Saturday, September 29, 2007

My literature fix!!!

I haven't had time to read in SO long. I mean, I read boring, dreary nursing theory treatises (yep, it's as boring as it sounds) and I read my stats stuff (occasionally) and the newspaper (Monkey still on the loose here in CoMo). But thanks to this site, I can be emailed portions of literature!

My first experience is House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. I have seen the movie so I am familiar with the plot. It will be a good test of how I can assimilate this into my daily life. Supposedly the portions can be read in 5 minutes. I'll let you know if it's worthwhile, but heck - it's free!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Calvin and Hobbes Post-It Note Mural

Monday, September 24, 2007

I wish...

I really wish my daughter would learn that they are called "condominiums" and not "condoms"

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Health care - a right or a privilege?

When a person becomes injured or ill, how is their ability to heal enhanced or harmed by their personal status? If they are wealthy, if they have status in the community, if they are rallied about by well-wishers? And for those who have a base of support, whether financial, social, or both, what is the influence of this support?

When an NFL player is injured, is it any more different than if a young man in a similar situation is injured? If someone has insurance and a way to navigate the health care system, does that mean that he or she is a "better person"?

I have found it amazing in the past several years to look at healthcare disparities. As a society, we value health more as an afterthought. You don't typically appreciate it until it is gone or diminished.

The injured young man is in my prayers, and I truly hope that he makes a wonderful recovery. But whenever I see an article like this, I wonder about the thousands like him who don't have insurance or a way to navigate the health care system.

Ever since my father's injury, I've thought more and more about what would have happened "if". My father had car insurance and good health insurance. My uncle has been providing some economic support. I've tried to provide guidance from afar and because of my work I was able to get things in motion for a possible transfer to a rehabilitation facility that was not considered an option by his hospital.

My dad has received good care in a good hospital, although I wonder at times if he is receiving the best care considering his age. Is he being written off because he is almost 64? One of the docs didn't want to refer him to rehab because he thinks that it isn't worth it. I wouldn't know that comment if I didn't hear it from a friend who is involved in the rehab transfer game. The funny thing? The doc who made the comment isn't in physical medicine and didn't provide a referral to physical medicine. It would be like a pediatrician treating infertility. Yes, there is some overlap and yes, it is medical knowledge, but I would rather hear the information from a specialist.

No matter what anyone says, agism, racism, classism all exists in medical facilities. I have seen people treated abysmally for being poor or being very young parents or having no insurance. I have seen people with Medicaid struggle to find a pediatrician who will see their infant after discharge, because so few doctors take it anymore. I have heard about people without insurance who have to wait in a clinic all day because they don't make appointments. You have to sit until your name is called. Kind of hard to hold a job like that, isn't it?

Insurance is great and everyone should have access to it. I am not advocating a universal plan like Canada or Great Britain - those have their short sides and the American insured public won't settle for longer waiting times for necessary treatments. But why can't we have some sort of system for those falling through the cracks? And why do we treat people differently because their insurance comes from Medicaid instead of a private source? As a nurse, I didn't get paid any differently if the people I worked with were rich or poor. But I saw people clamor to care for the rich babies. Why?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day! And a big happy birthday to my Dad :)

We celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day at Flat Branch on Sunday - lots of fun. The wait staff dressed like pirates and one of the bartenders brought in a parrot. The best costumes included one bartender who was dressed as a Pittsburgh Pirate and one waitress who had a cardboard treasure chest attached to the back of her belt (her "booty")

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What hands can do

Swear Jar

The Wind

Loved it :)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

You know what they say...

Yesterday we were doing our Angel Food distribution. I got there early to help with the distribution to other churches. It was a "brisk" Missouri morning, meaning that I really should have worn a sweatshirt. As we gathered downstairs in our rec hall, we circled and held hands for the prayer. The man next to me (probably in his 70s) was impressed that my hands were so warm. He reminded me of that fact as he was leaving later. So I told him:

You know what they say - warm hands, cold heart ;)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

All things law

First, the good news!



It's such a relief. He's already had a couple of recent interviews where he was told that they weren't hiring until the results were back. Also, there have been some more job openings lately, so it will be SO nice to have a two income family for the first time in 3 years!!!

The not so good news:

Mom called me today to tell me that the preliminary hearing was going to be next Wednesday, so we got a whole week's notice on that one. There is just no way I can make it. It's a full day's drive down and a full day's drive back, and I just can't do it on that date. I have classes on Tuesday evening and on Thursday afternoon and evening, and I would have to miss basically a full week's worth of classes. Mom sounded very OK with me not being there, and from what I've heard it is a really short hearing. Mom has a lot of support so hopefully they can surround her on that day.

The worst news:

What is next Wednesday? Why it's Dad's birthday. How weird is that?!?! He'll be 64. I play clarinet, so I always planned on playing "When I'm 64" for him someday. Now it's a bit weird. "Will you still need me, will you still feed me"? Not so funny when he has a PEG tube. And bouncing the three grandkids on his knee - yep I can relate to that one, too.

I hadn't made the connection until I was driving home from the first visit down there. I almost had to pull over to the side of the road.

I'm not a person who cries easily. I hide my emotions as best I can. But I feel like I've been PMSing severely this whole month. I try to put everything behind me and immerse myself in my school, my work, my home, my kids. But sometimes it's those little things like the lyrics to a song or a picture that just sends me over the edge.

Friday, September 07, 2007

What NOT to say

I was looking at some blogs today when I happened upon this one and I just had leave a comment.

I've been a nurse for years, and I'm used to the platitudes that people like to use. I've heard so many "well-meaning" people say the most horrid things to parents of critically ill children. But this has been the first time that I've been on the receiving end of some of the same sorts of comments.

One thing that seems apparent to me is that the person with the comment doesn't necessarily want to comfort you. Because it's all about them. People are typically (thankfully) unfamiliar with heart-wrenching, life-changing, perspective-altering trauma. Especially traumas that are untimely or unusual.

People get really stressed in their reactions to another's trauma. Sometimes they want to make it "all better". Sometimes they want revenge on the people who may have caused the situation. Sometimes they feel that they have the one sentence that will change a family's perspective. But who is that really serving?

In their efforts to try to "comfort" me, friends, relatives, and especially acquaintences have provided their deep philosophical insights. Some of them were helpful but a few have been very hurtful. I know that it is not the intent (of most of them LOL) to hurt me, but that's just it - sometimes it does hurt.

So if you are a friend, loved one, coworker, acquaintence, or message board co-conspirer, try to put yourself in the family member's shoes. They don't want you to "fix it". Because usually it can't be "fixed". Instead, approach it from their viewpoint. What does this person need from you? And are you preparing to minister to them or preach to them? Because there is a huge difference.

What TO say:

For me at least, the best responses are those that are honest. Not blunt, but honest. I have a coworker who was struggling to tell me something positive that would "make it better", and finally he shook his head and said "I really want to tell you something that will help you feel better, but I just don't know what to say." To me, that was one of the most comforting and realistic responses I've gotten. Saying something like "I'm so sorry" or "You are in my thoughts" or "You are in my prayers" is simple, but it works. And sometimes, the simplest statements are the best. Just tell me that you care.

I don't need anyone to tell me that Dad will be up and playing with the grandkids soon. I don't need to hear all about God's will from people who believe that they have all the answers. And I certainly don't want to hear about your aunt Millie who was in a similar situation, when it really isn't similar at all. Especially when you go on and on about their problems to the extent that I tune it out.

This is about my struggle, not yours.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Marching band fun and other early morning pursuits

This morning, Andrew was watching 13 Going on 30 on Tivo (yes, he'll probably hate me for telling y'all this!). As Tom was getting him ready to walk out the door, the Whitney Houston song "I want to dance with somebody who loves me" was playing. So we told him "It's time to march with somebody who tolerates you." We didn't want to get into the whole "love" thing because today is a percussion day and his girlfriend plays the flute ;)

This probably was a lot funnier than I wrote it. Today I have a theory paper due (just need some revisions and it's done!), my first statistics homework (I actually understood it!) and the big meeting about "the paper".

I'm writing my second paper for publication, but this is the first one that is actually my responsibility. The last paper I was brought in on after it was underway and I turned out to be third author. I like being third author :) A little writing, a little responsibility, but not bad overall. This time I'm first author.

It really wouldn't be bad, but I've had all summer to work on this, our self-imposed deadline is next Friday, and it is nowhere near where I want it. It didn't help that I've had all this family drama this summer. Between my mom living with me for a month, my grandfather dying, and my father being in this horrible "wreck that was not a wreck", I'm pretty much spent.

Last week I had a talk with my boss/advisor who was asking me if I should back off of school right now. Trouble is, school is the thing that is keeping me going. I enjoy my work and I love spending time with my family. But school (and choral union) is me time. It's the one thing that I can really do for myself and not feel guilty about. I feel guilty about choral union, but I feel SO good after I get out of there!

So hopefully everything will go well. I know the stats work is correct because we have to do the computer stuff also, so that's helpful. The theory paper is OK, and we accumulate points at a lower rate this early in the semester so even if I bomb it, it won't be that bad. I'm more worried about the publication paper. I guess I just need to try to type a little more and be satisfied with what I have. She knows I'm behind and she's been incredibly supportive. I'm just a little disappointed with myself.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Chinese vampires and Chupacabras

I work with a grad student from Taiwan who is just a joy to be around. One of the benefits of working with her is learning new bits of culture, since I'm not well aquainted with her culture.

She occasionally asks me to help her with understanding words or phrases. Usually this is because she is transcribing written documents that the other research nurses have scrawled on their papers, and sometimes she asks about phrases that are medical in nature that she hasn't been exposed to.

The other day, she asked me about someone choking. It was a question on a form to assess for domestic violence, basically asking someone if anyone had tried to choke them. I explained it, and then she said "like a Chinese vampire?" No, I said, vampires suck blood out of the victims' necks.

And this is how I heard about the Chinese vampire, which is very different from our western vampires. It's more of a zombie, but there is actually a legend that goes along with it.

So now the Chinese vampire will be one of my favorite cultural legends, along with the Chupacabra (the Mexican Goat-sucker).

I first learned about the Chupacabra from, where else?, the X-Files. My kids learned about it on some random cartoon. And later, I would see billboards in Dallas with a beer can with two holes in the side saying "El Chupacabra". Gotta love Spanish beer signs ;)

Anyway, Chupacabra became a little inside joke for our family. One day we went to Fort Worth to eat at Joe T. Garcia's - a great Mexican place. Tom was laughing as he brought Chris back from the bathroom. Apparently, Chris starting singing the word "Chupacabra" to the Imperial March from Star Wars. There were apparently a couple of workers from the restaurant who were also in the bathroom and were just about to die laughing.