Standing Tall

The musings of a twenty something girl from the Midwest.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

All Work and No Play

I'm on vacation! Starting tonight at 8pm I will not work for an entire week. Not only do I not work but for the first time in many months my time off will not be spent look for a job, a house, or packing. Steve also has some time off so we plan on spending time with our families and relaxing!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pumpkin Everything

I love fall for the pure and simple fact that it means pumpkin flavored items start to pop up. Pumpkin flavored coffee, muffins, cream cheese, and breads are being sold and I want to eat them all! There is something very comforting about pumpkin that reminds me of home, which is odd because the only pumpkin flavored thing I ever ate as a kid was pumpkin seeds. At MGH the coffee stand on the first floor had amazing pumpkin spice coffee. I have been craving it since I moved to Chicago. The coffee at the hospital I currently work at has Starbucks and Au Bon Pan for coffee. Neither has a very good pumpkin coffee.

About the Enjoy the first pumpkin muffin of the year!

When I found out that Keurig has a pumpkin spice flavored coffee I was pumps to try it. Yesterday we made a special trip to Bed Bath and Beyond (which is where most keurig coffee lives) for pumpkin spice coffee. I made some for breakfast today and throughly enjoyed it with some homemade bread sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

All Used Up

So I used my mulligan last night. I don't know what happened. I was exhausted after working three twelve hour days in a row and frustrated because I still feel a bit lost at my job and didn't really feel like I had a go to person to ask questions to. After dinner last night I fell asleep on the couch and moved into the bedroom around midnight. I woke up around five in the morning and realized I didn't post.

So there it is. My mulligan is all used up and the next missed post I'm out.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bagel Sunday

At Mass General one of the best things about working Sundays was bagels. Every Sunday the second PA working would buy the floor bagels and cream cheese. We could spend a few minutes of our Sunday morning in the break room, toasting and eating bagels, enjoying coffee, and catching up. Since today was the first Sunday that I worked at Northwestern I thought I would bring them Bagel Sunday. I got up early, ate a small breakfast, and made my way to the Dunkin Doughnuts by the L stop near my house.

The Dunkin Doughnuts was surprisingly busy for early Sunday morning. I started to think about my bagel selection when I noticed the utter lack of bagels. Not a single one. Not even a space for them among the doughnuts and muffins. I started to give up on the idea of Bagel Sunday and decided that muffins worked just as well. Since they only had 3 kinds of muffins it was a bit redundant.

The day was not a loss though since I enjoyed 2 pumpkin muffins and won some brownie points with my co-workers.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I am officially done with orientation at my hospital. I'm now a real ICU nurse. No more preceptor, no more having someone check my charting. It's just me. I would be lying if I said I am not nervous. I'm scared that I'll mess up, that I will do something wrong and end up hurting someone. Yes, there will always be someone around to help me if I need it. I can alway run things past my fellow nurses, but ultimately I'm the one who makes the choice. I'm nervous, but I think that maybe that is a good thing.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Husband, the homeless one

So for those of you who know Steve you might know that he isn't the cleanest person around. It's not like he is a dirty person. It's just that sometimes he goes for months without shaving and doesn't really shower most of the week. His cloths usually remain wrinkled in the laundry basket after he washes them. On occasion he has been mistaken for a homeless person. It would be sort of funny except I think Steve took it as a complement. He usually doesn't smell bad. He has his routine and keeps clean for the most part.

Since we moved to Chicago Steve has become a free lance AV guy. The advice he got from his former employer was to clean up a bit. Shave more often, wear clothing that hasn't been smushed at the bottom of your backpack for the last moth ect. So Steve has moved to shaving a least one a week, showering frequently and dressing nice in general. It's kind of weird.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


B and D came over tonight for a cook out. There was a lot of food and a lot of fun. We have left overs in abundance and full jar of Mike Ditka's salsa. So full and happy right now!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Well, Crap.

I was really looking forward to spending the next two days off with Steve. He's been gone and I have been working so we haven't spent a day together since Labor Day. I had visions of us grilling, exploring the neighborhood, going to the gym. Until tonight when I was watching the dishes and mentioned plans for Friday. Steve looked up from what he was doing and informed me that he works Friday. Which is really too bad because I have to work for hour hours tomorrow.

I guess it will be another month until our schedules match up again. Crap.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


My dad agreed to do a guest post for me while I'm on vacation next weekend. Here is a sampling of a journal while he was working at the Minnesota State Fair this summer. Enjoy and think about what's to come!

Day 3:
"* A chauffer arrives in a handicapped SUV limousine to pick up an elderly man in a wheelchair. He waits and waits and waits. I keep asking him how soon his client will be there because the loop is for quick pick-up and drop-off. He offers me $20 to let him stay. I refuse but let him stay anyway. He’s there for almost and hour. Later I wonder why I didn’t accept the bribe. I’d make a lousy 3rd world policeman."

Day 4
* "Today I arrived early walked around in the fair for a bit. I didn’t have my traffic vest on but I was wearing a shirt identifying me as fair staff (and saying I love my job – untrue). "

Day 6
* "I’ve spent time looking at footwear. Sandals seem to be most popular. Lots of people wear flip-flops. How can you walk around the fair all day in flip-flops? People in tennis shoes either wear no socks or the low-cut ankle socks. That’s why Maria gave me several pair for Christmas a few years ago, so I’d be in style. Problem is they don’t “feel right” to me when I wear them. I’ve noticed older guys often wear full length socks like I do. I’m in old-guy style."

"So now I can add directing traffic (traffic control engineer?) to my list of job experiences. When they asked me if I wanted to come back next year I told them I’d have to answer that like Brett Favre."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Good Eats Here

I finished reading Cutting For Stone today. The book was amazing, highly recommend it. In part of the story the main character, who grew up in Ethiopia, is in the U.S. and is taken out for Ethiopian food. He laments to the owner of the restaurant that he is at that the food isn't spice enough. They tell him if he wants real Ethiopian food he needs to go the a restaurant in Roxberry named "Queen of Sheba".

The character eventually makes his way to Boston and goes to eat at the Queen of Sheba (note, not sure if this is a real restaurant, I doubt it is though). He says he immediately knew it was going to be good authentic Ethiopia food because the restaurant was surrounded by empty taxi cabs. The drivers were inside enjoying the"real" Ethiopian food.

Tonight Steve and I pulled up into a gas station next to an East African. The parking lot outside of the eating establishment was two or three rows deep of taxi cabs. It made me think of that part of the book and how if we ever wanted real authentic East African food we could just walk down the road.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I Almost Forgot!

I almost forgot to post today. I didn't really do anything. I had a leisurely day that consisted of baking, going to the gym, and reading. At one point i thought, "Wouldn't it be weird if I used my mulligan for today when nothing is going on?"

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Expert No More

Lots of people are asking me how the new job is going. I tell them fine because I don't really want to get into how frustrated I am with the new job. I use to work on the floor, which in non-hospital terms means where most people are up, walking around, getting stronger after surgery and getting ready to go home. Out patients rarely had invasive devices or monitoring systems that we had to use. Most of the time if the patient felt ok he or she was ok. The focus was on healing after surgery. In my eyes, for the most part, these were people who were becoming healthy.

Now I work in the ICU. The patients are fresh from the OR. They are drugged so they can't tell me if they feel ok. I have to go instead by what the numbers of the monitoring systems that we have implanted for the surgery is telling me. All of the sudden there are all these numbers and meaning that never mattered to me before. PAOP, CVP, CI, the list goes on. Maybe at one time in school I knew what these meant but that was a long time ago. This is a whole different kind of nursing where your interpretation of data is mostly numbers. Is the patient dry and need more volume in their circulatory system? Are they wet and need medication to help them pee more fluid out? Is the oxygen that is being carried by the blood being absorbed by the tissue well? These are all things that take consent monitoring. Knowing when to send certain tests and then interpreting them and coming up with a plan of care from that is the new way of taking care of people.

I'm slowly getting the flow of when we need to thing and why. It's just been very frustrating to have to start new and confused when I knew my last job so well. I use to be the person who people would come to if they had questions. Now I'm the one standing in the hallway with the lost look on her face. I have come to realize I will not feel comfortable at this new job for a long time. Everything I need to know will most likely not be taught to me on orientation. I'm hoping that I will learn enough that in two weeks from now when I'm off orientation I won't feel completely lost.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pulling a Fievel

Good news! Steve comes home today after being away for a week! Bad news is his plane will be landing about a half hour before my shift starts so we don't get to see each other until tomorrow when I wake up. I'm not a big fan of this timing but it's better to be in the same state then to have him gone for one more day.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Quick post tonight because I have to go to work. This summer hulu had a webseries named LXD. It is more or less a hip-hop ballet with some amazing dancers. Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No More Sleeping Tight.

Steve came home from his business trip on Labor day weekend exhausted. It was a long weekend and we didn't have anything to do except spend time with each other and relax. We had a great Saturday together relaxing in our backyard and catching up. Sunday we took a nice long walk along the lake. When we got home Steve started to itch his back. He didn't stop. He asked me look at his back to see if their were any bug bites. He took off his shirt and his entire back was covered in bites. It didn't stop at his back either. His upper arm, legs, and area between his fingers had broken out into large welts that itched like crazy. The bites were too small to be mosquito bites and had no real pattern to them to indicate a rash.

After a quick google search we came up with the diagnosis of bed bugs. Steve had stayed in a hotel with bed bugs. We quickly quarantined his belongings. We read with horror at the possible infestation that was taking hold of our house. Most pesticides won't kill bed bugs. If you live in a multi-family house or apartment building and you bomb your house they will just go to another part of the house then return. They can live anywhere: in the frame of your bed, in the crack in the floor, in an electrical socket. Once they are in your house they are there. The only way to get rid of them is to kill them with heat. Our minds were racing with the awkward possibility of informing our new landlord that we had contaminated the four family house we had lived in for less then a month with bed bugs and that we would have to all leave the house for a few days to have the problem taken care of.

The next day Steve went to the doctor who confirmed the bedbug diagnosis and reviewed how to prevent the transmission of bedbugs, not too helpful. We decided to wait to have the conversation with our landlord until we were sure we had infested our house. If we had bedbugs, surely I would breakout with bites in the next few day. We waited. Every skin irritation I had I thought of the worse. Every bump or itch was the first signs in my mind. Two days had passed and no bumps ever came. Then a week passed and still no bits or marks.

We are still a bit worried. Steve's suitcase is still sitting in a large plastic bag in our guest room and I remain slightly paranoid about any itch I have. I think I can almost say now that we dodged a big bullet with this one and thanks God.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dana Time!

As per my usual post-night shift day I was only able to sleep until 1pm. Didn't matter too much because I was planning on getting up around 2pm because I have a girl-date with Dana!

Dana (pictured right holding my crap on my wedding day) and I met our sophomore year of college. I think we were a psych or philosophy class, I don't really remember. I do remember calling her DEEna for a year and she let me because she thought that was the way I said her name. It took multiple other people to tell me that her name was Dana and me asked her how people said her name before I changed. Even when I asked her she said "Most people call me Dana" which is really nice of her to say because all people call her Dana because that is her name. I was just the weird one.

Dana and I have stayed friends for the last five years, visiting each other, talking on the phone. I think this will be the first time in five years that just the two of us are hanging out. I am totally pumped!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Night Watch

One of the many down sides to starting a new job is you are at the bottom of the totem pole Whatever seniority you have gained where you use to work is flushed down the toilet and you start new. When you are a nurse part of that means working nights again. I haven't worked a night shift since 2007 and am scheduled to work nights all week. Needless to say, I'm a bit nervous.

I'm not what you would call a night person. Like most people I have pulled the occasional up until 4 am talking and drinking to people in the last 3 years but that is a whole different beast. Staying up all night to work is hard. All I can really remember about working night shift as a nurse is that the hours of 2-4 seem like they might never pass, patients are more likely to code, and you feel crappy the entire night. I remember feeling sick, dizzy, and nauseous most of the time.

I know there are good sides to working nights too. Pay is better, patients are asleep, and you don't have to worry about patients' family members (usually). To me though, the good doesn't out weigh the bad.

I've been trying to stay up late and sleep in. Today I slept until noon and Jehovah Witnesses rang my door bell and woke me up. It's almost 3pm now and I'm going to try to nap and maybe run before I head in. Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I had always wanted to try having short hair. As a child I sported the normal small-child-in-the-80's bowel cut that most people did. I never had hair shorter then an inch since I was a baby. There never seemed a good time to do it. There were always excuses not to. Until last November. Stereotypically women will grow their hair out for their wedding and then cut it shorter after. I thought I would go to the extreme of this stereotype and pixie cut my hair. Why not? If not now then never was my mantra as I made my way to the salon that day.

I was nervous but I didn't want to be like one of the girls on America's Next Top Model who cried at the hair cut make over. I put on my brave face, had the stylist put my hair into a pony-tail and then cut it all off. He cut and cut and cut and I stared straight ahead thinking about how awesome it would be to have hair that would dry in under an hour. I kept trying to talk myself into why short hair would be good and when he was done I lied and said I liked it.

I put pictures of myself on facebook with short hair and thought that I would learn to like it. I smiled when people would tell me they liked the new cut. I hated it. I hated how it made me look. I hated how my head looked naked. I hated the fact that I didn't get to put my hair up. After a few months of growth I still didn't like. I felt like I always had the same look weather I was at work or out with friends. Yes, their were hair clips that I could put in to look nice and there was the added connivence of not having to dig the pile of hair out of the drain after every shower but I still missed my long golden curls that made me feel like me.

My hair has grown out almost a year now and is almost to my jaw line. I miss my long hair and can't wait for it back. I know lots of other people love having short hair, but it's just not me.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Everyone loves free samples at the grocery store. Without paying for a large container you can sample the chips you wondered if were crisp, or the cheese that looked waxy but you think it might just be awesome. I remember when I was a kid Sunday was sample day at Byeler's (the fancy grocery store by my house). This was before Whole Foods had opened and you could get samples every day. As you strolled though the store you would enjoy crackers, cheese, ham, pizza, and fresh cut melon. It was great.

Today I stopped at the grocery store after I working out to pick up somethings for dinner. I was browsing the cheese isle when a man asked me if I wanted a sample. I assumed since we were in the cheese area it would be cheese but instead it was beer. I was handled a beer sample and was told it went well with cheese. There were some small chunks of cheese cut up for sampling as well. I enjoyed both but wanted to inform him that most people know beer and cheese go together well.

All in all I would say it was a good sample day.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Something Something Post

It's late and I'm buzzed and tired. I've worked the last 3 days and went out to eat tonight. The sangria was amazing, the food delicious and that is what brings us here. To a semi-drunk-just-in-the-nick-of-time-post.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Cutting For Stone

Short post today as I worked yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I have been reading the book Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese and so far have really enjoyed it. The characters for the most part feel real, great descriptions, and plot. Without giving too much of the plot away it's about some doctors in Africa. Here are a few favorite quotes so far:

"And Because I love this Life
I know I shall love death as well.
The child cries out when
From the right breast of the mother
Takes it away, in the very next moment
To find the left on
Its consolation"

"On one occasion with a patient in grave peril, I begged my father to operate...I knew the chance (of survival) was was infinitesimally small and the first whiff of anesthesia might end it all...'Remember the Eleventh Commandment,: he said. :Thou shall not operate on the day of a patient's death.'"

And finally:

"Flatus, Fluid, Feces, Foreign Body, and Fetus feel better out that in"-The Five-F rule.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

New Skill

Most people have no idea what a nurse does. I remember Steve asking me on one of our first dates if I just poked people with needles all day long. I informed him that I never poke people with needles. I had other people who did that so I didn't have to.Truth be told, I've only drawn blood on a few occasions and have never started an IV. Until today.

I had pulled all my patients lines to get him ready to transfer out of the ICU when he started to have EKG changes. I turned to my preceptor and went over the list of things we should do.

"Page the NP, order an EKG, cycle blood pressures, and draw labs."

"Right," she replied and handed me the needle and blood tubing.

After short inspection of his arm I knew right where to go and got the blood on my first draw. When the NP wanted to order and IV medication and we had no access because he already had an antibiotic running my preceptor turned to me again and handed me the needle to put an IV. Unfortunately for my patient the IV took me 2 tries before I got it in.

I am really excited to continue to cultivate this skill at my new job!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Conversations With My Husband

Steve and I were sitting on the couch watching a movie last night when I heard him cough a little and then say "phew". I turned to look at him and noticed he was holding his wedding ring in his palm. He noticed me checking him out and said: "You would be mad if I swallowed my wedding ring right?"

"Yes I would be mad if you swallowed it but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't make it past your epiglottis and I would have to heimlich that out of you." I told him.

"Maybe not," he pondered looking at the ring, "but you would definitely make me sift through poop for it."

"Yes I would. Because I'm sure as hell not going to."

"Then I should stop playing with this right now." He said as he slipped the ring back on and we continued to watch the movie.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Head On Into The Kitchen

Let me start this post with saying my mom is an amazing cook. It's not that she makes super fancy meals all time but what she does do is make cooking look easy. Growing up we almost always ate home cooked meals. It was rare if ever we got take out or went to a restaurant so that left about 95% of our meals made from scratch at home. Not only did my mom make most of our meals (which seems pretty rare now) she would often cater to every single persons desire for food. It was very common that we would have multiple dishes for dinner. Steak for my dad, spaghetti for my sister and pancakes for me. She also would have all these things ready at the same time so we could have dinner as a family. This basis of "food should be made, at home and fresh, and it's no big deal" mentality has carried on to my adulthood.

I love cooking. There is something so soothing about following a recipe and making a wonderful meal. No matter what is going on in my life I know I can open a cook book, lose myself in the actions with chopping, saute-ing, and steaming food. It becomes almost therapeutic. Just focus on chopping this onion so you don't chop your finger off makes you live in the moment. Putting together multiple small pieces to make an amazing whole is so gratifying. It also makes me feel good to provide for my husband (mostly) health meals. Making your own food and not relying on a restaurant just seems normal to me.

I know parents hope to instill "important" values to their children like honor, trust, kindness, good work ethic, ect. I feel my parents gave me all of that and also an awesome hobby.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

You and I

Recently I have really been digging this song. I don't know if because I like the ukulele or because this sounds like something we would sing at my Unitarian Church but enjoy!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Waiting for My Husband

Of the four weeks that Steve and I have lived in Chicago he has been gone for almost two of them. When we moved to Chicago Steve stayed full time with the company that he worked for in Boston until the end of August on the agreement he would work a show for them a the end of the month in Iowa. It worked out well since we needed money to move and health care benefits until mine kicked in.

Steve has been in Iowa for the past two weeks, I've been working more days then I ever have in my life until today. I'm off for the entire holiday weekend and Steve comes home today! I can't wait to spend the entire weekend with him.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Working 9-5

Ok, I haven't been working 9-5. that's just a catchy Dolly Parton song. What I have been doing though is working 5 days a week for the past 3 weeks. Most people would be shocked to know that I have never worked 5 days a week in my life. One of the percs of being a nurse is that you can work full time and only work 3 days a week, and that is what I have been doing for the last 5 years of my life. Until I moved to Chicago.

Apparently Northwestern has recently done a study that found that when nurses work more then 8 hours a day while on orientation they go into information over load and don't absorb anything after 8 hours. While this might be true for a new nurse who has never done anything for twelve hours, except maybe drink, I'm sure it can be tough. I'm not a new nurse now and don't function well working anything less than 12 hours. Sadly it is hospital policy and there are no exceptions to the rule, so I have been stuck working 8 hours a day 5 days a week. To most this might not sound so bad, but I hate it.

The way a day is for a nurse is you usually are so busy in the morning that you don't even sit down from the time you walk into your patients room until 1pm if you are lucky. After that you need to catch up on all the charting you didn't do in the morning because you were busy taking care of your patient. Somewhere in there you factor in lunch and that is about when you have to leave if you are only working eight hours. I end up feeling rushed all day and not getting the full experience of a nursing shift. Not to mention that my house has fallen into disrepair, I haven't gone to the gym except for twice this week (!), and I have had to lock Moose inside everyday while I am at work.

Lucky for me the policy only extends for the first 3 weeks and today was my last eight hour day. I cannot wait to hit the mid day lull at the gym or buy my groceries at the store when no one else is there!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Farmers Market

I simply love Farmers Markets. Pinching peaches, smelling apples, and "sampling" home made cheese is my idea of a good time. When I lived in Boston Adrianne and I had a standing date to meet each Wednesday at the farmers market in Davis square. We would walk through the parking lot filled with fresh greens and talk over the various dishes we were planning to make.

Now that I live in Chicago and a lot closer to more farm land the selection has grown. Farm fresh peaches, wild blue berries, crisp apples are a must. I love being able to talk to the person who picked the peach that I am going to eat tonight. Steve had a long conversation with one of the meat sellers about the hog that had just given birth to piglets. We have a direct link with the people who grew our food. I think that is how it should be. Every time we eat we should think about the person who grew our food and how long it took to get from where they are to where we are. With a "eat local" philosophy we can have a "thanksgiving" every day for the amazing food that we know the point of origin of.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Let's Get This Party Started!

Oh Yeah! First day of blog contest! I like it. From now on I challenge myself to post EVERY DAY! I'm going to start it out with this lame post to commemorate Day One.