This year was certainly a year of change and transitions. I left my job of almost nineteen years, took a seven month sabbatical and then started a new job that is unlike anything I have ever done. It was not easy leaving women’s health and as Christmas rolled around I felt like I needed to make one last craft for my friends so that I could completely close that chapter in my life. I thought about it for a while before it finally dawned on me what the perfect ornament would be.
Five years ago I started decorating the patient room doors with Christmas stockings. You can read about it here. It was my favorite time of the year as every year patients would take them home with them and I would have to replace them. I knew when I left no one would keep up with them, so I took them all with me. I saved two for my scrapbook. So I decided to make two sided ones so that everyone would remember the best room ever (2319) and the craziest nurse ever. I also made on for myself.
At my new job everyone gave me little gifts and I thought I need to make something for them. As some of you may know they refer to endoscopy as the Butt Hut. Well Dr. Aymerich always says that is not formal enough and calls it the RIU. That stands for the rectal investigation unit. So I came up with the idea of using that and the picture of a colon scope. The day I told Allyson about finding a polyp that no one else saw and then telling her it could have turned to cancer, she came up with the tag line. Because she took digital media in high school, I told her what I envisioned and had her put it together for me. It was amazing, perfect and better than I could have ever done. Everyone loved it and probably realized that I have a great sense of humor and am creative.
On the back I put Lead Investigator’s and the three doctors names and Assistant Investigators and the rest of my team. I gave one to my team leader (what SSM calls the managers) and she loved it. She said it made her laugh out loud!
Mole Moral ~ I am blessed to have daughters who are also creative and funny!
Another Christmas has come and gone and another twelve days of Christmas angel has just finished up. This was my sixteenth year and I have been blessed by a total of twenty three families who I’ve rang and run and still have not been caught.
Because I left my job in April and took seven months off of work I had no one in mind to angel this year. I texted my friend Laura (aka Harry’s mom) and asked her if she knew of anyone. Now Laura had been filling in for the Heartprints coordinator so two people came to mind. I was very excited because the Heartprints program was the reason I had transferred to women’s health all those years ago.
The first night went well and we easily found the houses in the dark. Laura’s daughter went with us so I snuck up to the door with her and she dropped the gift and rang and then we ran. She loved it. The next day someone was riding my rear while trying to find the house again so we drove past and then circled back. We could see the address much clearer coming from the other direction and realized the house we dropped the gift at the night before was not the right number. Laura then got on her phone to look at the picture of the address. Sure enough she had typed the address in wrong and we had left night one at the wrong house. So we went to right house and dropped off night two. I told her I would get another night one and then leave one and three the next night.
After I dropped her off it really bothered me that the wrong house would only get one gift and nothing else. I really felt this was done by God and this house also needed a Christmas angel so the next morning I got up went to Target and bought gifts for the other eleven days for them and day one for the right house.
I then went to a cookie party and then the snow came in. My new job was willing to pay me to sleep at hospital to be available to work in morning so I took them up on it. The roads were so bad that Laura and I decided we would not risk an accident and the next day we’d drop two gifts off. However the next day the roads were still terrible and my job offered the same deal so I stayed at the hospital.
I told Laura we could skip one day and end on Christmas Day instead of Christmas Eve. This was the first year I ended on Christmas Day. I ended up dropping three gifts off at the houses close to each other and two at the other. The rest of the time was pretty uneventful. Well except for the night I’m walking down the sidewalk gift in hand when the husband pulls in the driveway. I hide gift and keep walking like I belong there. I get five houses away and turn around. He has made it in the house and has locked his car so I head back. I’m two houses away and out he comes with his dogs. I turn back around and walk around the subdivision for a good five minutes before I can finally drop the gift off and run. I couldn’t wait in my car because the house was between my car and where I was.
Laura ended up with the flu and had been sick since Saturday. She wanted to knock and wait today to talk to the people. I wrote all of them a nice card and told the wrong house what had happened and that I hoped the nightly gifts blessed them.
Mole moral ~ When one feels called by God to add a third family to the fun, I don’t question, I just do it!
I have finished six weeks of training in the butt hut and it has been quite the ride. I’ll be honest and say this has not been an easy transition for me. I left a job where I was the queen, I knew all the doctors, almost all of procedures and could do my job on auto pilot most of the time without even have to think very hard. I walked into a different planet. The only thing that was the same is patients are involved including men. I had only taken care of women for over eighteen years. Its been nice taking care of the Y chromosomes.
The first week I wanted to quit and the only reason I didn’t was applying and interviewing for a job is a nightmare compared to thirty years ago. I felt stupid, inadequate and a burden on everyone. Yes, I know this is ridiculous to think this way. No one expected me to come in and just do the job perfectly day one except for myself. I was so stressed and nervous for at least four weeks, that the people were probably thinking why did they hire her! However, I did verbalize how I was feeling and told everyone if I’m not doing something right just tell me and I’ll change it. Most of the time I am very open to constructive criticism.
This past week things have finally fallen into place so that I am not panic stricken all eight hours that I will mess something up. I also am not having to concentrate one hundred and ten percent of the time. So my fun side is finally starting to come out and the people I work with are probably realizing why one of my nicknames is CR (crazy Rachel). Friday was full on crazy mode. For starters I walked straight into the hanging monitor for the fourth time. Later on I went to bring a dirty scope into the scope cleaning room and Tiffani had changed the chemical buckets on the scope processor and left them right in the middle of the room. Yes I tripped right on over them but did manage not to fall down. However the funniest thing of the day involved Dr. Aymerich and helping him. I googled pictures of the colon scopes we use and pictures of the wires with forceps so that maybe the story will make better sense.
The red circle is the biopsy port where the instruments go through with the wires that I get to pull out and try to make into a nice circle. The green circle is the controls that the doctor uses to move the tip of the scope.
So after removing a polyp I’m pulling the wire out and somehow manage to not only wrap it around the control knobs but have to ask Dr. Aymerich to move his hand because his hand is tangled up in the wire as well. However I recovered later when everyone was looking at this AV malformation in the cecum and I asked what this other thing was. I said not the AV malformation and pointed to the screen. It was a polyp and he said give me the snare which then means not only do I have to deal with the wire but hooking up and unhooking from the electric machine when finished. I said “curse word, I should have kept my mouth shut. Followed by just kidding because this could be cancer and I saved her life.” My preceptor then said she’s keeping me! And it’s gotten to where when they ask for snare, hot biopsy or biopsy forceps I don’t fly into panic stricken mode. I am not fumbling around as much so I’m starting to believe I’ll be ready for part time in two weeks!
Mole Moral ~ The biggest personal growth occurs when you leave the comfort of the familiar grass and jump right on into grass taller than your head!
When I shadowed for my current job, I knew I would be responsible for picking the patients up from preop holding and bringing them back to the procedure room and then bringing them back to their room when finished. What I didn’t realize was how hard pushing a stretcher could be.
Last week was my first time trying it. The gal I was with had to help in the other room. Well I had no idea there are three settings, park, steer, and wheels locked in forward position. So I take off with the patient in steer and we are all over the hallway and crashing into stuff. She had the ride of her life. After that I flat out refused to go get anyone until I had a driving lesson. Taking the patient back is easy because anesthesia goes with you.
The next day was somewhat better as I didn’t crash into the walls. Tiffani was a huge help with when to have it in steer vs the free for all. This week she pointed the mirrors up in the ceiling at all the corners so you can see if people are coming. This is very important because today I avoided about three crashes. These hallways not only serve my department but OR, Cath lab, MRI, and PACU so there are a lot of stretchers coming and going. I warn the patients when I pick them up I’m still a permit driver. A couple said today that they had never had a ride quite like mine. And just when I was finally thinking I got it, I almost crashed into the anesthesia cart!
This job is nothing like I have ever done before but I’m enjoying it. And if you are reading this thinking colonoscopies are the same thing over and over, you are dead wrong. First of all no two are the same, second the schedule is constantly changing with people not coming and adding people on. It’s just my speed of craziness.
Mole moral ~ According to my husband and kids I can barely drive a car so it’s wishful thinking I can drive a stretcher. Bahahaha
Tomorrow will be my tenth day in my new unit. The first week was all class and computer stuff. I’m not going to lie, I seriously considered quitting after the first week. I cried in the middle of the day Thursday and the entire way home. I left floor nursing and am working in the endoscopy unit. So I left beaver town for the butt hut. I have never been so completely overwhelmed in my life. I had so much information given to me, I am surprised my head did not spin off my shoulders. On Thursday they had me scrub nurse and I was assisting the doctors who are both awesome. Anyway you hand them whichever wire they need and they insert into the scope. When they are done you pull it out into these nice loops. Until I tried it. I had the wires in figure 8’s, knots but no circles. I almost hit the doc once. Friday I started washing scopes. How hard could that be? It’s a million steps and takes my full concentration. (I realized on the way home I could do beaver town on auto pilot). So by the end of the day I kind of have it down but I do notice my left wrist looks a little red but it goes away.
Monday comes and it’s back to washing. The gal with me sees that I can pretty much do it so no longer stares at me but hangs in back for questions. It seems like I’ve had less water leaking into my super long gloves but my wrist looks red like I’m reacting to something. Tuesday I’m on my own and listening to music. I’m getting a little faster and not forgetting a step as much. I’m much more relaxed and not feeling like a bull in a china cabinet. Then Wednesday arrives.
Still cleaning scopes feeling invincible when we had a double. That’s an upper and lower on the same person. The upper goes in a red bucket and comes to me for pre-clean which is usually done in the procedure room but no time to do it when doing a double. I pre clean,do what I’m suppose to and clean the hard plastic container. I decided I’ve progressed far enough I can put it away myself. I pick up the other four that are stacked together, put fifth one in and then proceed to drop them on my foot. It makes a huge crashing noise so when I come out they ask if I’m ok. I tell them what I did and doc asks if there was a scope in it. I say no and he says then all is good and smiles and his eyes sparkle. I look at my foot at lunch and it looks ok. At the end of the day the girls had me take my shoe and sock off to evaluate. It was purple underneath so they made me report to team leader (manager). She called workman’s comp and I was sent to urgent care. I went to the X-ray room and then the computer locked up and the guy had to call tech support. He ended up having to reboot the entire system. He finally gets them done. I go back to my room. The doc wasn’t there five seconds before he comes barging in with big eyes and asks if she’s seen the images. She comes back and tells me it looks like a fracture in one view but she’s not positive so she will let radiology call it and let me know tomorrow. I’m sent home in a shoe and can only stand 10% of the time. No cleaning scopes for me and my wrist is now burning and hurting. I diagnose myself with chemical burn. I put neosporin on it and wrap it like I was taught in the burn unit. I’m convinced when I wake up it will be healed.
This morning I get up and it looks worse. I show my preceptor who says I have to show my team leader. She takes one look at it and sends me to employee health. The employee health nurse takes one look at it and calls the workman’s comp gal again. Yesterday I had attempted to put in an incident report for injury but I’m not in system so I cannot report it. So workman’s comp tells me I have to report it in the system first so I call tech support. Tech support has to skype into my computer and sure enough he sees I’m not in there. He cannot add me and has to escalate it up. So I call comp gal back and tell her this. My team leader then attempts to enter it for me and she is unable to as well. So once again I’m over at urgent care without an official report. In the middle of all of this chaos the doc from urgent care calls to tell me the radiologist is unsure if it’s a new fracture or an old one. I have never dropped anything on this toe so congratulations I have a broken toe. I then remember Saturday is ice skating with the kids from camp Kesem so it looks like I’ll just be watching.
I am officially diagnosed with a chemical burn and given Silvadene cream to put on it. Now I’m banned from washing scopes which I told her I couldn’t do anyway because I’m banned from standing. Do you know how hard it is for me to sit. Every single person I worked with reminded me at least once to sit down. I will do whatever they tell me because I want healed ASAP and back to my orientation.
I really love the job but I need God to protect me from anything else happening. I don’t want them to cut me loose because I’m a big bull in a china cabinet liability.
Mole moral~ Change is good even when it involves a break and a burn!!
Some random thoughts from my first week.
1. Schleprock is alive and well
A. I stepped on the water pedal not once but twice (same day) and squirted water all over the floor.
B. I didn’t connect the water tightly and therefore water squirted all over the doctor. He said hey I’m getting wet and was very nice.
C. I dropped a 45K piece of equipment on the floor on day three.
D. Almost hit same doctor in the head with a wire.
2. I realized I was on autopilot with my old job and didn’t even think about what I was doing. So being 100 percent focused for forty hours is exhausting.
3. The drive does not involve 270 which is fantastic.
4. Working full time is for the birds.
5. I’m way too hard on myself.
6. I love all the people I work with. They are happy and fun.
7. Everyone over the age of fifty who does not have a screening colonoscopy is playing with fire.
8. Learning something completely new is intimidating (see number 5) but also rewarding.
9. You can teach this old dog new tricks.
10. Looking forward to week two What disaster can Schleprock avert?
Mole Moral ~ Change is scary but better than misery!
It’s been quite a while since the last time I wrote a blog. It’s because I was so distracted with attempting to find a job. My summer sabbatical ended after I finished Camp Kesem Maine. I stupidly thought I would be back at work by the beginning of September. I had no idea how applying for a job had changed since the last time I applied.
It had been twenty-nine years since I walked into St. John’s Mercy Medical Center Human Resources and asked for an application. I filled it out and then handed it back to them. I don’t believe I even had a resume and if i had it would have been typed out on a typewriter. I went home and received a call on my land line to set up an interview with the head nurse, assistant head nurse and a staff nurse. I’m pretty sure they offered my the job either right there on the spot or the next day and I started two weeks later after I gave notice to my other job. Now let’s jump into what it was like this time.
First of all job applications are filled out on line and you attach your resume. I do believe when I applied for the Lutheran School Nurse job I did do a resume on a type writer as I did not have a computer. Microsoft Word and I do not get along so my friend Liz was kind enough to let me just input the major information and she straightened it out for me. After it is submitted then I waited for an email to see if they were interested in setting up a phone interview with a nurse recruiter. That consisted of a schedule in which I picked a time that best worked for me, when she was also available. The phone interview lasted approximately thirty minutes and then she would decide if I was worthy of having an interview with the nurse manager. Then I had to drive in and interview in person. At one of my interviews I was asked why I became a nurse. I wasn’t expecting this, nor had I thought about it in many, many years so out of my mouth came “I wanted to be a doctor, but my father refused to pay for medical school and my mom caught my sister and I playing with matches under the covers when I was eight and threatened to take me to St. Johns burn unit.” Later I remembered the real reason why I became a nurse. When I was fifteen I had an emergency appendectomy and ended up in the hospital for a week. I had two incredible nurses, Joe and Caroline and I wanted to be just like Joe. So I was all prepared to say this at future interviews and I was never asked it again. The interview went well and then I had to set up a time to shadow. This means following a nurse around on the unit I had applied for to see if I liked it. I loved it and then had to wait for over a week to see if I would be offered the position. It was by far the longest week of my entire life!
So now I have a job and I am like great I will get to start working. It would be another week and a half before I would begin nurse orientation. Before I could start the classes I had to agree to a back ground check and go to the lab for a drug test and blood work. I am still immune to hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox. I was negative for TB. I just had the whooping cough vaccination four years ago so the only thing I needed was a flu shot which allowed me to whine about my arm hurting for three days.
After I passed all that it was on to five days of classes, computer stuff, videos etc. For me it was a very nice review but while sitting through it I thought I cannot imagine being a brand new nurse and be hit with all of this. I probably would have said forget this insanity. I’ll just be a hooker. These classes were called nurse integration and the managers are not called managers but team leaders. The charge nurses are called clinical support nurse. It gives the entire process a more family team feel to it. I suppose this is the type of stuff non medical jobs come up with.
So tomorrow I start in the unit and I cannot wait. However, it’s only for four hours and then I am off to another computer class for four hours. It’s how to chart specific for my unit and something I have never done so I’m pretty excited to learn something new. After that I will be working full time for six or seven weeks and then fear not I will be back to part time girl.
Mole Moral ~ Good things come to those who wait!
I’m not even sure where to begin with this blog. This has been one of the most amazing summers I have ever had and ended on such a great note. On Brian’s birthday I was contacted by Camp Kesem Maine because they were looking for a nurse and I had came highly recommended by the camp advisor from Camp Kesem Washington University that I had done the week prior. Since I had no plans last week I said sure why not and so the regional coordinator booked my flight to Maine and back. I really had no idea where I was going, where camp was or who was picking me up from the airport. This is probably one of the most spontaneous things I have ever done. I am normally a planner and want to know every single detail ahead of time.
I landed in Bangor Maine and Sunny came and picked me up. We chatted in the car like we had known each other all our lives. She reminded me so much of a former resident (Dr. Addante) that I pretty much liked her immediately. She would spend the first two days at our camp and then move onto two more camps she was director for. This was University of Maine’s first ever camp. I met the other nurse Moppy pretty much right away. She had just finished seven weeks of boys camp somewhere in New England. She was older than me which was a real blessing not to be the oldest person at camp like the previous one. This camp was held at Camp Jordan which was sponsored by the YMCA and money donated by Steven King. It turned out I was in Steven Kings home town. Before I had Emily, I read all of his stuff and was wishing I had stayed an extra day because one can drive by his house, see the place where the accident in Pet Cemetery was filmed as well as the weird water tower from It. I was excited to see this in the Dining Hall.
It was a great week. There were only fourteen campers and only one had medicine. This meant Nurse Red could play all week with the kids and have a great time and I did. There were a few kids that walked in with huge attitudes. It was apparent that they did not want to be there and they were determined to have a horrible time. However this group of young people are amazing.
Their energy from the minute the parents left was mind blowing. Our very first game we played was one person stands in the middle of the circle and says something about themselves. I of course sad my favorite color is orange. So everyone that agreed runs into the circle and then finds an empty spot, leaving a new person in the middle. It was a good way to get to know a little about each other and I think it was a game changer. By breakfast the next morning all the campers were smiling and having a great time. I went to arts and crafts and made this. The caterpillars name is Carl and he’s the Camp Kesem mascot. The rest of the kids were making decorations for their cabins. I had a good time.
The rest of the week was a lot of fun but just like the last camp my favorite was messy games. The administration team let the kids cover them in paint and then all the counselors did as well. After that it was pretty much a free for all with slapping paint on each other. Everyone was great sports and it was so much fun!
My husband likes to tease me that I am trying to pick up a boyfriend. Actually I am scouting for son in law material. I just want to say every single one of the counselors and admin team are daughter in law and son in law material. To be a counselor for camp Kesem, one has to interview and then it is weekly meetings the entire school year. It is all volunteer so these kids are passionate and dedicated to both the cause and the camp. It’s just difficult to even put into words. All of them amazed me all week with how selfless and giving they were. There is no way I want to miss either camp next year and am planning on being back. I guess it will be another “summer of vacations” according to my husband.
Mole Moral ~ Life begins where your comfort zone ends!
Sometime back in April my good friend Laura told me about a job website called indeed. So I downloaded it to my phone and starting looking at what types of jobs were available in the area. I hadn’t looked anywhere outside of the hospital I worked at in almost thirty years. This is foreshadowing so pay attention. Within the first week a job popped up with Washington University looking for a volunteer camp nurse in August. The camp was called Camp Kesem and it is for kids whose parents have or had cancer. It would be held in Burbon Missouri.
After doing a little internet research, I felt called to apply for the position. However the last time I did a resume was in 1998 when I applied for the school nurse position at Abiding Savior Lutheran School. That was before I even owned a computer so it would have been typed on my electric typewriter. So I called upon my friend Liz to help me out. I filled in the blanks on this resume template and Liz worked her magic. After I finished reading it, I said to myself even I would hire me.
After submitting my resume, I heard back within an hour or two and as long as I passed the background check, camp was game on. It gave me something new to look forward to over the summer.
Camp is run by volunteer college students. The camp also only uses Nicknames
. I got to pick mine so being the original weirdo I am, I came up with nurse Red. (At least it wasn’t rachrn34, my other go to name.) This makes being able to blog even better because my readers will not know anyone’s real names. So Beaker is the kid in charge. I haven’t asked him where he got his name from. I assumed it was from the Muppets but after our conversation yesterday, I probably just dated myself again.
It took me two days to finally figure out who beaker reminds me of. Brad from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He’s the one who worked at the burger joint. Now that movie is a cult classic in my house. Do you think Beaker had even heard of it? Heck no. He had to google it. I told him he should watch it at some point in his life. Beaker is an awesome young man and it’s been a great week and he’s doing an amazing job.
Mole moral ~ There comes a point in ones life when you might feel irrelevant or out of date. I’m fighting this until the day I go and meet Jesus.
Due to the unplanned flat tire adventure the night before, I discovered we were only thirty minutes away from Joshua Tree National Park. Now I had wanted to visit it four years ago on our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary but it wasn’t anywhere near Death Valley or the Grand Canyon. So I talked the other three into taking a side trip. Little did I know that it was thirty minutes the wrong direction and then forty-five minutes across the park and then another forty-five back and then back thirty minutes. I guess I really shouldn’t plan vacations. But I was very excited to see it.
We stopped in and talked to the park ranger. He told us to see the cactus area but if there were bees swarming to jump out and take a couple of pictures and leave. Luckily, they were not, so we were able to walk around. They had just finished blooming. They were kind of sad looking though.
Somehow we managed to end up on the other side of the park and totally missed the biggest tree in the park. When we asked the ranger at the other end she acted like we were insane and had never heard of such a thing. Apparently it is not marked or anything. The prettiest part of the park had this
Of course the day I show up the bees decide to move to a new hive. This is the story of my life. However this is where most of the trees were located so we took a few pictures and then we headed to Salvation Mountain.
It was then time for the six hour detour to see the four corners. Now Emily seems to have forgotten she ever said she wanted to see it but she did. I did some reading about the four corners before we arrived including yelp reviews. The biggest thing that stuck out was the lack of bathrooms. So I made sure we stopped at the gas station before it. When we arrived they did have the type of bathrooms that national parks have. So then Brian was like see they have bathrooms. Someone opened a door and the wind blew the smell our way and it was a hundred times worse than the nastiest nursing home. A short while later I watched a mom and daughter open the doors to all four of them and then head out behind a tent.
I also knew from reading this was nothing but a tourist trap but I didn’t mind. There were native american’s selling hand made crafts. I wish I would have bought the one painting I just loved. If it was flat and would have fit in this one frame, I would have. You have to stand in line to take your picture standing on the four corners. There is a sign that says “limit three pictures per family”. Apparently, no one knows how to read anymore. One family took about twenty while we stood in the blazing sun in 100 degree weather just so mama mole could say she saw it and have our picture taken. I stood in New Mexico because of Shiprock New Mexico. When Brian saw the sign for it, he said “Shelprock New Mexico, home of the Big Red.”
The rest of the trip was spent driving. We made it into Texas before calling it a night. There was a really bad thunderstorm and Micheal was getting nervous about a tornado. Emily texted me and asked if we would have one. I said no and she relayed it to Micheal and he said very quietly “Schleprock”.
Mole Moral ~ Embrace your nickname if you have one. It makes life so much more fun.