Feb 28, 2010

I've been a nurse for a long time. How I got their was purely due to practical issues. I could support my baby on $4.20 and hour as an R.N. or on $1.60 an hour as a photographer/dark room technician. I chose the easy road, i.e., the $4.20/hr. (It's hard to believe that RN's ever made an hourly wage like that.) There have been many times I've regretted that decision as the artist in me suffered a slow, painful death over the years but I was able to provide for my birth children. Now that I'm old and make more than $4.20 an hour and am once again pursuing my art I realize had I not entered the world of medicine I would have NEVER adopted the last 3 munchkins as I would not have had the knowledge to deal with their medical complexities or the fortitude to survive the confusion of the medical profession. That would have been a great loss. On the other hand it has exposed me to the good the bad and the ugly of a complex system that i could have done without. Medical error in hospitals is so rampant it causes approximately 98,000 deaths a year in the U.S. As a nurse I have to maintain training on prevention of medical error in order to renew my license every other year. No surprise. Today is a good example. Wee one has been coughing for 3 weeks. I finally took her to the pediatrician 6 days ago as the saline nose drops, Benadryl, Motrin yada, yada, yada, etc was getting us no where. Sinusitis. Since her nose smells like something crawled in it and died she was placed on a high dose of an antibiotic for 14 days. Last night she spiked a temp of 104. This changes things. I bring her to the ER today and tell doc number one I will be happy to continue to call it a virus and/or sinusitis and go home AFTER he does a chest x-ray and tells me she does not have pneumonia. He agrees but tells me he would like to see her on 3 times the dose of inhaled steroids she is currently taking, a steroid nasal spray and to continue on her rescue med via nebulizer as I have been doing for the chronic cough. He will write the prescriptions but also wants her seen in pulmonolgy. He leaves. After 4 hours, a urine specimen and chest xray, doc number two comes in to tell us we can go home but "try to keep a handle on that fever." I might add that while we are in the ER she has had no fever as it is meat locker cold in the room we are in and the exact words of doctor number two as he walks in to bid us good bye were, "DAMN! It's cold in here!" He tells me her urinalysis was normal and the chest x-ray was "ok." Call me an RN but something in "ok" prompted me to ask if it was NORMAL? Well, no..."not exactly".... "it showed perihilar thickening bilaterally." He felt it was lung changes due to a virus but not to use her nebulizer as it might make her jittery (hard to tell the nebulizer jitters from her seizing last night) ....since she is "not wheezing just coughing." As an old (yes, literally) pediatric pulmonolgy nurse i can tell you all orders for rescue meds are written by pediatric pulmonologists to be used for "cough or wheeze" as everyone who knows anything about pediatric asthma knows many asthmatics do not wheeze...they just cough...and cough...and cough....and cough. Perihilar thickening on x-ray is also a dead give-away for chronic moderate to severe asthma. We are shipped out of the ER by doc number two with NO prescriptions but an assurance that he will call once the radiologist reads the film if the radiologist sees a problem. OMG. You mean the radiologist never even looked at the chest x-ray? Then I remember it's Sunday and he is probably golfing. So we leave not knowing much more than we did when we went in and now here we sit at home with the temp creeping past 103. Three weeks without sleep is wearing us both out. Bilateral perihilar thickening is ticking me off. A sudden 104 temp after 3 weeks of illness is freaking me out and I don't freak easily. Since statistics show that death from asthma is about the same percentage whether your asthma is mild. moderate or severe I will pursue this with our pediatrician tomorrow. I will request a pulmonolgy referral and discuss increasing her inhaled steroids and adding a nasal spray since studies have also shown (as doc number one was fully aware) how beautiful the combination of these two drugs work in controlling chronic asthma. I always tell my friends, loved ones and patients to NEVER enter the hospital without an advocate at your side if you are not knowledgeable yourself. It simply makes good sense. Even when you are knowledgeable , though, you have far too many moments of asking your self, what the @%*# just happened? In today's situation...nothing.

Feb 23, 2010

Biblical Voyeur

Today as I was driving from client to client I was listening to a black preacher on the radio who stated when he dies and faces his maker he would like to have a top ten "instant replay" of certain Biblical events such as the parting of the Red Sea and the burning bush so that he could experience these events in person. Call me sacrilegious but none of his choices really interested me and then I started thinking. What would I like to see, feel and experience from biblical times if i could? I'm too ADD for 10 items so here are my top five:
1.) I'd like to be with Pharaoh's daughter when baby Moses floated up in the bull rushes. Her father was killing Hebrew babies and yet she blatantly plucked one out of the water in front of witnesses and raised the baby as her own. Was she rebellious, amazingly compassionate, desperate for a baby, or all of the above?
2.) I wish I could have been sitting around the fire when the Apostle Paul was bitten by the deadly viper, shook it from his hand and continued about his business. How confident he was in whom he served! Most of all, though, I'd want to see the looks on everyone elses' faces as they waited for him to drop dead and he didn't.
3.) Elijah! Now there is a biblical character I can relate to. He flip flopped between extraordinary faith and total despair. It's the total despair times I'm interested in. I'd love to be able to sit next to him in his hidey hole cave and ask him questions like, "You just took on over 400 of the most evil pagan priests known to mankind and even had the audacity to taunt them and now you are running from one woman? Wha?"
4.) I'd like to be on the road with Mary and Joseph when they were horrifeid to discover 12 year old Jesus was missing. When they found him in the Temple in Jerusalem and he told them he was " about his Fathers business" what was their initial reaction? We always see Mary and Joesph depicted with shining halos around their heads but that's our interpretation and not reality. The Bible says that Mary and Joseph did not understand the statement Jesus had spoken to them about his Father's business but that Mary kept all of these things in her heart. Did she file these things away in her heart before or after she took an olive branch switch to his rear?
5.) What made Joshua and Caleb different from the other 10 spies? Why did they see big grapes while the other ten saw big giants. Faith is the pat answer but I would love the opportunity to hang out with them for a while to see what made them really tick.

Feb 22, 2010

Child's Eye View

Been trying to get the boy interested in art for 10 years. It's so much safer! Photography seems to be his thing. We went on a photo shooting expedition last night and I was very proud of the outcome. The above shot that he took is my favorite. I am trying to convince him to do a fund raiser for the OI Foundation but visions of monster trucks dance in his head at the moment. We'll work at it.

Feb 21, 2010

What's on your window sill?

I would like to hear from everyone who follows this blog with a description of what is on your kitchen window sill. When I stood washing yesterdays dishes this morning (rough day, Saturday!) I thought it would be interesting to see if you are a treasure hoarder or a dish liquid/Brillo kind of person. I am a treasure hoarder which is not always aesthetically pleasing especially if you have children. A friend of mine who never had children was over recently and asked me why I was collecting wasp nests. I told her they were treasures. Blank stare. Treasures from the boy. Okay... Wasp nests, broken snail shells, razor clam shells from the Atlantic ocean plunked in my moms vintage celery plate that she loved. Three crystals from an old chandelier purchased at the Hospice Thrift Store ( a paradise among thrift stores), a rusted lantern, sprouting potato eye in a crystal dish from the boy from Christmas, and 4 tiny clay pots on a clay saucer. A Morning Glory seed experiment. Weed flowers from the girls come and go but are always placed in a spot of honor where I can appreciate them. So what's on your ledge?

Feb 18, 2010

Coffee Snot and Crushed Livers

It's one of those weeks where try as I might to be civil, i can't relate to married friends who's relationship is falling apart because the husband leaves his dirty underwear on the floor. I mean I have real problems. On Sunday night i stepped in the bed of a remote controlled Hummer left on the floor and nearly skated through the sliding glass door. On Monday and Tuesday I fell so ill with a sinus infection it took every ounce of strength I had in me to show up at work. Wednesday the baby woke up at 3:44 am and would not go back to sleep. She lay down next to me on the sofa and poked me in the eyes and mouth until the alarm went off at 6AM and we headed off to the local children's hospital for day one of the boy's infusion for his bone disease. Last night the babe woke up at 1:30 am and sang until the alarm went off at 6:00 am. This morning, after blowing an alien embryo out of my right nostril, I got Beyonce Jr. on the school bus, my teen ready for the sitter and my son to the hospital for day two of his 3 day infusion. Up all night with the wee songstress, suffering with a terrible sore throat and up twice to flush the boy's IV left me exhausted this morning so I curled up with him in the nifty new remote controlled infusion chair with visions of a nice, long, nap in my head. The new infusion chairs ascend to nose bleed heights and descend into the bowels of hospital hell. They pitch you forward so efficiently i suspect they use these chairs to train test pilots in the art of emergency cock pit ejection. Obviously, however, whoever purchased these chairs for the new pediatric facility had never heard the term ADHD before. When I woke suddenly with hospital cafeteria coffee dripping out of my nostrils because my feet were 5 feet higher than my head I realized a nap was not in my near future.The rest of the day I sat writing bad haiku on the back of yesterdays hospital discharge instruction sheet and watching Mall Cop for the 3rd time only fast forwarded so that everyone sounded like chipmunks. Obviously the TV planner had not heard of ADHD either. In preparation for tomorrow I have devised a plan B for the tiny songstress who is coughing just in case she can not go to school in the morning because I have to be at the hospital for my teens MRI of the brain to follow up on the bad seizure she had 2 days after Christmas. Since she has no history of seizure disorder I will be thankful if the MRI confirms it is something as simple as epilepsy. I still haven't figured out how to be two places at once so a Hospice volunteer, God bless her, will be arriving at the out patient infusion center at 9:00 am to supervise day three of the boy's infusion. I fear for the hospice volunteer who told me she is a retired elementary school guidance counsellor who gets along well with children and has packed some, "little books" for my boy. I hope those little books have the answers to questions such as, "What are intestines?'' ..."What are butterfly wings made of?"... "If God knows when you are going to be born does He also know when He is going to kill you?" ...and my personal favorite from today as I sat blowing coffee snot out of my nose, "How many pounds of dry wall does it take to crush your liver?" God, help her.

Feb 13, 2010

Black Power

I have never been into hair. As a teen I used to roll my hair on frozen juice cans and that was the extent of my hair styling efforts. My oldest still mocks me regarding the hippie braids I put in her hair at the age of 3. My second daughter who danced from the time she was 4 until her late twenties often had to french braid her hair for performances. I was the only parent who could not french braid. This pleasant run of hair negligence ended sixteen years ago when I was thrown in to the world of black hair care as a foster/adoptive mother. I am still reeling from the shock regarding the amount of time, effort, and product black women everywhere endure regarding their hair styles. I have a 16 year old and a 2 year old with totally different black hair texture and totally different hair needs. My oldest has hair that requires "perming" every four months so that I can get a comb through it. 14 years ago I was quoted $125.00 by a hair salon to perm and was also informed my daughter would have to sit still for 3 hours. Right. Out of sheer necessity I taught myself to perm. I buy a kit for $4.95 and perm every four months. The first perm I did took 3 hours. Now we have it down to 45 minutes or less. A friend, a black social worker who instructs foster parents, has used me as an example of a white foster mom who has learned to "do" black hair. I have had many black women stop me in stores and even parking lots to ask me, "who does her hair?" When I tell them I do the look of approval and shock on their faces is discernible. Unfortunately, my fame was short lived with the addition of my two year old. I am told she has "quality" hair. I've heard this term over and over and I assume it means she has hair I can comb through without perming. Unfortunately, she also has the personality of a feral cat when it comes to touching her head. She will fight, scream, kick, hit, and pinch for 3 minutes or three hours. Even though she has partial paralysis of the left side she has a right hook that George Foreman would be proud of. However long you are touching her hair is however long she will wrestle, right hook or karate chop the stylist. My black sitter told me about a month ago she will no longer "attempt" to do her hair again she is so "horrible." This was the ultimate blow. Recently a well-meaning friend who has witnessed the wrestling matches asked me, "why don't you just let her hair go into a little Afro?" Little Afro? The above photo is for my well-meaning friend. I believe the finger in the air means, "Round one, I won. Ready for round two?"

Feb 9, 2010

Monster Jam Mania

Never in a million years did I ever envision myself at a monster truck rally. Having a son who thinks about nothing else has forced me into my 3rd year along with my oldest daughters who never in a million years envisioned themselves at a monster truck rally. It is so popular in our area that this year they have added a second event. Both events were sold out to the tune of 60,000 fans per rally. It's freezing cold. Sometimes raining. Cheese whiz nachos, $15.00 cotton candy, Grave Digger foam hats and more cammo than the entire country of Iraq. In other words F-U-N! Can't wait for next year. Go Grave Digger!

Feb 1, 2010

Sticky Fingered Postal Workers?

Since one of my children works for the post office I have to chose my words carefully while I'm slandering the institution. During two holiday seasons I have had two Priority Mail outgoing packages lost by the USPS. Since "tracking" is included in Priority Mail shipments we were able to track the first package as far as San Fransisco before it astral projected itself into another dimension. The second package was not scanned by the mail carrier when it was picked up at my front door so it is lost forever. FYI: this happens more than you would anticipate and the tracking number on the postage label that you print from home is useless if it is not scanned. I have proof that I printed a postal label from my home computer but no proof I ever mailed the package. I think it was thrown away although my daughter, "the postal worker," informs me that the post office DOES NOT throw away mail! I've done a little research and I've come to the conclusion that this is a true statement. They actually come up with more creative means of ridding us of our mail. For instance, one postal worker in Michigan had thousands of pieces of mail including 988 first class letters with post marks dating back to 2005 in a rented storage unit. She pleaded guilty in federal court to "deserting the mail" stating that she was "unable to deliver all the mail." I find the charge of "deserting the mail" totally inappropriate. How can you desert something when you've taken the time, effort and expense of renting it it's very own storage unit and kept it safe for years? They need to cut her some slack already. In North Dakota, one postal worker delayed mail for 10 years accumulating tons of mail in his home. Four tons to be exact, including 3,000 pieces of first class mail. In North Carolina four trucks removed third-class mail that had been stashed in a mail carriers garage for six years. This mail carrier stated that it was a "relief" getting caught. I'll bet it was! He probably couldn't get to work any longer because he couldn't find his car and was afraid he might be fired by the post office. If you live in North Carolina you might want to switch from snail mail to e-mail as yet another carrier in North Carolina, admitted to keeping junk mail buried in his backyard. My question is why go to the effort of burying it? Does junk mail makes good compost? In Indiana 21,000 pieces of mail were found in a postal workers home. Can you imagine? My dining room table and coffee table are buried under mounds of useless junk mail and bills as it is. If I was hoarding everyone else's mail on a daily basis what would my house look like then? I'd have to rent a storage unit. My favorite, however was the case in Colorado where a postal employee stole 503 Netflix dvd's. 503? Oh, come on people! What was your first clue? 502 missing dvd's? I guess my missing priority mail packages and the fact that our mail in the neighborhood is consistently being delivered one house off or the fact that our outgoing bills are being placed in our next door neighbors mail box are minor issues in the grand scheme of things. From now on, however, I'm taking my Priority Mail shipments to the post office and watching them scan them in front of me. So much for the convenience of "clicking and shipping." In the meantime, please enjoy the above photo of my son. I think he was eating the mail. I am excited to know that he will most definitely qualify for a career at the post office in the future. I hear the benefits are great.