Monday, October 31, 2011

Settling In..

Well, I'm getting used to my new apartment. My neighbors are musicians. Yep. Alt Rock. Sigh. Toulouse is not amused.

I love it nonetheless. Here are the aforepromised photos.

There's been a delay on the house closing. Lawyers. Hopefully, we'll finally finalize it this week. In the meantime, I've been popping up there to check on it and take advantage of the laundry. Yesterday afternoon, I was vacuuming and heard "knock, knock, knock" on the door.

I opened it up and, lo and behold, there was the mayor of my small town holding a small ceramic bowl.

I invited Mr. B in and we chatted for a few minutes. Apparently, his son bought the house and the mayor was unaware of the delay in closing. He was wandering around the property last week, found my collection of wheat pennies in the garage and took them home. When he found out about the delay, he wanted to return the money. He was embarrassed. We walked through the house together and he mentioned some things that 'John-John' wanted to change and asked about the family. I had never really known him, his kids were older than me, but he was my brother's little league coach and shared booster club responsibilities with my mom and several aunts and uncles.

After he left, I burst out in laughter. I was robbed by my mayor! It struck me as incredibly ironic.

Work has been remarkably smooth. The nightmare patient that I had mentioned last time was only with us for a few days and since then, our census has been mostly comprised of easy ortho patients.

No more news on the medschool application front. I'm still 'under review' at all of the other schools. The waiting is impossible. BAH.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Digs

I'm settling into my new apartment. It's a tiny studio in an old Victorian house with ceilings higher than the room is wide...

I'm using an old refurbished library study table for dining.

I last rented a mother-in-law basement apartment, draped in grapevines and filled with books, that I christened the li-burrow. I haven't yet thought of a clever name for this new place. I'll post some more photos when I finally organize the living/bedroom. It's filled with boxes now and not very inspirational.

We have a patient at work. I'm not able to express the turmoil that this patient throws the hospital into when (s)he is here. I've been on the unit for over a year an this is the second visit. It's an incredibly stressful time for nursing staff, manager and hospital administration. This patient only comes to our floor for reasons that I can't go into without violating HIPAA. I can only say that they're unique and awful. I'm not experienced or clever enough to adequately change the details and still portray the magnitude of this person's effect on us. We get extra staff and the nursing supervisor relocates her center of command to our floor for the duration of the patient's stay. It doesn't help with the stress levels of the nursing staff. My manager hand selects the staff assigned to the room. Though he picks his most reliable, most patient and most experienced, it's not an honor.

The last time, the patient stayed 2 months. I'm not looking forward to another two months of complete anxiety before every shift. Bah.

I received my first med school interview offer. I'm thrilled but my loneliness yesterday was amplified in my hunt for someone to share my excitement. I mentioned it to my coworkers but they were more concerned that this means I may not be there next year. My brother disapproves of my ambition (I'm too old) and my west coast friends couldn't talk last night.

I'm still excited though!!

Monday, October 10, 2011


I love books. I adore books. I hoard books. When I moved to Seattle, I culled my library from almost 1000 volumes to 200. Four years later, I moved again and culled 500 more from my collection. When I came back to the east coast 3 years ago, I sent 15 boxes ahead. 2 were clothes, one was packed with keepsakes and 12 were full of my favorite volumes.

I have no problem throwing out anything else. My great grandmother's cake pan? Bah, it's rusted and unusable. The faded notebook that she painstakingly copied recipes into? A treasure! Don't ever ask me to give up my copy of The Quiet American that I read while sipping 'white coffee' next to Hoan Kiem Lake in the sultry Viet Nam mornings.

I would rather lose a finger than the tattered A Tree Grows in Brooklyn that my grandmother read to my mother and then to me when I was a child. I was Francie. Knowing that my niece will pick up the same pages next year (when I pass it on) that 3 other generations have caressed thrills me.

I can't do libraries. I try. Over the years, I've moved a lot. I have a system: move stuff, contact PO, contact banks, get new driver's license and car registration and obtain library card. But I have never returned a library book on time. Not once. While packing yesterday, I came across 3 library books, the only books that I've checked out from the local library since moving here.

I can leave my childhood home without a backward glance (stupid albatross) but returning those books brought tears to my eyes. The one was the last book that I read to my mother before she died.

I drove home and cried. Then, I drove back, paid my $82.15 fine and checked the book out again.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


All five of our isolation rooms are sequestered in one hallway on our unit. I was walking back from helping woundvac dressing change and found myself stopping in each room to chat with the patients. I knew them all well. I chatted with Dean* (MRSA) about his kids; Ira* (VRE) shared his news about his UNOS status; Frances* (MRSA) asked me for a cigarette and we laughed together at the inside joke; and for a few minutes, Robert* (CDIFF and MRSA)and I competed to see who could get the most Jeopardy questions right. He won. Stupid "Sports Venues".

I headed back to the desk and, out of curiosity, checked to see how long my friends on the I-ward had been here. At July 7th, Ira was the newest admission. Three months. Like the others, he's settled in. He has his favorite snacks in the kitchen fridge, a mountain of pillows to burrow into, piles of linens, dressing changes and unopened Nepro spilling out of cupboards and closet. Photos of his dog are on the wall and an extension cord keeps his cellphone and nook within reach.

After her transplant, my mother lived in the hospital for 11 months. We settled her in as best we could with soft throws, poster-sized photos of family on the wall, homemade hospital gowns, radio, magazines, toys, anything that we could think of to make it more comfortable. She hated it. She had no interest in anything but getting home.

I don't see that with my I-ward friends. Both Robert and Frances have been on the verge of going home several times over the months but they got stressed, become enraged and argued with the discharge planners. Then they had relapses, Robert became septic and Frances' tissue flap reopened.

Over the weeks, I've learned bits and pieces about my patients lives. Ironically, the time they spend in the I-ward is less isolating than their home lives. They each have a different story but, without exception, they are lonely and enjoy the 'perks' of living in a hospital: constant company, all the food they can eat, any need/desire filled by just pressing a call bell button.

Over the last year, I've noticed a steady increase of 'social admissions' to our unit. I think it's due to the aging local population, the depressed economy and the cutbacks at the nearby psychiatric hospital. A lot of its inpatients have been reevaluated to outpatient status. The recent flooding also destroyed 2 nearby nursing homes and countless homes.

It's scary and sad to me, that the awfulness of being in a hospital is actually preferential to what awaits outside.

Though my mom never made it out of her hospital stay, she had something better to look forward to, to work for. We all, up until the very end, had hope and desire that she'd make it home. In that way, we were fortunate.

No news on the med school application front.