when a nurse is handed lemons

A patient’s family handed me lemons the other day.



Big, fat, juicy lemons from the lemon tree in her back yard that I have big, fat, juicy plans for because when you are handed lemons…

It isn’t always making lemonade just as the lemons you are often handed aren’t usually real lemons.

Nurses are more often than not handed A LOT of lemons because when you are caring for individuals on what is often a horrible, no-good, very bad day…if not the worst day of their life…you find yourself dealing with a lot of sh…er…lemons:
patients’ problems, their family’s and friends’ problems, physicians’ and other practitioners’ problems, management problems, lab problems, pharmacy problems, radiology problems, housekeeping problems, security problems, your own family problems, aching feet, bursting bladders, raging hunger, eye-twitching headaches, computer downtime, short staffing, exhaustion…and on and on and on…

We handle it. We deal with it. It’s what we do. It’s part of our skill set; a skill set many of us come by naturally and the rest of us work very hard to cultivate and integrate into our practice. Nurses deal with it.

But nurses, just like everyone else, are human…very human. Nurses complain too. They complain sometimes about all of the above and then some. It might seem that might be all we do…to some who then shout STOP COMPLAINING ALREADY! DO SOMETHING! BE A CHANGE-MAKER! They’re right, of course. We should do something. We almost always are even if they don’t appreciate it.

Out of complaints and frustrations often comes just change as many agents of change find inspiration in their own complaints and the complaints of others. Dr. Hultquist, my Fundamentals in Nursing professor and Dean of the Nursing program I graduated from YEARS ago will be proud to know that I still recall some of the agents of change in nursing that she lectured about, all who were inspired from their own frustrations and complaints:

  • Florence Nightingale- Of course one starts with Flo when talking about change-makers in our profession! Laying down the foundations of what is today our profession, Flo was a driving force in changing the reputation of nursing and nurses.
  • Mary Breckinridge- While training and working as a nurse in post World War I Europe, she was inspired to consider that the model of care she was a part of delivering in France could be implemented in remote rural areas of the United States.  From her work as a midwife and nurse in rural Kentucky, evolved the Frontier Nursing Service.
  • Dorothea Dix- One of the pioneers of American Nurses, she became an activist for the post Civil War mentally ill helping to implement the first generation of mental health care in the United States.
  • Mary Eliza Mahoney- recognized as one of the first African American women to break the color barrier graduating from nursing school. Her work through the years of her practice helped to significantly influence the elimination of racial discrimination in the registered nursing profession.
  • Virginia Avenal Henderson- Where would we be were it not for the “first lady of nursing” who helped to define the role of the modern professional nurse, “the unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or to peaceful death) that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will or knowledge.”…Dr. Hultquist I am certain is beaming warmly that I remember this one! Her work is credited with shifting the focus of nursing research from studying nurses to studying the differences that nurses can make in people’s lives.
  • Walt Whitman- Hurray for murses like Walt Whitman! During the Civil War, Whitman spent almost all of his free time at the military hospitals caring for the wounded and ill soldiers. He tried to provide anything that the soldiers needed, bringing them food, writing letters and attending to their physical needs. Often spending his own money for supplies, he did all he could to bring them comfort. He was with many soldiers as they drew their dying breaths.
  • Florence Guiness Blake- Blake is credited with making significant contributions in pediatric nursing and family centered nursing care highlighting he importance of parent-child relationships and parental involvement in the medical care of children. 
  • Linda Richards- Recognized as the first professionally trained American nurse. Richards established nursing training programs in the United States and Japan as well as created the first system for keeping individualized medical records for hospitalized patients.

All of these individuals were great agents of change in the history of the nursing profession…and they are absolutely, certainly not alone.

Nurses and medical staff in a Colombia hospital in the 1970s, frustrated with the lack of proper, working incubators for their frail, tiny patients, as well as increased infection rates, utilized the babies own mothers providing continuous skin to skin contact which freed up caregivers as well overcrowded incubator space. The added surprising benefit was a marked increase in survival rates, decrease in nosocomial infections and respiratory disease and overall improved breastfeeding success and maternal satisfaction and confidence. From this evolved kangaroo care, or skin-to-skin care, a technique practiced on newborn, usually preterm, infants wherein the infant is held, skin-to-skin, with an adult. Kangaroo care for pre-term infants may be restricted to a few hours per day, but if they are medically stable that time may be extended. Some parents may keep their babies in-arms for many hours per day.

Nurses and practitioners in my own NICU became agents of change asking why can’t we have ZERO babies with CLABSI infections which we have managed to do for an unprecedented six years and counting. We’re mighty proud of being a part of that change that evolved from complaining and questioning.

Yes, nurses complain a lot…so it seems. But so do teachers and cops and firefighters and store clerks and hairdressers and drivers and plumbers and students and grumpy old men and mommies and…we all complain. We are a bunch of complainers. We even complain about other people complaining expecting that they will stop complaining when we complain that they should. We’re handed a bunch of lemons in our lives, in our workplace, our classroom, our homes, everwhere and we often do complain. It’s what we do after is what counts most of all.

As for me and the lemons I was handed the other night…I have this great Lemon Chicken recipe

only ten hours

According to my navigator app, it only takes about 10-11 hours to drive from Manteca to Tempe…weather permitting…probably no stops along the way except for gas. Driving to Tempe from Manteca it is about that…not counting the stops for gas, for coffee, potty breaks, meals, windshield wiper blade replacement…and sometimes traffic.

It also takes ten hours to travel from Manteca to Tempe when one is flying…today.

Driving from Manteca. We left after dropping Daniel off at school which means we were on the road just after 9 AM…after we got coffee.

Windy, rainy and green because it has been rainy…FINALLY!!!

To Mineta International Airport because Southwest had super awesome, cheap flights that fit this SunDevil’s school/work/social/family schedule. I now accept the fact that I am supposed to leave her there on the curb with her luggage. Security waving me to move along helped just a little. I still don’t like that I have to leave her there. Yes, I still blame my darling husband for making me drop her off to kindergarten years ago. I left her at 11 AM,

I got home just before 1 PM which gave me time to do something worthwhile, like a load of laundry, before picking Daniel up from school.


Jodie’s flight was delayed three times. Today she learned that when you are a poor college student between paychecks, airport cuisine at Mineta International is too expensive for you.

Finally boarding!

This is her If I smile real big you’ll offer me extra bags of complimentary honey-roasted peanuts because I haven’t eaten since breakfast face.

5:35 PM landed in Burbank. Apparently it wasn’t a direct flight. I could have sworn it was a direct flight. No, Mom. It’s not a direct flight.

Finally at 7:15 PM a text announcing: Landed in Phoenix!

See? Only 10 hours. Yes, I’m ignoring the fact that Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time. 9 hours…might as well be 10 hours.

We miss her already.

Can it be May?

I’m pretty certain this is all her father’s fault…still.



be on the lookout

If you happen to find yourself in and around Modesto come Sunday morning, be on the lookout for these sweet running tights. I will be wearing them while running The Modesto Half Marathon.

Current weather conditions promise it to be a very bright, sunny and WARM race.

I might die!


Still I just might because I am not a hot weather runner. Ignore the the half marathons past…The American River Parkway Half, The Disneyland Half, The San Jose Rock and Roll Half…all ran in the heat. Those were more than 4 years ago and I STILL hated running in the heat then as I do now…perhaps even more now because hot flashes make it even hotter…take your breath away and perhaps suffocate you hotter.

Yes, I just might die.

But at least I know I trained well in spite of the last two runs of my training which absolutely, positively sucked. I have been hydrating well all week. And I have some sweet running tights and equally colorful kicks to run through Mo-town come Sunday morning!

If your in my neck of the woods I do hope that you will come cheer me on. I need lots of cowbell and cheering. I won’t promise a PR time like the inaugural Stockton Half or even negative splits like my very first half marathon race because I am 5 years older and slower and this is a comeback for me. But I do promise for you lots of fun cheering racers on and a beer and wine garden with food trucks galore at the finish line.

But if you aren’t in my neck of the woods and want to be a creeper still want to cheer me on you can sign up for instant updates of me out on the race course where you will receive start time, splits and finish time sent directly to your phone, email or Facebook.

like cellophane


If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

It’s one of the age old philosophical questions…isn’t it?


Does it?…

Does it make a sound?

Then what about the wife, the mother? If she makes a statement to her family as they are gathered around and they all seem to nod in assent does that mean that she has ever made a sound at all?


It’s like no one ever knows you’re there.

Wives and mothers totally get what it feels like to be Mr. Cellophane.

Do they even see you if they don’t hear you?

I mean really?

Am I right?

Of course I am!

Today feeling like cellophane.,

Thank goodness for friends who work along side you, friends, who like you, rarely ever take the time to make it just about them alone, to remind you and them that it sometimes needs to be just that. It needs to be all about you…and them.

And good food and wine…

And karaoke…good, bad, really bad and great karaoke for the win, bitches!

Exactly what is needed to remind you that you are impressive, distinguished, remarkable, valuable you.

All of us.



checking out in Target


How’s your holiday shopping/decorating/wrapping going?

Yes, we have just six (OMG!) more days to go but don’t stress…too much. Unless you haven’t started at all and plan to hit the malls on the last Saturday before Christmas.


Ask anyone in retail.

Just don’t.

Me, I have no plans to be shopping this weekend. Perhaps then I will get the stockings hung by the chimney with care…after the Christmas recital.

Of course this means I need to finish up getting a few gifts more and stocking stuffers now.

Hello Target!

And as I work my up and down practically every aisle, mentally ticking off my list, I pass more than a few people slumped and slouched over their carts. It’s not a good look. It makes my back hurt just looking at them.



I’m slouched and slumped over my cart too.

No wonder my back hurts.

Standing up straight as I push my shiny red cart, I continue to work my way up and down practically every aisle.

The struggle.

The struggle is real.

If you’re still scratching your head over what to gift me, the girl who doesn’t have everything, a massage would be perfect…absolutely perfect.