sip and spell

Sip and spell? What in the world is a sip and spell? It sounds a lot like sit and spin…remember what a great dizzy inducing vertigo toy that was? Good times! Fun times! When America was once great, right?

Well sip and spell here in the Central Valley is the Great Valley Bookfest’s Sip and Spell Adult Spelling Bee where participants and spectators enjoy delicious wine and appetizers while participants spell words like synecdoche and pococurante because they can…or once did when they were elementary school and middle school spelling bee nerds back in the day.

Sipping wine and spelling. What could possibly be wrong with this?

Well, nothing really since it is all in good fun that will benefit the Sierra High 2017 Sober Grad.

I know!

Working with the Sierra High Class of 2014 Sober Grad, I can attest to the fact that the best fundraising events were the ones where adult beverages were consumed by adults. Go figure!

Still it is a fun event which supports a worthwhile local event for some kids I just happen to know and can say I watched grow up while living here in this community. So join me and my team, Thursday, October 6, 5:30 to 8 pm – or until the last team (our team) is standing! Tickets are $20/person and need to be purchased in advance here.

Until then, I’ll be here…studying.

upheaval benefits

Anyone who has followed life under The Big Top of late knows much has happened in a very short time:

  • my darling husband turned 53 and got really, REALLY, REALLY lucky in a car versus motorcycle accident so that he could enjoy celebrating turning 53.
  • Fallon now enjoys making direct eye contact with Mima’s camera and is literally counting down the days before she begins pre-Kindergarten…it’s coming y’all in DAYS!!!
  • Daniel is back to school in 8th grade and we are all pretty certain that I will be that mom as this is the last time ever for me to have an 8th grader who will be graduating 8th grade nine months from now. I’m already teary y’all.
  • And in one weekend, Abby and Jodie both moved out. Jodie moved back for another year at Arizona State which means that she won’t be home for dinner tomorrow or the next day or even the days after that. Abby ran away from the circus to her own apartment shared with her best of friends. She is not far but she is definitely off doing adult things like grocery shopping and hanging pictures and dealing with apartment maintenance trouble shooting a leaky dishwasher.

One would imagine that I am here just wanting to settle back into a quiet, calm, easy, normal routine.

Are you kidding?

It’s quiet around here…it’s even quieter than I might have ever imagined when all these kids of mine were home and noisy and loud and everywhere and underfoot and standing on my last nerve. This is too calm, y’all.

And so I decide to challenge myself with a little change or two or more.

Why not?

Yes, I know that I am late to the Whole30 party…but I am not the only one. Truthfully, I might have never given it a second or third thought were it not for the inspiration of two people I am acquainted with, two very busy moms of four. I watched them both take on the Whole30, making all the changes in their kitchens, their routines, their diets…and they did not go bat-shit crazy trying to balance Whole30 into everything else that busy moms of four kids under 12 must do. On the outside, they both looked better reporting inches and pounds lost, better sleep, better skin, hair and nails…and for one, who has dealt with a number of health issues after a major medical crisis a few years ago, dramatic improvements in her overall health.

Hmmm…

Why not look into this. I am a woman of a certain age now…menopausal with all the fun and games that comes with that bull-shittery. Sleep well? I am a a nurse who works 12 hour night shifts…please. But positive health changes and inches and pounds lost aside, it’s too quiet around the Big Top and I need a challenge,,,soo…

Of course it takes time, planning, patience and support from people around you. It might seem hard but as Melissa Hartwig phrases it: Quitting heroin is hard. Fighting cancer is hard. Childbirth is hard. Drinking your coffee black is not hard. I’ve birthed more than my fair share of babies…which doesn’t come close to beating heroin or cancer but I get it. This is a challenge but it is a do-able challenge.

The initial pantry-stocking shopping list will likely hurt but you got to start somewhere. The dreaded first week might have been hard except I had a killer summer cold to distract me from feeling miserable without sugar and pasta and bread. Let’s just say they both made me miserable. But I did survive Bill’s birthday cake by letting his children serve it up.

Ultimately, it wasn’t as hard as I imagined it to be. The circus that remains under the Big Top has literally never eaten better. I didn’t miss Bill’s birthday cake or bowtie pasta with pesto sauce or even the big bowl of Jelly Bellies in the break room at work. I enjoyed feeling full between meals, improved sleep and energy levels. My skin literally has never, ever looked better.

The Whole30 is not really a diet but more of a dietary reset. Eliminating excess sugars, dairy, grains and over-processed foods resets your gut allowing it to heal and then work the way that it is designed work. Still people think of Whole30 as a diet and, of course, want to know what are the results? How much weight did you lose??

Well, 30 days later I am happy to report that along with all the other positives I have lost a little over 9 pounds and 8 inches and yes, that is pretty cool too. And now, 30 days later, where do I go from here? Whole60? 90? Whole30 forever? How about Whole30ish. I’m liking the overall changes in my health and physical condition and I imagine that I, like other mere mortals, will need more than 30 days to see far dramatic results…like the end to these ridiculous soaking hot flashes because menopause happened more than five years ago….so I will continue to maintain following Whole30 guidelines with the exception of treat like when a coworker brings in a Nothing Bundt Cake to share or wine or a Moscow Mule or an ice-cold glass of chocolate milk after a 5 mile run because, literally, there is nothing better than that!

the real struggle of the drop-off and the pickup

The drop-off:

Daniel? Daniel? Are you really asleep? 

Like a lullabye, eh? 

The struggle that is adolescence…

It’s real.

At the pickup, I ask him how was his day and he grumbles in the way that only a moody teenager can.

We had pizza for lunch and we were only allowed to have one slice of pepperoni pizza. Who eats just ONE SLICE of pepperoni pizza REALLY?!

I had to ask.

The struggle is real, y’all.

Have you made any plans for dinner, Mom?

Hmmm…how about pizza? I’ll even let you have more than one slice.

Come on, he’s a teenage boy! One slice of pizza is not never enough.

Definitely need more because the hormones, the growing teenage boy with the teenage boy hunger and all the moods absolutely, positively needs more than one slice of pizza.

Remember when we thought we would be tube feeding forever? Yeah, me neither.

 

 

 

when a nurse is handed lemons

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

Literally.

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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