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Maybe What It Could Have Been

August 5, 2011 1 comment

I’m sitting out on my minuscule deck enjoying the remnants of the day and getting slightly misty-eyed. Can’t help it.

I hear the neighbor kids playing and having a good time. Normally, they annoy the heck out of me, but it seems fitting. I hear their parents further in the distance, laughing, telling tall tales and generally having a good time as well. It’s all so Mayberry-like. Sure I can’t understand a word of what they say, but happiness and joy are universal in their sound.

But it is this time of the year, August. Too many bad memories, too much repressed pain and anger, but I thought I had it all licked, tamped down, under control. But no. Not even close. It’s fucked up how things that happen around you can re-open old wounds with a violent force that takes your breath away. A co-worker recently lost her babies in a somewhat similar fashion to my wife and I and that brought all of it back with a vengeance. That day I sat in a cold sweat, heart racing recalling the feelings of the 10 days our daughter was alive. I shivered through the cold icy grip of fear as I vividly recalled walking into her room, crowded with staff trying to bring her back and having to tell them to stop and let her go. Even as I write now, underneath the beer I can feel the shakes, the racing heart and cold pit in my chest. It never seems to go away completely.

So I laugh and joke it away, smile through the pain deep inside. I sit and wonder if I need to go back to the numbness of chemical happiness because at least then I didn’t feel anything. I sit and worry if there is something wrong with us, with me, how almost 5 years later,with no contraception there hasn’t even been a scare. I feel like we had two chances but they failed and we don’t get a third. It sucks. The sounds of family seem so comforting, yet so alien. Like something out of reach that we will never know.

We would have been having her 5th birthday this weekend, surrounded by friends and family, all so Mayberry and suburban happiness. Instead I’m sitting here listening to someone else’s family having a good time and pondering what it may have been.

Thanks for listening, I’ll be back to normal soon.

Today Was a Good Day

July 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Open road, sunny blue skies, two wheels just spinning.

It’s Our Day, Baby!

June 1, 2011 Leave a comment

To my amazing wife,

Nine years ago you made me the happiest guy in the world.  That was the day you said “I do.”

Nine years.

We’ve been through Hell and back and we’re stronger now than ever before.  No longer are we those wide-eyed kids amazed by the wonder of the world, but wide-eyed adults living in that world.  And enjoying as much of it as we can.

I often wonder how I got so lucky?  What did I do to deserve a woman like you?  You kicked my butt into nursing school and supported me all the way through.  You always seem to know what I need before I even know I need it.  I love the fact that you’re just as happy curled on the couch watching old movies and sci-fi as you are getting out and about.

I’m proud to call you my love, my wife, my best friend and partner in this great adventure of our life.  Thank you for being there for me, pushing me when I needed to be pushed and catching me when I fall.  I hope that I’ve made you as happy as you have made me.

Happy anniversary baby.

Nurses Commuting by Bike

April 20, 2011 1 comment

I got this comment on my Scrubs are My Uniform post and thought it needed a full post to reply:

Hi!

I found your blog when I was searching for nurses who commute to work via bicycle. I am considering giving this a try. I live 2.5 miles from the hospital that I work at, but I am concerned about riding in my scrubs. (I guess this post is somewhat on topic of your blog entry). I don’t think it would be very smart to ride in scrubs seeing as how they are my professional attire and I don’t want to damage them. What would be best to ride in? I don’t want to show up at the hospital in tight spandex… but I need something that will help me sweat less.

Thanks for your help!
Elizabeth

I’ve never felt qualified to give advice on my blog, it’s an aversion to taking a stand maybe.  But on this topic I have more than a little experience.  I’ve been commuting by bike for the last 4 years.  While it hasn’t been full time for the last year, it’s been rather frequent.  A caveat here though:  I do not bike the entire ride to work.  I’m not going to ride 13+ miles then work a 12-hour shift on the floor, just not that fit.  Yet.  I ride anywhere from 1-3 miles (depending on weather, how I feel etc.) to catch a light rail train then a mile or so on the other end.  But I’ve done it in every kind of weather.  Rain, snow, howling winds, >100 degrees <10 degrees, have suffered through it all, and loved it.  Enough of my cred though…

Yes, riding in scrubs is a bad idea.  They are not built for athletic excursions and depending on weather conditions, not very versatile either.  This doesn’t mean you have to go full on spandex kit either.

Full kit and Hardcore.

There is nothing wrong with plain old shorts and a t-shirt.  During the summer months it’s what I ride in.  I do wear bike shorts underneath the regular shorts to alleviate chafing and add a little extra padding which is especially nice when I decide to go for a ride on the way home.  I stay cool enough in that and don’t end up looking like a superhero.  Winter/Fall commuting is a whole other can of worms which deserves a full post as well.

There are complications though.  First, sweat.  Starting the shift sweaty isn’t the best, in fact it really sucks.  In the depth of the Summer when it is 80+ I sweat heavily.  Let’s face it:  I’m a big sweaty guy.  There are wipes out there that some folks use, but I use water and paper towels in the restroom at work.  And I carry deodorant in my bag.  Second issues is hauling your stuff.  I started using a backpack, graduated to a messenger bag, back to a back pack and now use panniers.  Besides a sweat issue where the bag meets the back, the bags did a number on my back that went away when I started using a pannier.  I abused the Banjo Brothers Waterproof Pannier into submission and ended up replacing it with ones from Ortlieb.  There is enough room to carry my scrubs, wallet, keys, cell phone, afore-mentioned deodorant, lunch with room to spare.  I use the restroom to change on arrival, so I have to build in extra time for the commute to allow for this.  With clean scrubs, a quick towel off and a swipe of deodorant you will smell better than 99% of your patients and maybe some of your co-workers.

The benefits of commuting by bike outweigh the complications.  I get exercise.  I get some alone time before and after my shift.  Sure you get that in a car, but you’re dealing with traffic, right?  I have had absolutely heinous shifts where I’m ready to quit nursing and by the end of my ride home, I’m decompressed and OK with the world and my job again.  I highly recommend it.

Here are some other links about bicycle commuting:

Commute by Bike.  Great site, has a Commuting 101 series which is a great read for those starting out.

Bike Commuters.com.  Another site dedicated to those giving up the car commute.

Both of these sites have extensive sets of links for even more information and community building.

Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery.  A funny webcomic to keep things light.

Lastly, just go for it.  Try it and see how it goes as that is the only surefire way to know.  Have fun!

Going Digging in the Bins

March 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Every now and again my wife and I go to our “crazy Goodwill“.  While most Goodwills (a for-profit company that provides training, education and employment for the disabled through their thrift stores) are an adventure, but on a whole the merchandise is useful, well organized and in true thrift store fashion priced ranging from “wow! that’s cheap” to “you want how much for that?!”

Our “crazy Goodwill” is a totally different beast as it is an outlet.  If it didn’t sell in any of the retails stores it ends up here.  It is is the thrift store of thrift sores.  Organization?  Yeah, not really, only in the following categories:  stuff, clothes/fabric stuff, books/old media stuff.  All loaded into big blue bins on wheels.  To find what you want, one rummages through the piles of stuff searching for the hidden diamonds of the rough. It is the epitome of “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”

Big Boy by Hipstamatic

Every now and then you can come away with some cool stuff.  I found a copy of the Lippincott Manual of Nursing Practice, 2nd edition from 1979 – that was a little different, and a copy of Dale Dubin’s Rapid Interpretation of EKGs in German – very different.   We even found a pair of Bob’s Big Boy Figurines by luck.  And yes, that is an ashtray, get over it.

The best thing about going shopping here is the experience.  It is surreal.  First, the space is intimidating.  Large is an understatement.  Second, the odor.  You know that funny thrift store funk?  Add in unwashed humanity, dust, mold and you have a pretty good sense.  I imagine it is what the inside of a hoarder’s house smells  like.  Third, the feeding frenzy. In order to keep the stock fresh they periodically rotate bins on some preset interval.  They start pulling the old bins away and folks start to line up next to where the old bins were in anticipation.  A crowd will gather, more as each old bin is removed until they start bringing in the new bins.  People are jostling, pushing for a place next to the new bins, eagerly vying for the best spots based on what they can see in the bins.  But until the entire row of bins is in place it is look, no touching.  When the attendant walks away from the last bin, all madness breaks loose.  You’ve seen film of piranhas going after hapless prey, or a school of sharks with blood in the water, right?  Yeah, like that.  People are digging like their lives depend on it, throwing elbows, frantically rummaging like old miners searching for the elusive flecks of gold.

The people , like the stuff run the gamut.  The are the eBay hunters, hipster folks trying to get stuff for their stores, bored housewives, hoarders, people buying stuff for their next yard sale and then some.  It is amusing.  Some walk out with cart load(s) of stuff, so much they have issues loading their cars!  It is the consumerist American Dream distilled and crystallized into sharp focus.  I’ll admit, there is a rush when you find something cool and it can drive you back for more if you let it. And it’s fun.  See you at the bins soon!

Lost on the Floor: IN 3D!

February 7, 2011 1 comment

The last part of that should have been in a booming thunderous announcer voice…but anyway.

My wife and I went to the movies yesterday, figuring it would be more entertaining than the Super Bowl.  We were only half right.  For the most part we’ve stayed away from 3D movies as there hasn’t been a compelling reason to do so.  That said, the movie we saw was not a compelling reason to view in 3D, but merely an opportunity.  Choosing The Green Hornet was a mixed blessing, but indicative of the issues inherent with 3D.  Reviews noted that the director really tried to embrace and make use of the medium beyond the classic “things flying at you” experience.  To that end it worked, unfortunately it really was the only thing that kind of worked in this mess of a movie.

This however, is not an indictment of the movie, but the medium.  To me, 3D is another gimmick that needs to run its course.  It can be fun, but Hollywood is relying on the gimmick rather than good stories.  Why write actual good engaging stories when you can drop a sub-par plot into 3D when people will flock just for the novelty?  Since the predominant trend in movie making is either a.) sequel/prequel relying on already established canon or b.) comic books adaptions (again with established canon) or c.) limply written unfunny (romantic) comedies relying on former top-billed actors a good plot is more of an after-thought, after the special effects, next to catering.  In this light the decisions to make a movie, plot no longer has a place.  What has taken its place is cross-marketing, tie-ins, toys, video games and ability to get people in the doors.  Inception, possibly my favorite recent movie was almost never released as it was “too smart” for the American public.  Wrong.  Some maybe, but not all, just look at the numbers.

There are the exceptions of late, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, but by and large we’re being inundated by movies that are pandering to our basest desires and minute attention spans.  And 3D is another way of doing it, a way of visually over-loading us to blur the lines and suspend rational thought.  Beyond this, my other issue is the tech itself.  I came away with an odd sense of nausea, my eyes hurt and had difficulty focusing well for about 10 minutes after and a slight headache. Plus the issues of wearing 2 pair of glasses (I looked very cool though…)  as I wear glasses and not contacts.  Not what I want every time I go to the moves.  Not to mention the cost ($11.25 for a matinee?  C’mon.).  I love movies.  I love watching them on the big screen and I hate to see my beloved medium ruined by stagnation and the death of true creativity.

Like before, this fad will hopefully run its course, like other fads in movies have (anyone remember Smell-o-vision?) and we’ll get back to the true telling of stories that is the heart of this art.  I have high hopes, but I temper those with the reality that the new filmmakers of this generation are the ones raised on the quick-bite fast-food style of story-telling that is so prevalent today.  Maybe I’ll be wrong.  One can only hope.

Saturday Linky-Linky

November 6, 2010 1 comment

I’ve been holed up on the couch or 2 days dealing with a rather nasty GI issue and all of my ideas are literally in the crapper.  In the fashion of bloggers everywhere, here’s a link post.  Enjoy!

Happy Halloween!  No really, enjoy the condoms given out as trick-or-treat items by one local family.  Of course you have the debate between the progressive and pragmatic givers (both of whom are doctors) in providing prophylactics to high-school age revelers – ’cause giving a teen condoms will make them sexually active – and the prudish small town head-in-sand folks who believe that they should be the ones to teach sex to their children (but never do…).

Got MRSANDM-1 E.coli?  Got some other nasty resistant bacteria that nothing in our arsenal will cure?  Good news, the federal government is looking at subsidies tot he pharmaceutical industry to promote research in to new antibiotics.  Of course, this isn’t going to happen quickly, so by the time we have full-blown VRSA and NDM-1 MRSA we might have something to throw at it.  Maybe.  And considering the shape and mentality of the government now, highly unlikely.

Can we make up our minds?  One moment it’s good for you, the next it increases your stroke risk.  And health care providers drink it by the gallon:  coffee.  New study shows increased risk of stroke for infrequent drinkers of the stuff. So I guess if you pound cups daily you’re OK?    h/t to Sean at My Strong Medicine for this one.

Some days life gets in the way of blogging.  Some weeks that goes on for awhile as the rest of life gets in the way.  It’s not that I’ve lost the passion for writing, life just gets in the way.  It’s all about the life cycle of a blog. I’m not on life support, just trucking (slowly) along.

Finally I’ve figured out where my next vacation will be:  my own private island (for a week). Now that I have the where, I need to the figure the when and how parts.  That’s the hard part.
Enjoy the weekend!  Off to make pancakes!

Head for the Polls

November 2, 2010 1 comment

Tomorrow our great nation performs the ritual that makes it great:  voting.  We go to select leaders who we feel will best support our views, fulfill our needs and add to the prosperity of our nation.  It is a noble thing to serve one’s constituents, putting the needs of the many above the needs of the one.

I feel that in our country today, torn by negativity, bias, hateful rhetoric on both sides should have to take a day to step back, forget all of the nonsense, all of the bullshit, all of the false misleading ads, all of the things politicians say to get and stay elected and have a rational discussion of what is best for our country.  What is best for the whole?  How can we affect the greater good with our decisions?  This year we’re voting out of anger.  We place the blame and misfortune of years of mismanagement squarely on the heads of our current leaders forgetting that it took years to get us to this place…and it will take years to get us out.  You have to think about the issues rationally, try to sort through the bias that both sides spew to find the truth.  Realize the your decisions tomorrow can and will make a difference, good or bad, for the next several years.

So go to the polls tomorrow.  Don’t go angry, go with a clear head, a rational head and think what ramifications your vote might bring for the next 2, 4, or more years.  Choose the best candidate, not the one who has spent the most, slung the most mud, told the most half-truths and lies to win your vote.  Choose the ones that will benefit your district and your country.  Division will get us nowhere, rationality should win the day and unity will lead us on.

All This Water But I Can’t Drink a Drop

October 15, 2010 Leave a comment

my World Blog Action Day post…

Clean drinking water...not self-evident for ev...
Image via Wikipedia

Years ago, before I became soft and sedentary I used to go hiking.  Not just this go for a walk in the woods for an hour or two, but those multi-day, carry everything on your back, see really incredible sights and camp where few have camped prior type of hike.  Deep back country. Even in those remote areas we were always worried about water.  Part of the daily camp ritual was get up, filter a couple of quarts before hitting the trail.  And this was in unspoiled national and state forests.  Imagine if it was along some of the thousands of miles of polluted rivers and lakes in our country alone.  Here are some sobering facts courtesy of Do Something.org:

  1. 40% of America’s rivers and 46% of America’s lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life.
  2. The Mississippi River – which drains the lands of nearly 40% of the continental United Sates – carries an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution into the Gulf of Mexico each year. The resulting dead zone in the Gulf each summer is about the size of Massachusetts.
  3. 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, storm water, and industrial waste are discharged into US waters annually.
  4. Polluted drinking waters are a problem for about half of the world’s population. Each year there are about 250 million cases of water-based diseases, resulting in roughly 5 to 10 million deaths.

Water is essential to life.  To have inadequate access to water is a damn shame in our modern world.  To have polluted rivers and lakes is ridiculous.  That so many should die from water-borne diseases is an affront to our civilization.  That’s why we need stronger laws and regulations that prevent polluters from destroying our water.  We need technological evolution and invention to create less costly, more efficient and larger scale ways of providing clean drinking water across the world.  Most of all we need to wake up to realize this is a problem.  We need to wake up to realize we can do something about it!

House of Representatives “Find Your Representative”

Senate Contact Information – E-Mail, Phone and Addresses

Do it!

Happy Birthday

August 10, 2010 1 comment

Happy Birthday Mia Rose.

You would have been 4 years old today, August 10th, but you left so suddenly and so unexpectedly.

I know it’s been 4 years and maybe I should have moved on, moved past or otherwise just moved, but some days I find it hard to do, well, anything.  I still have the snippets of images in my mind when I reflect, quick flashes of memory that can take me from normal to an emotional wreck in .25seconds.  It’s changed me.  Your life changed me.

I think of all the milestones you would have had, walking, talking, temper tantrums, special simple moments, that didn’t happen.  I wish I had reported the nurse who we think killed you, but the shock and trauma of it all had rendered us numb.  It’s like I let you down and now can’t forgive myself for it.

At least we’ll always have those small quiet moments where your Mom and I would just hold vigil in your little room.  The nurse would leave us alone in there with you, giving us some space to be a family.  It was dark in there, lit only by the blue bili lights and we would talk and dream about our future, your future.  We knew you heard us as you would calm down and seem to rest easy hearing those voices you knew so well if  only for a short time, the voices of you parents.  I treasure those moments.  When things were calm.  When things were hopeful.

All too often though I forget those special moments and remember the sheer terror of running into the NICU seeing them doing half-hearted CPR.  It was so bright in that room, thing were washed out by all the light streaming in but all I could see was your lifeless body and them looking at me.  I remember the pity on their faces, the pain they mirrored when they asked if I wanted them to continue.  I had to tell them to stop.  I let them stop.  I didn’t want to, but I knew it was far too late.  When you died, so did a little bit of me.  And I’ve had an empty hole ever since.

There’s still something missing in our lives.  Our life would have been nearly perfect with you in it, complete.  There are days where the rage is palpable, the sadness suffocating, the hopelessness immobilizing and I get into a funk so deep that all I want to do is hide in our house and bury myself into TV, praying to numb myself.  Perhaps this year is harder as I stopped the antidepressants, so I’m finally feeling the emotions again.  And while it feels good to feel again, it’s not easy.

But I’m trying to focus on the good.  You were with us for 8 days.  And what an impression you made.  Even though you were so young and so fragile, we could see your personality beginning to develop, our tiny little individual.  I’m lucky to have known you, one might say blessed (although I hate saying that I’m “blessed”…).  So I’m going to minimize the bad while remembering the good.

Happy Birthday baby girl!  We’ll never forget!

You can read Mia’s story here, here and here.

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