Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 25: Someone Who Fascinates You And Why

I'm fascinated by Eva Markvoort, an online friend that I have known for a few years now. Eva is a lot of things I'm not: she's one of those expansive, almost grandiose people who make you understand where magical realism comes from. Eva is so outgoing and generous, and so brightly colored - most photos of her show her with crayon-red hair and lips. She also wanted to be a theatre makeup artist and practiced by doing face-painting for children when she worked as a summer camp leader. Eva is open in a way that I'm not, that most of us are not. Not only on her blog, but on camera; there is a documentary about Eva called 65_RedRoses about her wait to get new lungs as her own began to fail because of her cystic fibrosis.

The other thing that Eva is, which I am not, is dead.

Eva died almost exactly one year ago, on March 27th 2010. I can't believe it's been that long already, and unsurprisingly, I'm crying again writing this.

The documentary about Eva's wait for new lungs ended with her getting them. She went on to get to do many of the things she'd always wanted to do - run, travel further than a short distance away from her doctors and hospitals, meet other friends with cystic fibrosis in person. She broke up with her first love and met her second. She continued to raise money for CF research, and awareness of it and of organ donation. And then her body rejected her new lungs, slowly and in stages. And Eva shared that with the world as well. She blogged from her hospital room, which got covered in cards and letters from around the world from people who had seen the documentary or read her blog. I sent her a letter on stationary covered with vintage sewing patterns. She posted videos of herself and her family from the hospital. She was as open with her death as she was with her life.

One year later, I'm still fascinated by Eva. And I still miss her.

This is an image from her celebration of life program, from her blog 65 Roses is Cystic Fibrosis, the way a lot of little kids say it. When I was a nanny, the kids would sometimes watch Mr. Polly do his nebulizer and ask about it, or ask why he coughed so much, and I would explain about the Cystic Fibrosis and how kids get to call it 65 Roses. Eva chose red roses, and they suit her so well. Eva is missed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tooth Detective

For the first time in years and years, I have dental insurance! I'm going to get xrays and a checkup and all that good stuff early next month, which is awesome. And likely to cut down on the amount of wine I drink, because I mainly only drink when my wisdom teeth are turning my mouth into a hellhole and my neck and shoulders into painfully knotted rubber bands dipped in acid.


The only problem with this is that when I originally tried to have my wisdom teeth removed, I had a bit of trouble. I was under IV sedation (having never had so much as a cavity filled, the dentist thought I should probably be unconscious for the procedure) and had an allergic reaction to the sedative. Blood pressure, heart rate, respiration all dropped rapidly and I began to turn blue. They stopped the IV drip immediately and started trying to wake me, which eventually worked. Then I went home and vomited uncontrollably for 2 days. This was after having gotten just the very first bit of sedation, before they had a chance to begin the procedure at all. I never went back after that.

Now I deal with pain from those effing teeth pretty often. But I don't know what it was that I was allergic to; I was only 18 or so at the time, and was also unconscious and then very sick, so I didn't pay very good attention. My Mom was there with me, and she apparently had a letter explaining it all and then accidentally shredded said letter? And she doesn't remember at all either.

My current family medicine Doctor's best guess is propofol which puts me in good company with Michael Jackson, I guess. Only in the last couple of years did I start wondering about this and wanting to find out so I could get my teeth taken care of, but by then the records had been destroyed. I've called the place where it was done a few times to try to find out with no luck, but did so again today and the woman I spoke to said that apparently there is someone who can access their old computer records that will call me back tomorrow. I'd love to find out before I go to my new dentist.

This is like the most boring Nancy Drew story in the world, isn't it? I should make up some parts about how I lost teeth biting a crazed lunatic and Ned Nickerson saw it all happen which is why Nancy is on the case. And George is in school to be a nurse anesthetist and Bess has a hopeless crush on the dreamy Dr. Toothworth.

Yeah, I read a lot of Nancy Drew as a kid.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Urban Dictionary has things besides Dirty Sanchez-esque terms on it?

A little meme I got from Word Lust and Frazzled_razzleRN (see them in my followers and read their blogs!):

1. Go to [check]
2. Type in *your name* in the look up any word spot. [check]
3. Read the definition of your name. [check]
4. Think it's cool. [double check]
5. Think I'm cool for telling you to do it. [triple check]

My name means: A generally nice person who has a hard time with confrontation. She tends to be sweet and generous to a fault. They are normally beautiful people and love the Beatles. They also make great friends because they are so loving and loyal. They often do not share their problems with others and sometimes this can overwhelm them.

Huh, that's pretty nice. I don't have a problem with confrontation though. I went to my facility's administrator today before work to let her know that my trainee getting injured last night isn't acceptable, nor is having ScaryLady try to beat us all up every single night without fail. She talked to our DON and charge nurse and they came up with a plan to mitigate this behavior and get some stronger meds ordered for ScaryLady. My forearms may be unbruised for the first time in months if this all works!!! Also, I like the Beatles okay but not as much as the Stones. Isn't that the question people always ask? Beatles or Stones, Coke or Pepsi, Elvis or... I forget what the alternative to Elvis is. Death. Just kidding.

As of 10pm tonight, it's my weekend. I am so freaking excited.

There's No Crying In Baseball

I'm in the process of training a new employee at my job right now, which has been pretty fun & made me look at the everyday grind with fresh eyes.

In Long Term Care, a lot of us have to toughen up in order to do this job. It's verydemanding work for very low pay and often very little appreciation. Working in dementia further adds to this because it's not uncommon to be trying tocare for people who will try their hardest to hurt you while you're helping them. Usually the good outweighs the bad and we retain our compassion and still give hugs and kisses to even those that had tried to hurt us.

Yesterday while training my new mentee, I almost cried out on the floor (ie in public areas not the breakroom) twice.

First was because one of my favorite residents is declining so fast. She has cancer & massive anxiety, and currently has the worst edema I've ever seen. It goes all the way up to her waist and she cannot even get shoes or slippers on anymore. The other night she kept asking me to kill her and swearing at me, which is the polar opposite from her normal personality. I knew she would freak out when we had to shower her, and she did. It's so awful to have a friend hating you screaming at you to kill her. I sent my trainee to take the then-calm resident to go get her hair done in our beauty parlor & I cleaned that shower for a long time so I could calm down. It really breaks my heart.

Then later I got upset for a nearly opposite reason; we had to put to bed a notoriously combative resident who usually leaves me black & blue whenever it's my turn to deal with her. She pinches, punches, kicks, grabs, shoves... you name it. And this is not a little old lady; she's taller than most of us & walks just fine. Right now I have a brace on my arm from straining it by lifting people. So ScaryLady zeroes in on that and grabs me there, trying to shake me by that arm. My poor trainee tries to intervene and ScaryLady digs her nails into my trainee hard enough to break her skin. Charge Nurses insist there is nothing they can do because ScaryLady's Doc refuses to order any effective behavioral meds for her. ScaryLady clearly needs a new Doc but that would require someone in ScaryLady's family to make it happen, which is unlikely at best. So we get beaten up every night and my brand new trainee got hurt. Those were tears of anger.

Sometimes I hate this system and these diseases.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day 24: Favorite Movie

This is a hard one. My very favorite movie, that I could probably always stand to watch no matter what mood I'm in, though, is "Funny Face". Even though I do think that clearly Fred Astaire is too old for Audrey Hepburn, I love the songs and dance numbers in this movie. Think Pink? Her rebellious bohemian dance in the beatnik den? S'Wonderful? All guaranteed to make you happy.

I thought about pretending Shutter Island was my favorite movie, because one of my friends just reminded me about this:

After he told me what an "infograph" is I drew a small version of this, and he drew it on his blackboard wall gigantically! But Shutter Island is not my favorite movie. Not at all. I'm pretty pleased that my first infograph made it onto a wall though!

PS If you can't read it, it's a drawing I did of the island with little things saying what's wrong with each part of it; the rats in the cliff wall, the lack of surfers in the ocean, the sucky ferry boat, etc.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 23: Five Dudes

Today's topic is to find five pictures of handsome famous guys and post them. Done.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 22: How Have You Changed in the Past 2 Years?

Two years ago this time, I was working as a nanny for two different families; one part-time, one full-time. I commuted almost an hour each way to and from work. I lived in a large rental house, and was trying to get pregnant via sperm donor. My life was very different from what it is now.

Looking back, some things were easier; I made a lot more money back then, so that was much less of a concern. My jobs were really not physically demanding the way working as a nursing assistant is. I had more free time, and I used it to go take water-aerobics at the community center and to cook stuff from my farm-subscription box. Have you heard of those? It's called Community Supported Agriculture. You subscribe to a local farm and get a box of produce every week that's grown in your area. I used to go pick mine up at the community center but some places will bring them to your doorstep. It's pretty cool.

I'm a little wary to write much about my life as a nanny, because I still care about the families I worked for and would never want to say something online that they could find and be hurt by. But in retrospect, I took on a lot of emotional stress from that job, mainly because of a particular issue with one of the children, that I found really hard to deal with as someone that loved that little guy. And what happened to him was the reason I lost my second job with the second family, which was really sad to me, because I loved (still love) those kiddos too.

About two years ago, Mr. Polly and I uprooted ourselves and made big changes in our lives. We were living in a condo and about to close on it, and I assumed I'd stay a nanny for many years to come. Mr. P was teaching Special Ed. When we got the opportunity to move back to our college town and buy the comic book store, we pulled out of the condo right before closing (so sorry real estate agent! Truly!) and moved into a little apartment in a big historic house. I worked harder than I've ever worked, normally about 50-65 hours a week at 2 or 3 jobs at a time to keep us afloat while we tried (slowly) to close the deal on the store. I found out I'm stronger than I knew I was. I found out I'm great at interviewing for jobs, because I was offered most of the ones I applied for. I found out that change doesn't have to be that scary. And I found out that I want to be a nurse. I started out as an in-home caregiver as a supplement to my job at a daycare. And ended up as a CNA at a dementia facility, which I love.

I feel like I'm in the right place, professionally and in my life. My director of nursing pulled me aside last week to ask me if I'm interested in being trained and promoted to be a med tech (I am!!) if a slot becomes avaliable. And last night I started training a new employee for the first time, which means I'm eligible for the Mentor Program at work. I'm registered for fall quarter to start doing my nursing school prerequisites. I love living in the town we live in now. And I'm happy with Mr. Polly. We're not trying to have a baby anymore, but we'll probably start again within a year. And I think I'm under a lot less stress now than I was the first time around, which should hopefully be a good factor in making it happen.

So yep, the last 2 years have been good and hard and I think I'm better for them.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 21: One of Your Favorite Shows

I thought about writing about Scrubs for this, but a) I write about it all too often (and post clips to illustrate medical conditions, ha ha) and b) I've only seen it up through season 5.

So instead, let's take on one of my other favorites: Top Chef. I love all the Top Chef seasons, including Top Chef Masters and Top Chef: Just Desserts. It probably seems a little ridiculous that I'd like that show so much given that I'm vegan and would never make or eat 99% of the food that they do on it, even though they put the recipes online. Although they did have a vegan challenge episode where they had to cook for Zooey and Emily Deschanel!!! They must be some of the most adorable vegan sisters ever in life. Look at them!

and p.s. It was on Top Chef Masters and one of the "Master" chefs got sent home because his brilliant idea for dessert was to take rice milk ice cream and mix some strawberries into it. I mean, really? Sheesh. Here's a link to a blogpost by someone else with more info about that one:
Top Chef Masters: Vegan Challenge!

But even when I wouldn't eat what they're making, I love watching how they do it. I like the knife skills challenges, and am much faster at chopping my own veggies after seeing how the pros do it. I get lots of ideas from them about different dishes I could make or modify to make vegan. And I love seeing the really fancypants ones like Richard Blaze who uses liquid nitrogen on everything possible.

I also get a kick out of the judges, and I think Padma Lakshmi is so pretty it should be criminal. I think Anthony Bourdain is very funny, and I also watch his travel show and read his novels.

So yep, Top Chef. Watch it with me, buddies. It's almost the end of the Top Chef: All Stars season right now. Spike Mendelson went home a while ago, but I do have his burgers & milkshakes cookbook and I make things for Mr. Polly from it for holidays and I give him "A Spike Meal" coupon for a gift sometimes. So I've made several of Spike's burgers and shakes, and they've been a big hit so far.

Ugh, now I'm hungry. Time to go cook my last artichoke - that is seriously one of my favorite after-work meals. I loooooooooove artichokes!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 20: Importance of Education

When I was in High School, a friend of mine told me that her older sister (who was already in college) had said the point of HS is to learn how to learn, so you'll be ready for college. And to learn how to do homework. I think it's also about learning to get along at least a little bit with a lot of people you wouldn't really choose to be in a group with, but have to. That's how work is, right?

Then at my college, some of the professors said that their goal was to teach us how to think critically and how to go about the process of finding information so that we'd be lifelong learners. I think they accomplished that for the most part. I'm not talking about just googling some new thing I heard at work during a shift, but being able to put together several new ideas into a bigger concept and then read up on that concept.

I'm grateful to have had the education I've had because it's allowed me to do that kind of thing. And to understand how to navigate systems and bureaucracies; when I used to volunteer at a low-income housing complex, they had a Moms group that met weekly and the number one thing those women needed help with was understanding how, when, and who to fill out forms with and for to get the services they needed. They weren't illiterate or stupid, but it takes time to learn that kind of stuff. Without knowing how, I wouldn't have been able to register to go to school this fall.

So yep, even though it probably looks on paper as though I never use my education, I feel as though I do, very often. Whew!

Also on this topic, I'm going to brag: NewNurse asked me today if I intend to go on to more schooling because I have a lot of potential (!!!) and she thinks I'd be an excellent administrator of a nursing home someday if I wanted to. Nice!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


We had a new nurse on 2nd shift tonight, so all us aides were trying really hard to be helpful, make sure she knew who each resident was so she wouldn't give them the wrong meds, tell her who to take seriously when they did/or said things and who to ignore and they'll stop.

But because she's new, she didn't know the difference between "Polly gently flagging down the charge nurse to come into a resident's room" and "Polly panicking and trying desperately to get your ass in here STAT but I can't leave this woman alone right now". So NewNurse wasn't as fast as I wanted. But it all turned out okay.

You see, there's a little thing called "vasovagal response" or, as you may learn to call it "fainting because you need to poop or are pooping".

This clip from Scrubs illustrates it very nicely:

Yep, it's a real thing. Pooping and fainting. What a combo.

There are a few of my old ladies that have this occasionally, but the one I was working on tonight had not ever done so since I've been working at the GreatRep. So you can see why I was alarmed when Nellie lay limp and unresponsive (but not dead! I checked that first!) in her wheelchair. I patted her hands with increasing force. Called her name with increasing volume. Patted her face. And then I brought out the big guns. Nellie HATES it when you touch her mouth or brush her teeth, and the absolute most annoying thing you can do to her is stick your fingers in her mouth. I popped on a glove and stuck a few in there, to and got no reaction, which is when I panicked and desperately waved NewNurse to come in NOW.

She also couldn't get Nellie to come to for a while, but after we both hollered and patted and pestered the hell out of her for a bit, Nellie cracked one eye open to glare at us, at which point I started breathing again. And got a whiff. And then a big, poo-shaped light bulb went off over my head. It spelled out VASOVAGAL in morse code. And Nellie woke up in time to have the biggest BM I've ever seen her have in my life. I mean softball sized, and round like one too.


So my little poop-weasel is all right, and was back to normal within a few minutes of passing that beast.

And you know what? Seeing it didn't make me faint too. Whew!

PS Next weekend is my last weekend of clinicals which means I'll have a real live day off on St. Patrick's day! I cannot wait!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 19: Disrespecting Your Parents

Yep, I've done it. I've disrespected both of my parents any number of times. My relationship with each of them has had long rocky stretches at various points. But no one wants to read about that, probably, and I don't really want to dredge all that up, either.

Instead, here's a story about my Dad and how he was gloriously Chuck-Norris-like one time:

When I was a teenager, I would spend every other weekend at my Dad's house. One of these weekends, we kept hearing this odd clicking sound in his living room. All day. While I was working on my math homework ... click click click. While he watched golf on tv ... click click click. Weird. Later in the afternoon, I went upstairs to my room to take a nap. My Dad went into his office to do whatever. As I slept, he went back into the living room for some reason and saw a GIANT CLOUD OF WASPS circling around the living room! The clicking sound? Was them eating through the fricking wall like some biblical plague.

So my Dad, being the weirdo he is, doesn't go upstairs and evacuate me. He's worried that if he hesitates, the swarm will break away from their little tornado formation and spread throughout the house. So he runs to the closet, grabs the vacuum cleaner, puts on all the wand attachments to make it as long as possible, and then? Vacuums up a giant cloud of wasps. Right from the air.

I'll give you a minute to picture that.

Can you imagine my disappointment at napping through all this???

So he vacuums up all the wasps, jams the hose back into the vacuum so they cannot escape, puts the vacuum cleaner out in the yard, and starts calling exterminators from the phone book. They all were willing to come seal up the wasps chewed-through tunnel and remove the hive they were building out there. But none wanted to come pick up a vacuum cleaner filled with pissed-off bees.

So see? I may have disrespected my parents, but those wasps? Will never underestimate my Dad again.

PS I googled Chuck Norris facts about bees and here's what I got:
1. Chuck Norris catches more bees with vinegar.
2. Chuck Norris doesn't eat honey, he chews bees.
3. Before studying Chuck Norris for decades, African "Killer" Bees were simply known as "Really Annoying".
4. The killer bees stopped their northern advance at Texas, cause Chuck Norris has family in Oklahoma.
5. As a child, Chuck Norris' teachers begged him not to join spelling bees... because he would only spell D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R.

PPS I realize I'm probably the only one who still likes the whole Chuck Norris facts thing, but I'm always behind the times that way. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day 18: Your Beliefs.

I believe that clapping along to music is harder than it looks.

I believe that everyone should get to swim in the ocean at least once. And that everyone should teach their children how to swim, just in case.

I believe that rice is pretty delicious all by itself.

I believe that I am a lucky person.

I believe that getting a few bad sunburns in your lifetime won't kill you, but it will give you lots of freckles if you're fair skinned.

I believe that people with diseases and disabilities are NOT better off dead, and will probably get angry if you want to argue that point with me.

I believe that everyone and everything has the right to live its own life. That's why I stopped eating other animals.

I believe that living in a home with good heating is the best thing ever. I still feel really happy every time I can turn up the heater when I'm cold and it works and I get warmer.

I believe that Smallville is a delightful TV show. And I believe I owe a favor to the customer of our comic book store that's been lending us all his Smallville DVD's.

I believe in taking baths.

I believe that most people can probably take a punch better than they'd expect. But it's nicer not to have to find that out for sure.

I believe that some houses could be haunted, but mine, sadly, is not. Even though my downstairs neighbor has a scary ventriloquist dummy.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Day 17: Highs and Lows of the Past Year

Low is easy: when I was working noc shift at the Crapdorable place and day shifts in home care. I often only got to sleep in 2-3 hour stretches as a time. I was exhausted. And the physical labor of the crapdorable place was overwhelming, as was the sadness at the neglect the residents endured. There was a woman there who was so covered in boils and pressure sores that there was only one position she could be in (in her bed) and often the boils would pop and leak fluid as I tried to change her brief without hurting her. And I don't care what anyone says, there is absolutely no reason for 94 year olds to be sleeping on a mattress on the floor. God, I hated that place.

High is pretty easy too: once we bought the store and had it running smoothly, and I cut down to one job (that I usually enjoy) and began having free time again. I love being able to leave work and know the residents will be well taken care of while I'm gone. And I love having free time to spend with Mr. Polly again! As soon as I finish my CNA course I'm going to prioritize spending time with friends as well, since it's been a while since I've done that as much as I'd like to. Oh and COOKING! I can't wait to start cooking again!

Getting registered for fall quarter has been a big high as well - I'm so excited to start taking concrete steps toward nursing school!!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 16: Your views on Mainstream Music

First of all, the title of this challenge topic assumes I'm hip enough to know crap about non-mainstream music. Which I'm not. Even though the town I live in is full of it, I don't go out to shows at night. I go to places like work and the grocery store at night, for the most part. Oops.

So yep, I love my mainstream music. This year I'm asking for a bunch of CD's for my birthday, which is rare for me. Even rarer for me, they're not all from the 90's (past gift requests have included Super Deluxe, Sky Cries Mary, Collective Soul, etc.)! This year I'm asking for Rihanna, The Black Keys, Florence and the Machine, and I think there were more but I'm blanking out.

I also still love lots of older music like the Rolling Stones, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Elvis, Linda Ronstadt and of course my continuing love for the 90's. I mean both early nineties Salt'n'Pepa and grunge nineties.

I'm a dork. But you already knew this if you read my post about putting the ipod on shuffle.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 14 & Day 15

I'm lumping these together because they're both so short.

Day 14: Your earliest memory
It's very vague, but I remember learning to walk up stairs/curbs in Hawaii when I was really little. A toddler, obviously. My Dad's sister used to live there and we'd gone to visit them. Sadly I haven't been back!

Day 15: Your favorite Tumblr.
I had to google this to find out what a tumblr is. My favorite (and only) one I've seen is I think I found it when I was searching for makeup tips for redheads. Which I am, if you didn't already know that. I only remember the address for that tumblr because it cracked me up! I imagine a crowd yelling "Fuck yeah! Redhead!" when I type it.