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Friday, June 24, 2011

Kanine Kabob

I'm an animal lover.  Well, ok maybe not an animal LOVER so to speak, but I don't drown kittens or anything.  I like seeing them occasionally, and I'll pet them if they happen to wander my way. We even had a dog that I loved very much, but that was before we had children to raise.  We made sure she went to a great home and I shed a tear or two when she left, so I think that qualifies as AT LEAST "animal enthusiast."   I mean, I have seen Marley and Me twice so that pretty much makes me the freakin' president of PETA, right?

Well, I may have to resign my position due to a little experience with a certain pooch who may or may not live through the next 24 hours.  You see, I've had sort of a "rough" patch in my life lately.  As in, I haven't slept in approximately a year and a half, my youngest son sent me on the roller coaster of my life, and I had to stop the one exercise I happened to like because you have to be at least coherent during daytime hours in order to go for a run.  The combination of all of the above have put me in, let's just say, a LESS than chipper mood. 

However, for whatever reason my son FINALLY decided that he was going to sleep an entire night. That, coupled with the fact that I have recently allowed myself to actually close my eyes when I hit the pillow, made me think that maybe, just maybe, I might get some adequate sleep.  And I would have.  If it weren't for one teensy little problem.  At approximately 4 am, one of my neighbors thought that it would be ok to let their dog outside.  That would have been fine if the dog had done his business and gone back in for the night. This, however, was not the case.  The damn thing began to bark and did so, unceasingly, until 7:30 am.

The first 30 seconds of the doggie serenade made me feel bad for the poor guy.  He just wanted to go back inside.  See?...animal lover!  But, yeah, that didn't last long.  I sort of immediately began plotting his slow and painful death.  Like maybe a little trip down to the river, for perhaps a sort of eternal game of "fetch."  (Don't get all self-righteous and huffy with me.  Like you haven't thought about such things at 4 am.)  So anyway, as I'm seething beneath the covers I look over at the clock and realize that this lovely creature has now kept me awake for 2 hours.  At this point, my genius husband begins to stir and realizes that perhaps there is something disturbing his beauty sleep.  I watch him clumsily head for the windows and close them.  Then he comes back to the bed, notices that I'm awake, and starts to move his mouth.  I stare at him in warning, so as to telepathically prevent him from asking the stupid question that I know is coming.  Of course, he misses this message and says, "Do you hear that dog?"  No, not at all.  Dog?  What dog?  Oh, you mean that incessant noise coming from the demonic flea bag outside the window?  I may have noticed it.

I'm guessing I'm going to have a little conversation today about maybe NOT leaving the dog outside all night.  I think if I present my case in a level-headed, calm manner, they will see things my way.  And if not, tonight it's Shish-Kadoggie.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What A Difference A Day Makes

We've all said it, "I just wish there were more hours in the day."  I'm guilty of saying it myself, but I now know that a lot can happen in 24 hours.  In the time it takes for the earth to make one rotation, lives can be changed forever.  It happens to be exactly the amount of time that it took for my youngest son, Easton, to go from being a happy, healthy baby boy, to suddenly becoming a shell of his former self as a massive seizure claimed his body. 

Adrenaline, pain, and fear of the unknown forced me to not only be awake for the full 24 hours, but also to be extremely hyper-vigilant. It was physically and mentally exhausting.  I asked so many questions, cried so many tears, and although it was the most horrific day of my life it eventually gave way to the most beautiful 24 hours I have ever experienced.

During our first couple of weeks at the hospital, we had tunnel vision.  We were concerned about one thing, and one thing only...the well-being of our son.  Eventually things began to look more promising and gave way to thoughts of mounting hospital bills, ongoing care possibilities, and most importantly regaining a sense of safety and security for our family.   Would we ever be able to recover from such a tragic event both emotionally and financially?  Had we managed to create any kind of  financial safety net for ourselves?   We were obviously going to do whatever was necessary to bring our son back to us, even if that meant we would have to fight little battles for the rest of our lives.  But, little did we know that back home, people had waged a war against our pain.  We didn't come home to a few soldiers shouldering all of the burden.  We had an army.

What began as a couple of people throwing out ideas to help raise funds, became a community working together to uplift and restore our little family.  A benefit was held in honor of our son, and was centered around a walk-a-thon in which hundreds of people signed up, donated money, and walked a specified amount of time.  The entire 24 hours was covered by at least one walker.  People made sure that not even a second went by without someone walking.  The symbolism of our friends and family coming together to each take a portion of our son's pain brought tears to my eyes all day long.  My husband was there for the first steps, and I was fortunate enough to be there for the last.  All along the way, we were accompanied by selfless, loving people who didn't give a second thought to donating their time.

The benefit was organized by a small group of women and men, and it ran like a well-oiled machine.  But, I know that each of them would tell you that it was due to the fact that so many people offered time, money, and donations of all kinds.  Every person that said they would be there, showed up.  Every person that said they would bake something, went above and beyond bringing in some of the most creative and delicious goods I've ever seen.  Every person that signed up to walk, brought their walking shoes and made it count. Needless to say, the benefit was a huge success.  It surpassed every person's expectations.  We will no longer worry about how to provide for our medical bills.  Our friends and family have made it possible for us to focus 100% of our attention on Easton's recovery.

Small towns can have their own issues, including silly arguments and taking sides.  But, on June 11, 2011 the walls came down. The barriers were broken, and friends and foes alike came together for a common cause. Like I said, a lot can happen in 24 hours.  I have never been more proud of my roots. The communities of Payson and Quincy, IL have proven that big city lights and big city attractions could never compare to a small town heart.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Be A Nurse

I. Am. A. Nurse.  Actually you could probably classify me as one of those annoying people  who knew from a very young age, exactly what I wanted to do with my life.  I can remember being as young as 5, playing with dolls and acting like I was their nurse.  I loved "taking care" of people, animals, name it.  I know there were a few points along the way that I thought about other possible careers, but ultimately I never wavered from my original goal.

My Aunt Joanie is a nurse, and I remember overhearing her talk about her job.  I was fascinated by the stories she told, and always admired her confidence.  I WANTED that.  I needed to feel like I was making a difference too.  And that's exactly what nursing is...making a difference, no matter how small, in the life of another person.  I couldn't wait to get that RN behind my name.

I took sort of a non-traditional path to finding the right college for myself (my Dad loves that about me!) but I eventually ended up at Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing (BRCN) in Quincy.  Sometimes when you live in the same place your whole life you have the assumption that other cities will have "better" things to offer in the way of education.  However, BRCN is a nationally recognized school and more importantly does a great job of giving their students a solid foundation on which to build a successful career.  I'm glad that I had the opportunity to experience it.

Having said that, I only worked as an RN for a few years before deciding to be a stay-at-home mom.  I've definitely had moments where I miss nursing so badly that I give serious consideration to going back at least part-time.  However, I also have moments when I think that maybe I'll choose a different career path altogether.  It's moments like these that I've questioned becoming a nurse.  It's not that I didn't like the job.  Actually, I LOVED my job as a labor nurse.  There is something truly magical about being in the room with a woman as she gives birth to her child.  I could never describe it in words.  But, I think at some point during my years of staying at home, I wondered if I'd made a mistake in getting my degree and then only actually using it for a few years. (This of course doesn't count the calls from friends/family members asking their nursing questions!:) 

My recent life experiences have forced me to be several things at once.  At times, I'm Mom, Wife, Daughter, Sister, and Friend. While my son's illness certainly saw my "Mommy" hat, I also felt compelled to slap that nursing cap back on my head.  I knew what medications were being given, when they were to be administered, and I always asked why they were being given.  I knew side effects and half-life of each drug. I asked all KINDS of questions about his care, and offered my help when they would allow me to do so.  When we came home, I flushed his broviac line daily and performed sterile dressing changes as needed.  But  more importantly than my physical capabilities as a nurse, was my ability to use my critical thinking during the whole process.  I say these things not to brag about how great I am, but to express how truly grateful I have become for my education.

I had a bit of a disagreement with a resident about taking Easton's central line out of his leg.  The resident told the nurse to pull it, but I told him no.  I'm sure that wasn't exactly what he was expecting, but I knew that although infection is a risk with a central line, having access for the remainder of the anti-viral medication was higher on the priority list.  He argued that we had another access point in a peripheral vein.  But, again my experience told me that a 24 gauge IV in the foot of an 11-month old is not likely to make it for 12 minutes, let alone 12 more days!!  I agreed that he could remove the central line, but only AFTER he was successful in getting a more reliable access somewhere else.

In May of 2004, I graduated with my BSN.  Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing did a great job providing me with  the "who", "what", "when", "where", and "how" of becoming a nurse.  Seven years later, my son taught me "why."