Saturday, February 28, 2009

Win a few, lose a few

Darn that Spider Solitaire. It keeps capturing me in its web. Just one more game. Play til I win. The perfect game. Is this how crack addicts feel? Oh yes...I've talked to others so I know I am not the only one to suffer an addiction to this devilish game that first came with Windows 98. (Thanks but no thanks, Bill Gates.) If you have never played Spider before, just say no. Do not click on that first card!

As I was contemplating moves this morning, I figured out perhaps one reason Spider has us in its spell; it emulates life. We are dealt a hand and must make the best of it. Sometimes we play the wrong card, and though we don't know it at the time, it can affect the rest of the game. And same is true when we play the right card. We cannot look under the deck to see the next deal just as we cannot look into the future, but we are met with enough success to keep us going. If I lost every game, I would give up in disgust and despair. If I won every game, it would be too easy and the challenge would be lost. It is about choices and struggles, victory and defeat. Such is life...

Friday, February 27, 2009

In a Pickle

Quite frankly neither my life nor the atmosphere around Greenville has changed much since the financial mess hit the fan and the airwaves (or cable lines) in October. Sure the 401Ks and 403bs are disappearing, and that is quite awful considering how we working folk have been so encouraged or perhaps duped into putting as much as we could into them, and homes are slower to sell, but restaurants are filled to capacity and businesses are still hiring. Economy and job-wise, Greenville is still one of the best places to live according to Forbes, and the secret is out. People from the hardest hit areas that we hear about on the woeful news are moving in. That's OK. We citizens are free to move wherever we choose thereby creating an even more colorful American mosaic.

But really...what a crazy mess this has become. This is where the slippery slope is now, and though the outrageous bailouts, stimulus, spending, and budget seem to be the focus, it is really about the push for the cultural, societal and governmental change that continues to take us far away from the heartbeat that kept America the Beautiful alive and well. I mainly feel that as a country, our vision is gone and our way is lost and neither will return unless America can be free to be truthful, grateful and selfless, and not pander to all these whiny groups interested in covering their own hides or forcing their own agendas.

New stats say about three-fourths of us feel that our neighbors have better judgment than the goofballs running the country. A big majority, silently frustrated. Personally I found Rick Santelli's so-called "rant" at the NYSE last week to be refreshing and heroic, and I am proud of our Senator DeMint, but they seem like voices crying in the wilderness.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I like these

Last year before my travel adventure, I had several warnings about keeping my passport and money close and to beware of pickpockets. Thankfully nothing of the sort happened to me but I was prepared. When shopping for things I needed for travel I found a cute, tiny, lightweight shoulder bag that I could put under whatever I was wearing, and I have continued to use it back home as a shoulder/wallet bag, getting many favorable comments or at least curious questions. It is a teenee baggalini, one of many products in the Baggalini line. This picture is of the wallet bagg, front and back, still small but slightly bigger than the teenee, but they have all sorts of handy bags or baggs as the company calls them. Sadly...though the name sounds Italian, they are all made where else but in China. I got mine at Tuesday Morning for $14.99, probably last year's colors or something, but that's no problem.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Looking Forward

I enjoy getting older because I enjoy life's journey. This week I passed another milestone, age sixty-four and a half, and that puts me only six months away from Medicare. I never thought I would find that exciting but I do now. It feels a little like I will be turning over some of my responsibilities to a benevolent distant parent, and in doing so, it gives me a first step into the freedom that my older years may hopefully bring. Yesterday I looked at options...changes I can make when Uncle Sam, who is a bigger spender than I could have imagined, starts giving back to me. When I woke up this morning I realized my thoughts weren't too crazy. How often through the years have I had grandiose ideas in the evening and then the next day talked myself out of them. Oh the choices that lie ahead...

Monday, February 23, 2009

They've come a long way, Baby

Today I worked but not taking care of patients or teaching. I substituted for a nurse who has an administrative type job so she could have the day off to pursue one of her many hobbies, embroidering. When I got off at five, I went by the sewing center to see what she was doing and found her and some others at their fancy computerized machines doing some part of this lovely intricate pattern. A few clicks and the needle knew just what to do, 15,000 stitches per square. The picture is the finished product after the flowers are attached. Sewing machines have come a long way from the $88 dollar Singer portable that served me well in the sixties and seventies!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Best Time

In my work I have the opportunity to ask my patients whatever I think is pertinent. Since the most common problem we treat is depression, I often ask, "When were you the happiest." Invariably, always the older, grown women say, "When my children were little." Why is that? I think it is because of the love, and love is the best feeling. Whatever else we happen to be going through, when love defines our days and binds us to our children, we have purpose and direction. This is the month to celebrate love, and really, is there anything else more worthy of celebration?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Meat Loaf Experiment

When I have a full day off such as today, I usually make the rounds of some of my favorite stores. This was what I call a successful shopping day, nothing purchased, except for the one full bag I carried out from Whole Foods that included nice veggies, a cheap bottle of chardonnay, and the best eggs. But the new and different item I bought today was ground bison. Not being bold enough to try it by itself, I also bought equal amounts of ground chuck and ground pork, and when I got home I mixed the three meats together, some of the other usual ingredients, and made a darned tasty meat loaf.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Two or three months ago after her first ultrasound, I got a call from Jessica saying, "It's a girl!" We were so excited. For her, a girl after two boys would be wonderful, and for me, having a Susanna, the name she chose was thrilling. I joked that I would start her trust fund immediately. This week I got another call. "...bad news. It's a boy." The doctor did the US and as she was pointing out the body parts to Jess...whoops. What was that doing there? Now she is almost as excited about having another little fella and I am sure he will be adorable. The fact that she is having a boy will not alter the fact that we will be headed to Austin toward the end of March.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fixing the Face

Another evening shift at the funny farm awaits. Soon I must be getting ready to head down 385 toward town. I dare not go to work without a shower immediately before I leave, because we work in such close proximity to each other, often sliding through tight spaces shoulder to shoulder and fanny to fanny in a cramped room. And for many years, I have been improving the look that nature gave me into a more presentable sight, via make-up, before I leave home. Though it is ritual to some extent, I also enjoy watching the transformation as I put on my face, as my mother called it. A woman thing no less. One day last week, the day I took my car to the garage and stopped by the bread store, I boldly experimented with going out sans the face. I felt awful, bare, ugly, old and exposed and don't want to do it again. I can do without the mascara but decidedly need the rest. Last night, after a busy shift, when I got home looked in the mirror, I saw that any attempt at prettying myself up nine hours earlier was all gone. I find that the older I get, the longer it takes to fix myself up and the shorter the look stays. Such is life . . .

Monday, February 16, 2009

One Financial Victim

Here is another casualty of the economic down turn.
About five years ago I was excited to hear about the construction of a new research, training, and treatment facility, a joint venture of several universities, schools, and hospitals in the state. Since it is right next to where I work, I have watched the land being cleared and the building go up. Now that it is completed it sits empty, and its original purpose may have to change. Apparently one of the contributors (the state?) has not been able to fulfill its financial obligations and the fate of this building, like a lovely bride left at the altar, is unknown.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Forever Loving Our Children

Tomorrow is a day for celebrating love.
Anne Bradstreet was a seventeenth century American poet, and I particularly love this wonderful poem she wrote about her children, how she loved them, felt about their growing up and leaving home, and her steadfast love for them. I relate.

In Reference to Her Children

I had eight birds hatcht in one nest,
Four Cocks were there, and Hens the rest.
I nurst them up with pain and care,
No cost nor labour did I spare
Till at the last they felt their wing,
Mounted the Trees and learned to sing.
Chief of the Brood then took his flight
To Regions far and left me quite.
My mournful chirps I after send
Till he return, or I do end.
Leave not thy nest, thy Dame and Sire,
Fly back and sing amidst this Quire.
My second bird did take her flight
And with her mate flew out of sight.
Southward they both their course did bend,
And Seasons twain they there did spend,
Till after blown by Southern gales
They Norward steer'd with filled sails.
A prettier bird was no where seen,
Along the Beach, among the treen.
I have a third of colour white
On whom I plac'd no small delight,
Coupled with mate loving and true,
Hath also bid her Dame adieu.
And where Aurora first appears,
She now hath percht to spend her years.
One to the Academy flew
To chat among that learned crew.
Ambition moves still in his breast
That he might chant above the rest,
Striving for more than to do well,
That nightingales he might excell.
My fifth, whose down is yet scarce gone,
Is 'mongst the shrubs and bushes flown
And as his wings increase in strength
On higher boughs he'll perch at length.
My other three still with me nest
Until they're grown, then as the rest,
Or here or there, they'll take their flight,
As is ordain'd, so shall they light.
If birds could weep, then would my tears
Let others know what are my fears
Lest this my brood some harm should catch
And be surpris'd for want of watch
Whilst pecking corn and void of care
They fall un'wares in Fowler's snare;
Or whilst on trees they sit and sing
Some untoward boy at them do fling,
Or whilst allur'd with bell and glass
The net be spread and caught, alas;
Or lest by Lime-twigs they be foil'd;
Or by some greedy hawks be spoil'd.
O would, my young, ye saw my breast
And knew what thoughts there sadly rest.
Great was my pain when I you bred,
Great was my care when I you fed.
Long did I keep you soft and warm
And with my wings kept off all harm.
My cares are more, and fears, than ever,
My throbs such now as 'fore were never.
Alas, my birds, you wisdom want
Of perils you are ignorant.
Oft times in grass, on trees, in flight,
Sore accidents on you may light.
O to your safety have an eye,
So happy may you live and die.
Mean while, my days in tunes I'll spend
Till my weak lays with me shall end.
In shady woods I'll sit and sing
And things that past, to mind I'll bring.
Once young and pleasant, as are you,
But former toys (no joys) adieu!
My age I will not once lament
But sing, my time so near is spent,
And from the top bough take my flight
Into a country beyond sight
Where old ones instantly grow young
And there with seraphims set song.
No seasons cold, nor storms they see
But spring lasts to eternity.
When each of you shall in your nest
Among your young ones take your rest,
In chirping languages oft them tell
You had a Dame that lov'd you well,
That did what could be done for young
And nurst you up till you were strong
And 'fore she once would let you fly
She shew'd you joy and misery,
Taught what was good, and what was ill,
What would save life, and what would kill.
Thus gone, amongst you I may live,
And dead, yet speak and counsel give.
Farewell, my birds, farewell, adieu,
I happy am, if well with you.

Anne Bradstreet

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Basic Training

Back in 1986 I took the "fighting class" for the first time. I came home sore and tired and was both in awe of and angry at the nurse who had all the moves down pat and practiced them on me. Maybe the word got out that we didn't need to feel beaten up to complete the training because now there is more teaching via words, and the physical moves are more fake than actual. This morning I did not have to put put someone in a real full nelson or try to get out of one. Nor did I have to feel the pain of a pressure point just know where they are located.

The hospital governing bodies require certain employees, those of us in psych and the ER primarily, to take a yearly class in managing aggressive behavior. When behavioral emergencies erupt, and because of psychosis or choice they do, we are supposed to be educated to handle them without injuring ourselves or someone else. No problem, I usually just tuck tail and run. At least I do if I can get away with it. Otherwise I have to do a Miss Piggy. (I will save that for another post.) My genes do not have a code for combat. Besides that, I figure prevention is the best policy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Minding the Brain

I wish I were like one of those stable people who can go to the same job, different day, year after year. Oh no. I like to keep things interesting and my life stirred up. That is how this brain of mine works. But I have learned that is part of what makes me me, and we all have "things" that make us who we are. How fascinating no two of us are alike! But today finds me in yet another work role, in an office where of all things I am looking at a poster of a brain identifying its various structures, hemisphere and functions.

Though it cannot be seen pulsating like the heart or bending like a joint, this quiet, convoluted, three pounds plus mass sits atop the body, encased in bone and directing all of our thoughts and activities, and it remains mysterious still. The last frontier of medicine I have heard it called. If I were more medically technical or neuro-educated I could reel off all those wonderful aspects of man's marvelous brain and the known neurotransmitters and neural pathways and what their functions are, but I will never know all that science has figured out about it so far. My own brain is a bit scattered and my thoughts tend to wander about without strict focus much of the time. But I have learned to be OK with it. My mind has adapted to my brain. Now I wonder, how does the brain mind the mind? Hmmm...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Brain at Work

It is reasonable that I would find the brain interesting since I am a psych nurse. A day or two ago I read on line the results of a fairly interesting study that claimed we know more than we think we do. I have always wondered how all that we are exposed to fits into the brain. All the lessons we have been taught, sermons we have heard, articles and books we have read, conversations and experiences we have had, smells, sights...what do they become? The brain is always at work learning, storing, categorizing, and much of what goes in apparently becomes "unconscious memory." Can something go in one ear and out the other? The study makes me think...not really. We learn as we experience and it all eventually settles into our brain's large body of knowledge. Our unconscious memory, often called intuition or gut feelings, is a part of it and is at the ready to be called on when we need it. And further we can choose what it is we want to learn thereby honing our "intuition." Once I was at work and observed a patient walking toward her room. Nothing odd really, but I thought I had a feeling that she was up to no good, and when I went to check, I found that I was right. But "going with my gut" was really the result of years of doing the work I do and paying attention.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Another New Day Awaits

If we hadn't stopped after church yesterday at Doc Chey's for lettuce wraps and pad thai noodles, I would have had time to post to my blog before work. I knew what I wanted to say, but because life moves along page by page it is now yesterday's news. Today is a new day, the start of a new week, and so far is looking pretty good. I am feeling the nearness of spring and a yippee! swells inside of me. I won't be working but have a not too busy agenda, just enough to structure my time. And maybe I will get to one of those books I bought in Charleston.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Friday with the Writers

I am back from a nice trip to Charleston. Yesterday was the main reason for the visit and this is sorta how it went.

Lori and I arrived at Fish, a local restaurant on King Street, by noon in time to get settled before lunch. We sat in the narrow dining room at one of the white cloth covered tables for four and were soon joined by a nice woman whom we learned is a writer and working on a non-romance but definitely for women novel. All forty of us attendees were served either vegetarian or braised beef moo shu with miso cucumber salad. It was new to me but light and refreshing with that distinct gingery Asian flavor. As we were tasting our last bites, Nicole Seitz was introduced and then spoke to the group. She told a little about the inspiration for her third book A Hundred Years of Happiness that was being released that very day, and then read from it. It touched me, and I was smitten with this mature, insightful, talented yet humble young woman. Then the popular author of seventeen novels Anne Rivers Siddons came to the podium and charmingly read some from her latest book Off Season. I listened and watched, and in ways besides the shape of her face and the red lipstick...what was it that reminded me of my mother? Aha! Mother read to me also in my adulthood, usually her most recent poem or dream.

After the luncheon we walked in the blustery cold about a block down King to Blue Bicycle Books, a sponsor of the event. Right inside there were stacks of fancy little sweets, brie and crackers, and bottles of champagnes in copper buckets of ice. Anne and Nicole were seated to the right already signing stacks of newly purchased books. (Photo here.) The bookstore, like the restaurant, had a narrow shop front but went deep into the back, and it was lined with books of all sorts. Not a big spender, I did buy a total of four, one an old bio of Dorothea Dix that may get even dustier before I get around to reading it. I was watching for Anne Siddons to come back to the table but got so engrossed in my conversation with Nicole that I missed her exit from the store. Lori and I bolted out and spotting her red and black jacket up from us on the busy sidewalk called "Anne!" but she was talking with her companion and didn't turn around. Lori caught up with her first, practically having to tackle her, but Mrs. Siddons graciously signed my books.

We tried walking around the city some after that but it was uncommonly chilly, and since we had accomplished what we set out to do, we headed back. It was a lot of fun.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Good Day for a Smoothie

Since the trauma and pain I experienced at the hands of the sadistic, adolescent endodontist yesterday, I have been trying to treat myself as a sweet mama would treat a sick child. For starters I let myself sleep/rest in bed til my stomach cried feed me. Then I dragged out the blender and made a delicious smoothie from plain yogurt, a small banana, frozen red berries, fresh blueberries, flax seed, and a smidgen of the comfort food called heavy cream. I took it back to bed with me and sipped while I watched Emeril. Yummy.

But I was a smoothie maker way back when, before smoothies were cool, before they were even called smoothies. Just ask my children. It all started with an old fashioned Orange Julius made with frozen concentrated OJ, ice, milk of some sort, a bit of sugar and some vanilla. They are really delicious and trick your stomach into thinking you have eaten a meal. Later I dabbled with other fruit "smoothies" as well as coffee/chocolate iced blender drinks, and most turned out pretty well. I figure the challenge is getting the consistency you like.

For today, my poor sore mouth appreciated the soothing drinks.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Pain Scale

We are indoctrinated with it but also think that one of the silliest things that has come down the pike for nurses is the pain scale. "On a scale of one to ten, how do you rate your pain?" we ask our addicts who have been yukking it up in the day area one minute before approaching the med window with an expression of suffering. When they reply, "It's a ten," I feel like smarting off with, "You haven't been through eight hours of back labor have you?" But then I don't deal with the usual medical - or dental - patients, one of whom I was today, and I must admit, my pain reached a ten.

When I was of childbearing age and as we young women told our labor stories, a few would say that they had rather have a baby than a root canal. At the time I didn't agree but now I see where they were coming from. The endodontist today said that my scenario was one of the most painful: an infection, the fact that I can't take epinephrine, and having to drill though an existing crown. I tightly gripped the handles of the chair, said the 23rd Psalm over and over to myself, but eventually the tears started rolling down the sides of my stiffly reclined head. I was embarrassed and tried to explain. Through the gadgets attached to my teeth and the rubber stretched across my mouth I mumbled, "It hurts."

"She said it hurts," the dental assistant interpreted for me. I was impressed. But the work had to go on before the quick acting anesthetic wore off. I have had them before but this one was the root canal from hell.

Eventually I stumbled to the check out desk. "That will be $950 for today." Talk about pain! Another ten. Since the abscessed tooth was not even the one that had broken, I see more financial pain in my future.

My eyes were red and wet, the side of my face was swollen, and I was still shaky when I got to the drive through window to drop off my prescription for more Augmentin. "I had a painful dental procedure," I whimpered through little sobs. As I drove off, I tried to give myself a pull yourself together pep talk, and I think it helped.

Yes, it was a ten today in my mouth, on the right side, not over my whole body but a small part of it. Maybe now it is a seven. Not bad enough to keep me away from my blogging but bad enough to make me want to go to bed as soon as I finish.

Thanks for listening.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


It seems as though I have an abscessed tooth.
The last few times I have paid an excessive amount to be tortured in his chair, the dentist said I should get this lower molar fixed, but I have put it off. I thought I could handle it. Denial. My body has served me well, but my teeth? That's another story. So when a piece of this tooth broke off, I tried to ignore it until Friday when I started having excruciating pain on the left side of my mouth. Raym said, "It sounds like an abscess." Why didn't I think of that! But I am sure it is, and I have been trying without success to get in to an emergency dentist. Thank goodness there was some unused Augmentin in the medicine cabinet. I have had a few other tooth abscesses and took an antibiotic first, so I have had a few doses. It has helped a whole lot. Still it is painful and I hope to get to any torturer asap.