30 September 2010


Pharmacology test. Multiple clinicals. Fall festival in downtown Washington. Cupcakes down on the Central West End.
Just a few of the reasons I haven't blogged lately. Here's a rundown of my life the past two weeks...
I know you're super-excited.
Clinicals. My patient last week was under mandatory 72 hour sedation, so I got to see the wonders of propofol in person. The best part was getting to meet him this week...I shook his hand and said, "You don't know me, but I took care of you two days last week. You were a model patient. Very compliant." He laughed as best as he could around his trach and feeding tube. His wife was like, "Yes honey, don't you remember? You promised me a trip to Jamaica!" I really liked these people. My patient this week had MRSA, which means I sweated through my scrubs in about five minutes due to the requisite gown-and-gloves routine all day. You do what you need to do to get the job done, right?
I FINALLY got to go to the most fantastic falafal place in the city. You have no idea how much I've wanted to check this place out. Al-Tarboush Deli on the Loop - you have to try it sometime. It's Lebanese and absolutely falafaltastic. I just had it last week with my friend Teri, and I'm already craving it again. Note: unless you're into tight, crowded spaces filled with old church-basement folding tables, don't go for the atmosphere. But one bite into your chickpea-garlic yumminess, you won't even care that the walls are lined with hookahs and flavored tobaccos. Whatever. It's the Loop.  
Our plate of hummus (covered in tomato, onion and cilantro and drizzled with olive oil) and my falafal:
See? Doesn't it look like a classy place?
After our Lebanese dinner, I asked Teri if she was up for some dessert. You know, something to wash away the insane amount of garlic we had just consumed. She looks at me and says one word: "Cupcakes?" And in that very moment, Teri earned seventeen crowns in heaven. She introduced me to The Cupcakery, located in the Central West End. She got the Gold Rush (yellow cake with chocolate frosting), but I'm a vanilla girl all the way. My choice was the Celebration, mainly because of the pretty sprinkles.
This thing would feed enough people for breakfast, lunch AND dinner, but of course I finished the entire thing while watching my friend Mel on The Biggest Loser.
You know. For support. Then I immediately collapsed into a sugar coma and woke up just in time to get to pharmacology.

I hope Mel doesn't mind I borrowed this from her facebook site - I think she and Bob make a wonderful addition to this blog post. I was so excited to see her on national TV!!! And kudos on the cute sunglasses, my friend!
Today was my Pharmacology of Death Test #1. After half a bottle of TUMS and semi-serious thoughts of jumping into the Missouri river, I'm proud to say that I passed the test! Passed. Passed. That's all that matters here, people.
I think this calls for another cupcake.
Speaking of reasons why I need to be burning calories, I'm starting up my workouts and running again. I'm following the Body for Life workout plan (again), and then running 3-4 miles (again) every other day. I was so excited about my run today that I just had to text M about it.
Me: Just ran 3.11 miles in 29.47 minutes!!!! Yay me!!!
M: Just drove 3.1 miles in 2 minutes 57 seconds. Yay me.
See what I'm up against? Thank goodness I love him so much.
However, he totally gets the Amazing and Thoughtful and Totally Hot Husband of the Year Award for this text earlier today:
I'm gonna clean as much as I can tonight.
Those words are music to a wife's ears. Especially this wife who won't get home from a week of classes and clinicals 140 miles away until 7pm Friday night, and only have a small window of time to clean and organize the house before his parents arrive for the weekend. We are very much looking forward to seeing Mom and Dad W., but I really don't think they want to sit on a couch covered in Suka. And Knuke.
UConn prefers sleeping on Matt's pillow. Which he appreciates.
But who can resist this face?
Can you tell I miss my dogs?
I can't wait to see this face either this weekend.
Brace yourself for the hotness.
He matches our red kitchen well. I think I'll keep him.
Except for the whole "Braves" thing. That will continue to be a source of contention in our marriage.
I choose my battles well.

18 September 2010

Of the Devil

Eggs are of the devil.
They smell bad, they taste gross and don't get me started on how the chickens are treated at the egg farms.
You've heard it all a million times:
I. Hate. Eggs.
In honor of all the nastiness that is little aborted baby chickens, I've done some research on egg alternatives. I'm not talking about the nasty, over-processed "egg substitute" you can get at the store - Egg Beaters still has eggs in it. It even says it on the carton:
See? Real Eggs. Ew.
Did you know it is completely possible to cook and bake without eggs and STILL have everything taste fantastic? I know! It's amazing!
(Plus, you can save the life of a baby chicken!)
So how do you do it? Here are some tips you can use to eliminate eggs from your cooking and baking:
  • Flax. Grind some flaxseed into a fine powder (my coffee grinder works perfectly for this) and substitute a tablespoon of flax whisked with 2-3 tablespoons of water per egg. This is a great way to get your Omega-3's and some fiber in too. Sneaky.
  • Bananas. Pumpkin. Pureed apples. Bananas and applesauce have long been used as substitutes for oil to make your baking less fattening. However, bananas also work well as a binder in place of eggs. The ratio is usually 1/4 - 1/2 a banana per egg, and I only recommend this if you are baking and like the flavor of bananas. One of those little individual cups of unsweetened applesauce (about 1/2 cup) works for just about any kind of baking (especially cake and muffins)...just be sure to refridgerate whatever you bake if you're not going to eat it in a day or two.
  • Plain old water. If your recipe only calls for one or two eggs, just skip the eggs altogether and add an extra tablespoon or two of water. It's magic!
  • For savory dishes, you can use great binders such as tomato paste, dried or mashed potatoes, or oatmeal (think meatloaf. Or in my case, TVP loaf).
  • I've discovered Ener-G egg replacer, and it's available at most health food stores. In all honesty, I've yet to try it, mostly because I'm cheap and water is free. If anyone does decide to try it out, please let me know if you like it!
  • Tofu! It's cheap, it's full of protein and it takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it with. The rule of thumb is about 1/4 cup of whipped tofu per egg. I've actually used tofu in place of eggs in a vegan lasagna, and you cannot tell the difference. I promise. You can also scramble tofu like you would eggs - mix with some chopped veggies and it's a great breakfast.
Try these tips out, see what you think and let me know how you like it. Trust me, you won't even know the difference. Happy eggless cooking!

16 September 2010

The one with the Code

I don’t like it when the patient in the next bed codes.

I love it when my patient sleeps through the entire code and the millions of people who came running in, then wakes up and tells me he thinks he heard the guy in the next bed coughing and asks if he’s ok.

Know what happens during a code in a teaching hospital? Everyone and their second cousin comes running in the room to see what’s going on. 40 people crammed in a teeny little space with about 20 of those people shouting orders and grabbing meds was pretty much the equivalent of pure chaos. After about two minutes someone finally stepped up to call the orders, but until then it was madness.

Two minutes might not seem like a long time, but trust me. When you’re watching someone flatline, it seems like hours.

On one hand, it was kind of interesting to see what happens in a real code…not something scripted on House or Grey’s.

“I need more Propofol!” shouted one doctor.

I know what that is! I thought to myself. God bless Michael Jackson.

Anything to help you remember your meds, people.

On the other hand, it was slightly horrifying to watch this guy’s stats drop so incredibly fast. Incredibly fast. I had no idea you’re heart rate could go from 112 to 0 in the span of about 30 seconds. I was standing there, wanting to grab someone, shake them and say, “Forget the teaching part!! Someone just step up and save this guy’s life!!”

My friend Kayla and I did what any good nursing student should do: we grabbed each other’s arms for dear life and tried to stay out of the way. And shook like leaves. And got goosebumps. And pretty much freaked out…all while trying to not let it show on our faces (nursing student lesson #472).

In any case, watching doctors perform chest compressions on a guy who was sitting up and talking 15 minutes earlier really made an impression on me:

I have no desire whatsoever to work in the ER. My anxiety levels are too insane as it is. I’m the kind of girl that falls apart in disaster situations. Just ask my husband - the tornado sirens go off and I turn into a quivering puddle of uselessness.

I did enjoy the patient I was assigned to – a 60y/o guy with an incredible sense of humor who was in for phase II of a jaw reconstruction with a titanium plate and pec flap – and who’s eyes lit up at the sight of his Colace.

Or maybe it was the Percocet.


The Licking Wildcats won their games on Monday and Tuesday! They have more games tonight and tomorrow, so we’ll see if they can keep this up. For such a young team – if you remember, we graduated five seniors – they’re playing pretty well together. Go ‘cats!
And it's been awhile since I've mentioned this, and I think it deserves some saying: my husband looks amazing in a baseball uniform. I love the coach. :)

08 September 2010

The One with the Smells

Clinicals, Day One: It's called Med Surg/ENT, and it is my Everest.
Scenario: Pt. who has smoked 1PPD (pack-per-day) for 25 years and has admitted that he's an alcoholic. 12 beers a day for who knows how many years kinda points to that, right? In any case, he's been diagnosed for throat cancer (two major risk factors for this particular type are excessive tobacco use and alcohol...so kids, take this to heart and stay away from ciggies and the bottle!) and had a trach put in a couple days ago. He can't speak, so everything is communicated by head nods, hand gestures (he was nice - no flippy flippies) and the old-school pen and paper. NPO (nothing by mouth) since midnight last night because of a surgical procedure later today, so the only fluids were via IV.
I get grumpy if I miss my mid-morning snack time, so I can only imagine how this guy was feeling.
I really, really tried to do my best. I wanted to make this guy's day a little brighter. And I honestly feel good about how I performed today - I helped get supplies ready for a blood draw, helped with two separate trach suctionings, hooked him up to his 02, measuring I&O (intake and output - it's exactly like it sounds)...little things like that. Nothing major since we're getting oriented to the floor, but it still helps you be a part of the process. This afternoon, the patient's RN was nowhere to be found, so me, the little Student Nurse, got to give report to the attending physician. Yeah, I felt like big stuff. And I made the patient smile...and that made me feel like even bigger stuff.
I only had one problem. I hate to even talk about it, because I want to be tough and there's no way that this could have even been controlled. It's not the patient's fault...it's just the way it is.
The trach secretions. The sight didn't bother me at all. I have dogs and grew up in a funeral home. Seeing yuckies doesn't phase me.
It was the smell that got me. 
I won't even try to describe it, at the risk of making my dear, sweet husband throw up from 120 miles away if he reads this. While he's a fan of hearing about my day, he's not thrilled when I go into detail. I've learned to stick to the basics with him.
Anyway, first of all let me just say that I just feel so, so awful that I even let the smell bother me. At least I don't have to sit there all day and have it follow me around like this guy does. I need to man up - trach secretions are just a fact of life. It happens. You deal with it. You go in and clean it up and try to not make the patient feel self-conscious. At least this guy is alive and can (kind of) breathe. (Pray for him if you wouldn't mind another addition to your prayer lists. He's really a sweet man, just stuck in a horrible, lonely situation.) Everything in perspective.
But it's just the kind of smell that sticks in your nose...and mouth...for the rest of the day. (PS: Orbit, your Sweet Mint gum does NOT help at all.) Neither did my lemon hand sanitizer. I have never experienced anything like this in my life - funeral home smells are like rose bushes compared to the Med Surg/ENT unit.
I dealt with the best way I could - by not eating much of a lunch (The Med Surg Diet Plan??) and coming home to take an hour-long shower with anti-bacterials and a deep conditioner that smells like pears. I didn't particularly need a deep-conditioning, but pears smell so much the opposite of trach secretions.
But right now, sitting at my laptop, I can still smell it. And you know what? Rather than let it ick me out, I'm just going to deal with it. It will be my reminder that I have so much to be thankful for. I'm very blessed, and I don't even realize it half the time. I'm going to choose to let this smell be a reminder to thank my Savior for my life and good health.  I'm going to let it be a reminder that, at any given moment, there is a disheartened, lonely person sitting in a hospital room that just got some of the worst news of their life. I'm going to let it be a reminder that there are people out there that need our compassion and care.
This is why I'm going to be a nurse. 
Bring on the smells.