Sunday, July 31, 2016

* Bloom *

I feel as if I've been given a second chance at life.

I had my percutaneous closure about 2 1/2 weeks ago and I feel amazing. It took me awhile to heal from it and get over the sore throat from intubation and another TEE, but I feel incredible. My left arm is still tender but I've found a compression sleeve really helps with that. My oxygenation is at 98% on room air so my tanks are sitting sadly in the hallway waiting to be picked up. I will admit I'm nervous to let them go, but it's settling in that I don't need them anymore.

I'm able to walk up stairs and hike around the block without feeling winded. I bought a treadmill and was able to knock out 2 minutes of jogging before my legs, not my heart or lungs, decided they couldn't handle anymore. I didn't feel dizzy or faint or truly out of breath, just out of shape. :) I find joy in analyzing my "new" wiring and seeing what has changed.

Yesterday I represented my nursing organization at the California Nursing Students' Association Membership South Meeting. It was an invigorating experience to be with the students again and out in the world. I didn't realize how much I missed doing nursey stuff until I saw those friendly, familiar faces and had more hugs than I have had in a very long time. The nursing world is so full of support and energy! Afterwards, I had an early dinner with a sweet friend of mine - we dove into topics that were quite personal for both of us, and I hope it was as healing for her as it was for me. It's always amazing to realize that you're never alone in the world; someone usually has been through what you have. Thank you, my dear friend.

I start my new job tomorrow, and am just thrilled for the experiences that I've been blessed with. I'm dearly hoping that I will be able to lead and inspire just as I will be inspired by my new team. If you had asked me five years ago where I thought I'd be, it would be very different from where I am now.

I couldn't ask for anything else. Life is good. I am grateful.

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Saturday, May 28, 2016


A friend of mine messaged me a couple of weeks ago asking me to help generate some joy in the universe. She, and I, felt that there was a large amount of negativity in the atmosphere and that there needed to be some happy to go along with it. I know that the planets are, and have been, in retrograde, which affects everyone differently. I'm one of those that is affected positively by this retrograde... I am clearer and a lot more gets done.

One activity that we chose to take part in was to think of things that bring us joy and to write them down. While I didn't have a chance to do this during the full Flower Moon due to two very snuggly kitties, I still sat and meditated on what brings me joy. Even the littlest thing was stored away in a mental file for later use. When I woke up the next morning, I experienced my "perfect day." It was amazing, like something had shifted.

We all need those little things, like I wrote about several weeks ago. Sometimes the media and our own life experiences allow us to just wade through a mucky swamp of negativity which does absolutely nothing for us except bring us down even deeper. Do you recall a time when this happened to you? What brought you out of it? Do you remember how sticky it was and how more negativity was almost magnetically drawn to you at that time?

Here is a list of things that bring me joy, and this list is not all-inclusive. I've made it a goal to find something joyous every day, no matter how trite or insignificant it may seem.

  • This home. My home, that I'm paying mortgage on. I am delighted with my home. It speaks to who I am. Especially my bright turquoise half-bath.
  • The two furballs who were snuggling with me and continue to snuggle every chance they get. I am overcome with love and joy whenever they're near.
  • My parents. Their support and encouragement has seen me through good times and bad.
  • My baby sister. Although she is not on this earthly plane anymore, memories and photos bring me joy (as do her text messages.)
  • Being surrounded by antique family belongings... my Dad's Japanese screen and monkeypod coffee table as well as my great-aunt's globe bring me a sense of centeredness and connection.
  • Salted caramel coffee. No explanation required.
  • Receiving the news that I do not need open heart surgery at this time.
  • Sharing the news that I do not need open heart surgery at this time.
  • Seeing friends share engagement photos on Facebook and Twitter.
  • The friendships that I've made through social media. Random, but joyous!
  • My spiritual practices.
  • Love ... love from anyone and everyone who has extra to give all over the world.
  • My dear friends who make sure that I don't become a hermit.
  • The promise of tomorrow.
I would love to hear some things that bring YOU joy!

Flamingo leggings make me happy, too!

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Proud Mutant Nurse

I realize I haven't posted much on the ol' blog recently. There's been a lot going on. Let me fill you in. Actually, I'll write a bit while you go grab a cup of coffee or tea.

So I finally found out that I will not be needing open heart surgery at this time. I have this random bridging vessel between my weird superior vena cava and my other vessel that seems to be able to handle the additional pressure. They will simply plug off the weird vena cava below the bridging vessel. My stenotic pulmonary vein is also not as severe as originally thought, and stenting would only cause further issues down the road. If I would need it fixed in the future, full open heart would be the only option. They'll fix me up in July, keep me in the hospital overnight for monitoring, and then I'll be good to go.

Isn't that rad?!

I'm feeling much better mentally and emotionally, too, for those of you wondering how that status was doing. The antidepressants and sleep medications really have helped and I am feeling much more like myself. I've also cleaned up my diet and feel better about myself by not ingesting a lot of preservatives and boxed foods. I've been drinking a lot of water and green tea, and imagine it flushing away stress and toxins.

Also, this past weekend, this happened:

I attended my commencement for earning my Master of Science in Nursing Education this past Saturday. The top photo is of my cap, which has a photo of my sister, Becky, who passed in 2014. I told her that I would finish this degree for her. The bottom photo is of my folks and Roxy the Cylinder who comes with me wherever I go. The purple cords, for those wondering, are for Sigma Theta Tau, the International Nursing Honors Society. I don't think I've ever had a photo where my cords are on straight.

(Nope, I just checked my BSN graduation and they were crooked, there, too.)

I'm so grateful for my family and friends for their support as I worked my way through this program. I thought I wasn't going to be able to finish, due to my health issues, but my advisors at University of Phoenix and I worked together to find a solution, and I was able to do my MSN project "virtually" which means I imagined a presentation within a virtual setting and I didn't actually implement it in my hospital. Because I still can't drive, this was a huge relief to me and I finished the project with good results. Now I just have one more two-week course to get through, where we turn in our project work, and I'm through! I'll be able to sign MSN, RN, CHPN after my name as soon as my degree confers! :)

Also, it should be said that I've heard a lot of schmuck talked about Phoenix. My program was one hell of a tough program which required hours and days and weeks of diligent research and time in front of the computer. For almost two years straight, minus holiday breaks, I have been in front of this screen typing discussion questions, reviewing literature, writing endless papers, and assembling an educational curriculum on end-of-life care from scratch. It's not easy, and those people who say it's a crap education should try it themselves.

Thank you to you all for reading, and I'll be back soon, promise! :)

Monday, April 11, 2016

I asked for help today.

I asked for help today. As hard as it was to pick up the phone and dial up my former psychiatrist after so many years, I did so. I have carried on for over three months since my initial surgery going up and down and up and down… and then the downs became longer and the brain fog became thicker.

While the fog may be primarily due to all of the medications and anesthetics and sedatives, it’s taken on a more familiar tint of gray that I know well. There isn’t much for me to “talk about” however I know when the chemistry in my system becomes darker and uneven. All there is now is to figure out which medication won’t mess with my QT interval and cause more cardiac issues (even going on an antidepressant becomes an adventure, now, see?)

I know that this is one more step in the road, and that it will be okay. I am not in a severely deep, dark place – and for that I’m grateful. I felt that I was on that bumpy, slippery cobblestone road, though. I’m sure that hormonal variances have assisted in the deepening gloom, but I’m not going to “wait and see” anymore. This is a hard enough journey – and I miss my mind. I miss finding humor in just about anything, although I still do laugh at ridiculousness. There was an episode I just watched of Downton Abbey which made me giggle for awhile. It was then that I realized that I didn’t recognize my own chuckle anymore.

My goal is to stop this in its tracks before it goes any further. I am quite aware that I’m not the only patient in the world who experiences these darker moments, and I’m blessed to have recognized the signs. I can only hope that this chapter will assist more out there who realize that it’s perfectly fine to pick up the phone and get back to "normal." Or, if you’re also a Super Mutant, as normal as possible.

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Friday, April 8, 2016

Brain fog

“You do know there is a chance that you won’t be able to return to work as a nurse.”

That is what my physician told me at a follow-up visit a few days ago. I appreciate this. I appreciate his matter-of-factness and his ability to be up front with me. While I clarified with him that I may not be able to return in the capacity that I’m accustomed to, I still thank him for being one of the few who have the balls to tell it like it is. I see so many physicians say, “Oh, you’ll be right back to where you were.” I may not be, and that is something that I am in full realization of.

I was still getting my mind back from my December surgery, when I was given at least 8 mg of Versed and 2 mcg of Fentanyl for my TEE/cath a couple of weeks ago. I often wonder if I’ll ever get my sharpness back. With the added threat of “pumphead” that I wrote about a couple of months ago, this is my main concern. It’s frustrating not being able to come up with a word that I use every day. I’ve had to ask family and friends, “Hey what’s that word that means this and that?” I have lists all over the house of things that I am supposed to do, and then I promptly forget about the list. I’ve missed telephone conferences because I didn’t have them written down in my calendar… but I’ll forget to check the calendar.

I was also asked by my Doc if I’ve experienced concerning depression. I admitted that I’ve had my tough moments but I’ve always been able to find my way out. I know that I have resources for if, or when, I need them, and I’m not shy about asking for help. I also know that any potential anti-depressant use may cause further cardiac problems depending on the drug class. This foggy brain has a lot to do with all of this. While I’m frustrated with my physical limitations, I’m even more frustrated with the additional mental limitations.

That’s where I am right now.

I’ll be fine, I will.

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

What is it like having a TEE and cardiac catheterization?

So, I’m SURE you’re just dying to know what it’s like having a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) and a cardiac catheterization all in the same day!

Mom and I got to the hospital at 9 a.m. and were promptly ushered to the waiting area, where the wait was maybe around five minutes. A lovely woman, Renee, was at the cath lab concierge desk (yes, that’s a thing) and was wonderful and calming. I was shipped back to a corner suite where I was informed the TEE would be taking place, and afterwards I would be hauled down the hallway to the cath lab. I changed into my always stunning green hospital gown and skid-free socks and cuddled up under warm blankets due to the frigid atmosphere of the room. Roxy the Oxygen Tank was replaced by wall oxygen, and I was fitted for my very own capnography cannula. Try talking with a spoon over your mouth and you’ll get the general idea of what that’s like.

I informed the RN that I was happy to receive an IV into my right arm, but IVs into my left arm usually didn’t turn out that great with fainting and weird results and things. She skipped off to consult with the MD that would be performing this procedure after I explained my funky anatomy to her in great depth. (It turns out that the MD had already called the MD who read my original CT angiogram to confer as to exactly what the hell was going on with me. #Mutant) So, I had an IV in each arm and an itchy nose. Naturally. I also was given Valium and Benadryl. I felt a bit mellow, but that’s about it.

The MD who was doing the TEE came in, and was full of good energy and evidently very excited to be on my case. He showed the CT video to the two nurses who were in the room. One RN hooked up a double syringe to my right arm which held the magic meds, Fentanyl and Versed. They helped roll me onto my left side, gave me a lovely pink bite block (to protect the doc, they said) and injected me with the medications.

All I remember after that was what seemed to be a twirling black Rubik’s cube heading directly down my throat. As I write this, two days later, it still feels like my esophagus is pouting in a dark corner, and pudding and cold drinks are about all that feel okay going down that pipe.

For my ACLS folks out there, this might amuse you. When I woke up, I was smilingly informed by my nurse that I had questioned the MD at great length as to what his favorite color was, as that would be their key to know if I’d had enough Versed. (For synchronized cardioversion during heart issues, patients are usually sedated to the extent that they can’t remember an answer to a simple question.) He told me “blue,” and apparently I answered him correctly when he quizzed me later on. I have no recollection of any of this.

I was also informed that they had to give me almost double the medications needed because I just wouldn’t “go out.” That’s normal for me. Takes the pharmacy and a half to get me comfortable and allow tubes to go places without me going all velociraptor on people.

I remember waking up somewhere in the cath lab, looking at a monitor, and telling the second doc that I was doing fine. I bemusedly watched the majority of this procedure, fading in and out. I always liked watching the contrast going through vessels when I was able to participate in the cath lab in nursing school. Now it was my vessels they were scrutinizing, and I had a great view. The only time I was really uncomfortable was when they did the radial cath on my left arm which was quite painful and they seemed surprised when I cried out. I was given even more Fentanyl and was okay after that. I didn’t feel anything else. I heard the words “wedge” and “stenosis” and “holy shit” a few times. Turns out that my single left pulmonary vein is dangerously narrow, and will have to be stented no matter what.

I remember having pressure put on my arm and groin by a young man after the sheaths were removed. I remember Mom and Dad coming into the recovery area, and I asked Dad how his lunch went. I vaguely remember going up to the short stay room and engaging in enthusiastic conversation with my nurse up there. I dozed off and on, and dove into my dinner plate when it arrived since I hadn’t eaten anything in almost 24 hours. It was salty but delicious chicken stir fry and the bread with it was probably the best thing in the world. The five hours flew by that I had to remain on my back, and some back discomfort was all that I noticed. I didn’t need pain medications for that as I knew it would go away once I could stand up. Being able to walk after hours of lying down is a lovely thing.

We finally arrived back at the parents’ house at around 10:30 p.m. and I fell asleep quickly again. It has taken until today for my brain to feel clear(ish) from the medications. I slept the majority of yesterday and all of last night, and even had a nap today. I removed the dressings and was surprised at how sore the two puncture sites are but have assessed them and they appear normal.

The MD team are going to confer as to what the next steps are. There seemed to be some question as to the “bridge” that was mentioned by the cardiothoracic surgeon, meaning that nobody else saw a bridge. I’m not sure as to what the next few weeks will bring, but I was told that it would take about that much time for them to get their plans thought out. At least we’re through this part and on the path to something or other. Right?


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Monday, March 21, 2016

Stag Nation

I typed in "stagnation" but put in a space accidentally. It sounds like some sort of bachelor party movie, or a scary foreign country, so I left it.

It’s about time for an update, yeah?

So last week I was told that my procedures, which were scheduled for tomorrow, had been canceled. Why? I don’t know. At least they didn’t think I was an emergent case. This morning they called and I was rescheduled for next week. I guess we’ll see how that goes.

So of course, after I had that news last week, I had a mini-meltdown, just pissed off and frustrated that three months has already passed and now this is going to be stretched a little bit further. Or a lot further. Who knows. I’m just so ready for all of this to be done. Most of my frustration stems from not being able to hop in the car and just drive anywhere. I can’t get on a plane and travel to conventions. I have a recertification course coming up on Saturday and have to figure out how many oxygen tanks I need, who is picking me up, when I’m coming home, and how many pairs of socks I have to pack because maybe I’ll be spending the night. Usually I’d jump in the car with a cup of coffee, hope I don’t get lost, and listen to loud music while stuck in traffic on the way home. I don’t like depending on people to live my daily life.

In other news, I had a guy from Home Depot come out and give me an estimate on what it would cost to get rid of the horrible white tiles on my counter and install granite and a backsplash. I fell in love with a sample, "Golden Crystal," which was of course towards the high end of the cost; Mom always said I had expensive taste, and I guess I do. Everything I love tends to be higher priced. I figure, though, that I really want to LOVE my kitchen and why not spend the bit of extra money to really make it special? I spend a lot of time in there. This project will be put off for at least several months, but I can’t wait to have it started and finished. I’ll also refinish my cabinets, as they’re good cabinets and just need to be re-stained.
Nasty white tile and grout and green walls


I may have my master bath done at the same time with the same counter, since the cabinets are the same in there. That leads into backsplashing (is that a word?) above the shower, or even considering having a contractor come in and tear out the shower liner and putting in tile. I change one thing, I guess I have to change everything. This is the stuff I think about when I’m sitting in bed at night, waiting for the sleepy gnomes to take over.

This coming week I’m also going to start down in the garage, trying to make sense of some of the disaster area down there so I can clear out my storage unit. I have a lot of stuff that belonged to my sister, and I want to start putting some of it in this house (and save $80 a month on top of that). I love looking around and seeing things that belonged to my family, because they’re who and where I came from.

Today I also signed up to be a Coach for Team Beachbody. This happened because my Coach and friend Karen talked me into it (I save a bit of cash on the shakes, which I love). Actually, I’ve been doing well on the 21 Day Fix program, with extreme modifications. I’ve been following the food plan to the best of my ability, and do what exercises I can while attached to the oxygen tubing. They have this modifier on the program, and sometimes I will have to modify her modifications, but I get through the exercises one way or another. Such things like Burpees I’ll skip entirely but will jog in place or will rest, depending on what my body is doing that day. I don’t want to risk anything strenuous, but I know that it’s not good for me to just sit and do nothing all day. Try doing exercises while attached to a 50-foot oxygen tubing and let me know how that works for you. It’s a pain isn’t it? I’ve choked myself a few times already and am surprised I have ears left from the number of times I’ve yanked the tube off with my feet.  Anyways, I am not going to get into trying to make money off this, because I have other things to worry about, but do hope I can inspire people who didn’t think they could improve their health due to concerns or just getting over the fear of “I can’t do that, I’ll die.” To put it bluntly, sometimes it’s nice to have something to focus on for half an hour instead of letting my mind go places it really shouldn’t. And Autumn, the trainer, is affable. I tend to cuss at her a lot on Leg Day, but she doesn’t seem to mind. If you want the URL to my website, let me know.

So that’s about it for now. Hugs and love.

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Finally, we're moving forward!

I finally have a date set for the transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) and cardiac catheterization!

March 22nd will be the "Day of Fun Times" and hopefully it won't be too much longer until we can all figure out what to do with this lil heart of mine. I'll go in for more blood work next week, but there shouldn't be issues based on the labs I had done just a few weeks ago.

Here are some explanations of what each procedure entails, for those of you so inclined. Just click on the links!

From the American Heart Association - Transesophageal echocardiogram

From the American Heart Association - Cardiac catheterization

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Reality. And then some more reality.


This has been a bit of a busy few days. Mom came down to help me do some things around the house (she says she just loves me, but I know she likes being a handywoman.) What I didn’t know, though, is that Mom is awesome with a lot of things including electricity. Electricity scares the sh*t out of me, and I was going to call an electrician to have them deal with putting in new light fixtures. The flush mount lights that “came with the house” were standard builder’s grade screw-in deals that took us about an hour to unscrew the globes. The first time I really started to hate these lights was when I went to replace burned out bulbs and just about came at the things with a hammer to get rid of them once and for all. So, I ordered some awesome fixtures and they sat in the garage for a few months. Until Mom came along, of course! The woman is going to be 76 next week but she’ll face off with any DIY-er anyday, I think.
Before: Not exact, but just as "OMG SO NOT ME!!!!"

After: Ahhhhhh.... Definitely unique and ME!

Today, I went back and forth between my surgeon’s office and my cardiologist’s office for awhile as it’s been a month since my surgery consult appointment and my tests haven’t been scheduled yet. It turns out that they don’t just want a regular echocardiogram, they want the full bore transesophageal echocardiogram (more sedation, yay) and since I’m having a cardiac cath, they want to do it all at the same time. Which means they have to have all of that approved with my insurance AND try to schedule two very busy physicians at the same time in the same place. Good times. I should hear tomorrow when they have a date for me. Might as well have both ends probed at the same time. My poor body.
Just in case you're wondering what's going on right now....

I’ve been trying to eat better, I think I mentioned this awhile back… I’m on a lower carbohydrate deal which really hasn’t been too bad. I don’t crave things like white rice and white breads like I used to. I’ve been able to lose a little bit of weight but it’s not just dropping off me like crazy, and that’s okay. I’ve been eating more eggs (my cholesterol is super) and have been trying new things. Hardboiling eggs was never my specialty, but I finally figured out the secret and they’re almost my “I NEED THIS” food now. The good thing is, they take forever to make, so I can’t just scarf them down.

And now I'm really craving deviled eggs.

Then this happened earlier this week…. Serves me right for not rinsing every drop of dish soap off of the dishes before I loaded them into the dishwasher. I ran out of salt and towels dealing with this, but everything is right in the world, and the poor dishwasher received a good amount of berating in colorful language.
But check out the cabinet handles! Mom and I rule again!

That’s about it for now. I hope you all are well.

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Saturday, March 5, 2016

An update on nothing, really

I was asked today if I’m okay because I haven’t put a blog up in awhile, and the last one that was up was a bit dark (okay, a lot dark.) I’m fine.  

I’m still in the waiting game with things and Monday I will be calling the surgeon’s office to make sure that they didn’t forget about submitting my info to the interventional cardiologist, so I can be scheduled for this cardiac catheterization and at least get something the hell over with.  

It’s supposed to rain tomorrow and Monday which will be good for my soul. Rainstorms always help clear out the clouds and other assembled crap in my brain, and I wish there were more of them here in “sunny” San Diego. 

Right now my Roomba is making awful noises as it tries to climb into my cats’ water bowl.  

I’m finishing up another class for my Master’s degree. After this is over, I’ll have two classes left, including the post-practicum class to make sure that I covered everything in my capstone project that I was supposed to. This is the main stressor in my life at this point, as I haven’t been able to really work on this project due to a million things. While I could have done some work on it (I admit it), I am now stuck with the prospect of not being able to drive as well as not being able to fully integrate the project into my work environment. Being on oxygen 24/7 really does tend to cramp a girl’s style. 

The Roomba has settled down and has decided that carpet is much easier on the ol’ wheels than a lumpy water fountain base. As my mom would say, “Good boy.”
His name is Robbie.

Today I actually put all of my laundry away. I emptied the dishwasher. Little things like that make my head feel clearer and make me wish that I had done it several days ago. I still have several emails to write and go through, yet I feel as if I’ve made some progress today. Tonight I plan on watching “The Visit” on demand and enjoying some form of dinner. Perhaps I’ll have a glass of wine with it, as I haven’t had one in forever and it won’t be battling against a huge loading dose of metoprolol. Don’t worry, I’ll be careful. (Mom. Ahem.) 

Speaking of Mom, she’s coming over for a couple of days next week. I’m looking forward to this as it does tend to get lonely here and we have a good time together. I’m super grateful for my friends who have popped by or texted or called, and want to send all of you some cuddles for that. My bud Christine will hopefully be coming over for dinner on Tuesday if she survives her shift. I’m sure she will, she’s a hell of a nurse.  

All is well, friends. It’s one more day under my oxygenated belt.

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Monday, February 29, 2016

"First in, last out." [Trigger warning]

I was reading about Cheryl Tiegs and her comments about a woman who was modeling a bathing suit on Sports Illustrated. Something about a small waist means health. It was posted on Facebook by a few friends of mine as well, and was greatly upsetting to several woman that responded, including myself. While she has evidently since apologized, it stuck with me for awhile that a smaller waist does not necessarily mean good health.

I have fought my battles with anorexia and bulimia, ending up in a category called EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified). I went through therapy and came out clean on the other side, but I will admit that there will be fleeting moments where I will think how easy it would be just not to eat, or feel that I ate too much and I could fix that easily (which is how I fell into bulimia in the first place). But I also remember the extreme loathing and hatred I had of myself, and the hospital trip when I had to admit to the nurse, in front of my mother, that I had a history of eating disorders.

I wrote this to share with you the agony of what a smaller waist might mean to someone who is struggling with an eating disorder.


It could be just one moment, one word, one sentence, to set you off.

Thinking, knowing, understanding, that you have upset someone which in turn upsets you which in turn upsets someone else.

You feel like a right asshole now, don’t you? A failure.

Yes, you’re a failure.

You. Are. A. Failure.

The tears become unstoppable, the pain wells up. You know that pain, you remember that pain. It’s a weird, achy, full but hollow pain. It’s everywhere.

You feel it spreading everywhere.

Your hair hurts.

“Fucking cunt.” You mouth at yourself in the mirror, eyes dark with rage.

Self-loathing. Oh, the self-loathing is surrounding you.

In you.

You reach for things that may quash that loathing temporarily, shove it down into the pit of your stomach.

Bread and butter and sugar and pizza and grease and alcohol to wash it all down with.

Lots of alcohol because you know what’s coming next, don’t you, and the buzz will make it hurt just a little bit less.

In the midst of chewing, butter dripping down your chin, you slap yourself in the face as hard as you can.

Relish that pain. Feel how it spreads out and sharpens the hatred you have of yourself.

You remember the days where you lived on coffee and cigarettes and maybe half a bagel torn up into little bits so you could savor it longer.

You remember how it felt to be asked when you had the baby because you looked so great.

You were never pregnant.

The collarbones were glorious.

It was so much easier just not eating. Just not anything.

You finish the fifth, eighth, tenth, you’ve lost count, piece of bread and the hundredth swallow of whatever is was you poured in that glass.

Swipe the butter off your face as you walk into the bathroom and close the door.

Glare at yourself in the mirror.

Slap the other cheek. Do it again.

Vomit gloriously until your abdominal muscles cramp up and it feels like you are coughing up your toes.

“First in, last out.”

Do it one more time. Retch until that pain that you’ve been harboring all night has settled into a pool of bile.

Wipe off your face. Rinse your mouth.

You’re not allowed to feel anything anymore tonight.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

100 Word Challenge - "Paper"

Damned ludicrous, I think, staring at the elevation of paperwork. Fill-in-the-blank, please, while you’re undergoing enough drama already, now you worry about using the correct color ink and coloring in the bubble completely.
The struggle to find the right envelope with its cyclops return address window.
Don’t even look to see if the physician fulfilled the requirements, mail it in, mail it in. Deadlines loom for each of the three forms, or four, I’ve lost count…
Waiting now, for a letter or e-mail to ensure some sort of monetary promise in order to pay the mortgage on my new home.

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Monday, February 22, 2016


I’ve had my issues with depression creeping in, making me feel like all I want to do is sleep. Sitting here waiting, attached to my house via a 50-foot plastic leash blowing oxygen up my nose at two liters per minute, is not something I envisioned for myself at 41. I get frustrated easily, to the point of wanting to throw something or scream profanity, and have found my mental clarity diminished. It’s not at the point where I need or even want to take medication, because I still find enjoyment in my days.  

Today I had lunch with another nurse friend who I hadn’t seen in over two months since I went on leave. She brought her little dog with her and we went to a local Vietnamese restaurant which has become our usual spot. Usually we go there to relax after crazy days at work, and this time we laughed about the fact that we were just there to enjoy, not to destress. We had fried calamari and shrimp paste spring rolls (they were as funky as they sound), and boba teas which were refreshing on a beautiful sunny and breezy day.  

I had a million blood tests run last week, and it was found that my Vitamin D levels were about 15, when normal levels are 30-100. I rationalized that I have been inside for the majority of the past several months, with two straight weeks spent in a hospital room. Today was the first day that I’ve sat in the sun and wow, was it glorious. I almost immediately turned pink, thanks to that wonderful Irish-Great Britain genepool, but it was wonderful. I came home afterwards and went straight out onto the balcony to sit in the sun some more. Interestingly, I felt better within a few minutes of being in the sun today.  

I’ve started taking Vitamin D supplements upon the advice of my physician, but just being outside is definitely more healing in more ways than one. I believe that this funk may be partially attributed to the inside lifestyle I’ve been leading. Staying inside is just going to make it worse. My plastic leash reaches out to the balcony with miles to spare, so I plan on making a date with myself to sit out in the afternoon sun and breeze and enjoy. I have one of those recliners that I bought on sale (and with a coupon!) at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and I have a little table out on the balcony. My cat, Bandit, joined me for a while and sat contently in my lap watching the birds in the tree right outside. There was the normal noise of people coming home from work, but no loud noises at all. The hum from the street across the canyon was actually relaxing, like white noise. I brought my glass of water and some cantaloupe out with me, and simply was.  
My dad and every cat I know enjoy a good sunbeam. I need to listen to them more.

Even though I’m by myself a lot, I have decided to make dates with myself on a more frequent basis. I’m blogging or writing or doing a bit of cleaning here and there, but I don’t just spend quality time with me. Watching bad daytime television doesn’t count. Today, while I was with my cat on the balcony, I was able to let my thoughts wander where they wanted to, and feel my skin warmed with sunlight. I haven’t reconnected with nature in a very long time, I realized. I don’t know how many oxygen tanks I would need for that, but I do know that, as soon as I possibly can, I’m going to get back into the trees away from electronics and life’s daily drivel. 

With that, I appreciate all of you who have kept me chipper and listened to me rant and dragged me outside of my abode for meals and camaraderie. Thank you.

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Mutant Plantain

I don't know if I've never noticed these things before or else I've come to notice them now as partners in my #SuperMutantNurse life. I saw this guy hanging out in  Sprouts yesterday and wanted to document him for posterity. He's pretty buff, huh?

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Healthcare Weirdness - A Rant

I know I’ve waxed poetic about the status of healthcare here in the United States, however I was reminded of how lucky we are here in this country. As many problems as we have, what I heard today was indicative of the differences in other countries.

I was having breakfast with a friend, and she was telling me about some experiences that family and friends had in Canada. Imagine having a TIA, known as a mini-stroke, and being sent home from the hospital with orders to follow up with your general physician. No aspirin or blood thinning medication or consult to neurologists, just “follow up with your doctor in a few weeks.” My hospital would scan your head and run extensive testing, if not sending you immediately to have a procedure to clear up the blockage. Then you’d be an inpatient on a stroke floor. Hell, I’m on prophylactic medication twice a day to help prevent a problem.

My friend’s mom also went into the emergency room (in Canada) for rapid atrial fibrillation. This means that the upper chambers of her heart were not beating properly, which can cause clots to form in the heart. The heart also works harder and doesn’t push the blood around as it should. Her mother was discharged on one medication without any further admission or cardiology consults. Instead, there were orders to follow up with a cardiologist in a few months. My hospital would admit someone with rapid a-fib to at least a telemetry unit to have their heart monitored, if not right into the intensive care unit on cardiac drips (IV medications). Instead, my friend’s mom was shown the door.

Surgeries in Canada evidently take months to schedule, and simply seeing a physician often means lengthy waits which lead to poorer outcomes. I know that we have patients in the U.S. who refuse to come in until things are literally falling off of them, because they don’t want to halt their lives or admit that they haven’t watched their health. It’s sad, isn’t it? While I’m sitting here waiting for my insurance to clear all of the tests and procedures that I need, I know it will happen in a few weeks if not days. I was shocked to hear what I was hearing.

Waiting is hard, especially when you don’t feel well or want to return to your lifestyle. We need to have a look to see what is really going on in our healthcare systems. Our people in this world are becoming more and more unhealthy, even if they try to change their eating habits or ramp up the exercise. There are limited physicians and even less nurse practitioners able to practice independently. Our world is consumed with charting and such a fear of legal ramifications that we can’t treat people, and we sure don’t have much time to give them preventative education!

I’d like to hear from anyone in countries outside of the United States, and even those of you in the U.S. What have you seen that you believe hampers the people’s wellness? What have you seen that has impressed you about your healthcare system?

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Insomnia is such a pretty word

Here we are again, at 2:08 in the morning. I'm grateful for the Bluetooth keyboard I have on this iPad because I wasn't in the mood to fire up the ol' dinosaur of a laptop. The only issue with this thing is that the backspace key is about four millimeters wide and my fingernails are too long. So I'm typing a lot of "====" and then have to squint at the keyboard. But it's a neat little thing so I shouldn't complain.

I've already read through more than half of my friend Dustin's new book, "And the Devil Shivered." It's nestled on my Kindle between another friend Kelly's book of poems "My Own Kind of Beautiful" and "See You in the CCU," a tale by Steve Ludwig about his experience with open heart surgery. I also have 50 Shades of Grey on there, as well as three or four books on the Mediterranean diet, so my reading tastes are pretty eclectic. 

I've set aside Dustin's book for now as I've found myself squawking with laughter in between tearing up with heartfelt emotion - I'm so glad he opened himself up to us by writing every day. He's a treasure and I encourage anyone and everyone to get his book. And Kelly's, too. Her poems will grab you... For me, I immediately felt as if she was a kindred spirit speaking to me directly in her poems about infertility. Both of these fine people I've met through Twitter; I had the fortune to meet Dustin a few years ago during a trip to the beautiful Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. You may recognize it from "The Shining" which is a terrifying novel by Stephen King made into a movie. In the novel/movie, it was referred to as The Overlook, however Mr. King was inspired by the Stanley during a stay there. I really have gone off on a tangent, there. Twitter has brought a lot of really good people into my life, and I'm very grateful for all of them. We're spread all over the country and the world, and sometimes it feels as if they're right there in the room with me, especially when I really need a friend. What blessings.

I don't know about you all, but I really enjoy watching infomercials at night. There's something soothing about watching women drag a heated brush through their hair, or watching a miracle vacuum lift a bowling ball into a tube of feathers. I was stuck on this one commercial for IT Cosmetics Bye-Bye Foundation so ended up buying a set to try. I'm pretty happy with it. I have thin dark skin under my eyes and this stuff works well to hide the appearance of chronic insomnia. The mascara in the set makes my scraggly eyelashes appear to be even scragglier, however I also invested in Younique fiber lashes and they're fantastic for making me look like I have lashes at all.

Here's this lady on the television who must be wearing about seventy pounds of diamond jewelry. How is that comfortable at all? I don't like wearing much jewelry, maybe some small earrings or a necklace that belonged to my sister. I will be writing about her soon... I've been missing her a lot lately and it's comforting to me to wear her jewelry or something else that belonged to her. Right now it's a pair of Halloween pajama pants with sock monkeys on them. 

The other day when I was at my folks' house, my Dad and I noticed that a pair of doves had relocated to one of the planters on my parents' back patio. Usually this upsets the parents due to the amount of "splatter" residue left on the sliding door, but this planter was more off to the side. I peeked into the plant and saw that Mama and Papa Dove had already made quite an establishment within the planter, so set big brown puppy dog eyes on my Dad and asked him if we could leave the nest in. Yes, even though I'm 41 years old, the ol' eyes still have it. Dad relented and now the folks have Mama and Papa Dove happily nested in a geranium outside the window. Today I heard Papa Dove cooing loudly, and looked outside to see him standing proudly on the edge of the patio cover while Mama Dove was comfy in her nest. It was really a beautiful sight and one I was grateful to witness. Remember when I talked about the little things a few days ago? That's one of the little things.

I've been thinking a lot about writing a book. I really don't know what the subject matter would be; maybe there wouldn't be subject matter. I love writing short stories based off of prompts, and writing my dreams and whatever the hell may be going through my mind, as obviously evidenced by this ridiculous blog post. I imagine the insomnia will be a "thing" every once in awhile and I might as well make use of that time. I'm not a parent and I don't know about how great my self-help jive is, so if you all had any ideas, toss them my way. I usually get great ideas from readers and friends, and am happy to oblige opinions. 

Until next time, readers... For now, I'm going to readjust the oxygen tubing so I don't strangle myself, and try to get some sleep in before my doc appointment tomorrow. I hope you all have a great Tuesday. Stay out of trouble, and stay away from pre-verts. :-)


(One of those coloring book apps... Also good for wasting time.)

Friday, February 12, 2016

Eggless Mocha Almond Cookies

I love baking, especially biscotti. My dad is a huge fan of my biscotti, so I wanted to make him some today. It was going great until I figured out that I had no eggs in the house, and none of the usual substitutions.

Well, crap.

I decided to wing it, and threw a bunch of stuff into my KitchenAid stand mixer (I love this thing, so so much.) The cookies turned out great, and I wanted to get the recipe down, as much as I can remember anyways.

Mocha Almond Cookies (Eggless)

2 cups white all-purpose flour
¾ cup white sugar
1 stick softened butter (I used salted, as I always do)
6 tablespoons brewed coffee (thank you, Keurig)
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup slivered almonds
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.      
  •  In a bowl, or stand mixer, mix together butter and sugar until it’s fluffy.
  • Add in instant coffee and stir until evenly mixed
  • Add vanilla, baking soda, and baking powder – mix for several seconds until combined
  • Add flour and mix
  • Add in brewed coffee one tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to stick together. This was about 6 tablespoons for me.
  • Add chocolate chips and almonds and combine until you don’t have a pile of either on the bottom of the bowl (you know what I mean.)
  • Use a small ice cream or melon ball scoop (or two spoons, or your hands) to make even cookies. 
  • Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes. The cookies will be ridiculously squishy at first, but let them sit for about 20 minutes and they will firm up. They’ll still be nice and soft in the center. Dad described it as “fluffy.” So good!
  • This recipe yielded about 20 medium-sized cookies.
Om nom nom....

Here is the biscotti recipe from Giada that I've modified to my heart's content, just in case you were interested. :-)