Monday, March 31, 2008

Highlights of the day...

So we got up this morning...I showered last night and was planning on straightening my hair with my flat iron this morning. I was plugged into my adapter (to adjust the voltage for my iron), and it took a while to heat up. I'm finally using it and I get halfway done (the bottom half) when I smell something funny, but I think nothing of it...after all, we are in a hotel in a 3rd world country. Then I hear a this point I'm suspicious but still in denial. But I couldn't ignore the smoke floating up a moment later. I got that plug out of the wall so fast...and there wasn't enough heat to finish my hair, so I gave up and put the top part up. It was pretty funny...I almost set my hotel room on fire...

Our plans changed today and we ended up doing a clinic in the country. It was pretty fun...I was teaching kids how to brush their teeth, which was going well, until this LITTLE one was brushing her teeth and spitting on the ground. I was trying to get her to spit in the bucket like everyone else had been doing and I'm pointing at the bucket. Next thing I know, she sticks her toothbrush in the bucket (EEWWW!) and puts it back in her mouth before I could catch her. It was the grossest thing I saw today!

After we finished with clinic, their school kids challenged us to a game of soccer...yep, a bunch of out-of-shape Americans running around playing soccer at 13,000 feet. We got our butts kicked, but it was SO FUN!!! We actually scored a couple of goals once one of the guys started playing with us on our team.

Lots of walking, shopping, and look at me go -- 2nd day here and I've quit wearing my seatbelt. There's no need...with the way they drive, that little belt isn't going to do much. It's fabulous!

Gotta run for tonight...will try to keep making updates. I'm having a great time!!!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I´m in Peru

So I have about 3 minutes left on this computer...let´s see how fast I can type. I arrived safely and have had a fabulous time! So far I´ve had Coca Tea and candy and am not getting altitude sickness at all. Not even a headache! I hope to not jinx myself by saying that. I´m having such a great time! I´m going to sound like a gringo, but I have to say that this place looks just like Emporer´s New Groove.

Sorry gotta run for now!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Off to Peru

I'm so far behind in my stuff, it's ridiculous! But I did want to write a few words before I just up and leave the country for 2 weeks... Several people have heard I'm headed to Peru (South America) and have asked what I'm going for, and I just wanted to say a few words about it before I leave.

First I have to say that it has always been a dream of mine to do some sort of medical humanitarian mission type thing...and this is the first opportunity that I've taken to do it so far. I'm going with one of the ER Doctors and several nurses and other people we work with. We leave in a few hours, and travel down to Peru Sat and Sun, and have time to settle in and tour Cusco on Sunday. Here's a brief itinerary...

Monday (31st) -- I will be working on some humanitarian project in one of the villages somewhere.
Tuesday (1st) -- I will be teaching a short lecture in the hospital to doctors and nurses...Overall we are teaching "Initial Management of a Trauma Patient" over Mon and Tues.
Wednesday (2nd) -- we hold a free clinic all day.
Thursday (3rd), we hold a free clinic for half the day and take a bus & then a train to Aguas Calientes where we spend the night.
Friday (4th) we hold a free clinic all day.
Saturday (5th) we are scheduled to get up early and watch the sun rise at Machupicchu, and will spend the day touring there, then head back to the Sacred Valley & tour, then head back to Cusco.

At that point, part of the group heads back home to the States, the rest of us stay on for the optional "Jungle Tour Package"'s where it gets interesting...of course I'm staying!

Sunday (6th)
- fly to Puerto Maldonado where we see the city, then take a boat (yes, BOAT) to our hotel.
Monday (7th) - Sunrise expedition to Parrots Collpa, Morning excursion to Monkey Island, Afternoon hike to Lake Sandoval, and then a "Night safari to locate caymen and other nocturnal creatures"...Yes, when I first read that, I thought...I don't even know what caymen are but I want to go find them!!! I've since learned that they are like baby crocodiles...I still want to go find them! :-) I hope to come back with all my fingers!
Tuesday (8th) - visiting small tropical farms & sailing and fishing at Lago Chorillos. (This is the day for my TAN!!!)
Wednesday (9th) - finally a relaxing morning at the Inn. We leave the hotel where we take boat to bus to airport transport to get back to Lima. We will have time to tour Lima this day, as we have a red-eye flight out this night.
Thursday (10th) - we will be flying in the wee morning hours from Lima to Atlanta, and then on to SLC, where I'll arrive home shortly after noon...if all goes as my itinerary shows...

I'm excited to go, and have been looking forward to this for a while!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My crazy life...

I have been a slacker at blogging this month!!! I'm convinced it is because of all of the upheaval I've created in my life lately. I've been so busy I've hardly had time to keep up with e-mail and facebook! I do like a little variety here and there in my life, so as a result of a year of complete boredom and the winter seasonal affective disorder, I have managed to pull out of both by making changes...and of course I don't start small. So here's what I've been up to...

In January I decided I wanted to go Travel Nursing (to escape this cold winter Siberia!) so I started making plans to do that, and got my stuff into my recruiter. Then I decided that since my lease was up in my apt in February, I might as well wait and just move my stuff out into storage, and keep a small room in my friend's home. At the same time, I finally made the decision to go on my first Humanitarian Trip to Peru with one of our ER Docs and several nurses and other folks so I started getting my paperwork and stuff in for that. We are scheduled to go March 29th - April 10th. In the meantime, I continued pursuing travel nursing contracts, and even went into my manager a week or so ago and put my notice in at work, to cut back from 90% (full-time) to Per Diem work (when I want to). During this process, I'm realizing how difficult it is to live out of storage, and I have a friend that wants to rent from me if I buy a place, so I've decided it would be beneficial for multiple reasons to buy a house. I met with a mortgage broker and he talked me into not quitting my job until I actually close on the home. I have rescinded my notice at work, so now travel nursing is on the back-burner again, and I'm working on buying a home and going to Peru first. Best-case, they under-write my home loan while I'm in Peru and we close when I get back, but of course we are starting to run into snaffu's, so I'm just trying to take it as it comes. I have no idea what will happen next or what kind of time-frame I'm looking at!

Now that the sun is out more, and it's warming up a little, I'm not as moody as I had been. Plus I'm absolutely THRIVING on the chaos that I've created!!! Who does that -- buys a condo, takes a humanitarian trip to a South-American country, and quits their job to start another one all in a 4-week period!??? I'm beginning to question my sanity...and I know it's all a result of this Siberian Winter I've had here in Utah!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Snow-Shoeing...My winter adventures Part 1

I've just realized that I haven't blogged about any of my winter snow adventures here's the first part...

In February, I went with Mary (an EMT that I work with) up snow-shoeing at one of the ski resorts. It was my first time ever, and the trails were supposed to be groomed, but apparently, the wind blew the snow over them, so we were in everything from nice 1" groomed trails to 2-3 feet of drifts! We had a great time though!

This is Mary and I ready to go...

These are deeper than we expected...

Hahaha! How can you not laugh at this picture?!

Me ready to go...

She made me go in front for a while because I was taking mean pictures from behind...

Just following the blue tags...they go off into the trees...we're not sure we want to go that way anymore.

Mary has a great idea -- lets just go above the tree-line parallel to our trail, and that way we won't get caught in the tree-drifts and holes and also the low branches... sounds good to me, I mean...she IS the one with experience at this, right?

Are you SURE we're going the right way?


My turn to fall...

This picture doesn't adequately show the slope, but our marked trail is WAY at the BOTTOM of these trees! So I head down head-first...straight down the hill!

Mary follows ever so gracefully!

Back on the deep trail again...I can see why people have done this out of necessity over the years...still trying to figure out why we do this for fun!

A picture together...then time for a rest.

Yep...I thought it would be a good idea to sit down and take a I can't get up.

No really...I CAN'T get up!!

It is pretty up here...

Pretty desolate!

Again...are we SURE we're on the right trail?

Some how we both made it back to civilization!

It was quite a hike!

There will be more adventure to come...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

7 years and counting...

So I can hardly believe it, but I have been working as a nurse for seven years now. Today was my anniversary of starting my first Nursing job at Harborview in Seattle. When I started, I used to look at nurses who had been practicing for more than 5 years and think they knew an awful lot, and those over 10 years definitely knew what they were doing! So why do I feel like I'm still trying to figure it out as I go?! Perhaps because I change specialties every couple of years? In a lot of ways, the ER has really helped me "pull it all together", as I've used experience from every single one of my specialties at some point or other. I could recount stories from my years, but I've already done that...perhaps for my 10th anniversary I will come up with new stories!

All I can say is that I've had the opportunity to see people at their best and at their worst, and sometimes it's been at the same moment... I'm amazed at the strength of the human spirit at times of personal crisis and significant change... and it's not just in the patients and their families. I have been blessed to work side by side with some amazing people over the years...

The Burn Unit attracts a distinct, and special type of nurse. Not every nurse can do it...there's some thing just wrong about people who look forward to and enjoy that initial debridement of a's like peeling a sunburn...almost. Bob helped me get my first successful IV start...I had tried 4-5 already with other people coaching, and just hadn't been successful, so of course I was freaked out that I was never going to learn...then he encouraged me and helped hold down the leg of a man going through DT's (severe alcohol withdrawal), while I somehow started an IV in the leg vein where the man couldn't reach it to pull it out again! After that, I felt like I really could do it... He also helped me with my first patient that died, helping me laugh and keep things light so I didn't get too emotionally wrapped up in the event. And he gave me Christmas trees from his farm for the last couple of years I lived in Seattle! Karen and Monya taught me the importance of organizing your work, and laughing with patients and with each other! They also taught me about burn care in children, especially young children, and how to make it manageable. They are some of the more amazing nurses I know! We truly enjoyed our jobs!

In L&D, Susan believed in me enough to send me into a "routine" delivery to watch her new nurse help with the baby...there were some last minute severe complications, and the baby came out not breathing...It became my first baby resuscitation that I did all by myself...or at least where I was the most "senior" baby-nurse who knew what to do...I somehow kept it together, and that baby was just fine after a few minutes. Marilyn taught me that it was possible to do blood-draws on newborns without hurting them (they slept through it!), and I learned how and became proficient at it.

With Peds, Lisa encouraged me in everything I wanted to do, as I talked about maybe someday becoming an ER Nurse. She was fabulous with children, and great with families.

And finally in the ER, I have come to know some amazing people...too many to mention individually. One of the things I've been impressed by is just how much nurses and all medical staff for that matter are "everyday people" with their own problems and challenges. They are no exception to life's hardships...yet somehow, they set it aside to come in every day and care for another as if that person is their priority, sometimes when their own lives are falling apart, or barely hanging on by a thread. It is the one common trait I've witnessed over and over in medical people that I admire the most. I believe that to love another above yourself is one of the greatest gifts.