OK kids, I have a good excuse for being slack the last few days:
That's Clive, pretty darned unwell on Thursday. I ended up taking him to the Children's Hospital that night since he was having such a hard time swallowing - so hard that he woke up positively spewing all the saliva he couldn't swallow. They ended up suctioning a nasty looking hunk of mucus out of his throat and he was much better after that. Well, that and the two ice pops they gave him. It's a virus so there's not much else they could do, but it was enough.
He's on the mend now, although the rash that came with the virus is still ugly looking. Look for me getting back on the blogging track this week.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
OK kids, I have a good excuse for being slack the last few days:
Monday, October 18, 2010
Q: So, Mooselet - you're a nurse?
A: Yes. I'm a Registered Nurse both in my home state of Massachusetts and my adopted state of Queensland. Although now that Australia has undertaken national registration it may be more accurate to say I'm licensed in Australia.
Q: Have you always wanted to be a nurse?
A: Yeah, probably. I mean I went through a lot of phases as a kid as to what I wanted to be when I grew up. These included a garbage collector, a ballerina, a vet, a writer, an accountant... I was all over the shop. But I remember performing surgery on my stuffed toys and always taking care of our pets when they were sick/pregnant/giving birth. So why not a vet? Frankly the thought of dealing with various parasites in animals grossed me out. And despite knowing I wanted to do something where I helped people, I kinda skipped over nursing because I had a picture in my mind of nurses being rather subservient. This was very stupid and I have no explanation other than no one ever told me otherwise and I never asked. It wasn't until the late 80s when I saw Dana Delany's portrayal of nurse Colleen McMurphy in China Beach that I began to understand how wrong I was. And it wasn't until I dealt with the nurses who took care of Poppa Mooselet in 1995 that I was hit with a lightening bolt and knew that nursing is what I wanted to do.
Q: Where do you work?
A: I work in the public health system here in Queensland in what I have dubbed The Very Large Public Hospital That Employs Me (TVLPHTEM). Queensland Health doesn't like its employees to speak publicly, so even though most people could figure out where I work with a little thought (or, you know, by actually knowing me) I won't name the hospital outright. And of course, anything I say here on my job reflects MY views and not the views of Queensland Health.
Q: What sort of nursing do you do?
A: I work in oncology.
Q: Oncology? By that you mean...
A: Cancer. I work with patients who have cancer. I administer chemotherapy and other supportive treatments such as blood products or fluids in a day therapy unit within TVLPHTEM.
A: Yeah, I get that 'oh' a lot. Which is almost always accompanied with a face that says surely I work in the most depressing place on earth. Often the subject gets changed. Sure we all support various cancer groups - breast cancer, leukemia - but to see it up close every day? Don't mention the war!!
But here's the thing. I don't work in the most depressing place on earth. I work with a bunch of amazing nurses who treat some very inspiring patients. Yes, a fair few of our patients die of their disease, or from complications of treatments. And yes, it's always sad when it happens. Because our patients come in very frequently for extended periods of time we get to know them and their families pretty well. There are times to be serious, but there are a lot of times for laughs, too. We know sometimes all we're giving them is time. But that time is precious to them and their loved ones. And to be part of a team that gives that to them is a privilege, frankly.
Then there are the patients - and there are many - who beat their disease. And to see their faces when they tell you their scan has come back clear and to know you've been a part of that is pretty damn awesome.
Q: What kinds of cancer do you treat?
A: Everything. We see those with "solid" tumours - cancers of bodily organs and tissues like breasts, bowels, skin - those with "blood" tumours - leukemias and lymphomas - and those who need a bone marrow transplant. We're a one-stop shop and because we're in a hospital we get patients when they are very unwell and need to be admitted. We give chemotherapy via IV, via injections into fatty tissue (subcutaneous), via lumbar punctures (into the fluid surrounding your spine), via the space around abdominal organs (intraperitoneal) and occasionally into the ventricles of the brain. We give patients blood or platelets when they need them, shots to get their bone marrow to pump out more white blood cells so they don't end up in the hospital with an infection, antibiotics to treat those who end up with infections, IV fluids for those who get dehydrated because they can't drink, and lots of TLC.
And I haven't even mentioned the Apheresis section of our unit, which I have nothing to do with other than to pinch their chairs when they have some available.
Q: Wow. That's a lot. So you guys are busy?
A: That is an understatement. Manic Mondays, Feral Fridays... It is not a place for those who aren't willing to work their backsides off. And it's only getting busier. I think we average 60-70 treatments a day Monday-Friday. This is why I am so freakin' tired by the end of the day. We see patients over the weekend as well, but far less. Around 15-30 if I had to guess.
Q: You can tell me, is Big Pharma hiding the cure for cancer?
A: No. Cancer is not a simple thing. It is so complex that there is no "cure-all" being hidden in a Big Pharma laboratory. How can we cure cancer when we don't fully understand what causes it? Oh sure, we can outline the process but why does exposure to a carcinogen cause one person to develop cancer but not another? We don't know.
Q: Can you tell me if this lump means I have cancer?
A: No. Go see your doctor. I'm a nurse - I treat, not diagnose. If you have any lumps, bumps or growths you're concerned about go see your doctor. Get your skin checked regularly. Have your Pap smears, mammograms, & various oscopies. Guys, suck it up and get your prostate checked. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.
And that's pretty much what I do. People often say to me they couldn't do what I do, but I couldn't do anything else.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
I really need a warm shower. After weeks of gloomy weather and rain, today dawned with gale force winds and downright chilly weather for a Queensland spring. And now I'm totally grossed out by a scene in one of my fav shows, Deadliest Catch. So without further ado, here is this week's skin:
More skin, warmer weather I hope, next week.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
We've had some rain lately. How much rain? A lot of rain. It's been raining off and on for weeks now, with the major dams reaching 100% capacity last week. Then last night we got hit with major downpours. The area where I live got over 200 millimeters, or nearly 8 inches, overnight.
That's a lot of water.
There's evidence that our driveway went underwater after we left home this morning. Parts of the back yard were under. A runoff river ran through our yard. My pool runneth over. A monster pothole make my commute home a leg-cramping nightmare (I drive a manual).
It was wet.
You can see some reader submitted pictures to The Courier Mail here. The reader pics are more interesting than the "official" pictures, although if you want to see those I'm sure you can find the link on the CM homepage.
The rain eased off today, with just the odd shower passing overhead this evening. Word is we'll be dried out by Thursday. Then the rain comes back for Sunday. Just enough time for The Hermit & Sparky to clean out the gutters.
What were the measurements on the Ark again?
Saturday, October 09, 2010
Whilst I sit here and digest the lovely meal The Hermit took me out for to celebrate our 10 year anniversary (back some, oh, nearly 7 weeks ago... shush, we're busy) including my second favourite ice cream, here's some skin for you. Tonight's theme - the twofer:
More skin, less digestion, next week.
Friday, October 08, 2010
When I was back Stateside a few months ago, I managed to catch up with a couple of old friends:
Was good to see them again. While I love my new home in Oz, it's friends like these and family I miss the most.
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Bless you. Gesundheit. Really, that's how you spell it. Took me 5 minutes to figure that out.
Do you suffer from ACHOO? Well of course we all sneeze from time to time, more so if we're sick or have hay fever or other allergic conditions. But ACHOO? It's more than the sound we make when we sneeze, and two of my kids have it.
ACHOO stands for Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helioophthalmic Outburst. Mad props for the hard work the person who thought that up. You can read the Wiki article here, but in a nutshell it's a reflex that results in uncontrollable sneezing when exposed to stimuli, mostly bright lights. So walking from a dark place, shade or from inside a building, into bright sunlight triggers a sneezing episode.
Both Her Majesty and Clive have sneezing fits that are characteristic of ACHOO. Their sneezes are generally limited to 3-4, and Her Majesty seems more sensitive than Clive. I've never noticed it in Miss Thing or Sparky, nor with The Hermit. And while my eyes are extraordinarily sensitive to the sun I usually don't sneeze. But somehow we've passed it on to Her Majesty and Clive. Whoops. It's really not an issue, but it is one of those quirks that we just live with.
Anything oddly funky in your family? ACHOO? Webbed toes? Third eye? Discuss...
Anyone of a certain cultural background and of a certain age will recognize this picture. Growing up in the States during the 70s, Schoolhouse Rock was an awesome way of learning some basic concepts, including electricity. As humans, we have our own electrical system in our bodies - it's how our heart works. An electrical impulse tells our hearts when to pump to send blood, and hence oxygen, to our cells. So not only does electricity light our houses, keep us warm and allow me to work longer on my netbook than the piss-poor battery would let me, it keeps us alive.
Do we all recognize this? You may have to enlarge it.
Since my readership is highly intelligent, I'm going with 'yes'. It's your heartbeat. Or what your heartbeat looks like on an electrocardiography tracing. ECG for short. EKG is okay too. OK, so technically it's an interpretation of the electrical activity of your heart, but let's not go too deep. We all know what it is. Now, what do you think of it? Normal? Not normal? Yeah, it looks pretty good, doesn't it? It's a normal ECG tracing.
Now what about this one?
Looks kinda different, doesn't it? But not a lot. Something isn't quite right... maybe. Or not. What do you think?
And this one?
Oh yeah, that's not cool. But what's wrong? Do you know? No? I'm the nurse and I should know, you say? Oh...
We all know this one, right? Flatline. No heartbeat.
So what's my point? Up until yesterday those comments were pretty much what went through my head when I looked at an ECG. I know good, and I know bad. But all the stuff in between - and there's a lot of stuff in between - I didn't have a clue about. It just looked... off. Wrong. But what was wrong? Dunno.
And why should I care? I mean, I work in oncology not cardiology. For those unfamiliar with medtalk, oncology=cancer and cardiology=heart. Keep up, please. And sure, I don't see a lot of ECGs. But here's the thing - people with cancer aren't limited to just their cancer in terms of their health. Sometimes they develop chest pain. Sometimes their chemotherapy screws with their heart. Sometimes they get sick. And when those sometimes happen, we need to do an ECG. And I was getting very uncomfortable not being comfortable with them.
So I did something about it. Myself and another nurse from my unit took a 2 day ECG course and it was really good. The nurse teaching it was obviously very knowledgeable yet kept it very simple and to the point. He was very open and casual, making it easy to ask questions. In short it was time very well spent. And now I can say - with a bit of study - whether or not the ECGs we do in our unit require more attention.
Now, why am I bothering telling you this? Most of you aren't nurses and don't give a flying fig about ECGs, unless you're having chest pain and someone is attaching more wires to you than what comes out of a typical computer. I'm telling you this because too often people get comfortable with not knowing. They don't know why something is the way it is and since it technically isn't their job to know, they don't bother finding out. As an everyday example, a recent report showed that 49% of US adults don't know how long it takes the Earth to circle the sun. I'm so NOT making that up. That's nearly HALF of the adult population of one of the most powerful nations on the planet who can't tell you the definition of a year. And I'd bet most of those people aren't even embarrassed about their ignorance.
So if there's something you don't know a lot about, go and find out about it. Is it something your kids are studying in school that you can't help them with because you don't know? Something that would enhance your job? Hell, something you want to know for shits and giggles? Go do it. Start with Google and Wikipedia but then go and read articles and books by reputable people who know their subject.
Nobody is asking you to be an expert, but enrich yourself just a little. You'll love yourself for it. And then you can brag about it on the internet.
* - ECG number 2 is right ventricular hypertrophy, and number 3 is ventricular fibrillation. Number 2 requires long term medication, number 3 requires me grabbing the crash cart and the phone to call doctors NOW.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Monday, October 04, 2010
About this time of night - well in reality about an hour ago - I start to hit the wall. I get up before 5am so I can get ready for work and out of the bathroom before The Hermit has to get up and get himself ready for work. While he's getting ready, I have my morning cup of tea and breakfast whilst getting lunches ready for the younger kids and myself. Then it's time to get kids out of bed -assuming they're not up, which Clive often is - and ready. This job is shared by The Hermit and myself. Sparky needs to be kept on track, which can be a episode in frustration.
Then it's out the door by 7am and off to work. That's a whole post of its own, but suffice it to say that I work hard and often til the very last second. Or an extra 15 minutes... half an hour... crap I really need to leave NOW before child care gets cranky with me when I'm late.
Then it's dinner, homework, showers, light cleaning, bedtime stories...
Yeah, I'm knackered. And still I'm supposed to find time to exercise, blog, read, work on several things for work.
You know what? Screw it, I'm going to bed.
Sunday, October 03, 2010
I thought I'd delay this week's Skinfest until after the Grand Final, played this afternoon. Not that I really cared about either team, but I thought I would dedicate this Skinfest to the winning team. And that would be the Dragons. Yay. That's about as much enthusiasm as I can muster.
Congrats to the 2010 Dragons on your well deserved Premiership. And that's the best you'll get out of me since my beloved Broncos didn't even make the finals this year. :::sob:::
More skin, more or less on time, next week.
Friday, October 01, 2010
I took this photo some time ago, and then saw it just the other day when I was in that part of the Large Public Hospital That Employs Me:
Her name was Elizabeth Frances Crosse, and she was the head nurse at the Hospital from 1890-1898. What caught my eye was not the goofy cap or the hideous uniform, but the freakin' HUGE cross hanging from her waist. Holy crap! That's either a ginormous crucifix or a flask in disguise.