When it Hits Home

As health care workers, we witness tragedy, illness and death on a daily basis. We learn to cope with it, block it out, shake it off and “Just keep swimming” as Dory the fish would say. Each day as we walk out of the hospital at the end of our shifts, we step into that imaginary phone booth to twist around and shed our super life saver cloths. No one will ever know what we’ve experienced during our work day if we don’t want them to.

In the hospital I work in as a nurse, we refer to each other as family. There’s the hospital wide family and there’s the unit where you work family. Regardless of a person’s job description, we have one common goal: to save lives. We celebrate holidays together. We pass each other in the halls, we chat about our lives, and we share joy and sorrow.

Unfortunately, I’ve experienced illness and death on multiple occasions among my coworkers in my 22 years as a nurse. It doesn’t get any easier as the years pass, as we get older, knowing what we know about life and death.

Monday morning, my unit family learned that an employee in a unit that we work in conjunction with every day had a medical emergency over the weekend. Although they were still alive, the outlook did not look good. The hospital family held a prayer service. This employee’s unit family held a prayer breakfast. A Go Fund Me account was set up.

Early yesterday morning we learned that this member of our hospital family was placed in hospice. After learning this, I took some time to reflect and pray for this person. I didn’t know this person as well as I know others but she always smiled and nodded at me in passing.  I thought about her in her street cloths and not her super life saver uniform,  as the human being that she is outside of the hospital, how full of life she was prior to this illness and how sad her family must be.

As I went along with my day yesterday I had that familiar feeling in my gut that I often do when something is wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I was sad. I’d gone out for a random lunch with a friend, ran errands, cleaned up my house and took a nap. It was a good day. Then I figured it out.  I’d just kept swimming after learning about my coworker in hospice. I thought I could just reflect, say a prayer and shake it off because that’s how we are programmed so we don’t go crazy. Not this time. I didn’t have my super life saving uniform on. It made me feel vulnerable. I realized that I would never see this coworker again and it hurt.

I woke up this morning and knew that I had to write this post for my coworker, for anyone who’s ever lost a coworker, and for the non medical world to understand how much it hits home when we lose one of our own. Later this afternoon I learned that God has taken my coworker home. May she rest in peace.



When You Can’t

There’s a load of laundry in the dryer that needs to be folded and a load in the washer that needs to be moved to the dryer but I can’t do that. I can’t get out of my chair because my can’t put my book down.

When I am reading a good book it’s as if my mind has left the physical world and stepped into a different world, leaving my body as a shell with eyes that look up from time to time. I become so engrossed that I can no longer hear the sounds of my own environment or what’s going on around me. A building could fall down around me and I wouldn’t notice. Today my family senses that I have again been entranced by a good book so they finish their breakfast, clean up their dishes and go about their day. I am still there reading my book.

It’s a sunny day with a clear blue sky and I know I should be outside but I can’t go. My mind is paralyzed. I can’t put my book down. My husband asks, “Are we going hiking or not”. I know I need to go hiking because stepping into the woods has lately become my way of recharging my battery in preparation for the week to come. The walls are closing in on me now and I begin to have a small panic that no one else can see. Do I put my book down and go hiking or just keep reading?

Ordinarily I would just trudge through the book and be done with it so I can rejoin my own world but today I did put the book down. It was becoming violent and I needed to process what was going on. Plus I couldn’t take my hike away from myself.

My daughter couldn’t go hiking because she’s studying for finals so I went hiking with my husband and son. Each of us entered the woods with our minds full of whatever. As we hiked, we allowed the sound of the breeze through the trees, the flowing river, dirt, sweat, bugs, rocks, climbing over branches, crossing rivers, dipping our feet in the river, steep climbs and green all around us, nature;  wash the whatever out of our heads.

I can’t speak for my husband and son but I emerged from the woods with a mind a peace. I came home and finished my book.

The book I couldn’t put down today was: Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson




It is the morning of my son’s high school graduation. In less than 12 hours he will cross the stage to receive his high school diploma. One chapter in his life will close, another will soon begin.

I am in my bedroom as I write this. I take a sip of coffee, write a little, pace up and down the hall and sit back down to write more. I walk by my son’s bedroom. He’s still asleep. I know that he is dreaming of his upcoming senior week trip to the beach tomorrow with his friends. In my mind today, I am reviewing chapters k-12.

I have so much bottled up emotion in anticipation of this day. Early on in my career as a nurse, I learned not to publicly display emotion. I don’t like to. Three of my friends who’s kids graduated last year tell me it’s inevitable today. In last years commencement, my friends knew where each other was sitting and every time they’d make eye contact with each other, they were all tearful. They told me to bring a box of tissues. Some days I want to burst into tears at the thought of my little boy achieving this milestone and grab him and hold him tight. Other days I’d like to drive him to the beach himself so he can bury his senioritis deep into the sand and come home refreshed and ready to work his summer job, clean his room and be willing to contribute to household chores again.

I’ve always believed that the anticipation of a major emotional event is far worse than the actual event. I know I’ll be fine later. Tomorrow I’ll watch my son get into the car with his buddies for a week at the beach. I will pray for their safety and be grateful that my son has this experience.

I look forward to the college chapter of my son’s life in the same way I look forward reading a new book that I know I’m going to enjoy. Dorm life. College courses. New friends. Fun. Choosing his major. College marching band. Watching a new level of my son’s intellect evolve. I can’t wait to read them all!

A Silly Card Game

There is a card game called “Bullshit”. The object of the game is to simply get rid of all your cards first. The deck is dealt evenly among each player. During each turn, cards are put down clockwise in ascending order beginning with the player who has the Ace of Spades. When it’s your turn to play, you put your cards face down and announce how many of that card you are putting down. If you don’t have any of the card you are supposed to play or you want to get rid of more cards, you can try to bullshit and put down cards you are not supposed to. If you get away with it, great! If one of the players thinks you are lying, and you are, then they call bullshit and you have to pick up all the cards in the pile and put them in your hand. If you are not lying when someone calls bullshit on you, then they have to put the pile of cards in their hands. The winner is the person who plays all of their cards first.

Last night, my husband and I played a few hands of Bullshit with our teenage son and daughter while we were waiting for supper to finish baking in the oven. Playing Bullshit with people you live with isn’t as easy as it sounds. My husband and I have been together 29 years. I know he knows when I’m bullshitting and I know when he is too, or so we both think. There were parts of the game I found myself having to put my cards over my mouth when I was trying to pull off a Bullshit maneuver because I couldn’t control myself. Some I got away with it, some I didn’t. It was interesting watching each of my children trying to pull off a bullshit. They pulled off some slick maneuvers themselves and I enjoyed watching them nail each other for a bullshit as they are close siblings. The games were heated and intense as we all bullshitted and hoped not to get busted. In one move my husband accused my daughter of a bullshit and she wasn’t bullshitting so he had to pick a large pile of cards. “Oh yeah, there’s lot of bullshit going on here” was all he could say. All we could do was laugh and laugh and laugh and keep playing and keep bullshitting until someone lays down their final card and declares themselves as the master bullshitter of this hand. It was beautiful and I am still laughing to myself about it.

There are moments of life, like snippets of film that we wish we could pause because we never want them to end. This silly game of Bullshit was definitely one of them. When your kids are babies you enjoy each new stage of their development and each milestone they master. It’s so far away you can’t possibly imagine what it feels like when your first born is nine days away from high school graduation and three months away from moving into his college dorm or that your second child, your little girl is just three months away from beginning high school. It’s real now. The milestones and achievements hit you faster and faster now like a freight train and their transition into young adult hood is blatantly obvious. Change is coming to a theater near you.  When you look back, you realize there are rolls and rolls of paused film all over your life.

Our son thinks his life is the only one with uncertainty in it because he’s the one going off to college. In reality it’s all of us. How’s it going to feel for my daughter to come home to an empty house after school each day and have no one to routinely agitate on a daily basis? How is it going to feel when I walk by my son’s bedroom at 0530 each morning and he won’t be there for me to kiss his forehead before I leave for work? How will it be for my husband when he won’t have his daily dose of male bonding moments with the boy? How often will the boy come home? Will he be able to come home to watch the girl’s high school activities? Will his future summer jobs interfere with our family vacations? The boy doesn’t like us reminding him that he’ll be leaving soon so we just pause the film and enjoy each moment we have left of a household of four.



This is a Daily Post Prompt from a day ago.

Here’s what’s going on in my life right now. In just three months, my husband and I will deliver our first born child, our son, our beautiful little boy turned guy with a beard, a girlfriend and a car overnight to his college dorm room so he can begin his freshman year of college.

I’m going to quote my one of my friends, who is also one of my followers of this blog by saying, “It takes an army to send a kid to college”. To say boy oh boy did I underestimate that, is an understatement.

Our son exceeded our academic expectations of him in high school and rightfully earned his place at a four year university. My husband and I took a different road into college than our son so I guess our underestimating was simply out of having not experienced the process ourselves. Who knew? We both started out in community college. In community college we grew up a little, got some prerequisites out of the way and raised our grades. My husband transferred into the university he would earn his BA from and commuted there each day. I entered a hospital based nursing program in the same city, lived on the hospital campus and earned my Nursing Diploma.

We gathered our troops and the battle began in September 2015, the boy’s senior year. Because he’s a minor we had to give the high school permission to release his transcripts to the schools he was applying to and then we had to set things in motion on two different websites the high school uses for the college application process. Next the senior English teachers join the army by teaching the students how to write college essays and college resumes. This alone was a blessing. College for us was along time ago… nuff said.

There were times when battle conditions became hostile and heavy when the army tried to juggle the boy’s marching band season, heavy academic load, social life, household tasks and a nasty little disorder called senioritis. Eventually the essays were written, the applications were completed, the submit button was pressed and the applications were sent off into infinity. Then we waited. I still haven’t mastered the art of waiting patiently but fortunately it wasn’t a long wait. The acceptance letters came to wish the boy a Merry Christmas and after the holidays more college visits were made one last time to enhance the decision making process. All though the last day to commit to universities was May 1, our son committed to his on March 26, 2016. This army had won the battle.

Oh good we thought, we’ll just sign him up for freshman orientation, apply for his student loans and  drop him off at the dorm and that will be it. Buzz buzzzzzz thank you for playing. Wrong. We were in peacetime for a few hot minutes, that is until the pre-freshman orientation checklists and the financial aid information came in the mail. More underestimating here on the amount of time it would take for our little army to get through the financial aid and pre freshman orientation checklist. I’ve walked around these last few weeks with a stomach ache because the senioritis is intensifying, more deadlines were hanging over us like a black cloud and there was bickering among the ranks of our army. Again, who knew? My Dad did all of these things for my brother and I and then…my parents dropped us off at our dorms when it was time to start school. Poof like magic. Miraculously though, our army got through yet another phase of battle and I am pleased to say that we have met the deadlines and completed the checklist. The next checklist doesn’t seem so intense but I’ll try not to underestimate and by the time the army has to gather again to complete it, the senioritis will no longer be a disease.

I’ve had friends tell me they’ve allowed their teenagers take the reigns and do college preparations themselves with little guidance. Too scary. Teenagers are irrational and their minds are all over the place. They don’t always have a sense of urgency for deadlines. Would we do this again for our son in the same manner and then assemble an army again in September 2019 when our daughter will be applying to college? Absolutely. This is huge. I believe that choosing a college helps create one’s destiny and path in life. If I have to assemble an army to put my children on that path and then get on the battlefield with them to make sure they are on the path destined for them, I will.


Not All Obsessions are Bad

Obsessions come and go. Some fade away with time and others cause problems and have to be handled appropriately. Some grow over time and others hit you when you least expect it. Take my one of my latest obsessions. This one hit me when I least expected it.

It happened last summer. It was a sticky, hot July day. It was the end of my work week and I was exhausted but I needed to stop to buy new tires for my car becasuse I didn’t want to have to deal with it on a weekend day.

The tire salesman scolded me as I checked my car in. Apparently tire price quotes only last thirty days and mine was clearly expired. Whatever. Thank you sir for honoring the price quote. Now I won’t walk out of your store without tires. He also rather bluntly informed me that I should have called ahead because this job would take a few hours. They had to get my tires from another location. Fine, I’ll take a nap in your comfortable, air conditioned waiting room.

I walked into the waiting room, called my husband to tell him I’d be home late and then I sat down. I really did intend on taking a nap but I glanced at the television first and the nap flew out the window. The History Channel was on and there was a show I didn’t recognize but it caught my attention immediately and I decided to watch it to pass the time. There in the waiting room of a tire store, my obsession with The History Channel series Mountain Men was born.

I’m going to start out by saying I am not a huge television watcher. I do not watch every reality show, sit com or drama on network television at night. I’m picky about the series that I choose to follow and I try at all costs not to binge watch. Sure I have my moments of all day tv and binge watching but it’s not too often.

Mountain Men is a different story. I’ve never seen anything like this before so of course I was intrigued and through the course of a few months, I binge watched all of the seasons.  At the time I discovered it, Mountain Men was a few weeks into Season 4, so I’ll start out with Season 4. The premise behind this series is to show the viewer how the other half lives and introduce viewers to people who live off the grid. These men live at least 100 miles away from the nearest town or grocery store and although some of them own automobiles and a few have electricity and running water, every one of them shoots their meat and grows their food.

Season 4 Cast of Characters:

Kyle Bell lives in New Mexico’s Cimarron Valley and is a hunter and outfitter who is teaching his 11 year old son Ben to be a mountain man. The footage of the west is gorgeous and the lessons he taught his son on hunting, camping, fire starting and animals were actually informative.

Rich Lewis lives in Ruby Valley Montana. With the help of his team of trained dogs, he protects the community by chasing mountain lions, bobcats and wolves deep into the wilderness. I enjoy his gruff personality and the way he trains his dogs to track scents of predators and chase them out.

Morgan Beasely is new this season. This guy bought a parcel of land in the Alaka Wilderness and is hiking 200 miles to get to his land to build a homestead because he doesn’t like to fly in planes. He is well versed and obviously well trained to live in the wilderness. I hope to see more of him soon.

Eustace Conway lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. He calls his land Turtle Island. I read a book about this guy. He’s a naturalist and actually has bachelors degrees in Anthropology and English. He lives a primitive life style. grows his food and there have been a few episodes where he’s eaten road kill or killed a squirrel and eating it right there. He does not have running water or electricity, the electrical power he has on his property for his tools comes from a stream. He also has a 100 year old saw mill for which he uses to cut and sell lumber.

Tom Oar lives in Yaak River Valley, Montana. He’s a trapper and a tanner. He uses ancient Native American techniques to tan hides, makes knives, arrows, moccasins, clothing etc. He uses every part of the animal’s body to make his living.

Marty Meierotto is an Alaskan Trapper that resides in Two Rivers, Alaska with his family. He flies a bush plane during the winter to remote areas of the Alaska wilderness to trap fur to make his living. This guy fascinates me. He’s also knowledgeable and well versed and probably my favorite. I’ve done lot’s of googling on him and have also learned that during the summers he’s a smoke jumper for the Alaska Fire Service and also teaches log cabin building.

When I first got hooked on the show my initial question was what kind of psychological or psychiatric do these guys have to make them want to live in the woods away from society? I was so intrigued by the off the grid life style, I did what I always do when I want to learn about something…. I read. I read a book written by Elizabeth Gilbert about Eustace Conway and I have read seven books about people who cashed in their urban lives to live off the grid in the Alaska wilderness in addition to watching a few you tube videos. I also follow someone on Instagram who moved to Alaska a few years ago in a similar situation. What I learned was something very simple: These people aren’t crazy, they just decided to take a road less traveled. They choose to live an uncomplicated life on their terms.

Would I be able to shoot and kill a moose or a deer, skin it, dismember it and eat it? Hell no. I can’t even do that to a fish. Would I be able to sell my house, cars, furniture, cash in my 401K and just move to the Alaska bush? Lol I’d like to. Some days I’d like to very much when I feel overstimulated but I have to settle for watching an episode of Mountain Men when I get home from work.  In reality I’m not sure if I’d have to courage to pack up, check out of the urban life and move into the middle of no where  but I have the deepest admiration for the people who do and am very thankful that some of them write books.

Then why bother to even write this post if I’m not going to move to Alaska? Because learning how the other half lives has taught me to learn to simplify my own life. Try not to make things so complicated, get outside more, enjoy nature, take care of yourself, let your mind wander, relax, have fun. For my husband and I right now, our lives are consumed with demanding full time jobs and the activities of our children. We have four more years of this kind of busy. Our son is off to college in the fall and our daughter will enter high school. There is a light at the end of the tunnel of pandemonium. Until then, I’ll simplify as much as I can. I’m learning how and I’m enjoying the activities I’ve begun to engage in.

Mountain Men Season 5 premier airs tonight at 10/9c. I can hardly contain myself!



From yesterday’s Daily Prompt.

As I write this, “Lose Yourself” by Eminem is playing on my Pandora Radio. It reminds me of the chaos that was in my mind and in my heart this morning when I started work. On days like this I ask myself the same questions. Did I really choose the right profession? Has my burn out returned? Have I become desensitized? Why can’t I win the Powerball and retire?

I am a peri-operative nurse. My day begins at 0430 when I wake up feeling sorry for myself because it’s the ass crack of dawn and no one else is awake at that time but me. I get ready for work and my jeep/broom takes flight to get me to my 0600-1530 shift four days per week. My job is to prepare patients for the Operating Room. I review their history and physical, labs and diagnostics searching for red flags to alert anesthesia providers and surgeons about that may prevent the patient from getting into the operative room safely. I do a physical assessment, a care plan and a preoperative check list. I also initiate IV access and infuse Lactated Ringers and medications while they wait. On a rare occasions I’ve transfused blood before sending the patient to surgery. There is much critical thinking and hustle involved in this type of nursing and my time as an Emergency Room nurse prepared me well. My department opens at 0600 and we hit the ground running. By the time the first cases go in the OR at 0730, all twenty nine rooms in our area are full.

Chaos is inevitable when there are sixty OR cases in a day and two RNs called out. Of course I didn’t realize we had the call outs and I saw how badly my assignment sucked. It’s really fun being pissed off ten minutes into the shift and then try to put on a happy face so your patients don’t think your crazy said no nurse ever. I started my morning with two patients to get ready by 0730. One of them was not told the right time by the surgeon’s office and arrived way later than she should of. Put your foot on the clutch, drop the gears and move your ass nurse. My other patient was febrile, very sick and most likely septic. After much ado her surgery was cancelled and we took her to my old stomping grounds, the Emergency Department.These two patients were very kind and for that I was thankful. I took it one task at a time with each patient, expressed gratitude for everything that went right and drudged through it.

The two surgeons I worked today with are nice but not my favorites to pre-op for. They can be irrational, unrealistic and pushy when they change the order of who gets surgery first and all of their patients are train wrecks and take forever to get ready. Their lack of understanding for exactly what we have to do to get these patients ready safely puts me on edge as does everything I have to say to explain this to them. Sometimes I feel like I’m Charlie Brown’s teacher. Wa wa, the patient arrived late doctor.  Wa wa the patient has 20 medications to reconcile and they were not put in the computer by Pre Admission Testing doctor. Wa wa. I’m having trouble establishing IV access doctor.  Wa wa. I’m moving as fast as I can and trying to bite my tongue because I’m about ready to tell you to get off my ass and then I’ll get in trouble for my mouth. Wa wa wa doctor I know you are not listening to me trying to tell you I’m trying to get your patient ready safely. Yes doctor I’ll hurry.

My patients were sick today and I fought an uphill battle getting my patients ready until I got all of my patients into the operating room ,went to lunch and carried out the rest of my crap assignment. No wonder why I had heartburn when I left work today. Through the course of the day I realized that all of my coworkers were equally as miserable. Not that I like misery loves company, I felt justified because my feelings were not alone.

Days like this happen to every nurse on the planet and sometimes I want to punch that little girl who decided to become a nurse when she was four right in the back of the head. Other days I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather do for a living. Very rarely do I tell my family exactly what happened during my work day because I leave it at the door of the hospital and don’t bring it into my house. When asked by my family how my day was, my answers are either, good, bad or busy. We all somehow find a way to survive and keep up with the flow to get through the day. Sometimes I wonder how I managed to get through days like this. The answer is simple. I am a nurse. I can do it.