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8/31/03
I can't believe tomorrow is September. Today was the perfect end-of-summer weather. Nice and cool and breezy and not humid. Too bad I had to spend it indoors at work.

We started out the shift with a code. I got to do CPR compressions, which was neat - unfortunately the patient didn't make it. And another patient took a bad turn tonight - she's a "no code," which means no CPR, no intubation, no nothing. So I fully expect that she'll pass away during the night.

The Medical Records department sent out a flier saying that they will be closed on Monday, for Memorial Day. I appended it with "and we will be closed on a random date in May for Labor Day" and hung it up. I also noted that instead of "daily inpatient schedules," one of our notebooks is labeled, "daily impatient schedules." I know they're in a rush and all... we all got a laugh out of that.

My throat has been swollen all day, it hurts to swallow. And I think I strained my back, too. I popped some painkillers and I'm about to go to bed.

But anyway, yes, tomorrow is September. And school starts on Tuesday.

8/29/03
Ack - this day is ending badly. We had a patient who was doing poorly all during our shift, and D. the nurse and I ended up taking him up to ICU at 11.30pm (right as we were getting ready to go). And I lost the bell (or diaphragm, can't remember which part it is) to my stethoscope, and got a tear in the top of one of my nursing shoes. And I thought I broke my cellfone, but it isn't, so I guess that isn't too bad.

But I wanted to go to Marie's with Tesse tonight after work - and instead I'm going to sleep and get up early to go to the Scrub Shop (replace shoes and stethoscope part), do laundry and go to the drugstore. Erg.

Post-script: and while putting the laundry in the washer, I spilled detergent all over my arm.

My friend Jeff is a nut.

later on 8/27/03
Or perhaps, instead of going to the lake, I will go to Wal-Mart and buy the DVD of LOTR: The Two Towers (the two-disc version, I will be splurging on the four-disc extra super extended edition in November when it comes out). And then I will watch the extras, and then fall asleep on the couch while watching the actual movie.

8/27/03
Little Shop is next week, not this week. I don't even know what day it is anymore!

I'm off today, I think I'll take a book and go to Cheesequake and get some sun. When I got to Vermont, I had a seatbelt tan line across my decolletage. I'd sunscreened the tattoos and didn't think about the rest.

The SPCA in Eatontown is having a two-for-one cat adoption special, because they're overcrowded. We adopted Sheeba from there, and she's the perfect cat. So go, adopt a cat or two. Or a dog. Or a gerbil.

8/26/03
So the son of my patient, who I went out with, also asked out another aide, who told him (politely), "no." I shall also be saying (politely), "no" if I hear from him again. What, like word doesn't get around?

8/25/03
Oh, the car loves the hills and curves. I drove up to Jen's on Saturday and had lunch (delicious chinese food) with her and her parents. We drove to lunch in their new "Celine Dion" van, which, despite the name, is pretty cool.

Then I continued on to Weston, where I stayed at the Frog's Leap Inn - no relation to the winery of the same name, but the owner of the inn knew about it. In fact, he said they serve a lot of FL wine there, including the Zinfandel that I love. I'll have to have dinner there next time instead of my standard, the Garden Cafe (of the delicious duck and splendid paintings of winter scenes). I also drove to Chester, Rockingham, Andover, Arlington and Manchester to do some Christmas shopping. I bought new catnip toys for the cats, too. Just what they need - kitty crack. And then I just drove the scenic routes. The car really did have a good time, and so did I.

And now it's back to work. School starts next Tuesday. So I'm working today, tomorrow, have off on Wednesday, working Thurs, off Friday (to see Little Shop with Steve), working Sat, Sun and Mon, and then it's back to school. I'm really looking forward to it.

8/22/03
It's supposed to be lovely tomorrow. Msybe I'll drive up to VT and enjoy the day. I have off on tomorrow and Sunday.

It's amazing that I am not fatter. Since getting home an hour ago, I have had two Lean Pockets (ham and cheddar), a bowl of Rice Krispies, a box of blueberries (sorry, Mom, they looked so good) and a few chocolate-caramel-cashew clusters. Man,

8/21/03
Eep, the house I want is still for sale in Vermont! Actually, I still want a cozy converted barn with a sleeping loft. Or something modern, post and beam, open floor plan (can you tell what kind of websites I'm reading while I should be... well, probably something more productive).

Today I have such a headache. It was an incredibly busy day at work, call bells going off everywhere, patients being transferred to other rooms etc. I hope tomorrow is better.

I want to drive all weekend. I have Saturday and Sunday off, and all I want to do is get in the car and drive. It's so lovely in this weather to go around with the top down. I even put it down for the seven mile drive home from the hospital.

8/20/03
Hot hot hot. And I LOVE the convertable. It's wonderful to drive. And as Michael pointed out, you can quote from Tick Tick Boom about my new car - "This is a car that allows you to adjust the temperature of your ass."

Don't read this bit if you're squeamish.

So I drove to Perth Amboy at 9am for the autopsy today. I'd called Lori, but she wasn't able to make it. So it was just me. And wow, was it fun! The secretary took me down to the morgue and introduced me to Dr. Stone, the pathologist, and his assistant, Steve. The body - 65-year-old, white female - was already on the table. I was a little surprised at how rubbery she was, I thought bodies were firmer than that. As the observer and student, I was assigned clipboard duty: recording the weights of the organs etc. The clipboard came in handy when a handful of med students came in - I got to look important.

So I put on a surgical gown over my scrubs, and donned gloves and a mask, and the autopsy started.

I have to say, while you need a weird sense of humor to work in medicine at all, you really need one to work in Pathology. I'm glad I hit it off with the doctors.

So they began by doing a quick physical assessment of the cadaver - bruises, pressure ulcers etc. Dr. Stone made marks on a diagram of a body to show where they were, and then he handed the paper to me. I asked for a quick history of the patient. Liver failure, ascites (fluid in the abdomen), came to the hospital from the nursing home, and the family had requested the autopsy. They don't do too many anymore, since diagnostic tools can tell what a person died of. These days, they only do autopsies if the person died in surgery, within 24 hours of hospital admission, if there's foul play (murder) suspected, or if the family requests it. Perth Amboy does about one a month now, so it was lucky timing that I got to go today.

After the assessment, Dr. Stone handed me the clipboard so I could be the note taker. They start with the scalpel, making a Y-shaped incision from both shoulders and down the abdomen. Many layers of fat and muscle. When they cut into the abdomen, fluid splashed out all over the table and onto the floor (from the ascites), and Steve suctioned it up. They cut into the peritoneal space (where the abdominal organs are located) and started to poke around. I had asked them both beforehand if they'd give me a tour of the insides, and Dr. Stone pointed out all of the organs as he went. They pulled things apart and cut out each organ one at a time, weighing it, and then placing it in a bucket on the table.

Next came the only part that made me a little squeamish. Steve took a pair of large clippers - they looked like hedge clippers - and cut through the rib cage on each side to remove the center of the ribs and the sternum. The sound of the clippers going through bone was just a tad too... crunchy... for me. Removing the ribs gave access to the upper abdominal organs and the heart and lungs. Those were removed, too. (This is where a handful of medical students came in)

Now things split into two parts. Steve cut the scalp on the head, behind the ears, and flipped it down over her face, so he could expose the skull. He took the bone saw - much like the one used at the amputation we saw, and cut off the top of her skull. Then he took what looked like a small screwdriver and popped it off, exposing the brain.

At the same time, Dr. Stone took each organ, one at a time, and examined it for abnormalities. He explained to me and the other students what a "normal" organ would look like, and how - if - these differed. He cut each one open (how cool to see the inside of a kidney that hadn't been dried out in the anatomy lab!) and took a slice of each to be examined in the pathology lab. While the sight of the sliced liver put me off the idea of sushi for lunch, it was really fun to watch. And educational, too.

Things that surprised me: the lack of blood. They told me that it pools downward after the person dies, so you don't get gushes when you cut. I was surprised that this body could now be embalmed - they left the carotid artery intact for the embalmer. They just dump the organs back in, stitch her up, and do their work so there can be a viewing/funeral. It looked rather messy to me when the doctors were done, but I guess that's why the funeral director folks make the big bucks. I was surprised - well, maybe not really - at the way the body was handled. I'm used to dealing with live people, who you can't just plop somewhere.

I'm not sure if I want to be autopsied when I die. I know that I never want to watch anyone I know on the table there. And I don't think forensic nursing is really something that I'd be interested in going into. But I'm glad I got the chance to sit in today and really see another side of the medical field. The secretary said she would definitely call me if another came up, since there were more students that wanted to see. I'd go again.

In non-autopsy news...

I stopped by the car place to drop off the title to the Geo, and to make an appointment for the "service engine" light to be fixed. Well, the engine, anyway.

Since the car place is right by the nursing school, I stopped by to find out what I had missed at the state NJNS meeting on Saturday, and to pick up my key for school and locker combination etc. I'm going to go in next Thursday, during Freshman orientation week, to talk to the students about NJNS, NSNA and being involved beyond the classroom.

Then I stopped by the Allstate office to switch my car insurance over to the Cabrio. And then I came home to find out that we're having the entire porch roof replaced. It's rotting all over.

And that's it for my exciting morning so far.

8/19/03
Freaking computer viruses. Every time I go online, my computer shuts down. So Steve put the fix on a CDROM for me, and mailed it overnight. So I'm trying to get it fixed.

In the meantime, I've been checking my mail on Mom's computer, which is just a pain in the neck to do via the web, but at least my inbox won't be all clogged up when I get back online here.

So what's new?

Eve had her baby! William Harry arrived today at 1.26pm, at 19 inches and 7 pounds, 5 oz. He's a cutie, too. They were supposed to set an appointment for inducing her labor today, so when Mark called me, I thought that's what it was about. Instead, he said that her water broke at 4am and they were at the hospital. So I (ahem) called out sick from work and drove up to see her. She had the shortest labor in history, and I arrived about an hour after he was born. They're both doing well and Eve is psyched to not have to be on bed rest any longer. I'm going to visit again tomorrow, and she gets discharged on Thursday.

To celebrate, and as a pre-turning-30-crisis celebration, I got rid of the Geo and bought the car I have always wanted - a red convertable. It's a 1999 Volkwagon Cabrio convertable, with a 6-cd changer stereo, air conditioning and get this - heated seats. I'll take pictures in the daytime and put them online. It's so sweet. I have to bring the Geo title to the car dealer tomorrow, and have them look at the "check engine" light to make sure it's nothing serious. I love it. I can't wait to tool around with the top down.

Work is good - two more weeks until school starts. Tomorrow I'm going to an autopsy, arranged through the pathology dept at Perth Amboy. Can't wait! I get excited about the weirdest things.

8/12/03
My computer keeps crashing, and I think I have a varicose vein.

8/10/03
The living room is now deep blue. White woodwork. And empty - we took everything out (except the TV, after all, the Yankees are playing Seattle) - the floor is mopped, and it looks great. Malou from work is taking our old couch and coffee tables etc, and the new stuff arrives on Thursday. It's going to look super.

Next stop - dining room.

8/9/03
In preparation for the great re-furbishing of the living room, we washed all of the woodwork (ick), washed the curtains, and cleaned all of the windows, inside and out. I'm glad we have the kiddie pool in the backyard, as I lept into it with gusto when we were done.

8/8/03
I'm happy - the son of one of my patients, who I've been talking to a lot at work - asked me for my number. How cool. We'll see where that goes.

I went to the city after work to pop by Marie's, as I haven't been there in a while. I forgot that Dexter is on vacation, so none of the regulars were there. I hung out with my friend Paul and his boyfriend, and with Scott and David for a while, and then headed home.

Tomorrow we wash the woodwork.

8/7/03
I had a really strange dream this morning. I was living in the city, so was my brother Peter, and it was Sept. 13th of this year. And I guess I was at home, because I was throwing things into a small suitcase. There were missiles hitting buildings and exploding, and I was in such a rush to get out of the city that I was packing all kinds of odd things. It was a weird dream in that I know exactly what I was packing - what clothes, what books, the fact that my camera's roll of film was finished and already rewound. And I lugged my suitcase and my backpack to the subway, which was four long blocks away, down 34th Street. I kept playing phone tag with Peter to find out where he was, and for a while, I was travelling with some of my friends, who also had bulging suitcases. By the time I got home, I was stressed because I was late for some kind of important dinner, but all I wanted to do was watch the news. My clothes didn't match and I didn't know how to act - it was like the attacks were happening in another world.

Anyway, that's when I woke up and realized I had to leave for work in a half hour.

But in good news, the script for Take Me Out arrived in my mailbox today. Must go see the play again soon.

But in bad news, Merry did test positive for Feline Leukemia. I have to take the other three cats to the vet to get the vaccine. She could live for many years without showing any signs of the disease, but her immune system will be compromised.

later on 8/6/03
Heck, I got to build furniture after all today. Mom and I made one of those "we don't need anything" trips to IKEA, and ended up buying a new bookcase, new coffee table and end tables, and new sofa(s) for the living room. Those are being delivered next week, but we brought the rest home and put it together. It's going to look great. Now we have to figure out what to do with the old couch and chairs, and the coffee/end tables we have already (which aren't old or worn out, but just don't match the new things!).

8/6/03
I'm having a little trouble remembering what day it is, because I worked a double shift last night. I wasn't planning to, but we have a patient who's a little confused (either because of a medication reaction or her cancer), and she was climbing out over the side rails and wandering into the dirty utility room, so her doctor ordered a one-to-one observation for her. So I stayed the night with her in her room. Her son was there, too, so we spent a lot of the night just talking. I much prefer working at night on a floor, where there're things to do, instead of the sitting around on a one-to-one. I was really tired and fell asleep as soon as I got home. Luckily I have today off.

I had planned to go up and see Eve and put together baby furniture. But I didn't wake up until 3pm. I called her, and explained that I worked a double, and she told me that Kati had managed to put together all of the furniture anyway! So we postponed our plans to hang out until my next day off.

Today's Onion has a blurb about how tired I've been:

Half-Asleep Man Pauses 20 Minutes Between Socks
SANDPOINT, ID—Seated on the edge of his bed, Carl Thompson, 38, paused for 20 minutes with one sock on his foot and the other in his hand Tuesday. "Ugh, tired," said Thompson, who was otherwise silent from 6:30 to 6:50 a.m. During that period, Thompson stared at the wall and teetered perilously close to a reclining position six times.

8/3/03
Mimi is licking my fingers as I try and type, so this should be short.

I worked a double shift on Thursday night, and I'm still catching up. I got to work in the ICU for the 3-11 shift, and on the 2nd floor for 11-7 (as Mom was on vacation, so there wasn't any conflict). ICU was nice, it was quiet when I was there, but I'm sure that when it's bad, it's really bad.

Roseann traded days with me so I could have off today to go to the baby shower. That was a lot of fun. Once I found the place, that is. Bloomfield Ave. runs through four or five different towns, and it gets renumbered at every one. So I took a few detours to look at the huge houses in Montclair and finally made it to Verona. Eve looks good - tho she is the only woman I know who could wrench her knee while on bedrest. I'm going to go up and visit her on Wednesday and help her get all of the gifts unpacked and assembled etc.

Mmm, I think that's it for now.

Oh ho - and the new Gabaldon book is due out in Dec:

Adored bestselling author Diana Gabaldon brings us the first book in a new trilogy featuring many of the characters from her wildly popular Outlander series.

In her New York Times bestselling Outlander novels, Diana Gabaldon introduced millions of readers to a dazzling world of history and adventure -- a world of vibrant settings and unforgettable characters. Now one of these characters, Major Lord John Grey, opens the door to his own part of this world -- eighteenth-century London, a seething anthill of nobility and rabble peopled by soldiers and spies, whores and dukes. Great Britain is battling France for supremacy on three continents -- and life is good for a soldier.

The year is 1757. On a clear morning in mid-June, Lord John Grey emerges from London’s Beefsteak Club, his mind in turmoil. A nobleman and a high-ranking officer in His Majesty’s Army, Grey has just witnessed something shocking. But his efforts to avoid a scandal that might destroy his family are interrupted by something still more urgent: the Crown appoints him to investigate the brutal murder of a comrade in arms, who may have been a traitor.

Obliged to pursue two inquiries at once, Major Grey finds himself ensnared in a web of treachery and betrayal that touches every stratum of English society -- and threatens all he holds dear. From the bawdy houses of London’s night-world to the stately drawing rooms of the nobility, and from the blood of a murdered corpse to the thundering seas ruled by the majestic fleet of the East India Company, Lord John pursues the elusive trails of a vanishing footman and a woman in green velvet, who may hold the key to everything -- or nothing.

The early days of the Seven Years War come brilliantly to life in this historical mystery by an author whose unique and compelling storytelling has engrossed millions of readers worldwide.

-catherine

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