Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sarah vs. Evil

Today, my loyal subjects, we are going to talk about how I battled evil and won. More specifically, how I destroyed a public toilet. This post is inspired by my recent bout of dysentary, but my love/hate relationship with public restrooms goes back a long ways. I am grateful there are public facilities when my bladder is about to explode, and I have been known to cry tears of joy to find a restroom when those buffalo wild wings want to return to the wild, but I am still completely baffled by the universal lack of functional design. I see public restrooms as a necessary evil.

We are going to get graphic. If the topic of bodily functions offends you, I suggest you leave now.

My potty issues go all the way back to probably age 6 or 7 when my older brother thought it was amusing to sit outside the bathroom door and call out encouragement: "is everything coming out ok? Can I get you a spoon? Chainsaw?"

This was my earliest realization of the male gender's preoccupation with the process of defecating (we will explore this a little later). I also have vivid memories of public toilets in Mexico where there appeared to be more excrement on the floor and walls around the throne than actually *in* the holding tank below (I don't recall ever using any modern plumbing in Mexico back in the late '70's - early '80's). Notice I didn't say "public restrooms" - there was nothing restful or roomy about Mexican toilets, and honestly, I would have rather relieved myself outside if not for the complete lack of anything bigger than a tumbleweed to squat behind and the unabashed stares of mangy dogs, roaming chickens and solemn-eyed, ragged orphans.

Then later, and into my teen years, there were the mad dashes through the cold in the dark to the outhouse, seared into my memory by the burn of tender ass skin being torn off my cheeks after sitting on a frozen seat. My longing for plumbing and pooping comfort intensified around age 15, but that quest is chronicled in another post*.

So why is it that every stall is so narrow you have to climb up on the toilet to open the door, coming *and* going? And then the toilet paper dispenser, which is LOCKED, and purposely designed to only allow you one square at a time, is mounted *below* the level of the toilet bowl, and you are forced to A): rest your chin atop the sanitary pad disposal, or,

B): stick your head between your knees while you try to get your arm underneath the massive paper holder compressing your diaphragm - and then - with your fingertips, try to spin the roll, which is not allowed to spin, and grasp a square of toilet paper that is so thin it shreds because at this point you're scratching and clawing at it in desperation. I will never understand why that damn dispenser is big enough to hold two gigantic rolls of tp, yet when one is gone, you are prevented from accessing the second one because it's LOCKED. Yes. Because if it wasn't, so many of us would be sneaking those worthless rolls of tissue paper out under our shirts.

I usually plan my route on any trip out-of-town around my favorite (or should I say least likely to annoy me) public restrooms. Of course I have a list, and they are ranked in order of: cleanliness, square footage, and number of steps from my car.

I don't know why I always seem to get myself into these kinds of scrapes. In my rush to get to the seat of ease before all hell breaks loose in the seat of my pants, I often fail to note if the toilet is fastened to the floor properly, tp is readily available, door latches working, etc. And it happens on a regular basis. I have had a sink break away from the wall in a gas station restroom, toilets overflow onto the floor (and it wasn't *my* poop, honest), and tanks explode. Well, maybe not so much explode as *collapse*.

So I was not particularly surprised the other day, upon sitting down in a public restroom, to hear a sharp *pop* behind me followed by a deafening crash. Sheer panic hit me because, and trust me when I say this, there was NO WAY I could jump up to inspect the damage. I could hear the toilet lid rattling where it hit the floor behind me, and I braced myself for the flood of tank water I imagined hitting me like a tsunami, but it never came. The crash was so loud I wondered if anyone had called 911. I could see the cops arriving to break down the door and there I would be, clinging to what was left of the toilet seat, trying to finish my business. Or perhaps lying on the floor in the sea of toilet water, pants around my ankles, bleeding from my head wound where I had been bludgeoned by the broken lid. I imagined my obituary: "... rockstar found dead in front of toilet. Foul smell suspected."

This is not how I want to go! I considered making a run for it, but then I realized that while the toilet lid *and* the tank lid were broken, I came out pretty much unscathed. It was a miracle. And awesome. I exited calmly, leaving the carnage in my wake.

Walking away a winner.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Cup Of Joe

In keeping with the tradition of firsts for 2010, I went out on a limb and did something completely out of character for me.

It was impulsive, a little scary, and daring. Almost James Bond-ish. Are you ready for this?


Before work yesterday, I darkened the door of a coffee shop.

I know. I'm so reckless. The night before, while discussing carpool, C suggested an early morning run to Java Moose. I told her I'd never been. She was aghast. I must go! So I was all, ok!

It was surreal. I felt like a total newb. Actually, I was. The instant we stepped through the doorway I was enveloped in the intoxicating aroma of freshly ground coffee beans, chocolate and paper. It's a cheerful, bustling place, and already I can see why people come here every morning.

But at the counter, I become painfully aware of my newb status. I am confronted with a *huge* menu on the blackboard to choose from. We're ordering *coffee*, y'all. Why are there 1,546 options? What do they all mean?

I'm like a deer in the headlights. Ok, don't panic, start with what size. I don't want to look absurd (too late) and order a small, because who goes to a coffeeshop and orders a *small*? Certainly not a java connoisseur. But I don't know if I'll like it, so I don't want to go too big, either. I finally settle on a medium.

Now for the big decision. What flavor?? This is where I am lost. Thank goodness C is there to coach me. She tells the girl behind the counter I'm new at this, so she understands my consternation, and doesn't just assume I am mentally retarded. I mean, what grown woman doesn't know how to order a latte?

Well, *this* one. So I finally decide on something called WhiteChristmas (no, not "whitechristmas" as in "whitewedding" by Billy Idol, at first I was thinking that too and wondering 'what kind of coffeeshop *is* this!') because I like white chocolate and I like hazelnut, so it made sense, the helpful java girl assured me.

Next step: two shots or one?

Wait. Shots? At 8:30 am? YES PLEASE!

No, Sarah, they explain patiently, these are shots of *espresso*.

Oh. Right. I knew that. And then this is where I totally blow my cover.

"Do you have decaf?" I ask.

There is almost an audible gasp from the waitstaff and patrons alike. I realize I have made a serious blunder. What to do? Try to laugh it off and pretend I was joking? Dumb blonde orders decaf espresso, haha! But no. I go with my standby: act oblivious. I blithely browse the organic granola bar selection while the girl whips me up a decaf skim milk White Christmas latte, feeling the confounded stares of the regulars lounging around a table nearby drilling into my back. She asks me one more question. "Do you at least want the whipped cream on top?"

At least? Is she begging me, pleading with me not to be such a foolish newb, and order something *normal*? I can see it in her eyes - yes - she *wants* me to redeem myself. Here's your last chance, she's offering, to save face. I glance around the room, taking it all in: the homey, whimsical decor, the sunny windows, the young mothers with their laptops and coffee mugs while their little ones play happily at their feet, the 30-something geek, the local craftsmen clustered at a corner booth jovially telling stories - yes, I want to come back, I want to fit in!

"Of course I'll take whipped cream!" I blurt out, breathing a sigh of relief at the approving smiles now directed at me. That was a close one.

After that there was only one thing left to do, and C graciously walked me through the task of dressing my steaming cup of frothy creamy goodness with a brown sleeve of recycled cardboard and plastic lid. If I do this again, I found myself thinking brazenly, I'll do it right and bring my own travel coffee mug.

Riiiiight. Like I own one of those. Well, I am always admiring them in gas stations, now I could buy one! Maybe a pink one. I imagined myself casually parked in a booth with my personal coffee mug of latte, blogging from my laptop, uber-cool stylish 30-something mom wearing some killer kicks.

This means I'm going to have to buy a laptop, too. And probably some new clothes. My thoughts are now completely irrational but I am heady with the rush of imagining the new me. The other young moms in the shop are all skinny and have cute clothes. How do they do it? Maybe they *only* drink espresso. Here is the perfect diet, right under my nose. Why couldn't that be me? It *can* be me! I'm going to do it! I can't believe I haven't thought of this before!

We leave the shop, and I take a sip of my latte. Scald my tongue. OUCH.

Eh, maybe I'll start my new lifestyle next week.


I want ice cold fanta orange pop in the bottle.

I want Juicy Fruit. I want to ride my bike down the FlyAsh road. I want to play house in that grove of pine up on the hill.

I want to climb the apple tree. I want to play hide and seek in the root cellar.

I want to be nine years old again.

I want to pop balsam bark pitch blisters with a stick, set it afloat in the creek and watch it flame.

I want to play kick the can in the dark. I want to run down the worn wooden front steps, down the dirt path and over the old wood bridge, even further, where the swing hangs from that big old birch and when I push off with a running leap I swing out over the ravine, my stomach drops and it is the best feeling *ever*.

I want to climb the ladder to the loft. I want to tell secrets to my best friend. I want to eat thick slabs of homemade whole grain bread with butter.

I want to sit on the porch rail with my best friend and watch her sister flirt with my brother. I want to sneak down to the sawmill and play softball. I want to sit in the field and eat wild strawberries until my lips, tongue and fingers are stained red.

I want to press my ear to the railroad track and "listen" for trains. I want to lie on my back in the blueberry bushes and watch dragonflies. I want ice cream, cold and sweet and drippy, melting faster than I can eat it.

I want my mom to make me tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. I my brothers to let me tag along on an adventure to find Bigfoot. I want to be knee-deep in the water, catching sucker fish with my bare hands. I want my sister to read outloud to me.

I want my mother showing me how to sew. I want to ride in the backseat with my bestfriend and make faces at the boys in the van behind us.

I want to wear my pink and white striped dress. I want to go barefoot in the garden and pick peas. I want a fresh stalk of rubarb dipped in sugar to eat.

What do you want?


In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, we're going to talk about my boobies (or lack thereof). This is a subject most people shy away from with me, because they don't want to be insensitive, I'm sure. I don't go out of my way to discuss them, either, but if it comes up I always say I'm happy to be rid of them. This mostly shocks people; I have such a flippant attitude about it they can't wrap their heads around that.

It's true, for the most part. My boobs were a real pain in the neck. Literally. In 2008, during a routine procedure to place a port in my chest for chemotherapy treatment, things went terribly wrong, and 5 hours later I woke up with bandages covering a 3-inch T-shaped incision in my neck. I endured a lot of pain and nerve damage from that surgery that never completely went away, and I blame it all on my boobs. If it wasn't for them getting cancer, damnit....but I digress.

My boobs were always too big, I thought, and caused me all kinds of problems: blouses never fitting right, bra shopping was a nightmare, and running was out since I was always getting hit in the face with them. For the life of me, I'll never understand women who get those giant implants. Are they insane?? There is nothing fun about boobs that are constantly in your way. And I know what all the guys are thinking, but honestly, I really couldn't care less how awesome you think big boobies are. My comfort is much more inportant to me than your turn-on. And then there was the pain. For the last few years I had constant pain in the right side, which unfortunately did not go away after the tumors were removed, but only got worse. So I pretty much viewed my breasts as a curse, and the day I was told my breasts had cancer, it only confirmed it for me.

The decision to have a double mastectomy was an easy one for me. I told my plastic surgeon, "don't you dare put the same size implants in. I'll take little boobies, please". He looked at me askance, unsure if he was hearing correctly. I assured him I was serious.

What I was not prepared for, of course, was the complications that arose, which resulted in my current status: boobless. But even that did not faze me, because for the first 6 months or so, I was too preoccupied with the terrible aftermath of surgery, and trying to recover. Now that my scars have healed, however, there are some things about having boobs that I miss. Body image is important, but what I didn't realize before is, you don't just become flat-chested, you become *concave*. It feels like you have lost limbs, and obviously it's not as traumatic as losing, say, your arms, but it's still losing a huge part of you (and in my case, truly huge), and that comes with issues.

Like itching. My nipples itch and I don't even *have* nipples, y'all. This can be very maddening. Also, the muscle spasms. I will get hit with a spasm so intense I am forced to contort my torso to try and relive it, which makes for some interesting positions. It's like having a charlie-horse in your boob. Except there's no boob. And you're grimacing and twisting like someone possessed, which is no big deal if you're at home on the couch - but in line at the grocery store, or sitting at a traffic light? Not so much.

Still, there is always humor to be found in the worst situations, and that's what I look for. The silver lining, or perks (pun intended), I like to call them. Like, I don't have to wear a bra. I don't spill food down my "boob-shelf" anymore. I can sleep on my stomach. And men always look me straight in the eye.

It's been an adjustment for my kids, as well. My son was a year old when I was diagnosed, and at the time my chest was his favorite place to snuggle. This quickly became off-limits, but he would still manage to find a spot on my belly to suffice. One of his other favorite things to do was hurl himself headlong into my arms, inevitably headbutting me in the chest, and of course when he was told not to, it was always, "why, mommy? Do your boobies hurt?"

After my mastectomy he was naturally curious about what happened to them. I explained the best I could. Almost daily he asks about them. "Mommy, did the doctor cut your boobies off?" When this is confirmed, he says, "oh", and merrily goes on his way. Lately, though, he will approach me with a mischevious gleam in his eye.

"Nice boobies", he'll say, waiting for my reaction. If I remind him I don't have any, the questions start all over again. So sometimes I just laugh. I'm sure its just a phase, his obsession with boobies - oh who am I kidding, he *is* his father's son. I'm just hoping he'll outgrow this phase of calling attention to my non-boob status. He has even taken to calling me "Boobies" on occassion.

So to be perfectly honest? I am still coming to terms with life without them. Sometimes I miss them. More often, I don't. After all, when faced with the alternative, it is still easy to say, in Cade's words (as I told him goodbye before leaving for work yesterday), "So long, Boobies!"

Everytime I Fall Apart

So I have this theory. If I think it enough, if I wish it more than anything, I will become it, and make it true. Because that's how it works, right? Isn't that what we are told? Mind over matter, create your own destiny, blah blah blah...well I admit I completely buy into this. I do. Everything I have accomplished in my life has been the result of my own blood, sweat and tears. My grit and determination are what has gotten me here. I am strong, fierce, fearless.

And then I get hit with a curveball from out of effen *nowhere*. And I fall apart.

What. The. F. Sometimes I am ashamed. Others I am angry with myself. What am I doing? Shouldn't I be used to this by now? What am I doing wrong that this keeps happening? Why am I such a weak, pathetic mess?

I could go on with the demoralizing self-deprecation, but you get the idea. We've all done it, punished ourselves for being human.

And that's when someone touches me. Sometimes it is only a touch, maybe a word, a look, a smile...but that one gesture, however small, is all I need. It builds me up, gives me love, strengthens my resolve, restores my faith, gives me hope, shares my sorrow, brings me joy, and pulls me together. And I realize, in that sigh of relief, that *this* is how I got here, through all the trials and tribulations of my life, this is why I live. I didn't get here on my own. I'm here because of you. If I let you down, you lifted me up. When I couldn't find my way, you held my hand. The amazing, wonderful truth is not that I am strong, but that you make me strong. We need each other. We cannot do it alone.

We are here to help each other, and that is what I want to do for you. Because each of you, in your own way, everyday, save my life.

And that, my friends, is the human condition.

And You Thought I was Tough

I'm scared.

I feel better getting that off of my chest. What am I so afraid of? Well, chickens, *obviously*.

Ok seriously.

I'm afraid of wolves. And fog. Carnie folk. And becoming my mother. And failure.

But mostly, I am afraid of being forgotten.

And no, I don't mean being left behind at the grocery store, although that was a legitimate fear once while out shopping with friends and I had to go destroy a toilet (it was day two of a softball tournement, stop judging me) and they all assumed I was with somebody else and they all left the building. Without me. But that's another story for another time.

I don't want you to forget me. You know, when I'm gone. Don't worry, geez, I'm not going anywhere yet, not for a long time. But it does bother me sometimes. Every time I encounter death, which unfortunately in my line of work happens a lot, I am always thrown into a tailspin when I realize that nothing stands still for that.

Life goes on. People are still eating, working, sleeping, *living*. Because they must. Really. I know this. But here's the thing - totally unacceptable. If I die young, I fully expect the universe to at least tilt or something. So the least you people could do is, show some *respect*, damnit.

Like stay in bed. If you are forced to go out, wear black or don't get dressed at all. Don't eat anything you like for at least 24 hours. Especially if it is something *I* like to eat, it is forbidden. So no olives. No feta. No pickled fish. Please *do* take a shower but you better not look happy about it. You can listen to music as long as it is a continuous loop of "Blue Eyes Cryin in the Rain" by Willie Nelson. Don't do things I despise, like shopping(I'm not kidding) or anything to do with Hannah Montana.

You are allowed to cry. Publicly. In fact, inconsolably would be a nice touch. Public displays of devotion are always appreciated. At this point in time, I have no idea what I want to be remembered for, but I will get back to you on that. I still have time to figure it out and become great at something (besides an awesomely fierce Chuck Norris-style zombie slayer). I don't think a national day of mourning (a week would be even better) is too much to ask.

Ok. For reals now. I want the most kick-ass party you've ever had, because that's what I would *really* do. I want everyone to sing karaoke, eat brisket and take turns with the potato gun.

After all, we can't *all* be rockstars, but I damn well expect you to act like one.

P.S. I love you

Monday, June 21, 2010

Everybody Dies Famous in A Small Town

There I go again, leaving my desperate fans holding their breath waiting for another post. I've been busy, okay? It's a lot of work being a rockstar.
Seriously, what have you all been doing during this monsoon season? Not sitting inside I hope. NOT watching Real Housebitches of New Jersey or Real Houseflakes of New York City. You know you're guilty! I know I know, watching the trainwrecks is breathtaking, I swear I wouldn't watch another episode if I didn't want so desperately to see Danielle get knocked off by the Manzo Mob or Kelly get sent to the nut ward. Just watching Kelly's head spin like something out of the Exorcist when she tries to string sentences together is worth the 10,000 brain cells I just lost and the belly laugh.
But it is summertime, and this town is overflowing overnight, making for some of the best people-watching I have ever seen. It sure beats reality TV. And the nightlife is unreal. You've got the Tavern, where the flower children pay $10 for beer you've never heard of while they sway to the music blissfully unaware that that the Rainbow Party left Cook County in 1983 - where washing your hair makes you stand out and the air is heavy with the pungent odor of incense and goat cheese. It's a truly spiritual experience. Or so I was told by a woodtick seated next to me, who clearly had had a big fat spiritual experience in the alley behind the bar before he came in.
"It's such a great love, man," he said, grinning, eyes half-mast. I had to move three stools down because the contact high was that good, he was starting to make sense.
Then you have the rockstars of the Birch Terrace. Where the whiskey flows, girls dance to karaoke, punches fly (and blood flows), everyone looks sexy in Carharrts and when you sing Divinyls you earn a cult following with fan clubs as far away as the Twin Cities. The men smell like sweat and wood shavings and the women wear baseball caps.
The best part about this town is you can hang out anywhere and have a good time. If you know how. And all that means is putting your prejudice aside and smiling at someone - before you know it, you will be having a conversation with a senator, singing showtunes with a doctor and eating pulled pork sandwiches in the parking lot. Staying for one more quick one and finding yourself doing shots with a guy who totally looks like Chuck Norris.
And maybe, if you're lucky, getting up to sing with me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How To Make a Broken Heart

I don't believe anyone can get through life without one - and most of us carry the scars of multiple heartbreaks with us forever. It never gets easier, it is never forgotten, but in time memories mellow, hurt becomes bittersweet, our faith is restored, and we hope.
Hope. Hope the last one was the only one. Hope the next one never comes.
And we swear we would never break a heart. Until we do.
I have broken more than one. I cannot bear it. When I look into their eyes,I remember my first heartbreak as a child, an adolescent, as an adult. The physical ache, the disappointment, the mental anguish. The feeling that you want to scream but you're down to your last breath. I remember wondering *how* someone who loved me could hurt me so badly. I cried *why* a million times.
Why? That's what I wanted to know. Why me? What had I done? Why would they leave me? Why would they build me up to tear me down? Why would anyone want to break my heart? I never understood.
So why would I?
I wish I knew.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Alligator heads + cocktails, not good

It was a wild day in the ER. The only thing that was getting me through was a bag of jolly ranchers. I was excitedly breaking my molars on them toward the end of shift when my most interesting case of the day came in, and I thought yes, this one is definitely blog-worthy.
A swarthy man in overalls approached my desk and stated he needed stitches. I invited him to sit down for registration since he appeared to be in no distress and I couldn't see any blood anywhere. He had his left hand wrapped in a towel.
He was quite jovial and actually seemed pleased to be there, not our typical patient, mind you.
Me: "So what happened to your hand?"
Patient: "it's cut right down thar to the bone, gonna need some stitches I bet."
Strong Southern drawl. Interesting. This is 45 miles from the Canadian border, we don't drawl here. When I asked, he assured me it wasn't bleeding badly, so next question:
Me: "have you ever been seen here before?"
"Yep! Buncha times. (Inserts name here) y'all got me in your comp-puter there."
Hm, yes, there he was, local address. A transplant!
Me: "How did you cut your hand?"
Patient hesitates. Hm? His wife, standing behind him with a toddler on her hip, snorts with laughter.
"You don't wanna know, ma'am!" She says.
Ah, true I don't, but I have to. I'm putting his ID on his right wrist and raise my eyebrows at him. "Sir?"
He snickers like I said something funny. I've already caught the whiskey on his breath so I'm prepared for anything. Or so I thought.
"Oh alright," he says, "I'll tell you. I was cleanin' an alligator head -"
"Wait." I've heard a lot of tall tales, but not this. Not in northern Minnesota. I smell a prank, but I can't help laughing either. "Start at the beginning. What were you doing?"
Big grin. "Well, I'm out in thee geerage havin' some cocktails, you know, and I'm fixin' to clean this alligator head - "
Me: "I'm sorry. I have to get this clear. Where did you get this fresh *alligator* head?"
Patient: "I'm dead serious, ma'am, my wife was down south and brung me home a present yesterday. So I'm fixin' to clean this fresh alligator head -"
Wow. I'm still pretty sure I'm being pranked, but I'll roll with it.
"Ok, sir, what kind of knife? A filet knife?"
"Well yeah! So I'm cuttin'-"
Me: "hang on. Did the knife go through some alligator before it went through your hand?"
Patient: "yep."
Me:*sigh* "Ok. Do you know when your last tetnus shot was?"
Patient: "yes ma'am! Couple of weeks ago, when I was in here!"

I couldn't bring myself to ask.
Lesson for the day: cocktails in the garage is fine, just leave the filet knives and alligator heads alone.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

I still Pink Puffy Heart love you

I know I haven't blogged in awhile. It doesn't mean I don't care about you, my faithful readers, it just means I don't care enough.
My schedule has been keeping me away - that, and I am just totally uninspired. Until last night. I got like a 2 second glimpse of a show called "Kirstie Alley's Big Life" or some such and I was AMAZED.
TOTALLY FLOORED. Not just that someone thought "I know a great idea for a show! Let's gather up some lemur-loving fatties and film them trying to get back on (Jenny) Craig'slist while they self-destruct in front of the camera and prove how bat-shit crazy D-list celebrities are",
But also because SOMEONE GAVE THEM A SHOW.
Really? Seriously, I need a show. I can give you entertainment. And you won't have to watch me stuffing my fat face either. Funny stuff happens to me all the time. Like the other day, when I wore baggy granny panties with my uniform and they fell down all day long so I was constantly hitching up my pants. It took some serious maneuvering to keep my wedgies straight while running around taking care of people. It didn't dawn on me til quittin' time that it would have been easier to just remove them. But then what if I had gotten in an accident, like our mothers always used to say?
For me it would be an ambulance accident, so probably some pretty serious shit. I could have had bilateral femur fractures and some First Responder going after my pants with the trauma shears and there would be nothing I could do about it. I always say underwear are overrated, but not when you're working, man. Anything could happen. I could squat to help a patient and my pants could split right up the crotch. It has happened. And that shit is hilarious.
You know what else is funny? Getting a full chaw of Beechnut spat at you while trying to hold down the Incredible Hulk so your partner can get a line in and an amp of D50 to bring him back to the nice, unassuming, quiet mannered diabetic man whose blood sugars got too low. It took awhile, so by the time I could do anything about it, the sweat trickling from my scalp had already mixed with the chew and ran in my eyes. My partner took me over to the sink and was carefully washing my face and commented, "you have never looked dead sexier".
Take that, Kirstie Alley.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Another 911 at 0 degrees

Even though it's 0600 hours, I am ready to go on a remote call looking for a possible fractured pelvis on a snowmobile trail 19 miles off the road... I LOVE my job!
(If only my partner would stop "trying to see if the rig camera works")
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, March 5, 2010

How Strong is She?

In the Summer, they struggled.
In the Fall, he was suddenly dead.
Their little girl tried to understand, her mother tried to hide her tears.
How do you reach out to someone who has lost their mate?
Can she handle it? How strong is she?
Stronger than I.
She wants to fall apart, but she can't. She holds herself together for her daughter, she goes to work, life goes on.
But one look in her eyes tells the truth. You can see the pain welling up as she speaks his name, softly, and you can hear the hurt as she recalls how he took care of them.
I can hardly bear it.
In the Winter, she carries on.
And she reaches out to help me as I lie there, too weak too stand. I ask her how she's doing, but it sounds so lame. I want to ask her more, but I don't want to make her cry.
When she leaves my hospital room, I turn to the wall and cry tears of shame. How strong is she!
In the Spring, she smiles.
She is amazing.
She takes care of her daughter like no mother I have ever seen. That little girl will grow up to be amazing, too. She takes care of her family, she takes care of us.
Who takes care of her?
She inspires me. I want to be that strong, too. I feel lucky just to know her. I want to say that, but when my tongue gets stuck, I write it here.
Keep standing tall, girl. If you fall, I've got your back.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

They are precious in His sight

I had to make a special point tonight of spending extra time with each of my kids. I'm not sure why, I certainly wasn't feeling guilty since I had just spent the entire weekend taking them sledding, swimming, cooking special dinners and even baking a pie! Imagine that. My energy has come back so instead of lying around on the sofa I am delving into piles of laundry from the past 3 months, cleaning the kids' rooms and washing windows. I want to not only feel normal again, I want my family to realize how much I appreciated them holding down the fort for me the last few months of my illness.
But tonight the kids were just so cute at the dinner table I wanted to hold them tight and never let them go - not get one inch taller, not learn one more cruel thing, never know a home without me in it.
Of course I couldn't tie them down til bedtime - they had better things to do than cuddle with me, of course, like playing Polly Pockets and trucks. So I busied myself with a crossword until they were tuckered out and looking for mom - my eight year old actually requested I lie down with her when tucking her in, something she has outgrown only recently, but I was all too happy to oblige. We laid down in her bed amongst the stuffed animals, our heads together, listening to Taylor Swift playing softly on her stereo (she has been falling asleep to music since she was an infant - it used to be Johnny Cash, lately its either Taylor or Elvis), while she told me about her school day in hushed whispers. It was over too quickly. She was soon sound asleep, her hand in mine.
I was soon jarred awake by the sound of my son bellering for me from the next room. He was all too happy to join me in my bed, excited to have his pacifier (he's only allowed it at bedtime now) and favorite blankie to rub his nose with, exactly as his sister did at that age. As we settled into our pillows, he reached up and touched my cheek. "Mom, you da best mom da world".
How can I argue with that?

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Why I will not lose sleep over Tiger

So Tiger Woods, who is some kind of famous golfer or LaCrosse player or some such shit, has a press conference Friday to talk about the whorehouse or rehab spa he's spent the last two months in and how sorry he is that his PR people are such pathetic excuses for human beings for not doing a better job of getting him out of the mess he's in. Or maybe he was saying he was sorry for being such a douche canoe manwhore, but that's not what I heard. Basically he appeared really pissed off at having to be there at all, but I see he had to make a point of denying his irate wife nearly succeeded bashing his head in with one of his own golf clubs. Imagine the embarrassment if that story got out. God forbid that frail thing, poor victimized, beautiful-and-cheated-on starter wife actually beat him at his own game. Although I say she should have aimed at his balls, to make it more ironic and maybe kept him from texting his mistress immediately due to the blueness and swelling and all.
Personally I don't buy the whole sex addiction story. First of all, there is no such thing as sex addiction by definition. If he would just man-up and admit to having extra-marital sex and lots of it, he would have more credibility. Nobody would even be surprised, his wife could leave him and be set for life and he could go back to sleeping with ugly-ass whores while making ridiculous amounts of money playing with balls. But instead he is going to pretend to have some disease that basically prevents him from keeping his pecker in his pants, thus reliving him of any manly moral duty to his wife he vowed to be faithful to. So his family and fans should, and must, support his treatment and keep him supplied with porn, chicken and access to an endless supply of hookers.
But I, for one, am not going to partake in this huge steaming pile of dogshit being served up. Here are my reasons;
#1: Tiger Woods means nothing to me. He is not the most famous man in the world I don't care what anyone says.
#2: He plays with balls. This does nothing for mankind. And he is no role model in my book.
#3: He has not found the cure for cancer.
#4: Whether he will return to playing with his balls or not has no revelance and I refuse to lose sleep over it. Because while he is "battling his addiction", I will be fighting for my life.
I hope people can appreciate the difference.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sleddin', Shreddin', and Wipeouts

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tv and banana sandwiches

As I sit here at 3 am, eating a slab of rye with Jif and sliced bananas, listening to Pancho and Lefty (by Willie Nelson for you young'uns), I am reflecting on what an awesome day it was today - or technically yesterday- and my earliest memory of eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
(I have to pause here in sheer bliss now because Conway Twitty and TightFittinJeans just came on)
Ok I'm back. That was freakin awesome. And if you don't appreciate Conway, you can leave my blog right now. I mean it - GET THE HELL OUT. The man may have been the homliest white man in a fro, but I would have thrown my underwear at his head if I had the chance. It still isn't clear to me why this was an accepted practice at concerts back in the day, and it is one I have always scorned from my mother's era, but I would have definitely made an exception for Conway. The man's voice can turn me into a melted puddle of butter.
But back to bananas and Jif. Because choosier moms choose Jif. Don't ask me why. I do what the commercials tell me to. That's what they're there for right? To make the hard decisions easy for us so we can concentrate more on trying to figure out which Desperate Housewife will be the next one to go off her meds and knife someone.
Do you realize how much of what you do is directly or indirectly influenced by what you watch on tv? Actually its not what you watch, its watching it in general. For instance, my latest obsession, or shall I say fantasy, of stabbing certain tv characters in the neck can be entirely blamed on the drivel we like to call reality tv.
Some might say maybe I should stop watching it, and to them I say nonsense. Watching someone else's train wreck may just be what is keeping me off Prozac, and fantasizing about stabbing Kris Jenner just may be what has kept me from setting fire to a meth whore's house after rescuing her 7 children who think all their mama's teeth fell out from eating too much candy. Not that I have ever thought about doing that.
Watching tv is therapeutic, I think. Kind of like eating banana and peanut butter sandwiches. I remember eating one as a kid, and my mother telling me that it was Elvis' favorite sandwich. Really? I thought, then Elvis can't be all that bad. (Daddy was an old-fashioned preacher who said Elvis was possessed of the Devil). I was beginning to realize all is not as it seems.
Coincidentally, my eight year old daughter is a huge Elvis fan. Do I tell her Elvis was possessed of the Devil? No. I tell her Miley Cyrus is.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Loot

Isn't it what V-day is all about?
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, February 12, 2010

This is what I do

Do you ever have that moment of clarity, that confirmation, that you are exactly where you should be, doing exactly what you should be doing?
I wish I had an exciting or paticularly revolting story to tell you about *the moment*, like a critical cardiac or messy trauma where I herotically save a life - it is, after all, what I do - but I don't.
It was, actually, the most unglamorous of calls. A 69 year old male having breathing problems and anxiety. No lights and sirens, please. The address was all too familiar. I had picked Lenny* up many times, and it was almost always the same complaint. What concerns me about Lenny is, too often these episodes of respiratory distress are labeled "panic attacks" and those responding tend to get lack-a-daisy about it, when in reality Lenny is panicking *because* he can't breathe. Lenny has a long history of COPD (congestive obstructive pulmonary disorder) on top of heart disease. During one such call not too long ago, Lenny was having an active MI (heart attack) and the EMTs who picked him up that night didn't treat it because they assumed it was business as usual and simply transported him to the hospital - they didn't know, because they got lazy and didn't do an assessment.
So I'll admit, I'm a little protective of Lenny. When I arrive on-scene I am relived to see the First Responder there ahead of me is a well-seasoned EMT who is one of the most compassionate providers I have ever met. It makes my job so much easier to work with people who get it.
Lenny is in his recliner, wheezing. I can hear the hum of his home oxygen machine in the background as I kneel at his side to get a pulse. Its irregular, too fast. I'm speaking softly to him, knowing he will recognize my voice, while reaching with my free hand to open my O2 bag.
"Oh. Thank. God. It's - you!" Lenny peers at me through red-rimmed eyes and gasps, clutching at my hand. I know its bad when he's only getting one word out at a time. His wife, a wretched, hoarse woman with skin the texture of dust-crusted canvas, is leaning over his shoulder, her strong tabacco breath assaulting me.
"Stop asking him questions, goddamnit! Can't you see he can't breathe?!" Her voice is like gravel. I ignore her, because Lenny is already calming as I soothe him, but in my head I'm telling her off: back up bitch, he could breathe a lot easier if you'd quit blowing smoke in his face 24 hours a day.
The room reeks of stale cigarettes, sweat and other foul body odor. Its enough to make a healthy person wheeze.
Some high-flow O2 by mask and a nebulizer enroute to the hospital only 8 blocks away, and Lenny is noticably breathing easier, although fatigued. And he still won't let go of me. And I'm still talking to him. He knows I don't expect him to answer; we've been through this enough we both know the drill. I have his medical history memorized, right down to what meds he takes, and my voice has an immediate effect on him. I keep it low, even and soft. He sighs like a child as his respirations slow into a more normal rhythm.
And that's when it hits me. I am looking down at my hand in his, my fingertips almost white in his grip, and I'm thinking how impossible it is to get good capillary refill on him because of his prematurely mottled, dusky, cyanotic skin. I am relived he has responded so quickly to my simple treatments this time, and I realize, as he shoots me a grateful look, nodding, that this is what I'm good at. Not the medicine, not my technical skills. I flashed back to a previous call where I had held the hand of a trauma patient as she asked repeatedly what had happened. Then the little boy with the mutilated leg who never shed a tear but gripped my hand tightly the entire 2 1/2 hour transport to the trauma center. The suicidal young woman who survived her purposeful crash off a cliff into a ravine who sobbed into my shoulder, staining my uniform with her blood and tears. So many of them, over the years. Did my interventions help them? Probably. But my touch is what they remember.
How lucky am I? This is what I do, and I am good at it.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, February 5, 2010


Fierce... My new fav word. (Entoned like Christian from Project Runway)
I feel fierce. I AM fierce. Being a hot mess was so... 2009. Thank God that's over. The past few months have taken me to Hades and back, and yet here I am, still.
To get everyone up to speed, I had a double mastectomy in November. At the same time, tissue expanders were placed, in anticipation of the breast reconstruction I had planned. Nothing had prepared me for the pain I experienced, however - a few hours after surgery, my IV was discontinued, and I was started on oral pain meds. ARE YOU FRICKEN KIDDING me? I was 10/10 on the pain scale and on the 3rd day when I finally broke down into a bawling, sniveling mess and rang my nurse, I was told I could have a Motrin to supplement. WTF?
Anyway, those first 2 weeks are a blur of horrific and unpleasant moments best left alone. I lived. Surprise! The pain didn't kill me. What almost did, was far more insidious and menacing: staph infection.
Week 3: surgery again. More debridement for the infection. One night in the hospital, sent home with more JPs (drain tubes) and bandages. Tried to go to work the next day, felt too fatigued. Got up on Friday, determined, and drove in to work. Walking down the hall to my office, I saw my coworkers at the nurses station glance my way, heard a collective gasp, and the next thing I know, I'm in a wheelchair being whisked away to the ER. I'm having trouble taking a deep breath. The room is swimming a little. Dr B hovers.
I come back from x-ray with a terrible chill. I hear "can't rule out the PE" and I am shaking. My husband looks down on me, his face a stoic mask. Why won't anyone tell me what the hell is going on?.
My father-in-law, who is also my boss, and J, my fellow EMT, show up with the ambulance cot. I don't want to go by ambulance, but nobody will listen to me. I am shaking uncontrollably now.
Somehow I survived the 2 hour ambulance ride - the memory is sketchy. When I arrived at SMMC, my fever had skyrocketed to 104.9. I was admitted to the floor but within 3 hours was moved to ICU, where I would remain for the next 3 days, spiking fevers and hovering somewhere between delirium and moments of painful lucidity.
Week 4: more surgery. Implants must come out. Two large abcesses discovered and cleaned out. But this time I woke up and thought, hey, I can breathe...
My recovery was slow and painful. I still don't like to talk about it much. I couldn't lie down without at least 6 pillows to prop everything up, and just showering and redressing my wounds exausted me so much I had no energy to do anything else. The day after my release from the hosptial this time, it was my daughter's final night of her Cinderella play. My husband had to work (he went and cheered her on her first two nights), so I took my two-year-old and we sat in the front row. She was so adorable, and I was so proud. I almost missed that.
It took me a while, but I realized something, after going through it all. I am much more resilient than I thought. Mentally, I mean. Because physically I was a puddle there for awhile - even after the infection was under control I was hospitalized two more times for complications like nausea and vomitting so severe I lost 37 lbs.
But emotionally? I'm in a better place then I've been in years. Is it really true, what does not kill us makes us stronger? I don't know. Maybe I always was this fierce.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

I miss blogging!

I feel as if I have come back from the dead. Literally. But that is another post... The main reason for my absence is, I haven't been able to post from my blackberry, and I am not tech-savvy enough to figure out why. So I am trying it by email...if you are reading this, then it works! And I'm back! Yay me!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry