Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Trauma Chaplain's View of Normal

Based on my now-extensive experience in the ED (and it's starting to freak me out: I'm getting to be the Old Geezer of the Department.  I've even outlasted two trauma surgeons who went on to other things because they needed a break...!):


Things that kill you dead and which you should only do with great caution:


Crossing the street.


Playing golf.


Stepping off a curb carrying coffee.


Things which are very survivable and appear exceedingly safe:


Parachute failure.


Getting kicked in the face by a horse.


Plane crash.




Sorry, mom, but I think the only way for me to live out my life in peace is to take up skydiving.  It's the last safe thing left to do.


PS- Stitches come out in a few days.  Training will resume this week!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Professional Clothes Want You Dead

As if my job wasn't stressful enough.


I went back to work today for the first time since my sudden little surgery (I must have been more tired than I realized- I slept like a rock for over a week and still need a nap every afternoon.  I wonder if my body took the surgery as a chance to say "You work too hard, lady!"), and got a half day in.  But I spent the day feeling like I had a big lump in my throat.  You know, the sort where you feel either like you are about to cry or as if you are being strangled.


I got home, started to change, and discovered the chain of my necklace had worked its way into the buttonhole of my convertible clergy shirt, which I was wearing as a civilian shirt today.  The chain was twisting itself tighter and tighter.


No wonder my job is stressful.  My very clothes are trying to kill me!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Things That Only Happen if You Live With A Priest

Pretty early on, you learn that when exegeting a passage, you will learn much more about the passage than you will use in the sermon itself.  Sometimes, it feels like I put 90% of my research on the back burner.  And granted, that's appropriate, if you have 12-15 minutes to preach on a passage and want to preach something clear and coherent.


Today, we got home, and I noticed M fiddling with my iPhone.  I peeped over his shoulder and found him checking out Olive Tree, my bible reader.


"What version did you use today?"


This started me off on why I have something like 7 versions of the Bible on my iPhone in addition to the EpiscoCalendar and the Lectionary and how the Episcopal church prefers the NRSV but I don't have that one on my Olive Tree yet, and the RSV is close but not quite the same because the translation is a little outdated and probably a bit more patriarchal so we switched to a more updated version to be a bit broader in our theology and did he want to know the history of that and, oh, but I do have the NRSV upstairs in the bookshelf in my New Oxford Annotated Bible Behemoth and....


Somewhere in there, M had gone upstairs.  Soon, he returns.


"So," say I, "What was the question?"


"There is no question," he replies.


"Oooo!  Ask me! Ask me!  I know the answer!"  I believe by this point I was waving my hand in the air.


"But there's no question."


"Yet!  But something must have perplexed you.  You were looking it up."


"I was just wondering about the last line in the reading."


"Ooooo!  How come?  I know the answer!  Ask me! Ask me!"


"I'm going for a run and then to the gym."


"Okay, but when you come home, I know the answer!!"


Siiiiiiiigh.  I haven't yet quite learned to file the info for future reference, have I?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What You Do When You Are Recuperating

I have decided I will read the whole internet this week, or at least as much as I can on each laptop battery charge, inbetween reading Stardust, (I liked the movie because I like fantasy and sparkles and unicorns, okay?  I never did grow out of that stage), the first of the Twilight books, Between A Rock and a Hard Place, a book on women's climbing, and watching Becoming Jane.  And if my girlfriends make it down here, we have Kuch Kuch Hota Hai on tap for them.  M, being a wise, kind, caring, wonderful man, knows when to just put up with the chick flicks.  He also sometimes gives in to my crazier movie urges, like when I begged to watch 2012 for no other reason except "Stuff blows up!"


I've gotten quite a few emails from people wondering when I could pretty please post my next training update.  I didn't realize I had so many fans- thanks, all y'all!  I can't swim for two weeks (while the incisions heal), but hope to be back on the running and biking gridiron soon.  Already, the pain is less than it was before the operation.  Isn't that awful?  I can't even stand up straight at the moment and have no abdominal power, but I can say in dead seriousness that I already have less pain than before surgery.  Damn female bits.


I have gotten some cake out of the deal, though I still have lust for a nice german chocolate cake.  These are the best ones I've seen, so far, though:  with many thanks to Jen at CakeWrecks, with whom I share certain issues!  She doesn't, however, mention the narcotic feeling.  I think someone showed me a film on that once.


My dumb cats are pretty decent feline nursemaids.  They only stepped on my stomach once, and were so upset they ran away to eat on my get-well plant.


In the meantime, though, I'll look forward to getting back to training.  The last few runs I was able to do, (before the lastest wave of monthly agony started with the searing back-stabbing, leg-buckling, porcelain-goddess-worshipping pain), I actually didn't feel like dying.  I felt like I was actually moving, and picking up my legs, and progressing forward.  It was a strange feeling.  Then when i couldn't run, I felt... sad... as if I was missing something.  It was not the same sort of missing as when I miss riding my bike, but is it possible that the running WON'T kill me after all?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Weirdest Place to Be

It's not that I haven't been training this week- I have, but it's been a slower week.  Earlier in the week, I had a few doctor's visits, immediately followed by a huge flare-up of a certain problem that necessitated the doctor's visit in the first place.  In the interest of not providing TMI, I'll just say that the problem is eminently curable, but requires rather sudden surgery.  Fun, fun, no?  So I get next week off to lie on the couch and recuperate.


At the end of the day, I'm very glad that I had a few friends urge me to get that second opinion.  The first doc kept telling me (on at least 4 visits) that everything was normal and that "some people just have it bad like you".  Thank goodness I got the second opinion, with the doc who said "Oh, no, you don't have to live like that, and oh, look, that's the problem there, and we can do something about that!"  I'm absolutely looking forward to being freed from the problem.  And in the meantime, I thank the person who sent me the link to Cake Wrecks and Jen's infamous and hysterical "Sir Clumps-a-Lot" post.  I have informed Martin he will be providing me with cake.


In the meantime, surgery day is Tuesday, so I have about 48 hours left of this particular sort of misery, so you will, dear readers, kindly forgive me for leaving you to go take more Tylenol.  I have found that the only thing that seems to relieve the worst of the pain is copious amounts of painkillers and various other less-than-healthy mechanisms of coping.


My honored teammate Ben and his awesome wife Sarah were made aware of all this, by the way, and we all agree that our team goal is to get back to normal as soon as possible!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Clopping Along

In Team in Training, we get to have an "honored teammate".  This is a nice person who is currently fighting cancer in whose honor we are doing this.  My teammate is my friend Ben, with whom I did my CPE residency a few years ago.  So today, his wife posts on his CaringBridge page that he just finished chemo #4.  Now I would betcha that if I had just finished chemo #4, I'd be curled up in a pile of misery begging for ginger ale, a couch, and a kitty to cuddle.  Oh, and probably whining.


Not Ben.  I think he's actually making a thumbs-up in the picture.


Which means I really have to get my butt out and do a nice run because Ben is way tougher than I am.  So I have fueled with a brownie (and I'll eat an apple and some cheese, too, so I don't feel totally evil) and I am going out to run three miles.  Or 35 minutes.  Whatever comes first.  Because at the end of the day, I'll feel really awful if a bald dude is doing his part of this while I sit around and whine for a sandwich.


In other news, I'm very proud of myself because I just put the rear wheel back on my hybrid.  I think it's time to take out stock in a bike tube company, for this will be the Year of the Flat.  I mastered the taking the wheel OFF part years ago, but always got flummoxed with the putting back ON.  Today, I have put a wheel back ON the rear of my bike, and the chain works.  I feel like a rock star, baby!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bike Candy!! The Farmington Greenway Trail

I got out of a night shift (a once-monthly affair now, instead of two to three a week), and decided to defy yesterday's predictions of thunder and doom in favor of going to the Trails in Motion event.  Am I ever glad I did!


In two and a half (or so) hours of riding, I hung around with a lot of nice people on a variety of bikes and we road around on the Farmington Valley Greenway.  This is a sweet little trail - still under construction - that connects several towns.  Occasionally, it crosses a road, but for the most part it's a fairly level, fast, easy ride.  I didn't do the entire metric century because it left before I even got off work, but I did do the 30 miler.


It had rained a little bit, but the Greenway is in the trees, so between a slightly overcast day and the bit of wet, the weather was completely bearable.  The wet road made for a gritty ride, but I've never minded a bit of road spray hitting me.  It's like bike air conditioning.


I loved the rest stops- they were well spaced, though I only needed to stop at one.  When there are giant containers of Gatorade power, you know you are well set. I had to fight the urge to steal a few Clif bars at each stop, though.  I only ate one.  I only needed one.  But man, did I want to stop and get two at each stop and squirrel them away in my jersey and seat pouch like a squirrel.  Say it with me, people: "Buy your own d*mn Clif bars, cheapskate!" It's basic courtesy to not imitate squirrels while on a group ride.


Among the interesting people I saw:  two guys on speedskates.  They were completely awesome.  They would blow by me like I was standing still.  I had no idea a human being could move at those speeds under his own power.  I also met a lady who had "my" hybrid who was considering upgrading to a road bike.  We had the "I LOVE THAT BIKE" conversation.  I also had a nice chat with the Benidorm mechanics who checked my rear wheel chatter.  (It's still got a low spot, so it's back to the bike shop and this time I think I'll ask for a replacement wheel.  That low spot has been bothering me for a year now.)


All in all, totally worth the price of admission.  Worth staying up after a night shift to do.  And absolutely worth its weight in Clif bars.  And for the record, I only have ONE that came home with me after the ride.  So my morals remain intact.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Lying Awake...

Every staff member does a few extra on-calls each month.  I usually don't mind them, but right now I really hate on-calls.  Remember, I just finished a 9 month stint as a night chaplain and I was quite ready for the days.  Being all alone at night- I don't like it.  I get lonely, and hungry*, and I dread the pager.  Because at night, no one is calling me for anything good.


Enter the ED.  The charge RN and I are on this run of black cloud of anti-karma at the moment.  The last few shifts we've had together, I've spent most of the night up on multiple deaths.  Tonight is no exception.  I'm up to 2 so far, both totally unexpected.  I'm sick of death and dying right now.  I'm tired of mopping up emotional baggage of dsyfunctional or perfectly normal families.  I think that out there somewhere there are people for whom the Emergency Room is unusual, or who go to work and think it's normal for everyone to come home O.K.  I think that might be a nice life to have some day...


I'm also obsessing over the weather and feeling deeply depressed at the incoming thunderstorms.  After last year's dramatic bike crash, I think I am cured of trying to ride events in the rain.  (No more rainy rides for me for a while...) And so I have to sleep.  Because I have a hot bike date tomorrow and I want to ride.  But I'm afraid to tempt karma by turning off the light to catch a nap.  I live in fear of this phone going off and calling me to another disaster that wasn't my fault, but that I'll have to mop up after.


*Of course, "hungry" means I will eat anything in sight that is bad for me.  Vegetables hold absolutely zero appeal in the midnight hours, and I say that as a vegetarian.  In fact, I want a muffin and egg sandwich with bacon, and a side of bacon, with steak fries.  And some grapefruit juice... and maybe a bacon martini.  Don't we all want bacon at 3AM?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Exciting Life of Triathlete Training

Today, I decided I would go to the gym- come hell or high water- and get my workouts in.


I came home after a day involving many pages and the sort of situations you'd expect a trauma chaplain to be up to her knees in.  Yes, the sort of day that makes me want a stiff drink and a comfy couch.  And a kitty.  Let's just say that right now I am very sick and tired of death and withdrawals of life support.  I might take my friend's advice to have "DNR" tattooed across my chest... I hate days like this.  Multiple death days make me want to go do arts and crafts with preschoolers, and end the day reading the Ramona Quimby books to a kindergartner.  In lieu of arts, crafts, or Ramona, I persevered.  I dragged my beloved away from his desk (where he'd been staring at a screen all day, with closed windows.  What he has against natural light is beyond me...) and took him, too.  It was off to the gym with us.


I started strong on the treadmill, with a two minute warm up, and then 2 minute run, 1 minute walk, 3 minute run, 1 minute walk... (are we seeing a pattern, here?)  Unfortunately, by 1.5 miles in, I was about to die of boredom and the cool treadmill with the bouncy track only had the very limited TV that showed just the Vampire Diaries and teenypop music videos.  Before my brain started to bleed from inanity, I gave it up for the pool.  I do, however, maintain that my running is getting marginally better.  I might have progressed from "I'm gonna die, WHEEZE HACK PANT PANT I'm gonna die" to "I'm gonna die, breath-breath, I'm gonna die".  Progress, maybe?


I did really well, I think- I am working hard on technique, working on my breathing, reducing the amount of water I inhale, getting the whole paddling thing down, using my arms to twist my body, floating very well and kicking strong and WHY ARE THE LIGHTS FLASHING???


My first thought was that there was a thunderstorm and they wanted us all out of the water.  But a glance around proved that it was actually the fire alarm.  7 laps into my 15, and we got kicked out of the gym for some fire something somewhere.  We never did find out what it was, but the whole building got evacuated.


Naturally, the nice gym employee was directing us out the main door, and naturally, I ran in the other direction.  My cochlear processor was in my locker.  I didn't want to get stuck outside without my cochlear processor.  Yes, M did point out that I could have run into an inferno, but I think that any lady my age would agree that the benefits of getting to grab one's shorts and a shirt (in addition to the afore-mentioned cochlear processor) are worth it when faced with the prospect of standing outside in your bathing suit for all of fashionable We-Ha to see.


I walked home with my wet swim suit soaking through my clothes, and credited myself with half a work.  We'll try again tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Getting Ready to Run (later)

So today is my running day.  My coach confirms that since I'm a strong biker, it's more okay to miss a day of biking than a day of running.  I missed yesterday's swim due to lightning and the pool closing due to panic.  Today I have to go to work an hour early for a staff retreat with a picnic, but I get home early, which is nice.  Gives me time to try running.  I think I will have a snack when I get home, and THEN run, and maybe avoid the torture I went through on Sunday.


I have a bunch of people who have said they'd like to donate, so I'm just seeing how easy it is for them to actually donate to my page.  My link is over to the RIGHT, but leave me comments or email if it is not working.  Apparently, a whole bunch of you have fought and beat various forms of cancer, so you are raring to help others have hope to defeat theirs.  Personally, I'm sad for my friend Ben, who told us recently that he can't be cured right now.  He can only go from remission to remission.  That's as far as today's technology has gotten us.  Maybe the next few rounds of research will get us all the way to the cure?