November 25, 2010

Thinking of You at Thanksgiving

I was going to list so many friends and family that I'm thankful for, but a nasty case of the GI flu-bug took over any plans I had for the holiday!

I'm finally able to keep down nourishment and think of planning a (late) Thanksgiving/Anniversary dinner, although that may not be until Friday.

Jim brought me roses on our 14th wedding anniversary in between helping me to the bathroom to be sick! (No kidding!)

Although we love Denver and the Colorado Mountains, we sure do miss the family and friends we have in Columbus (Ohio) and all over the U.S. You are always close in mind and spirit.

And, at this time of year, we miss so much being close enough to visit all those we love so dearly.

Just know that we love you, and wish happiness and good blessings today and always.

Finally, I'm wishing a farewell RIP to Thomas Sigwaldsen, my uncle who passed away on Monday, November 22, on Staten Island. He was the husband of my mother's sister, Edna. It was through Edna that I located my brother, TJ, and sister, Allison, and later found our long-lost mother and five other siblings we had never met.

Take Care on the Journey,
Your friend in life,

November 15, 2010

It's In The Little Things

You may have noticed a blog I've linked to under 'Family, Friends, and Others" listed on the left-hand side of my Linda's Notebook blog. It's titled RN Blog in Portland, OR. I discovered his blog and enjoy his style of writing so much that I've added the link.

Today he wrote about little things at work making a big difference. From one nurse to another, you can tell he has 'been there done that". Although he works in a more critical unit than I do now, I can identify with his experiences.

I'm finding that I really appreciate Monday mornings now that my work schedule is the Baylor shift. That is to say I work double 8-hour shifts (16 hours) on Saturday and Sunday (32+ hours in two days), get paid for 40, and I'm off the rest of the week. (I actually "work" about 40-hours in those two days before it's all said and done anyway!)

I suspect that deep down inside, my church-going family and friends cringe a little because there's no chance of church-going on Sabbath (Saturday, for me). Well, I wasn't attending a specific church anyway, so please (continue to) remember me in your prayers as you've always done, and have faith that I'm still 'keeping the faith'.

Back to Mondays and little things...

The phone rang about 6 a.m. this morning causing the cats to jump off the bed and hubby to murmur "What's wrong? What's wrong?".

Now that we have added a new cat to our family, I've discovered that cats have a night language and a day language. During the night, they have this soft little purr-talk back and forth. Only cat-lovers can appreciate this 'little thing', but I think it's so cute. It lets me know that all is well with the 'night world'.

There's a chill on the kitchen floor this morning, and as I pull back the kitchen curtains, I see a very fine, misty, snow creating a white carpet over the parking lot, the cars, and the branches of the small trees. Darn, I wanted to drive up into the 'Golden Mountains" this afternoon. Maybe it will just be a 'little snow'. LOL

I can make a "to-do" list for the week.

Water all my plants as I forgot last Thursday's watering.
Get a new electric water dish for the cats.
Put the PUR water pitcher in the dishwasher and add a new filter.
Get my new scrubs I ordered all pressed and ready for next weekend.
Make an updated "shift notes' for when I have to take the cart at work.
Get my nails done in French today. (It's a nursing home for crying out loud.)
Put some lemon/bleach in the smelly garbage disposal.
Hang some pictures in the study. (They are still behind the couch since our move to Denver.)
Check out his week's coupons and compare with store sales.
Clean out and organize my nursing bag. Toss all the peanut-butter crackers!
Put my files back in the filing cabinet.
Upload new pictures to my picture frame on the piano.
Re-design my Linda's Notebook blog (but keep the piano).

Speaking of the piano, I got out the headphones and played on my keyboard a couple days ago. I'm ashamed to say it's been many months since I sat down and played the piano. Usually, my back starts hurting after just a few minutes, but that morning I was able to enjoy "Beautiful Ohio" all the way through! (Little things...)

I got an unexpected package in the mail the other day from an old friend. My boys will remember, Lydie Regazzi? She sent me a little pillow that says, "Nurses Call the Shots". How SPECIAL! We haven't actually talked to each other in, what?, 15-years? She is the best piano teacher EVER in Berrien Springs, MI. I can still remember that little smile and sparkle in her eyes when any of her students were on stage playing in a recital (my boys included). Thanks Lydie, although I don't think she knows about this blog.

I'm so glad to see I have a couple more "Followers" here on my blog. Hi Dee and Ashley's Mom. Hope this brings some sunshine to your day. Thanks for joining! I always enjoy your writings too.

Back to "Portland Nurse" (, I'm sure he's posted more than once about the awful effects of poor nursing management and not paying attention to the little things. He's right. Sometimes it's just a bad day, and sometimes it's because certain nurses never learn the imporatnce of paying attention to the little things.

Yesterday was a good example at my job. One nurse started out 'bad' with a skin tear that wouldn't stop bleeding and had to be sent out. Then, a frail little lady crashed and had to get an IV started. (She's almost 100-years old and kept screaming, "I don't want that. Just let me die in peace.")

An unexpected admission hit the door that NO ONE was expecting. (How can that happen?) Bedside tables were full to overflowing. Personal wheelchairs came up missing. No one passed ice. We ran out of temp covers, and CS isn't open on Sunday! Someone didn't put the pulse-ox meter back, and no one could find it. Pharmacy didn't spell a patient's name right and insisted we didn't have that patient. An air mattress bed was delivered that wouldn't fit through the door. Two patients' blood sugars crashed at the same time after a meal of unlimited spaghetti. The shower room was ice cold. Well, you get the picture about crescendoing 'little things'.

Oh yes, that 6 a.m. phone call. My iPhone indicated it was youngest son. I don't believe he has ever called that early.

His first words, "It's nothing major, mom." He knows I'm happy for the little newies of life anytime I can get it from my sons. He is taking the day off from work (teaching), and just wanted to share.

"I know you're always up early," he offered.

Funny, most people think of me as
1) always working, and
2) always up early

Hey guys, I have only one job these days, and sometimes I actually sleep in.

This morning, I curled up on the couch as Philip and I talked about many 'little things' of his life. Hubby stumbled out of the bedroom with a worried look on his face. I smiled and mouthed "Philip" to which he completely understood and turned back to bed.

Okay, this was going to be a 'little posting' before I started my day. I hope we get a 'little snow', and I get the 'little' t0-do list done quickly.

The Golden Mountain beckons.

Take Care on the Journey,
Your friend in life,

November 9, 2010

A Heartbeat Stops...

My cell phone rang while I was at work this weekend. I was at the nurses station surrounded by the nursing staff that I supervise as charge nurse.

Ignoring stares and silent comments that "you are the enforcer of no cell phones at work", I answered with my usual confident smile.

"Hi Robert". (Name changed to protect privacy.)

It was the nurse from another unit. His name is saved in my phone as the supervisor of the facility.

"Bring your stethoscope".

Someone had passed away, and I was needed to confirm no pulse.

Every time this happens - and it does on a regular basis in my profession - there's always the twinge of questions about death and dying.

Is this the beginning or the end? Where is my patient now? Is the spirit still in the room? Is there a spirit anymore? Will this person ever exist again?

And, the persistent personal question always comes to my mind, "Who will hold my hand when I die?"

My lifelong membership to the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church dictates that I believe in the resurrection with the second coming of Christ. Oh yes, that's if I've been "good" and have faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. When I "die", I do NOT go right to Heaven as most people believe. I will NOT be watching over those I leave behind. Nor am I able to come back and commune with those I've loved in this lifetime.

According to my religious upbringing, I AM ASLEEP! But, not really asleep...

The only absolutely agreed thing is that everyone agrees on is that I'm DEAD.

For certain my patient was lying in her bed, mouth open, eyes closed, not breathing. No pulse. She looked to be nearly 100-years old. She was dead.

Her husband was SLEEPING in the bed on the other side of the room. We discussed who would wake him up to inform him of his wife's passing. Maybe Hospice could do that a little later. It would be very sad.

While we often boast about what we believe in the afterlife, I really doubt that anyone truly, honestly, knows the answer deep in their hearts. We all want some reassurance, but I don't believe there is any PROOF of life after death - now or later - here or anywhere else. (Sorry, fellow church members.)

Of course, this is purely my opinion. But, one I reflect on several times a month. Not, just every few years as with most people who lose a good friend, precious relative, or even beloved PET in death.

My suggestion here in this short piece on death and our future, is that you live your life with a passion for leaving behind the most wonderful, positive, memories for those who knew and will continue remember and miss you.

There rises the question of good and evil. Is there evil in the universe, or just here on this earth? What is good, and what is evil?

Later, back at the nurses station some older nurses were remembering the patient and her husband, as they had both lived at this facility for several years. Stories were told about the antics, their personalities, and the fond memories that this patient had created. A few tears were shed because there was no more life to live, history to create, or legacy to leave behind. It was the end of a life that I never knew existed until I pronounced her death.

I often think of my own legacy. My children are my most precious legacy. I want a universal future with them, my loving husband, and even my beloved Sheba-dog who seemed to share a spiritual journey with me. My awesome sister who has differing spiritual beliefs from my own. How will we all "meet' in the spiritual universe?

While I cannot answer those questions, I can create a heritage that returns the good, and remembers the power and strength of love.

I want a legacy that leaves behind the unequivocal love of a mother, the enduring faithfulness of a friend, the consummate virtue of a loving relationship, the intense, powerful, energy of a positive life, and the unconquerable depth of true love.

My experience has shown that at the very end of life, most do not ask for someone to hold their hand. A peacefulness exists - and the heartbeat stops as unobtrusively as it began.

We hold their hand for our comfort. We cling and beseech then not to leave. We reach out for answers. Is this really all there is to life? We grieve, console, weep, and morn.

A heartbeat stops. Another begins.

Take Care on the Journey,
Your friend in this life,

November 4, 2010

2-Cents' Worth

Our New Kitty, Striker
Munchies for winter!
New snow on the far mountains
Here and There
More snow is coming soon

The Colorado Mountains that fill the western sky here in Denver, glow with the bright whiteness of fresh snow this morning.

Here in town, it's expected to be in the low 70's, and dry leaves crackle as you walk across green grass.
The early morning air is brisk as I'm sure it is in the Ohio valley where so many of our family and friends hurry to work and school.

I'm getting adjusted to a new work schedule of 32-hours on the weekend and off Monday-Friday. Every day seems to rush by, though. My mind set is, "Three more days until I work again. Two more days...Now only one more day, and it seems like I just did my marathon yesterday!"

If you follow me on Facebook, you've noticed our adventure this week of getting another cat. We thought Ceasar seemed lonely. Hope our hunch was right!!! I found a family on Craigslist who are expecting a baby and didn't want the cat in the house with a new baby. They are a young couple, and want to give 100% to their baby boy.

So, we got their kitty cat boy! I was thinking we'd get a female, but this one just kindof dropped in our lap. So far, "Striker" is still in hiding although Ceasar is doing is kitty-cat best to talk him out. So far so good. He's been fixed and they say he is rather shy, so we hope for the best. My hunches are usually right...

Have you noticed it's time to start planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas? I'm trying to talk youngest son and his wife to drop in for a day or two at Christmas if they fly to California this year.

Hubby says, "What are we going to do for Thanksgiving this year?" No kids. No special dinner at Ohio's state park. This is something he's always done, so this Thanksgiving may be a bit sentimental for him. I'll think of something to remember our first Denver Thanksgiving! But, here it is already November 4.
Maybe I can do some magic with oldest son's Thanksgiving schedule...

But, about that Christmas budget...So far, I haven't seen one! ha ha

Well, that's today's news from the undecided election state. Locally, the voters followed the Denver Post selection of who and what to vote for. As many have said, "What difference does it make to get out and vote?" I know it seems that it's not worth it, but I call voting "My 2-cents' worth".
Enjoy the new photos. Have a restful, peaceful, beautiful, weekend.

Take Care on the Journey,
Your friend in life,

November 1, 2010

Peanut Butter & Jelly Team

My feet, legs, and hips hurt so badly after my 16-hour nursing shift last night that I could hardly press the gas pedal to drive the 20-miles home!

It was my first shift as the RN Supervisor. The day started with an order to empty one 10-patient hall for a weekend painting project that was to began at 0800. Yes, get 10 patients out of bed and move them and their belongings to another assigned room in various parts of the facility within 45-minutes! One CNA and I managed to accomplished it on time, much to the painters' delight. It ended with a tragic fall that required emergency medical care!

During the two shifts, I saw a full 24-hour shift change. The day presented challenges that stretched my mind beyond imagination and required quick managerial decisions, light foot-stepping, firm declarations, a calm disposition, and an attitude that would reflect positively during Monday's administrative/department-head review meeting.

Most of the staff welcomed me politely and professionally, although it was clear that they had no clue why the new position was established, or what they were to expect of me. One nurse quickly announced that I should be made supervisor of the facility. Another said she expected me to take on a med cart to give the medicine nurses a break. Someone said they didn't wear gloves while doing an accucheck unless State (inspectors) were in the building.

I assured the staff that my job description has been clearly explained to me by the Director of Nurses, and that my duties would become more clear as time went by. My purpose is to help make the unit run more cohesively and with better communication. I hope to be their second set of hands where ever needed.

Looking back, it is quite remarkable how the day unfolded - and I with it.
(This is written in a way to reflect patient confidentiality.)

Student nurses and their Instructor inquired why an order looked like it had not been completed, and a family member wanted to know why. (It wasn't even a nursing order.) They expected immediate resolution.

A patient called her son (who called me) to complain that her call light wasn't working, and she had no silverware on her dinner tray. (Give her a bell and find out how she was recorded as having eaten 100 percent of her dinner without silverware.)

One patient complained of chest pain that I had to conclude was more indigestion than a heart attack. Another patient complained of shortness of breath that I had to conclude was related to his heart and needed transferred to a hospital.

A patient was very upset because her bedpan was too small, but she tossed the extra large one across the room and filled the bed...

One took out his dentures at the dinner table, laid them on his napkin and ordered denture adhesive immediately.

The most funny incident of the day was when I was making rounds of all the patients that had been temporally moved to other units for the painting project. (They kept their original nurse and aide who also had to transverse the entire facility to keep up.) I went into a room on a unit on the other side of the facility to check on one of our patients.

"Hi. I'm a nurse from the other side checking to see if you are doing okay and if you need anything," I said with my usual confident 'angel' smile.

The patient looked at me with a very shocked and startled look as he responded, "...From the other side? Have I died already?'

Too funny.

I'm thinking of calling my team the "Peanut Butter & Jelly Team". When I told my staff, some chuckled and one or two looked at me like I was crazy. (The D.O.N said she really liked it.)

It goes like this.

Peanut Butter for sticktogetherness. (We need to stick together as a team.) Jelly for more sweetness on your shift because LINDA'S HERE!

I'm finally home with my feet propped up and a few Motrin controlling the pain. The week off will be short, I'm sure. But already I'm organizing and planning for next weekend and its 32 hours of challenges to confront, ignore, support, withstand, defy, delay, transfer, or master - with that confident 'angel' smile.

Take Care on the Journey,