Thursday, May 31, 2007

Road trip planning

The worst part about getting used to the ‘new normal’ of frantic is that it quickly becomes the routine. I added all the ‘end of month’ tasks to my already full day today and it didn’t do me in, so you do what you have to and what you can. After all the unrest at work lately I made sure to put this quote “change is inevitable, suffering is optional” on my calendar which I distribute for June.

I’ve decided that my all time favorite reason given for NOT having the MMR shot is (and apologies to those who are fans of body art or smokers) but….“I don’t believe in putting a foreign substance in my body“ - said by someone sporting at least one tattoo on their way to a smoke break. The body art also covers the “yeow that hurts” statement as well for the momentary sting of the vaccine. I do agree with the trade unionists / human rights advocates who say that the Capital Health Authority stance of not paying an employee who is excluded from work after being a contact of mumps would likely not stand up to the challenge in the courts. However, I have neither the time (as in sick time) or energy to fight that battle and I say so to employees several times per day “go ahead if you’d like to be that test case” which usually results in a quick signing of the consent and rolling up of the sleeve. All the increased one on one contact is leading to all kinds of questions (totally unrelated to immunization), disclosures, can you take a look at this? opinions and general gossip. Talk about information overload!

The nursing students are doing a clinical with us and there are a couple who are already excellent nurses (whether they know it or not) and that lifts the spirits. Today one of them was wiping her tears in the nursing station and apologizing “you can tell I’m a student” she says. I asked one of the staff what the issue was and was informed this was in response to an emotional situation with a terminal patient. Those of us with more miles on the odometer were just as affected but have managed strategies for hiding it, that’s the only difference. We decided it was a good sign that this student ‘got it’ and that bodes well for the future for us.

Speaking of student nurses….We’re getting ready to roll out on our road trip to New Brunswick tomorrow. It will be good to have an excuse to use some of that accumulated time in lieu and exit early. The baby daughter and I are planning on heading up to Fredericton and checking out the place Friday evening, doing the registration at UNB in the morning and then heading on back into Halifax on Saturday night to stay with daughter # 2. She’ll be able to celebrate having written her final exam in her statistics course, she’s pleased that it’s over and she can just concentrate on work at the museum now. She tells me this evening on the phone that the Argentine tall ship la Libertad is in at the waterfront and the staff had a tour today and are invited back for a social tomorrow. I was instructing her to tell her host that our friend is from Mar del Plata so she’s going to practice her Spanish.

Well it’s 10 p.m. and the final day of lobstering is still being played out. The call from the Captain at supper time was “I’ll be home to eat before midnight” and the prodigal son has made a brief (covered in grease) cranky appearance at the barn about an hour ago before rushing off on another task. There were still trailer loads of traps being transported home this evening. Think they’re kind of relieved that it’s finally over. So now supper at 11 p.m. is like one of those midnight buffets on the cruise ship, well except for the lack of glamour.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Is it only Wednesday? You're kidding me!

Where to begin? Since my last placid blog of Sunday, I have been one busy girl. This is a busy week as the lobster season here ends Thursday so gear is being landed, lobsters put down in the pound, boats switched over to go fishing and general chaos. I have been trying (unsuccessfully) to distance myself from this confusion but it is contagious.

The most exciting thing happening on Sunday was that the man of the house decided to install his birthday present of a CD player/radio in the sauna. No, he hasn’t completely jumped off the edge of his sanity, this is where it’s meant to go. The speakers were already installed when we bought the sauna but the new receiver needed to be wired to the speakers and set up on the walk in close shelf behind the sauna. Sounds easy right? Well, I’m here to tell you that it required a joint effort (again I felt like a scrub nurse assisting a preeminent surgeon) and much muttering and grunting. First removal of all the Christmas decorations to access the top of the sauna. Then himself standing on the top handle (you heard me, not step) of the step stool while I held it down and he balanced on the fulcrum of the edge of the sauna roof while he gestured wildly for tools which I was supposed to read his mind for (hence the reminding me of the surgeon descriptor) accompanied by loud unintelligible sounds of arrghhhh, ugh, oomph etc. This was alternated with hustling over to the bathroom and jumping up the sauna bench, fishing frantically in the speaker holes in the ceiling then stomping back to the closet. Repeated multiple times. Almost unbelievably, the system was hooked up in about 45 minutes and even more incredible it works beautifully. Then restacking the holiday decorations and voila - all done. Pretty tame really.

Monday brought with it a trip to the district center to work for the day, meaning an extra early start, a 35 minute delay in traffic and then hitting the ground running when I got through the doors. It was vaccinations up the ying yang, the phone just non stop and then a rush off to do the orientation presentation. A large crowd, a number I’d worked with in long term care so kind of old home week and then a rushed lunch. A traveling immunization clinic through the ER and OR staff and then notice of a mumps teleconference at 3:30 p.m. Sure - why not? I’m already into the time in lieu at a level it’ll be hard to recoup, what’s another hour. Then a stop for a scrapbook for the house construction scrapping and home to start my second shift. All plans to ‘eat out of the fridge and pretend we’re childless’ for the man and me disappeared as plans turned into a casserole for supper to feed two offspring one friend and ourselves for a total of 5 by 7 p.m.

The # 1 son related a tale of attempting to go to town with the girlfriend to pay her insurance but only made it half way as…someone must’ve huffed a beer bottle out on the road (what were they thinking he says, everyone knows you should throw them in the woods - how about not throwing them out at all I suggest - blank look - but I digress) so he blows a large tire in his 4 x 4 truck. He manages to get the vehicle to the side of the road and starts walking (no spare of course) when the local junk yard owner (who this boy has single handedly supported for several years now) picks them up in the large tow truck (girlfriend tells me she needs to check her jacket for grease as the interior was black) and delivers them to the garage where he patches the tire. In town he connects with someone he calls Fizz (in depth questioning reveals that this boy’s mother named him Curtis which I find a perfectly acceptable moniker but what would I know?) who takes them back to the truck. Since he can change a tire with his eyes closed he is quickly underway again and home but….the insurance still wasn’t paid. The dog got walked as dusk was falling. Memo to self - bad idea - this is when the June bugs come out. A nice email from a friend saying her son was now engaged - can’t even see that (and don’t want to at this point) from here but sure am happy for them.

Tuesday was an even earlier start , another traffic delay of ½ an hour plus the hour drive to the district center to meet the boss and a co-worker for the drive to a district infection control meeting another hour further on. A chance to discover all that we’re unable to do as both programs are under siege. Had a nice lunch though at a place called The Boardwalk in downtown Digby, highly recommend it if you’re traveling that way. Another hour and a half time in lieu. What a long day. Did get to read the paper when I was being chauffeured to the meeting and found a 60 year old going home from the hospital with twins. Yeah, you heard me right and there was no mention of a psychiatric evaluation either - go figure! Tonight the plans to eat leftovers materialized and the dog did get walked before the June bug witching hour. Only the second day of the week and I was ready for a day off.

I knew that Wednesday (today) was going to be a bummer when a bird committed suicide on the grill of the car before I made it to the golf course on my way to work. It was already a write off when I just looked in the date book with the consultant who does fit testing for N95 particulate respirators booked for the morning. My day starts with - what else? Vaccinations, attempting to wade through the messages and then a visit from the ambulance folks who have been told to visit for their vaccinations. In the middle of this the computer decides to be really cranky and takes about 25 minutes just to open a Word document so I have to call the help desk (have NO idea why they call it that as that would denote assistance) The tester is late as he’s stuck in construction in three different spots on the way down from the city.

Lots of new employees for who I’m trying to sort the health records for. In the middle of this, one of the trades people appears at the door with an unknown man and they begin to discuss door stops (try to unearth mine to show me but it’s buried in the confusion of my office) and how this man has to install 4 or 5 in the renovation project and wants my approval. I look blankly at them and say “get going” but they hesitate and ask if they’ll “get in trouble” I assure them that if it’s trouble they’re concerned about, they sure won’t get it from me today! I don’t even have a chance to connect with daughter # 1 who drops by after having a job interview in town. Sigh.

By 1 p.m. the consultant is on the road, I’m wolfing my lunch in front of the email and then off on another round. The project manager appears at my door with air testing results (fine) but staff are concerned about the skunk like smell of the renovation project This requires a walk through by the Nurse Manager, Project Manager and myself and the thoughts are that it is the smell of the new flooring. In the course of the immunizations one of the staff tells me that “the Bank likes it when I work” and I thought ‘I hear you sister’. When I finally manage to extricate myself from the phone/computer/papers to head out I’m only ½ hr late so I’m gaining.

Home to hear the story of the day from the # 1 son as they were landing gear today. The unwell neighbour who he’s been helping and the neighbour’s son (who had injured his back) start the day out by not being able to get into the outboard for the trip to the boat anchored on the mooring. Our son says to himself at 5 a.m. that “this is going to be a long day” as he gets the boat off the mooring, brings it to the wharf and the other two crawl down the ladder. Within a short time the neighbour’s son is on his hands and knees on the deck (crawling around like a dog as described by the storyteller at supper) due to back pain and the neighbour is doing his best to just steer the boat. As our son tells another fisherman “it can’t be that hard to go lobstering alone, I did it today”. When they are down to only 18 traps left the neighbour catches a glove in the hoist and his hand is yanked suddenly into the hauler. It is amazing that he doesn’t lose fingers, let alone his hand. He yells for help and our son manages to throw it out of gear. He has a nasty cut/crush injury on the edge of his hand and of course refuses medical attention, he does however call his wife to come pick him up and ices it. Fishing is one of the most dangerous industries in the world and this is just one example. The highlight of our son’s day is to be told by this fisherman of 53 years that “you shouldn’t be on a boat if you don’t know what you’re doing and I’ve had a lot of hired men but I’ve never had one as good as you” I’m not sure his 19 year old head will fit in his hat in the morning now. He’s now into planning for fishing which is likely to begin on Saturday. This is the apprenticeship planned where he learns to be able to take the boat fishing on his own by this fall if needed. He’s like a duck that boy, great on the water, awkward on land.

Must write myself a note to remember the milk in the a.m. Our milk delivery here is Monday and Thursday and we get 3 - 2L of skim milk and 1 - 2L of orange juice when we turn the sign around. On Monday there were no dairy products there when I got up. The man of the house had me convinced that ‘someone was thirsty and took our order’ Now why they would just do this now after 20 yrs of delivery and why they’d want such a healthy order I’m not sure. But his concern was that they would repeat this and the milk should be left in the barn. I fell for the line and called the milk man. He left a sheepish voice mail today saying that he’d left the interior light on in his truck cab, run the battery dead and not made Monday’s delivery for the first time in his history without calling and was very apologetic. I told the man of the house to stop watching CNN and remember we live in rural NS where the answer is human error not human evil.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Almost Monday

Today was another beautiful day, the breeze was a bit cooler, more like our usual spring weather but lovely and sunny just the same. Had the boy drag the lawn chairs out and settled myself in to read the Sunday newspaper - decadent. Gary enjoyed the day today with his harness on and exploring the grounds on his run, this reduces his flight risk through an open door. We discovered by weighing him today that he’s gained again and weighs 16.5 pounds (or libs as one of the kids used to call lbs).

Even beautiful weekends have to come to an end and this week will not be a four day one so I have decided I just need to suck it up and get through it. I’m on the road the first two days and then a consultant visits to do fit testing of N95 masks on Wednesday . A full week.

The youngest daughter and I will be setting off on a road trip on Friday for an overnight in Fredericton to check out University of New Brunswick campus and the Bachelor of Nursing program. Since this is at least a 6 hr. drive and the meet and greet starts at 8:30 p.m. it will mean taking off Friday afternoon a few hours early. Time in lieu is not a problem with all the activity lately and HAVING to be somewhere else on Friday p.m. is not a bad thing. We’ll stay overnight in residence, do the orientation on Saturday and head back as far as Halifax to stay overnight with daughter # 2. This will give us some time for a visit and a chance to break up the drive. So it will be a busy weekend.

Got to meet the mother of baby daughter’s main man today as she came to pick him up. She’s a Nurse Practitioner locally and we were commiserating with each other about the M word and how much extra work it’s creating for ALL of us. They’re having a new house built so I gave her the tour here and she was highly impressed with the in-house interior designer who today was multitasking and lobstering.

My pink African violet and Christmas cactus are both blooming in my office. They actually flower fairly frequently and every time they do I’m reminded of my friend who has abandoned us and moved out west. How dare she? They’re part of the outward migration that has made new communities of Maritimers out there and I’m so glad that she and her family are doing well but driving by their old place here isn’t the same.

Have made a tentative appointment for a photo shoot for our bios for cruise ship speaking. This will depend on the schedule of my travel mate as she’s back from a week on an offshore island and before she leaves with a group of women for a trip to New York city. Working would only get in the way of all that social life.

Succeeded in walking the dog without any antisocial behavior on either of our parts. And this was amazing considering one of the summer neighbours was here for the Memorial Day weekend to open up the family home. They bring a large lab and two weimaraners (all the size of small ponies) with them . The photo and description here will tell you why they run to the edge of the lawn and challenge us when we sprint by:

Description: The Weimaraner or "Silver Ghost" is a picture of grace, speed, stamina, alertness and balance. A one-family dog that is reserved with strangers he will make a good watchdog. He requires an owner who has a firm, no-nonsense approach who will take time to train and socialize him. Boundless energy, tireless, driven and a remarkable sense of smell make him a great hunting dog. Known to hunt for as long as six hours at a time. When well trained the Weimaraner is a confident and assertive dog who makes a wonderful companion.

But today they were preoccupied with gaining access to the house, stood looking in the top window of the screen door and didn’t notice us as we scooted by undetected.

Managed to finish up a few pages of scrap booking on the house construction - am installing in the in-floor heating now. So all in all a nice wrap up to two days off.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Weekend update

We are having a glorious weekend, summer has arrived even though it’s a month early. Friday seems like such a long time ago (and a good thing too with the way it went) and Monday is still far enough away to ignore. The weather forecast is for possible precipitation on Monday, which is really needed, and makes going back to work that much easier.

Returning to the working arena is not something I fancy with the M word still frequently used. I started my day out Friday morning by immunizing two drowsy night staffers who casually informed me that they’d admitted someone who had swollen glands, low grade temp, etc etc. It occurred to them all at about 4 a.m. that this might be mumps but the Dr. didn’t think so. Did you wear masks when in contact? Well…no. What about isolation? Um…no. Not that there haven’t been enough trees killed in the past month attempting to put this message in the face of front line staff. This is AFTER I’ve given them their vaccinations, meaning if it turns out to be a contact their blood work will have been affected by the shot should they need to be monitored. I send them home, sigh and head for the floor.

When I ask about the suspect case, one of the staff points at someone using the phone in the nursing station. Hardly isolated! So I get on the other phone and call Public Health to discuss the particulars. “Well we have to go with what the Doc thinks” she says. One of the staff points out that the ENT specialist (who just happens to be having a clinic today in house) has been consulted and although his writing is for the most part undecipherable there is no mention of the M word. It is suggested that I check with the consultant. Depending on the mood (usually gruff) this exercise can be like poking the bear. I sigh again and head downstairs after suggesting a disinfectant wipe for the phone. The ENT specialist is a large unsmiling specimen, partial to outbursts, originally from an Eastern Bloc country with accent still intact. However, the clinical judgment is not in question and an emphatic “I don’t think this is mumps” was all I needed to reassure me and send me scurrying back upstairs to start my daily routine only 90 minutes later than usual.

The ‘new normal’ routine of attempting to get some regular work done interspersed with immunizations made the time fly by. By mid afternoon after again having eaten my lunch at the computer I decided a change of scenery was in order. I strolled over to the nursing home to visit with Mom. As I entered the Alzheimer’s Unit I noticed her at the end of the hall scuffing back and forth between rooms. She had a social conversation with me as if I were one of the staff with no glimmer of recognition. She did ask if I was getting married and I told her I’d been married for 30 years. “That’s a long time” she says then thinking it over she asks “who did you marry?” I tell her “Tim” and she says “really” and wanders off again. Time to go I say to myself and head back.

Now some stories about the badly behaved fur children and their escapades. I did a grocery shop after work and arrive home by 6 p.m. with a trunk full of food. As I get out of the car I notice that Gary is running across the steps and over the side of the hill. I make an effort to catch him while attempting to summon reinforcements to assist in the capture. No luck on either count. Next appears Klyde who has changed his mind about the whole escape adventure and is waiting by the door so I open the back door and throw him inside. Now I am really yelling and finally the youngest daughter and her beau appear in the mud room and are dispatched to carry bags in. I lure Gary to the steps by shaking a large bag of potato chips from the groceries. He thinking they are the worlds biggest bag of cat treats launches himself like a flying squirrel at the chips and is apprehended and dumped unceremoniously in the house. When I’m inside I notice Stanley attempting to gain entry to the house (he too has changed his mind about the field trip) from the veranda. So we were three for three. Questioning as to how all the inside cats are outdoors when I arrive and how long they’ve been out there do not result in any answers.

With supper finished I decided it was time to take the dog for a walk but she’d already started without me. There's the leash lying on the ground beside her run. I hear a rustle in the bushes and notice a reddish brown dog happily sniffing along the property line. Calling is fruitless. I walk down to the water - where else would a water dog go? No sign of her. The door opens and it’s the youngest daughter and boyfriend saying a neighbour has called (everyone knows the drill by now as she’s a fairly consistent canine escape artist) who has her across the road. I hand over the leash and after a few moments they reappear with a very muddy, bedraggled, unrepentant dog and smudges of muck on them. Didn’t I hear the noise they say. What happened? Well, of course by the time they arrived, Houdini had bolted from the neighbours and headed across the road which resulted in a top volume dog fight with the black lab who taunts her when we walk. It was a good thing that the boyfriend is unafraid of dogs and intervened, then the black lab owner arrived home and settled the dispute allowing their exit. When we walked I had to let her in the salt water and spend about 10 minutes pulling briars out of her coat from the swamp romp.

June bugs are out - disgusting things - and it’s not even June. The cats have taken to napping after supper so they are ready for the IMAX presentation of ‘Return of the June Bugs’ tapping on the windows and doors. Tonight there are 11 stuck to the window in the door of the mud room alone. Last night as the son and his girlfriend came in the door one of the creatures gained entry and that led to some frantic feline big game hunting and squeals from the girlfriend. I know all organisms have a place in the food chain but I can’t imagine what purpose June bugs serve.

Today was a day to be outdoors. It was beach house living at its best. The youngest daughter and her boyfriend went for a walk along the shore and actually went swimming in the icy water. I’m reminded when I watch them of the summer of 74 when I was graduating myself and enjoying the company of a teenaged male with stars in my eyes. And all they see in an old fogie. Ha!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Scenic Tour

Well now today was some kind of a day. I did the scenic tour of southwestern NS up to the Bay of Fundy. It started out as a planned jaunt to a Workers Compensation information session but went quickly down hill before I even got out of the driveway. I started out for my session and was soon driving with the cell phone glued to my ear (yes, yes I’m fully aware of the safety issues on that one) as I talked to the Nurse Manager of the facility 2.5 hrs drive away that I’m covering for. I did make it in (a few minutes after the start of the presentation due to a lengthy construction delay on the 103) to the WCB session . But by 9:45 I had managed to disrupt my table mates three times as I left to retrieve messages, had eaten a dry muffin and drunk a lukewarm cup of tea I snatched on one of my trips by the side table, and decided that I could be presenting the info as it was very basic and geared towards novices in industry. So I muttered “mumps” to the WCB physician as I made my exit and was off and running.

The Nurse Manager had convinced me that if I and the Public Health nurse did a tag team visit we could speed immunize a generous number of their staff. She was getting to the frantic point as far as staffing goes so I thought this might reassure her a bit. I stopped at the regional hospital, picked up some paperwork, switched cold packs and loaded up the cooler with 70 does of vaccine and headed out. I made it about 10 minutes outside of town before I was caught in another construction project on the 101 and delayed for about 20 minutes. I had a phone call from one of the team (who’s office I’d raided for paperwork) to tell me I’d (of course) picked up the wrong version of the consent so she emailed the new version to the Nurse Manager at my destination.

Arriving late I walked into a lineup in my colleagues office (never seen it before) so the PH nurse and myself made ourselves at home and started the production line. In two hours we managed to immunize 33 employees and with secretarial help (something that I was thrilled to have for a change) the paperwork was all completed before we left. The group was very appreciative and cooperative and much like my own facility so no problems. I retraced my route and was only 1 hr. into overtime by the time I returned. The 400 km road trip did give me a chance to listen to The Secret on CD while I was being paid.

A phone call on the way home to the man of the house revealed that one of our neighbours (a cancer survivor) was having a hard time getting his traps hauled due to labour difficulties. His son had put his back out, he’d had three different hired men in the past two weeks (one who didn’t show up at all, the second who made it once and the last one who called drunk at 4:30 as they were supposed to be leaving) and he was exasperated saying “if I’d known it was going to be this kind of spring I’da never put my traps in the water. I haven’t made enough to pay for the hard grease on the shaft” The landings have been very poor and the past two days when there were a few lobsters he couldn’t get his pots hauled. The consensus on the wharf was that he could use a break so someone was dispatched to see if the prodigal son here could be released from his gear rigging duties to assist. As I have a message to ‘make an extra lunch’ that appears to be the plan. His money management issues aside, the boy knows how to work so I’m sure this will lift the spirits of the afflicted neighbour.

Supper was surf and turf which in our version was BBQ hamburgers and lobsters which didn’t pass the fitness test. Did you know that lobsters have to be able to do a stomach curl so they will stand being kept in the pound or shipped? The weaks come home to our pot so we actually eat more since the man of the house has been buying them (past 15 years) than when he was just catching them (got to sell every one if they‘re yours). The youngest daughter and her main squeeze joined us and enjoyed the feast.

It was then discovered that in my haste and excitement of leaving this morning I had been completely oblivious to the fact it was Thursday (which is a milk delivery day) and the milk sign was turned to yes at the head of the driveway. This meant that 2 - 2L of milk and 1 - 2L of orange juice (worth the GDP of a small African nation) had been basking in the sun since it arose this morning. I knew my schedule was going to catch up with me.

As I walked the dog, one of the neighbours (an elderly bachelor) stopped in his truck to ask if I was “looking for a man” which is a sort of joke locally as a few years back some women who had never been known to walk regularly began having evening trysts under the cover of fitness. I laughed and told him I had enough trouble with the one I had (which would officially be 30 yrs next month) and he agreed that not being together was (unfortunately) becoming more common nowadays. Disclaimer - My apologies here to all those in non original marriages …He told me with a big grin of a man in one of the local communities who had married a divorcee and when someone made the comment that he had a ‘new’ wife he answered “well you can say new, but slightly used I guess” My neighbour asked if I was enjoying my job and when I said “no” he said “well you’ll just have to find something else, you have before” So I explained I was kind of running out of local options and really just hanging in until released from tuition and he pondered this and decided that was ‘a good enough reason’ to which I agreed. I always enjoy my conversations with him because although he doesn’t have a lot of formal education he is extremely well read and very insightful. We’ve had some excellent discussions on the health care system, not much slips by him.

Must go and make those lunches I’ve been talking about. Yeehaw - tomorrow IS Friday.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Isn't it Friday yet?

This is the magnificent view out of my living room looking down the harbour which I enjoyed this morning when I got up for work. Now I’m certainly not a morning person, but this almost makes it worth while being up at 6:30 a.m. I noticed one of the neighbours checking his traps on the ledges on the way up the harbour, then swinging around in front of the house and back out again with the sunlight shining off the boat. I’m told that it’s impossible to see into the windows of our place from the water, and I didn’t hear of any distress calls so no one saw me getting myself together in the bedroom for gainful employment.

I noticed the soon to be grad student hadn’t stirred by 5 to 7 so I went to wake her and was given the same message I received at about the same time one day last week “I don’t have to get up early, it’s spring carnival” Now I’m pretty sure I would remember if the same line was used twice and spring carnival isn’t spread out over two weeks, but apparently a sleep deprived teenager didn’t. First rule of the patron saint of liars is to not repeat yourself. I told her that I hoped she got a good mark in spring carnival and I wondered if they gave a bursary. Only six more weeks of school remaining and the grad year doldrums are hard to escape.

Part of the teenaged sleep deprivation likely stems from the late night birthday cupcake baking spree held for a classmate after she came from an evening shift. Now most people if they woke up at 12:20 a.m. hearing noises in the kitchen might suspect a burglar, but in this place it could be offspring, spouse leaving, you name it. I listened to the banging and clanging for a bit and then it came to me ‘someone is baking’ so I rolled over and went back to sleep. Oh to live in an empty nest.

When I arrived at work the construction was going full tilt and the associated grumbling was at its usual level. I dragged myself to the office and went through the morning check in routine - unlock the door, check the temperature of the vaccine fridge and record it, log in to the computer, check messages and change the voice mail recording, unlock the desk and filing cabinet, put the lunch away and dig out the to-do list, check email and… just as I was trying to print the newest copy of the consent which had been sent for mumps vaccine - the photocopier which is a goodly hike up the hall to begin with went on a work to rule campaign refusing to spit out anything. As I was having murderous thoughts about the machine I spied two of the exhausted night staff bearing down on me for immunization. I herded them into my office, gave them a candy, called the admin assistant to give me the code to the next nearest printer and sent the copy of the consent there which was quite the stomp with my visitors waiting. The copier was the reverse to the one I use regularly so in order to get a two sided copy it only took me 5 tries. Good work. This is going to be a great day if this is any indication. And what a prophetic thought that was! I found the staff drooling in two chairs when I finally arrived from my overland excursion so I quickly gave two shots and sent them home to bed.

The routine of trying to finish up the contact tracing, answer the phone and handle the regular chores was even more of a juggling act than usual. I headed over to the nursing unit to do some checking, answering questions and general sleuthing. In between both in person and on the phone there was a fair bit of he said/she said from a number of sources and I nodded calmly to each offering. Reminders of a fit testing technician arriving next week - no we're not doing aerobics but staff are being fitted for N95 particular respirator masks, a requirement for health care workers. Just add it to the list I tell myself.

By mid afternoon I had an uneasy hunch about a casually mentioned situation in another institution I’m covering while my team member is on vacation. I decided to follow it up and by the time I had tracked down the facts from various players it was getting close to leaving time. But leaving was only wishful thinking by the time I sorted out the temporary solution to the problem and headed out with my cell stuck to my ear it was still an hour past quitting time. I am supposed to head out to an information session in the morning but the jury’s out on whether I’ll actually make it to that or not. My counterpart has already given up on going as the place was just in tatters on her end.

I arrived home to find various domestic crises taking place so my contribution was to walk the dog - I assure you it was a life saving measure (mine) and I felt human upon return. The oldest and youngest daughter got supper together and we waited for the birthday boy to return from putting lobsters in the pound at 8 p.m. so we could eat and... have some ice cream cake. He was most pleased with his present of a radio/CD player which will hook up to the sauna. Now the hooking it up will require moving the Christmas decorations from the closet but it was worth it to see the smile on his face.

I leave you with a smile that a friend forwarded - maybe we find this funnier in NS as the ticks are out:

Subject: Ticks

I hate it when people forward bogus warnings, and I have even done it myself a couple times unintentionally but this one is real and it's important. So please send this warning to everyone on your e-mail list. If someone comes to your front door saying they are checking for ticks due to the warm weather and asks you to take your clothes off and dance around with your arms up, do NOT do it!!! THIS IS A SCAM!! They only want to see you naked.

I wish I'd received this warning yesterday. I feel so stupid.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Is that in the book?

Today was another day in the fast lane. As the colleague who always says “that should be in the book you write” agreed today that the book wouldn’t sell very well with what’s been going on. It would be one of those depressing tomes you find in the discount bin about Hitlers Scientists or some other evil that you just can’t bring yourself to wade through - even at $4 for a hard cover edition.

I spent a good part of the day contact tracing. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? Not. This is part of the role of an infection control practitioner to find those who have (possibly) been exposed to certain organisms, make lists and a plan. The process takes on a life of its own. Sitting hunched over the desk in front of the computer screen for extended periods is not only ergonomically incorrect it’s very stressful. I ate my lunch at my desk (which is something I would chastise an employee for - you have to consider work-life balance, get outside and take a walk, take back your lunch hour blah blah blah) and it’s also something I promised myself I wouldn’t do when I took this job a year ago. Like one of those things you tell yourself before you have children, when you see a child acting up in the mall - oh to be that naïve again.

The remainder (and then some) of the day was filled with the Occ Health side of my job dealing with that M word. In between immunizing employees, searching employees records, recording immunizations, talking about mumps on the phone, emailing about the outbreak. I am completely and thoroughly ready to be done with this subject. However, the subject will not go away, it just keeps going around and around.

This afternoon for a distraction I briefly dropped over to the Alzheimers Unit - it’s a wonder they didn’t keep me the way things were going. While I was there the LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) for those non health care workers out there relayed this story. She is a small person, about 5 ft. and perhaps 90 lbs. but certainly able to hold her own for the past 30 yrs of work. My mother was sitting in the arm chair in the lounge and is having a bit more difficulty getting out and up to a standing position now (she was after all 93 in March) so she rocks back and forth a bit to launch herself upright. Mom reached out her hand for assistance and the LPN reached over to help carefully with one hand as she was holding med cups and some glasses in the other. Mom surveyed the situation and said “I think you’d better get a bigger nurse” As I told her, that could certainly be arranged as there are lots meeting that description.

One of the more positive happenings of the day was an email reply from nurse author Echo Heron. Remember - small pleasures, small pleasures. About 10 yrs ago I contributed some 'yarns' to an edited book of hers called Tending Lives so every once in a while I wonder what's she doing? and drop her a line. I had recently read one of her earlier books called Condition Critical which I'd missed so it triggered my memory.

When I got home from work through a serious of previous arrangements I found myself alone (with only animals) in the house before going out. Now, I don’t want to be single and it’s been almost 30 yrs. since I was so I can't remember clearly but I think it was probably something like the paradise I experienced this evening. I ate supper while reading the paper, took the dog for a walk and headed out to scrap booking. Can it get any better than that? And to think there are women all over the world who take that for granted and don’t even consider it a gift. Imagine. Managed to get four pages done on the construction scrap book and pick up replacement cutting blades for those which have disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle of this house as well.

Tomorrow is the old fella’s birthday so will mean a family supper. Where it falls in the last week of lobstering and he’s keeping really long hours we’ve moved over the years to a low key celebration. We tried the going out (fell asleep in his dessert) having folks over (fell asleep in his dessert) and just early supper (better although we have annual photos which make it look as if he should live in a group home he has such a dazed look on his face) So this is the kinder solution.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Why can't every Monday be a holiday?

I have decided that three day weekends should be the rule not the exception. One of my work team has an 80% position which is four days per week. I could go for that. Mind you, I can’t get done what needs doing in five days so that would severely limit my productivity. I’m not sure where the weekend slipped away to but it sure was great.

I was discussing with the life partner - retirement, deferred payroll and plans to take a leave of absence to study tropical medicine once the youngest has freed us from tuition. I mentioned that a blog reader had commented they wouldn’t care what the weather was when retired as they didn’t have to go anywhere and that retirement to the tropics would mean a strange environment, even the trees and being away from family so it would all be so foreign. To which the spouse replied “well I most certainly hope that it’s foreign, the more foreign the better” It’s good to check in to make sure we’re on the same wavelength every once in a while. Mind you, foreign retirement might mean term positions interspersed with home time or just traveling for 4 to 6 months of the year and home for the good weather..

This morning an acquaintance dropped by and we were discussing careers, education, job satisfaction etc. Why I would be considered a good role model on these topics I’m not quite sure. Maybe it’s because I’m such an expert on moving around. Stanley, the black kitten was his usual quiet self but about 11 a.m. he became very animated and started meowing loudly in the mud room. I went to check and he was very vocal, so I picked him up to comfort him and said to the friend “oh he misses the youngest daughter as she’s sleeping in”. A few minutes later he was at it again, really insistent yowling this time and when I checked he was meowing at the back door. I picked him up and said “you’re not an outside kitty” and when I looked out through the window in the door, I spied Gary, the grey cat on the other side (he has a very soft almost newborn mew) crying to get in. Now he’s not an outdoor cat either so I quickly opened the door and in he scooted. Talk about looking after each other - those cats are kindred spirits. Was Gary out since early a.m. when the lobster fishermen went? Has the cat learned how to open the door himself? Not sure, but he was dusty, his feet were full of sap and he spent the rest of the afternoon napping so he’d obviously had some kind of adventure.

Today I spent the afternoon scratching in the dirt. I started out just going to put in some ornamental onions, then found some lilies coming up near the driveway, then decided to be brave and see if there were any perennials who survived the winter. Of course that led to pruning, weeding, and generally cleaning up for about two hours. I will regret using those dormant muscle groups tomorrow. I only found one tick after but of course have the crawling feeling now just thinking about them.

Almost two years ago a landscape designer friend rescued most of my gardens from across the road and tucked them into a nursery bed ‘until the spring’. Well this is the second spring and there they sit. Last summer was so crazy with finishing the house and the move that I refused to even go and look at them as there was nothing I could do but I did notice occasional splashes of color up by the well. Finally I checked today and was relieved to find that there was quite an assortment of thriving plants. It’s almost too much to hope for that I will get flower beds in the next couple of weeks, but if not by the fall.

The dog was my patient audience so I rewarded her with a walk before supper. We headed on our usual route with only three aerobic sprints to avoid other canines loudly protecting their properties. I decided to let her go for a swim and we walked down the neighbours slipway where he launches his outboard. She likes to grab mouthfuls of seaweed and ‘retrieve’ them up on the shore, guess she feels she should bring something back if she goes in the water. You want a retriever, you get a retriever.

The walk on the round logs of the slip immediately transported me back at least 40 years in time to warm weather spent at the boat launch near our home. Many of us in the neighbourhood walked down the railroad tracks to swim in the channel of Mahaney’s Boat Shop, bask in the sun to warm up after the bone chilling saltwater dip and gather shells on the shore. Those carefree days!

My mind then wandered to the swimsuit story. My younger sister had a one piece pale blue bathing suit with white trim which was like many others in the area as it had been purchased at Jack Sterns clothing store. In our family we were never permitted to call it the ‘Jew Store’ which some other kids did. Looking back, I’m guessing that was in keeping with the inclusive nature of our upbringing. Jack and Golda Stern had the first discount clothing shop in our area and it was well supported locally. When my sister came home from swimming in the channel one afternoon and my mother sent her to hang out her towel and bathing suit…the bathing suit hadn’t made it home. When we were sent back to retrace our steps, we found the suit draped over one of the rails on the train tracks. The only problem was that the 4 p.m. CN train had been through and from the heat and pressure of the wheels the middle of the suit was melted in two. Now today, this would mean the swimsuit would be trashed but…in the late 1960s this meant it became a two piece as Mom stitched elastic into the waistband and top. My sister wore that two piece suit until she grew out of it - the only reason you got a wardrobe replacement in those days.

I’ve got my act together for tomorrow (why does that only extend to the first day of the work week eh?) with lunches packed, and supper in the slow cooker because I’m planning to head to scrap booking tomorrow night so have to have all my ducks in a row.

Speaking of ducks, I was told earlier by the man with the binoculars looking out the living room windows, that there are a pair of tame ducks nesting in the corner of our ‘pond’ at the edge of our property near our rock wall. When I asked what kind of tame ducks he said “oh those mallards you see” I asked if he meant the ones seen walking down the shoulder of the road? “Yes“, he smiled “those ones” They had been sighted by a few of us when I guess they must have been checking out good nursery areas to start a family. Explains why the dog has been intently staring down over the hill - think Snoopy on the top of his dog house scanning for the Red Baron and you get the picture.

I leave you with a smile. Now before anyone in the mental health/human rights field gets their knickers in a knot let me state that this is a joke people, a - JOKE!!!

It doesn't hurt to take a hard look at yourself from time to time, and this should help get you started. During a visit to the psyche ward, a visitor asked the Director what the criterion was which defined whether or not a patient should be institutionalized.

"Well," said the Director, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub."

"Oh, I understand," said the visitor. "A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the spoon or the teacup."

"No." said the Director, "A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Three aimgos and other news

Well it's been really nice to have yesterday and today free from gainful employment even though the weather has been iffy. Can you believe that these three amigos actually got it together enough to check out the weather outside en masse? Gary is the portly grey guy with grey tuxedo coat on the left, Klyde is the antisocial Himalayan in the middle (this makes the photo so amazing that he was fraternizing) and Stanley is the fluffy black guy on the right. Gary actually goes outside with a harness and run but he gets lonely and wants someone to play with - the man of the house was too busy today (more on that later) to throw rocks for him to chase. This guy has a serious canine complex, he sniffs and retrieves, likes dogs, doesn't mind the water etc.

Because of the showers over the weekend I've managed to get some scrapbooking in. I've done seven (count em) pages in the book of our house construction. It's been fun to get back into the swing of it. Have to fit it in now before the weather really improves because there are too many distractions then.It's quite an addicting craft so don't test it out if you're not prepared to immerse yourself.

It's amazing that I managed to have any 'me time' as today I was being an unpaid administrative assistant to the fisheries association director who co-habits here. This required 4 or 5 hours spent polishing a letter / proposal to Dept. of Fisheries and various politicians and other industry players. Just what you'd like to spend your Sunday afternoon engaged in right? Well I'm here to tell you that it sure beats having to listen to the extended phone calls on the same subject.

It was a good thing that I'd already earned favor with my office skills because after supper I dropped a lemon meringue pie, with only one piece served, on the floor. The dog thought she had won the lottery but the man of the house was not impressed. Talk about sticky!

I did manage to make a recipe for poppyseed loaf provided by one of the participants at the writing workshop - another bonus for the day and am providing it here. Baby daughter pronounced poppyseeds "disgusting" but it's really delicious:

Poppy Seed Loaf

Combine dry ingredients:

3 cups all purpose flour
11/2 tbsp. poppy seeds
21/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
11/2 tsp. baking powder

Combine wet and add to dry:

11/2 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs beaten
11/2 cups milk
11/2 tsp. vanilla extract
11/2 tsp. almond extract

Beat well and pour contents into two greased 9 x 5 loaf pans. Bake at 350 F for one hour. Yum.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate enough tomorrow to put some ornamental onions in. They were left in a basket with a sign saying 'free please take some' which is usually an indication that the things multiply exponentially. I managed to clear the herb garden at the old house as the neighborhood lad is coming to mow if the weather breaks. I remember a weed whacker and mower in the hands of a boy that age can be a dangerous weapon so have cleared a path.

Friday, May 18, 2007

It's Friday right?

Today was a day that I would rather not repeat any time soon. It’s hard to believe how quickly it can down hill after you arrive at gainful employment. And the Friday before a long weekend is always an invitation to chaos….today did not disappoint on that front.

I stopped to pick up my mail at the front desk and was immediately (and against my will) a witness to a rant about the pros and cons of immunization, how unfair it was for an employer to insist on this, multiple questions about benefit and risk and broad declarations of anarchy regarding vaccination. I stated matter of factly that the vaccine was being offered to all employees and headed up to my office. It is a testament to the insanity of the day to state that I didn’t even get to reach inside my briefcase, let alone unpack it until it was time (actually after time) to head home again, taking a good bit of the contents as homework with me.

The phone rang off the desk, bunches of employees swarmed to my door (apparently immunization is a female group activity much like going to the washroom when out for the evening) and the emails just kept coming. Every time I left the office to head to the photocopier or run a short errand to another department where someone was having a crisis only I could solve, there would be that evil flashing red light signifying (another) voice mail message. I ate my lunch in front of the computer having a phone meeting with my boss to explain my actions of the morning - support was given - but by this point I swear it would have been a kindness to release me from my misery and kick my butt out on the street. Just after lunch, I received a call from the lab with results that put the final icing on the cake. The lab tech says to me “you’re always so cheerful when you answer the phone” to which I replied “I’m not always that cheerful when I’m hanging up after talking to you though”. This news necessitated a major amount of organization, documentation, phone calls and planning. It would have been easy to just sit down and weep but…no time for that. I poured, but never drank a cup of tea, and only remembered I’d left it on the cup warmer AFTER I’d arrived home - this necessitated a frantic call to the boiler operator to access the office and shut it off as over a long weekend it would become a fire hazard.

When I arrived home I picked the mail out of the mailbox and opened the door to a sour smell much like an Emergency Room on a Saturday night (when the bars have closed and the wounded head to the hospital to get patched up) as if a bunch of drunks had barfed in the mud room. Now I like to drink the occasional glass of wine and the man of the house is a pretty mean vintner but the first few days after a batch of wine is put on can be a bit….odiferous. I sure wouldn’t want to be having folks over this weekend while the fermenting action is taking place. I continued on to the kitchen where I found the dishwasher needed unloading, a full sink of dirty dishes to reload it with and all the desserts in the fridge had been eaten - a sure sign of teenagers in the house alone. The king of the castle was slouched on the couch in front of the TV (where he’d been since mid afternoon) looking really surprised when I asked “what’s for supper?” If you live alone in your place of residence and complain of feeling lonely - reach around and give yourself a slap up back of the head - just know it‘s from me.

The foul mood was nothing a dog walk and exercise routine couldn’t work out. In the meantime I returned a call to the travel mate who couldn’t remember if I’d given her a CD of our trip photos. Yes, I did on the first day back when I went to pick up my luggage the airline delivered. Now this is a woman who lives alone (well with two cats) travels frequently and is not at the moment gainfully employed and SHE can’t remember something?? We had a good belly laugh when she told me that she had that disease where you can’t remember anything but she couldn’t remember what it was called! There is no hope for me with the abuse this poor brain is taking lately. Probably a blessing as there many things I’d really rather not remember.

The Aeroplan card didn’t resurface (it’s gone to the land of lost socks I guess) even when I got a new one. So I activated the card - let the mile saving begin - and ordered a replacement for the one I lost when my purse was stolen a couple of years ago. With the promise of some travel plans I just might need to plug that puppy into a kiosk in an airport. Now the weather forecast is rotten for the weekend so my goal is to get some scrapbook pages laid out. I’m thinking I could get the cruise scrapbook at least planned out and blocked together. Got to keep those fun memories alive somehow.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Of psychiatry and other memories

Today I contributed my part to the immunization effort and traveled to help with the district clinic. This meant an earlier morning, a foggy drive and a morning spent filling syringes, injecting employees and filling out paperwork. Mostly it meant answering lots of questions. The afternoon was taken up in meetings.

I was listening to the news on my drive and the major news story on both sides of the border is a 26 yr. old from Dartmouth who apparently was found to be schizophrenic a few years ago who is being accused of murdering two Halifax gay men and a man across the border in New York, he was finally found attempting to cross into Mexico from Texas. I thought several things as the details unfolded. Oh those poor families of the victims, oh his poor parents and what they must be going through and then…this will sure be a set back for all those folks working in the field of mental health as there’s already such a fear of schizophrenia etc. Not that I was always that brave myself. This makes me remember my first psychiatric experience.

In the fall of 1975 our nursing class had to travel to the Nova Scotia Hospital in Dartmouth for eight weeks of clinical in psychiatry. I prepared for this by having my then boyfriend (now husband) teach me to play cribbage as I envisioned that would be a large part of my day on the ward. Well, let me tell you, crib was the furthest thing from my mind during that two months. For starters a postal strike went on two days after we arrived in Dartmouth and came off the week after we were home so there was limited contact. Remember this is in the days before email, faxes or even reasonably priced long distance rates. Most of us were accustomed to traveling home on the weekends - I got home once during that time - and certainly not city folks. We managed the urban exchange but the psyche culture was another matter.

I was assigned to N15 which was a locked womens admission unit. Anyone being observed for the judicial system or really psychotic was here. Think One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and you won’t be far off. Crib? There was only one set of cards on the unit and someone had eaten a couple of the spades. There was a piano in the lounge but the same fate had befallen three of the black keys. It was a pretty intense experience and the closest I ever came to failing or leaving nursing school. I’m still convinced that some of the staff were more unstable than some of the patients. The whole situation was made worse as my roommates were assigned to convalescent mens (they played crib 6 out of 8 hrs per day) and convalescent womens units (where they knit and made egg sandwiches for tea parties) and complained of being bored.

I had been assigned a lady, who at the time was in her early 50s. She from my vantage point of almost 19 years, appeared to be kind of old. Her diagnosis was paranoid schizophrenia. We were in class a couple of days and on the floors a couple of days per week. So we would study a subject and be able to apply our knowledge. We were making our way through a list of psychiatric diagnoses and had studied schizophrenia, nothing yet on paranoia. So I, in my infinite wisdom, thinking that a patient could only have one diagnosis at a time (how naïve of me I came to quickly understand in all areas not just psyche) decided she was ‘just schizophrenic’. Here is where my troubles began because I was supposed to be having ‘therapeutic conversations’ with this woman. She hated me. I tried every bit of charm I possessed and every approach I could think of. She ignored me. I created fictitious entries in my journal but my nursing instructor was on to me and firmly sent me back to ’interact’. While in my presence, the little lady began speaking in a language she had created which was absolutely unintelligible. And then she hid from me. So in my desperation I did a very dumb thing… I followed her. I FOLLOWED a paranoid schizophrenic. Can you only imagine how therapeutic my interactions were after that?

The only time we had any kind of interaction was one afternoon towards the end when she approached me and asked very calmly for her comb. I was so thrilled that she spoke to me I would have done whatever she asked. The purses were locked in the coat room, along with jackets, outside shoes etc. to foil escape attempts. Personal products were also secured - mouthwash contains alcohol, combs can be fashioned into weapons etc. So I opened the locked coat room and she picked out her purse but…instead of just taking the comb out she took down her coat, put it on, put her purse over her arm and when I feebly tried to convince her to stop she pushed past me. As I was bent over locking the door she walloped me over the head, leaving me dazed as she absconded down the hall and out through the exit with a visitor. She was later retrieved by three staff (two of whom were severely thumped) and the Head Nurse came to me to ask “why I had let her go out for a walk as she didn’t have privileges?” As I nursed the egg on the back of my head it occurred to me that the Head Nurse was a bit out of touch with reality herself thinking an assault was a social outing. I still can't believe that I survived/passed that study area.

I met my travel partner on the way home to exchange underwater photos and dancing shoes. We got caught up a bit on the plans for the cruise ship speaking - photo shoot, good presentation topics, cheap flights to departure ports etc. It always lifts my spirits to meet up with her - she's a role model for retiring before you look like you should. She was telling me that the tourism industry in Cuba was really suffering this year. I think that confirms I have to travel there next year and support them.

When I made it home and we were discussing what to have for supper my life partner decided that lobster tortellini (which takes about an hour to make) is what he was wanting. I usually make it one evening for the next day but I told him with his help it would be on the table for supper. As it had taken him two days to get the three lobsters (yes the catches are that bad - 79 traps checked for 2 lobsters etc) this spring, he deserved the treat. Yum.

The weather has been rotten here this week. Very cold (6 c today) and you can see your breath when walking the dog. But at least we're not getting snow as northern NS was today. The forecast is for more of the same until at least Monday so no spring like weather for the long weekend but having three days off will be glorious no matter what. May get a chance to do some scrapbooking if the outdoors doesn't call me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Travel dreaming

One of the positive happenings today was to receive my Air Miles statement and discover that we’ve collected 3717 air miles as of today. When you compute that a round trip from Halifax to Toronto is 1350 or Boston, New York or New Jersey is 1200 air miles per person the thought of escaping is not all that far fetched. Further travel investigation led to the discovery that flights from Halifax into Holguin, Cuba this winter are flying on Thursdays, beginning February 7th. The cost however hasn’t dropped. In keeping with the travel theme I’ve listed places I’ve visited (as per a blog I checked out today) You can find the list at the bottom of the postings on this page. I’m guessing that an even more enjoyable list would be the ‘places I’d like to visit’ one. Much like the 500 places you should see before you die guide.

In keeping with the travel theme my life partner arrived home with an application for an Aeroplan card through Home Hardware. Now this will work to attach to his plant account when they pay monthly. We’d been talking about doing this for a while and he remembered to pick it up today (didn’t remember to return the microwave to the furniture store even though he drove by it twice though) Now this house has a Bermuda Triangle effect when you set anything down so you can guess what happened. I had the card sitting beside the computer as I was going to activate it online. In the meantime the vintner is putting on two wine kits (always a good idea - NOT - to wait until AFTER the cleaning lady has scrubbed to slosh water, juice, yeast etc on the floor, counters and around the sink) beside me and… do you think we can find that danged card? We have torn the mud room, kitchen and hallway (the only places it ever touched) apart and it has completely disappeared. Impossible yes, but it has happened. Now when I stop to pick up a replacement tomorrow we will find it I’m sure.

I’ve been working on the cruise ship speaking plan…you know power point course, making arrangements for a photo etc. and it occurred to me that I stand to inherit a laptop this fall when baby daughter goes off to university with her new one, leaving the antique at home. No, it’s not very fancy but it will run power point presentations and that’s what is required. So ticking off my list one task at a time.

Here I am discussing travel and my spouse and I can’t get it together to go out to a movie with this crazy life we’re leading. Our idea of a date was last night for me to mention that I’d thought of renting a movie and himself to check out the movie channel on TV to find out what was on - oh starting in 10 minutes it’s Bee Season with Richard Gere, Juliet Binoche etc. It’s the one about the little girl who goes on to the national spelling bee and the family unraveling that takes place. It’s a good movie but not likely one that mister would have chosen, however after the ‘we never go anywhere’ spiel he was reluctant to sound uncooperative and enjoyed it in spite of himself.

My boss sent along a gift for nurses week which was a small flashlight which read ‘nurses make each day brighter’ so I told her that she could now call me Florence - as in Nightingale the lady of the lamp. This was about the bestest thing that happened to be work wise lately. I’ve decided that even though I would vote for dogcatcher if an election was held (women didn’t always have the right to vote my mother remembers) I don’t enjoy politics - especially the small p type. A merry go round of teleconferences, phone calls and planning for immunization has become my work life. Tomorrow it’s another trip to help out with immunization at the district facility. If I never hear the word mumps again I will be a happy woman. For all you nurse blog readers out there I'm including the link to Nurse Ratcheds (you remember her from the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest don't you?) here:
Now this is one very strong nurse blog with lots of links. You could get lost for days or at least not hurt yourself doing any housework calling your name.

To end on a more positive tone... I'm pasting the link to the blog where this one was listed on the blogroll:

When you navigate the page, the blogroll is on the left and there is old nurse just above Stephen Kimber - keeping illustrious company in the form of a journalism prof eh?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Technology ain't it grand?

Today as I headed up to work the usual 1 hr. each way drive was extended in both directions by another ½ an hour due to road construction. It will be nice when it’s done and hopefully all finished before the few tourists we’ve had of late are traveling through. I can’t imagine sitting on a freeway in Los Angeles for hours grid locked. We are so fortunate here.

On the drive I was listening to CBC radio, as is my habit, and there was a technology guru talking about the music industry and how the internet had changed the business. He described the net as a collection of like minded communities where folks hung out where they felt most comfortable ex. gardening, music etc. I was thinking that the internet has changed the way we work and play (entertainment to research) as well as communicate and all of this (locally) within the past 15 years. I wouldn’t be able to say I was a writer or ‘published a blog’ without all the technological advances.

Now I’m not sure that Facebook is one of the techie things I’ve been missing out on. What advantages are there to be registered on Facebook other than being able to know what it is when discussing it in a social situation or being able to say that you’re listed? I checked out all the nurses groups (and there were many) listed and obviously this medium appeals to the under 30 group. Most of the postings were from students, contained lots of vulgar language and drinking stories which I could overhear any evening in the city. I guess it ‘might’ prove that I’m a little less uncool to my kids? What I was hoping was for some connections to overseas work etc. but I guess I’ll just have to surf the net to find those.

The other statement the guru made was about the ‘law of unintended consequences’ and that sure reminded me of healthcare where there are often all kinds of these consequences. For example, in Nova Scotia over the past few weeks there have been 500 healthcare workers exposed to mumps, 134 of these have had no immunity so have been excluded for work (long incubation period) for some time. This all stemming from a decision decades ago to only give babies one MMR shot (measles, mumps, rubella) and now we have an outbreak. Needless to say this is putting a huge strain on staffing health care in already tight situations. So the plan is to immunize (voluntarily) all NS health care workers. Well, from what I can see over the past week or so those who need the vaccine the most are the most reluctant, less likely to follow through and those who likely either have had the disease or are not likely to come in direct contact are the ones waiting on the doorstep for the shots. I took the cooler and ice packs and picked up vaccine today from Public Health so we shall see how the battle goes on home turf tomorrow. Sigh.

It seems that today I had my ideas run into as to what the definition of a senior was. I was listening to the local radio station on my extended commute home from work in the regional site and the DJ was commenting that there was a free senior swim at a local pool for seniors aged 50 yrs and up. It had not occurred to me to seek special discounts/privileges because of my age at this (early) timeline in my life. Hmm. And to think that I was considering myself middle aged. Good thing I had my Laura Secord chocolates to console myself with. The only problem with them being miniatures is that you have to eat twice as many to have the same effect.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

La dia de las madres

A postcard story is a short tale which has all the elements of a regular story and usually concludes within 250 words or so. It can be as few as 50 or as many as 500+. So I’m beginning this post with a post card story about my first born daughters Mother Day trip when she was living in Cuba four Mothers Days ago.

La Dio de las Madres

As she was studying in Cuba during the 2002-2003 year our daughter lived with Cuban friends of ours in Santiago de Cuba attending university during the week. On the weekends her usual routine was to catch some form of local transportation and head out to Chivirico, a small town about an hour down the south coast. This area has several resorts where we had stayed on previous trips and many of the locals worked in the tourist industry. This combination of urban/rural immersion had led her to a complete mastery of the language, both academic (Spanish) and slang (Cuban) as well as the culture, or so our friends proudly told us.

The ‘some form of local transportation’ could be anything from a dump truck, service bus, small van or jeep in various states of repair. Many were pre-revolutionary vintage meaning a 1956 Chevy was commonplace and about as reliable as it sounds. A flat tire which meant everyone off the back of the truck, sitting in the tropical sun while a tire change was accomplished with rudimentary tools was not that unusual and actually more welcome than waiting pick up…whenever, by another camioneta. Sometimes the trip was spent squeezed onto a bench holding a sleeping baby for a mother or standing up trying to avoid small ants climbing out off a bag of pineapples being carried in a market bag. In fact, transportation (along with housing) is one of the crises in Cuban society and not much is made of the fact that your professor didn’t arrive for class as “the truck didn’t arrive” is not an excuse but matter of fact statement.

On the Mothers Day in question when our daughter had spent an enjoyable weekend with her ‘Cuban family’ celebrating Los Dios de Las Madres, she started out to catch a ride back to the city on Sunday afternoon as was her habit. A ride was caught as far as the largest resort about a 20 minute drive away and she was hoping to hop a ‘worker bus’ to the city. But things started to go downhill after that. She and her new found Cuban friends had to wait at the gate as there was such a crowd of mothers that workers had brought with them for the day there was no one else allowed in. When the worker buses finally came through the gates they were full of workers and mothers and didn’t stop. There were no other trucks or transport on the road as all the drivers had gone home to visit their mothers on the special day. Proving that mothers are held in special esteem in that country for sure. After waiting for hours in the heat, she walked and walked wearing a hole through the bottom of her flip flops, finally getting picked up by a flat bed truck which only took them part of the way back. Finally she was forced to catch a lift in the cage- like back of a tractor to her Chivirico family who were surprised to see her about 5 hours after she‘d left. “I’ve been to Santiago and back” she announced before being fed fried plantains and getting up at 4 a.m. to catch the early truck into the city for class the next morning.

I asked the baby daughter what today’s post should be and she says “write all about me, I’m perfect” But when we talked about specific subjects it turned out to not be so positive. One of her classmates has now been accepted into the Dalhousie School of Nursing and missy is making noises about resubmitting her marks. When I mentioned that this form of masochism was probably not healthy as the choice had been made and we would all have to live with it, she wasn’t impressed. I said “things happen for a reason, you’ll find out why you’re heading to Fredericton one of these days” At my age I’m beginning to realize that if you don’t like the choice you’ve made you can make another one, but that still doesn’t ensure I’m always happy with the short term situation.

With the warmer temperatures of late, we have officially entered tick season locally and the above mentioned daughter was doing tick patrol for the tick magnet aka Keely this morning. The dog certainly enjoys her canine massage and likely thinks we love her more this time of year. This also leads to daily human inspection of suspicious moles and freckles ‘just in case'.

I’ve had a wonderful Mothers Day today with a chance to sleep in, read the newspaper, putter generally and a nice message from a fellow blogger who added these ramblings to his blogroll - what a compliment. Oh and a bit of a rethinking about Facebook especially once I found that there are a number of groups about nurses - am in the processs of checking if there are old nurses. A special surprise from daughter # 3 of Laura Secord chocolates on my pillow - not sure how that fits with my healthy eating plan but they’re delicious! A phone call from daughter #2 in the city and getting caught up on the news. She informs me that the food at the Cuban restaurant is wonderful - she and some friends had tostones and fried pork after having merengue lessons. She gives it 4 stars so it's on the agenda for us to check out. And a great visit from daughter # 1 where we cooked and enjoyed a feast of salad, tostones (friend plantains) chicken kebabs and corn on the BBQ and chocolate pie for dessert. I can’t move - that’s why I’m sitting here. A day of wonderful small pleasures.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Serenity - still searching for it

The weekend is a slower pace and that’s a darned good thing. Life in the fast lane takes it’s toll on this old girl. I’m not traveling in the cyber world of my ‘out west friend’ who has added me to her Facebook. And perhaps I’m just exhibiting Luddite tendencies here but… the whole Facebook thing looks like more trouble than it’s worth. I can hear a gasp issuing from all the under 25 group who just can’t believe I’d write such a statement! I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and suggest I’m doing something wrong as I attempt to navigate. Will have to seek the assistance of a non-geezer to try it out.

The Captain of the house was looking a little wiped yesterday and when I asked about the particulars it turns out that he had had technological problems too. He set his alarm clock for 4:30 a.m. in preparation for lobstering but then found himself awake at 3:45 so decided to get up but… when he sauntered out to the kitchen he noticed that… it was only 2:45 as he’d messed up the time by an hour when setting the alarm. He didn’t dare lay on the couch as he’d fall back to sleep so he headed back to bed and….never closed his eyes again until it really was time to get up. So he was sleep deprived all day. I told him if he was looking for sympathy he had come to the wrong source.

The amazing part of this story was that I’m so used to him climbing into and out of bed over the past 30 years at all hours of the day and night that I was oblivious to his journeys. I can remember once years ago when he was fishing for a few days at a time that he came home early in the middle of the night due to either mechanical or weather problems and crawled into bed. That time he woke me with his cold feet and I remember saying sleepily "who is it?" This question bothered him as he said "how many men climb into this bed in the middle of the night?" That's the problem with talking in your sleep.

This afternoon we did a social excursion for Mothers Day which involved daughter # 1 coming with me to take Mom out for an ice cream. So there we were three generations of first born daughters enjoying a beautiful spring outing. The interesting part is that not one of us is really anything alike but we can enjoy each others differences. To be able to give Mom the gift of our time and to get out of the confines of her routine is the main gift as she really has only a vague idea that we belong to her. We headed up to the Dairy Treat where strawberry sundaes (her lifetime favorite) were on offer, then down to Sobeys to pick up a few things for a BBQ tomorrow. As we’re getting ready to check out Mom says “oh no, I don’t have any money, there’s going to be an accident” as we head towards the cash registers. When reassured I’m going to pay, she settles somewhat but watches the proceedings warily until my attention is on the debit machine and then heads off with the empty cart. We run into one of the Manor staff shopping who tells us that it sometimes alarms seniors to bring them shopping and see today’s prices to which I comment “and why not? It alarms me too”. We returned her tired but content in time for supper and slipped away quickly. So a positive Mothers Day story of sorts as we‘re doing the best we can.

You know when I think back to being my daughters age and looking into the future - it never occurred to me that we’d have experiences like this to deal with. A good thing really as I sure wouldn’t have wanted to know if anything this tough was coming. Not that I lead a tortured existence but I think of those fortunate to have a senior with only physical restrictions who don’t make an attempt to visit them and wonder - could you really do the hard thing if you had to? Probably not.

In keeping with my pledge of serenity - the quote of the day which I connected with in the newspaper…He who angers you, conquers you - Elizabeth Kenny
Will have to keep that in mind as I head back to work on Monday as serenity is hard to come by in my life.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Everybodys working for the Weekend

Today at work I registered for a Power Point training workshop for June. I had the idea when one of my work group mentioned attending an intermediate Excel course and I unkindly thought of them using it for a partners business. It then occurred to me that if I’m going to do presentations for my cruise speaking they had better be top notch and what better way to learn that than through work. Mind you the skills will come in handy for presentations in my gainful employment as well.

The other positive event at my job was that for Canada Health Day (Monday coming) the CEO gives all employees a slip of paper which is good for a free coffee or tea and muffin (at the cafeteria of course not Tim Hortons) Now that’s a bit disconcerting when this turns out to be the highlight of your day. I spent a couple of hours tossing and filing this afternoon as I was completely devoid of any creative energies for more challenging tasks.

One of the local physicians (our family Dr actually) was charting in the nurses station and we hadn’t connected for a few weeks as I’d been on vacation, then he had and we were both busy. I said to him “I haven’t seen you in a while, what have you been up to?” and he says “oh I’ve been to Detox” so I smiled and said “really?” To which he replied “nah but it makes people feel sorry for you if you tell them that, I’ve just been drinking” which caused me one of my few chuckles of the day. Only amusing because he’s really not much of an imbiber at all but he does have an intact sense of humor.

There have been some unusual occurrences at work (well actually it’s not unusual for me to get involved in strange happenings) and one of my colleagues says “you’ll have to write a book” I always say that no one would believe it was non-fiction. So lately the shorthand has become “put that in the book” when I’m relating the latest kink in the soap opera of… as the stomach turns.

I was listening to CBC today and Linden McIntyre (of former journalism fame) was being interviewed about his new book called Causeway. It’s a memoir written about his life growing up in Cape Breton and sounds very good. I’m guessing I’ll like it better than some of his reporting on Fifth Estate etc. He was discussing his father, the tough life his father had and his relationship with him and I found myself thinking ‘most fathers of that time had tough times and I could write about my fathers interesting life too’. So maybe a memoir would be a good project.

I ran into a former RCMP officer today and he asked how I was “not retired” I replied. I think I’m going to work on inserting that retired word into my conversations every day until it becomes expected. You need to name something to make it happen.

As I was grocery shopping on the way home tonight I ran into one of the real estate agents and said to her “you’ve got to sell our old house, I know you showed it last fall” and she replied that she’d shown it last week again but no one is interesting in putting in a bid on anything lately. Said she was going behind instead of ahead in her career change. We talked about the price, setting and quality of life of the area and she agreed there’s no reason the place should still be on the market.

Speaking of idyllic country life. As I was meandering along the country road that runs by our house taking the dog for her walk I was idly thinking of all things spring - peepers, pussy willows and guggins (the more sophisticated term being minnows) as I passed the neighbours. As many fishermen he has a moderate case of noise induced hearing loss and was operating a gas powered wood splitter beside his shed oblivious to my progress. Suddenly I became aware of a din rising above the machinery, it was their small yappy dog (we have a cat larger than this animal) who was rounding the corner of the driveway and quickly bearing down on us. I glanced up to see a small black blur with teeth bared and snapping making ferocious noises and headed for my dog. I attempted to reel in the retractable leash and drag my now retaliating in self defense canine with me while yelling at the aggressor who was completely ignoring me and bent on attack.. The finale came after the yapper managed a couple of nips on our much bigger dog prompting her to take a chomp out of her attacker - causing retreat. What an aerobic workout.

There are plans afoot to head into town tomorrow with daughter # 1 to take Mom out for an ice cream for Mothers Day. There’s nothing else we can give her except the gift of our time and attention. I will not brave the crowds who swarm nursing homes on Mothers Day (much like those who attend church at Christmas and Easter) but who do not darken the doors the remainder of the year. Mothers Day is always a frantic time as at least 60 of the 66 residents in that facility are female - a commentary on the gender based demographics of life expectancy. It’s a good thing today is Friday because if I feel like this and it’s not.. .I’m in trouble.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Thinking about retirement?

I started my day by dropping a parcel off in Shelburne at the house of the person who’s job I took a year ago yesterday. Her son was heading to the city so was going to be the courier. I told her that she must get up every morning and smile and say “gee I’m glad I dodged that bullet eh?” She was obviously glad not to be me as I outlined how the situation was unfolding and then headed off to face the music.

Today my boss forwarded along a bulletin from the employer group we belong to which was entitled If You Are Thinking about Retirement Here Are Some Things to Consider . . . . . Are You Thinking About Retirement? For a moment I guiltily thought she had read my mind, then I realized it was a bulk email. Am I THINKING about retirement - no obsessed with it would be a better term. Especially the way it’s been going lately. The most exciting part of my day was learning how to scan a document on the multifunction unit (MFU) and email it to myself so I could order MMR vaccine. I think I’ll start calling myself a MFU as I certainly am expected to multi task. Head lice (no not me) but enough said!

Last night when I was on the return trip from walking the dog I stopped at the old place to check it out as I do daily. As I walked across the veranda day dreaming about our time there, the dog sauntered along on the ground with the retractable leash slack in my hands. The next thing I knew I wasn’t vertical but crouched forward on my knees - the dog had spied a rabbit and bolted taking me right off my feet and it‘s not like I didn‘t have any ballast to hold me down. I felt my right shoulder had been pulled sharply, my right hand pinned under the leash handle with my ring finger swollen and bruised, both knees scraped and my right hip jammed against the railing with what will likely be a good sized bruise. It was a good enough excuse to not do my exercises last night and today I’m really feeling the effects. Walking is such good exercise eh?

The big moment arrived this evening when the man of the house got to cross a task off his to-do list. The list which has been steadily growing (not shrinking) since last fall. We finally (started in August) got a new microwave with exhaust fan from the appliance store to replace the original one which never worked properly. It was noisy and the fan only partially worked and there was no light at all making the counter top dark. That’s the good news. The bad news is that this unit is built in over the range top (customized by himself) and taking the old out, fitting in the new, replacing the copper plating and polishing it all took 2.5 hrs. There was a lot of grunting and muttering on his part while standing on the counter or stool , and handing of tools while cleaning up after on my part. I felt like a scrub nurse in the OR as he held out his hand and barked “hammer” or some such instrument. I encouraged him to cross ‘microwave’ off the extensive list and then I see him adding something - on the 2007 list he makes it 2007-8, oh that helps a lot.

He didn’t have the gall to scratch off the ‘dig out the flower bed’ which the young fellow down the road did last week. This guy takes requests very literally. Tonight at about 8 pm on a drizzly foggy evening I called him to see if he wanted to mow the lawn at the old place (I meant this yr.) and he says “yes” then he asks “tonight?” I reassure him that anytime over the next week will be fine. Talk about taking things literally.

Tomorrow is Friday and I had a voice mail message from the cleaning lady saying she’ll be here in the morning. Can it get any better than that? Hard to imagine it could. And as this is Nurses Week, I'll close with a quote

When you're a nurse you know that every day you will touch a life or a life will touch yours. ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

All the news

Back again and filling you in on all the news that’s fit to print. And trust me a lot of what’s been happening lately especially at work is not repeatable. Some of it for confidentiality reasons but mostly because no one in their right mind would believe some of the goings on. Well, actually another Occupational Health Nurse would I think.

The saga of planning for immunization continues and there is word on the street that Public Health will recommend vaccinating all acute care employees for measles, mumps and rubella. Not a huge job for me, but will add to the pressure within the district for sure as we attempt to cope. This requires phone meetings, memos, ordering supplies and vaccine, clinics, record keeping etc. Our team has decided we will wait for written instructions from PH and then put some plans in place.

The renovations continue, going well but many staff are not happy. Enough said. It is going to be one long ten weeks at this rate I can tell you. And today certainly felt like Hump Day for sure.

But while I sleep tonight my pay will be deposited into an account allowing me to eat, pay some bills and live in my house - so tomorrow will be a good day on that measurement if no other. And the weather here has been wonderful - breaking all temperature records for Halifax as well as a number of other areas in Canada today - hope it lasts for the weekend.

For some distraction factor I went to visit Mom in the nursing home attached to our facility and it was tempting to jump ship and stay - not the least because they actively recruit me 100% of the time I pass through. Mom is doing better since her dental extractions and has regained her appetite a bit. She was just getting the rollers out at the hairdressers when I walked by so we had a stroll and a visit. She enjoys the courtyard on these fine days - in large part because she is trying to figure out how to escape from the gate. She’s still pretty restless, didn’t recognize me and really kind of ignored me for the majority of my stay but I know I was there.

I’ve been writing some commentary in the photo album where I’ve tucked the cruise photos. Now that’s a fun job, kind of like revisiting the vacation times. I’m guessing when I get around to scrap booking the pictures it’ll be another pleasant go round. Have to keep those positive memories front and center. A friend left a message today saying she’d been following the blog and had been jealous of the cruise but my dear just think about the rest of my existence you’d have to take on just to have one short trip of fun - not worth it!

For example…I was attempting to track down the disappearing son this evening and when I phoned the other household which is sharing him I was advised that he’d ‘gone fishing’ this evening. There was confusion about whether it would be 5 or 10 days. But needless to say it was a surprise as there had been no advance notice of this career path. Unfortunately the site he chose is with a well known shyster so the likelihood of making any money or even $2 when averaged is slim to none. As Jed Clampett of the Beverly Hillbillies used to say of Jethro Bodine “one of these days I’ve got to have a long talk with that boy” I’m not sure I’m strong enough - as a colleague at work said “I’ve been in fragile state lately“.

My travel partner has returned from her Cuba trip and I’m awaiting news of all her adventures. We’ll have to get together so I can give her the underwater photos I had developed. We’ve talked about a trip to Halifax to check out a new Cuban club/restaurant that’s been opened by a Cuban ‘friend of a friend’ and here’s some blatant adverting for the place:

CLUB CALIENTE 5680 Spring Garden Rd 902 405 4248

Open for dinner everyday @ 5:00 pm

Cuban Cuisine
Cuban cuisine has been influenced by Spanish, French, African, Arabic, Chinese, and Portuguese cultures. Traditional Cuban cooking is primarily peasant cuisine that has little concern with measurements, order and timing. Most of the food is sauteed or slow-cooked over a low flame. Very little is deep-fried and there are no heavy or creamy sauces. Most Cuban cooking relies on a few basic spices, such as garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay laurel leaves. Many dishes use a sofrito as their basis. The sofrito consists of onion, green pepper, garlic, oregano, and ground pepper quick-fried in olive oil. The sofrito is what gives the food its flavor. It is used when cooking black beans, stews, many meat dishes, and tomato-based sauces. Meats and poultry are usually marinated in citrus juices, such as lime or sour orange juices, and then roasted over low heat until the meat is tender and literally falling off the bone. Another common staple to the Cuban diet are root vegetables such as yuca, malanga, and boniato, which are found in most Latin markets. These vegetables are flavored with a marinade, called mojo, which includes hot olive oil, lemon juice, sliced raw onions, garlic, cumin, and little water.

Most people who haven't tasted Cuban cuisine (such an elegant word) think our food is typically spicy. Wrong! We sure are spicy -- as a culture -- but when cooking we leave the tongue-stinging peppers to those flirting with gastrointestinal problems of astronomical proportions. Leave the hole in the stomach lining for other cultures, thank you very much. We'll stick to the artery clogging fried plantains, dense meat dishes with salsita, and overabundant plates of rich frijoles negros con arroz.

Well, time to head off to rest up for whatever tomorrow brings at work. All good I'm sure. But first I'm going to enroll in the Crown&Anchor Society - it's the frequent floater program for Royal Caribbean. A girls gotta dream eh? Hasta manana.