Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween 2007

I give the kids the option of a homemade costume and Wolfie usually takes me up on the offer. This year he wanted to be Tyflosion (!?!?!) - a Pokemon. This was by far the most challenging costume I've made. Not in a cutsie-puzzle sort of way. More like a "Wolfie, get your butt over here and try this on again!!!" sort of way. Despite my short temper he was amazingly grateful (out of character for him). I'm thinking his love language is "acts of service" like my mom. (I'm "quality time").
I was determined to buy a costume to utilize my pregnant belly so I was tickled pink to discover these matching costumes: "A bun in the oven" and "the bun maker".

Halloween 2007

Nursing: I'm lovin' it

There are so many days when I have to remind myself to just get through one more day. That's all the energy I have for. But some days, like today, are really encouraging. My patient was in a lot of pain and her nurse didn't realize she had another pain medication prescribed for her. I pointed that out, and in some small ways (like that) I'm starting to really make a difference. I'm starting to take vital signs and document with ease. I'm actually feeling the part now. I did have one funny moment today though when I introduced myself to my patient and started taking her vital signs. Her heart was silent so I tried, as non-nonchalantly as possible, to turn my stethoscope ear piece around without my patient noticing that I had put it in backwards. tee hee. Still learning.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's a girl

I'm still in shock. We just found out we're having our first girl. Saphira Shanghai Sao. OK, I haven't completely convinced Timmy of the Shanghai part but that's where I was when I found out I was pregnant with her, so it seems romantically appropriate. We've got some huge adjusting to do since we've been calling her "him" for four months. At least we've got time to get Dimitri used to the idea since he had his heart set on a little brother. And we have some clothes to buy. :)

So proud of my son

Ok, ok, maybe my priorities are a little skewed; my son has brought home 100%'s before and that was nice and all. But this. This made me proud. My son got a 100% on a written test he took in gym class about the rules of football (including an essay question). Football is sacred in this family. And he has some amazing athletic gifts. I'm not pinning any of my hopes and dreams on him or anything like that. No, not me.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The hospice experience

I thought I would update you on my day shadowing a hospice nurse since I've mentioned here that I'm considering becoming one some day. The experience was fabulous. The nurse was so wise and helpful and compassionate. I learned a lot from her and she inspired me. Three specific things I learned about being a hospice nurse were:
  1. It helps if you like animals because a lot of people have pets who are dear to them. This, of course, is a positive thing for me because I adore animals. (I wish I had a farm!!)
  2. I was really surprised that some of the patients were in denial about their impending death and the nurse had to use her best judgment and sometimes not reveal all of the information she knew or not contradict patients who made statements like "when I get better..." I know if I were dying I would want to know everything, but I learned that not everyone can handle that.
  3. She suggested starting nursing in a hospital setting and after watching her I have to completely agree. Hospice care is really about comfort measures and so there isn't much opportunity to really hone some of the more complex nursing skills that I would like to master. Of course, down the line I am definitely still interested in hospice nursing.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Let the weight gain begin

After losing huge amounts of weight in the first trimester (due to China and morning sickness) today I had my first craving for pure, unadulterated, empty C-A-L-O-R-I-E-S. I found myself trying to decide between peanut butter and muffin batter. I went with a bowl of muffin batter. Yum.


Christian homophobia vent

It was a message board conversation that spurred this post. I'd normally just let this sort of conversation go, but right now this topic provokes me like none other...
The thread was about Dumbledore being gay. It was a fairly mild conversation. I didn't feel the need to do any defending of the gay community because plenty of other women were speaking elequently on the subject and mostly it just spun off into a witchcraft debate anyway.

Then one women said that she wasn't comfortable with having to explain this to her children. So I suggested that using a fictional character might be a useful way of introducing the subject. And she responded with "agree to disagree". Agree to disagree that you're homophobic? I was hoping some further conversation would open her eyes to it a little, so I typed the poking picture with an innocent smile and said "If they don't learn about sexuality from you, they'll learn it from someone else." To which she replied in three paragraphs at how offended she was and how she didn't want to talk about it with me. So I dropped the conversation but what irritates me more than homophobia is closed mindedness about the issue (or others). If you can't talk about homosexuality openly with your children than there is a problem. Children start to know if they are homosexual before they reach adulthood. It is sad if they discover that in a familial environment in which they know homosexuality is a taboo topic and unaccepted. We talk openly about all topics at all ages, in our family. The conversations adjust as the kids get older, but ignoring a subject completely at any age misses huge opportunities for influence.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I think, therefore I write

I think I have a unique nuero connection between thinking and writing. I swear! I started thinking about this at the Pre-med conference. There was a girl there who kept raising her hand to talk about herself. It was very irritating. At some point in the afternoon I looked down on the paper I had been doodling on and I saw the word "ANNOYING". I had no recollection of writing it, but clearly I had written it during one of this girl's monologues. So that incident got me thinking about this and I remembered a bizarre habit I have- when I drive and listen to the radio (this is funny) I move my thumb in the shape of the first letter of each word of the song that is on the radio. Crazy, I know. But then yesterday one of my classmates pointed out that during class I write in cursive with my index finger- something I had no idea I did. So you see?! I think, therefore I write! It's such a instinctive part of me and that is partly why this blog means so much to me. If I can't write my mind would just explode.

Organ Donation

Just thought I'd state for the record here - if I should ever die, DO NOT bury me with organs that someone else needs.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Facing the fact that I'm a (gulp) Democrat

It's a realization I'd been coming to for some time now, but going to the voting booths today for the big 5th congressional seat vote made me once again face this fact. I went online at 7:30 PM to research the candidates a little (can you say procrastinator?) I ended up choosing Democrat Niki Tsongas. Right now I'm pretty much a single issue voter- health care. Who is going to vote us closest to universal/single payer health care? Generally that's going to get me a Democrat, but frankly I'm starting to become more liberal on a number of other topics like social spending vs. tax cuts and gay marriage. I'm still conservative when it comes to: abortion and school vouchers and homeschool rights. I'm also very pro-immigrant, which isn't really a hot Democratic topic but definitely NOT a Republican one (except for George W. Bush, oddly enough). But you can see, I've shifted enough on big issues to actually consider (ack!) registering as a Democrat.

(By the way, not really related, but just to show you what an old timer I am around here- I remember the day of Paul Tsongas' funeral. It was the biggest funeral I've ever seen in my life. The entire city practically shut down).


Feelin' like a nurse

Yesterday I passed the injection certification and today they threw me in the fire. I gave my first injection! It was Vitamin B12 so it looked all science -fiction neon red. It was actually kind of anticlimactic after doing it a million times in the lab. The only difference was that, unlike my docile dummy, my patient flinched when I stuck the needle in her arm. And after she left and I was documenting I was shaking a little, like the nerves kicked in then. But all in all, it was pretty easy.

Vitamin B12

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Struck a nerve

Last week I was called to the Dean's office where I was handed a highlighted copy of my blog. It had been sent to the president of the college and the head of public relations. Although I'm flattered that they have taken note of my writing, the ten minute interrogation I was subjected to was really inappropriate. The dean attempted to intimidate me by drawing far fetched comparisons from the things I've written to violations of the American Nurses Associations guidelines. Not only did my writing strike a nerve with the school, but they struck a nerve with me. I feel like my free speech is being trampled on and I just want to fight back, but I'm trying my temper myself with the knowledge that there were no winners in the situation, just a lot of hurt feelings all around. The situation is particularly sad (and ironic) because I am one of the biggest MCC fans around. I rave about the college to everyone I meet and encourage all to attend.

If they were to read this I would ask them what exactly they had hoped to accomplish. Will scaring me into silence be the end of all student venting online? Will it send a message to the student body that I have crossed a forbidden line? Most of the student body doesn't know I exist. Stopping me barely puts just a dent in the online venting. For instance, I easily found the following online references to MCC that include a negative comment about it. I know none of these students. Are you going to call each and every one of these students in with highlighted copies of their writing to condemn? Or will you perhaps acknowledge and address their concerns or engage in a healthy discussion of ideas online - the very epitome of what college education stands for? - Dethklok Tom - 20 - Male - WALTHAM, Massachusetts - - ed - 20 - Male - WILMINGTON, Alabama - - Big Jim - 86 - Male - Van down by the river, Massachusetts -
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Jaw dropping true stories from Cambodia

Sometimes I'll get the pleasure of hearing a tale from my in laws about their lives in Cambodia. Like when my husband said that during a period of starvation there was once a community pot of soup in which he spotted a human finger float to the top.

Another story that I'll never forget is when they were fleeing the Khmer Rouge in a long trek through the jungle to Thailand. There were hundreds of Cambodians walking this route, not just them. My mother and father in law had toddlers to carry. My mother in law said they walked on sand much of the way and it made her shins swell up. Think about that the next time you walk on the beach. Loose sand is really hard to walk on! She said that along the way they came across a woman who had just given birth and was very upset because she was separated from her family- unsure if she would ever see them again. This woman had nothing. So my mother in law gave her half of her precious water and tied one sarong around her like a diaper (to catch all the blood -lochia) and they put another sarong to wear as a skirt on top of that.

Today my mother in law shared two more interesting stories. I have to preface it by saying that she is one of the sweetest, most gentle women I have ever met, which made the story even more sensational. She said when she was 14 years old a boy was talking smack about her mother. So she beat him up- punching him in the face. Then she tied him to a tree and continued to beat him up! She arrived home late that night and when her dad asked where she was she said she had been at a friends house. But he could tell she had been in a fight so she finally had to admit to it. His response: "Did you win?" Later, the boy gathered some friends to go jump her, but she had a knife. The boys ran. My mother in law described how there was no law enforcement, so sometimes boys would kill girls in situations like that. That helps explains her actions. Culture can really shape the way you judge a person. Growing up with law enforcement makes it hard to understand vicious fighting like that. We have to work hard to remove our ethnocentric blinds.

The last story she told was how she had 10 siblings at one point, but how most of them have died over the years. One of her sisters is only 35 years old (still in Cambodia) and she hobbles with a cane. I wonder what disease ails her. My mother in law had a brother whom she was close to. He used to share his food with her. One time he was sick and a friend had given him an orange but he gave it to her because she was pregnant. She gave birth when he was on his death bed. She gave him a cup of her breast milk to drink which sustained him two more days. When he died she was unable to go the funeral because she was still recovering from childbirth. As the pallbearers removed the body, the slab of wood that held him broke, dropping him to the ground where they were physically unable to lift him. My mother in law prayed, begging her brothers soul to say goodbye and move on. The people were then able to move him again and take him to his funeral and burial. My mother in law is haunted by the fact that, of all the siblings who died, she was unable to cry at the loss of this dear brother.

"I only have to do two things in life: stay black and die"

I went to a Pre-med conference at UMASS Medical School in Worcester, which is where I'm hoping to attend someday. I learned some good things and met some great people. One of the things I really took away from the conference is that life is all about choices. For instance, the speaker, Dr. Hines said that we should not take any of the required science courses over the summer. One of the students raised her hand to say "but I have a full time job and I have to take summer classes and I ..." Dr. Hines cut her off and said "You don't have to do anything. I always say I only have to do two things in life -stay black and die. I don't even have to pay taxes. I could go not pay and to jail if I choose to. Life is all about choices". Wow. She cut right to the chase with that one. And it really hit home for me. Do I want to be a doctor? Well there will be some huge sacrifices. Either I choose to make them or I don't. It's as simple as that. Honestly, the glimpse I got of Medical School today was eye opening. I'm not even sure I could do it while raising six kids. That's a choice I may have to make. But the Anesthesiologist I was talking to reminded me that Nurse Anesthesiology is a good option for me (and one I have seriously considered).

I was told to apply to 5-15 medical schools-which probably seems kind of obvious to you, but that hadn't really occured to me. I was planning to go to UMASS Med school because it's wicked cheap and wicked close and UMASS Lowell feeds into it, making it a natural choice. Frankly, I'm not sure I want to uproot my family and take on hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt to be a doctor. Perhaps I'll do something crazy and only apply to UMASS Med school as well as the Northeastern Nurse Anesthesiology program and go whichever direction the door opens for me. I don't know. That's a long way off anyway.

Ironically, a part of me is repulsed by the idea of raising kids while in Med school- my Dad spent my entire childhood getting his Doctorate and frankly I'm a bit scarred from it. I don't want to put my kids through that. But another part of my childhood spurs me toward this goal. The part where my parents lovingly homeschooled me and sacrificed to put me in a private school and it was ingrained in my innermost core that I can do whatever I set my mind to and that I have God-given talents that I am responsible to cultivate and use. And that drive to bloom is so deep inside me I just can't push it down.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

For my New Horizon's readers

If you attended New Horizon's church with me you will appreciate this story. The other day I was driving to the grocery store when I saw David Wallace walking along the sidewalk. I pulled over and rolled down the windows to say "hi, Dave!" You won't believe what he said!! He said "You must be confusing me with my twin brother. I'm Frank". Can you believe it? We knew him how many years and he never mentioned that! They are the spitting image of each other. But something about him is slightly different - I can't put my finger on it - maybe his voice? We had a nice conversation. He guessed that I was one of David's church friends. I told him I go to the Baptist church and that a lot of his other friends go to CCF. He said Dave lives in my area. I said "How many times do you think I waved at Dave and it was really you?" But he said he'd never seen me before. What a strange world we live in.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What a relief!

My good friends know that I am a very competitive person. My favorite story exemplifying this was in China when I went for a massage - apparently they do it very differently in China. Instead of trying to relax and soothe you - at least my massage therapist anyway seemed to be trying to break me. It was an unspoken competition between me and him. He dug into my muscles as hard as he could, just waiting for me to say "enough". But no way was I going to give him that satisfaction. So he ended up sweating profusely and panting exhaustedly, and I went home very sore. ha ha. Good times. Good times.

Anyway, back to the point of this post...last semester I was comfortably smarter than all of my classmates (if you're reading this, classmates - just kidding ha ha). But this semester an Indian woman transfered in who is an LPN to get her RN and I've been quite disturbed to find that she is just as smart as me - sometimes (gasp) she even knows things I don't know. This is the stuff of my nightmares. And her being an LPN isn't a good enough reason for me- that's just one semester more of nursing classes. I understand I'm not the smartest person out there. And I'm anticipating being somewhat of an average student when I get to med school. But this is a community college we're talking about! I can still up the ante in med school because as it is I don't do any reading and I'm still pulling off an A-although that's quickly slipping as this pregnancy and school DO NOT MIX. (tee hee. I sold my text books this summer because I knew I'd never actually use them. I'm such a slacker). OK. OK. the conclusion to my story... So today we were introducing ourselves to our clinical instructor and my rival friend there told us how, back in India (when I was still in high school!) she was a college Anatomy and Physiology professor. Ohhhhhhhhhhh. Well that explains it. What a relief. (By the way, we're good friends).

As an aside, after 6 weeks of very miserable school this semester, today was my first really good day! I actually learned a lot of interesting stuff. I was eating it up. Things like: clubbing of the nails indicates smoking or COPD, and a triangular slit in the iris indicates a previous glaucoma surgery, and what happens when you become incapacitated without having a Health Care Proxy. Now that's the sort of stuff that fascinates me. Not all the boring sh** we spend so much time on.

As another aside, I once heard that labor and delivery nurses often retire from that and go into hospice care; that the two specialties are similar because they deal with the entering and leaving of this world. Ever since then, I've always thought I would love to do those two things - especially because I have so much peace about spiritual matters - peace that I hope would be felt by my patients in their time of need. Anyway, today I've been thinking that when I graduate I would maybe like to be a hospice nurse serving AIDS patients. I have the desire to be Jesus' hands to physically and emotionally hurting people. In two weeks I get to shadow a hospice nurse. I'll pray that God would use that experience to make His calling for me more clear.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Ultimate Fighting rocks. Boxing should be illegal.

I'm proud to say we've been watching Ultimate Fighting long before it became popular. I love that sport. God gives men the power and desire to dominate in the physical dimension. This is a chance to prove your capabilities in a controlled arena. Ultimate Fighting evolved into a legitimate sport back in 2000 when rules were enacted to shape this street brawl into a controlled competition. The competitors' safety was guarded with specific rules for their protection for instance:
  • no downward motion elbows
  • no gouging
  • no grabbing the clavicle
  • And my personal favorite: "No timidity, including, without limitation, avoiding contact with an opponent, intentionally or consistently dropping the mouthpiece or faking an injury." heh, heh. Basically, no wimps allowed. love that. (Tap outs are allowed).
Despite these minor limitations, the essence of a true street fight is maintained and the sport is a showcase to the truly talented of brave fighters.

Boxing on the other hand, I just don't like. It's a measurement of a person's ability to throw a punch and dodge. But that's so limited. A true fighter can also kick, wrestle, force submission, free themselves from entanglement, and win in any position under any circumstance. More importantly than that, boxers are virtually guaranteed brain damage. This sport shows no mercy for the fighters' personal safety. Lack of safety was the reason that ultimate fighting was illegal for so many years. Boxing is a million times more dangerous in the long run. It's legality is a mystery to me and a shame on the human race.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Why I'm proud of my husband

A lot of people probably think my husband is a loser or maybe just lazy. But they don't know the truth. He hasn't had a steady job in about two years and honestly, it's killing him inside. He qualifies for facility management positions that pay $60-80,000. He goes on interviews all the time. But he always gets denied because of his criminal record. It's so sad. All he wants to do is work hard the right way and put food on the table. You know why I'm so proud of him? Because his brother is a drug dealer and he lives a very nice life right in front of my husband's eyes. And he's always asking my husband to join him. When the chips are down and the bank account is negative and employers are telling him he's worthless because he's a criminal - any other man would say forget it - I am a criminal. But he resists temptation. Today he put his temp agency rep. on speaker phone so I could hear for myself that he was denied a job because he was overqualified. It tore his heart out. But we trudge on. We hold out hope that May 15th will be a new start. That's the five year mark from his conviction (nine year mark from the crime though). That will allow him to get through five year background checks and may be just the break he needs to get a job.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I almost fainted in clinical today Part I and II

PART I It was just a pregnancy thing, but the timing was horrible. I was just starting my med pass in front of my professor. This was my first time doing it in front of her so it's really important that I do all the checks correctly and be knowledgeable about all the drugs I'm giving. So as we're going over the charts I said I felt light headed and I sat down to finish the checks. Then we went to the med room and I just couldn't stand up long enough to get the meds. So the nurse took over and I'll have to do it tomorrow. But what awful timing. It could have seemed like I was just trying to get out of the med pass or something. Luckily she knows I'm pregnant so that helps.

PART II. THE NEXT DAY: If yesterday was bad, then today was a nightmare. First I screwed up by not knowing what three of the 10 meds were for and fumbling with my PDA forever to try to find them. Then my professor took me in the hall to tell me that I had really screwed up. And at that point I literally started to black out. All the blood rushed from my head and all I could see was some spots but I was NOT about to sit down now. Then we go to my patient's room - I still could barely see, let alone think. I sat on the bed, plopped the cup of pills on the patients tray and said as cheerfully as I could muster "Do you have any questions?". My patient took the medicine and then my professor called me to the hallway again but this time I couldn't get up because I was still very lightheaded. I told her I'd be there in a minute. After she left I burst out crying. My patient and my fellow student nurse comforted me (My patient was so cute. She said it was her fault for having too many medicines). Then I dried my eyes and my head started to clear and I knew that I had REALLY screwed up because I hadn't checked my patients wrist band to identify her (which is really for show, since there is no way I could mess it up - having worked with her and only her for three weeks). I found my professor and told her I knew that I forgot to check the ID. My professor was relieved but still very concerned and said that she was waivering about putting me on warning - which means if I screw up again I'm out of the program forever. Ugh. Nursing school is SO stressful. I'm not the only one cracking. One of the other girls in my class started a fight the other day in class over nothing at all. We're all stressed to the max.

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