Saturday, January 30, 2010

where am i?

When it was time for me to leave Colorado for Air Force basic military training I hoped and prayed Mother Nature would hold off on dumping the fluffy white stuff called snow. I left December 4th, and I want to say, if I remember correctly, it snowed December 5th that year. That was over 20 years ago. In fact I avoided the frozen precipitation for a couple of years. I went from Texas to Arizona for more training and my first base was in Greece.

Love gets me every time.

Upon my impending departure from Greece I received orders to go to Bergstrom A.F.B, Austin, TX. It looked like I was on a roll. Of course, I'd already met and fallen in love with Mr. Wonderful. He had orders to go to Minot A.F.B, Minot, ND.

Uh oh.

We just had to be together. Can we say "dilemma!"? What's a lovestruck couple to do?

I'll tell you what we did. One of the medics I worked with also had orders to go to Minot. We were the same rank, time in service, all that mattered. Why not swap orders? She was all for it. Who wouldn't be? Austin was a much better fit for her than Minot would be. She was excited beyond belief. I didn't have to twist her arm. If only it were as simple as trading a government form amongst one another. Fortunately we were on a small base where everyone pretty much knew each other. I had a First Sergeant and Big B had a commander that were willing to pull whatever strings they had to to keep us together. We, or rather, I caught a lot of flack for it, too. It must be love to go to Minot!

Come on! It couldn't be all that bad. Could it?

I left Greece one month ahead of Big B. I went home to Colorado to do some wedding planning, because yes, we were engaged by this point. After spending March at home, I made my way up to ND. Upon signing in to my unit I was issued a parka and mukluks. Come on, it's April do I really need these!? During the next blizzard (1992) I quickly learned that yes, frozen tundra gear is definitely necessary in the Great White North. Big B had flown in to his childhood home of NJ, and after spending a couple of days there started to make his way out northwest and was met with the blizzard. He made it into my arms in one piece and that September we were married. We spent three and a half years in ND. He went on a remote tour to get us out of there.

I seriously dislike the cold and even more than that I abhor snow.

This brings me to my current surroundings in sub-Northern VA. In the nearly five years that we've been here we've had a couple of times during January/February when we've had some snow. It's been enough to cause snow days (it only takes one flake around here).

Snow has become my enemy. It ruined a Christmas party we were supposed to have, with the Blizzard of '09. It's dumped on us a couple of times since then, and now it's snowing again, January 30th, 2010!

Happy Birthday to me!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

cold lap

I can remember the day Big B and I brought him home. We'd gone to the pet store in Minot, the one tucked into the side of a hill, and there was this little orange and white-as-new-fallen-snow tabby. His information card said he was 12 weeks old. I don't think it was accurate. He was just too small, and sickly. Had they taken him from his mother too soon? Never mind that, I would nurse him to strong, everlasting health. He would live forever.

We made our way upstairs to the parking lot. On our way up he startled at the hum and whistles the vending machines were making. He leaped from my arms and scurried into the room where the machines loomed ominously. I found him hovering behind one of the tall, noisy contraptions. I reached out to grab him and as I picked him up he caught my hand with his needle sharp little teeth. They barely nicked my hand, only drawing a smidge of blood.

I buried him into my shirt, nestled against my chest and carried him to the car. Big B had already made his way and was sitting behind the wheel. He was waiting patiently for me and the creature he had begrudgingly conceded to allow me to bring home with us. Once I got settled into my seat I said "Damn cat bit me! Sounds good to me. We will name him 'Damn Cat.'"

That was a cold day in December, 1993. Yesterday, January 26th, 2010, soon after I'd awakened for the day I knew it would be my last with DC.

The boys had Monday and yesterday off for teacher work days, so Monday night they had some friends over. Knowing I had to wake up early for clinicals I slept with my bedroom door shut. When the alarm went off I arose and attempted to exit the room with the girls in front of me, charging out of the room. (Food is the mainstay of their existence.) They quickly screeched to a halt, or would have screeched if it weren't for the carpet. They stopped because there was DC, laying in front of my door. Well, by this time he's seemingly sitting up. It's dark and I had just awakened from a deep sleep, so I really couldn't say what exactly he was doing. Why was he there anyway?

After taking care of the girls I made my way back upstairs to get ready for the day. While in my bathroom, I turned around and happened to glance down at my floor, under my bed. There he was again. DC was laying under the foot of the bed, listless. In horror I went over to him thinking he was dead. He peeked up at me without even lifting his head off of the floor. He just laid there pretty much motionless.

I knew the day was coming. He's had hyperthyroidism for quite some time and over the past month has displayed some odd behaviors. He used to sleep with me, but over the past year rarely even made his way upstairs. That was up until about a month ago, when he started hobbling up knowing he'd find me there.

I knew the day had come when we would spend our last hours together. Due to illness I'd already lost two clinical days, so I called my instructor in distress. She sympathetically told me to get myself together, and to come in as soon as I could. I'm glad I went. After being sick for the past couple of weeks it felt good to do anything but lie around, even though I had left DC.

After clinicals I came home and found DC downstairs. He wasn't doing any better than he had been in the morning. He kept crying in a high-pitched meow, unlike his normal manly meow. I sat down on the floor with him, cuddled and brushed him. At first I intended on taking him to the vet to have him put down, but decided I would keep him at home, unless he started showing signs of distress or pain. I know if I have the chance to choose, I'd like to spend my last moments in the comfort of my home, surrounded by those I love, not in a cold, unfamiliar environment.

Later I had to study so we made our way upstairs, me carrying him in my arms, swaddled in a towel. At first I laid him on the bed with me. He wriggled around some, so I knew he wasn't comfortable there.

I placed him on the floor nearby. He would cry and wriggle and sleep. Even later I decided to bring him back up on the bed with me, this time attempting to hold him. He just couldn't get comfortable in my arms, so I laid him on the towel on the bed, next to me. I studied a little more and then decided to call it a night. I made room for me to get into the bed and there I laid, playing games on my iPod Touch, while he just laid next to me. As I played I heard him gasp a little. A few minutes later I looked over. He was gone.

The furry friend I made so long ago will no longer keep my lap warm. Now all I have is the memories. He's had a good life. He's traveled the Western Hemisphere and seen places many humans have never, or will never, see. He was born in Minot, ND, and from there he went to Wichita Falls, TX, to York County, VA, to Italy, and his final resting place will be here in VA. I lovingly called him "Putsi Poo".

DC "Putsi Poo" S. ~October 1993-January 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

where have all the good vibes gone?

I'm feeling like nothing short of a spokesperson for a Cymbalta ad lately. Isn't that the one that says "Depression hurts...?" It's certainly not that I'm feeling pain from fibromyalgia, or diabetic nerve pain, since I have neither disease. It's more like a toss up between depression and anxiety. I'm feeling more anxiety than depression, but nonetheless I feel like doing nothing at all, at least as far as what needs to be done for my final semester of nursing school.

Shouldn't I be filled with such great amounts of exhilaration to give me the adrenaline rush that keeps me going?

I can say that I'm excited. It's not just me either. A few of my classmates are feeling the same way. It's taking a lot to get motivated to do our readings and care studies.

Care studies?

Yeah, that's a new one they've thrown at us this semester. We're not doing care plans or concept maps. The task itself seems pretty daunting overall, but then I look at it and I know once I start it won't be as bad as it seemed. The care study involves more application, and answering questions about the particular patient we choose to complete it on, than the care plan did. We don't have to fill out a chart on labs and other tests. We just have to talk about such items, and give the trends. Mine is due Monday. Have I started yet? Nope! I guess it's really no different than waiting until the last minute to do a major research paper.


Last weekend I decided the smart thing would be to list everything that needs to be accomplished from then until the end of the semester, so I did just that. I'll be able to check the items off as I finish them.

The headaches I've been having haven't helped. I've had a couple of true migraines, and as far as the others, I think they're sinus headaches. Monday morning I noticed my right pupil was a tiny bit larger than my left. One of my classmates even confirmed it, just in case I was seeing things - no pun intended. I asked her if one of my pupils looked larger than the other. She looked and told me the right one did. It doesn't since that afternoon, but how weird is that!? Not to mention the missing or altered words...

When I'm typing I have to meticulously edit everything I type to make sure I didn't leave anything out, like the main subject. When I've spoken recently I've used a different word than what I intended on saying. For instance I was telling someone the other day that someone else had run over a cat. I said "She ran over a car." I had no idea I used the wrong word until they pointed it out to me.

Another thing that has thrown me for a loop is having to plan our own pinning ceremony and the fact that we might have to wear our ugly uniforms for the ceremony, as well as our class picture. Many of us have spoken up and said we would like to wear crisp, new, traditional whites. I'm all about the tradition, pomp and circumstance of such events. This is a special occasion. I pointed out that many of us are not attending regular graduation, so rather than the money we would spend on caps and gowns, we'll be spending it on whites to wear for the ceremony. Yes, we have to plan our own ceremony. We've been allocated $150 for refreshments and anything we need for the ceremony. Yesterday we met and got committees together for refreshments, the video and programs, flowers, etc. In years past they've used the tent that they've also used for graduation on our campus. Graduation is no longer being held on our campus, so no tent. We have to have it in the tiny common area of the main building. I don't even want to think about fire codes and maximum occupancy.

That's about all the whining I'm going to put out there today.

On a happy note, I did put in for my preceptorship. The slips were handed out last week and many of my classmates turned them in that day. It took me a little bit longer to be sure about the order I wanted to place my choices, since we're given three. I put OB first, then ER, and my third choice is OR. Speaking of the OR, I'm headed there Monday, and I find that really exciting! It's the little things. At least it's a good vibe!

Friday, January 15, 2010

say what!?

So I was sitting at my computer desk the other day doing various things computerish. After a few moments pass AW joins me in the room, sits down at the kids' computer desk, and proceeds to log on to the 'net.

He then speaks up, after apparently seeing the news on Yahoo's home page, and says "Huh, hotty had an earthquake".

I still want to burst out into a fit of raging laughter when I think about it. At the time I calmly replied "Haiti".

This brings me to words that are either mispronounced or are pronounced differently from how we are used to them being pronounced.

My memory on this was sparked over at This Will Only Hurt A Bit when she talks about her instructor mispronouncing the word "parenteral".

In my program the one word that I'm sure my classmates and I have all heard (mis?)pronounced has been "centimeters". We have two or three instructors we have heard pronounce it "sont-imeters".

I don't know if it's a case of "to-may-toes or to-mah-toes", or what!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I just knew it! Going on last year's pinning day and date, last semester I predicted that ours would be Tuesday of Nurse's Week in May, 2010, to follow suit. My instructor dashed my prediction when she informed us that our pinning would be Wednesday, May 12th. Fine, whatever, as the most important thing is the day itself and not the hidden nuances I might feel about the date, rather the number.

Yesterday she told us that we will in fact be pinned May 11th, 2010.

The number eleven didn't hold any significance, for me, until 2003. I call it my "eleven prophecy". That year and ever since then, there have been a number of times where the number eleven has popped up in one way or another.

That year was mine and Big B's 11th wedding anniversary. Prior to our anniversary, on August 11th, I found out I was pregnant. I miscarried September 11th (not a great day all around). If I were to have had the baby he or she would have been born sometime around LB's 11th birthday. No, I wasn't eleven weeks along, just a mere 8.

Little things here and there happen centered around the number eleven. Often times when I look at the clock it is 11 past the hour.

My mother's birthday is June 11th, and my father's is in November, the eleventh month.

My birthday is 01/30/1971. 1+3+1+9+7+1=22 What is half that number? Speaking of 22, that's how old I was when I had LB. Twenty-two is a multiple of eleven.

If I sat here long enough I could think of all of the other coincidences.

One of the biggest would be, I started my last semester of nursing school January 11th and will be pinned May 11th.

Now I must end here, and go take care of some reading and schoolwork or that last tidbit won't necessarily come true!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

t minus 35 hours


new shoes...check!

new supplies...check!

nervous energy...check!

This coming Monday morning I start my fourth and final semester of nursing school.

This gives me pause.

Do you know how it feels to be so close to something you've wanted for so long? Do you have any idea how scarey it is to think that in just over four months nursing school will be behind you and after studying for, and passing (only positive thinking allowed here) boards, you will be in the real world of nursing, and totally accountable for your actions?

Let's slow down a bit here before I burst a blood vessel! In looking at the syllabi and the class and clinical schedules it seems we'll be pretty busy. It doesn't look like it will be as intense as last semester, or at least promises to be a different level of intensity. Aside from learning more core information, such as cardio, respiratory, and the other systems we've only briefly touched on, we'll also be learning about the world of professional nursing. That is we'll be preparing for the J.O.B.

The first nine weeks we spend doing clinicals. They're set in three week rotations. the first three weeks my group and I will be in the skilled unit of the rehabilitation and nursing facility incorporated with the hospital we do regular rotations at. The second set of three weeks we go to the medical floor, and the third set we go to the surgical floor. Our groups are larger this semester, as we have only three groups instead of four. There will be days we'll go to other units and areas for observational learning. I hope to go to the ED a couple of times.

After the first nine weeks we have Spring Break. Once we return from SB we start Sims lab, a group project, we'll each spend one day at the LTCs with the first year students as mentors, and we take the comprehensive predictor for ATI. Those projects take up two weeks after which we do our preceptorship. I'm still sort of uncertain as to where I want to precept.

I've finally admitted - out loud - recently, that I do have a heart for women's health and would love to do labor and delivery. I can see myself going for an advanced degree as a NP in WH or maybe even midwifery. My ambivalence stems partially from how we are sorted into our preceptorships. They do it by GPA and the reasoning is because it is "more fair" for the LPN transition students. At first this made sense to me, but after some thought I'm not so sure about this. They come into the program with a wealth of knowledge that many regular students do not. This gives them a leg up, so to speak, and doesn't it make sense that they would, or at least should, naturally attain higher GPAs due to their prior experience?

Because I have only taken nursing classes at this college, and all other credits came in as transfer credit, my overall GPA isn't as high as if it would be if some of those prior As and Bs I've received were factored in. I have made all As and Bs in this program, but because some of the nursing classes weigh heavily, some having nine credits a piece, a B suddenly doesn't carry much weight. This past semester I received a B in my 9 credit class, a B in the 3 credit class, and an A in the 2 credit class. Overall I think my GPA rounds up to a 3.2. I just don't get it.

Needless to say I doubt that puts me at the top of the list for the family birthing center if many are vying for the location.

Then the trauma junkie in me just wants to go to the ED. For that I think it's imperative I get a few days of observational learning in the ED.

During these last weeks we'll also be working on our professional portfolios as well as all the other hullabaloo. On one of the class schedules the last two weeks say "graduation preparation". With that I just have to take a deep breath and look forward to everything I'll be taking part in until then.

I'll start with a huge cleansing breath...

**On a side note I'd like to thank everyone who reads my blog. In particular, an anonymous person commented a few posts ago that my blog has gotten "...better and better...." I would love to know who typed the kind words that they did. I would love to know who reads my blog. Lurkers come out! I truly do appreciate the support!**

Saturday, January 2, 2010

dropping the ball

The family plan for several weeks, if not a little over a month, was to go to Times Square for New Year's Eve. When Big B first suggested it I simply acquiesced to his plan thinking it would probably never pan out. No, it was more like hoped his plan wouldn't come to fruition. Instead, as time went on I talked myself into going thinking it was something I really wanted to do.

I can remember sitting in English class back in 1999, when I first started college, and one of my classmates was telling me he and his friends were planning on going to New York City for New Year's Eve. I told him they were crazy. How could they possibly want to go into all that craziness?? I'd watched enough Dick Clark specials in my then 28 years to know that it was bedlum in Times Square on New Year's Eve.

Why the change in thought? A lot has changed in the past ten years. For one, we're not dealing with the impending doom that was foreseen with Y2K. Secondly, I've evolved over the past ten years. Some people may grow more cautious with age. I've learned how to not be so uptight.

For nearly ten years I've had a stronghold on my children's NYE activities. Paranoia can do that. Let's face it though, if we make family plans to go somehwere for NYE then I don't have to worry about either child, especially the 16 year old, while they're out with friends doing God only knows what.

LB and AW were both against going to New York, at first. We told them they would both be able to bring a friend. This didn't bring about much agreement from LB. He even conducted a poll at school asking his friends if their parents told them they were going to Times SQ for New Year's Eve would they want to go. According to him everybody said they'd rather go to parties with friends (which is what he had envisioned doing - conveniently his friends' stories matched what he wanted.) I never received any hardcopy statistics. I doubt his results were reliable or valid.

Somehow both boys came around to the whole idea. Unfortunately, the one friend AW invited was unable to go. LB asked two friends and the second friend was the one who won the grand trip.

After three semesters of nursing school, with a summer semester of 8 credits mixed in, I've been left with great need to let loose, step outside my comfort zone, and just have some fun. We didn't get to take any sort of family vacation this summer. The only time we got away at all was our trip up to NJ this summer for Big B's uncle's funeral. I doubt that's anyone's idea of rest and recuperation.

Why not go do something totally fun and outrageous? As I thought about the idea I pushed the fact that I have mild claustrophobia to the back of mind. Denial comes in handy when you think you want to do something totally fun and outrageous.

Not only all of that, how could I burst my husband's bubble? That's an ironic question because that's basically what ended up happening.

We packed up the car, our family plus one, the dogs and our bags. Wednesday afternoon we made the drive north to New Jersey. We spent the evening with my brother-in-law and his family. Thursday morning we got up and headed out around lunch time. We'd been warned that we wouldn't be able to use the bathroom while waiting for the ball to drop so we decided to have lunch prior to going to the train station. Then we made our way to the station and were on board riding to NYC with excitement in the air.

We arrived at Penn Station and made our way to Times SQ. By the time we got to our final spot it was around 4 p.m. It was already somewhat chaotic. You arrive at an entry point where the NYPD has sawhorse barriers or metal rails cordoning off specific areas. In succession they let large groups of people in closer to the center of the action. The earlier you get there the better spot you'll end up at. We'd arrived in the area around 3 p.m.

When they let the groups move it becomes truly chaotic with people trying to push past other people through a maybe two foot opening in the barriers. Meanwhile the officers are yelling at people to stop pushing with little success. We got in and finally ended up at what was a great vantage point for the stage where performances are held. Like I mentioned before we arrived at our spot around 4 and there we stood, packed in like sardines. Everyone to my front, right and behind me was taller than me. Big B was to my right, with AW kind of back behind him. The two older boys were behind the couple that was standing behind us. This frustrated me as I wanted them by me. They didn't care though. To my left was an Italian family and the women kept pushing into me. I withstood this for about an hour to an hour and a half.

Then it occured to me how much longer I would have to withstand my aggravating surroundings. I started panicking. My feet and back were already hurting. AW was irritated and bored and it seemed that LB and his friend were as well. After a bit of pleading I agreed to go to the adjacent McDonald's. Big B decided to stay, so the rest of us headed into the warmth. Yeah, forgot to mention it was pretty cold. The surrounding body heat helped some, but only a little, especially once drkness descended. (Not that it was dark in the area with all the lights, but the sun had set.) We went in, ordered and then went upstairs and thawed out while resting our feet (and my back). The intent was to try and stay in there as long as possible.

No can do.

We probably stayed longer than many, because I don't think the teenagers who were manning the second level felt up to telling adults that they needed to leave. As it was it wasn't incredibly packed.

We sat in there for about an hour and a half. We couldn't sit there much longer with boredom setting in and we knew at some point we would be kicked out. Out we went. We attempted to stand nearby for a bit, as I was trying to text Big B. Then a police officer came up and told us we needed to move along. I told him we were detached from my husband, and he asked if we needed to get back in. Rather then reinsert us where we had been we had the officer pull Big B out and he sent us to the next section.

So long story shortened, we were beat. All the other sections were full and we weren't getting back into the section we had been in.

We walked around for a bit, Big B seemingly dejected, the two older boys yapping about how they didn't want to leave - they were just doing what I told them to do, the ego-centric 13 year old asking to go into a gift shop so he could get a NY Yankees hat (as if he's a fan of baseball, let alone the Yankees), and me feeling utterly horrible.

If you could have seen the look on Big B's face, you know the look - the one that will be forever engrained into my memory - you would understand how badly I feel.