Friday, December 31, 2010

The Plants Are All Dead---And I Don't Feel So Good Myself...

A lot of people have emailed me over the last 2 years, asking me what particular mental illness I have that would require so much therapy as I take, which is 3 days a week. And I've always been too embarassed about it to say. But I guess I should go ahead and own up to the dadgum specifics.

But it's kind of hard to explain. They've given me so many diagnoses. I don't really care what they have defined me as, even though the particular diagnoses affect me horribly. It's why I'm on quite a lot of medications. But even with the medication, it's as if 3 or 4 invisible demons are haunting me.

And you guys know me---I usually put song lyrics on certain blog posts. Those are the best weathervanes for my emotions. I have just never have had the nerve to put my mental problems on my blog before. I thought I would be called "whiny", "melodramatic", and self-pitying. Feel free to think those definitions of me--but I went through those stages long ago and now I have finally accepted "self"... and I don't ask an angry "why?" to the Lord anymore. I just finaly accepted the luck of the draw. In the card deck of the Lord's creations, my soul drew the "Joker" card.

The best thing I can do is my usual----express myself in song lyrics depending on my mood---but this time I'll put the truth under each set of lyrics. Sharing the truth just about scares me to death. (Don't worry, I won't put the whole dang song in here---just some pertinent lyrics.)


("Viva la Vida", Coldplay)

I used to rule the world,
Seas would rise when I gave the word,
I knew something was "wrong" with me in Kindergarten. I didn't know what it was but I knew it was bad. As I began growing up, I was always a driven person---in part to distract me from my mental problems because I felt I had to hide them. My family didn't believe in "mental illness". They just believed in success. Thus, I always made excellent grades in school, and when I was given an IQ test the school authorities skipped me 2 grades in school. But emotionally I was a wreck (although nobody knew) and I begged them to let me skip only one grade. As I grew up further into young adulthood, I always got the job I wanted and was considered the best at whatever I did in whatever hospital I worked at. But panic attacks were my norm and I struggled to keep them private.

I made a hell of a lot of money as an ER RN and an ICU RN and I was certified in just about every specialty of trauma, critical acute care, pediatric critical care, and cardiac care there is. I was always considered extremely good at my job. But on the inside, as it had been all my life, I was full of anxiety and fear--and sometimes irrationality. But I had no idea what I was afraid of. There were times I didn't even feel "real" (what they call dissociaton.) During those times, I worked on autopilot and was terrified that I wouldn't return to "reality". I was always afraid somebody would find out that I was nuts. My moods would swing back & forth seemingly for no good reason. So I worked in my typical driven fashion. I made few friends. People thought me eccentric but yet one of the best nurses in the lot. And it certainly never occurred to me that I had mental illness. I thought I was just crazy as a bedbug and had to hide it from everybody.

One minute I held the key,
Next, the walls were closed on me,
And I discovered that my castles stand upon
Pillars of salt and pillars of sand,

I thought I could hold it together and hide my craziness for my lifetime but I began drinking to calm the panic and anxiety---and shortly became a full-fledged alcoholic. I would go to work and work my ass off and then I'd come home and drink away the panic-- and then I'd go to sleep and have nightmares all night. (I still have nightmares almost every night. Some of them make me wake up in a cold sweat, calling out nonsense sentences.) During the drinking years, I'd get sober for a time, go to alcoholic rehab centers, and then fall victim to my disease of alcoholism yet again and again, over and over.

And I swear, I went to AA for years and did every single thing they told me to do. But I never got relief from the anxiety and nameless fears---or the worsening panic attacks and other symptoms of my mental illnesses. It was a horrible roller-coaster.

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing,
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing,
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field,

My nightmares have mostly always been about situations that happened while I was growing up in foreign countries since my parents were in the Diplomatic Corps and were being constantly transferred to different countries. Many of the countries we went to were in political turmoil and there were many situations which were dangerous to us Americans. We were rudely introduced to anti-American behaviors and attitudes from the beginning of that diplomatic life. Or the scary events were just political events that had nothing to do with Americans. Here's one horrifying thing that happened overseas: here. Then there was an event where my mother and I were almost killed when there was a mob rush on the American Embassy in Damascus, Syria---in 1998-- if interested you can read the Dept. of State's Consular Fact Sheet about Syria, which mentions the riot and rush on the American Embassy in 1998 down about the 7th or 8th paragraph in the section called "Safety & Security" here.

I can't tell you that story yet. It's too awful and frightening for me to delve into that memory---but let me say that when an Embassy's detachment of Marine Guards call for anybody who can use a gun and then hands you one so that you can help shoot it out when the Embassy Compound is breached by the mobs, it does something to you that never leaves your inner horrors. (And that was after the Marine Guards had lobbed 127 tear gas cannisters over the Compound walls to hold the mob off--with the tear gas affecting us as well as the mobs....) I'll tell you the story some day. It lives forever in my dreams...

It was the wicked and wild wind,
Blew down the doors to let me in,
Shattered windows and the sounds of drums,
People couldn't believe what I'd become,

And there you have it. About two and a half years ago, after a 22 year career as an RN, I finally broke completely down psychologically and couldn't work or function. I drank even more to temporarily kill the inner monsters, the panic attacks, and the awful mood swings---and that became a time when my family was disgusted with me. They thought it was just alcoholism. They didn't know I had multiple diagnoses of mental illnesses trying to beat me down into complete insanity. And so I returned to Blaine. He had always been my rock and wanted me to come back to him. (I had divorced him a few years before but we had remained friends.) Blaine had always known I had problems but he didn't care.

And so I stopped drinking and began the therapy I'm in now. And for the record, my diagnoses are: Rapid Cycling Bipolar disease, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Paranoia, and some disorder that my therapist won't tell me as he thinks it would make me flip out-- but he always gently hints about it as he tells me that some of the things that I feel, hear, or believe are "a bit of psychosis caused by stress".

"A bit of psychosis"??? I'm not stupid. I know that I experience psychotic symptoms every now and then when I've been through some extra stress. To be honest, I have experienced a few auditory hallucinations (I heard whispering voices that aren't real) and I have also felt sensory, tactile hallucinations (something touched or pushed me and I turned around and nobody was there.) I also occasionally get paranoid about something I needn't because what's going on is not really what's going on. (A delusion or paranoia.) And I tell these things to my therapist and ask him if the things I experience could be that our house is haunted (heh!) and he again uses that gentle voice and says something like: "Bo, you know you have psychotic symptoms every now and then when you're stressed, right?" Oh yadee yadee yahdah.

My therapist told me that my particular Bipolar Disorder is the "rapid cycling" variety and is the most difficult diagnosis to treat in all of psychiatric-dom. My moods swing from elation to severe depression, and I never know which way the pendulum will swing-- or when. My therapist told me that it's easier to treat a schizophrenic than to treat what I have. Lovely.

These days I do the best I can. If it weren't for my sense of humor I don't know what I'd do. So I lean on it. Blaine understands--bless his heart. Heck, I'm lucid, I've learned to get through my severe mood swings, and so I'm able to function on a certain level. I can do my therapy assignments. I am dragged out of the house once a week on Wednesdays by the mobile therapist since I hate leaving the house. And my case manager comes on Friday. And then I have my 1:1 hour therapy session with my therapist and then a 2-hour DBT group on Thursdays at the psych center. Some days I get so sick of therapy that I can't stand it. But I diligently press on and do as I am asked.

For some reason I can't understand,
I know St. Peter won't call my name,
Never an honest word,
But that was when I ruled the world.....



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Christmas Story of.... Popcorn

Okay, I griped enough about the family choosing to do that "White Elephant" Christmas gift game on Christmas Day that I'm sure that Heaven's Angels above heard me. Well, wait till you hear what happened!

We all met at Blaine's sister's house for Christmas dinner and ate and made merry. And then it came time for "the game". The rules of the game were this: You picked a number out of a hat and that was your turn to pick a gift from the pile of anonymous gifts.

(Now note: the gifts that Blaine and I had contributed were a reversible fleece throw from Macy's and an air popcorn machine.)

Then, when it came time for you to pick a gift, you could choose to pick a gift from the pile or you could instead "steal" somebody else's gift.

So we began the game. (I was number 6). When it came my turn to pick a a gift it turned out to be an air popcorn maker with cute popcorn cups that are like the popcorn cups you get at the movies---and Blaine's sister-in-law admitted it was the gift she had contributed. Ahah, I thought---there are 2 popcorn makers in the lot!

Up to now, nobody had stolen anybody's gift. Most of us adults were just too polite to do it..... until it came Blaine's sister's turn. Blaine's sister is notoriously self-centered and greedy. And she had the unmitigated gall to choose NOT to pick a gift and steal my popcorn maker instead!

And she failed to notice the slight Mona Lisa smile on my face as she grabbed my popcorn maker box. Because there are 5 people in her family and 4 of them still hadn't picked.

The game went on. And since Blaine's sister had stolen my gift, I had to pick another gift from the pile, which turned out to be a totally cool indoor nerf ball basketball game---with an iTunes card taped to it! Yay! I was so thrilled! I couldn't have cared less about the nerf ball doohicky--but I was thrilled over the iTunes card. I have been wanting new music for my iPod forever!

The game went on. The gifts were good and, like I said before, people were just too polite to steal each others' gifts. And then it came down to the last three people's turns---which, per the luck of the draw, turned out to be two of Blaine's sister's three children and Blaine's brother. And it was very difficult to keep my Mona Lisa smile from evolving into an out and out grin. Finally it was the last person's turn, Blaine's 16-year-old niece. She had the choice of either stealing a gift from somebody or else choosing the last gift on the pile.

She hemmed and hawed for a few minutes. She kept muttering to her mother that she actually wanted my gift--the nerf ball game and the iTunes card---and Blaine's sister actually urged her to steal it! She actually told her daughter to steal my gift YET AGAIN. But the girl seemed too self-conscious to steal my gift. And I held my breath while this was going on because I knew what the last gift on the pile was---Blaine's popcorn maker. Finally, her 16-year old curiosity won out and she chose the last gift on the pile......and opened it.....

And was she ever surprised to see that it was a duplicate of the gift her mother had stolen from me---an air popcorn maker! HEH! HEH! HEH!

I swear, I laughed so hard my sides split. Because now Blaine's sister's family had TWO of the exact same air popcorn makers, HEE HEE HEE!!!!! I consider it POETIC JUSTICE, since Blaine's sister had been the one and only person to steal somebody's gift and she had urged her daughter to steal my 2nd gift!!

Karma, you know?



Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Eve Eve

T'was 2 nights before Christmas,
when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even an idiot cat...


(That huge box was delivered yesterday, from my Mother, hee hee!)


The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas

would soon be there....

(Oh...I guess we forgot to hang stockings this year....oh well...)

Me and Blaine were nestled all snug in our beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in our heads....

(Okay, I don't remember wrapping any sugarplums. But there's the wrapping station---and the two presents there are the ones we're contributing to the "gift pot" for the ridiculously stupid "White Elephant" game with presents that the family has decided to do on Christmas day after dinner. I bought a reversible Sherpa throw from Macy's and Blaine bought an air popcorn maker from Bed Bath and Beyond...)

And yadee yadee yadah,

I was up getting a drink of water and,

to my utter mortification,

Santa Clause came down the chimney

and hid Blaine's present

behind the clutter at my "knitting station"!

(The blue box with silver bow in the back).

And then I thought, what the hell is he doing here the night before Christmas Eve? Maybe he needs two nights to deliver all the presents these days....

(I put a tote bag over Blaine's present so he can't see it....)

And yadee yadee yadah,
but there's the yarn I bought
with my gift certificate from my mother.

It's Malabrigo Worsted, colorway "Snow Bird". (I'm making myself a sweater out of this luscious yarn.)

Where Was I?

Oh yes, 2 nights before Christmas and Santa Claus is in my living room....

Anyhoo, all of sudden
Santa flew back up the chimney
(and I hope his butt
wasn't burned by the fire there....)
And I could hear him
up on the roof getting ready to take off.
And then I heard him yell:


"Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! On Donner and Blitzen!

Yadee yadee yadah, I can't wait till Christmas!

Now, I need to inform you of a matter of importance. It's that of you being entitled to one wish on the Christmas Tree. All you have to do is wait till Christmas Eve and then you wish on your Christmas Tree. Most of mine have always come true. So don't forget!



Sunday, December 19, 2010

OK, So It's The Thought---Not the Christmas Gift.....


One the First Day of Christmas,
My True Love Gave to Me.....
("The Twelve Days of Christmas")


It seemed like a good idea at the time, ya know?

Have you ever thought of a really great idea and then turned out to be the stupidest thing you've ever done?

Well that happened to me one Christmas, years before I met Blaine. I was dating another guy, a financial analyst for Price Waterhouse I think. Anyway, he was a nice guy. And he invited me to spend Christmas with his family in California since my parents were out of the country.

Now understand, I had been racking my brains for weeks trying to figure out what to get him for Christmas. I thought and thought but couldn't think of what to get him. So I mentally went through the list of his interests. He liked Elvis Costello music, he liked a particular restaurant because of their excellent nachos and salsa, he liked playing darts, but he REALLY loved football. That boy was constantly watching football games---any football game. He was totally addicted to watching football.

Anyhoo, one day, as I was thumbing through a magazine, I saw an ad for a telephone shaped like a football---and I thought EUREKA!!!!!

I would get him the telephone shaped like a football!! So I ordered it and received it. I was gleeful! My problem was solved---and he would love it! So I wrapped it prettily in a box with ribbons and bows.

So we went to California to spend Christmas with his folks. He had two brothers near his age. And his mother, a wonderful woman from India, was a City Planner. His father was a lawyer, a District Attorney for their city. And my boyfriend's mother's mother couldn't speak English very well but she was a truly sweet woman. She was delighted when I was able to say a few things to her in Hindi which I learned while I was in boarding school in India.

Anyway, on Christmas Day there were literally a couple hundred presents under the Christmas tree, what with their large family and a bunch of their friends also attending. And I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat in delightful anticipation of when my boyfriend would open his present from me.

One by one the presents were opened. And then they handed my boyfriend's present to me. I opened it---and it was a very expensive watch....and then it hit me...

Oh. My. God.

Because suddenly a light bulb went off above my head and I realized my gift to him was absolutely ridiculous. A telephone shaped like a football? Hells bells but it was one of the stupidest things I had ever done. I was utterly mortified. And I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me whole to save me from sitting there with a fake smile on my face while dreading the time when my boyfriend would open my gift. Oh the humanity of it all!! My gift would look like a turd next to the golden watch he had given me!

Sure enough, the time came when he was handed my gift. I held my breath as he smiled while opening it. And then.... when he saw what it was.... a totally confused (and slightly shocked) look came over his face that said it all. He hated it.

"Um....", I offered shakily. "It... uh... it even has the stickers of all the teams so that you can put the sticker of your favorite team on it if you want..."



Monday, December 13, 2010

Whispers of Ghosts of Christmas Past.....


Don't look back,

Keep your head held high,

Don't ask them why,

Because life is short

And before you know

You're feeling old

And your heart is breaking

Don't hold on to the past

Well that's too much to ask...

("This Used To Be My Playground", Madonna)


I don't work now. But not a day goes by that I remember a large part of my former nursing career....both the good and the bad...

I was an RN. And I was a certified "critical care" RN, which means you specialized in the care of patients in ICU's or else the Emergency Rooms, the "ER's". I worked the ER's. I was a certified trama nurse, a certified neurology nurse, a certified Code Blue nurse for both adults and babies, and also a wound vaccuum nurse.

And at Christmas time the remembrance of one particular Christmas in the ER always sneaks into my mind to haunt me. And I always choose to shut it out of my mind.....but sometimes that doesn't work and I have an entire flashback of the whole shift. And the the memories break my heart again. It happens every Christmas.....and the pain and feelings of helplessness return with a vengeance, flooding into my mind as if a damn broke.

In my 22 years of nursing it was the zillionth time I was working the ER on Christmas. I had come to know, during my career, that I would most likely work most Christmases, either because I was scheduled to or else I did it to allow a co-worker nurse with children to have it off so she could be with her family on Christmas.

Thus, most Christmases I worked with other sad nurses who couldn't have Christmas off, and we were usually a motley crew of those who worked simply to make a fortune in the double overtime pay rate for Christmas, single nurses with no family, or other nurses who worked for some other reasons like mine.

There is no way around it---ER work is brutal. We used to call it "dog work". By the time you got off work, you'd slogged your way through so much vomit, blood, pus, urine, and feces that it was all over your uniform. And so when you went home, you stepped into the back door and stripped nekkid, throwing the uniform into the washer before you stepped foot in any other area of your home.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh particular Christmas in the ER which haunts me.

It was a very bad night that Christmas Eve in the ER. I was running my ass off to keep up with the never-ending flow of patients, both from the endless parade of paramedic trucks who kept bringing patients with the most horrible of wounds or acute illnesses, and also from the triage area in the waiting room which kept trying to fit patients around the flow of the paramedic patients.

I was so tired and hungry about 6 hours into my 12-hour shift that I just had to eat. But there was no way I could take a break. Nobody was getting a break that night. So I grabbed a half of a sandwich and worked while eating the sandwich. One of my patients was an ectopic pregnancy and she was very nauseated. In fact, she suddenly vomited into a trash can. I patted her on the back and said (through my chewing of the sandwich) "Just get it all out, honey, just get it all out."

During that, I looked up and saw one of my co-workers at the nurse desk. She was staring at me with emotionless eyes. And I noticed that she was eating Campbell's Bean & Bacon Soup right out of the can with a spoon. No water, no heating it up. Just eating it cold right out of the can.

I knew then that she was going just as crazy and insane as I was.

As the night wore on, each way you looked patients were dying or in the throes of death. And there were the patients who were so sick that you were begging the ICU or "the floors" for beds. But there were no available beds and so some patients were simply put on stretchers in the halls. We hooked them up to heavy portable cardiac monitors and IV pumps for their medicines. Carrying the heavy monitors and IV pumps were backbreakers. But we had to keep them alive.

I knew I was in a bad mental place. I knew I was so worn out that I was not feeling any caring towards any of the patients. And then it hit me---I was close to clinical burn-out. And I didn't want to be one of the burn-outs.

A burn-out lost their empathy for nursing in general and worked on autopilot. Their eyes were dead and they rarely spoke except to exchange patient information with the lab, doctor, or other nurses.

I knew I had to change my attitude this night or I'd sink into a burn-out state and would never feel anything for any of my patients again. I didn't want that to happen to me. I knew I would have to do something to change my attitude. But what? What could I do? How could I see through all that blood and vomit? The patients were all starting to look alike to me. I was becoming less and less able to comfort them....

I didn't know what to do but I kept on working. I was starting umpteen IV's an hour. And I was so good at it that my patients didn't feel a thing. Hell, I was so good at IV's that I could slide an IV into somebody's arm in the dark with one hand tied behind my back. And, thankfully, I could still charm the little children that needed IV's so that they wouldn't be frightened too much and wouldn't need strapping down for the scary task.

I was stemming the blood flow on countless patients. I was bandaging wounds, giving suffocating patients oxygen, applying casts, helping the doctors stitch up people with deep, bloody injuries that I'd rinsed out with a cleansing fluid, and I was drawing blood on literally every patient I got.

The lab was pissing me off. They'd call me up and say: "Your blood draws on so-and-so hemolyzed---draw us some more." And then I'd have to waste valuable time to go draw blood again on the patient. And then after a few more times of this, it hit me---the lab was lying to me. I thought maybe they wanted to take breaks against the constant flow of tubes of blood. Actually I don't really know why they did this. But I knew it was for an unacceptable reason.

Upon this realization, do you know what I did? On every patient that I drew blood on, I'd draw a second set of tubes of blood---from the same stick. And so when the stupid lab called me up to ask me to draw another set, I'd send that second set I held in reserve--and the lab was just fine with it. Hah. I had fooled the lab and saved myself valuable time.

Then I heard the radio crackle with a paramedic calling us. I answered it and he said: "Bo, it's Miss Emily again....and we're bringing her in."

I swore in anger.

And I was that much closer to admitting defeat of my attempt at a better mood. I was approaching the dark abyss....

Miss Emily was one of the most aggravating patients in the world of our ER. She was a widow woman, and she never really had anything wrong with her. And so she wasted a lot of our time. She always chose the most busiest times to call the paramedics---and, as usual, the doctors never found anything wrong with her. But I knew that all she really wanted was some attention, as she was all alone in her life, and she wanted a validation that she actually had something wrong with her. I also knew the doctor would be irritated that she was coming in, too.

And at that moment, it struck me!

Miss Emily would be my Christmas project for regenerating my horrible attitude into something positive! I would save myself from my dark depression and mean thoughts by using Miss Emily! So--- I decided right then that I wouldn't be irritable with her like I usually was. In fact, I decided to be as nice as I could. So nice that she would get the attention and validation that she was so desperate for.

So when the paramedics radioed that they were pulling up at the Ambulance Bay doors, I was there......and I had open arms and a big smile on my face! "Oh there you are, Miss Emily!" I said. "I've been waiting for you! I want to make you feel better!"

And, as they pulled her out of the paramedic truck on the stretcher and she saw and heard me, she started crying and said: "Oh, Bo! Thank God for you!" And I hugged her. I told the astonished 'medics to roll her in a certain room and I hung onto her stretcher as they trundled her on the stretcher, patting her hand all the way to the room.
"Now don't you worry, Miss Emily," I told her. "We'll fix it. I want my favorite patient to feel better!"
Miss Emily kept crying tears of gratitude, and I saw a peace come over her face. That look was worth everything to me.

And I treated her like a queen for her whole stay. I quietly told the doctor that all she wanted was a pain shot for her arthritis and some attention---and so the doctor did just that. (ER doctors love it when a nurse tells them how to treat a patient to make their job easier.) The doc was one of my buddies and trusted me for whatever advice I gave him. We made Miss Emily's Christmas Eve a good, wondrous experience. And when she was loaded into the paramedic truck which was going to take her home, I stood in the Ambulance Bay and waved goodby to her.

And you know what?

Miss Emily did save me. She had saved me from becoming a dead-eyed "burn-out", a nurse devoid of empathy for patients that happens to so many ER nurses. I once again had enthusiasm for my job. And I knew, as I waved Miss Emily goodbye, that I would be able to make it through the nightmarish shift that Christmas night with a new heart and re-newed courage.

No matter how bad it got......

Somewhere close to the end of my shift, and I was feeling hope that the clock would show quitting time, there came a 40 year-old girl who said she was having chest pain. Nobody paid much attention to her since ER's don't respect chest pain under the age of 50. But I had a feeling. So I hooked her up to the portable cardiac monitor with the help of my charge nurse, Gregory. As soon as we hooked her up, we noticed that she was in a godawful heart rhythm. It was so bad that we literally had to struggle to keep our faces straight so she wouldn't know that we were panicking inside.

I said: "I'll go get the doctor"..... but then it happened all of a sudden.....

"Bo!" Gregory shouted. "She's gone into V-Fib!"

I turned around and saw that the patient had turned the "death color", a deep purple. The "won't be able to be brought back" color every ER nurse knew and dreaded. Gregory had hit the "Code Blue" button to alert the hospital and he was already following the V-Fib protocol of shocking her with the defibrillator her by the time the helper co-workers began streaming into the room.

"CLEAR!!" he'd yell and we'd all step away from the bed. And then he did it a couple more times.

But the patient was not responding so Gregory opened the drug drawer of the Crash Cart and threw some reviving drugs over the bed to me. I caught them and opened them quickly, and then I screwed the huge, two-piece syringes together---and then I hurriedly pushed the drugs into her IV. Finally the doctor ran into the room and started giving orders. But still, nothing was working. She was still that deep purple. She was dead on the table. All of us knew it but kept following the reviving protocols as a last ditch effort. (Actually, all Code Blues are the last ditch effort.)

Her husband, who was at her side, started praying loudly to The Lord.

We nurses knew that purple color meant she was dead. Dead as a doornail. She wasn't coming back. In all my experience I'd never seen somebody that death color revived by a Code Blue. Code Blues are not like they are presented on television where the patients are always brought back. In real life 75% of people do not survive a Code Blue. Only 25% make it. And this girl most definitely wasn't going to survive. And yet her husband kept loudly praying to the Lord. We just worked around him.

And then doctor suddenly had an idea.

"Hey Bo," he said. "Let's try that new drug protocol for Code Blues's---Let's try the drug Amiodarone! Go get an IV of that going after a starting bolus." (A bolus is a large loading dose, done before the IV starts.)

I turned to go get the Amiodarone IV bag........and then I heard something which made the hair stand up on my arms and the back of my neck.....

The patient suddenly "pinked up", looked up at us, and said, clear as a bell: "I'm back!"

All of us nurses (and the doctor) were so in shock that all we could do was stare at each other. If I hadn't seen it myself I wouldn't have believed it. Because we knew. We all knew that patients who have been coded and "wake up" don't even know they've been gone---much less that they CAME BACK!

"Praise the Lord!" her husband hollered.

Came back from where? I wondered....

They ended up calling the helicopter to fly her to a cardiac hospital after we stabilized her. I got her ready and then when the flight crew arrived, I helped them roll her stretcher up the elevator to the helicopter landing platform. It was scary up there because there were no side rails. I swallowed hard because we had to follow a narrow pathway to the actual landing platform which was at least 200 feet above the ground outside. And then I helped the flight crew get her into the helicopter with all her IV's, portable cardiac monitor and IV tubings intact---and all while giving "report" to the flight doctor and nurses on just what happened to her, what drugs we'd given her, and how we coded her----and then how she'd woke up saying "I'm back". They were just as shocked as we were.

While I was there, on the landing platform, I looked with envy at the flight crew's pins. Every ER nurse attaches pins onto their employee badge from various certifications they've earned. Bit the helicopter crews' pins were especially coveted but it was a rare nurse who had one. The flight crews only gave it to the people they considered exceptional. I gazed wistfully at the flight captain's pin.

As I stepped back to allow them to take off, the captain of the helicopter stepped towards me. He slowly took his helicopter crew pin off his own badge and handed it to me. I got tears in my eyes and said "Thank you so much....." He sid: "You're good, Bo. Don't ever change."

I cried when he said that. But he understood. And he gave me a big smile---and then they all got into the helicopter and flew away towards the cardiac hospital.

A day or two later I talked to the doctor about her. I asked him about why she said "I'm back" after being dead.

The doctor said: "She told the helicopter crew that she had gone to a really nice place where all her dead relatives were. And she loved that place so much that when they told her she had to return to being alive, she said she didn't want to leave. But her relatives told her she had to come back to earth to raise her children".

I got goose bumps and tears in my eyes when he told me. And I believed it--I believed it because I'd seen her DEAD on the table. And yet she came back and knew she was back instead of being confused or in a coma like most patients who've been coded.
When it had happened, and the patient was successfully coded, the nurses had all congratulated each other and the doctor on a successful Code Blue. Greg looked at me and said "Whew..... that was a close one." But I don't think it was our measly drugs and defibrillator shocks that brought her back. I knew it was her husband, who had invoked The Lord.

That night, when my shift was over and I was allowed to go home, I stopped by the ER's Christmas Tree. Because every person is granted a wish on the Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve. (So be sure and get yours.)

And I won't tell you what I wished for---but I felt renewed and and motivated for my work with patients after that......

And I went home with a lighter heart...



Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Great Christmas Shopping Trip of 2010....



If there is love in your heart and your mind
You will feel like Christmas all the time...

("Where are you Christmas?", Faith Hill)


Okay, I started off early in the morning for my Christmas shopping trip in the truck. The picture above shows my truck in the snow. But I have to be honest---it wasn't snowing the other day when I went Christmas shopping. It snowed last night and so I took the picture of the neighborhood under snow this morning because it's a prettier picture.

Anyway, first stop.....the Mall of course!!! Because I wanted to get the roughest shopping done first. And you know what shopping early in the morning gets you? A parking place close to the buildings. Later in the day and closer to Christmas you will find out that close parking places become like unicorns......mythical, unseen things. And when it's the last 2 days before Christmas, any parking place at all will be all the way out to the Outback Restaurant or 95th Street. (And me trying to park that damn long bed truck is similar to what I think parking a Boeing 747 would be like.)

Below is the inside of the mall. See how it goes on to infinity? I hid under the escalators while I plotted a strategy of getting to the places I needed to go without crossing the path of those lotion kiosk idiots who assaulted me that time.

(Remember? One of the sales girls actually grabbed my hand as I walked by, jerked me back to her, and squirted lotion on my hand and started rubbing it in before I even realized what was happening! But I jerked myself back from her and ran like hell.)

Lookie Lookie below!!!! The fabled mall Merry-Go-Round! Isn't it a wondrous sight? And see the intensely beautiful blue Mer-Horse? I wanted to ride that stupid Mer-Horse so bad I could taste it. But instead I just stood there, staring at it wistfully. (If you click on the picture it will enlarge so that you can see the glorious Mer-Horse up close.)

Next stop, Costco below. I went inside to buy Blaine a regular, $50.00 membership but I let the lady talk me into buying him the more expensive, $100.00 "Executive Membership". I'm hoping so bad that he'll like this present because he never gets to go shopping at Costco unless his brother-in-law, who has a membership card, goes. Now, with Blaine having his own card, he will never have to wait on his brother-in-law again---he'll be able to go whenever he wants to.

Blaine loves Costco because there's great deals on groceries. Also, they have great deals on Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and sweaters/pullovers for me.

Next, on to Kohl's, below, where I bought Blaine a $150.00 gift card. He likes buying clothes at that store because they have nice stuff. He likes the store so much that he has a Kohl's charge card. And he gets their sale coupons in the mail which he always uses, and so I figured he'd appreciate a gift card from there.

Oh! What is it that I see below???? Could it be.......A YARN SHOP??!!!

My mother sent me a gift card for this particular yarn shop and she emailed me that I had better NOT use the card till after Christmas Day. Of course I told her "Sure, sure, Mumsy" and then promptly went down to the yarn store and spent it.

But I had good reason to do so, I swear!!! I had to use it now!! (God, I hope my mother doesn't read this.)

But it's true---I definitely had to use the gift card now because at Christmas time the yarn I want flies out of that store as soon as they get it, which is the same thing a knitter friend told me. She said that if I waited till Christmas to use the gift card, the high quality yarns in the shop would be picked over or else out-of-stock altogether. She suggested buying the yarn I want now and then putting the bag under the tree. So, I did as my friend suggested.

So I bought ten hanks of Malabrigo Worsted in the "Snow Bird" colorway (vivid red, greens, and yellows---softly luscious and GORGEOUS!)

So don't worry Mumsy (if you're reading this)---I put the bag of yarn under the Christmas tree and won't use it till after Christmas.

Next stop---Hobby Lobby, where I bought that stupid little potholder loom so I could make potholders for my sister.
One might ask what's with my sister asking me to make her those particular potholders which we made when we were young children? After all, she's a millionaire now, after having married the millionaire guy that she did, and so she could buy any dadgum potholder she wants! And I bought their family lots of lovely presents, which are going out in the mail tomorrow. But she said she also wants me to make her those dadgum little loom POTHOLDERS!

And so here I sit with a bag of loops, weaving those idgity little potholders on a childsize plastic loom like an idiot.


(I have two finished....)

At the last minute, I realized I forgot to buy gift tags. AAAAARRRRGGHH! So I made one more stop at the below CVS, which is close to my house, to buy the damn tags. Then, as I was dying of hunger, I went through the Taco Bell drive-thru and bought lunch to take home with me.

I love Taco Bell.

Well, that's it. The Great Christmas Shopping Trip of 2010.

(I just gotta say it one more time: I would give anything if I could ride the lovely Mer-Horse on that Merry-Go-Round....)



Thursday, December 09, 2010

Let's Go Christmas Shopping!

Tomorrow I'm going Christmas shopping again----and I'll tuck the camera into my purse because I'm going to take you with me!



Friday, December 03, 2010

Um...I Think It's Tilted.....


I'll have a blue Christmas without you

I'll be so blue thinkin' about you

Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree

Won't mean a thing if you're not here with me

("Blue Christmas", Beach Boys)


Yes, I know it's the straggliest Christmas tree that anybody has ever seen. But it's the only one we ever put up that the cats don't have a field day tearing down. Even Charlie Brown's tree looked better....

But it's the spirit of Christmas that is sought rather than beauty sometimes. I'm going to try and get Blaine to set up the fireplace for use. And then get those long burning logs that are easy to clean up, rather than "real" wood.

I remember that when I was with Brian over 12 years ago, before our divorce, we'd put up a big tree and order a cord of wood be delivered. Well, the cord of wood looked cool on the porch and the tree looked good----but the eventual clean-up was a hassle.

And besides, when we divorced, Blaine gave me all the boxes of Christmas decorations---which are currently lodged in my mother's garage in Texas.

I've been blue a lot lately. But I've decided to try and set the blues aside and be thankful for the friends I have in real life and the friends I have online---and seek out the spirit of Christmas.....



Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I Guess PETA Has Pretty Much Left Louisiana Alone....


Giggin' frogs till the early mornin', smokin' dried cross vine,

Take me back down where the Red River rolls,

Send me back to Lou'sianne

Take me back down where the white water flows,

To the Cajun promised land....

("Red River", Alabama)


A lot of my readers have asked me about a term I use. It is: "his (or her) eyes bugged out like that of a gigged frog".

Okay, I'm going to explain the term, but I want to caution you---it's rather grizzly. It's a Cajun, Louisiana swamp activity. And even though I'm half Cajun by having a Southern mother from the swamp lands of Louisiana (which is the capital of gigging frogs), I personally have never gone frog gigging. I think it is too cruel.

Nevertheless, frog gigging is a huge sport in the swamps of Louisiana. After a good "giggin'", I've seen frog giggers proudly hold up strings of frogs to brag about how many frogs they've gigged (and the size of the frogs), sort of like how proud fishermen hold up strings of their fish they've caught.

Here's how it goes:

You see that trident thingy above the song lyrics? It is a standard frog gigging tool, comprised of 3 spears, each with prongs. And this instrument is attached to a pole of about 6 feet to 12 feet.

Then you take it out in the middle of the night when the hapless frogs are all sitting on shore or lily pads. The boats are usually so small that only 2-3 men can fit in it. And the boat glides gently and silently in the water through the swamp.

What the guys are looking for is toads and frogs---especially the big ones.

Here's what I always wanted to know. Why do they calling it "gigging"? Everything else in the swamp is "hunted"---like alligator hunting. But I have to admit that it would sound kind of stupid to call it "frog hunting". Hunting implies some personal danger---but there's no danger to one who is looking for frogs, ergo the less sinister sounding "gigging frogs" versus "hunting frogs"....

Anyhoo, the next thing you need (besides a boat and a trident with 3 spears of prongs) is a well-fitting hat with a head lamp on it. That way, you can search for the frogs in the dark of night.

And, of course, I guess by now you've figured out what the frog giggers want---which is the frog legs. Frog legs is a favored delicacy in the swamp. They're easy to get, taste good, and there's a never-ending supply of them. Frog legs are usually rolled in a batter and then deep fried. But some people like them sauteed in butter.

Anyway, this all brings me to the Southern expression of "his/her eyes bugged out like a giggled frog". It is because when a frog gigger thrusts his spear and penetrates a frog, the poor thing's eyes bug out.

So there you have it. And don't worry---I think it's a cruel sport and so I've never gone frog gigging. (Plus I don't like the taste of frog legs.)

However, although I think it's cruel to gig frogs, I do eat animals, like cow beef, chicken, fish, and crabs. Go figure.

Anyway, it's a true sport in Louisiana, with skilled giggers competing in their frog gigging exploits, and I've seen frog giggers coming home with a gallon container of frogs. And I've even seen men taking their small sons on frog gigging trips in order to teach their kids the art of frog gigging from a young age.

Poor little gigged frogs......