Friday, August 31, 2007
The surgery, which took place on August 31, 1968, recovered a heart, one lung and kidneys that were transplanted into 4 people at one hospital.
Maybe it's the reason why I've been exploring my spiritual side. (Do we only have a spiritual side? Who was it that said we're not human beings trying to be spiritual, we're spiritual beings trying to be human? 50 points and an organ donor card for the first person to tell me). Anyway, I know Kim talked about this somewhere on her blog, eons ago, but I stumbled across St. John of God this week. Not literally, because as a saint he's in heaven and I think his bones are probably in a church somewhere. St. J of G is the patron saint of nurses, firefighters and bookbinders, if you believe in that sort of thing. He could also be called the patron saint of aimlessly wandering through life until you finally get your s*#t together. That's a little too long to fit on the medallion, but it suits me. I can't say I'm really down with the whole patron saint thing. I keep recalling my best friend and daughter of a Methodist minister in high school who was constantly chiding my Catholic self for worshipping idols. She also used to wear orange on St. Patrick's day. It's amazing she lived to see graduation, but I digress. Anyway, it's nice to find a saint that wasn't gruesomly tortured to death or did fantastic miracles, like levitate or have the stigmata.
Anyhoo, there's nothing wrong with being pierced by arrows or having your breasts sliced off, but old John seems like a more down to earth kind of saint. So I got one of these. Actually, I got the last St. John medallion they had. Like most of my religious leanings, it falls under "can't hurt, might help". Actually, that's a little flippant, even for me, but like poetry and masturbation, I think religious beliefs are something you save for when you're in private. If you want to know what I truly believe, it will require some wine and a long night of talking.
On a lighter note, we finally made it to the beach this week, LM, Pooter and I. We're trying to pull together last minute plans for the 16 year old's B-day bash, so we went on a scouting mission to Ocean County. First of all, what's up with the Seaside Bridge(or whatever it's called)? One side is high enough for boats to pass under, the other side is a draw bridge. Wouldn't it make sense to make BOTH sides high enough for boats to go under? Or do they just like to stop traffic every 5 minutes in the height of Summer? The world may never know. We did find out that Island Beach State Park allows camp fires on the beach and you can stay til midnight as long as someone has a fishing pole. I know this may astound some of my readers in more enlightened areas, but NJ has some really odd beach rules. Like the idea that you have to pay to go on the beach. I was in college before I realized that many parts of the country think this is sacrilege. So, most beaches are swim between the buoys, no campfire, no driving, no dogs allowed kind of places.
Pooter loves the beach. She stood in the surf, tried to catch a few seagulls, which she calls ducks, and did her darndest to dig to China. We came with about 10 pounds of sand attached to us, each. I have also now lost enough weight that for the first time in several summers, my abdomen saw sunlight. Granted, my belly looks more like this:
And less like this:
But one of the great things about being on the far side of 30 is that you really, truly, no longer give a shit.
If only I had that attitude when I had my 19 year old body, I may have conquered the world. Both the world and myself are probably better off for me being young and stupid and now older and (mostly) wiser.
We also found the best bakery, Park Bakery, in Seaside Park. Have you ever had those little Italian cookies, that look like this:
Right? Everybody has. I worked in a bakery when I was in high school and we bought them from a larger bakery. Most small bakeries do that, they don't make them. Hence, they are usually dry, crumbly things. My grandmother used to bake her own, mmmm. Well, Park Bakery makes their own and they are amazing. I had no idea these cookies could taste so good(sorry, Grandma). So the ride home was spent sunburnt and tired, happily munching cookies. I love summer.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
My plan was to work in the OR after I graduated, but in 1996 hospital's were still in denial about the nursing shortage. Even the hospital my mother worked at wouldn't hire me without a year's experience. While I looked for work, I enrolled in an OR certificate course. The first time I scrubbed in, the doctor asked me if I was a righty or a lefty. I told him righty, and he grabbed my left hand and stuck it in this guys abdomen up to my wrist. "That," He told me, "is his pancreas. Don't squeeze." So I didn't. Probably my most memorable operation at the time was a splenectomy on a guy who had idiopathic polycythemia. It started out as a laparoscopic procedure. Just like Jaws, it quickly became a matter of "We're gonna need a bigger hole." They had made an incision to remove the spleen, then they made it bigger. Then they made it bigger. This spleen was bigger than most babies. Seriously, I think it weighted 10 pounds.
Five months after passing my boards I still didn't have a job, so I took the first thing that came my way-nights on a cardiac telemetry unit. Part of my orientation was to take the critical care class and part of taking the critical care class was a ride along with the paramedics. Two minutes into the ride, we got called out to a local quarry where a woman had been electrocuted. It was the first time I ever did CPR. After that, I was hooked on emergency and critical care. We had to supply a nurse every shift to cover codes and I used to beg to be that nurse. A year later I was in the ER.
Cut ahead several years. I had worked almost three years in the ER of a level one trauma center and I wanted a change, so I transferred to the OR. It was still interesting. They put me into a specialty rotation-pediatric orthopedics. Since all things pediatric go together despite the best of logic, I was also trained to do general pediatric and pedi urology. Three completely different specialties. You'd never see an orthopod cross over and do an appendectomy once in a while, right? Whatever, I liked working with kids, even if they were only awake for a short time and I liked ortho. Hammers and screwsdrivers and stuff. Much better than working in vascular with needles so small they make you weep when you drop one and much, much better than, God help me, doing eyes.
The head of our pediatric orthopedics service was(and still is)the captain of the ship. Back when God was a child he had been in the Air Force and he still had a way of making you want to stand at attention and snap your heels together. Frequently, and with no prior experience as a Southerner, I called him Sir. If he saw an unfamiliar face in his OR, he was on the phone to the front desk. If he thought anesthesia was asleep at the switch, he'd yell at them to pay more attention to the blood pressure. I'm pretty sure he is the only surgeon I've ever worked with who even knew the patient had a blood pressure. He loved those kids and he could put in CD rods quicker and more assuredly than I could get dressed in the morning. He also didn't give a fart about anyone else. If you weren't paying attention during the case he'd rip you a new one. If you did your job with competence and alacrity, perfection even, he'd allow you to be in the room the following week. One time we had a kid go into spinal shock. Like a precision machine we finished the case while anesthesia worked to bring up her pressure and the tech gave units of blood from the cell saver. Every time one of the surgeons put a hand out, I put the right instrument into it without them having to say a word. Finally, the crisis was past and they started to close at a more normal pace. I was about 2 seconds too slow in giving him his monocryl and said, "Hey, do you think you could pay attention to the case?" Afterwards, I confronted him. I told him that I had busted my hump to keep up with his furious pace for two hours and he had to bust my (proverbial) nuts over the closing suture? He had no idea what I was talking about.
I probably wouldn't invite him out for a drink, but his group has operated on my daughter.
Some surgeons were pretty aweful. Some threw things. Some really did think that white light emanated from their rectums instead of waste products. But some were also down to earth and very personable. One guy, Chuck, was the hardest working guy in surgery. He had privileges in like, five hospitals and said he'd have to work until he was 80 to pay off his wife's credit card bills. The docs would get lunch every day in their lounge. Every Friday brownies were included and every nurse knew it. Chuck would bring the tray of brownies into the nurses' lounge and we'd all be like, "I don't know HOW these got in here." It takes a smart man to know that if you give the wife the credit cards and the nurses chocolate, all will be well.
The other great thing about the OR I worked in was the people. It was a really amazing group of people who all, mostly, got along and helped each other out and that makes for a great job no matter what you're doing.
But in the end, I missed emergency/critical care too much. Which is why I liked being a TC-you get to incorporate the patient care, teaching, family support and the occasional OR into one groovy job. I wouldn't mind going for first assist when I get my master's, but I'm not sure how I'd incorporate that into an NP position. Well, we'll see.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
Starting off, this woman is celebrating her 22nd year with a donor kidney. While she reflects on all the good things that have happened in that time, it's also bittersweet thinking about the life that was lost.
Losing my religion: At first I wasn't going to even give this one any "cred", but I decided to link to it because this woman is becoming a thorn in my side(sorry, Jesus). She has a religious blog and uses her credentials as a paramedic to discourse on organ donation and other subjects. Seriously, this is why I don't go to church more often. On a lighter note, I came across what may be the funniest t-shirt I've seen in a while. Just don't let Father see.
I wish we would hear more about donor families. It is my sincere belief that donation doesn't just help the recipients, it helps the grieving families, too. Wondering what "presumed consent" is? Check back in a few days, I'm working up a post on it.
Wisconsin: It's more than just cheese! Wisconsin has the highest organ donor conversion rate in the country-83%. Twenty points higher than the national average. If memory serves, it was the Wisconsin governor's friendship with Tommy Thompson that brought about the HRSA breakthrough collaborative.
Over at Revive Hope, there's a call for people whose lives have been changed through organ donation. (BTW, cute baby picture, Steve. I notice the mouth is wiiiiide open. Hmmm.) Well, what are you waiting for? Get writing!
All right, enough for today, I still have to write my NJO post before the baby wakes up.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
I have been so behind on everything this week-my articles, my posting, checking my emails. I'm in orientation again, so I'm at the hospital 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 2 weeks. Which may be fine for mere mortals, but there's a reason I went into nursing and it wasn't for the sexy scrubs. I like working like a dog for many hours and then enjoying several days off during the week. I like having the early morning hours before the family wakes up to get things done. Well, maybe next week.
Also, I'm the newbie again. Not really, I mean I know more people at the hospital I work at than probably the CEO does. I went to get my employee physical a few weeks ago and I was informed by the NP that it was the 4th time I've had a new employee physical there. I like it there, but not enough to stay and collect some seniority, apparently, which is another reason I became a nurse-you can easily move between jobs. My experience is enriched for it, my retirement plan-not so much.
It's a little hard for me, not being the expert transplant coordinator, walking onto the unit with my white lab coat and my donor bag. Now I'm just another staff nurse grunt. I suppose I'll manage as long as I can keep out of the way of my own ego. I will say it is a fine walk to work, about 1.5 miles one way but I've been getting rides home with hubbie. Today I walked home, up a major hill. Next week I should be done working on my bike and I can ride in. My bicycle-don't get excited PJ, I have to pedal. I've been sanding the rust off the chrome and next I have to put naval jelly on the chain. It's a really cool, blue 1960's Schwinn I picked up at a garage sale last month. I can't wait to ride it. It's no 1964 Impala, but it'll do. Either way my legs are getting a workout.
So next week, more writing. Now, I'm going to put my feet up.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Monday, August 06, 2007
Late Friday night, eldest daughter informed us that she wanted to come home for the weekend. She's been working as a camp counselor up near the Kittatiny Ridge and needed a ride home. Bonus, she's had the last Harry Potter book up there with her, so I allowed her to come home AS LONG AS SHE HAD THE BOOK. No, seriously, I was glad to see her. So guess what I've been doing this weekend? I had no idea Dumbledore was gay! Ooops, hope I didn't spoil it for anyone.
I completely missed National Minority Organ Donor Awareness Day, August 1st. I was going to write a post and, well, you know how it is when you're only allowed out drinking one night a year. Anyway, today the waiting list has over 96,000 people on it. Over half, I believe 52%, are minorities. Unless you live in a hole in the ground, you know that high blood pressure and diabetes are epidemic in minority communities. According to the US Renal Data System, African Americans are 289% more likely to need dialysis or a kidney transplant than a white person. In 2006, minority donation rates increased slightly, with African Americans making up 15.5% of deceased donors and latinos were 13.7%.
OrganDonor.gov has a nice site that not only tells you how to sign up to be an organ donor, but also how to avoid needing an organ. I recently read in the Institute of Medicine's 2006 report on Organ Donation that 1 in 5 people, sometime in their life, will either need or know someone who will need an organ transplant. Every day I hear some news report about the growing obesity epidemic. As hard as it is to get the waiting list to come down, we should remember that there are things we can do to keep some people from needing a transplant. I may not have a preventative for biliary atresia, but I can keep my weight and blood pressure down and educate my patients on why it's important for them to do the same. Every little bit helps, right?
Anyway, I've got 2 more chapters of Harry Potter to finish.....