Thursday, July 08, 2004

And My Charts Will Go On (and on and on and on...)

Yes. I am still here. But my brain has turned to mush (much like a schizophrenic patient I once had, who believed his brain was rotting and he was constantly swallowing bits of it).

We will be ready for the site visit, providing we all survive it...each person I work with (though I love them dearly) has suddenly gone over the edge, each in his/her own special way, including me. :)

I can no longer multitask. I can no longer remember anything that I did to charts yesterday. All I can remember at any one time is the chart RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. And when you consider that I am still seeing my full load of patients...well...ok. I forgot where I was going with that.

But I will be better soon, when this marathon of madness is over. 4 nurses. 10000 charts. 6 administrators. 90 principle investigators. 14 site visitors. And it all boils down to 1 grant.


Thursday, July 01, 2004

Mock Visits, JHACO, & the NIH

I just can't tell you what FUN mock visits are. Mainly because they are not any fun at all. :)

For the past two weeks we have been preparing for our site visit for our grant renewal as well as the review for our affiliated hospital.

We have almost 10000 charts, none of which have been audited in the past 5 years; plus we've changed our forms and methods numerous times in the 2 years I've been here (and who knows how many times prior to that). The changes keep happening for several reasons; one is that the business side has run off every nurse manager we've had, so there's no continuity. Our business manager wants total control, even though she hasn't a clue about the clinical side...and she seems to have a very low opinion of nurses in general. Which is a pity, since my coworkers are about as good as it gets in research nursing...responsible, intelligent self-starters with an eye for detail. They are GOOD.

Now, normally when you change the way you do things in research, you include a
"note to file" in the charts or in clinic documentation which states the way things are changing and that all previous charts are therefore different. So you don't have to actually go back through and change everything. However, the decision was made 4 weeks prior to this grant renewal visit that we would change EVERYTHING in our 10000 charts so that they were all the same, and notes to file would be reserved only for things that were mistakes that couldn't be fixed. So, we are auditing every single chart that we have. My desk is a foot deep in charts and I have nowhere to work (so I'm goofing off and posting to my blog instead -- although when you consider I've done overtime every day for the last two weeks, I suppose my employer can suck up 15 minutes for me to vent a little). Thank goodness I can skim quickly so that it doesn't actually take me too long for any one chart.

In addition to our site visit, the MD in charge of this disaster decided that since we were hosting ONE visit, we might as well "get jahco out of the way at the same time". JHACO is the hospital oversight group; they come in and look at any potential safety hazard...such as when the liquid soap in the restroom expired (I didn't know soap COULD expire), or how far off the floor the sharps containers are anchored, or how close to the ceiling are things stored (can't be closer than 18 inches)...are you getting the idea that they are SUPREMELY picky?

Probably not a good decision on the part of our fearless leader...not that he'd ever bother to ask US.

Plus...and this is the part I really hate...either group can ask any employee any question about our operation and we are expected to KNOW whatever the heck it is. And I'm just not GOOD at answering on demand (now, written exams I can probably pass even if I don't know anything about the topic. You get some gifts but totally lack others, sigh).

Monday, June 21, 2004

Blueberries & Blackberries & Parents, Oh My

My 15-year-old and I visited my parents this weekend. Dad's 83, Mom's 80. They're doing very well, very healthy and active, although Dad takes a lot more naps than he used to. As always, they were excited to see us.

The drive is 2-1/2 hours from here. Not long, but always tiring if I leave after work (which I usually try to do so that I can get back Saturday night and have Sunday at home). Surprisingly, though, Gavin actually talked the entire way there -- he's usually the silent type but lately seems to be more and more talkative. I think the divorce and then the many moves were really hard on him, maybe even harder than I knew; but he seems much more open and happy than before.

On Saturday, Mom and Gavin and I picked blueberries at an organic farm. It was a lovely day for it; overcast and cool, but no rain (I think every other time we've gone it's been 100+ degrees F). And the bushes were loaded with berries. Since it's organic, and there is no insect spray, the berries can be eaten right off the bushes (I think they should weigh us before and after and charge us accordingly...). We've been going there for the past 10 years; Gavin and I passed it on the way home from taking his sister to summer camp, and decided to stop. I'm glad we did.

It's a lovely place. The blueberry man has been steadily making improvements over the years so that now there is a huge koi pond, a small waterfall, lovely trellises, and a huge terraced flower garden, planted with butterflies in mind. There were clouds of them, in all colors, from the little blue-violet ones I haven't seen for years to the swallowtails. Plenty of caterpillars, too. And the flowers were blooming profusely; even my mom couldn't identify them all. Masses of blooms in gold and orange and pink and white in all shades and sizes and colors.

Picking blueberries is a wonderful experience. The orchard is big enough to lose yourself in it. The ripest blueberries often hide under the leaves, so I often wind up halfway into the bush, looking for the biggest and bluest berries. It's quiet there; you can hear the meadowlarks and quail off in the distance. Even when there's a stiff wind there, there are so many bushes that all you feel is a mild breeze. And there are lizards hiding in and around the bushes. Not many bugs, though; a few spiders, that's it. Gavin's limit is half a bucket; my mom gets tired after a full bucket. I picked two, and could have gone for another, but they were tired and wanted to go home.

The blueberry man is married now; when my son and I first found his farm, he asked me if I was single, and then said, "Keep your options open." Guess he figured if my husband couldn't be bothered to spend a Saturday with his wife and kids, he wasn't worth much (he got that right). Later, after the divorce, we talked several times on the phone; but my hurt was so fresh and he was so bitter about so many things at that time (he's a Vietnam vet) that nothing came of it. Nice to see, though, that he's found someone so lovely; she's softspoken, queiet, about my age, tall, slender, with long, long brown hair (graying just a little). They seem to be a nice fit, and he seems very happy. Me, my options are WIDE open at this point. :)

Mom and Dad and I picked blackberries at another place later that same day. The bushes were loaded with berries; a good thing, because I didn't want to have to reach into the bushes very far because of the prickly thorns. Blackberry thorns are those little skinny spines that you can barely see that bother you for hours afterwards. The berries were really BIG, though; the largest was a good inch and a half long. And juicy and sweet. YUM!

IVs & Me

The IV didn't go well Friday, but it wasn't horrible, either. Although I didn't get my optimum patient -- other than not being female, he was great -- he wasn't a little kid and he DID have hose-like veins. His best one was ante-cubital (bend of the arm) but he didn't want it there (can't blame him, really; having to keep your arm straight for 2 hours is the pits). So I tried for the wrist and missed. At that point Bev (the ex-surgery nurse) showed up unexpectedly and put it in the hand for me. So I got to practice but didn't have to stick him too many times. :) Plus he was sweet about it -- nice, because he's 19 and has that semi-sarcastic attitude that I think some boys adopt so they look tough. The test went well, all the equipment worked -- and -- another diabetic. But no trauma about it; he'd been testing blood sugars for awhile, so he already pretty much knew.

Thursday, June 17, 2004


Tomorrow I have to put in an IV -- with NO backup! I just hope it's not a little kid (I never get to know the age in advance). And I hope the person has good veins. And it's probably better if the person is female since they're less likely to faint...

OK, so optimum is hose-like veins, female, older than 18...

Funny. I can get blood out of people when I can't even see the veins, don't have any problem sticking any age, but IVs make me crazy. And I don't do them enough to be good at them...and someone really has to like you a lot to let you practice THAT on them.

This is for a cystic fibrosis study, which means it is most likely a child because so many die young. Most of them have been in and out of the hospital, too, and some have even had ports...

SIGH. It's such an awful disorder and so many have diabetes in addition (that's what the study is examining; this is an oral glucose tolerance test). Usually the kids are OK with a diabetes diagnosis, but sometimes the parents cry. Makes me sad.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Zen and the Still, Sparkling Pool

Last night Bev and I got to go to the Zen class, finally. I must say, I really felt good when I left.

We began by taking our shoes off and acknowledging Buddha with a small bow. Then we sat in two lines, facing each other (9 of us) and chanted. There's a rhythm that you chant to; our leader had a CD because he has no one trained yet to use the instrument that beats out the rhythm. The chanting was in English and we had a paper to follow. There are particular ways to hold your hands; it was actually pretty comfortable. Those that can sit on the floor, do. Those that can't use a folding chair.

After the chanting, we meditated for 20 minutes. We turned to face the opposite way, and our session started and ended with a clap. I did not think I'd be able to meditate for 20 minutes. We were to meditate on "What are you?", "What is your purpose?" or "What was your face before you were born? What will your face be after you die?". In other words, we were to meditate on our inner essence, unimpeded by our physical envelopes.

Throughout the medication, my mind surprisingly didn't wander. I cleared my mind (amazing how becoming a hypnotherapist has helped me to do that; then an imagine came to me of myself as a pool of clear, still, shallow water in a forest clearing, fed by a tiny rivulet. A few amusing little crawdads lurked under the smooth pebbles at the bottom; a surrounding of green grass and dappled sunshine and shadow. Sometimes the water sparkled.

During the meditation I came to the realization that no matter what else I do, the thing I am best at is spreading cheer.

Funny, at the end of the meditation, when the leader clapped, I jumped about a foot. I was miles away from the room.

Afterwards, he gave us a koan -- that is the question which sometimes may not appear to have an answer; but requires deep thinking. Ours was "Jesus said, I am the truth and the way." But what is the truth and the way? Are they the same? Are they the same for everyone?" So that is my question to ponder until next week.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Are Men Really Children in Big Hairy Bodies?

90% of them MUST be. So many men my age have SUCH a sense of entitlement. Well, I have finally come to a point where it's JUST TOO MUCH. I do not work two jobs in order to support some guy who is too lazy or too selfish to pay his own way.

I used to wonder why most all of the lovely older women I knew had given up on dating or remarriage. I just kept hearing, "It's too much trouble."

And it IS too much trouble.

Not that this is connected with the above rant (maybe I'll write the circumstances for that one when I am less angry) but the "perfect guy for Jodie" that Bev knows? Well, he's gay.


Hyperinsulinemia & Phototherapy Acupuncture

Got the results of my oral glucose tolerance test back. It all looks good except...I had high fasting insulin, a possible precursor to diabetes. So, looks like the test was valuable after all.

My goals NOW are to decrease sugar and carbs which create heightened glucose (goodbye potatoes...the Irish in me must crave them...hello whole wheat). Good thing I'm going to go pick blueberries this weekend; that's one of the better ones.

More protein, fewer carbs, less fat, more fiber, more leafy green vegetables, and MORE EXERCISE!

The last thing I want (ok, the next-to-last thing I want -- the last thing would be my exhusband) is diabetes.

I got to see my friend Bev this weekend (I have two Bevs in my life; work Bev and play Bev -- this one is play Bev). She has a herniated disk and is trying to avoid back surgery. So she has taken up light therapy acupuncture. She has a book which delineates all the acupuncture/acupressure points, and she has an infrared light that she uses instead of needles (apparently this is used on racehorses and is now being used on people). Weird science? Maybe. I try to keep an open mind. Anyway, she did a therapy session with me since I have one arthritic knee and sometimes my hands ache when the weather changes (possible arthritis but tests were inconclusive so who knows). Bev tells me it takes several weeks to know if it's going to work. Heck, why not? Noninvasive and gives us something else to talk about.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Endless Days of Summer

My son is out of school for the summer. He's 15. He and his friends have decided this is their last summer to goof off totally and all have decided to avoid getting jobs this year (fine by me. I'd do it if I could!).

I think of what I could do (or not do) with weeks and weeks of free time in which nothing is required except the occasional room cleaning or lawn mowing; nothing is planned except a trip to the beach; the cupboards are full of food, there are books that are unread and games that have yet to be played. Ahhhh. Just thinking about someone else getting to do all that is soothing.

Bev has decided she knows "the perfect man" for me and wants to fix me up. We'll see. That's how I met "Disco Man" the last time I was dating...someone thought he was "perfect" for me.

Disco Man was sweet in his own way...but 4 inches shorter than me (and I'm pretty short), quite a bit thinner than me (think: famine victim) and wearing a red silk shirt with belled sleeves, opened to his navel and at least 5 gold chains around his neck. And white bell bottoms. Where, in this brave new millenium, do you find white bell bottoms? Plus he really, really wanted to believe he could dance like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever (and really, who was I to disabuse him? So I didn't). It was an interesting evening, to say the least, but not one I think I ever want to repeat.

If this guy was perfect for me, then who do my friends think I am? Oh well. They must not think I'm boring at any rate.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Whistle While You Work

A pleasant attitude sure makes the day go fast. Of course it helps when you work with pleasant people, and the other nurses here are the best. Amy and Mai are frighteningly competent with their skills. And Bev has forgotten more about nursing than I'll ever know. And Melissa is a tremendous manager -- she's a macro (as opposed to micro) manager, perfect for us.

And then, when the patients are fun, it's even better.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Aftermath of Night Shift

It always feels so strange to sleep until noon or one...I really am a morning person. But after I've stayed up all night, I'm so tired I can't stay up any more. :) Luckily I can get lots of reading done on psych ward nights...and I'd probably get in about 6-7 hours of reading ANYWAY on the weekend, so why not get paid an exorbitant wage to do it?

So, I finally got up. Still haven't cleaned, but I did get to Walmart (or Wal-fart, as my brother says) so that Gavin and his friends can have plenty of food for the first week off school.

They love to come to my house because I usually have lots in the fridge and cupboards (Dan has 4 brothers -- all older -- and I understand it is just like having a plague of locusts in the house all the time...having watched my 5'1" 100 lb daughter put away immense quantities of food, it is a little scary to think about how much 5 6"+ guys can eat). Plus Brian's mom is not working and is digging out from under a divorce...and Brian is awfully skinny. But that could just be part of being a 15-year-old post-growth spurt.

It is very odd having these formerly shorter-than-me guys be suddenly towering over me with deep voices and facial hair.

The Queen of Dogs -- painted by me! Posted by Hello

Ultimate Tiredness

Worked 11-7 last night, children's inpatient psych, long-term resident children. It's not ALWAYS the fault of parent/s, but all too often that seems to be how it gets started. It's drearily the same story for almost all of them -- sexually abused, neglected, beaten; drugs or alcohol during the pregnancy; unloved and unwanted, they either are out of control or they try suicide. Sometimes they are prostituted by their parents. I can't imagine spending my childhood on a psych ward, but that's what is happening to these children (average age for this unit is 13). And what's sadder yet is that most of them LIKE being on the unit because it's the only place they've ever felt safe.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Morning Headache

Last night after work, all of us nurses went out for dinner and's been YEARS (really) since I've had a drink -- my companion for a long time was a recovering alcoholic so I gave up what little I drank because that made it easier for him. And then just never starting drinking again when that ended.

But this place had frozen mango margaritas. So I had to try one -- and it wasn't a big one, either -- and this morning, I have a headache! Amazing. I had been thinking about a glass of red wine a day, as that's been proven to be healthful; but now I think I'll just stick with my aspirin a day (latest on that -- may help prevent diabetes and Alzheimer's in addition to stroke and heart attack). I love mangos, though. If we go out again, I'll have to get a virgin one.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Good News!

The TB test was negative. Woo Hoo!

Other things I'm thankful for right now:

My physical and mental health (nothing like nursing to show you how important that is).
Making enough money for all of my needs and some of my wants.
The incredibly blue sky I can see through the window across the hall from my desk.

Pesky TB Testing

Hmmm. Looks like the TB test might be positive this time. Either that, or the nurse stabbed me so badly that I have a little bump (there is a quarter-size bruise in addition to the bump). Euww. The likelihood is that if it IS positive, it's due to having had so many TB tests. So, I won't worry about it now (easy to write, harder to actually DO!).

Work's been pretty busy for a Friday. Two claudication pain exercisers; one final visit for the leg pain study; and one IVGTT (IV glucose tolerance test) which luckily I am not doing since putting in IVs is NOT one of my talents. Lucky girl got Amy and Mai instead, both of whom are superb nurses with excellent skills. Me, I can talk. :)

Worked on my dryad picture last night. Got three of the birds in the branches then decided I'd smear what I'd painted if I tried for any more -- it's tricky figuring out where to put them in the branches. Maybe I should have done the birds before I did the leaves. So will continue this evening. So far it's good -- I like it. I dreamed I put a snake in the branches as well, so now I think I will probably also add that...tree, birds, woman, snake...yeah, I like it.

Since I still needed to put brush to canvas after I was done with the birds, I started another picture: "Liz Loves Butterflies". It's a painting of my beautiful niece with a butterfly on one shoulder and another in her hair. I got her face done, will work on hair and butterflies after I've done a few more birds. I bought some metallic gold acrylic paint and want to highlight her hair (and maybe the butterfly wings) with that.

I bought some gesso and also some additive for texture. Gave up on the art lessons as Mr. Famous Painter was teaching us NOTHING. So I'm experimenting instead, which is probably better for me at this stage of my life anyway (never went through that teenage thing where I didn't listen to adults, so maybe I'm having it now).

Bev and I are going to take a class in Zen Buddhism at one of the churches here, since our time together with the idiot painter didn't work out very well.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

The Perfect Guy

Well, since I seem to be on the subject of my special guy...what makes this so-far-not-in-my-life person THE special guy?

There's that sense of humor thing; he has to be able to laugh. And that doesn't include those jokes that you can't repeat to certain groups because those just make me so uncomfortable (with the exception of a few naughty but funny ones that you can't repeat to kids or your parents but are OK for other adults).

Gentleness is good. I can't bring myself to criticize or berate others and can barely tolerate a raised voice. So easily angered and/or dominant are both out.

Kindness is a must; once I was 2 hours late to work because some ducklings had fallen into the sewer and I had to get them out (animals in need sure seem to know how to find me). My guy needs to understand that I can't walk by a person or animal who needs help. I even rescue the spiders that get into the house (although I do squish wasps -- mostly while shrieking loudly -- they are soo scary).

Creativity or intelligence are qualities I need. I'm pretty quick on the uptake and a good problem solver, and I like those qualities in the people around me. And I believe most problems have SOME kind of a solution. I get frustrated with people who are convinced there is no solution to their minor problems, so they just whine and moan (yes, I whine and moan too, but then I DO something).

He has to be able to accept the fact that I'm a reader; I read A LOT. Some guys can't stand it if you're not paying attention to them ALL THE TIME. An interruption is okay, and sometimes really nice, but I shouldn't have to jump up to appease someone. That's for hungry 2-year-olds.

And he needs to have a passion of some sort in his life, something he likes to do, or maybe a lot of different things he likes to do (other women and pornography don't count). Or maybe it changes. But he has to be interested in and curious about things. Those things keep you lively and happy.

Honesty is a must. I need to be able to trust my guy to tell me the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, except where it concerns the "does it make my butt look big" question. That question must always be answered either "no" or better yet, "I love the way your butt looks!"

He MUST like children and animals, since they seem to gravitate toward me...right now I have 3 dogs, a cat, a lizard and two teenagers. That's a lot. So he has to have his serenity within and not from the environment.

About my age (48) is nice. More than 5-6 years either way probably isn't a good fit for me.

Then there's that dichotomy I have -- I love to be at home but I also love to travel (my last trip was a backpack to Venice and Rome trip last December). So he has to be a homebody who likes adventure.

A little laziness is good (I'm a little lazy too). My philosophy towards housework is "if it's not a fire hazard and we don't have bugs, it's probably OK". And I have a nice crop of weeds in my yard because I'm afraid if I put poison down, I'll kill the toads.

Being able to give and receive affection is a necessity; I am one of those people who has to touch other people. And I love hugs. Plus all that intimate stuff. :)

Tool using is a plus because I am afraid I'd cut all my fingers off if I used power tools, and it's nice if SOMEONE can cut boards and things when working on the house. But it's a plus, not a requirement.

Wow. What a paragon! And of course, he'd think I'm a paragon, too. :)

Where Did He Go?

I want to know RIGHT NOW...whatever happened to MY knight in shining armor? Lots of other women got one or a reasonable facsimile thereof...

Maybe he missed the bus. Or got delayed. Hasn't been born yet. Died at birth. Lives in India. Is in prison. Had a sex change. Is gay. Married someone else.

Whatever. I've been looking, so what the heck has HE been doing?

Speed it up, guy!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

TB Testing

Every year, if you are in healthcare, you have to have a TB test. Just a little blub of stuff shot right under the skin, and then someone has to look at it in two days (if you're really busy on the day you're due to have it read, another nurse or doctor where you work can't read it -- only an Employee Health employee, even though we ALL know what to look for). If you work at more than one place, you'll probably have to a test for each place (at least that's been my experience). Plus if you take enough of these tests, at some point, you'll probably test positive, just from the test itself.

While I wouldn't want to get TB, and I'm glad there are some safeguards in place, it seems like there ought to be a better way.

Yes, I had to take an hour out of my day today to go get the silly test.

Love Over 40? 50?

It would be soooo nice to feel attractive and desired. It's much harder at this age; sometimes I just feel invisible (maybe that's why I wear psychedelic scrubs at work). The only folks who look at us almost-grandmotherly types are little bitty kids.

Maybe I stayed in this relationship too long because I want a companion so badly. I even allowed myself to be talked into living together as opposed to getting married -- and I am the marrying type (although I can say that the awfulness of my first marriage contributed to fear of marriage).

I know there are a lot of women like me. I think perhaps there are a lot of men like my ex, who wind up with very young women the second time around, although probably the motives aren't the same as in my ex's case.

God Thirty

In college I had a friend who referred to early morning as "God thirty", because "it was so early only God was up". I'm the only early riser here, so it often feels like God thirty. Even my neighbors don't get up as early as I do. I wake up between 5 and 5:30 every morning, alarm or no (even the dogs aren't awake when I get up).

What's really bad, though, is that even though I get up early, I don't get to work on time (bad, bad Jodie!). If I have a patient at 8, I MIGHT get there. Otherwise, you can bet on 8:30 or later if it's tense...although I've never been late to my hospital job (maybe because I'm relieving someone else?).

I FINALLY had Pyxis access this weekend (a good thing since I was the only nurse one night and med nurse the second night). I've been working there since October and they could not get it together so I could do a major part of my job. It's nice to get the experience, especially since I want to do travel nursing in 3 years when my son graduates...and research isn't an option for travel nurses. Other nurses find it a little weird that this is my ONLY hospital experience other than nursing school clinicals.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Children Make You Crazy

It doesn't even matter how old they are. My daughter is 19, wants to be a nurse. She can't get things together but doesn't want me to help. She's missed the deadline now for applying for nursing school for next now she'll be shooting for the spring semester. She will probably lose her scholarship. ARGHH! For 19, she's mostly pretty responsible -- and she's VERY independent -- but it makes me crazy when she does stuff like this.

I keep telling myself, though, that this too will pass.

It does help -- actually helps a lot -- that I worked child inpatient behavioral 2 nights over the long weekend. No matter how stressed, angry, or sullen my kids get -- they don't use drugs, I don't have to take "violence precautions" or "special precautions" (the new euphemism for sexual perpetrators) with them, and they are resilient. And content most of the time.

I will probably never again work 2 nights in a row, though...too tiring, all those sleeping changes. But the extra money will be helpful. I am about to dig my way out of the horrible divorce debacle in 1997, when the ex stuck me with all kinds of yucky debt (3 months of house payments, bill payments, plus credit cards he'd taken out in my name and charged the tune of $18,000). It's been horrible, but I am almost there. $5,000 and dropping bit by bit. I pay off my daughter's orthodontia bill this month.

Perhaps I should have blogged this weekend -- it seems like I have a lot to say today. :)

Dad tells me he went out to the cemetary yesterday to participate in the Memorial Day functions. He's a vet, was on the Enterprise during WWII. He could never talk about it while we were young, and when we were older and would ask questions, he'd often tear up while telling us stories. Of course, he never told us the horrible the guy who walked into a propeller by mistake, or the time the Japanese pilot crashed into the #2 elevator, or the time he had to hide under a desk while bullets slammed into it. Two years ago, he asked me about post traumatic stress disorder -- apparently someone at the VFW was getting disability for that, and he wanted to know all about it. When we talked, it turned out Dad had all the symptoms, but had never told anyone. So I suggested he talk to the psychologist at the VA...and what do you know, they put him on disability even though he is retired. He's been to some groups where they all talk about it; he says most of the guys are younger and from 'Nam so he doesn't really feel like he fits. But he talks about it more to ME -- which seems to be helping. Plus the disability money makes him feel like maybe the government really does care about what he went through during the war.

Ten years ago, his house was broken into, and (among other things) all his medals were stolen. I contacted Don Nickles, our representative at the time, and he said he couldn't help me, that Dad was just out of luck. What a jerk -- obviously, he's not there to help his constituents. I wrote to the Pentagon (not knowing what else to do) and some lovely person there (whose name was unreadable on the letter, maybe on purpose because I bet they're not supposed to do that kind of thing) sent a set of replacements. Turns out, though, that all I had to do was go through the VA. Duh. They even have a form for it and you get the first replacement set free. But he was thrilled to have them replaced -- I didn't tell him I was doing it, just surprised him (and if you knew how much trouble I have keeping secrets, you'd be impressed). In going through the Navy, though, it turns out you can ALSO get mini medals -- so he has those pinned to his VFW hat. Of course, all his cronies there had to get them, too.

Keep That Positive Attitude

"A positive attitude may not solve any problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."

One of my coworkers just got this as her "inspiration for the day" and oooh, does it ever fit our job here!

Back in the Saddle Again

At least my attitude is back in the saddle. I interviewed for the PACT nurse position. While I know I'd like the work and the people, the benefits are lousy and I'd have to take a pay cut. Makes this job look amazingly better all of a sudden. So life is good. Dean is definitely moving out. Don't know what that will mean in the long run. But in the short run it means I'll have to buy a bed, a TV, a computer, and maybe a clothes washer. But I can cancel everything but local channels on cable. And I guess he will take over paying for his cell phone. I know that I will feel more at ease. The tension has been awful.

We had a brief argument this weekend because he was unkind to my child in front of my child's friends. When I objected, he said he would get an apartment today. I've never been good at arguing. It's too scary -- and I always lose. I think we exchanged maybe 4 sentences. I didn't raise my voice or really say anything other than I wanted the children to be treated with kindness.

It's probably a good thing that he's moving out, but that doesn't make it any less difficult.

Maybe I am not meant to have a life companion. But it sure would be nice if I did.

I've almost finished the dryad painting. Just have to put the birds in the branches and figure out what I'm going to do with the grass. It's looking good, I think.

I've also decided it's about time for another year will be the last big tax return I get, so we might as well. Alex and Gavin and I will all go to Scotland and maybe London as well, if I can make it work. I think we'd enjoy that, just the 3 of us. That's the first time we will have gone on a trip by ourselves.

Now, why Scotland, you may ask? Well, that's where Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed. Gavin doesn't really LIKE travelling all that much, so we might as well do something he could really enjoy...maybe stay in a castle one night, see Loch Ness, avoid the killer rabbit...I'm even considering renting a car while we're there. Don't know if I'm up to driving on the wrong side of the road. It'll take some concentration if so. Plus if we go to London, I don't REALLY want to drive in the traffic, so we'd only have the car a few days. I'll have to see how all that works out. :) But, plenty of time to plan. And we'll do the backpack thing again this time; it worked SO well when Alex and I went to Italy. And considering what Gavin hauls around in his backpack to school, I know he can haul his clothes (although he'd probably wear the same thing day and night if I let him, forget taking any clean clothes). And I will pack half as much this time...and I think jeans are more acceptable in the UK, so I won't even have to buy any clothes this time (if we go in March as planned, we'll be living in our coats anyway).

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Psych at Night

Wow. It's been a very busy day so far. I love the way time flies when I'm busy.

This weekend I will be working inpatient psych (my second job). Two nights, 11-7, Friday and Saturday. I'm sure I'll be exhausted (especially since I will be working HERE 8-5 Friday as well) but it will really help pay off those lingering divorce bills (the evil ex -- who makes a 6 figure salary -- couldn't be bothered to pay for any of the bills he was awarded in the divorce and pays nothing more than the child support pittance...and even then I had to garnish him. I've taken it to court, but it's very slow going). And $200 (after taxes) for 8 hours is wonderful.

Nights are kind of fun on the psych unit. Mostly people sleep. When someone gets up, they get medication and then (hopefully) go back to sleep. There's about 2 hours of paperwork, maybe 30 minutes of patient interaction, and the rest of the time I get to read. Can't beat it!

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Chocolate as a Psychotropic Drug

Some people (like me) need to be dosed with chocolate every day to help with all those day to day irritations. In fact, some days I could use a double dose. Any MDs willing to prescribe out there?

I got the nicest compliment today..."A day without a laugh from Jodie is a day without sunshine." Wow. The only thing better would be "you are the most gorgeous woman who ever walked" and I'd take that from anyone but preferably from Alan Rickman (sigh, what a lovely man).

Some leftover dry ice was put in the lab sink yesterday. I was washing my hands and my nurse manager was walking by the door and saw the fog and asked "What's that?". I put on my best leer and witchy voice and said "Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble!" and concluded with (I thought, anyway) a truly evil cackle. She got the biggest kick out of that, and laughed so hard she cried. First time I've ever made anyone laugh by reciting from MacBeth.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Moon Woman Art

Well, the latest didn't sell -- but my son tells me he wants it, so at least it has a home. Too bad; it certainly looked cool to me. But I think people who list a lot gain a following and then are more likely to sell more. I know there are some artists I bought from when they were new and now their paintings are not affordable for me. So I'll keep on...just not enought time to paint, and I'm not a fast painter.

I thought it might help as well if I started an alternate ebay name...Moon Woman Art fits, as one picture I paint over and over in different ways is the Moon Goddess. I've been painting and drawing her since high school. Plus then my art doesn't get lost in my other listings.

My latest is too surreal for my kids -- they tell me it's weird. This is a dryad, or maybe a woman who's become petrified, anyway, it's a tree that looks like a woman or a woman who's become a tree. In her branches (hands and hair) are many different colored birds hiding in the leaves. I haven't figured out yet what to do with the ground the tree is on. It is turning out closer to what I wanted than anything else I've painted; if I don't mess it up, I should be able to list it in a week or so.

It's less folk art than my other pictures. I hope I'm still this pleased with it when I'm done.

The Joy of IVs

Today I get to do an OGTT (an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test). Not because I'm diabetic or even close to being diabetic, but because one of our studies requires a preliminary test to make sure we can do the labs correctly. So instead of hauling some unfortunate child in for this (it's a child study), I am the guinea pig. Because it involved 5 blood draws, you have to have an IV (most people don't have enough good sites for 5 sticks anyway). Of course it hurt going in, but I have these monster veins (just like all my family -- my little sister was teased so much in the 1st grade about her veins that she told the kids she'd had a vein transplant when she was a baby -- and they left her alone after that...she's funny) so really, I was the logical choice. I hate that. And then it's right in the wrist so it's hard to type. OK, have I whined enough yet? Probably. :)

I have to admit I will miss the research aspect if I leave this job. Although I did apply for one that sounds really interesting; it's called the PACT program. Nurses visit severely mentally ill patients in their homes and work with a team to make sure that they take their medication and that problems are stopped before they really get to be problems. It's being done on a Federal grant, and so far it's saved the state millions in reducing or eliminating hospitalizations. Plus I'd be out and about, which would be good for me at this point; I need more exercise and less sitting.

Only one draw left to go...hurray! I can't wait to get this thing out of my arm. Oh well. It always helps when I tell my patients that I've been through the same thing I'm asking them to do.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Atmosphere is Everything Sometimes

Work continues to be difficult. Not the work itself, but the atmosphere...too many personality clashes, and I work best in harmony. Mostly it's been discordance here for the past two months and more, which is too bad. I like the work. I like the people I work with. But people who clash seem to have a hard time putting their differences aside for the good of everyone else. Some people seem to thrive on it, though, which is why I guess it is so prevalent.

I know I am keeping my head down and hoping the you-know-what flies over me when it hits the fan.

One of my friends here is very wise; she tells me "If it's good at home and bad at work, you're OK. If it's bad at home and good at work, you're still OK. But if it's bad at both, then something's gotta give." Since home is still difficult (I hope to resolve some things this weekend), I am looking for a new job...maybe something will turn up. The nice thing about a nursing degree is that you're never out of work long. :)

Friday, May 21, 2004

This morning I talked to a high school group again. After this, I'm leaving the hypnosis demonstration until last -- they were so relaxed after I did the hypnosis that they were unable to really participate in the presentation that I gave afterwards. Of course, they might have been that way anyway; it's hard to tell with that age group. Sometimes they are just quiet. My second group effort this morning was a mass hypnosis of the Psychiatry Department Staff; they really seemed to enjoy it. Robin (my co-speaker) added in aromatherapy with the second group (they liked that, too).

Robin is off to Baltimore tonight; her sister had a premature baby girl last week (3 lbs, pretty good size for a preemie) and of course she wants to be there. Robin is my first experience with a Wiccan; if they are all like her, then they are very good people. She is wonderful, caring, and fun; everything you want in a friend.

Well, duty calls -- it's been that kind of a day. I have to go see an upper extremity deep vein thrombosis patient and check to see if the coumadin is keeping the blood thin enough to dissolve the clot.

Guess I kind of spacey today, but that's ok; it's ALMOST the weekend!! WOO HOO!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Art on ebay

Well, I got my picture up on ebay last night after much fiddling around. Listed it for a little more this time; I certainly spent the time on it, so why not? Maybe I'll get lucky. I am certainly not the most technically proficient person painting out there, but my paintings do look different from other things I'm seeing. And I suppose if I continue to paint, my technique will get better. Bev and I are going to art class tonight; I am sure we will piss off our well-known painter "teacher" (he can paint but he sure can't teach) yet again. :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Abnormal Psychology in High School

This morning was busy; worked with dysplasia clinic all morning. Today we were consenting for the LEEP procedure (which is excision of the area with dysplasia with an electrified wire loop -- not a fun procedure). Most of the ladies weren't frightened this morning which is unusual; I don't blame them if they are, not only does the procedure sound much scarier and painful than it is, but that whole cancer thing is hanging over them too. One lady and her fiancee were even able to laugh and joke with each other and me while I explained it; what lovely joyous energy they had between them. Makes me hopeful, too -- they were older and not all that attractive (although they obviously were to each other).

Made me feel good to be there for a little while, something that's sadly lacking these days with our change of leadership and all the whining and backbiting...what a tremedously bad time they picked to replace our fearless leader, when our grant is up for renewal in July. People just don't think, not even those with two or three advanced degrees. Oh well.

Onto the high school part of my daily adventure...I've been a guest speaker at this high school psychology class now for the past 3 years; after this time, though, it won't be part of my job anymore, and I'll have to do it on my own time (which is OK. I can take a half day off and make it work -- but it still sucks that my speaking on behalf of our facility is being taken away). ANYWAY, the class was REALLY good -- they all either listened and participated, or were quiet enough that it wasn't a problem. It went really well; didn't even have any stage fright this time. They even remembered a lot of what they'd had in class so I was able to talk in depth on a few subjects. Of course, they LOVED the schizophenia part -- they always do -- just because it's so far out of their worldview. I had each of them contemplate their right hand. Then, I told them that the strongly held delusions and hallucinations I'd just been telling them about were as real to the people who had them as their right hand was to them. I think it really gave them some understanding as to WHY schizophrenia is so difficult to treat and to live with.

Have you ever had one of those black hole moments? Where, for whatever reason, the world just drops out from underneath you and all looks hopeless and unbearable? I had one of those earlier today while I was at work; it's been awhile since I felt that way and luckily it was short-lived. But a little cry and I felt better (except that my red nose and eyes always give me away; I think we were so busy, though, that no one noticed -- which is just as well, because I couldn't have explained why it happened except for all the tension at work and at home).

Monday, May 17, 2004

World Premiere Movie Night

My son took "Film Studies" as one of his high school classes this year. The students were split into small groups and assigned the task of making a film...tonight we got to watch 20 student films. Each group got 15 minutes, had to write their own script, act it out and film it. They also did story boards, costumes, etc.

Einstein's Theory of Relativity as it relates to time certainly was aptly illustrated. I don't know when I have spent a longer 3 hours. One actually had all the elements hang together pretty well, but most were eminently forgettable.

However, one of the scenes in one of the movielets almost made it worth it. Imagine two chunky guys driving a Dunkin Donuts van, trying to pick up 3 hot girls...and then there's a flash to the chunkiest one shoving donuts into his mouth and drinking out of a half gallon milk carton in front of the Dunkin Donuts truck to the track of "I Touch Myself" while the girls watch in fascinated horror. Absolutely hilarious.

Diabetes and cystic fibrosis

This morning, I had a cystic fibrosis study patient. One of the MDs who specializes in that disorder here at the university is studying the relationship of diabetes to CF. As luck would have it, this patient did not have diabetes...but 75% of the patients I have seen for this study DO have diabetes as well.

It has been really hard in the past with some of the younger patients (the youngest I've seen was 8); their parents are already coping with ONE difficult genetic disease, and then to be told they have to cope with diabetes as well is very upsetting.

It's a lovely day today -- sunny, warm, blue skies -- but very, very windy. When I was little I thought if I leaned back just the right way, the wind might hold me up. It's ALMOST that windy today.

This afternoon I get to work on dysplasia studies (we have 3) and make calls for my palliative care study (end of life cancer care -- my study examines quality of life). I have a love-hate relationship with that study; I enjoy the people I talk with, but it gets progressively difficult as they grow sicker and die.

Tomorrow morning I am giving a talk on abnormal psychology to a high school class, so I have to get ready for that, too.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

What other people blog

Blogging is new to me. The only time I've even journalled was when I did a foreign medical mission 3 years ago -- that was quite an adventure. It was set up through my school of nursing (yes, I'm a recent graduate; nothing like going back to school in your 40s)...I was one of 3 people who spoke Spanish (we went to Mexico) and my Spanish is, well, rusty at best. I wound up translating for everything from how to brush teeth adequately to trying to tell a very old lady that I was going to do a rectal exam. We did hundreds of Pap smears, even trained our dental hygienist to do them when we got slammed one day. Do you know you can use hair spray for fixative on those slides? Plus I managed to figure out the ancient ECG machine (it had one lead; you had to move the lead from place to place to get the equivalent of a 12-lead here) for a 16-year-old who was having chest pain. We had one MD who hardly even got to sleep he was so busy. Having been there really makes me thankful for what we have here.

After I've posted here, I look at what others have posted in the same time period (sometimes I leave a comment, although from others' blogs, it seems that usually only people who know the blogger leave comments. So maybe I'm inadvertantly being rude). I am still trying to figure out how one bookmarks blogs one likes, or at any rate, finds those blogs again. I also haven't figured out how to search for interesting blogs. It's all random.

I haven't told anyone I'm blogging. Funny, I don't mind people I don't know reading it, but I'd feel strange if someone I knew did.

Finished another masterpiece!

Well, ok, it didn't turn out the way I had envisioned it. But -- I do like it, so I'll probably list it this evening provided I can get MY computer up and running. The cats didn't turn out quite right; one is too cartoonish, one is too impressionistic, and one is, well, not catlike, for want of a better word. The impressionistic one SORT of works for me (after all, its walking through a door filled with sky) but it just doesn't go with the other two. Unless, of course, it's morphing into something else by walking through the door (the title: Another Door Opens). The ivy around the door is too detailed, and the flowers around the porch are not detailed enough. But it does have something going for it; it's pleasing to look at and I think the emotion I wanted to include (new beginnings) comes across.

My next project is probably going to be three women around a cauldron...the Weird Sisters. Not so weird as you might think; my daughter and her 2 best friends played those roles in MacBeth and I loved the energy between them (this was some time ago, when they were 10...but they're all 19 now and the energy is STILL there). So I want to try and capture that.

Painting sure does clear my head. I'm MUCH better now. Plus my son is longing for Baskin Robbins Ice Cream...sounds good, huh?!

Lazy Sunday Morning

Sunday morning -- tried to sleep late but couldn't (darn that internal clock anyway). So I read a book by Robyn Carr -- excellent, if you like romances that aren't too gooey. Great characters and development, although some of them weren't on stage enough to really get to know them. I need to fix my other computer but it's not really something I'm good at, so I'm procrastinating and adding to my blog on Dean's computer. Which would probably make him angry because he's out working and he seems to have developed the typical guy disease of thinking that because HE'S working, everyone else has to work too (this despite the fact that I work two jobs -- three if you count ebay -- and he doesn't pay me a dime toward the house. He does, however, do repair work on the house for me gratis...which I think evens out, but he doesn't -- probably one more reason he needs to move out -- yes, I know -- I don't want him to move out, but I do want him to move out -- I'll be glad when I make up my mind what I DO want). I really need to fix my computer so I can list some more ebay stuff because it's coming out my ears almost. I've gone through it and intend to put some of it in Bev's garage sale at the end of the month, but I'm not going to do that with anything that I think I can make $10 on.

I guess I am tired of being criticized when I don't criticize anyone. I am tired of paying for everything and having that taken for granted. I am tired of NO SEX.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

The shame closet

Okay, so it's not a shame closet (but that's one of my favorite phrases from The Simpsons). Today Dean and I drove out to my parents' house (120 miles one way) to fix up a closet that used to have a heater in it. Mom wanted it painted and with shelves so she could store her seasonal decorations in it.

Dad had done his best to fix it up but had gone waay overboard with the spackle. I think Dean must have sanded for a hour in this tiny closet.

Dean also put a light in it to make it easier to see everything, and even installed a switch (which he put in upside down on purpose to see how long it would take Mom to notice -- she never did, I had to tell her).

Mom and Dad are lookin' good, although I think Dad's thinking a lot about the end of life (he's 82, and has outlived all his family except for one sister, and they were mostly all long-lived). They are still busy, but Dad tires easily these days and has to take several catnaps (5-10 minutes) every day. I love them dearly and worry much about losing them.

Anyway, we drove back this evening. A nice day, all in all.

I do hope Dean decides not to move out. I will miss him terribly. But at the same time I hate for him to stay if he is unhappy because then we are all unhappy.

Friday, May 14, 2004

It's all good...

Okay, so the BS dropped to normal within 20 minutes. So maybe it was just lunch, Of course that means that low carb ice cream (at least in MY metabolism) doesn't raise blood sugar...not that I would ever eat it again under any circumstances...well, ok. I'm sure that if it were the ONLY thing left to eat then I suppose I would have to give in (bleah!).

Anyway, now I am just about at the end of my first day of blogging. Will it continue? Will anyone ever look at it? Will Brad Pitt drop Jennifer Aniston and decide he really, really wants a 40s-something, overweight, "plain jane" research nurse from the midwest? Only time will tell...heck, I'm optimistic (okay, maybe I've just worked with hallucinating people too long).

Fingersticks! Ugh!

Well, I agreed to help with Chris' research study. She's looking at whether low carb ice cream raises blood sugar as much as regular ice cream. So I got randomized to low carb. YUCK! At least now I'll never have to buy any because I already know I don't like it. Plus now I have to do blood sugars every 20 minutes for 2 hours (with a fingerstick, those hurt more than a blood draw!). Plus it's hard to type with a bandaid on your finger. It was a little worrisome because my baseline BS was 153; high even though this was an after-lunch BS. So I may have to take one of the glucometers home and do a couple of fasting BSs (Blood Sugars for all you non-medical folks who probably will never see this blog anyway) just in case -- if I have a problem with diabetes, best to catch it early (and work a little harder on losing weight; that's probably all I would need to do in any case).

The Entry That Started It All :)

Well, this is my first entry. It's a cold day for May in Oklahoma. And it's rainy. And my "feast or famine" job is in a famine stage this afternoon (that's OK; we feasted all week).

I gave a presentation and demonstration on hypnotherapy this morning; it really went very well, and perhaps I'll have a few private patients from that. Of course, one of our research patients showed up unexpectedly while I was out, so he had to be rescheduled. Oh well.

This weekend I'm going to drive to my parents' house and paint one of their closets and install shelves. It will be good to see them, and hopefully I can fix it up they way they want it; at least it doesn't involve any power tools. :)

I've almost finished another picture for ebay; it's looking good (hopefully I can put it up on Sunday). I painted this one with the door from my first house; round at the top (like a hobbit door) with a stained glass inset of a rising sun. The door is slightly open with blue sky inside the house. The door is framed with ivy and flowers growing over creamy brick. One cat is peering inside the house from the top step, another is coming up the steps, and a third cat is peeking out of the flowers on the side. I am really pleased with it. I haven't been painting very long (although, 30 years ago I painted a lot) but the pictures have been improving greatly with each one I do.