Saturday, January 30, 2010

Early morning musings

Well since I'm awake at 2 a.m. and the workload has been steady but not I am. Trying to stay awake as the carbohydrate load from the hawaiin pizza and chocolate cake and attempting to induce me to take an upright nap. I shall fight on. It's been a snowy night so the ER nurses are available to help out and we are one staff above complement due to orientation of new staff so a much different night than the previous one. Tough life this working as a staff nurse eh?

I'd like to acknowledge the kind words of a few of you who wrote lending support for the IV starting incident of the other day. Much appreciated, and be reassured that I have regained my equilibrium and am leaving the resolution to the 'what goes comes around goes around' theory.

In fact the quieter pace has led me to sign up on Twitter. I was finally prompted as the writing association is even on Twitter. There are many temptations now that I have highspeed surfing available. The travel sites are my latest vice. And what could better than knowing what John Cleese is tweeting? Especially when he calls his followers 'loyal twats'. Yes, yes I think I like this new technology.

So after I make it home, a morning nap and then we shall head up to see friends in the evening - bearing lobsters - for a visit. No shortage of crustaceans as there are still lots being held locally so we must take advantage.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Nurses eat their young

Well, an update as I am thinking of getting myself ready for work tonight after a not too strenuous day - have to pace yourself with the housework especially if you're planning on pulling an over nighter. I have however baked a loaf of brown bread, a chocolate potato cake and put beef and broccoli in my new slow cooker. I was afraid to leave it unsupervised for it's debut. I'm pretty tickled with the digital timer and keep warm feature, we'll see if the recipe brings such joy.

Have completed two days orientation in the Emergency Department and the first was very busy, interesting but went rather smoothly with two experienced co-workers. Yesterday however was I am sure a test of my patience and self esteem. I was partnered with a perfectionist (who I reminded myself frequently during the day I had been kind to when she came as a new grad ten years my junior). The manic tendencies I can ignore for the most part - barking out directions or answering "I've already done that" to any task you could name, but when it comes to hovering as I attempt to get myself up to speed clinically ex. starting IVs this is the sort of individual who has trouble not grabbing your hand to complete the task. As you might guess, this is not conducive to success, although I've been slowly getting my touch back. Not this time of course and when I stated "I guess I've lost my confidence" she loudly proclaimed "I guess you have" and promptly inserted the IV. When I went to the office to document she stated "I've already done that" which I expected, but when I picked up the chart she had written "failed IV attempt by (my name) RN" and some additional notes which become a part of the permanent record. Even the other nurse working with us (not known for being overly emotional or protective) said "there's no need of that!" when she saw the note. My only wish is that I should live long enough to see this individual be away from the clinical area for 15 years and make an attempt to update. The skills will come and I'm making pretty good progress considering all the changes - communication or people skills are not as easily learned so I feel better equipped than my 'mentor' in that department. If we wonder why we have such turnover in nursing perhaps the answers are closer than we think. Good thing I'm too crusty to be eaten - that's why nurses are credited with eating the young ones only.

To add to the negative energy of my day the garage discovered (and repaired) the clunking noise in my car for $309 as it was the links to the sway bar and numerous other problems that occur in 2004 vehicles, and of course it could always be more serious read expensive. They were kind enough to drop the car back to me in the parking lot so I was able to beat a retreat home in good time.

One of the more positive aspects of my day yesterday was that I saw three (count em) three of 'my' babies from the days when I was a Public Health nurse. they are all 3 - 4 years old now. That was a good time in my career for sure. How could working with mothers and babies not be fun?

Had a chat with daughter # 1 today and we were reviewing the shopping list for Cuba as she is traveling vicariously through her parents this year. She is planning to send some funds to her Cuban parents and we were discussing the gifts. She was advising that certain types of shampoo work better for the curly Cuban coiffure aka duro (hard) hair as they call it so that brought a smile. As did the thought of the Cuban sun when I put my hood up against the wind while walking the dog this afternoon. Ah.....two weeks from today...yes!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Whaddayathinkofthat Dept of Highways?

Well as you can see by the spanking new mailbox AND snow shield on the left...we are prepared for the next Dept. of Highways plow visit. Speaking of spanking, I'd like to lay one on either of the drivers if this happens again - no comfort that we were one of about six local unfortunates last storm. The shore captain's theory is that the snow will strike the shield and the pivot (accomplished by the metal arm and bolt/nut slightly tightened) will allow the box to turn in and not be torn off into the ditch. We shall see. As the prodigal son stated "wow, John at the machine shop must've shook his head when you came with that idea eh?" but of course in these slow times, a welding job is a welding job and not to be commented upon, just billed for. The installation is still low enough that the rural route mail driver can get all the bills in from his car. I had picked up the previous weeks offerings at the post office when I took a run into town yesterday and I can tell you that it's a good thing the property assessment cap is still in place or we'd be tax paupers if not!

It's been a good weekend off so far (aren't they all?) as I slept until afternoon on Friday after the LN, got up to a cold but sunny day and walked the dog. Made scrambled eggs with lobsters on buns for supper with perogies - it doesn't get much better than that - then headed out to see Sherlock Holmes at our local 'vintage' theatre. This experience always reminds us how we began our relationship over three decades ago with teenage movie dates in the Goudey Theatre. Good times, good times. This version of Sherlock Holmes wasn't bad...looking at Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law really couldn't be could it?

Yesterday I headed in to run errands and hit the local sporting goods store for the annual 50% sale on footwear, picking up three pairs of sneakers for Cuban friends. Hard to find brand names for $40 so a start on my list. On to Frenchy's to add sets of sheets, t-shirts, socks, new basket for the cat toys and the ever necessary (if you have tiled counter tops) selection of mugs. A stop at the drugstore to pick up sunscreen, some requested vitamins and other travel necessities. Now I ask you - is there a more pleasant task than that on a cold January day? I don't think so. Over to Sobeys for $250 worth of groceries to drag in the house and put away.

Today dawned a cold but sunny Sunday which as you can see on the right Gary was enjoying to the fullest. In the quiet there were some very thin superficial sheets of ice floating on the top of the harbour with sea ducks interspersed chatting to each other, making for interesting feline viewing without having to sit in the snow to do it. Lobster benedict for brunch and dealing with the 'fixing the pump by the shore captain' episode (and no I don't want to talk about the flood in the mud room but the pump is working well) have been how I've spent today so far. I've decided that I like the quote of the day from yesterday:

Idleness is not doing nothing. Idleness is being free to do anything. Floyd Dell

Speaking of the days when I'll be more proposed partner in crime for doing disaster relief courses and missions has forwarded info from the Canadian Red Cross, who we both teach first aid/CPR for. In the requirements for aid workers list is the need to have written and oral fluency in both English and French. Since I don't think it counts to have a daughter that is, I shall likely have to ask to have some of my other (nursing) qualifications exchanged for linguistic abilities or look to another agency. Mr. Harris NOW I'm sorry I didn't work harder on my grade 12 French verbs.

Taking small pleasures means that I'm off to walk the dog while the non-tropical sun is still shining. Thinking of a travel partner who has headed west today to deal with two elderly parents facing major health challenges, such is the life of the sandwich generation.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

You ran over yourself

Well as I mentally prepare myself to head in for a night shift I am relieved we received rain and drizzle today instead of the additional snow which was forecast. The 30 cm we received on Monday was enough for now thank you and made for an interesting 4 wheel drive journey in and out for the last LN. After plowing, the shore captain warmed up the truck and moved his stacks of tools onto one side of the back seat and I put sheets to cover the surfaces for co-workers to sit upon. The drifts were over the boots we wore so jumping down out of the cab was interesting! When I arrived home with the 4 wheel drive the life partner had been plowing the driveway since 6 a.m. and relocated the car to the top of the hill (where it has since remained) so took off in his vehicle for work. Today it is in the auto body shop as he had managed to run himself down at the plant. Although the last time was some years ago, it's likely a first for the insurer to have two such claims from one individual - the last being when the brakes failed on his 5 ton truck at the top of the hill and he took out his pickup. He apparently (at the height of the blizzard on Monday) attempted to make it by his 1/2 ton truck with the 1 ton, slid sideways and took a hunk of the back and lights with him. Yesterday the prodigal son returned from several days absence claiming he'd been snowed in at a friend's house and spent 25 minutes attempting to get out of the driveway - the extrication was finally accomplished with a tow rope and his father's damaged 4 wheel drive.

As I drove past the driveway on Monday morning I noticed the snowplow had taken out the mailbox....AGAIN. They are 4 for 4 in as many years. Had one for 20 years at the original house across the road and here on the corner we can't keep one. When I phoned to complain and asked the Dept. of Highways supervisor to call me back he advised they weren't responsible for mailboxes which didn't go over well with me since they had obviously killed that one (and all the three previous). When I stated that we had a welded aluminum pole, secured in concrete in the middle of the ditch which was at least a foot inside any of our neighbours he stated that this was the problem as there was no flexibility and the mailbox had to be installed taller than the plow wing (approx 52 inches) with the box hung on chains or rope to swing. When I pointed out that this height was too tall for the rural route mail carrier to reach the box he did grudgingly agree. I closed with the $100 worth of smashed mailboxes quote and the question about if I was a senior who had to pay additional to have these installed? The supervisor apologized (as this is what he is paid to do) but it didn't count for much. The shore captain was even less impressed when I relayed the message although he is now scheming of some kind of pivot to mount the mailbox onto the metal arm on the post.

So glad that we're into the countdown now of only three weeks remaining before we head to the fun and sun. No shoveling after February 11th for us - yah!

Well, time to line up the car pool options, finish cooking supper and head off to get ready for work.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Snow Day Again

A (nother) snowy winter day which is good for laying on the couch reading your library book – the next thing on my to-do list for today. Since one of my summer neighbours mentioned ‘missing the blog’ and I have missed posting so often myself I have settled in front of the computer at least until I have to get out my snow boots.

The shore captain (who arrived home at 5 a.m. on Friday after spending 28 hrs – most of it driving – to attend 6 hours of meetings) has been plowing the driveway with his 4-wheeler and moving the mess around inside his 4 wheel drive crew cab truck to make room to drive three nurses in for a 12 hour night shift this evening. And this is a good thing as it means the support staff strike is on hold with the walk out only having lasted two hours this morning. Apparently the walkout happened at 0600 as planned but by 0800 they had settled wage parity and so returned while the other issues were dealt with. Yes, you read that correctly – wage parity – which means that a local Licensed Practical Nurse would earn the same pay for the same work as an LPN in the city. And I should hope so considering that rurally we work without the benefit of all the additional supports that our urban counterparts have come to expect. And don’t get me started on how we drive everywhere including to specialist appointments or pay living expenses for offspring who study in urban centers as well. And a darned good thing the walk out was settled as the fairy tale numbers which were being tossed around for patient discharges did NOT materialize so it would not have gone well. Yesterday was a pretty intense experience! I did have to smile as one of our newest additions to the medical staff, who originally hails from Kenya via USA phoned for an update on his patients and asked how my day was going and I told him “not so great” and he said “well, you just have to decide that it’s going to be a good day and it is” so I explained “I’ve been trying to do that since 7 a.m. and it’s now 10 o’clock and it’s not helping so I don’t think that’s going to work”. His parting instructions were to “give it a try, think it’ll be good”. When I shared his philosophy with the Irish physician who I’d called in he said “no one is more laid back then him, I think it has to do with originally living in the tropics and not hurrying in the heat or worrying about the small stuff - just a different approach then us rushing everywhere.” I told him our Cuban friends have advised us to ‘walk like Cubans not Canadians because it’s too hot to hurry’ and he chuckled as he trotted off at his usual clip.

On Saturday, a friend and I participated in the photography workshop and the second time around was much less stressful and more information was absorbed. Maybe third time will be a charm. The instructor mentioned that she’d had five students who had repeated the class already so we didn’t feel like we were in the special ed section. The instructor has been making photobooks from some of her collections of pictures and she had a gorgeous one of her trip to India last fall. She traveled with a yoga group and although she doesn’t do yoga she had a wonderful time as she spent her time taking photos. The group leader has moved to India for part of the year and leads these trips annually, needing at least five to do the trip and of course has built up contacts and the ability to move around India easier. They traveled for five weeks, visited all the major areas of India, traveled by rickshaw, local train, flew from north to south for one of the longer legs of the journey and stayed in beautiful surroundings. They all put $200 into the pot for meals, accommodation and transportation and when that was gone they all put in $200 more. The total (including airfare) was only $3000 each. I asked for the contact info because although I’m not there yet….with my 2012 plans of semiretirement hmmm.

Had a chat with a member of my former work team who has (as well) moved on with his last day on the job just a week or so away and he is very pleased to have landed a 40% position in long term care and will be doing casual shifts in the ER. He is as glad as I was to be leaving all the in-house hassles behind or at least trading them for new ones.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oversleeping the Day

Well.....I did set the alarm to get up this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. which is a reasonable time if you don't have to return for another night shift in the evening but...if the alarm did ring, I must've shut it off. I regained consciousness about 4:30 p.m. so now it's midnight and I'm wide awake. To certain folks this might be a problem but for someone who is enjoying a bit of me time, not so much.

The shore captain has headed over to Portland for government/fishing industry meetings having left yesterday morning before I made it home from work. He's expected back tomorrow at some point but it'll be a surprise as he left his cell phone on the counter where I noticed it had 18 missed calls in the history the first day. So now the animals and myself have taken over the house as the boy prodigy is off visiting a female 'friend' after he arrived home from lobstering we shared a supper of leftovers. I'm about to get into my final library book - Here Be Dragons by Peter C. Newman (having finished and returned The Red Queen by Margaret Drabble - highly recommended). Tomorrow is another day off and the cleaning lady will be here. Does life get any easier than this?

A friend and I are taking in a photography workshop on Saturday; it's an encore attendance for us as this material (at least for me) has to be absorbed in layers. I have made some adjustments to my picture taking but still confess I use the auto settings too much. This time it's being held in the instructor's studio. Should be a good day.

Work has been especially frantic of late, in large part because of a looming support staff strike. With Monday being the walkout date it appears the government is attempting to stare down the union regarding wage parity throughout the province and a picket line is likely. Even if a last minute resolution is reached the planning to ramp down and then resume is huge. Essential services will be maintained ain't gonna be pretty! My purely selfish thoughts are that it all be settled within the three weeks remaining before my vacation so it won't be canceled. Yes, you read that correctly - If I'm able to escape four weeks from today I'll be sleeping in Santiago de Cuba. Yeehaw!

Had been kind of worried that the earthquake in Haiti and tsunami watch for the south coast of Cuba might have been a problem but sounds as if all the destruction is centered on Haiti itself. What an awful situation. I spoke to a colleague today and have resolved to get ourselves together for some disaster planning education to add to the tropical health. Yes, I have made a donation to the Red Cross (which is the recommended agency) but I am sure I need to be ready within the next couple of years to respond to a global situation or that is one regret I will have at my 75th birthday. Such are the reasons for Bucket Lists. I am wondering if my niece's husband will be tasked for the relief effort as he's a navy communications tech and at least two ships are being readied but it's not clear how many groups will be sent. The footage is difficult to watch. We are so very fortunate yet think we have such difficult lives in the developed world.

As I was cleaning out my email and browsing online (this high speed turbo stick has improved my quality of life exponentially - you can find out information such as that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear) I found the following project:

Even if you're not into the 'setting goals thing' you have to admit that using a jewel case in that matter for a stand is pretty darned creative!

That book is calling out to me. Hasta.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Growing Gills

Well, time to update you as I notice the previous post was Boxing Day and since I find myself with a few minutes at 4 a.m. courtesy of a night shift here goes.

Managed to survive the shifts I worked in between the holidays but doing six out of the eight shifts as days instead of four days/four nights was not the way I'd have planned it as those 5:25 a.m. alarms are brutal. But do I enjoy the switch to staff nursing - YOU BET!!

I was however, off for New Years Eve and New Years Day and that was a great way to start the new decade. Took the city daughter back to town to catch her ride and then picked up some groceries - memo to self, don't choose New Years Eve day to grocery shop! The shore captain saved some lobsters, we had garlic gouda from that Dutchman, I made herb bread and cranberry pudding for dessert and of course there was wine. We had two couples over for the eats and laughs and they left at 1 and 2 a.m. respectively so well past our bedtime.

A bit of excitement as the evening wrapped up because the front door had come open and I first found Klyde out on the doorsteps in the dusting of snow there before midnight, asked if the other two were accounted for and the life partner said "cats are are all here" because he didn't want to have to search for them. About an hour later one of the guests went to use the washroom and heard a cat scratching at the door and let in a snow covered Gary. So when the guests finally departed and I realized that Stanley was MIA likely for several hours I headed out with the kitty treats to lure him in. There were little kitty prints all around the house where he'd unsuccessfully attempted to gain entry at all back and front doors then the veranda. I noticed what I thought was a black puddle in the snow of the drainage ditch and when the pitiful yowls came to my ears I realized it was himself. He of course made a dash for under the deck and had to be tempted with treats and finally carried into the house. The three felines were quite wound up after their travels so were chasing each other in back of the Christmas tree, the humans however crashed!

New Years Eve day was a snow day so in the morning the shore captain dozed on the couch, I was in the chair and the cats found their spots in the rocking chair, mat in front of the fireplace and window seat respectively and the dog snoozed in the front entryway. The Sirius radio playing softly in the background, snow falling outside over the seaducks in front of the windows and the gang all reading/napping. Ahh, if this is as good as it gets, I'm okay with it.

The weekend was spent working and Saturday was a real challenge to get to and fro work. The life partner got the car to the top of the driveway for me and so I headed out with a bit of snow on the road but no idea that a 'weather bomb' was coming at us. I parked in the lot at the intersection of the main road and we headed off. The snow piled up during the day, it was questionable if staff would be able to get in, I was asked if I wanted to stay in at a local motel and work would pay (I graciously declined) and there were only about three visitors for the whole shift. When it came time to head home, I called the shore captain who had already ploughed the driveway twice and he offered to come to the intersection and shovel me out. He was still shoveling when I was dropped off and it took about 15 minutes to extricate the car from the lot, then the road then another 15 minutes to get home while I drove the 4 wheel drive. When I was leaving for work again the next morning his only instructions were "don't park anywhere, just drive, it's too much work to get you out". It was slushy but not nearly as exciting the second day.

On my drive home (as I was alone and able to listen to CBC radio) there was a piece on C'est La Vie about Nicole Pageau, a lady from Quebec who at the age of 60 gave up everything and moved from Edmonton to Kigali, Rwanda to help the widows of the genocide saying every day she made a difference in somebody's life. It was very moving and sure made me look forward to a mission somewhere.

Today was a winter wonderland and mild so the dog and I enjoyed a romp in the afternoon after I had a little chat with the bride-to-be as she was picking out patterns for flower girls dresses and made a scrapbook wall calendar for my wooden frame - now that is the way to spend a day off.

NOT as I did previous to that where I noticed a huge black growth of mold on all the window sills, in fact the ones in the bedrooms and bathrooms looked like mushroom farms. Certainly not a healthy environment! I spent almost two hours cleaning with tilex, a toothbrush and papertowel after taking off the screens. Now after the cleaning lady mentioned it a month ago, I had the conversation with the man of the house about what could be causing the condensation on the windows and he told me that it happened every year. It does not! But we agreed to disagree as I am older and do not argue with him as much, don't necessarily agree with him, just don't argue. Now there was no black mould when I put around a few Christmas decorations only three weeks ago so obviously something was going on with the air exchanger. It's a wonder we hadn't grown gills. As I talked to him on the phone he advised checking the switch, circuit breaker and panel for the air exchanger (no idea why this didn't occur to him when I started complaining about the situation weeks ago). But you guessed it! It wasn't working and likely hadn't been for some time which is not a good situation in a house as tight as a R2000 one. I reset the circuit breaker and panel and it took off. The (non) maintenance man of the house said he would clean the screens when he got home and instructed that I should "dig the stepladder out of the snow bank where he'd left it after putting up the windvane and then ploughing the driveway". By the time I excavated the ladder and brought it inside then tried to keep the cats off it I was so annoyed I decided to go for the dog walk.

Before I realized it, it was time to get ready for work and as much fun as it was to watch the shore captain cleaning the venmar screens I am. Time to start the morning work so...later.