thinkers and dreamers we are

And just in case I have not been paying attention to what’s in the news in and around the Central Valley over the last couple of weeks, I have acquaintances to remind me…especially if it is news that might indirectly affect me, is indirectly about me or what might be important to me…bonus points if it is perceived to be news in a negative light.

Aren’t some acquaintances and friends good for things like that?

Yeah.

In the news recently here in the Central Valley was a recent article that suggests certain hospitals in the Valley are price gouging. Of course some people I know want to know how do I feel about being a price gouger?

Um…

Because while caring for critically ill babies, I am jacking up the prices of the care and services that I provide?

Here’s the thing, even the authors of this recently released study concede that they are not including discounts offered for care and services to the uninsured and insured patients. Factoring in these these discounts would have had a significant effect on the cost-to-charge ratio reported, and therefore the implications of the study’s results. Which goes to show you that one can not and should not just accept a study, any study as valid and absolute truth based on its conclusions…“Dr.” Wakefield’s study linking autism to vaccinespatients’ perceptions of nurses with tattoos and body piercings immediately come to mind.

For what it’s worth, as a nurse at the bedside, I am not setting the prices for the care I give, the medications I deliver, the equipment I use while doing my job. I’m too busy saving lives, providing healing care, providing education to my patients’ family members of their babies diagnosis, condition along with how the medications I administer and the care I give will help their baby and how to take care of their own baby while in the NICU and after discharge.

My workplace is the only hospital in the community of Modesto and Stanislaus County to provide care for everyone, regardless of ability to pay; that’s millions of dollars of uncompensated and charity care provided rather than charged. My workplace employs over 2,100 people, contributes well over $250 million to the local workforce annually as well as contributes over $3.7 million in local taxes every year. Our hospital and employees this year have provided over 50 educational seminars for local schools and community groups, participated in more than 70 community events and regularly contribute to over 50 local non-profit and charitable organizations.

Thinkers. Dreamers. That’s us.

It is what drives us all to serve our community the way that we do at the bedside directly and in and around the community and out-lying areas. It is being thinkers and dreamers that inspires us every day to do what we do and even do it better.

Our hospital continues to receive top grades in patient safety including our overall performance on safety outcomes, including preventing errors, accidents and infections. The unit I work in has had more than 6 years of ZERO CABSI incidents. It was thinkers and dreamers in our unit who dared to imagine that it was possible to have absolutely no catheter line associated bacterial infections. Such strong work has been recognized nationally and even within our hospital as the staff who cared for my darling husband talked about what we are doing in the NICU and how they are hoping to implement the same. Lucky for them, and other local agencies in the valley, one of my colleagues will be providing education next month on our journey to zero and how it is possible. Fellow employees at my workplace provide the type of trauma, stroke and cardiac care that is literally the Gold standard of care here in this Valley which Silver and Bronze awarded local facilities strive to emulate…something I am proud of and most definitely thankful for, you know, since they saved my darling husband’s life.

Yes, one study might contort and twist and suggest less than favorable things about where I work but, dear acquaintances and friends quick to point that out, I would counter do your homework and check the facts especially when you decide where you want to be when you need to be in the hospital. Me, I’m choosing a place with thinkers and dreamers who are providing the very best of care and often times making the impossible possible.

80 days later…

Two weeks ago, Bill was working it up on a treadmill literally wired all up for sound.

Wired all up for ultrasound that is…a stress echocardiogram along with a 48 hour monitor and cardiac labs all to determine if he was healthy enough to return to work and play and basically normal life…or at least a new normal life not smoking, taking multiple cardiac and cholesterol medications twice daily, exercising more and eating better.

And the verdict is labs are still a bit off but his heart is strong enough to return to work and ease slowly back into his Krav Maga workouts. Oh, and the cardiologist commends the wife, that’s me, because the diet changes are working. The diet changes that basically I have done all along but someone might not have been eating…AHEM!

And so 80 days later, after the STEMI, the 100% right coronary artery blockage that could have been, should have been fatal according to Bill’s cardiologist, my darling husband has been here the last three days.

Believe me, he is smiling on the inside. He’s back to work. He’s at a job site on a project that he was hoping to be working on because, like the Levi’s Stadium project that he was a part of, this is kind of cool.

At our dinner celebration last night, he shared with me just how awesome this is because back to work…and alive…and celebrating another year together…

The conversation went on as he reflected on a coworker, age 46, who died from the same type of heart attack the same week Bill had his…and an old friend the same age who also passed recently…and a younger, former colleague…and the father of someone we’ve known for the past 10 years who was not that much older than we are. I’ll confess the last one shocked me because I did not know what he died from, just that, sadly, he died very unexpectedly. But Bill is friends with our friend on Facebook so he was privy to the details. The loss of all of them was sobering, very sobering. Sitting beside my darling husband right now I can not imagine the pain and grief their families must be feeling even though we came so close…much too close 80 days ago.

Bill agrees.

So much has happened the last 80 days or so. We can’t help but think about life, fate, luck, grace and how close we came to not being here now more than 80 days later.

And what happened to these two kids from 1982 because if you look past the damaged heart and grey hair and no hair and creakier limbs and worry lines and laugh lines, they are still there…somewhere.

Thankful.

So very thankful.

Heart Attack Warning Signs

Chest Discomfort- Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain

Discomfort in other areas of the Upper Body- Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

IF THESE SIGNS ARE PRESENT CALL 911!!!

Learn CPR!!!

Your actions can help save a life…perhaps the life you love most.

adventures in pet sitting

When you regard a mother of five healthy, bright, engaging children, ages ranging from 28 to 13, you might imagine that this person certainly can manage the care and feeding of someone’s beloved fur-baby…

especially a cat, because, it’s a cat.

Cats do what they want, where they want. Your job is to keep the food bowl full, the litter box clean, share your lap and, if they so decide, offer a little bit of affection…not too much though…they’re not needy, pet-me-all-the-time dogs.

This can’t be hard.

Heh!

True, Albert is comfortable enough under The Big Top now to TAKE OVER our bed; but he is also relaxed enough to open doors and possibly turning on the water in the kids’ bathroom and letting it run for at least an hour or more during the night…severe California drought and family circus water conservation efforts be damned. Don’t argue with the whole he has no opposable thumbs thing because he can literally open doors!

Still he seems to be settled. He even let me pet him…once…and he is quite happy to curl up next to me when I am sleeping during the day when I am Vampira, the Night Shift Nurse. Yes, Zelda is curled up on the other side and I am waaay over-heated.

Even Zelda has settled into a playfully antagonistic almost sibling-like relationship with him…or perhaps younger auntie/older nephew relationship which seems awfully familiar as I recall my first born and my youngest sister’s relationship as they grew up. At least Zelda and Albert haven’t drawn blood…yet.

That doesn’t mean that there has not been blood.

Being the nurturing pet-sitter that I am, I gifted Albert with a lovely collar  He wears it well and I can hear him when he stalks me. Zoë warns me that it won’t last.

Of course I don’t listen or ask why.

I’m having fun pet sitting.

Easter Sunday evening came the blood. Albert decided that he had had enough with the fancy blue collar with the bell and tried to take it off getting it stuck partly in his mouth and choking him. Such a bloody mess…and a very angry, scared cat.

Naturally the 24 hour pet hospital is closed because it is Easter Sunday and this is my family and we only do things like this over holidays, vacations and out of town travel.

So Bill and I corral the frightened, angry, choking, bleeding cat, remove the collar and try to clean away the blood to figure out just how badly hurt he is and if he needs to see a vet. After a time, the blood is washed away revealing a cut nose and a lop-sided, swollen mouth…and a very angry cat piercing us with his Zoë warned you angry eyes!

Yes, she did.

This girl. This cat. This girl’s cat. This girl’s cat just might be the death of me. Thank goodness he is okay because he is this girl’s everything. Of course he makes no apology because he is a cat…and an asshole.

No one ever ask me to pet sit.

I’m serious.

for the calming effect on the nervous system of humanoids

We have a pretty awesome son in law, in case you all don’t already know. Hearing that his dad-in-law and the guy who married him for love and infinity and beyond to his gorgeous wife, he wanted to do something for him…because love and gratitude and the fact this guy let him marry his baby girl and even married them, his baby girl and the son in law.

We hear that this is a favorite shot from their wedding day because while the groom and bride were so nervous, the officiant/Daddy/Dad in law seemed to be having a really good time.

He was, Hollie and Ben. You all wouldn’t be old married folk if he wasn’t having fun standing up there with his buddy/baby girl and the man whom she loved. But you all already know that and have known that through the years together.

So Ben came to visit his Dad-in-law bearing a special gift, a gift he knew would be the right gift.

Yes, a tribble.

In the 23rd century, an enterprising trader named Cyrano Jones procured an interesting and adorable little creature. These tiny furry beasties had a calming effect on the nervous systems of humanoids – well most humanoids, anyway. They were called tribbles.

These tribbles, when they’re not busy being cute and purring, were prodigious breeders. As one country-doctor once quipped, “Well, the nearest thing that I can figure is that they’re born pregnant – which appears to be quite a time-saver!” In fact, their ability to multiply is so incredible, they can fill an entire cargo hold in three days – that’s one million, seven-hundred seventy-one thousand, five hundred sixty one tribbles… assuming one tribble with an average litter of ten producing a new generation every twelve hours. That’s some impressive breeding, right there. It would make any man want to high-five any tribble, except tribbles don’t have arms.

This tribble, however, is genetically altered to be sterile. Or so we have been told. God, I hope so! Our Big Top is crowded enough already.

Meanwhile, this tribble proved to be the perfect gift as after Ben, the son in law, left; Ben, Bill’s nurse, was pulling the venous and arterial lines from his groin which meant 30 minutes of seriously, hard pressure applied to those insertion sites to insure that there would be no bleeding from those big blood vessels. The tribble purred and cooed a lot as Bill hugged it tightly during that time. Thinking he his definitely not a Klingon.

Good thing.

Oh, and thank goodness for Bill’s tribble!

The same day that Bill went to the hospital for chest pains, it was announced that Leonard Nimoy, Spock, also was.

Coincidence, yes.

And Friday morning, as Bill finally came home to The Big Top, we were greeted with the breaking news that Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock, had died. And being the nerdy family that we are, we honored Mr. Spock and celebrated Bill’s homecoming the best way that we knew watching some of the original Star Trek series, including, but of course, The Trouble with Tribbles, because, seriously, what else is there?

The House of Cards, Season 3?

Yeah, there’s that.

Whatever. 

We’ll catch up soon enough. For now we are watching Star Trek on Netflix starting with The Trouble with Tribbles…cuddling with our tribble, of course.

LLAP yo!

 

catharsis

Bill is home!

We couldn’t be happier. Now the entire circus can hopefully get a good night’s sleep and maybe eat a decent home-cooked meal. I’m not sure about other things like laundry and other chores around the house. Maybe after we all catch up on some sleep.

In the meantime begins the recovery process and new reality. Five to ten minute easy walks as tolerated and lifting nothing more than ten pounds are acceptable activities which means no working, yard work, Krav Maga classes or dog walking for at least the next month or so.

Six prescribed and two over the counter meds every morning and every night. Nitroglycerin if he has chest pains. The cardiologist also recommends a home AED (naturally not covered by insurance) and CPR for all the kids.

Going over the post cardiac cath diagnostic tests, Bill’s cardiologist told us approximately 40% of his heart muscle has suffered damage. She is hopeful with some radical changes and medications, we can hopefully see some healing in time. This include working on lowering his bad LDL cholesterol and raising his good HDL cholesterol with medication and Bill sticking to the dietary changes that I have already been forcing on him. Then there is the big one…the smoking. The cardiologist made it very clear that he must stop smoking. He must never smoke again. Bill agrees telling her that he quit smoking at bedtime Monday night and that since then he has had no desire or craving to smoke. The hard part, the hardest part will be once he is home, she tells him. He agrees as she advises everything and anything smoking related should be removed from his home environment. As he nods his head in agreement, I offer to take care of that before he comes home and he tells me to do that for him.

I guess he missed my eager enthusiasm to fall on that sword for him…or maybe he did not. Who cares! He told me to get rid of those f-ers!

I tell Daniel as we were driving down to Modesto to see his dad yesterday.

Can I help? I want to smash them with a sledge hammer! No, I want to blow them up with dynamite!

I guess he has strong feelings about his dislike for cigarettes…like his mama. I assure him that he can easily destroy them all for his dad…without dynamite or a sledge hammer.

You can’t imagine how cathartic shredding these felt for my son and me.

And thus begins a new day here under the Big Top for my darling husband and our circus.

Everyone, family, friends near and far, lurkers who bravely reached out, total strangers who don’t know us at all but perhaps know one of our children or a friend, my estranged brother, even our mail carrier who offered kind words, prayers, hugs, texts, calls and visits — thank you, thank you, thank you! You can’t even begin to imagine how good your kindness was to us all…usually during a moment when one of us, or all of us needed it the most.

THANK YOU!