Friday, February 22, 2008

Cupcake day

I ought to be at the hospital, but we had another snow day. If PVCC is closed, then we don't have to report for clinicals. It's a bit of a disappointment because I was curious about how my patient was doing. On the other hand, I really need the day off.

Because I was silly enough to give birth to two of my children on the same day (not twins, it's the same day, different years) I am giving two children's birthday parties this weekend. Not only am I giving two parties, my youngest child, Mr. McP, who's turning nine, made his own invitations and passed them out at school before I'd given the final OK for the party. And his invitations are for Saturday, when I'd been planning to have in on Sunday. Saturday it is.

I hate giving birthday parties, mainly because I worry that the kids won't have a good time, or, even worse, go home and tell their parents that they didn't have a good time. I don't want to be branded as Charlottesville's Lamest Birthday Mom. This is a small town.

I suggested to Miss G, who is turning twelve, that we get cupcakes from Feast! instead of a cake, and she wholeheartedly supported this idea and told all her guests to expect cupcakes from Feast!. Today, off I went to Feast! where I hastily counted the cupcakes on display, saw that there were enough for my needs and asked the clerk for twenty of them. This turned out to be a problem. Not to criticize Feast! because they were ever so friendly and helpful, but the usual thing is to order your cupcakes in advance, by forty-eight hours. I had thought of ordering ahead, actually, but I was going to call on Thursday, which wouldn't have given them the necessary forty-eight hours. Anyway I didn't order ahead because I kept putting it off, what with being in class half the day, and before I knew it, it was too late, and as I result I blundered crassly into Feast! asking for more cupcakes than they were prepared to sell to a single customer.

The problem was, that even though there were more than twenty cupcakes on display, and more in the back room, they don't like to deplete their supply by too much because people know that Wednesdays and Fridays are Cupcake Days and they look forward to their cupcakes, and goodness, knows, we don't want to upset the cupcake-eating public. Indeed, I got a small taste of what it must be like to go into Feast! expecting a cupcake and then not getting a cupcake, which could turn ugly if someone's yen for a cupcake were unusually strong.

Still, the very nice friendly clerk went to consult with the cupcake man in the back room and returned to ask if I could manage with eighteen cupcakes instead of twenty, and I said that would be fine, and all was well, and the eighteen precious cupcakes are now reposing on my dining room table in classy bakery boxes. I also bought one of Feast!'s famous molasses cookies that I've been hearing so much about, just for me, and it was delicious.

Who knew Friday was Cupcake Day? I thought every day was cupcake day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lucky Bra confirmed

I got a 100% on my pharmacology exam and a 96% on the nursing exam and I owe it all to the wearing of my lucky bra.

Seriously, nursing school is kicking my ass. Today, the stench of necrotic tissue followed out of the hospital. I took a shower immediately on getting home, but I still can't shake the memory of that smell, after spending eight hours in a room with it. I need a Clorox nasal spray. Why is my spellcheck not accepting clorox? Why is it not accepting "spellcheck"?

I am exhausted. When I got home today at 3:40, I had eaten nothing but two scrambled eggs at 6:00am, but I was too tired to eat. My head was pounding and I had such bad nausea I couldn't even finish a cup of tea. I couldn't even read--and all I'm reading right now is a ridiculous romantic suspense novel by Victoria Holt.

On the bright side, the fabulous new clutch and pair of pants I ordered from Anthropologie arrived today.

A week and a half until Spring break.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A visit to the vet

A visit to the vet is always good for a laugh, and Sancho's trip there yesterday did not disappoint. He was due for his rabies shot, and had gotten bitten in the face when he attacked a squirrel the other day. It is impossible to go to the vet and pay less than $200. Still, our Sancho has been fluffed and folded and prodded and stuck with needles and pronounced healthy. That is, healthy aside from his grade II heart murmur. "There's a heart specialist in Richmond you can take him to if you want," the vet offered. Are you kidding me? I had a grade II heart murmur and no one suggested I see a heart specialist in Richmond.

Here he is, pictured below, doing his favorite trick of pretending to be human by sitting with his ass on the couch and his feet on the floor. Don't look at the couch. That's an old one, since thrown away and replaced with a new couch, now well on its way to being trashed by kids and dogs.

While we're on the subject of pets, I'll reveal that we discovered that our bunny is afraid of bugs. It happened this way: George-the-bunny was sitting in his litter box, as he is wont to do, thinking his secret bunny thoughts, when he noticed a stink bug crawling about on the floor of his cage. George immediately made haste for his nest box and deliberately overturned his food bowl and pushed it in front of his box's opening in order to barricade himself against the bug. Have you ever heard of such a thing? We were most impressed, I assure you, and once the bug had been removed from the cage, he willingly exited his box. Drama Queen picked him up and he actually clung to her shoulder with his little paws until he had regained his composure.

This is George: the bunny with personality.

My clinical is canceled today due to weather. I'm actually disappointed. For one thing, we do so much preparation on the day prior to clinical, it seems a shame all that work went to waste. I'd written a short paper about her disorder (Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm) analyzed her labs, wrote an explanation of each and every drug she is taking, created three care plans, filled out an assessment. Also, it appeared she was going to have her aneurysm repaired today and I would have gone to surgery with her, because it is expected that nursing students go with their patients to all procedures, even major surgery. A repair of a thoracic aortic aneurysm would have been a really neat thing to see.

A tiny pathophysiology note: Aortic aneurysms are when the walls of the aorta, weakened by fatty plaque deposits, or inflammatory or infectious processes, begin to bulge outward. The big risk is, of course, a rupture. A ruptured aorta is not a happy situation. Surgical repair involves cutting away the weakened area and suturing a synthetic graft in its place. It seems incredible to me that they can clamp off the aorta long enough to do this procedure. It would have been a great learning experience for me to see it done. Oh well. Yesterday's election results, plus a day with nothing to do but relax and study for my pharm exam tomorrow are partial compensations.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Why I won't vote for Clinton

My dogs actually got a squirrel today. The earth must have started spinning in reverse, or something. I have no love for squirrels, indeed I hate them most passionately, but I wouldn't wish a fatal dog-mauling on any creature.

But I didn't open my dashboard to talk about that.

The Virginia primary at last! For the first time in nearly four years, I am feeling interested in politics. Back in 2004, I stood in line for at least an hour to vote. This was in the gymnasium of Clark school here in C'ville, and the atmosphere was upbeat, almost exuberant, which made my disappointment the next day all the more devastating.

I hesitated sharing who I plan to vote for tomorrow. But why should I be afraid to say that I will vote for Barack Obama? Because I'm a woman, and I am somehow letting the side down by voting for a man over Hilary Clinton? Nonsense!

I don't like Hilary Clinton. It started with her comment about how if she'd been an at-home mother, she'd have done nothing all day but bake cookies. That was back in early 1992--I wasn't even a mother at that time, but her remark hurt me, since I planned to stay at home once I had a child--a very unfashionable choice in the early '90s. I know, I know, she explained the comment away as a reference to vapid political-wife tea parties, but I felt she showed gross insensitivity. Mothers who stay at home sometimes do have to make an effort to find intellectual stimulation, it's true, but is a job--any job--always more interesting and intellectually stimulating than full time mothering? How many women in the workforce have truly interesting, fulfilling careers?

This is not to say that I felt that Hilary Clinton was wrong for building up a successful career, or that all mothers must stay at home with young children. I just resented the slight against my life choice.

At the beginning of the Clinton presidency, Jon and I were newly married, with a newborn baby. Jon was in graduate school in Michigan, studying comparative religion. By the end of Clinton's two terms in office, Jon had switched careers and become a nurse. We'd had to move from our hometown, Buffalo, New York because Jon couldn't find a job there, or anywhere else in New York state. It was hard to leave family. My mother had died in 1997, Jon's father was unwell, we had numerous siblings, cousins and friends that we were leaving behind, but there was no future for us in New York, so we came to Virginia where a good job was waiting. I considered us to be economic refugees. Charlottesville, Virginia is a fine place to live, but we never would have come here if we'd been able to find a way to support ourselves in New York. I was acutely aware of the disastrous state of affairs in my home state.

Enter Hilary Clinton and her bid for the New York senate seat recently vacated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. How I resented her blatant exploitation of the people of New York! New York State has an unbalanced population, with nearly half the state's people living in the New York City area. NYC has a population of around 8 million. Buffalo, the second largest city, has a population of less than 300,000. This means that in national elections, the people who live upstate don't have the votes to override what the people of NYC want, and pleasing or helping the people of upstate can be a low priority because NYC is where the votes are. And so it has been with Hilary Clinton's terms in the senate.

We go home to Buffalo every summer, and every summer it is shabbier. The population in the Buffalo area (not just the city) has fallen by 25,000 people since the year 2000. Hospitals are consolidating and many have closed. My father updates me on all the parishes that have been shut down by the Bishop of Buffalo because there are simply not enough people to justify their existence.

These problems were in place when Clinton was elected senator, but I don't see any evidence that she has done anything to rectify them. I feel like she calculatingly used people to further her own aims--not a unique behavior in politicians--but since we're talking about people that I know personally, I'm proud to vote for Barack Obama.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Shower demolition

This is what Jon did while I was out today.


Look at all that rotten wood. The whole shower stall will need to be reframed, and we haven't even uncovered the floor joists yet. The very worst of the rot is in the upper corner, where the old roof had quietly leaked down into the wall for years and years and rotted the framing so badly the wood crumbles like it's been charred. I actually thought there'd been a fire in the wall at one point.



Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A very bad blogger

Not that I think the world anxiously awaits my writing, but there is this sense, when you know you're writing for an audience, that you are being a slacker if you don't update regularly.

We had a bad weekend, a weekend of bad news, and more bad news, and yet more bad news. Nothing life-threatening, but enough to make us anxious and uncomfortable.

Today was my first real clinical day of the semester. I was terrified of my patient--I had learned all about him in my pre-clinical preparation, or at least enough to know that he would be a real challenge for a second-semester nursing student, and that the likelihood of him crashing was high, since he is so very sick. Imagine my relief when I arrived on the floor this morning and discovered he'd been moved to an ICU. Not that I'm without sympathy, but I have never been so scared about what could go wrong with a patient before. My replacement patient was on his 6th day post-op, could walk and talk and do many of his self-care activities on his own.

I am trying to read Master of the Senate by Paul Caro. It is the third volume in a biography of Lyndon B. Johnson. There must be a fourth volume in the works, because this one takes us up to his election as Kennedy's VP. I confess I am skimming. Do I need to know the intricate details of how the Senate works? Such knowledge would probably enrich my life, but I don't have the energy for it right now. Also reading The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer, which is lots of fun, but I almost prefer Master of the Senate because it suits the serious mood I've been in lately.

I erroneously believed that the Virginia primary was part of Super Tuesday and almost got my car stuck in that impossible parking lot behind Clark School because of my own stupidity.

Friday, February 01, 2008

School bus screws us, redux

Unbelievable. For the second time in two weeks, the school bus drove right by my eight year old son and did not pick him up. Once again, I had to be at school before he did. He waited with his sister at the usual bus stop--the bus stop designated by Charlottesville City public schools. The bus slowed down as it approached, apparently the driver was aware that there was a stop in the vicinity, then she kept going! It was a substitute driver, but not the same sub who drove past him last week.

The last time this happened, the Jackson-Via secretary told me that the kids could call the school and that someone would pick him up. Nevertheless, my high school kids had to leave before anyone from J-V had arrived.

Meanwhile, I got home from my nursing skills validation test--this was at about 11:00am--and there was my son, alone in the house! (City schools are on a two hour delay today.)

WHY, if you were a school bus driver, would you see a little boy standing on a street corner, WEARING A BACKPACK AND CARRYING A LUNCHBOX, and NOT STOP FOR HIM???? Why? Let's say, you did stop and for some reason he was the wrong kid? Would the world end? Wouldn't the little boy or his big sister say something like, "Oh, we're not waiting for a school bus." Did you think that this particular little boy was waiting for a helicopter to take him to school?

The only thing that could be slightly confusing, is that this particular street corner--and let me reiterate, the specific street corner designated by the Charlottesville City schools as the official bus stop---is also a stop for the CTS bus. There is a shelter at this stop, and when it is raining we use it but my son knows to step outside when his bus is approaching. I specifically asked him if he was in the shelter or standing outside it, and both times he was outside. The fact that a CTS bus stop and a school bus stop occupy the same corner does not faze the regular bus driver. And anyway, do little boys usually ride the CTS bus to school? No. They do not.

Calling the bus garage is an exercise in futility. I have done it before.

All ended well. My son's teacher arrived personally to pick him up. Despite this major glitch in my day I am happy because I finished a week of major nursing school hurdles. Monday was another dosage calculation test, on which we needed a score of 90% to stay in the program. I got 100%. Today was skills validation. We have to prove competency in the last set of nursing skills: starting an IV, venipuncture, drawing blood from a central line, tracheotomy suctioning, twelve lead EKG. I passed.