Sunday, June 22, 2008


The Usual.

I'll admit that more often than not, especially where food is concerned, I am a creature of habit. I consistently order the same thing at the same places and rarely branch out. You call it "limited", I call it, "knowing what I like" (or "having a sensitive Irish stomach unwilling to experiment".. whatever, same difference.) That being said, my personality trait being understood, I loathe the thought that I am... dum-dum-DUM ..predictable. Somehow, the same order, every time makes me unique. Like a snowflake. A snowflake who always gets the sauteed chicken breast at Sweetwater.

The Mister is a pretty big fan of bagels after 7:30 (yes, that's A.M.) mass on Sundays. With my work schedule lately, it sure has been a hot bagel minute since I've been to mass (God understands..). It's the same bagel place we always go to. And I always order the same thing: salt bagel, untoasted with fat free honey almond cream cheese. And it was just this morning, as we walked up to the joint, I was thinking that I didn't really feel like a salt bagel this morning.

As I stared up at the menu behind the usual guy who works there, he smiled widely at me and enthusiastically said, "salt bagel, untoasted with fat free honey almond cream cheese?" I paused. I swallowed the shock of it all and said, "Uh, wow. Um, yeah. I can't believe you remember that." The guy smiled even wider and went about making the bagel. I sank back from the counter which cued the Mister to ask, "Don't you just love the small town feel of this place? I love that they know what we always order."

Which reminds me. I pride myself on the blessed (and sometimes accursed) anonymity of Northern Virginia. There is something nice about moving around in a crowd, seemingly unnoticed.

So, no, I actually don't love the small town feel of our bagel place. I ate my bagel begrudgingly -- actually asking them to make it on a french toast bagel rather than the salt, my original plan.
The Mister, happily chomping on his bagel, also known to the bagel guy, asked, "Isn't that awesome? I mean, we do come here every Sunday at the same time."

"I just don't like being that predictable," I said. "You know, I live fun and fancy free and order my bagels as the mood strikes me."

"Yeah. You always say that."

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Nurses eat their young.

But not, like, their actual young, just, like, their professional young.

As a new nurse, who somehow survived the daily mental-ass whooping that is nursing school, I can totally attest to this. For some odd reason, a lot of seasoned nurses will go out of their way to degrade a student nurse. They'll follow you around to nit-pick every flinch you make near a patient -- or worse, they don't follow you at all and wait for you to drown in your own sweat and fear. They'll take each and every opportunity to launch a vicious pop-quiz lightening round on you and make sinister smiles at each other while you fumble through a drug guide or look desperately for the "smart" classmate who always know this stuff. For me, it didn't take so well. Older nurses certainly made their best attempts to eat me, but lets be honest: I'm bitter, sarcastic and don't go down all that easy (insert requisite innuendo here.).

Maybe, for me, it was being older, less intimidate-able or just downright uninterested in some unit nurse's power trip every fall semester. I watched countless fellow students run into a linen closet to cry, turn seven shades of dark red in a nurse's station holding back tears during a verbal assault or sit in their cars after class screaming about how they were never going back. Here's a phrase that could earn some awe from a class of nursing students anywhere: I never cried in nursing school. I shook my fists a lot and raised my voice, but nary a salted tear rolled down my face from August 2005 until May 2007.

But let me clarify: this is not all nurses. And there were plenty of fantastic nurses who gave of themselves and their time to help mold the new litter. I am endlessly proud of be a part of this profession. I just don't know why some of us had to pay in tears and psychotherapy to be a part of it.

Now, as a nurse, and as a nurse who is on the other end of student nurses on the unit, I find myself really going out of my way to ensure they aren't eaten (and we have a few nurses on our unit with grumblie tummies, if you get me). Nursing school was hard enough, man. Getting out of the classroom and textbooks and into the hospital with some real-live-sick-people is supposed to be a relief. It's supposed to be the part you look forward to. The part where you are able to reaffirm to yourself, "Yessss. THIS is what I want to do.."

I love having students follow me, actually. It gives me an opportunity to assure them that they'll be on my side of the bed soon. It surprises me every time at how much I actually have learned in a year on the floor -- and challenges me to teach them in meaningful ways. I look to find interesting things for them to see, encourage real patient interaction, versus wallflowering-it near the door and try to "tie it all together" for them -- without scaring the hell out of them at the lightening pace at which we work, the multi-tasking Xanadu we create and must maintain and the knowledge we have to produce at a moment's notice for a family member or a doctor.

I guess through all of this, someone noticed. And this summer I have been assigned my own nursing student. One girl who I am supposed to mentor all summer. I know, right? Me, mentor someone? I have no business mentoring anybody, let alone someone who will eventually be caring for human life.

I've really be savoring the past two weeks with her. I love sharing my passion for this profession with her -- and best of all, she has the same passion. She's quick to learn and easy to teach. The program that sponsors her summer internship requires that she check off a few boxes in the way of skill-sets. And it's partly my job to ensure that she gets as much exposure to procedures and skills as possible in the next 8 weeks.

Task #1: Drawing blood. The poor thing has to have 50 "sticks" this summer. And sadly for her, we're on a renal unit where ain't nobody got nothin' in the way of veins up in that piece. So, I offered up my healthy, well hydrated vascularization to her pointy needle. (This is gross, I know. More people have shivered at this retelling than have commended my selfless offering of my own arm in the name of education. However, it was the kind nurses during my schooling that offered up their own arms that taught me just how to do it right. I thought I ought to make my own deposit into that karma fund.) Freakily enough, I found myself tying off the tourniquet on my own arm and walking her through the stick. She got it on the first prick. Which, for a nursing student, inspires greatly needed confidence. Beware, patients in renal failure! Ain't no vein too small.

Task #2: Learn to insert an IV. Well, hell, she did such a fine flipping job on the blood draw, why not step it up a notch and have her access that veiny goodness for a more permanent amount of time. This time, however, I brought in other experts to walk her through the process. Suddenly, the experience became a "too many cooks in the kitchen" scenario with nurses and nurse's aides swarming her advising on which spot would be the best to hit. I told her she could try for any vein she wanted ~ which, sadly for me, was the one on the inner part of the arm that hurts the very most to stick. I braved through it -- taking every effort to not make a bad face that would discourage her. Once she stuck me, she had the vein and then missed it, likely going right through it. It just ain't all that easy to insert an IV.

In anycase, I have a more confident, ready to try it student nurse on my hands this summer. And on my arm, I have a nice signature of her first attempt to stick another human being.

Incidentally, this was a very hard picture to take all by one's lonesome. And secondly, based on the looks at the grocery store (which is the only place I have been other than the hospital, and large bruises are common, if not mandatory, for hospital folk) I assume that I look like a woman who sassed her man or else a new IV drug user.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


Hubbas for your humor-wantin' trubbas

1. A ha! On the market less than 24 hours and already we've had a "looker" come through. I told you Saint Joseph a la Jimmy Hoffa in the backyard was the way to go. Though, I fear it is likely that they might:
A) have benefited from seeing the last, holdout magnet I was allowed to keep on the fridge until yesterday when they made me take it down in favor of a totally empty, naked fridge. it read: Everything I know, I learned in prison. I feel it says a lot about us as homeowners.
B) have spent less time admiring our kickass digs and more time pouring over my sickeningly adorable but currently invalid cat who is bearing the sad mark of his recent facial surgery (long story, thanks for asking, he's fine. Cross your fingers on biospy results, eh?): the dreaded pet collar cone. The bill read: Elizabethan Collar, $8.35. Entertaining pictures to follow.
C) want to buy the house, but only on the contingency that we include said sickeningly adorable but currently invalid cat who steals your heart. Cha. Not a chance.

2. Cause it made me laugh:
3. In a recent "how to be awesome at everything, you strong, proud, independant woman-you" article in some nameless magazine I happened to be reading, they offered advice and tips about everything from organized kitchen junk drawers, bathroom stalls sans TP but specifically: on wooing your corporate I.T. guy into being a little more affable when your I.T. needs are severe. The thought was that you need to meet him where he is. Tell him a joke that will loosen the personality muzzle that he uses to keep his emotions from being vulnerable in a non-avitar world (I can say all of this without malice. I married a computer geek.). The joke offered by said periodical was this:
Q: What did Spock find in the Enterprise's toilet?
A: The captain's log.
I'm on the brink of creating an I.T. problem just so that I can try it on someone who potentially will appreciate all aspects of the joke. I urge you to try it on your respective I.T. peeps.

4. I was recently at an event where I was, by and large, unknown to the majority of the other guests there. Like the go-getter I pride myself on being, and the extrovert that Myers-Briggs claims I am, I put myself out there. Strike up conversations, break the ice. I encountered one individual seated next to me. I opened with a laugh line. The man turned his head to me, expressionless. "I really ought to tell you that I have no sense of humor, " he said plainly. I chuckled and elbowed him, "Then it's going to be a long night sitting next to me. Careful, I might make you laugh." The Mister leans over and whispers, "No, really. Knew him in college. He has no sense of humor." I mean, who admits that -- no sense of humor. Everyone, even the non-funnies, claim to have a great sense of humor. It's that part of our human DNA that makes us all believe we're great drivers. Could you even imagine knowing and accepting that about yourself -- you couldn't make/take a joke? Jesus, what kind of tv programming does he watch? It boggles the mind.

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