adventures in human kindness

Remember that one darling daughter of mine who just fifteen years ago, after her ambulance ride to a trauma center and time in the PICU, followed by reconstructive surgery weeks later promised me that the next time she would find herself in a hospital she would be married and having a baby? And remember when she found herself in an ER just  three years ago after discovering that magical, mystical creatures like herself STILL don’t bounce? Yes, she had to apologize for breaking her promise to me via FaceTime with her doctor laughing a little in the background.


Here we were earlier last week…


her guardian angel, sitting in the corner, rolling her eyes, shaking her head back and forth and I’m pretty sure I saw her take a hit off of a bottle in a brown paper bag because…

OH MY GOD, Zoë Elizabeth!!!

Long story short, she ‘s okay. She is okay except for the fact that last Tuesday she passed out cold in her kitchen while trying to clean up some puncture wounds on her leg thanks to her asshole cat and when her sister found herself having a hard time reviving her, called 911. The paramedics found her blood pressure and heart rate to be very low so they decided to take her to the local ER known for their Human Kindness. Mom arrives soon after to micromanage and basically be in the way of her caregivers as moms who are nurses often do; and just as mom arrives, an ER nurse approaches her with a pill she directs her to take because the doctor ordered it.

Wait, she was seen by a physician? Because she tells me she hasn’t been examined yet.

Oh, the doctor looked her over when the ambulance arrived.

He examined her?

He looked at her.

Zoë joins in, So that guy in scrubs who talked to me was a doctor? He never told me that.

ER nurse rolls her eyes

Anyway, the doctor wants you to take this.

What is this?

It’s an antibiotic, for the puncture wounds. It’s to prevent infection.

As Zoë swallows the pill, the nurse walks away without a word.

The ER is crowded. It’s a triple digit evening in Stockton. Of course the ER is crowded. Time passes with staff walking back and forth but never stopping to say anything to Zoë or the other patients sitting in chairs around her. After a time a tech comes and takes Zoë, with me tagging a long, to a curtained area where he begins to prep her for a 12 lead EKG.

So the doctor ordered an EKG?


EKG complete. Normal sinus rhythm. Heart rate is a little low still. Tech remarks, as he removes the leads, that from the appearance of her skin right now she is a little dehydrated; which might be why she passed out given how hot it has been all day today.

Literally the first time someone talked to her about what brought her to the ER.

Returning to her place in the crowded exam area, a nurse comes and tells me I must wait in chairs in the waiting room because of the overflow of patients. No problem because, yes, this ER is literally overflowing with the humanity of Stockton seeking their special brand of Human Kindness…like the lady sitting next to me in the wait room chairs who receives discharge instructions from her nurse for treatment for allergies and post nasal drip…yes, ALLERGIES and POST NASAL DRIP was her admitting diagnosis!


Looking around, over-hearing conversations, it was clear that there were some in the ER that evening for similar minor complaints but there were people in pain, people desperately ill seeking emergency care with a little bit of Human Kindness.

I waited in chairs anxiously for Zoë while she advocated for herself in a way that would make her nurse mama proud. Registration seemed relieved almost as she confirmed that, yes, Zoë was insured. And then we were on our way…

…to her local pharmacy…a very crowded pharmacy…a pharmacy that took more than 24 hours to even begin to attempt to fill her prescription…because Augmentin is super hard to fill.

In the end, I remind my darling daughter of the fact that she broke her eight year old little girl promise to me…again. I also talk with her about the reality that is healthcare today and how although we healthcare providers do strive to help people live happier, healthier lives, to thrive and to connect on a human level because human connection leads to better health, we healthcare providers, all of us, need to do better. We need to try harder. We need to really treat each and every patient we encounter with the level of care our mission statements declare. Like it or not, we healthcare providers are graded by HCAHPS; which we really shouldn’t stress too much about if we are truly working to strive to help people live happier, healthier lives, to thrive and to connect on a human level because human connection leads to better health.

Zoë is going to be just fine. The puncture wounds will heal. She will do her very best to stay well-hydrated…and not scare her sister, her mother, her guardian angel anymore. Zoë also will be filling out the patient survey that St Joseph’s will soon be sending her way with all the brutal honesty that is needed and deserved because Human Kindness is exactly what all of their patients deserve and must have. As for me, this RN, I am all the more reminded, nudged and inspired to try harder to do exactly just that for my patients and for their mamas who expect just that as well.

forever in their eyes

Thirty years ago, I was called “Mom” for the very first time. Sitting at a family Mother’s Day brunch, feeling so beyond tired and a little nauseous (and jealous) while most everyone else around me was enjoying bottomless mimosas, someone wished a “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom” to me for the very first time. So it began while I was only about twelve weeks pregnant with my first born. I was Mom…and I would go on to always be Mom…my kids, the teachers, the doctors, the nurses, my darling husband, my kids’ friends and even my kids’ friends’ moms. There is so much more to the me that I am than me being Mom but Mom I shall forever be because of the people who made me Mom…Hollie, Zoë, Abigael, Jodie and Daniel. For them that is always first how they shall see me and think of me as…I am Mom; affectionately, Mommy Dearest.

I don’t pretend to imagine that I am the best mom ever. The mistakes made along the way are certainly proof of that. But I am confident that I tried my very best always with all the baths, the books read, the meals made, the homework checked, the car rides, the concerts and games and recitals and shows attended, the doctors’ visits and occasional trips to the ERs and hospital bedside vigils and the endless sleepless nights well beyond the promised post newborn baby period. Hollie, Zoë, Abigael, Jodie and Daniel perhaps might not think of all of these when they think of me, but I trust, hope and pray that when they do think of me they will know Mom, in one small way or another is always there when they need me the most because I am…even if it is just that voice in their heads.

To my darling children who right now are looking at this six year old family portrait thinking, “Really, Mom! You had to chose THIS picture of us to share?”, I will remind you of what your Dad and I do want this year for Mother’s Day, your parents’ wedding anniversary and Father’s Day…love you kids!…get on it!…make those family pictures happen!

Thank you, my children, for transforming me, turning me in to forever Mom. May you always see the good, the fun, the silly and every time that I was and am there for you and, perhaps a lot like this.

Well, except for the hair styling because, kids, we all know that is certainly not true about me thanks to so much photographic evidence…and whatever is chewy chicken to you.

Hazel’s Mother’s Day tribute to her mama brought back so many memories. I am certain I have at least five very similar tributes tucked away somewhere. It’s things like these that make a Mom laugh, cry and reassure them just a little that they really are all right…and the kids will be too.  Hazel’s Mother’s Day tribute also provides further proof that Hollie is indeed raising someone so much like herself…and, that she is, in all the good ways, a lot like me. That will be one of the good things about Mother’s Day 2016.

how lucky we are

All over social media yesterday was the celebrations and playful humiliation that is National Siblings Day. Having already said what I have wanted to say about those people I have practiced on a couple of years ago, I just sit back and enjoyed the show of y’all and your brothers and sisters in all the faded black and white and sepia and Kodachrome glory until one of my darling daughters herself shared.

I respond in the way only I can respond because I had never seen this photo before…


And then I spent  some time just taking in my darling daughters in all their young women glory thinking…

My babies!…Damn! Bill and I made all kinds of beautiful-ness…How is it they look so different yet the same?…Perhaps my old boss, Kate Smith, is right; I have cloned my children…I never looked this beautiful when I was 29 or 24 or 22 or just weeks from 20…I might be jealous…I am definitely proud…These four are pretty amazing, smart, hard-working, creative, thoughtful forces of nature and I birthed them all…YOU’RE WELCOME WORLD!!!

And as all the stream of conscious thoughts continued to ebb and flow, I found myself overwhelmed with memories of when these four were small and I was exhausted and overwhelmed and absolutely always second guessing my own self as their mother because every day was filled with noisy, loud, chaos with all the Barbies and giggles and tears and screaming and daily attempts to maim or cause mayhem against one sister or more. I do not joke when I recall that these darling clowns would quite literally go to war over belly button lint…at least it felt like that…all the time…every waking minute…every day. Elbows deep in all of that plus the mountains of laundry and all the naked Barbies, I could never imagine myself at this moment regarding the four amazing WOMEN who are my daughters…and that we have arrived, finally, at a time in our lives where they aren’t trying to kill one another on a daily basis.

What can I say? I’m feeling so lucky and so blessed and I get to declare that I am their mother.

Oh, and I get to share a fun cover of my latest obsession that celebrates some other pretty amazing, strong sisters.




goodbye Lindsay Lohan

You quietly came into our circus life the Spring of 2003 when you were young, bright, shiny and red. You pretty much did everything expected of you with pretty much no protest at all. You accompanied me to work, which was a long haul commuting back and forth to the Bay Area from the Central Valley and back again three days a week. You didn’t seem to mind when young Hollie came along for the ride so that she could visit a boyfriend. I could always count on your company taking little Daniel to all of his therapies and many doctors’ appointments all over the Central Valley and Bay Area.

Then came the time where it was Hollie’s turn with you.

You, dear Lindsay, was given a curfew then. You can thank Hollie for that. Her sisters certainly do. I know I do as well because literally giving the car a curfew was the most brilliant parenting decision ever.

Soon enough, Zoë was spending her time with you.

You can thank her for your name, darling Lindsay. She called you Firecrotch but soon dubbed you Lindsay Lohan after I told her that she could answer her little brother’s question, what’s a firecrotch?

By then, you had already been through so much…and it was beginning to show…but it was Abby’s turn.

Poor Lindsay! Never has anyone fought over you so much as Zoë and Abby did…as two very independent sisters forced to share a car might. But soon came the day where they weren’t sharing you…or borrowing mom’s minivan. Oh happy day! By then, dear Lindsay, you weren’t looking so good…you weren’t sounding too good…you kind of didn’t smell good…and you were a dirty, dirty girl, Lindsay Lohan!

Jodie, surprise, surprise, did not want to hang out with you, Lindsay. Oh well!

So basically your adventures ended with Abby and her adventures…

until today…

Goodbye Lindsay Lohan! Thank you for so many memories, so many adventures. You are off to do a little more good and I am quite certain that you will get around…at least parts of you.

what doesn’t run in the family

Does it come to a surprise to anyone that not one of my children seeks to follow in my career footsteps?

When Zoë was a small child, while walking in my workplace, she was quite impressed with overhead pages for Dr. M, Radiology or Dr. C. Labor and Delivery Stat! 

Do they call for Nurse Scarborough Stat!?, she asked.

No. Oh no!, I laughed as I tried to explain the little world where I worked within the hospital. Of course this was years and years before Vocera.

As a small child, Hollie was quite impressed with the fact that her mommy wore what she believed to be my jammies to work…perhaps because there may or may not have been times where I literally passed out from the exhaustion that was juggling working full-time overnight shifts while caring for and feeding and shuttling her and her sisters to school and outside activities. In spite of the constant state of exhaustion that was my early juggling days, she was impressed enough with what I do to explain to one of our neonatologists that her mommy was a nurse and everyone knows that it’s the nurses who do everything in the NICU. I should have tried to explain to Dr. C that then 4 year old Hollie might not be 100% accurate except for the fact I kind of liked the fact that 4 year old Hollie appreciated just how hard nurses like me worked when Dr. C. would present her almost illegible orders. Dr. C. might not have been amused with Hollie’s observation but she was impressed that my child admired that which her mommy did in the NICU…unlike her own children’s view.

Abby once told me that she wished to be a baby doctor or baby nurse because she really didn’t care much for blood and stuff…until I carefully explained to her just how much blood and stuff there is in the NICU.

Daniel and Jodie have never not expressed any interest in nursing…then again they never have said that they wanted to be a nurse either.

Oh well!

It’s okay.

As long as they appreciate that which I do…in order to try to give them the best life possible. And they do.

700 miles from home, Jodie has been sick with pneumonia. Of course it has been hard because she has been so miserably sick, just in time for midterms; and because, in her words, more than anything, she wished that her mom was there to take care of her…instead of her spending so much time in Student Health Services wearing a mask lest she somehow infect everyone else at Student Health Services, who is already as sick as she is. How my mom and other nurses manage to wear these masks and breathe I’ll never know!, she wonders.

Altoids are your friend, I might tell her. But hey, she has a whole new appreciation for her mama when she is caring for a ventilated patient in strict isolation.

If you only knew, darling daughter…if you only knew.

Meanwhile, I got me a sweet new stethoscope.

Of course it is a nurse’s stethoscope!