Salon Gossip

Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Some of you know what I mean. That local salon where you go to get a wash and cut that could take 25 minutes but it takes an hour and fifteen because you love the gal that cuts your hair and you end up talking about everything that's happened in the last two months (after she fusses at you for not getting your hair cut more often than that). It's straight out of Steel Magnolias, I swear.

Well, I never knew what that was like until I moved to Macon. I often feel like I'm on a Southern shot movie set. I first went to this random salon because a friend of mine from college and from Macon used to go there. I've been going ever since. I'm pretty low maintenance about my hair, so as long as I enjoy the person cutting it I'm not that picky.

Anyway, tonight when I walked in the salon I noticed a character in the booth next to my gal's that made me very uncomfortable. Reason being that he had followed me from the hospital to my car one night after I got off, in the dark, asking me for money. Fortunately another girl from my unit had left shortly after me and waited in the parking lot until he left me alone.

Just a few weeks later I'd seen him at my church. We meet downtown and all the local street walkers come to our service, they eat our doughnuts, drink our coffee and then nap in the back row during the sermon. It's fine with me, a warm dry place and the Word does not return void. But when I saw this particular man there I walked in the other direction, annoyed. Annoyed because he had followed me, scared me, lied to me, and was now taking advantage of my church.

Needless today, when I saw him today next to Kiersten's booth I was skeptical. When I knew he was too far away to hear me I asked her who he was. She said he was new, just got a job there cutting hair and that she had a tremendous amount of respect for him. "But he..." I started to say, "Was homeless?" she finished. "Well, yes," I said, putting my head down so that she had to straighten it to keep cutting.

"Yeah, he was a drunk but has turned around." Wow, I thought. She went on to say that he's been attending three different churches and a lady at one of them has allowed him to move into her basement. She comes to our salon and she got him a job. He's totally sober now and committed to changing things. He's an amazing person. He was very quiet at first, but has begun to open up to them one by one.

Wow. At that point I told her I was sorry for being so judgmental. He had scared me months before and I hadn't forgiven him. I honestly hadn't wanted to see him again. I felt like such a jerk.

I've been learning how to engage the poor since I started attending New City Church, and it seems that I am still failing miserably. I've always been a skeptic. Sometimes it's a good thing, but most of the time it causes me judge others, not even giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Kiersten and I have talked about Jesus a few times. Never in much detail. But she was loving like Him today, and taught me a little bit about respecting the second chance.

how did I get stuck in the middle of this?

Thursday, December 10, 2009
click here.

~ the importance of being earnest ~

Saturday, November 28, 2009
My brother says that I need to blog more about my job. People that don't work in the medical field find it interesting I guess, while those of us who do become so worn out that the last thing we want to talk about when we leave the hospital is, the hospital.

For the last few months my job has seemed very "blah" to me. I like to be moved and inspired by my work. The first year of my career I was...daily. Lately it's been hard for me to care about much other than my "to do" list while I'm taking care of patients.

It's funny how God begins to move just when you think your ordinary life is...well, ordinary. Last night one of my patients passed away very unexpectedly. I cared for three patients in the 36 hours I worked Thursday through Saturday. One of them a 19 year old pregnant girl, one a man with a neuro injury who fell from a building and has now been in the ICU for a month, and a new admission; a motorcycle accident who did not have a scratch on his body, but fractured two of his vertebrae leaving him paralyzed from the waste down. It was a hard three days, made even more difficult from the lack of staff and emotions of families over the holiday.

Even now I feel emotionally and mentally exhausted.

I did see improvements. I was able to take my fall victims restraints off, which brought tears to his fathers eyes. (He had been tied to his bed for 20 days...for his safety). My pregnant girl went from possibly having H1N1 to plans to take her off the ventilator today, but my motorcycle patient shocked us all.

He was my only awake and alert patient. A sweet uneducated black man from South Georgia with a stutter. He had five numbers in his cell phone and could not tell me of any family to contact. He had no complaints but was very anxious to understand why he could not move his legs. The doctors told him that they didn't know if his sensation would return or not, but we all knew there was little hope.

Mr Barry was scheduled to have a spine fusion yesterday, what is known as an uncomplicated quick surgery from our end. The OR was backed up and he was anxious all morning hoping that his surgery would fix his legs. He must have asked me five times when he would get to go.

When he didn't get back from the OR for six and a half hours I started to worry. When the Neurosurgeon busted into our unit demanding to see Mr Barry's family I knew something was seriously wrong.

I located Mr Barry's sister, who lives over an hour from him but had somehow been contacted by the police after his accident. She seemed to have little if any relationship with him, but had waited patiently in the waiting room during the surgery, because there was no one else.

The neurosurgeon explained briefly to all of us that Mr Barry had come through the surgery smoothly but was having trouble in recovery. His blood pressure had dropped, they had to put him on the ventilator and were now having to do compressions on his chest to keep him alive.

I think my mouth was hanging open. He was my patient that was healthy. Yes, he had broken his back, but as far as being sick, he had shown no signs.

As a nurse you automatically try to figure out what could have happened. What did I miss? Were his complaints of belly pain more than radiation from his spine? Did I miss something in the heath history. Could I have impacted his outcome?

I never let my mind wander on those things for long, because I know that ultimately I have no control over life and death. I don't struggle with guilt on a physical level.

After shift change I went down to the Recovery Room. No one seemed to know what was going on with our patient so I wanted to see it for myself. I walked into an empty room except for my patient. He was surrounded by surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and respiratory therapists all fighting to save him. They said they had been at it for over an hour. The monitor was flashing "asystole" as they continued to give him drugs. He had a heart attack, one of the residents told me. No one saw it coming.

I often wish that I would say something to my patients that matters. My guilt is on a spiritual level. Why did I simply ask him how his pain was and what I could do for him, rather than asking him if he knew Jesus? I was probably one of the last ten people he spoke to before he passed, and I did not speak earnestly about anything.

Sometimes I choose to believe things just because I have to cope. I know my "super christian" and Calvinist friends would probably find something wrong with that. In fact, I'm sure it's not theologically correct, but I don't care.

Last night through journaling I realized, or chose to believe, that God knew Mr Barry had no one to care for him in his paralyzed state. He lives alone, has no contact with his family, and the five numbers in his phone likely could not help him get on and off the toilet for the rest of his life. God wanted him home.

I hated it at first, but I believe in God's goodness. Even when I watched a patient I really enjoyed losing his fight. I know God is bigger than nurses pushing drugs and surgeons shaking their heads.

Mr Barry is walking in heaven with Jesus now. That's what I'm choosing to believe. And I will pray that in my ordinary life I will more often remember the importance of being earnest.

R.I.P. Blackie

Monday, October 12, 2009

As you can see I have been MONTHS without posting. It's been so long that I did not know where to begin. My last week's endeavors gave me an easy place to pick up.

Last Thursday, in my first true wreck, I totaled my 1997 Nissan Altima. The wreck was scary but the other lady involved and I walked away with nothing but soreness. So I cannot complain. Today my insurance company told me, as I suspected, that I would not be seeing my car again.

This got me thinking. I have had a love/hate relationship with my little black car for about a year now as I have been saving for something newer and trying not to put any more money into the Altima.

But today, as I waved goodbye to my four door automatic, I could not help but feel saddened by the parting.

When I went to college in the Fall of 2003, my parents sent me without a car and cell phone. It's funny now as I look back on the abandonment, and realize that it really was the best thing.

When I began my junior year in 2005 I was given my mom's hand-me-down Altima, and was completely overjoyed. And now, almost five years later, I cannot even believe the things I went through with that car!

On the eve of my first day of nursing school, I awoke to find no car in my driveway. Yep, that's right. My little car was STOLEN from my driveway in Milledgeville, GA. I was so stressed about nursing school that I did not even call to file a police report. I also wasn't completely convinced that one of my prank-er guy friends hadn't done something with it. (You'll understand why in a minute). My roommate filed the report later that day and after about four days of wondering if I'd ever see my car again, I was told that the police had discovered it parked by Central State Mental Hospital, devoid of gasoline.

All of my cds were gone as well as the majority of the dashboard containing my cd player. But the car was driveable and I was happy to have it home.

The next semester the most famous prank in all of Georgia College and State University history occurred. And once again my car decided that it needed to be involved in a scandal. It's a really long story, hilarious now, and all I can say is that the photos below will give you a SMALL picture of the chaos my house-mates and I endured. And this time, more than one pranker guy friend was found guilty.

By my final semester of nursing school my car decided that it was getting bored with the routine of senior year. I was commuting between Macon and Milledgeville two days a week for classes. One evening, my roommate Shelby and I were driving back to Macon on Hwy 49. It was dark and we were talking about some nonsense when we both saw our lives flash before our eyes.

I remember screaming, tensing, closing my eyes, and swerving...everything they tell you not to do, as the ENORMOUS deer crossed our path.

Once again my Altima pulled through, leaving nothing but a doe's hind-quarter imprint in my right fender. The '97 took us safely home, though I think we were both trying to wrap our minds around the fact that deer that size kill people when they run into cars!

On Thursday, my little car decided that it was through with my adventures. Sadly, it didn't even go out in style. Last month it overheated in gridlock traffic on the 75/85 junction in downtown Atlanta, but this week it just gave up. I think it was offended because I actually left my house thinking about what newer car I would be purchasing in January of 2010, and not 5 minutes later, my car slammed into the back of a black Nissan truck.

That was the end. I knew it as soon as I discovered that I was unable to get out of my drivers' side door. I slid through the passenger seat to see my bumper lying on the ground, my left headlight shattered on the pavement, and my hood resembling the first fold of an accordion.

I just shook my head.

My car never had a name that stuck, though a few friends have given their input over the years. She will be remember as Blackie, because that's what all of my black horses, stuffed animals, and pets were called until I was about 9.5 years old and slightly more creative.

She will be missed.


Doe's butt print

~ Dear Paige ~

Wednesday, May 6, 2009
On May 10th I will have been a college alumnus for a year. More impressively I will have been a working healthcare professional, a Registered Nurse, for just as long.

A dear friend of mine, though she may not know it, graduates this weekend. Along with two young ladies that I discipled for two years and countless other friends. It’s all made me think hard about the last year of my life.

I don’t miss college. Not one bit. Most people do, I hear. But ever since I was about fifteen I wanted to be a grownup. And college wasn’t all fun for me. It was hard. Very hard. I worked my butt off, still failing my first semester in nursing school and then suffering through a fifth year that left me worn out and wanting nothing more than to escape the college campus. I wasn’t unhappy, by any means, but I was ready for the next phase of life.

Now that I’ve gotten here I sometimes don’t believe it. I feel like I’m still waiting for something to happen.

Although the last year has been a success in many aspects: I was given great reviews at work, I am completely self supported, and on Friday I will be 100% out of debt; I still feel like I am living a mediocre life. Most of that stems from my distant walk with God and continued struggle to believe that he is really involved in my life day to day. Also, somewhere along the way these last 12 months I have started seeing myself as good, as deserving, as worthy…of something…I’m not even sure of what. But I have seen clearly this week that I think I’m better than other people.

College is full of beautiful, ambitious, lovely people. They are usually easy to get along with and in the vast picture of the world, slimly diverse. What is it I’ve heard? 1% of the world’s population goes to college? ONE?!? I don’t remember ever thinking I was better than anyone else in college. Sure, I was better than a few people in English and I was at one point among the top ten singers at GCSU in competition...haha. I was even a pretty decent RA, up for best of the year, but there was always someone better and I never remember having an attitude of being better than anyone else.

That has changed. For the first time in my life I’ve been disgusted by people. I’m embarrassed to say it. But I’ve got to get it out. I’m judgmental and conceited. My once people loving nature has turned into a “loving people who are like me” one. And yes, I’ve got a great excuse.

Last week I had to care for a guy who decided to drive his four wheeler drunk at 3am. He’s split from his wife, visibly has no relationship with his kids, and his oversized belly boasts years of downing liters of alcohol daily. Was I sympathetic? No. Did he repel me? Yes. Did I enjoy bathing and wiping snot from his nose for three days? Absolutely not. Did I think I was better than him and his toothless mother? Yes.

And what about the guy my roommate cared for a few months back. I’ve mentioned him before. He murdered his wife before turning his gun unsuccessfully on himself. Did I have a problem ethically? Yes. Did I want to have anything to do with him? No. Did my heart ache for his family? Yes. Did I think I was better? Absolutely.

My profession, like most, has thrown me into a world of pain and diseased people. And not just diseases of the body. Two weeks ago I cared for a young guy paralyzed in a car wreck who insisted on attempting to groap me and mutter sexual slurs every chance he got. I wasn’t sympathetic. He made me angry.

Though I don’t desire to go back to college, it definitely was easier. And no, it wasn’t all peaches and cream. But something about this last year has turned me into someone who thinks that her education and tax bracket make her better than other people, more presentable, and worthy. I am still learning that it is I who is diseased. Not just a cripple in a hospital bed, a blue collared man who never learned to write, or a woman who has smoked herself into lung disease. “The problem with the world is me?” Right Justin? Why have I for so long considered that cliché?

How wrong I’ve been.

So if I could say something to graduates as they face the next year of life it wouldn’t be to get out of debt as fast as you can, get a great job, find happiness, or follow your dreams. It would simply be to remember.

Remember who you are. Remember Why you’re worthy. Remember that a degree, a job, money, good looks, health, possessions, and even friendships will in fact, fade away.

His love knows no end. It is what matters. And it is not based on you social status, physical fitness, education, accomplishments or ambition. It simply is.

Because He chose for it to be.

So here’s to my first year, so far from pretty of perfect. But this was it. And there will ever be room for improvement. Room for remembering.

STICU blackout!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Some of my favorite coworkers.

and it's April...

I'm not really a fan of April. My car turns yellow, sneezing sends hundreds of germs into the air, it rains...and floods as of late. But worst of all, bad things happen. My best friend and I have hated April for three years now, and after talking to her last night it doesn't seem to be getting any better.

Yeah, yeah, maybe that sounds superstitious, and no, I've got little belief in superstition after being born on Friday the thirteenth (or so my mother says). I just don't like April. It's usually spent wishing it was May anyway.

It's been so long since I've written it's hard for me to think of anything meaningful to say. The job is good. I still mostly enjoy it, although over the last month I have hated it for the first time.

I had my first patient that was mine, 100%, without a preceptor, code on me and pass away. It was hard. I cried. Mostly because of the stress of the situation and the fact that it happened so fast. I didn't even "get" what was happening until everyone but me left the room after the patient was pronounced. I was left with a little old man's body that had undergone severe trauma, and it just hit me that I was sad. So I cried. Any then I went back to work.

I think I did good. You always wonder what you'll do the first time you see your patient's heart rate plummet into the 30's and your blood pressure unaltered by several medications. You just kinda stand there and think, "huh, I have exhausted all the options and this guy is still gonna die."

That's when health care professionals are reminded that we are indeed, in control of nothing. We forget sometimes. I forget often. It's amazing what we can change about a body with medications, treatments and even body positioning.

But sometimes, there is nothing we can do.
And that's good. I know I sure don't want to be in control.

I had the Head of Trauma Surgery at one of four Level I Trauma Centers in Georgia look at me and say, "Well, what happened? I've got no idea."

And sometimes that's exactly how it goes. Of course no family member wants to hear that you aren't quite sure why or how or what happened that caused their loved one's death. But every now and then it's comforting to me.

It comforting because it's as if my God steps in a says, "Hey, in case you were doubting, giving yourself too much credit, or thinking that you had some sort of control over human physiology, you are wrong. Just wanted to remind you."

My job is a consistent learning experience, and that's probably my favorite part. I never want to be so unchallenged in my work that I'm not learning anything. When I get bored I'll move on.

Until then I'm still trucking, and just hoping to make it through April.

"I miss the rains down in Africa"

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My dad left for Tanzania yesterday. He goes two to three times a year. He'll be traveling for about 24 hours which is absolutely awful, but will be worth it in the end.

He has assisted in starting 5 primary schools (take that Oprah) in some of the poorest villages in the country with the support of Perimeter church. And he is now looking at starting a secondary school. It's really incredible the way God chooses to use him.

I have loved Tanzania, felt called to it, or passionate about it...whatever term you choose, since the 10th grade. I remember reading in my world history book about poor countries and at the time Tanzania was the poorest country in the world based upon GDP.

I remember thinking that there must be so many people there that needed help. And I couldn't imagine a place where orphans outnumber the employed and you are lucky if you have a meal of rice and beans every other day.

My church "happened" to be going to Tanzania the following summer, so I went. And my Dad requested to come along with me.

I now sometimes wonder if the reason God got me so interested in Africa was just to get my Dad over there. To get him passionate and involved. To use him in something so much bigger than himself.

In my family Africa is my Dad and I's thing. No one else really gets it. Simply because they haven't seen it. In fact, I think everyone who has been to East Africa sorta has this shared part of themselves. When I meet people who have been there we often share a humble smile and really don't have to say much else.

There is nothing that changes you like witnessing utter joy and hope in God in the midst of devastating poverty and disease. There is no one as beautifully hopeful as Africans.

After living there for ten weeks the summer of 2006 and working with the HIV/AIDS training branch of a mission organization, I decided that I want to help start hospices in some of Africa's larger cities. To host those dying of AIDS. I saw too many people rotting away on the floor of mud huts...yes, it's really like the commercials, and the starch white sheets and electric beds at my hospital remind me of it far too often.

I don't know when or how or if I'll ever actually live in Africa. But I know I'll be involved. I know I want to be a part of something that will last, just like my Father's schools. I know I want to be used in something much bigger than myself.

gray skies, are all i see. nothin' but gray skies...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009
First let me say that I am really not an unhappy person. I feel like most of my posting are really dark, but honestly it's just the tough stuff that's in my head and sometimes I have to let it out. I do it mostly for me anyway, but I just wanna get that out there so no one freaks out on me. I love my job, my church, my family, my roommates and so on. I've just been thinking a lot lately.

I also hate it when people make disclaimers before they talk. So I apologize.

I'm just really tired of how black and white things have been the last 23 years of my life. And no, that has nothing to do with Obama/McCain. I mean right and wrong. True and false. Life and death.

You see, I was raised in this phenomenal world view and value system where things are either good or evil, right or wrong. There isn't that much gray area. And if someone mentions that there is, it is usually a cop-out answer to some theological question or a way of avoiding talking about hard issues.

I was reading this article a couple of days ago in National Geographic...random, I know. About King Herod and how he gets a bad rap because people just remember him as the dude that slaughtered all the babies trying to save his kingdom from Jesus. Anyway, the article claimed that it was very unlikely that Herod even did that because the only account of it is in the gospel of Matthew. When I read that I quit reading the article because I figured I would not agree with anything else it had to say.

Later I got so angry with myself. Why is it that I really think someone is capable of having all the answers? And yes, I do believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, so therefore I disagree with some of that article. But where exactly do I get off in thinking that I can therefore learn nothing from its contents?

I'm not sure how that story even relates to my point in this posting. But what I'm getting at is that I've decided it's just not that easy. For as long as I can remember it's been you either know Jesus or you don't. To put it frankly, it's either heaven or hell.

And right now I'm having a hell of a time believing that. I mean, I get the gospel. As much as I can anyway. I'm not struggling with whether it's true or not, or how you get to heaven, or if babies that die in utero are damned...none of that stuff. I've been down those roads before.

The new issue is the whole life and death thing. Something that I never questioned before because I was never spending most of my week around dying people before. And yeah, as much as I hate it, most of the people that read this won't be able to relate.

I just don't get where your soul is. I mean, I know my friend Jess's soul who died last year is with Jesus, and I'm fairly confident that Hitler's is in hell. But I see so many people weekly that I'm not sure are anywhere.

There is this one man who has been IN MY HOSPITAL for over two and a half years. I have taken care of him in two different ICU's and his family refuses to let him go. But he is not there. He's completely contracted, nonverbal and unresponsive to any stimuli. But his eyes remain open. His heart is still beating. But I don't think I really believe that he is alive. Maybe I just don't want to.

Sometimes I feel that way about my grandmother. I love her so much, but I feel like she died several years ago when her Alzheimer's took her mind from her, so that she doesn't even know her own children.

And what about brain dead patients? Ones that we keep on ventilators and cardiac drugs that keep their bodies alive. Where are their souls?

I guess the black and white answer says that it doesn't matter. Either they knew Jesus or they didn't and they are either going to be with Him or they aren't. The gray answer says that we cannot know, God didn't intend for us to know everything. But that's just not good enough.

Because then what's the point? What's the point in praying for them or sharing Jesus with them...are they already gone?

Can a body still be alive when there is no hope for its soul?

That's what I don't get. And nothing about it looks white or black to me.

the right to death.

Friday, January 9, 2009
I have considered myself pro-life for as long as I can remember. Even as a little kid I remember carrying signs in silent marches through downtown Atlanta. We were declaring that life begins at conception and that no amount of scientific research has ever proven otherwise. I will always be anti-abortion.

But in order to really consider oneself pro-life doesn't that have to extend into every possible scenario? I still don't completely understand why most conservative, anti-abortionists also support the death penalty...but that's not really the direction I'm headed in here.

Sure, I believe in the right to life. But is it possible that we also have a right to death?

There are currently two patients in my unit who attempted suicide and failed. It's very sad. Tragic. And they are being treated as equally as anyone else. But how long can a nurse and doctor really ignore the fact that the person whose life we are fighting for, didn't want our help in the first place?

And what exactly classifies as life anyway? I remember sitting through a family meeting months ago with the parents of an 18 year old girl and her neurosurgeon. The surgeon basically told the family that although their daughter could not legally be declared brain dead, she had no hope for anything more than a vegetative state.

Is that really life?

I guess I just don't understand how much authority God really wants us to have on the issue. I know that He is the giver, and taker of life. I've got no argument there. But what about when the decision falls into our hands?

And to further complicate the issue, one of the attempted suicide patients mentioned above, committed murder before turning the gun on himself.

Still feeling pro-life? I know I'm not sure.

Is our system really so politically correct that we spend thousands of dollars and immeasurable labor on caring for a person who will likely face the death penalty? And is that justice?

I have no idea.

And fortunately that's not a decision I have to make. Every nurse and doctor I work with took an oath. To protect and preserve life, to do no harm. To do no injustice. To treat all patient's with equality...

But I can't help but be left with questions. Questions that will likely continue to go unanswered.