Thursday, November 18, 2010

This woman I know.

This woman I know, she is dying.

While I worry about my homework and procrastinate on the computer and vacuum the rug and do the dishes and put gas in my car and brush my teeth and gossip and play and sleep and run and cry and live this woman I know, she is dying.

This woman I know, I've known her for several months. She has been my patient. I have tried, we have tried to find a medication or treatment to make her feel better but she has been steadily declining and feeling worse and worse. There was nothing we could do to cure her-- her body was just beginning to shut down. Nature, as they say.

Last time I saw her in her home she was pale, gaunt, tearful. I just feel so terrible. My whole body aches. Am I dying?
Vomiting, moaning, crying, suffering.
Am I dying? Is my daughter coming? Does she know? I just don't want to be alone.

We referred her to Hospice. Now when I see her she is lying in bed, breathing slowly, actually able to rest. She looks different, thinner perhaps.
I can see my husband. He's wearing a green shirt and smiling at me.

I'm sad. I know I shouldn't be, really. This woman I know, she is 101 years old. She has lived a long, full life. She isn't suffering like she was before. It's just her time. And we helped her. We found her the best place to be as she nears the end of her life.

Every day I wonder if I'll get the call letting me know that she is gone. Every day I wonder if I'll see her alive for one more day. I hope I did everything I could have for her. I hope she is resting. I hope she is not alone. I hope I am strong enough to keep doing this.

This woman I know, she is dying.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 09: Someone you didn't want to let go

My old roommate, M. We lived together for a bit in college and then for four solid years afterward. That is the longest amount of time I have lived with anyone who wasn't related to me.

We had our own separate lives (and separate rooms and bathrooms) and our own sets of friends and I think that actually made it easier for us to live together-- there wasn't always the expectation that we were going to hang out together. When we did hang out, which was often, we had a lot of fun. We used to have Cocktail Hour at our apartment after rough days. We used to go on "roommate dates." We hosted a fancy-dress tea party for our friends. We bought matching sweatshirts at Ross. We killed roaches in the dark when the power was out and the LA summer heat wave was in full force. She let me have the big bedroom and the parking space. She used to be the only person Bowie would ever cuddle with. I accidentally gave her microwave away (thinking it was mine) and she told me to pay her back with a margarita.

Then I started dating a new guy and he and M didn't get along. She didn't like having him in our house. He felt like she was unreasonably rude to her. They eventually stopped speaking to each other altogether and I avoided having them both in the same room. I realized, much later, that he was purposely creating a rift between her and me but at the time I was just upset and worried. There was tension now when there hadn't been any before. And since M and I had never had any issues before I don't think we knew how to confront them and deal with them properly. So they just festered.

We never had a big falling out or a raging fight, I just moved to away to start school and we were both busy and didn't talk a whole lot. And then I broke up with the guy and I realized all the ways he had isolated me from the people I loved and I reached back out to them.

M and I now talk more and see each other when we are both in the same city. Our friendship isn't quite the same as it used to be, but maybe that's to be expected of any former roommate situation-- we don't see each other on a daily basis so things are just different. There isn't any tension when we hang out and we laugh together like old times. But I can't help but feeling a little regretful.

I wish the last few months we lived together hadn't been tinged with awkwardness and distance.

I wish I didn't have to wonder if it is all my fault that we aren't as close as we used to be.

I wish I had been a better friend.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

This post contains naught but videos of my cat.

Bowie has picked up the quirky new habit of bolting out the door when I get home.

And then he does this:

I don't know what is so exciting about the hallway but he has also started asking to go out.

When I lived in LA Bowie would sometimes run out the door of my apartment. It was a much bigger deal then since outside and down the stairs was the STREET with cars and strangers and dogs and the big, wide world. I now live in an apartment with indoor hallways so it isn't such a problem for him to run out. Plus I think the rolling is cute. So I've been letting him do it. I figure that it will be a long time before he learns how to run to the elevator and press the button to make his grand escape.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 08: Someone who made your life hell

Goodness me, where to begin?

I guess I could start here.

Or here.

Or here.

Or I could tell you about the name calling, the belittling, the threats, the violent tendencies, the lies, the lies, the lies.

But I think the restraining order speaks for itself.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 07: Someone who has made your life worth living

Huh. This question expects me to pinpoint a specific person who has made my life worth living? Uh. Well. I don't think my life has ever been NOT worth living so I'm not sure how to answer that.

But I am certainly overwhelmingly grateful to have so many wonderful people in my life. Group hug!

P. S. I mistyped pinpoint twice: pinpont and then pinpoing. Don't you wish both of those were real words? I do.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gifties for Kids that aren't Toys

I've been thinking about Christmas for WEEKS, thanks to Macy's and Safeway already having decorations up. My mom started making the dough for her awesome gingerbread cookies this past weekend and my sister sent out an email request for Christmas lists just this morning. So. Christmas is officially on my mind.

I enjoy shopping in general and Christmas shopping specifically. I love giving gifties. My biggest trouble seems to be the fact that I often think "it's too early to really shop for presents" until about Thanksgiving and then the day after Thanksgiving I get an overwhelming sense that it is now TOO LATE and why oh why didn't I start sooner? My second biggest trouble is that I think sometimes I don't recognize that most stores are of the Hit & Miss variety. Like, over the summer (when I was zenning my photos) I went to this big T.J.Maxx/Home Goods combo store and it was awesome. They had the photo albums I was looking for, but they also had all kinds of cute giftie type things: cloth jewelry boxes, pretty magnetic note pads, yummy smelling candles, etc. I bought a few things then but I decided to come back when I was really ready to deck the halls and don my gay apparel-- I made the mistake of thinking the store ITSELF was good for Christmas shopping, not that they just happened to have some good Christmas gifty-type STUFF in the middle of summer. When I went back last week I was totally disappointed. The pretty trinkets and stationary boxes had been replaced with rows and rows of the various incarnations of Holiday Cheer.

Reading Swistle's Milk and Cookies post got me thinking about buying gifties for my nieces and nephews. The thing is, they have a lot of toys already so I'd like to have some ideas on hand for gifties that aren't toys. That said, whenever a kid asks for toys and not whatever gadgetty thing is currently the fad like an ipod or a Nintendo DS or a cell phone, I totally want to give him or her TOYS. I have to hold myself back from grabbing their shoulders and shaking them, "Don't grow up yet! I'LL BUY YOU TOYS, JUST STAY A KID AS LONG AS YOU CAN!"

So I do often end up buying toys but I am trying to ease away from this a little while still maintaining my title of Fun Aunt. So what do you GET for a kid when you don't want to get him or her toys? The kids I am shopping for fall into a 4-11.5 year age range.
PaintWorks - Horses by a Stream Paint-by-Number Kit
(affiliate link, photo from Amazon)
I got this for a little girl who likes art and LOVES horses. Her mom didn't seem to think it was funny when I said I was getting her a pony.

Art supply stuff in general seems to be a good direction to go.
Schylling Sea Monkeys Magicquarium
(affiliate link, photo from Amazon)
Sea Monkeys! They provide hours of entertainment (My sister: "The neighbor kids keep coming over to watch them and eating all our snacks and clogging up our downstairs toilet.") but don't need as much attention as, y'know, a real pet.

Accessories. I got my niece a cute girlie hat for her birthday. Another niece got a sweet little cupcake necklace from someone else this year.

Clothes are another fine choice but I just can't keep track of all their sizes and preferences and whatnot so I don't usually bother with clothes.

I once gave my nephew one of those fake fossil rocks that you smash with a hammer and there's a plastic dinosaur inside. I was looking for a link for one of those but I found these instead, which look way more fun.

Break Your Own Geodes - Set of 12
(affiliate link, photo from Amazon)

Maybe some sort of "You and Me Spending Time Together" coupon type thing? I dunno. I kind of like the instant gratification of actual presents.

Okay, I'm out. Other ideas?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 06: Something you hope you never have to do

I hope I never have a colostomy bag. No, that's not the WORST thing I can imagine. This topic is a slippery slope of awfulness. Of course I don't want my family or anyone I love to be hurt or sick or broken or abused or frightened or lost or or or or or or. Of course I'm a nurse/in NP school so I can list very specifically a litany of conditions I hope never to have. Or course I can think of a million little or big things I hope and wish and pray that I never have to do.

But colostomy bags have been on my mind recently what with all my special Tummy Issues that have been going on AND the fact that coincidentally this week in one of my classes we are talking about IBS, IBD, and gah, colon cancer and the like.

I understand the reasoning behind colostomy bags: in certain situations part of the intestine is so infected or inflamed or traumatized or blocked that it can't do its thang. So the patient has surgery and the intestine is resected and a stoma is created on the abdomen with a little bag attached to it. Now, instead of using the toilet, the person's poop just goes into the bag. It makes sense. I get it. But I remember the first lecture wherein I heard that these are sometimes permanent. That thanks to cancer or a horrible fistula or whatever, the patient's colon is so wrecked that he or she must now wear that bag for good.

I was surprised during that lecture because the professor seemed to act like a permanent colostomy bag was no big deal-- the intestine is such a complicated organ that we sometimes aren't able to fix the problem and that's just how it is. And I feel like I've run into that attitude since then-- "What's the big deal? It's a handy solution that patients prefer." Well, of course the patients prefer to have a colostomy bag WHEN THE OTHER OPTION IS DYING. I'm not saying everyone has that attitude, but I worked on an abdominal surgery floor for my med-surge rotation during nursing school and some of the patients were just so sad and disheartened. Of course they were happy to be alive and of course they were making the best of their situations, but those bags aren't perfect-- they can leak or smell or make noises or irritate the surrounding skin. They take some getting used to and people do get used to them. Because they have to.

I'm sorry, but I've tried to understand the reasoning, and I just can help thinking that this is baloney. Because, seriously? That's the best we can do? Maybe I need to do more research about the digestive tract so I can really truly understand how wondrously complicated it is but I also just think about all the amazing technology we have in the medical community and the rest of the world. We can give people new heart valves. We can perform complicated surgeries by just making a couple tiny incisions. We put a man on the moon. We created a machine for playing music that fits in the palm of your hand. We made ATMs, the internet, birth control pills, hybrid cars, and velcro. I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THAT WE LIVE IN A WORLD WHEREIN A PERSON MUST CARRY AROUND A BAG OF THEIR OWN SHIT.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

meditaion, moderation, caffeination

My friend Kelly once tricked me into going to a meditation class with her. I say tricked because she told me about the stretching, the tea time, the soothing guided meditation, and the fact that it was free. She neglected to mention that the class was TWO AND A HALF HOURS LONG. After the stretching, the tea, and the soothing guided meditation (which was really not as soothing for me as I think it was for other people because I kept peeking one eye open and wondering if it was okay to change positions since my legs were going numb) I remember the man in charge (maybe he has some kind of title) telling us a story about how meditation is a Daily Activity and if you don't do it every day then you might as well not do it at all because you clearly won't be getting as much out of it. Which pretty much means that that was my last meditation class.

I have a point that I'm getting to, I promise. Just go with me on this.

A couple times in the last month or so I went to the student health center to see about my recent Tummy Issues and the doctor(s) told me that, among other things, I should try to cut out caffeine. To someone who was formerly a daily Pepsi drinker, this was not good news. I was willing to try it though, since my tummy has been all hurty and upset lately. I stopped drinking caffeinated soda and drank Sprite when the occasion presented itself. But then I started reading up on IBS and found that some of the research has pointed to fructose as one of the triggers for, uh, symptoms. So on a recent trip to Costco I bought a package of Mexican Cokes-- you know, the kind that come in glass bottles and are made with cane sugar? And I'm not sure if it is all in my head but I think I'm noticing a difference. For one thing I have been drinking a lot less soda than I used to. Maybe 2-4 times a week which I guess still sounds like a lot but not when you compare it to the 7-14 times a week that it used to be, amiright? Anyhow it seems like when I drink Sprite or regular cola that I get a tummy ache, whereas when I drink Pepsi Throwbacks or Coke from a glass bottle I do not.

Maybe I should stop drinking soda all together but if there's a sure-fire way to make me throw in the metaphorical towel or break into the bottling company late at night to drown myself in one of their mixing tanks it is telling me that I AM NEVER ALLOWED TO DRINK SODA AGAIN.

So. Moderation.

I have been doing pretty well with this plan. I haven't recently had any SEVERE tummy aches like I used to and I've been drinking more water and eating smaller frequent meals and so on.

This past Sunday night, however, I could. not. sleep. I remember lying in bed around 11. Waking up to pee around midnight. Being awake at 2ish. Being awake at 3ish. Being awake at 4ish. Being awake at 5ish. Being awake at 6ish. And having to get up at 7ish. And I got up and went to clinical since I had actually called in sick the previous week for that exact reason-- I couldn't sleep last Sunday night either!

I wondered what the hell was wrong with me. Was I just so keyed up about clinical that I couldn't relax? Was something else stressing me out?

But I didn't feel stressed out or worried. Just NOT ABLE TO SLEEP. Then, as I was brushing my teeth and fantasizing about my snuggly bed, I thought: CAFFEINE! I drank a Coke last night at about 8 pm. Could that possibly be it? It has been years and years since caffeine from soda has affected me in a noticeable way but it has also been years and years since I haven't had it regularly. So. Huh. Maybe.

And then I did a little research. I discovered that at 8:14 on Sunday Oct 24 I had posted this on Twitter.
Ah HA!

Last Sunday night I drank a Coke at about 8 pm and I couldn't sleep that night either. Mystery solved!

So apparently I'm now one of those people who has to watch out and not drink soda too late in the day. Not even two months of this and I've already become my grandmother. Not that that's a bad thing; she was pretty awesome.

Now that I'm reading back over this post I'm realizing that some people might be reaching into their mental file cabinets and relabeling my file as "Soda Drinker, Excessive" but what if I told you my favorite beverage is actually milk? And that my doctor told me to cut back on that, too? Any sympathy now? What if I tilt my head and bat my eyelashes at you?