heart thoughts

Working as Vampira, The Night Shift Nurse, I am used to 3 o’clock in the morning phone calls because there’s always a mommy of one of my tiny human patients at any given shift calling because she woke up and thought of her baby. They are usually pumping the liquid gold that is mommy milk and naturally their thoughts are on their tiny baby wondering how he is doing…did she gain weight…did he have yet another episode where he stopped breathing or dropped his heart rate to delay (again) his discharge that was anticipated the day after tomorrow…is she crying… So around 3 AM Tuesday morning as I’m taking mental inventory of what I need to do before my last rounds with my patients when the phone rings I am not surprised. It’s probably baby boy’s mama calling to see if he gained weight.

Room 1. This is Laura. Can I help you?

Mom?!

Abby?…??!!??

Dad had a heart attack. We’re at Doctors in Manteca. It’s bad.

What?!

His nurse needs to talk to you.

And Patrick comes on the line calmly explaining that my darling husband has suffered a STEMI and needs a stat cardiac catheterization. Unfortunately, the hospital where he is at is not set up to do the procedure so he is going to be transported by ambulance to my hospital, its sister hospital. He carefully explains what has been done and given to Bill so far, how Abby is and that he, Patrick, will be accompanying Bill to Modesto. He adds that because we are “family” within our hospital system, he is going to be calling me during the transport to update their arrival time.

OMFG!!!!

Patrick gives me his cell number telling me that is the number he will be calling my cell so I’ll know it’s him…because who else is going to call my phone around 3 AM?…looking at my silenced phone I see that Abby tried to call me…Oh. Yeah….Patrick tells me he will call as they leave Manteca and again as they approach my hospital so that I can meet them in the ER.

OMFG!!!

Inside I am freaking out…majorly freaking out saying “fuck” often. Outside I tell my charge nurse what is going on. I’m too calm. At least I think that I am too calm.

She immediately calls our resource nurse to take over my patients’ care and directs me to update her on what needs to be done for the next few hours. I give the handoff to our resource and accept the hugs and promises of prayer from co-workers and the family of one of my patients as I blankly wander to our nurses’ lounge to wait for Patrick to call me.

I’m too calm, I think again. My husband just had a heart attack and needs an emergency cath procedure. Why am I not freaking out? Why am I not crying? My phone rings. It’s Patrick. They’re on their way he tells me. He adds that Abby is following in her car. And so I wait while my mind races…and wonders why am I not crying, screaming, throwing something…my husband has had a heart attack and is coming by ambulance to my hospital.

Patrick soon calls again telling me that they are getting off the freeway so I hug coworkers once more and head to the ER. There the STEMI Alert team is waiting and ready…nurses, doctor, phlebo, x-ray tech…

This is serious.

Before I can think to ask a thoughtful question, the ambulance arrives with Bill and Patrick. Bill is pale, much too pale but joking with me as he does, as we do.

Freak, freak, fucking freaking out inside I am again.

I’m calm as Patrick explains what meds Bill has had so far…aspirin, morphine, heparin. He tells me he went over consents with Abby and she has signed them so he’s good to go to the cath lab. Numbly, I thank Patrick for everything so far as he says goodbye while I watch Bill receive a new IV, have labs drawn, get a chest x-ray and have his pants removed all in the matter of a few minutes.

Mrs. Scarborough? We’re heading upstairs now.

Holding Bill’s hand, my mind moves from “OMFG! This is for real” to “He’s seriously high right now” as we head up to the cath lab. As they push the bed with my husband through the double doors, they direct me to sit and wait.

So, I can cry now?…

A text from Abby pops up on my phone. She’s here. I tell her where to go so that we can meet. What she tells me is so hard to believe to be real. Bill woke her up after 2 AM telling her that he needed her to drive him to the hospital.

Why, she asked?

His arm hurts and he needs to go now. Bill’s arm and shoulder has been bugging him for a few days. He blames it on overdoing it at Krav Maga, as does the family doctor who prescribed rest and a muscle relaxer. Abby tells me that he was a bit breathless and coughing a lot…as he has been because allergies and the cold Bill believes he caught from Daniel (who has not had a cold). Abby gets him to the ER close to home where they begin to triage and take his vitals…

It all changed when he was placed on a monitor. The nurse abruptly leaves the room calling a doctor in. Soon a party gathered in his room, Abby tells me. A doctor tells her that her dad is having a serious heart attack and need to be sent to another hospital.

My mom is at work at Doctors in Modesto. She will want him there.

You know the rest.

Can I just say here how impressed I am with my Abigael Rose? I am! She remained calm through all of this. I imagine that she was freaking out inside with a steam of OMFG and fuck, fuck, fuck happening because she is her mother’s daughter. Still she remained calm and even advocating for her dad and mom when they first planned to transport him to a hospital in Stockton rather than where I work, where the Central Valley cardiology rock stars are. I am so proud and so impressed with this child of mine.

The cardiologist soon comes out and tells us that his right coronary artery was 100% blocked but she was able to open it up with the cath procedure. She adds that his heart went into v-tach and he had to be shocked three times before his heart converted to a normal rhythm.

yeah…inner major freakout happened.

As the sun rises, Abby and I meet Bill in the ICU. He is on several drip medications with a venous and arterial line in his groin along with an IV. He’s pale…so pale…and he’s trying to tell jokes.

Stop!

I hold his hand as I remind myself that this is his turn for the in  sickness and health part of our vows. Yeah I am mad because he never seemed to listen to me about my worries so here we are but here we are, together in sickness and in health.

Dammit!

The family starts to call as they wake to receive my texts to call me because it’s an emergency. I want to cry and scream and curse and sleep because now I am tired, so tired, but I can’t because our daughters are calling, his sisters…

Sleep is for the weak…and people who had a heart attack…the most severe type of heart attack…and for people who needed to be shocked several times after cardiac arrest. I’m not sleeping now.

The family comes. The friends check in. Bill is awake then asleep then awake then asleep and all the while looking so pale. Everyone who sees him cries a little or a lot. I don’t.

Clearly I am defective.

I know I did way too much in sickness and in health events having babies and preterm labor and anaphylaxis episodes and meningococcal meningitis but, dammit, this is too much. His heart. I told him. I did. I nagged and I begged.

As the day progresses, he slowly stabilizes.

Thank god!

We settle into what is right now our normal and perhaps the most awkward, surreal date night ever.

As a wild, wild party seems to be commencing under The Big Top.

What can I say?

You cope your way.

And this circus will cope ours.

The good news is that by Wednesday night, Bill is much improved. no chest pains, rare arrythmias, femoral lines and drip medications discontinued and, after more than 36 hours for the first time he is sitting up in bed.

So. Damn. Lucky.

The adventure continues…

resting can be hard

Moms, remember when our babies were brand new and the well-meaning, but not asked, advice givers would tell us to rest when the baby sleeps and we might have ignored that advice in the beginning?

Remember?!

The baby is FINALLY asleep!!! OMG! I can take a shower and maybe shave my legs and armpits and blow-dry my hair I might put on makeup and I am definitely putting on clothes, real clothes and then I will take care of that sink full of dishes oh and the laundry who knew an 10lb baby could create so much laundry and I will watch all the tv and write thank-you notes and…

WAAAAAHHHH!!!!

There you are, dripping wet and wrapped in a towel. 

Damn!

And after changing the baby and feeding the baby and changing the baby again and rocking the baby, you realize that you might have slept 30 minutes in the last 24 hours and it dawns on you…

You should have taken the time to rest/sleep when that little baby was down for maybe an hour…that same hour that you made plans to do all kinds of stuff that really didn’t need to be done because this tiny new baby never sleeps.

Oh what a blessed hour it would have been too.

You learn…eventually…hopefully…perhaps after the third baby. Then the well-meaning, but not solicited, advice givers will judge you as lazy.

Resting, when we should, can be hard. There’s so much to do. So little time.

About 5 weeks now into my formal half marathon training, which by the way is going GREAT, I come upon an extra rest day. A rest day on a night that I am working in the NICU.

Hmmm…

I always run a quick 3-4 miles before work because I do. It’s part of my getting ready for 12 hours of taking care of tiny humans all night long routine. Last Friday I ran 3½ miles before work and then ran 7½ miles Saturday afternoon with no problem at all. I need to run before work, I tell myself. There is no way I can get through my night with out a little run before.

Then the rational part of me, the part of me that actually listens (sometimes) to well-meaning, good advice reminds me of what Hal Higdon says about rest:

The most important day in any beginning or intermediate running program is rest. Rest days are as vital as training days. They give your muscles time to recover so you can run again. Actually, your muscles will build in strength as you rest. Without recovery days, you will not improve.

But it’s hard!

I need the before work run!

It’s a Friday night.

The census is up.

The acuity is high.

I really need to run.

SIGH!

I need the rest day too. My body needs the rest day. My mind probably does too. Resting IS fitness training.

Fine, I’ll rest.

Apologies to my colleagues if I get all twitchy.

Resting can sometimes be so hard.

numbers for the ass-hats, anti-vaxxers and other nimrods

This morning I came home after a pretty busy 12 hour overnight shift in NICU-Land to a very sick little boy, who has been sick all weekend with god-knows what because he has no fever, no appetite, is pale and is coughing and wheezing.

I need to remind myself that he is thirteen and no longer a little boy except for the fact he is pale with dark circles under his eyes and mostly wants to just lie on the couch with one of his sisters, Zelda or his mom close by for comfort and reassurance as he struggles to breathe.

But I digress…

I come home after a busy 12 hour overnight shift in NICU-Land to a sick child. I am exhausted. He is too as breathing is work right now. All we both really want to do is just curl up in bed and sleep except…

My new, next-door neighbor is busy building loudly just under my bedroom window…where the sick child and I are trying to rest and sleep a little. Hammering, drilling, loud, loud, loud, loud!!!

Ugh!!!

I get up and go out to talk to my new neighbor…asking how long is he going to be hammering, drilling and using his loud, hydraulic equipment to erect this thing under my bedroom window is going to go on.

He’s going to be here awhile, he tells me. Is that a problem?

Well, yes. I tell him why. He looks at me for a beat, shrugs and tells me he has to get his tuff-shed built now. Then being the awesome new neighbor that he is, he moves all the loud hammering, drilling and hydraulic equipment action over directly under my bedroom window because ass-hat neighbors are the best neighbors when you are a night-shift nurse sleeping during the day.

I give up on sleep and focus on caring for Daniel and plotting as my friends and I are currently planning my revenge on Facebook. I’m sure that I won’t follow through because I am me. Although the tossing handfuls of birdseed into his yard certainly does appeal.

Truthfully, I don’t expect my neighbor (or even my family) to be silent during the day when normal people are living their lives as they do while the Vampires that is the nocshift are trying to sleep. Twenty-five years of daytime sleeping has given me strategies for sleeping when I can, where I can and learning to cope with those strange daylight dwellers. Still a part of me expects, wishes, hopes and dreams for the daytime species to at least give me a heads up when they are having a party going on right here, or are digging a pool or building a shed directly under your bedroom window…not because I am basically a bat…no…how about because of common courtesy…being a good neighbor…with good manners.

Hey, I am going to be building shit directly on the other side of our fence and it is going to be real loud for a few hours and I don’t know if it will bother you or not but I thought I should at least give you a heads up that it is going to be real loud here between our two homes.

Is that hard?

For some yes.

I might be getting some bird seed and soon…

Meanwhile, in the news, mainstream and Fox and even all over social media is the Measles. Today’s moment of pure WTF idiocy came courtesy of my own Facebook timeline:

This whole battle of those who didn’t vaccinate their kids bugs me. We were all doing fine until millions of illegals were allowed across the border against our laws. Stop the infighting and let’s blame the real culprit.

Um…

Wow.

Of course everyone has an opinion about the measles and to vaccinate or not to vaccinate now that measles has been in the news since December. Opinions are strong too. Mine is vaccinate your kids…dammit! I’ve said it before and I will say it again.

But let’s look at numbers because even nimrods have opinions…Facebook timeline proves that every day, literally.

102: The number of currently confirmed measles cases in the United States to date this year.

59: The number of 2015 measles cases linked directly to a December 2014 visit to Disneyland. Eleven more cases linked to Disneyland were caught December 2014.

More than 1,000: The number of people in Arizona that are currently being quarantined and monitored for 21 days for possible measles exposure…that can be linked to the December 2014 Disneyland visit. Measles is that contagious.

90 percent: The number of people who are not fully vaccinated who will get the measles if they are exposed to the virus.

2: The number of hours the measles virus can live, either in the air or on a surface. It’s much more transmissible than Ebola. Before 1963, an estimated three to four million people in the U. S. got measles every year, and of those people, 400 to 500 would die, 48,000 would be hospitalized and 4,000 would develop encephalitis.

1968: The year that the measles vaccine as we know it today was developed and first distributed. The vaccine dramatically lowered the number of cases and in 1989, when a second measles vaccine was recommended the measles rates dropped even further.

1968 was also the year that I came down with measles (yes, I had both measles and German measles as a small child). Mommy-Dearest was pregnant with my sister, Valerie. My brothers had not had measles. So six-year old me was separated and quarantined for a little more than three weeks away from my family. What first grader wouldn’t be able to handle that and not be afraid? Stir in the rare complication of optic neuritis and yes, measles are indeed marvelous for a small child! True I get to enjoy a lifetime of immunity so no shots for me but whatever!

2000: The year there was no continuous measles transmission for more than 12 months which meant measles had been eliminated in the U.S.

No more measles!!!

Whoo-hoo!!!

Unfortunately an increasingly connected world and decreased vaccine rates because of people blindly believing “Doctor” Wakefield’s made-up studies and personal beliefs and whatever bright, shiny belief held fast to have collided to create measles outbreaks all across the U.S….the same nation where 15 years ago there was no measles.

That’s super awesome!

20 million: The number of measles cases around the world every year.

92-94 percent: The herd immunity threshold or the number of the population needed to be vaccinated to interrupt the transmission of the disease, especially to the more vulnerable of the population who can not be vaccinated.

9 percent: the number of students at my son’s school who currently have opted out of vaccinations for medical or personal exemption.

75.1-80 percent: The percentage of school-aged children here in the Central Valley who are immunized.

1 in 10: The number of children with measles who will get an ear infection which sometimes can result in permanent hearing loss.

1 in 1,000: The number of children with measles who will develop encephalitis, or swelling and infection of the brain. This complication can leave children deaf or mentally impaired.

1-2 in 1,000: The number of children with measles who will die from the disease. You know, like Roald Dahl’s little girl back in 1962. So no, the measles isn’t a harmless childhood disease.

0: The number of anti-viral therapies that exist for the measles. Unlike the flu or HIV, there is no anti-viral treatment for the measles. The only option is to support and treat the symptoms, let the disease run it’s course and hope for no complications.

There’s that. and nowhere do millions of illegals allowed across the border against our laws come into the picture.

Vaccinate your kids! Get your own titer checked and, if need be, get a booster or be an ass-hat nimrod. But if that is what you must be please make sure you have some really good insurance because the rest of us do not want to pay for your stupidity..truly.

 

this week on the iPhone

I may not take as many pictures with my Canon as I used toand I should be taking more…still I manage to take pictures because there is always my iPhone close at hand and Instagram.

She really is a pretty little thing and not nearly as bendy as the haters say that she is.

Rain finally came to to the Valley and I did ask my darling husband if he would rather take the car into work in the Bay Area rather than the bike because I could easily get up at o’dark thirty to take Jodie to work and then go home to sleep until it was time to take Daniel to school. No big deal. Jodie would have a triple latte ready for me when it was time to pick her up.

No was his answer.

He got soaked.

Oh well!

The morning after the rain is the best when everything is so fresh and clean…except the mom-car.

Oh, and sunrises as I leave work in the early morning are the best because, yes, I worked! I worked callback which is even better!!

The sunrise view in my mirror reminds me that my day is done…as soon as I drop my son off to school.

This son, my favorite son, who every day, all the time reminds me how lucky I am to say that I am his mom!

But LITERALLY the most exciting thing happening under the Big Top this week was these salt and pepper grinders.

Really!

Follow me on Instagram.

 

 

the awesomeness of hugs

I’m not much of a hugger.

Analyze that.

But true story, I’m not. Still I have learned to try to love hugs. And I do. I celebrate them.

Comforting hugs when you have had an eye-twitching, craptastic day.

Hugs that you enjoy with your Grandmom.

Hugs that you enjoy with your favorite cousin and your favorite Uncle Jesse.

Hugs you share with your favorite little brother never fail to warm your heart and make you smile because he is a hugger.

And who doesn’t love birthday hugs shared with your best friend at Disneyland?

Then there is one of the bestest hugs I have enjoyed recently which I do not have a picture of. You’ll just have to trust me that it was one of the best ever…a hug shared with one of my co-workers…a co-worker whom I always hug when I see her because that is what we do before we start a night in NICU-Land. A little more than a year ago she left the unit to fight a fierce fight. Honestly cancer picked the wrong person to fight with because after all that she has been through and all that she has to live for I knew that it wouldn’t be a fair fight. I knew that it was going to be a great night taking care of the tiny humans whom  I love so much in the NICU when I saw Brenda walk into the unit for the first time in over a year.

We hugged. We cried. We tried to fix our makeup. We laughed. We hugged some more.

I have no photo to share but I can guarantee you that it was a beautiful, wonderful picture that will last forever in my heart and my mind. If you close your eyes right now I bet that you can see it. Amazing, gorgeous! Isn’t it?

I am so unbelievably happy knowing that I can look forward to Brenda’s hugs before night shift in the NICU again.