Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Everybody Needs a Goal.

Mine is to not turn my heat on until Nov 1st.

9 days and counting (on curled up, shivering fingers)!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

T5 Signs that "Life" has Officially Caught Up With Me....

....or that it caught up a long time ago and has left me reeling in its dust.

5) I have been living out of my suitcase (and travel toiletry bag) for the last 8 days despite the fact that I have not traveled anywhere in the last 8 days.
4) My "list of things to do when you get home" which I made on the plane on my way home from Cote d'Ivoire is still double digits long.
3) The mail at the bottom of my "unopened mail" pile is postmarked October 8th.
2) I had pancakes for breakfast. The milk that I used to make the batter expired on Oct 4th. It was not curdled, but it also no longer smelled like milk.
1) There is officially no toilet paper in my house.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Professional Restrictions

I was in a patient's room this evening and he was watching some sort of report on Palin.

He started shaking his head and said, "There simply isn't any reason to bring a handicapped child into this world. She knew that baby had Down's. With the technology we have today, there is no way to justify ignoring the information you are given about your child's condition."

For the sake of keeping my job, I turned and walked out of the room without saying a word and I don't plan on going back in there (don't worry I'm turning over his care at 2300...not because I am so assignment got switched because of staffing needs).

It was probably rude to just abruptly leave the room, but at the moment it seemed a lot less rude than anything I would have said if I had stayed.

I've always considered myself a fairly professional nurse.

Turns out there are some things that override my professionalism.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A New Man in My Life

I got a new car on Wednesday which means I had to say goodbye to my old one. As excited as I am about this new chapter in my life, I was genuinely saddened to have to say goodbye to Luie. So I decided he deserved a bit of a tribute here on my blog. Am I a ridiculously over-sentimental person who is too nostalgic for my own good? No doubt. Always have been. I'm just not going to apologize for it anymore. So this is for you, Luie....

Brought into this world in '96.

Brought into my life May 2004.

Laid to rest October 15, 2008.
192,917 miles, 2 rust spots, 1 significant dent and thousands of memories later.


You will always be my "faithful first car" - not very flashy, but loyal to the core, just how I like 'em.

I was embarrassed for your sake when Julie christened you, but you grabbed hold of the name and developed it into a personality that suited you perfectly.

We have run into a cop or two (or four) during the course of our many years together, but we have never received more than a stern verbal reprimand. I think it's because you're so cute.

You were a safe haven of solitude when I felt crowded by the close confines of college.

Your tea-stained carpets and coffee-crusted seats were a constant reminder that I am not nearly as "put together" as I appear to be sometimes.

You lent a voice to some of the best and worst music mixes I have ever made.

You provided a quiet, comfortable environment on the way home from Pennsylvania, allowing me the joy of listening for hours as Dad answered all of my questions about his childhood, the fire, his college years, dating Mom, his view of God, finances, and the things he loves about each of us girls. Hands down one of the Top 5 most significant/meaningful conversation I have ever had (or ever will have) in my life.

You have been witness to some of my deepest laughs and harshest tears.

For no apparent reason, you occasionally refused to play burnt CDs. It's the one quirk that I never quite figured out and I found it irritating enough that it brought curses to my lips on a couple of occasions.

Your front passenger seat accepted an entire box of used Kleenexes as I screamed out my confusion and anger on a cold February afternoon in '06.

You gave people a couple of "lovetaps" here and there (and by "here" I mean "35W N by CR E" and by "there" I mean "downtown St. Paul") but nothing significant enough to cause damage and for that I thank you.

Your stability and quick response to my direction kept us safe when I insisted on making long roadtrips during every major storm in the winter of '07-'08.

I rarely allowed others to drive you, knowing how gently your heart needed to be handled (and by "heart," I mean "engine"). You had too many quirks to be a community car. But Rach was in need and I was in Honduras, so she spent a week with you. I still can't figure out what you were doing when you began to roll down the hill backwards, heading toward another car. You gave Rach and Chinwe quite the scare. You little punk.

It is within the quiet confines of your cab that some of my most passionate prayers have been prayed (and whispered, and cried, and laughed, and screamed).

You provided a quick getaway from the "ham convention" in Ohio and then tolerated the endless string of jokes that Slater, Chryss and I made for the 10 hours that followed.

You have taken me all over the state (and country) to see the people I love and you have carried me home in patient silence as my bittersweet tears wondered why loving people so deeply has to hurt so much sometimes.

For over a year now, your "service engine soon" light has cast a gentle orange glow into the cab, a daily reminder of the grace I experienced each time your engine started (also served as a good reminder that I needed a new car).

The fading light and ensuing darkness that has been creeping across your instrument panel has foreshadowed your slow, quiet, uncomplaining death. It has also made it increasingly dangerous to drive at night as I can't see how fast I am going.

Rest well, my sweet Luie. Know that you will be missed. You were so good to me for so many years. I will always remember you fondly.

Welcome to the family, Coby Vergilius Balto!!

I haven't known you long enough to develop much trust,
but I sure do think you're cute.

As long as you don't mind that I talk to myself constantly and sing at the top of my lungs, we should get along just fine.

I look forward to many good years together!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Immersion Therapy - Not a Fan

I was orienting to the resource RN role on Wednesday night which means I didn't actually have a patient assignment. I appreciated the timing of this because I was still a little shook up after my code Wednesday morning, especially after I returned to work and discovered that he did not survive.

I always felt like if one of my patients was going to code, I would at least have some clue that it was coming. SOME clue. Any. But this guy left me feeling like I had gotten hit by a semi. He was supposed to go home in the morning and I had already taped report saying that the nurse referral was done and everything was set up for him to leave at 9:30. I went in and saw him shortly before 6, gave him his heparin shot, asked him if he had peed (I was concerned that he was retaining urine and he had been a stinker about not saving his urine to be measured) and he hadn't, so I told him I was going to call the cath team to have them come scan his bladder. He told me that was fine.

I went out and paged the cath team, got meds out of Pyxis for another patient and was headed into her room when his call light went on. I was ever so slightly annoyed because I had just been in there less than 10 minutes ago. The other nurse I was working with popped her head in to see what he needed and came right back out telling me I needed to get in there right away. He was vomiting copius amounts of blood and by the time I got over to his room he was already unresponsive although blood continued to spout out of his mouth and nose in reflexive waves. From that point on, everything was a bit of a whirlwind, but the skinny of it is that the code team came, got a rhythm back and took him up to the ICU where, apparently, they withdrew support a couple of hours later. I never did hear if they know what happened. My best guess is esophageal or gastric varices (essentially, blood vessels in the GI tract that burst and cause bleeding that results in a medical emergency). But I don't really know.

Needless to say, I was glad to not be on the floor Wednesday night. I was back last night and had an awesome assignment on a general surgery floor. All of my patients were 7-8 days post-op (3 of them had had Whipples, so they stay for quite a while) and none of whom were having any complications. That was nice. I needed stable patients.

I came in tonight for my fourth in a row. I have not yet been scheduled for four in a row and I am not sure why it happened like this for this week. It is a slight consolation that I have the next 5 days off, but still, I prefer a little more of a subtle ebb and flow to my work schedule, not long stretches of being consumed by work followed by periods of time where I forget that I have a job.

Anyway, back to tonight. I came in for my fourth in a row feeling a little weary but energized by the thought of going to LaCrosse to see my family tomorrow. I also woke up an hour before my alarm this afternoon and used the extra time to have an extended time in the Word and in prayer which was an absolutely wonderful way to start my day.

Then I came to work and started looking up my assignment.


All 3 of my patients are bleeders.

One has an intractable nosebleed (we're not talking about the "pinch it for 10 minutes until the dripping stops" kind of nosebleed - we're talking about the "put a device up your nose that has two 15cc balloons filled with saline to provide constant pressure, check your hemoglobin every 6 hours and have ENT come by 4 times a day to help suck the clots out of your throat" kind of nosebleed). Another has bright red blood in her stool which they think is from a bout of ischemic colitis and the third has rectal bleeding from an unidentified source (after the 8 tests and procedures that have all come back unremarkable) although the top differential at the moment is rectal varices.

And so begins my night of hypervigilance. It is probably good immersion therapy for me - a reminder that more often than not, we, as a medical team, are aware of the conditions people are facing and are able to provide appropriate and effective treatment.

I will be able to say that with a much more relaxed confidence when the night is over and everyone is still alive.

For now, I am still having a visceral reaction every time I walk into my patients' rooms, praying that I will not find the horrific scene that awaited me on Wednesday morning.

It has been over 15 minutes since I last rounded. Gotta go....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

That. Sucked.

I just had my first patient code.

Now I am just sitting here bawling.

I guess I thought I had more to say than that. But I don't.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

One More Thing

Oh, I forgot one thing. The term "pompous ass" was used twice in my class last night. Once by a classmate and once by the professor. They were both referring to what a lot of people become after going through serminary. I am glad I go to a seminary where things like that can be said in the classroom.

Weekend Update

I had a wonderful weekend.

Hannah introduced me to the joys of electric blankets. I'm a fan.

I saw a lot of very dear friends who fill my heart with gladness when I am with them and tear it to shreds when it comes time to part ways. Self-inflicted torture? Potentially. But totally worth it for every beautiful moment in their presence.

Most of my friend-encounters were planned. Running into Stacey at church and then going to the same meeting afterward was not planned. By FAR the best surprise of the weekend. LOVE that girl.

Oh, one of the other unplanned encounters was running into my very first camp counselor. Totally random. Totally fun.

I woke up Saturday morning with the worst neck pain I have EVER had. Ever. And it has been bad before. I cried three times before I even got to Caribou for my morning coffee date. I am not a wimp. As a matter of fact, I have a fairly high pain tolerance. But it was BAD. This has been happening on and off since February and it seems to be getting more frequent and more intense. I just want it to go away. I don't want to go to the doctor and have muscle-relaxants thrown at me. I don't want to pay for regular massages. I don't want to learn to empathize with people who suffer from chronic pain. I don't want to listen to my body telling me to slow down and take care of it. I just want it to go away.

Bethlehem Baptist on Saturday night, Sovereign Grace on Sunday morning, Corner Church on Sunday night. I love going to church in general and I love going to these three churches in particular. Needless to say, it was a good church weekend.

Best exchange of the weekend: The conclusion to my story: "So there I was, stuck in an elevator with this creepy boy who was professing his love for me and I had no idea what to do." My friend's response: "Was he mentally retarded?" The implication there is fairly clear. In her defense, she DID make a disclaimer before she asked the question, it DID make sense in the context of how I told the story and it wasn't insulting to me in the least (although I did feign my heart's torturous death by falling back in my chair and stabbing my chest repeatedly with an invisible knife. I did this mostly to hide how hard I was laughing). It was hilarious.

Question posed in class: "But what would it LOOK like if someone was not attending to the full scope of the revelation of God? How do you know what you don't know?" Classmate's response: "I can give an example. It would be like a Calvinist that only reads the parts of Scripture that they want to read and becomes a five-point TULIP Calvinist. They pick and choose what they read instead of attending to the whole of Scripture." This is the third time in two class periods that this individual has said something unabashedly negative about Calvinism when that particular topic was not even CLOSE to what we were actually talking about. It seems to be his "thing." That's all I am going to say about that for now.

I got to listen to some of the Vikings game on the radio while I drove back from school last night. It was a VERY exciting game and I LOVE football, so that was fun. Except for the part where I lost my reception for the last 40 seconds when the Vikes were making a drive with a tie game, a pass interference penalty put them in field goal range and Longwell kicked the game-winning field goal. I missed that part. Brutal.

Lots of big decisions to make. Lots of exciting decisions to make. Lots of big, exciting decisions to make. Lots of praying to do.

All-time best part of the weekend: Receiving the grace that allows me to persevere in the faith and being continually reminded of the imputed righteousness that I have received through Christ's atoning work on the cross. Doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Conversation

At the Desiring God conference this past weekend, I ran into an acquaintance of mine and had this very brief conversation (if you can even call it a 'conversation'):

Me: Good morning! How are you doing?
Vaughn: Better than I deserve.

And with that brief statement, my brother in Christ spoke the Gospel to me in a way that struck me as so profound, I am still thinking about it days later.