"

So.  My children were obviously fully prepared to assume kitchen duties...

But never fear!  I proceeded to give them detailed instruction on the use of a can opener over the phone.

Gentle Reader, have you ever tried to verbally coach someone on the use of a manual can opener?  It's not as easy as it sounds.  It is actually quite difficult.  Especially considering that I was trying to explain how to use one can opener and the girls were trying to use a completely different one...

"Okay, there are two silver wheels.  One is serrated the other is smooth.  Place the lip of the can inside these two wheels with the silver part facing down.  Turn the handle.  You will notice that the top of the can now looks like when paper is perforated. This is so you can lift the lid off with no sharp edges.  On the side of the can opener is a little plier/alligator looking thing.  Grasp the lid of the can in this and remove the lid."


At one point in the conversation Popcorn said, "Mom, if we don't figure this out soon, Bookworm is going to throw a fit."

And I laughed so hard tears were coming out of my eyes.  Because that is just like me.  When I can't get equipment to work right, I tend to growl in my throat, stamp my foot, and if that doesn't work I say, "I am about to throw a fit!"  And my radiology techs and doctor always laugh at me and make red hair and fair skin comments...

Which is always helpful...

In spite of the cooking dinner drama I was day dreaming on my way home about how responsible and grown up my girls are, and how my house will turn into an utter disaster in just a few short months because they will be at school, so I will no longer be able to pawn all house work off on them.

And then I walked into the door and the kitchen was a complete disaster.  The counters were disgusting.  There were empty cans that they HAD succeeded in opening out.  There was a mutilated can that they just destroyed.  The floors were sticky.  The sink was full of dirty dishes and the dishwasher was empty...

And we had to leave nearly immediately for a double header softball game.


We actually won both of the games, which was a HUGE deal to our Bad News Bears sort of team, so after the coach (who I happen to be married to) treated everyone to ice cream at Braum's, I was still kind of wound up.  Which left me with energy to clean the kitchen...

So on Thursday I gave them another opportunity to prepare dinner...After giving a brief inservice on how to use the can opener...

And it was delicious!  As a matter of fact Popcorn asked, "So, what do we got to cook for dinner tomorrow night?"

Ah, Gentle Reader, you KNOW these days are fleeting.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Close to Home

A few weeks ago the nurse light went off in our patient bathroom.  I looked over at my coworker Amy and said, "Didn't 'our coworker' just go in there?"

"I think so," she answered as we both walked to the bathroom and stopped for a moment hoping he would hit the "cancel" button.  When the bell continued to ding I tentatively tapped on the door.

 "Yes?" came an impatient voice.

"Are you okay?"

"Uh.  Yeeees.  I'll be out in a minute."

"Well you pulled the call light cord.  Could you cancel it please?"

And he came out looking quite sheepish.  And of course we were all laughing.  It turns out he was looking at the cord because it appeared to be made of plastic, but was actually a shiny fabric...Well, the cord is quite sensitive, and he had inadvertently activated the call system.

Amy jokingly said, "We were fighting over who had to go in there and help you if you were sprawled out on the floor."

Because, really.  We do NOT want to be each others nurse.

That conversation has been rattling around in my brain, like a gnat buzzing just out of reach...
This coworker found out he had cancer a week ago Thursday.  His only symptom was feeling tired and a sore throat.  He finally forced himself to make an appointment with a doctor, and reported the fatigue and sore throat.  After one look at his throat, the doctor said "You have cancer.  We are getting you a CT scan today." 

And thus began his journey. 

He has squamous cell carcinoma of his tongue.  Tomorrow our team will assist a doctor in placing a port for chemotherapy...So here we are: Being not only his nurse, but his scrub tech and doctor...

It was a very somber week for all of us.  He was running to his oncology appointments, meeting with a surgeon and getting biopsies done between cases.  I just kept thinking "there is a crisis going on here, why do we still have to work?"  I admit I was a bit of a wreck.

And yet he soldiered on. 

Popcorn helped me make an eggless blueberry coffee cake for him on Wednesday.  He was out of K Cups for the Keurig, so he needed to borrow one of mine to enjoy with his treat, "if I'm able to drink it."  Apparently hot coffee is the only thing that is really bothering him and it is related to the biopsy.  He saw the cake when I walked in Thursday morning and said "you didn't."  I looked at him and said in my most practical voice that refuses to cry, "Well, if you can't fix it, feed it."  And he gave a wry chuckle.

That afternoon, after learning he would need both chemo and radiation to treat his cancer, I went with him to consent a patient for a biopsy of a mass...In response to the man's question he said, "Well, I won't know what it is.  We will send the biopsy to the pathologist and it can be one of a few things.  It could be an inflammation of the bone that has caused this mass, an infection, or it could be cancer.  Your doctor will let you know what the pathologist report says."

And I was all jittery and as I thought of the total surrealism of talking to a patient about the possibility he has cancer when you yourself have just received the news that not only do you for sure have cancer, but it will require chemo and radiation...

You know, it seems as if health care people should have some sort of super suit that makes them immune to things like cancer.  And while I recognize the utter ridiculousness of such a thought, that is the thought that keeps coming back to me. 

As I was leaving for the weekend I tried to cheerfully wish him goodbye and "have a great weekend!  You will already be asleep when I get to work on Monday."

"The doctor said I'm going to lose my hair.  Do you think I should just shave it before I begin chemo?"

"Wow.  I probably would.  I think it would be very traumatic to lose chunks of hair."  And then, although I could feel my nurse walls going up, I went over and I gave him a hug.  And it was much more difficult to hug him than it ever is to hug a patient who has rough news.  Because while I recognize my patients need for a hug, and I genuinely care for their pain it's not my pain.  If I truly felt their pain I would be a total basket case in a matter of days...

But this man is not just a patient.  He has become my friend in the last three plus years that we have worked together.  I know all about his wife and kids. I know his family back ground and I know his moods.  I know that when he's cranky a piece of chocolate and a tablespoon of peanut butter will pretty much fix whatever is ailing him.  I know he feels he should be living in the 1950s because his world view and values are more in line with that era than modern day.  He makes fun of my rapid speech and rambling conversations, and corrects my grammar until I want to tell him he is not my father, but my dad would never correct my grammar.  I know that he is madly in love with his wife and when she goes out of town he is a total basket case.

In spite of our work rolls we have become more than just coworkers.  We've become friends...

"You know, this is going to be a real pain.  Those other people filling in for you don't understand my moods.  They don't know that they need to follow my directions and just do as I say, and the world is a smoother place."

"Andi, don't cry." 

"Don't worry.  I won't.  I suck at sadness."  And we both laughed.

And that was what we both needed. 

I will be praying for him, his wife and two kids. 

Will you join me?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Come Join the Party!

I noticed that Mrs. Accidental is hosting a link up party.  It looked like fun, so I joined in.  Go check it out and link up with your best housewifey post!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Is There Anything I WON'T Tell You?

So it was a typical nurse day...

At least it was a "typical" in the sense that I had the unpleasant duty of helping a man use the urinal.

Only he wasn't old, decrepit, or helpless.  He was a thirty something homeless guy who has hepatitis C, which results in an accumulation of fluid in his abdomen called ascites.  The PA drains the fluid off of the abdomen by first visualizing the abdomen with ultrasound to ensure where the fluid collection is, and if it is a large enough amount and in an area that can be safely drained without hitting liver or bowel.  The PA then cleans the skin with a strong disinfectant, then places a sterile drape over the area, numbs the area with lidocaine then places a small catheter in to drain the fluid.  The procedure is considered sterile, and the drape can not In the case of this particular patient, he had to keep his arm underneath the drape, due to the fact that this is where his arm was when we began, and so there it had to stay.

"I really need to pee."

The PA looked at him with a sense of are you kidding me and tried to say in her sugary sweet slightly patronizing manner, "Well, try to hold it.  We will take some pressure off of that bladder when we drain this fluid off."

So, he dropped it.

And he began to tell me about living at the Jesus House and how he's unhappy with the work they are making him do.  It seems he's in charge of cleaning the women's restroom.  He would prefer to be in charge of sorting clothing.  "Then I can look through the pockets for any money people may have left.  Last week someone found $250."

So, that was a revelation...

"I really need to pee.  Like right now."

The PA looked at me, rolled her eyes and said, "Okay.  Can you use a urinal?"  Which is all very well and good for her to say, because she is in sterile gloves, and with his one arm out of commission, it was pretty clear she would be of no assistance in aiding in the process...

Of COURSE he can use a urinal.  Unlike many men.  You wouldn't believe the amount of men who bemoan the need to pee, but refuse to try using a urinal lying down.  "Pee lying down?  I have to stand up to pee."  And then I very sweetly say, "Then you will have to wait."  And they whine and cry some more because they really have to pee, but are completely unwilling to try a new position, so to speak.  I swear.  I am so glad I'm not burdened with such an appendage.  That surely must be the most high maintenance appendage God ever created.  It certainly gets more consideration than any other...

So, I asked one of my able bodied coworkers, who was within shouting distance, "Hey, Tom!  Could you bring me a urinal please?"

Now came the fun part.  He used his left arm to lift his massively swollen abdomen out of the way while I reached underneath, tugged his belt loose, unbuttoned his pants, and slid his zipper down.  Then he was able to free the aforementioned appendage from his briefs, but was unable to position it in the urinal due to his incredibly swollen belly...

So I took the job in hand, so to speak, and placed it in the urinal trying to hold it in such a way that I don't have to hang on to it while he voids, but also where the urinal will not spill out.

"Wow.  That's a good one.  I haven't peed like that in weeks."

And while I'm very adept at just about any conversation, I was unsure of what to say to that.  "Congratulations" seemed a bit much.  Especially considering one of the weird things I've learned as a nurse is that peeing in a urinal is akin to peeing in a red Solo cup...It sounds more impressive than it is.

My knowledge of men's body fluid expulsion is boundless...

I've helped countless people use the facilities.  And it pretty much never bothers me.  Because here's the deal:  I've come to the conclusion that everyone will need their butt wiped at some point in their life.  And when I reach that stage, I just pray that the nurse treats it as no big deal.  So, I endeavor to treat it as what it is.  No big deal.

"When did they start making women do this?"

 Beat of silence.

Look of confusion between PA and I.

We both avoided answering.  I wasn't sure if he was referring to the PA, who is a woman doing "man's work," or me, holding his penis.  Because I'm pretty sure that holding it should be a man's job in the strictest sense.  However, if we're referring to helping people to the bathroom, he surely doesn't mean that.  Because nurses began in the lowest of the low stature, and many were forced into the position and doubled as prostitutes for the soldiers they served...But they were basically always women.  But he probably didn't know that little fact...

"I always thought this was a man's job."

Well, he's not letting it go.  "I'm not sure what you mean."

"This.  I always thought this was a man's job."  And this time he made it abundantly clear he was referring to me holding his penis in the urinal...I didn't offer a response.  Because, again.  What on earth is there to say?  I'm holding a urinal to ensure it doesn't dump over.  I have my hand positioned in such a way as to avoid it slipping out and making a big mess that I would undoubtedly end up cleaning...

"But maybe that was in San Francisco."  And at that point I nearly laughed out loud.  I had the immediate thought that it's probably not a good idea to start laughing when holding a man's pride in your hand.

And just when I thought it was safe to release it, I noticed the "twitch."  Now, any male readers (which are very few) are immediately aware of my meaning here.  It is when the bladder is nearly empty and they strain for the last few drops causes a "twitch."  At least that's what I call it.  Men probably have another term...Such as "power thrust"  or "jet spray," or even "power wash" or something much more intimidating than "twitch."  But none the less....He started to "twitch" so I made sure the twitch did not lead to a splatter outside of the urinal....

I tell ya.  There just ain't nothing better than a Tuesday morning holding a strange homeless man's penis, talking about rifling through donated clothes for forgotten change, and men in San Francisco holding a penis, all the while making sure he doesn't sprinkle when he's finishing the job.

Oh, wait!  I forgot to tell you the absolutely crowning glory of this entire exchange...

Just when you thought this day could not possibly get any better...

He had scabies.

Yep.  He sure did.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Rescuers...But not Down Under

R-e-s-c-u-e!  Rescue aide society!

Remember that little song form the Rescuers Down Under?  Well, we are featuring our own little rescue society here, and so far our successes are fair to middlin'.

First there were the tadpoles:

Remember them?  We successfully had 24 of 25 tadpoles become tiny toads.

We were surprised to learn that they didn't all metamorphose at once.  The last one metamorphosed nearly two weeks after the first one!

Then there was the turtle rescue:

We will assume he was a success.

Then there is this:

Why yes, it is a bird.  A, perhaps, unsightly bird.  You see, he'd already lost all of his fluff and had moved to the awkward pin feather stage.

You know there's a story, right?  Of COURSE there's a story!

It was a lovely sunshine filled Saturday morning at my parents house.  Dad had already been to the field to rake and bale hay, and I was enjoying a first cup of coffee at the ridiculously late hour of 7:30.  Popcorn had been playing outside by herself since 6am.  I know the time because I had forgotten to turn off my phone alarm, and it had went off.  I was lying in my childhood bedroom and I saw her walk past in the hallway.  I never noticed her walking back by...

Anyway, Popcorn had been out adventuring.  She had "almost caught a robin and a rabbit."  And while, neither of these were successful endeavors, they lead her to an adventure that I got to experience daily as a child.  Adventure that I took for granted.  She chased a robin, then a baby bunny, and finally ended up petting the horses in the corral.  At 7:05, she could contain her news of adventures and came in to tell me of all her discoveries.  Her sister finally drug her lazy carcass out of bed, and I fed them both a piece of toast and a glass of milk, then kicked them out of the door...

Then my brother stopped by, wondering what I had cooked for breakfast.  Poor David, he didn't register that since Mom was gone at the moment, I felt no desire to pick up her reins and cook a morning feast.  He opened the refrigerator and stared at it, much as a teenage boy does, dug through a few cupboards, grunted his disapproval, and headed out the door to help a neighbor with farming.

And now we're back to where we began:  Me trying to savor that first cup of coffee after FINALLY realizing how to work my parents new coffee maker, and Dad sitting down to enjoy a simple piece of toast and jelly with me.

"Mom!  Hurry, come quick!  We found a baby bird!  Hurry, hurry!"  Bookworm came bursting through the front storm door carrying the scent of sunshine and crisp clean air.

"Let Grandpa finish his toast and me my coffee."  And she dashed back outside to stand vigil over the sure to escape baby.

Well, after we finished our chat and breakfast, Dad & I went out to see the new discovery.  Sure enough!  There was a baby bird, flopping clumsily about, with another baby bird lying dead a foot away.  We looked all over, trying to find the nest.  No birds were fluttering about our heads trying to chase us away from their young.  We only found one bird's nest.  It had a mother dove sitting on it, and they looked nothing like the little foundling I was now carrying in my hand (the girls were afraid to touch it, the little city slickers thought he could hurt them.)

My dad, the ever helpful one said to the girls, "Well, you can either feed it to the cat, or try to save it."

Guess what they chose.  Now, Brent was quite shocked to learn my dad would encourage attempting to save a limp, nearly dead bird, but he did not know my dad's history of wild animals.  My dad raised a baby raccoon, and it lived IN THE HOUSE with him.

The raccoon turned out to be a pest because when Dad tried to release him to the wild, it kept coming back.   Usually at night, and it would climb up to his window and wake him up, wanting to play.  So, Dad being my dad, would tie it in a pillow case so it would leave him alone...

Then there was the baby hawk.  He raised it until it was able to fly away.  How many kids raised a hawk?

And to quote him he raised probably "forty dozen" cotton tails...

So clearly, the idea of raising a single baby bird was no big deal to him.

So, I found a plastic shoe box and we lined it with paper towels.  We soaked some bread in milk and fed him little bites, along with a miller my dad caught and pulled the wings off of.

Guess what?  forty eight hours after finding him, my girls were done with the bird.  Bookworm even went so far to say "Mom, I'm done with the bird.  If you and Popcorn want to save it, fine.  But I really could care less."  However, I was now on a mission.  If Dad could raise a HAWK, surely I could raise one pin feathered baby bird of indiscriminate origin.  So, just because we had to go build fence in the bottom of a canyon, that did NOT keep me from taking care of my young charge.

I continued to faithfully check on "Baby" every hour or so, and feed it cat food soaked in water if he was squawking when I came around...

*Gentle Reader:  Lest you feel compelled to give me bird raising advice, please realize I was in the country.  And I was camping.  My smart phone was simply a phone, so the world wide web was not at my fingertips, so if it seemed like a good idea, we fed it to "Baby."*

So, we there is this baby bird.  And he's quite demanding.  And the girls were quite over the magic of the bird, and had no fantasies of a tame bird coming to rest on their shoulder, but more mental images of this:

Blue bird feathers.  Evidence that we have a murderer at our house.  Also known as Misty the cat.  But she is for sure a hunter.  A hunter who loves bird.

So, while I was having Cinderella visions, my kids are visualizing a dead bird hanging from our cat's mouth...

Then at about two o'clock one afternoon while we were camping, I realized I had not checked on him since Popcorn and Elvis gave it a worm at noon.  I went to our camper and found him fallen to his side, unable to get up.

I sat him up, and he immediately fell back over and did not even open his mouth wide and squawk at me.

So, I fed him to Kelsey.  Which is really what Kelsey felt I should have done all along.

A few hours later the girls each dropped by and asked me about "Baby."  And I told them, "Well, he couldn't get up, so I fed him to Kelsey."

And my girls proved just how much they are my dad's granddaughters when they both said, "That's sad."  And they were over it.

So.  Who wants to trust their children to my tender loving mercies now?