Trucks are prohibited...but you are always welcome

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Sometimes, God and I are on the outs. We pass and acknowledge each other with a furtive nod. I feel the absence, so I know the presence was real… I didn't make it up. And I feel drained, my battery flashing red, red, red.

I know I need to plug in, I need to connect or else I will die.

I know what I want, what I need, what I have to do.

But it's like plugging into an outlet in pitch-black. I know it's there because I've accessed it before, while I fumble and hit the wall over and over. I know it's there but I just. Can't. Find it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A day in the life of a nurse

Well, my daily blogging aspirations for my 30 day reading was a fail, but I still greatly enjoyed the book and got a lot out of it. What brings me back to my laptop this beautiful spring afternoon is the answer to questions I get asked frequently. It comes in different forms, but always pertains to just what fills the twelve hours in my shift at the hospital. "What do you DO for twelve hours?" "Doesn't it drag on forever?" "How do you fill the time?"
Last week I took on the task of painstakingly chronicling my entire shift, minute-by-minute, to the best of my ability. This is a diagram of a fairly easy, average day. This is a GOOD day, simply because at most times I was only doing one task at a time whereas most days I'm usually working on two or three at a time. Sadly, easy days like this are in the minority. So for all of you who wonder what a day in the life of a nurse is like, enjoy. My fellow nurses, I'm eager to hear how this day compares to your own. This shift was in the PCU, our more critical section with a 3:1 patient/nurse ratio. Normally I'm on the floor, with 4 or 5 patients.

0635-0710 reviewing care plans, pre-shift huddle
0710-0735 report from night shift, meeting patients
0735-0745 reviewing clinical notes from previous day, coffee guzzling, inner pep talk
0745-0755 pull meds from pyxis
0759-0804 shake freaking vial of Zosyn trying to desperately get the medicine to dissolve in saline for IV administration. Ultimate test of patient and tenacity
0805-0831 Head-toe assessment, vitals, meds, chart on 1st pt (pt=patient)
0832-0853 assess, vitals, meds 2nd pt
0854-0911 chart, bathroom break, talk with family of pt in hallway about plan of care
0912-0934 assess, meds, vitals, 3rd pt
***0927remember I'm 1.5 hours late for a blood sugar on 3rd pt because I was in with pt #2. crap.
***0928 crush/dissolve meds for G tube administration
0935 receive call from pt 1 and 2 for pain medicine
0936 take bs (blood sugar) on pt 3, it's high and requiring insulin
0940 return to pyxis for insulin for 3, pain meds for 1 and 2. Pyxis is out of insulin, send order to pyxis on third floor.
0943 pain meds to #2, hang zosyn antibiotic
0946 go upstairs for insulin
0950-0955 give insulin to #3
0956-0959 pain/anxiety meds to #1
1000-1035 chart rounds, drink protein shake because at ten, like clockwork, I'm STARVING
1040-1045 change soiled bed on #2, receive call to replace O2 sensor on #1
1045-1100 nurse-led physician rounds, change O2 sensor when we go in for rounds
1100-1130 charting, bathroom, play turn on words with friends
1130-1230 lunch break
1230-1300 round on group, review new orders written during break
1300-1330 enact new orders, nothing complicated luckily
1300-1400 blood sugar, 2nd assessment, vitals, total clean-up/bed change for #3. BS is high requiring insulin
1400-1415 retrieve and administer insulin for #3
1430-1450 meds, prepare discharge papers, remove IV for pt #1
1450-1500 talk to family about plan of care, results, tests etc
1505-1510 chart, interrupted by call for #3 to bedpan
1511-1525 #3 to bedpan, clean up
1525-1537 chart, calls to pharmacy to arrange discharge meds for family pickup
1537-1557 Review discharge instructions, mobility limitations, med purpose/dose/time/precautions, wound care, follow-up appointments with pt #1 and family. Discharge complete.
1600-1615 bathroom, snack
1615-1630 chart, review/enact new orders, talk to family members
1630-1654 welcome #2 back from procedure, 2nd assessment, meds, hang antibiotic, give #2 ice from kitchen
1700-1713 Call doctor to restart the diet order for the #2 since procedure is completed, print new menu, call dialysis for pickup for #3
1715-1754 meds, 3rd assessment, blood sugar, complete bed change, redress wound for #3
1754 call from charge nurse about new transfer into my empty room
1756-1835 use time waiting for new pt to update pt info sheets for shift change, analyze and print cardiac rhythm strips for the paper charts
1836-1855 bedside report with nurse for safe hand-off for new pt. Assess, set up glucostabilizer program in computer for blood sugar monitoring, set up pump/new tubing for continuous tube feeds through gastric tube. Receive call from #2 for bathroom
1857-1900 escort #2 to bathroom
1903 review cardiac rhythm of new patient, analyze and print strips for paper chart
1906-1930 report to night shift
And another shift done, everyone safe and alive. BOOM.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Faith Dare day 1 (also day three without sugar. I'm dying.)

My women's group, a bunch of the finest women you could ever meet, gathers once a week and goes through a book together. The book we've most recently chosen is The Faith Dare by Debbie Alsdorf. The book is about exploring and growing in faith through disciplined reading, memorization, prayer, accountability and healthy introspection. It encourages the reader also to keep up a journal or blog chronicling the journey. That's the thing about inner changes; it's good to keep a record of the before because it is SO difficult to remember how you used to be/think/respond/act once you have changed. Also it's a good excuse to be more consistent with my blogging. Win-win, yeah? Yes.

The first chapter explains what faith is, per se, and how it can look when it goes awry. The scripture for the first chapter is Psalm 86, which goes as follows:

"Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me,
you have delivered my soul from the depths of the grave.

You, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Turn to Me and have mercy on me;
grant your strength to your servant."

I sat, and as always, I find it hard to focus as I tried to carefully chew each delicate morsel of this passage. I turned on some Explosions in the Sky and as the music swelled in my ears, I danced each word of the Psalm over and over. The power and truth began to sink in as the hairs on my arm raised and my eyes swelled with grateful tears. How could I have let myself forget? How far have I come when I barely believe the truths I claim to base my life around? My faith is so small, my heart is so divided. My sad, small, half-heart pleads half-hearted half-wishes to be made clean. Am I so surprised I am only experiencing a small portion of the joy and blessing promised me?
In this starting out phase, my prayer is for God to do His best with me. I pray for Him to draw me close as he repairs the damage done at my own hand and that soon my whole heart will run, not walk, towards His love.

Saturday, February 14, 2015


I had a dream I wrote a great song. A truly great song, the kind that went viral and had people sharing and covering it as people lauded and applauded. I remember hearing a friend sing my own song to me, eager to hear my opinions of his cover and I listened to him all the while deep in thought. "I don't even remember writing this… I may have even done it accidentally. It's really good… the lyrics are so insightful and inspiring. They're evocative but relatable. This is way too good for me to have written."

When I awoke, I still remembered part of the lyrics of the song. They were stupid and meaningless, something about people who brush their teeth too much trying to manipulate relationships, but I still remember that feeling I had at having written something good. Too good. I remember thinking that perhaps that's what real artistry is, when crossed with genius. Perhaps it's creating something that intimidates you, makes you feel inferior to it. Something that perhaps always was, but just needed your body to bring it to being. Once it is completed, it goes on and up beyond anything its creator could have dreamt or ever know.

Is there anything scarier than potential? Every one-hit-wonder and wunderkind has felt this, I'm sure. The prodigies are to be most pitied among men. They are always in competition with both their past accomplishments and their unknowable potential. Pulled in each direction to live up to their reputation and also exceed it. Who can bear such an existence? I always resented being blissfully average, wanting to dance among the stars and do something that would be always remembered but now I see the glory in the commonplace.

It's like my sister says, we were nearly all good at something "for our age" and there's that moment when our ages catch up to what is most likely mediocre talent and we find ourselves among the mere mortals once again.