December 31, 2016

Last post of 2016

It has been exactly 4 weeks to the day since my last update.  I meant to post sooner, but it has been a tough month.

My mother had arrived the day before my birthday and was at my sister's house...I was going to be a bit evil and call my sister that evening to say that I wanted to bring the little ones over to her house for a play date, but decided that the day of the birthday itself was going to be stressful enough.

I could not fall asleep easily...just like last I ended up on the couch watching documentaries and thinking about my dad.  Had my cry and then ended up falling asleep to a documentary about North Korea.  Dad would have appreciated that.

The birthday surprise dinner went well.  I apparently was convincing enough in my surprise that they bought it. 

My mother's visit went as well as they usually go.  The usual ups and downs, the usual stressors.  Some sadness as we thought about Dad, especially when all of the kids were together.  He loved his army of grandsons and they missed him.  Lots of rain, as it tends to rain out here whenever she comes to visit.

I was able to swing 7 straight days off, so we were able to spend plenty of time together. 

Christmas came and went.  Sent Mom back home, had a day off with just the better half and little ones, then went back to work.  And here I am.

I don't feel like reflecting on 2016; if you want to know my thoughts on the year, read the earlier entries.  I don't have any real resolutions for the new year...maybe curb buying so much yarn and start using up the stash I have.  And of course, to make it to 2018. 

December 3, 2016

Only in psych nursing is playing cards with a patient not only allowed, it's also a therapeutic intervention

Try doing that on a med-surg floor and see what happens.

Anyhow, it was a slow night so I played some Gin Rummy with a patient....well, with a patient and their hallucinations.  It was a fun game.  The patient was a very good player, though every so often, the patient would stop and respond, or start conversing with one of the voices.  Sometimes I wasn't sure if the conversation was directed at myself, the voice(s), or both/all of us.

I lost most of the hands.  It was an uneven match-up if you think about it.

December 1, 2016

Best birthday gift I could have asked for

I don't have anything I want for my birthday...well, other than the classic NES reboot, but I don't want it so much that I want the better half to drop $200 on it.  We'll wait until February and pick it up for a song.

The truth is, I haven't really thought about what I'd like for my birthday because this year, I hadn't really thought of it as something to celebrate this year.  Next year, yes...and I realized that in all seriousness, that's as long as my dad would want us to mope his death.  And to be honest, a year would be pushing it in his books.   He was never one for prolonged mourning, drama or sob-fests.  He'd take a little time to reconcile his loss, then put on 'Allo 'Allo, Benny Hill, or whatever British comedy was on the nearest videotape, and make a sandwich.

"Get over it, Moose," he'd tell me.  "And bring me a donut!"

Got to love Dad.

Realizing that has helped me feel much better.  Things still hurt and I have ups and downs, but I know that debilitating misery is not what my father would have wanted for me, for any of us.

So I get to feel depressed and craptastic this year.  Next year, party in the mountains! 

Anyhow, my mother is planning to fly out West to surprise me on my birthday.   I'm glad that she is given that I was really worried about her spending this day alone.  The plan is my sister has booked a reservation for both of our families at an early time and a kid-friendly restaurant, because my nephews are very excited for this.  I'm guessing that at one point, my mother will appear.

I know this because the better half told me so I would not change my mind and end up going into work that night.   He knows that I'm struggling this year and that, given I'm not drinking alcohol, I would seriously consider drowning my sorrows in psychiatric patients on that night.  So he wanted to insure my attendance.

My sister mentioned the dinner to me already, so that's part is no secret.  

So my mother calls last night to see how I am doing.  She goes on about coming out to visit right before Christmas (I try not to laugh).  Then she mentioned my birthday and what I was planning to do.

"Oh, I don't know," I reply.  "I was thinking that the better half and I take a little trip, maybe an overnight somewhere.  Just to get away since I have two nights off."
She gets flustered and says "I think you sister had made dinner plans for you that day, with the kids."

"Yeah, I thought she mentioned that.  I'm thinking maybe Vegas."

So it goes on for 10 minutes:  she keeps telling me I should talk to my sister and she what she has planned, and my noncommittal replies and musing about where to road trip I laugh hysterically into my pillow.  Eventually, the call ends.  You know she dialed my sister the minute she disconnected to find out what was going on.

And you know my sister is waiting for me to call or text today.  Except I think I'll call tomorrow.  Maybe.  And ask her where she stayed in Vegas.

I told the better half what I had done, and when he stopped laughing, he said that I should have mentioned to my mother that I wanted him to take me to the Bellagio.  I'll give my mother and sister a little bit more of a hard time...not too hard though that they panic or get really upset.  Just enough before I "capitulate" to make them think that they dodged a bullet.

I bet Dad is looking down at this and laughing his ass off.  It's something he would totally have done. He'd be so proud of my performance.

Then he'd ask if I had any more donuts.   

November 25, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate it.  Happy Fourth Thursday in November if you don't.

Hanging in there.  Lots of ups and downs.  The family dinner went well, then I caught a short nap and went into work where a second family--the work family--dinner kicked into action.  The power of the potluck.  It was very multicultural.  Lots of Filipino food.  I told one of the LVNs she could adopt me so I could live off what she brought in.   I'm not sure of its name, but it was like a Jamaican patty, just not with jerk seasoning.

It was nice to have my appetite back for a while.  Alas, it's gone again.  I skipped breakfast, choked down leftovers for lunch, and said No to dinner.

And I probably won't feel like eating overnight either.  One of the LVNs--a different one--commented that I wasn't eating and said I must be watching my figure.  It was said in all affection, so I took no offense.  I told her that I just hadn't had an appetite lately and eased the conversation to another subject.  I didn't mention sense in depressing everyone else along with me.

November 23, 2016

In which depression hits Meriwhen hard...and she also learns she apparently has 103 draft posts

I'll need to review those 103 posts to see if they are truly drafts or if some glitch removed active posts from the blog.

Anyhow, my mood has not been good as of the last few days.  Poor sleep, decreased appetite, easily stressed or agitated, easily upset, short tempered, and feeling just a background sadness all the time.  Not enjoying life right fact, the place I seem to be the least stressed is at work, and I was feeling rather burnt out there!

It didn't dawn on me until lunchtime today, when I hadn't eaten for 16 hours and still didn't feel hungry, that perhaps something is up.  I'm food-driven so for me to not want to eat while not on a diet is a major red flag.  So I forced myself to eat--that didn't go well but I finished lunch--and thought about things.

No, I'm not suicidal; no, I don't wish I were dead or not here; no to all the other questions that I as a psych nurse would ask someone who told me this.

The blues started when I was cleaning out my closet.  I found a couple of Christmas gifts that would have been for my father, a puzzle and a T-shirt.  It was quite the punch to the gut to see them because I never got the chance to give them to him.  I thought about donating them, but decided not to because it would have felt like a betrayal of his memory if I got rid of them.  So the puzzle went back into the closet and the T-shirt into my pile of workout gear.

It's the holiday season.  Not quite the first one without my father, as he died a couple of weeks before Christmas.  First Thanksgiving without him though.  First birthday coming up without him.  First anniversary of his death, which happens to fall on said birthday, coming up.  The fact that we would have usually been together--or at least I would have been able to talk to him--but that this won't happen this year really kind of hurts.

Looking back, I never grieved the way my mother and sister did.  I was the stoic one.  Didn't mean I didn't feel anything...I just kept it together more.  One of us had to.  That wasn't my mother as that was her partner of 50+ years total.  Not my sister as she was the one alone with him at the final moments.  Guess it had to be me.

I'm starting to tear up thinking about this...which considering I'm at work, isn't what I want to be doing.

Then there's the stress of the holidays themselves.  The recent election has caused quite the political rift between various branches of the family and friends.  Holiday shopping.  My mother coming out to visit, which even before my father's death was very stressful in itself.

And the fact that I will be aging one more calendar year.  I think I may be having a mid-life crisis.  No, I'm not about to go get a sport car and a young blond toy-boy to cavort with.  Just realizing how old I am chronologically versus how old I am in spirit, and how the two aren't syncing up.  Some regret that I didn't do things earlier in life, or that I'm getting around to doing things so late in the game.  Plus the fact that I may have anywhere from a year to 50 years ahead of me, and I'm just not going to know. It's not like when I was 20 and I knew I had decades ahead of me...yes, I could have died at 21, but the odds of that happening were less than 0.01%.


So what do I do to survive this funk?

I don't want to adjust my medications.  I've been doing rather well up to this point and I don't want to make any adjustments that I would have to un-adjust later on.  I experienced serotonin discontinuation syndrome this summer.  NOT FUN.  I'm also not into self-medicating with my PRNs...I prefer to save them for the few times I really need it.

I can't lose myself in drink...well, I could if I wanted to, but I don't want to.  It's not the answer.  Besides, I've given up alcohol for a year and may possibly never return to it again, as I've found that life without alcohol has been rather nifty.  My cholesterol has never been better (111!).

Prefer not to talk about it with the family, as they'll have enough of their own stress as it is.  They don't need mine.

Maybe I will start the therapy up again.  Or at least start journaling more and processing my feelings that way.

November 19, 2016

In which Meriwhen discovers a Blogspot phone app

Nifty...can update from my phone now :)

I did get my cancel.  I vegetated.  It was just what I needed.  I feel recharged and ready to tackle the world!

November 18, 2016

My work week ended and I had some downtime, albeit with a couple of days at Job 3.  My mood is better.  I feel less burned out...more like lightly fried.

Still attempting to get a day off of work though, just for that mental break.  I put in another cancel request, and this time, the odds of me getting it are much better than last time.  Three people would have to call off for the request to be denied.  Three!  That being said, I'm not planning on being off until I get the phone call saying I'm cancelled.

So let's talk about something completely unrelated to nursing:  foundation, a.k.a. base makeup.  Only because I've had purchased some yesterday that was totally off (it's hard to tell in the drugstore if the foundation will work).

This is the bane of my cosmetic existence.  I have rosacea and hyperpigmentation.  The rosacea waxes and wanes, but the hyperpigmentation is fairly constant, so I have to fight to cover redness and/or discoloration.  Most days I can tame one, but the other runs rampant.  Occasionally, both win, as they are today.  Very rarely can I cover both in one go, but this involves a lot of foundation, concealer, and prayer.

Now if that wasn't enough to deal with, I have a skin tone that is tough to match.  I am light olive.  Not the tan healthy-looking olive as in Latina/Mediterranean.  I have the pale green cast that defies classification.  Thanks, Mom and Dad.  She was the healthy-looking olive while he was the pale glow-in-the-dark type.  I'm what results when you mix the two together.

Oh yes, let's not forget the chronic undereye circles.

So finding a decent foundation--or as I like to call it, chasing the dragon--has been hard.  It's not so much the strength of coverage--I can get pancake makeup that will obliterate all flaws, though it may not look natural.  It is the skin tone.  They just don't make foundations in my color.  The closest I've found is a brand called Meow, and they actually make an olive shade mineral foundation (Frisky Ocicat, don't ask) that actually has a pale green cast.  So it matches pretty well.

The problem is that it's not the best coverage, and being a powder, more than two layers starts looking like, well, powder.  So I have to go in with a lot of color-correcting primer and concealer underneath.  Except that with powder foundations, the primer has to be water-based; otherwise the powder won't meld properly.  And there aren't many water-based color-correcting primers out there.  Actually, I think I've found only one.  And it's not that great so I'll spare you and not name the brand.

Or if I want coverage but the color can be a bit off, I use NARS Sheer Glow, which despite it's name is not that sheer at all.  It actually can go on pretty heavy.  It's also expensive for a foundation.  I use the shade Deauville, which is a balanced neutral.  It doesn't have the green and it is a touch too light, but it's not specifically leaning any other tone, so I can make it work.  I do need to add blush or bronzer though.

The things I have to deal with.

Since I can't always spend mad money on NARS, and Meow takes a couple of weeks to deliver, I have to have alternatives that are cheaper and more readily accessible.  Hence why I'm trolling the stores for foundation.  I have a couple of other ones that I got today to try.

November 13, 2016

Well, said coworker didn't end up getting cancelled.  While I'm a bit disappointed for her that she didn't get it, I also can't help but feel a little schadenfreude, especially when I couldn't get my own cancel.

Still, for being at work and being burned out, the last couple of days have been rather tame as far as work goes.  It's almost as though God figured I should catch a little break.   I'm grateful for it and hope it lasts through the weekend.

November 12, 2016

Didn't work

No one called out, yet I still wasn't cancelled.  Bah.

To add insult to injury, they assigned me to my least favorite unit.  Double bah.

Even more insulting, there is a chance that tomorrow, someone else who already requested to be cancelled will be cancelled even if some staff call off.  Triple bah.


Like I said, I go into these things expecting to not get cancelled, so I'm not terribly distraught that I wasn't.  But the fact that they put me on my least favorite unit instead of where I usually go on Fridays, while the nurse who normally works this unit was sent to where I would be, just kind of kills the mood for me.

And probably for that nurse as well, as I'm sure they're sitting there wondering, "why is Meriwhen is in MY spot and I'm over here in Hell?"  I know they're not really a fan of my Friday night unit, no more than I'm a fan of theirs.  Coworker, I'd trade with you if I could.

Perhaps they thought we'd both like the change.  Or they wanted us to have the change.  Who knows?

Oh well.  Nothing I can do but make the best of it.  The one thing that is good about this unit is that I'm left alone--really, I'm sent to a far corner and am by myself--so I can catch up on my reading and story writing.

I'll have to find another way to get that mini-escape.

November 11, 2016

I came up with an idea to get that mini-break from work

I looked at tomorrow's schedule and saw that there's quite a few people scheduled to work.   So I requested to be cancelled if possible.  I'm the first on the cancellation list, so provided no one calls out, it might happen.  I won't know until two hours before work, though.

I'm going to expect to be going into work unless I hear otherwise.  If I get it, sweet.  If not, oh well.

Burn out

I think I've become a little burned out.  I've noticed my temper getting shorter and my sarcasm level rising.  Less patience and more easily frustrated.  This isn't just at work, but outside of it as well.


The problem is that with the holidays upcoming, vacation approval requests are becoming few and far between.  I was able to get a couple of days off next month, but that's a month away.  I could use a mini-break now.  I'm assigned to work the November holidays so no dice there.  I tried to ask for a another non-holiday day off this month but was rejected.  In all fairness, I did request a day in which the schedule was already pretty light to begin with.  And as I've heard others are also not having much luck with their own time off requests, I decided not to try for another one.

I thought about a mental health day, i.e., calling in sick, but I'm not one to typically do that.  The few times I have done that, I always felt so incredibly guilty that I didn't really enjoy the day.  I feel like if I'm physically healthy, that there's no reason I shouldn't be at work.  There was one mental health day about 6-7 years ago that truly was a mental health day:  I ended up going to my doctor to get a psych referral due to depression.

Unfortunately, I have a few scheduled days at Job 3 that are going to take up my free days from Job 1, and I can't really cancel on them either.  Especially since I cancelled a whole bunch of December days on them because of family stuff.

Time to myself at home is also at a premium.  The little ones have been very challenging and/or demanding as of late.  Lately, the better half seems to be slacking with the house stuff, and find myself having to pick that slack up.

OK, so more time off from work isn't happening.  More time to myself at home isn't happening.  Question is, how can I make the most of whatever time I do have?  I need to think about that.

In the meantime, I need to keep my tongue in check.  Being a true Sagittarius, I am able to put my foot in my mouth with relative ease.  That's gotten me in trouble in more ways in my life than I could count.  I don't need it getting me in trouble at home or at work.

November 7, 2016

The day has finally come

Election Day tomorrow for those in the U.S.  If you haven't voted yet, be sure to do so.  I'm going after work to vote.

I still am getting over the fact that my polling place is in someone's garage.

You see, in California, you can make a little extra money by hosting a polling place.  All you do is provide the space; they provide the staff and the supplies.  I was nervous about going to cast a vote in someone's garage until I researched the law and the process.  It's all strictly above-board.  The whole thing is tightly monitored and is as kosher as a Hebrew National hot dog.  

Seriously, Hebrew Nationals are the bomb of hot dogs.  So for me to say that means I do trust this voting process, at least in this garage.  I don't know about the rest of the country, but I feel I can trust this.  But still, the fact that I'm deciding the fate of the country's government in a garage is still a bit of a mind trip.

There's not a lot of political talk at work.  For most of my coworkers, I can't tell who is going to vote for which candidate.  I also have not disclosed my choice; if asked, I reply that I haven't decided yet.  And to be honest, until I cast that vote, I can change my mind.  Overall, this lack of political discussion isn't a bad thing, as it means there's not a lot of political tension among us.

November 5, 2016

Decisions, decisions

I am involved in a work committee.  I joined when I first became a permanent employee because I wanted to get involved and make an active contribution to the hospital's nursing practice...well, more contributions that my taking care of patients makes.  It's been good.  I've briefly served on other panels and committees, but this committee has really been an in-depth experience.  I'm part of a project that will hopefully lead to a practice culture change on the floor.

The co-chairs are stepping down at the end of the year.  One member has decided to take on the challenge and volunteered.  He started training for the position.  He's still a fairly green nurse--only 2 years in--but he's good at dealing with administration and the PR stuff.  And he's ambitious and driven.

I was asked by one of the current chairs if I would consider being the other co-chair, because they felt I would be a good candidate:  I have several years of experience, I'm certified and I'm relatively sane (she called it "level-headed").  I said I would consider it.  And I still am.  I do have to give an answer either way pretty soon.

On one hand, it would be good for the career, I could get even more involved and have more influence, and it's not forever.   I get on all right with the new co-chair so there wouldn't be any personality conflicts, at least on my part.  I'm also the only representative from nights, though that's no big surprise.  Having to go to a meeting that is scheduled for 2 hours after you get off of work is quite the hassle.  But at least the nights POV will be seriously considered in any of these projects.

On the other hand, it's extra work (albeit paid work), there's a lot of responsibility and duties involved, I would have to be awake during daylight hours more than I'd like, and it's not as though I can't stay involved in things as just a regular member.  I also don't want to deal with administration any more than I have to.  Though the one time I did have to speak to the hospital CEO--in front of a whole room of people, no less--I did a pretty good job.  So my coworkers tell me.

If I could be the co-chair that stays in the background and maintains the machinery, while the other co-chair takes on the role of Suit and Spokesperson of the committee and deals with all the public things that I don't want to deal with, that could work.

I have to think about it.

On an unrelated note, when did my spell-checker decide to go all British English on me?  I know I use a lot of British English phrases, but I do keep the spelling of things American English.

October 28, 2016


I have decided that I need to learn Tagalog.  I work with a lot of Filipino nurses and their conversations often lapse into an English/Tagalog hybrid.  And yes, I'm damn curious as to what they're saying.   I'm not personally offended by being excluded from the conversation because of lack of Tagalog knowledge, I'm just curious.

Actually, given the high Filipino population in the area, learning Tagalog would probably be a wise move for me.  Just like learning Spanish will be a boon in this area as well.  I should consider Tagalog after I get Spanish down pat.  I started working on that again...I thought that I didn't have the time to do it, so I made the time.  I discovered that I can use my Rosetta Stone on both my cell phone and tablet, so now I spend my lunch breaks in an empty office saying random Spanish words into a microphone.  

I used to walk around the hospital during lunch breaks, but now that I'm exercising more at home, I think I can skip doing laps around the campus.

I thought about refreshing the Italian (i.e., what comes out of my mouth when attempting to speak Spanish), but I don't think I would be able to put it to as much use.  I don't know any Italian speakers to talk to in person; it would just be online.  Whereas with Spanish--and Tagalog--I'd have plenty of people in-the-flesh to practice with.

*  Or "Hello."  Blame Google for any English-Tagalog mistranslation.

October 21, 2016

Social Media

I have a Facebook account.  I used to use it a lot when younger, but my usage has dropped off.   I got too tired of reading all the political and social diatribes.  All I want is to connect and catch up with someone, and instead I have to wade through all of these rants, memes, links, and other junk coming for each and every side and POV just to get to them.  And of course, each believes their POV is the only accurate one.

All I want to see when I get onto Facebook is what my friends are up to...and funny cat videos.  There's always time for a funny cat video.  Or seven.

Another reason is that IMO, it's more fun actually living life than posting about living life.   And as one gets older, one learns that every moment of one's life need not be documented in nauseating detail.  Unless this is your chosen career, of course.

I don't do the whole "must friend everyone I work with."  I mostly wait until after we have parted ways at the workplace to add them.  I have a few current coworkers there because I genuinely like them, between both workplaces, I don't see them regularly enough to keep them in the loop on what's going on, and/or we're playing the same online games and there's perks to having a Facebook friend connected with it.  Sometimes, it's more than one of the above.

So I am more likely to connect with co-workers after we're no longer working together.  However, I am now in an awkward spot:  a former coworker has switched facilities, joined me at Job #3 and is now in a supervisory position over me.  We were peers when we were working together the first time.  But she was ready for a change in her career, and Job #3 made her an offer she could not refuse.

Now, as a rule, I post very little on Facebook that is work-related;  if I do post something, it's either positive as hell or at least neutral.  I also do not post anything too personal about myself.  Nor do I go all virtual-PDA with the better half...seriously, some people wonder if he even exists as I talk about him so little online.  Then again, he talks very little about me, so we both prefer it that way.  It's the little ones that get all our press.

So I'm not worried about shooting myself in the foot about posting something that I should not have.  And I genuinely like her as a person and she likes me.  But now that she's above me in the pecking order, I'm not sure how I feel about this social media relationship.  I'll have to think on this.  I wouldn't go so far as to de-friend her, especially as 1.  I do like her, 2. it'd be awkward as hell, and 3. my days at job #3 will be coming to an end soon, and that will resolve the problem.  If I still feel awkward about it, I may move her to a more restricted list for a while, and at least keep her supplied with pics of the little ones.

Moving on...

I have a Twitter account, but it's strictly professional, as in my real name.  I tried having a Meriwhen one but updating that and this blog was too much.  I tried having a personal one but never found myself reaching for it often.  Plus, Twitter is more geared towards shorter but more frequent usage.  And the fact that Twitter tends to be a lynch mob.   So I just have the professional account.  I use it to share information and network.

And that's the extent of what I use, for all of my web-savvy.   If you really want to find me online, the best place is here or at the nursing forum.

October 14, 2016

Something in psych that I always find amusing:  a patient will dislike, even hate me, with a complete and utter passion...and 30 minutes later, I'm their BFF...and another 30 minutes later, I'm back to being their mortal enemy.   Lather, rinse, repeat.   Sometimes these shifts are due to medications given, sometimes they are due to memory issues, sometimes they are due to the psychiatric disorder itself.  Or all of the above.  

One thing is certain though:  I never ever take it for granted that a patient likes me.  More than once I've found that the patient that was all hearts and flowers and cooperative with me yesterday is defiant and lobbing chairs at me today.  So I approach each day--and often, each and every interaction with the patient period--as though I don't know where I stand.  And I also stand a little further back than I can think they could throw that chair.  It is much safer that way.

October 7, 2016

Some non-nursing stuff

Having settled down in a permanent position, I now have new health insurance.  It's through the same organization.  I'm not too worried about coworkers looking up my info, as the EMR software is very good about tracking such things with employee accounts.  If anything, they'll find out that I'm really not lying about my age.

So earlier this year, I got a physical physical, a psychiatric physical, and decided to address a few chronic problems.

Overall, I'm in good working order.  Labs are beautiful:  total cholesterol is 111 despite my cheese addiction.  Fasting blood glucose is in the 80s.  Blood pressure is well-controlled with my one medication.  I'm exercising about 5 days a week so that's probably helping all those along as well.  I could stand to lose some weight, but that's nothing new.

Psychiatrically, I'm doing well.  Been feeling pretty good.  The medications received a slight dosage tweak, but no major med additions or changes.  The psych NP offered me the option of a seeing a therapist...I declined for right now.  I've done it in the past and have had hit-or-miss results.  Plus I don't have anything going on that I really need therapy for.  I'm coping with my father's death pretty well, though December is going to be hell on wheels.  But I'll worry about that in December.

Most of my chronic physical problems are already as controlled as they can be, so there wasn't really anything they could address.  But there's always one...

Long story short:  sinus problem unresponsive to most treatments and is now playing havoc with my ear.  It's to the point that I've incurred some low-level hearing loss in that ear.  Hopefully it's a temporary loss.  It's an annoyance, because I feel impaired on that one side.   Allergy and sinus meds are not working.  And I've been purchasing so much decongestant from the pharmacy that I'm sure they're wondering if I'm running a meth lab.


The nice thing about going through the same organization as my job is that referrals are easy, fast and have minimal preauthorization hassles.  Plus they can all access my account, so no need to deal with releases of information.  I left my PCP's office in the morning and by the afternoon, ENT was calling me to schedule.

So since then, I've had several visits, several tests including a CT, and trials on several medications.  Nada.  I'm now at the point where I've been referred to the ENT surgeon.   Great, the possibility of surgery.  Right when I've taken the full-time job and become the primary breadwinner.  At least they could do most sinus surgery on a same-day outpatient basis, with downtime of only a week or so.

Fortunately, he's not ready to operate just yet.  I'm on the latest trial of two medications, and at the end of the month I go for another hearing test and re-eval.  Unfortunately...these two meds don't seem to be helping much.  Though my hearing seems to have improved a little.

September 28, 2016

Got both my flu shot and PPD done today.  My left arm is about ready to fall off.

September 21, 2016

In which Meriwhen contemplates resigning

Yes, resigning.  Not from my main job--I love it too much to want to do that--but from Job #3, which is per-diem days.

I've been thinking about this on-and-off for a while.  But as I was getting ready to drive 1.5 hours in the rain to drive to the site I'm working at today, I really realized that I'm racking up a lot of 6-day (and even a couple of 7-day) work weeks and that I'm not getting much free time anymore.

It's not that I'm unhappy at Job #3.  I find it interesting, though dull at times as it's more office and telephone work than direct patient care.  It's a great organization that I'm proud to be affiliated with.  I also get the chance to work with amazing people are some of their sites.  But it's not 100% what I want right now.  I was ready to step back somewhat from the bedside and look for something of a slower pace, I would work at Job #3 full-time.  I see a job like Job #3 as the last job I take before I retire.  Right now, I want to remain in the trenches.

Leaving Job #3 would bring me down to having only 1 job (if you recall, I cut Job #2 (the agency job) free about a year ago).  I'm not used to the idea of having only 1 job.  But then again, I'm also not used to working a permanent position, as the last permanent position I had ended in 2011.  Since that time, it's been the per-diem life until this year when I agreed to be tied down to a permanent position again.

So it's not as though I'm working two part-time/per-diem jobs and need the income from Job #3 just to survive.  I don't even need it as an extra source of income:  my main job compensates me more than handsomely.  More so than I originally planned for in my budgeting.  And if I really needed extra money, I could pick up at least 1 extra shift per pay-period, if not more.

As for the free time...there are some things I do want to be working on that I have been neglecting since I've been working a lot.  The better half doesn't mind my working, though with flip-flopping between days and nights, he is concerned I'm not getting enough rest.  Little one #1, however, is starting to mind.  He gets upset when he finds out that I'm working on a day he thought I was to be off.

Little one #2 has no comment.

So here I am, seriously consider dropping my letter of resignation.  I reviewed my calendar and saw that I have a few more days scheduled through the middle of next month.  Since I have to put in my resignation while on-site, I think I will wait until I have honored that commitment, and then drop the letter.

September 17, 2016

Right, crush my spirit

It's rather disheartening to learn that the IV saline lock that I placed--which I thought was pretty darn good--was deemed inadequate.  I hit it on the first stick, it flushed well, no problems noted...but to those that know more about IV therapy than I, it wasn't a good job.  Bah.

Yeah, I know: practice, practice, practice.  But given how I float around a lot, I don't always get the patients who need IVs started.  And it's kind of hard to practice on myself.

I think it's time to take an official IV therapy and phlebotomy course.

August 26, 2016

A little break

After working a stretch on the psych-medical unit, it was a nice break to be floated to psych stepdown.  I spent the last several shifts wrestling with IV machines, suction and oxygen tubing.  Sometimes all with the same patient.  And all the call bells that go off when the bed alarms are triggered!  When there's a restless patient, it seems like their bell never stops ringing no matter how low we set the sensors to.

I have remembered that I dislike suctioning.  Phlegm is my kryptonite.

In an attempt to accelerate my getting up to med-surg snuff, I got a couple of med-surg reference books for my Kindle.  While I will always be a fan of paper books, the Kindle makes it possible for me to have all of my reference books with me while at work.   Plus I love the fact that I can order it and have it delivered within minutes.

I've also started looking at a few med-surg and LTAC CEUs.  I have to accumulate 150 of them by 2021 to renew my certification, and only 51% need to be in psych; the rest can be in whatever I choose.  So I'm going to kill two birds with one stone there.

Anyhow, back to stepdown.

Loads of manic patients.  The mania is very strong in the air as of late.

I generally tend to get along with patients in mania, though just watching and listening to them wears me out.   The rapid hyperverbal speech, the hyperactivity, the flight of ideas as they jump from topic to topic, the delusions of grandeur…it really is exhausting to keep up with them.  Still, it's a nice change from answering call bells.

It’s frustrating when PRNs don’t slow them down at all, especially when it’s the middle of the night and they’re waking other patients up.  I tell them repeatedly that as long as they can keep it quiet they don't have to return to bed (some of my peers do not agree with this strategy.  I am of the mindset that as long as they are behaving or not in danger of being hurt, I don't have the right to force them into their room).  The problem is that they’ll be calmer and quieter for a minute or two.  Then the voice and energy level naturally starts escalating again.  

At one of my previous jobs, we would utilize that energy for good and have manic patients fold towels or tidy up the common area.  Depending on the patient, they might get a broom and dustpan and be put on sweeping patrol.  Of course, this is if the patient is willing, which they usually were since they had all this energy to burn.

But it’s harder to manage at night.  During the evening, when everyone else is awake and active, having a manic patient or three is one thing.  At night, when the goal is to have all the patients sleeping…well, that’s another. Sometimes the PRNs need to be “strongly” encouraged.  While I hate pressuring patients into taking medications, it's better doing that than to have them wake the psychotic patients who would pose an even  bigger problem if THEY were awake.

For all the exhaustion working with manic patients can provide, one of my favorite things is to listen to two manic patients have a conversation.  They will be discussing two entirely different things at high speed and yet still understand each other perfectly.  It's amazing to watch.

But the manic patients are asleep tonight...for now, anyway.  It's the religiously preoccupied and delusional that are awake and roaming.  I've been lectured once already on how I'm going to hell, which is a nice change from just being told that I'm going to hell:  at least now I'm having the why-I'm-going-to-hell explained to me.  I'm apparently holding another patient hostage.  But at least the patients are being so polite and friendly about it with me.

July 30, 2016

Psych nurse grieving process...or, it's been a while, hasn't it?

It was a tough few months getting over my dad's death.  I think because his death was expected, even down to the when and where, I think I probably went through the stages of grief in a pretty skewed fashion.  Denial was short.  I think I skipped anger and bargaining, and I came to acceptance really fast.

Depression, on the other hand...well, I've been stuck in that for months.  It came on last, and it's only recently that I feel like I started hitting the upswing and working my way out of it.

I think in the entire time since he passed, I only had one or two days where I broke down and cried.  I don't think it was (is?) dysfunctional grieving; I just didn't have it in me to cry a lot.  I didn't cry the moment he passed, I didn't cry during the just took several months before I did break down.

His birthday and Fathers' Day have passed since he did.  Both tough days.  I can't remember the exact day I broke down and lost it, but I'm sure it was on one of those days.

I found an old voice mail from him on my cell phone...rare because I almost never save messages; rarer still that he actually left a recording.  I found it and immediately ripped it to a mp4, then made a backup copy.  Well, copies.  And then locked the ones on my Mac so they can't be deleted.  It's comforting that I will always be able to hear the sound of his voice.  And of course, I have plenty of pictures of him.  He's in no danger of being forgotten by me anytime soon.

I even talked about him with a patient who was grieving the loss of their spouse.  It was nice but it did get both of us we switched to talking about our dogs to cheer ourselves up.

I sent him back to my mom.  Her grieving has been harder than mine, understandably, and she felt that she needed him back home to feel better.  Within a hour of that phone call, I was at the FedEx store with him, making arrangements to overnight him.  I learned that he's now 11 pounds.  I also learned that FedEx will not ship human cremains.  And that it was incredibly hard to assign a monetary value to dad for insurance purposes.

So I took him to Office Max, got mailing supplies, rewrapped the box in plain brown paper (the nice FedEx people had done a nice job of packaging him for me, but the box had their logo all over it), and sent him overnight by USPS.  Having learned my lesson from FedEx, I listed my dad as "mementos" valued at $100.  

Sorry, Dad.  But I had to get you home.

Of course, my father being my father, he didn't get their overnight.  He got waylaid at a border city.  I told my mother that one of the things that dad wanted to do but never got around to it was to go see Mexico, and so he was making up for lost time.  She thought that was funny.  Then he got stuck in Kansas, and my mother told me, "your father always has to take the long way."  Our family does have a warped sense of humor.

But he eventually made it home, and my mom is much happier.  In a way, so am I.  I think he needed to be with her as much as she needed him to come home.

I'm still working on the motivation and the isolation.  I'm making an effort to be social again, both in person and online.  I started attending the knitting group again.  I need to start going to the nursing forum and doing my work.  They've been very patient with me through all of this and I've grateful, but I feel it's time for me to get back to earning my kibble there.  

I am enjoying nights on the permanent job...not sure if I'll ever return to days.  I still dabble with Job #3 from time to time just to keep my foot in their system.  It's such a tough nut to crack into in the first place, that I'd be a fool to sever all ties with them.  

I know that I can sometimes be slow on the uptake, but only recently that I realized that my main job is the weekend position that I had applied for more than 4 years ago but did not get because I did not have my BSN.  And it is the psych-medical position that I spent an hour alone talking to the director about.  I don't know if she remembers me from that time.  I hesitate to ask.  But here I am, I finally got here...and happened to learn about nursing and about myself along the way.

I'm even started thinking about starting the MSN...decided that I'm going to pursue a general one or one in education.  I decided against becoming a nurse practitioner.  From what I've been seeing, it's mostly prescribing and limited patient interaction.  I'd rather have the patient interaction.

February 24, 2016


I will admit that when my father died, I was the only one who didn't break into torrents of hysterical tears.  I still haven't, though there have been times I've gone misty-eyed and sad.  I was the stoic one who kept an even keel while the arrangements were made, while we got through the holidays, while we helped our mother tie up things with dad's estate.  His remains were sent to me to hold onto to while my mom decided what to finally do with them.  So I've been the literal (figurative?  I always get them confused) rock in all of this...though I've pretty much written off ever enjoying my birthday ever again, at least for the foreseeable future, because now there's too much sadness linked to it.

I find that my grief has been manifesting in other ways.

I withdrew from life quite a bit.  Haven't been talking to anyone I didn't need to.  Slept a lot.  Lost motivation to do lots of things I used to enjoy.  Gained back 10 of the pounds that I lost (though I'm still down about 15 lbs from my starting point so that wasn't too horrible) because I wasn't exercising anymore.  Felt lost, alone, abandoned.   Didn't write here or anywhere for that matter.  Was sketchy in my moderating appearances at the nursing forum.  Threw myself into work because it was the one thing I HAD to do.  In fact, work was a welcome distraction because for most of the shift, I could focus on what I had to do.

At least I didn't drink myself into oblivion or use other forms of self-medication.  My bottle of alprazolam still has a layer of dust on it, its last use being on the flight back here.

The funny thing is, I didn't realize that I was grieving until someone at work asked me how things were going since the death.  She had recently lost a parent too, though her loss was completely unexpected, whereas we knew my dad was going to die on a specific date or the next day.  When answering her, I thought about how I was handling things...and realized all of the previous paragraph.      And when another coworker talked about some of the things he was going through after the loss of his parent, I realized what he was saying sounded a lot like what I was feeling.


I'd love to be able to say that in realizing what I was feeling, that I was miraculously able to overcome it in the course of a couple of days and be back to my normal, chipper self.   And we all know that life isn't THAT easy.

So I continue to chug along, though now I'm making an effort to get motivated to do things.  It hasn't been easy, and I'm taking it a small step at time.

January 6, 2016

New job starts tomorrow.  I'm enjoying my mini-vacation, which has been nothing but rainy days.  Which is good as rain is sorely needed around here.  Plus, rain like this gives me the perfect excuse to laze about.

I'm doing all right with my father's death.  Christmas and New Year's weren't the same without him.  I eagerly went to work on both days so I'd have something to take my mind off of him, and I didn't want to have to be around my mom.  I know, that sounds horrible.  But I just couldn't cope with her and her mood swings right it was either work or take loads of Vistaril.

The gifts I got him for Christmas are still in the garage.  I don't know what I'm going to do with them.