Butterfly Sparks Designs

Monday, August 2, 2010

Willie, the Shuttle Bus Driver :)

Sometimes we see God in unexpected places.

At the last hospital where I worked, employees parked at a lot that was a considerable distance from the hospital. Therefore...

Enter: Shuttle Buses.

And, Shuttle Bus Drivers.

At the start of each day, in the mornings, Willie was my shuttle bus driver.

And in the evening, at the close of my working days,Willie's brother, Robert, drove me towards home.

I think I've said on here before, y'all, that I'm not a morning person. I. am not. a morning PERSON.

Not at all.

When I worked the day shift at this hospital, I had to get up at 5:00a.m.

It was unpleasant. It was something like torture, really, dragging myself out of bed that early :)

But every morning that I'd hoist myself up the large, tall steps of the shuttle bus, there would be sweet Willie, with a nod of his head and a gentle, "Mornin' Ma'am."

And then, as I would sigh and anticipate the day ahead, as we got closer and closer to the hospital, sweet Willie would say to each of us as we exited the bus, "Have a good day, now. Have a blessed day."

It wasn't alot of words, and I certainly didn't know Willie, but there was something in his voice; in the way he always said so easy and gently, "Have a good day, now."

It always made me feel better. It was comforting.  His voice was like a warm cup of tea, or a kiss of blessing from God Himself to survive the rigors of the hospital about to rush in. It was like a pat from your momma goodbye, as you stared at a big yellow school bus arriving, or a whisper in the wind telling you it would all be okay.

I used to make cookies for Willie sometimes.

Because I appreciated something that would seem so small as a "Have a good day, now."

Willie was like a guardian to the day, and I thought cookies would be a nice gesture to say thanks. I'd make them for he and his brother every now and then.

After a few years at that hospital, I left to pursue a nursing job with a little less stress. Working the evening shift now, I get parking privileges in the hospital parking garage and don't have to walk very far into the hospital.

Last week was one of those banner work weeks that you hope you soon forget. Very challenging patients and an incident with a challenging, hothead doctor left my spirit heavy at the end of the week.

I had to go to a Conflict Management training class on Thursday, which was a daytime training. So I had to park in a satellite lot again and catch a shuttle bus. [Daytime hospital workers usually park in parking lots farther away so that during peak hospital hours, patients and families can have the parking spots closest to the buildings so they don't have to walk as far.]

At the end of the day of training, there were some lingering issues I still had to address with upper hospital management regarding the challenging doctor. And I walked out of the hospital that day feeling quite discouraged.

I caught the shuttle bus at the shuttle bus stop, and imagine my surprise when who was the shuttle bus driver, but Willie!

"Hi, Willie!" I said. "I'm not sure if you remember me, but it's sure good to see you!" [It had been about a year since I'd seen Willie].

"Yeah! I remember you! You used to bring me cookies."

Turns out Willie still works for my old hospital in the mornings, and works at my new hospital in the afternoons. Willie and I shot the breeze for awhile, and as I exited the bus after a hard day, I heard those old familiar words again,

"Have a good day, now."

And hearing that smooth and easy voice say those words again, helped me leave behind a very bad day, with a new smile on my face :)

Sometimes we find God in unexpected places.

And when we most need Him, He has a way of showing up :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Veer Straight and Forget Not Where the Bacon Comes From.

Just finished up a week of camp nursing at the wonderful East Texas camp where I'm blessed to work each summer.

We work an 80 hour week, and every day we work two 7-8 hour shifts for 8 days.  It's exhausting to say the least, and I usually find myself in my bed with my dinner, unable to move for about 24 hours once it's all over.

So what makes it worth all those hours of hard work?

Well, it is a really unique setting to be a nurse.  I get to meet hundreds of sweet kiddos each week, and since it's a Christian camp, I get to witness all the essence of Jesus intertwining with my service to the little campers.  And Jesus + campers = awesomeness.

The kids were unusually funny this week, as were the coworkers, so I spent most of the week in stitches.  In fact, in all my pictures, I'm not just smiling, I am laughing with my mouth wide open :)  That's a good thing.

Here are some funny lines from the health center this week:

--"Veer straight," said one of the campers when explaining how to get to an activity.  I'm pretty sure to "veer" usually involves some sort of curve or turn, so to say "veer straight" was funny.

--"I'm pretty sure I'm gonna die with this bug bite," said one little camper.

   "Oh!  Don't say that!"  I said.  "In Jesus's Name, you will live!  A long life!" I replied.

   "No, I'm pretty sure my days are numbered."

   "Well," said my coworker, affectionately known as "Fuzzy."  "He's not just a 'the glass is half empty kind of person, he's a 'the glass is totally broken and shattered apart' kind."

--"Man, I wish we had some bacon for breakfast around here, I would LOVE some bacon this morning," said one of the counselors.

"Yeah, I know.  You'd think with all of the cows we have around this camp, we could easily get some bacon!"  (That might or might not have been said by a particular nurse, but I won't name names.  Even if said nurse was me, who might have momentarily forgotten that bacon doesn't come from cows.  It comes from pigs.  I try and regularly provide entertainment for the people.  It's what I do :)

---"I'm not good at knowing things," said one of our nurse assistants :)

---"I have a very large stomach ache," said one cute little pint-sized female camper.  "Oh yeah?"  I asked her.  "Yeah.  Do you have some of that Pop-Ice stuff?  I think that would make it feel better."  Pop-Ice popsicles have a way of curing many ills :)

Oh, the campers.

 I learned alot this week about how who you work with makes a pretty big impact on your work.  The medics I worked with this week were a barrell of laughs.  So no matter how tired we were, when you are laughing, you just don't care.  And when I work with the Medics, I always breathe easier, because since emergency response is part of our job, I know they will take those calls.  Those calls always give me the anxiety, because I haven't ever worked the ER as a nurse, and because I wasn't trained that way.  I have learned to manage patients once they are stabilized from an accident, but actually knowing how to make the decisions when they aren't always puts me on the edge.  I never had to worry about it this week, because I knew the guys had it covered.  Therefore, I could enjoy the health center work with alot more peace than usual.

So, the nurse survived camp one more time.  I counted up this weekend- after 4 summers as a camp nurse, this was my 15th week to serve in that capacity. 

It's been fun.

But now I will go recover for the next few days. 

And if I don't hear another person complain about their aching stomach, their turned ankle, their poison ivy, or their congested sinuses for awhile, I will be none too sad. 

Here's a nurse quote I found today, which applies to a great many things, actually:

"It is not how much you do, but how much love you put in the doing." Mother Theresa

I always knew Mother Theresa was smart :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Someone's Beloved

I read this on the back of the July 12, 2010 issue of NurseWeek magazine, and thought it embodied the heart of being a Nurse so well:


This is what I thought as I admitted my new patient, and my true contribution as a nurse began.  I asked myself, who am I to you? I am your nurse.  I help, teach, monitor and give comfort and compassion.  I am your guardian.  And you?  You are my teacher.  You show me the resilience and endurance of the human body and spirit.  Our relationship makes a complex healthcare system personal.

I Am Your Nurse."

--(Taken from an ad for the American Association of Critical Care Nurses).

And that is the truth and the beauty behind the crazy world of being a nurse :)

Tryin' To Quit

Hi. My name is Beth, and I'm addicted to Coke.

Not the white, dusty kind, but the dark, soda kind.

Coke and Pepsi. I'm no respector of my soda, and I have developed an affinity to an ice, cold Coca-Cola or Pepsi now several times a week, for going on the better part of a year.

And since I'm a Nurse, I know that insanity has to stop. It's like pouring acid and pitchers of sugar straight into your veins.

My coworker, Alice, has noticed my problem, and a few weeks ago when we nurses were talking about all the unhealthy food Americans love to eat, Alice looked over at me with the eyes- you know, the ones that come with silence and an all-knowing glance. She looked down at my Coke and looked away.

"Alice!" I said. "I'm trying to quit, really I am!"

She said nothing.

Nothing like being chastened by an older, rather militant nurse.

Something about a chaotic, constantly moving shift at the hospital brings out the desire for a Coca Cola like nothing else. Call it the stress, the need for caffeine, or whatever, but I've been known to tell the coworkers all too often, "I'm heading to the basement for a drink. I need a cold one." I don't do alcohol, so Coke has become my substitute. (The basement is where our hospital houses the Coke machines).

And I'm not the only one. One of the night shift nurses came in last night with two, count it TWO, very super-sized large, to-go cups of soda for the duration of her shift. I am not alone in my addiction. I know that's pitiful, but somehow it makes me feel better.

I decided to stop the insanity Sunday. I enjoyed my last cold one at the Mexican restaurant, Chuy's, in my hometown. There are certain foods that just seem better with Coke- Pizza and Mexican. But I digress.

I haven't had a cold one since.

And you can imagine last night at work, for the last hour of my shift, between 10:00 and 11:00pm, when my rather confused patient started having problems, I was itching for a Coke.

He kept yelling out rather loudly and sporadically, "Deeee----BOORRR-- UHHHHH!"

This sweet man lives with his daughter-in-law who cares for him, named Deborah, and he was very confused, thinking he was at home and he needed his Deborah- Quite Loudly. The other patients started complaining.

I was getting pressure from the coworkers to just give him a sleeping pill, so he'd pipe down.

I tend to be the kind of nurse who doesn't favor giving sedatives to the confused, elderly folks, because in many of them, it tends to make them worse the next day. Sometimes you can talk these people down without the drugs, and I was trying my best to do so, in hopes I wouldn't have to medicate him to slumber. All the other nurses didn't vote on the same side of that wagon, though, and they were very vocal to let me know.

"Just give him the pill!" Alice said loudly, over and over.

She was not a fan of my conservative medicinal ways.

The pressure, people, of the screaming man and the pushy nurses was just the right combo to test my abstinence and resolve against the soda.

I thought to myself, I can just hop in the elevator, pop in some coins, and have a sweet cold one in no time.

But I persevered. I prayed that man into a final, heavy sleep, and the nurses all thought I gave him the sleeping pill which piped em' down. I grabbed a cold glass of water and told myself it was just as good as a cold Coke.

I took some Advil to wage war against the caffeine withdrawal-induced headache, and I WON THE BATTLE!

I will quit these Cokes, by golly. Sweet mercy, they will no longer have a hold on me!

(I hope. Y'all pray for me. I'm takin' it a day at a time like those 12 Step programs whose mantra is "Just For Today." Just for today I won't have a Coke. I have admitted I have a problem, and I am quitting cold turkey.)

I have a better compassion for the addicts now.

I think we might need some sort of 12 step meetings for quitting cola. But then that might just look like a pity party, and come on, can't we all just say no to ourselves and get on with it?

I'm praying I'll keep having the gusto to Just Say No to myself when it comes to the soda and will keep popping the Advil in combat to the headaches that come like a freight train in my head- that alone should speak to me of the nature of my enemy, Coca Cola- it doesn't quit you easily.

Pray for me, bloggy friends. This battle will not end in defeat- I'm confident!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Republic of the People.

One of my favorite things about being a Nurse is bearing witness to the people I serve.

Working in a hospital is like the set of a really good television show sometimes, and the characters are always colorful :)

Here are some characters from this week at the hospital, deep in the heart of Texas:

Mr. Westingame.

The first time I saw Mr. Westingame with all his tattoos, sitting in his wheelchair, I walked up to him and asked him his name. I was looking for a patient of mine, Mr. Bailey, who wasn't in his hospital room, whom I hadn't met yet. As I spotted Mr. Wetingame in the hallway, I thought he might be the patient I was looking for.

"Are you Mr. Bailey, sir?" I asked the man with shiny, tanned, and tattooed arms, who had a bald head and an attitude you could ascertain from a mile away.

"No, I'm not, I'm Mr. Westingame," he said.

"I'm sorry, I was looking for someone else and thought it was you," I said.

"Oh, baby, you've been looking for me all your life, you just didn't know it until now."

Smooth. Mr. Westingame is, and I gather has always been, smooth :)

Last night, a motorcycle gang showed up at the hospital to visit their fallen friend, Mr. Westingame, who suffered a motorcycle accident. Mr. Westingame has been in our Rehabilitation Hospital awhile now, learning to walk again, feed himself, and perform everyday grooming tasks. Mr. Westingame is walking now, he is feeding himself quite well, and grooms himself just fine. I came down the hallway last night to see the entire "rough and tough" gang walking towards our outdoor deck so they could "hang" and "chill" together on a Friday night at the hospital. The men were tall and hulking. The gang had on their black leather, cowboy boots, and various tattoos, but couldn't have been nicer as they continually addressed me as "Ma'am." Mr. Westingame made sure to let Alice, his nurse for the evening, know in front of his friends that she was quite special to him and his "favorite nurse- very good at what you do."

He meant it sincerely and said it with a tender smile towards Alice. Then he winked at me and set off down the hallway with his gang. That made Alice's night, and I have to say it made mine to come down the hallway and see this entire Motorcycle Motley Crew, gracing the halls of our hospital :)

Ms. Smith.

General Anesthesia, along with certain combinations of medications, has a way of altering some patients. If you ever have a loved one who will undergo the anesthesia, please say a prayer for them, the Nurse advises.

Ms. Smith, another of our patients, hasn't been quite the same since her recent vascular surgery. Seems the general anesthesia threw her for a bit of a loop. Prior to surgery, she was already on several psychotropic, mood-altering medications for various psychiatric diagnoses.

Many of our patient rooms house two patients to a room. These are called semi-private rooms. You can just imagine how pairing two total strangers in a room just leaves the door wide open for all kinds of antics, but that's another book for another time :)

Last night, I entered Ms. Smith's room to do a few dressing changes on her incisions. On my way out of the room, after I'd finished, I stopped to talk to her roommate, Ms. Whaley. As I was talking to Ms. Whaley, I heard Ms. Smith on the other side of the curtain, talking to someone. However, no one else was on the other side of the curtain with Ms. Smith. Knowing she had been suffering from hallucinations the day before, I peeked back around the curtain and said,

"Ms. Smith, who are you talking to?"

"Well, I'm talking to this man sitting right here on my bed," she said.

I cocked my head and looked at her, with a twinkle in my eye and a slight, smiling curve to my mouth.

"Oh! I know, okay. He's not really here, and I know that now. At least now, I know it, and I'm sorry, I'll stop talking to him."

"Yep, he's not here, Ms. Smith."

This might sound patronizing, but work with psych patients long enough, and you'll understand the humor that lies within it sometimes.

"Alright, alright. I'll stop doing that," Ms. Smith said, "I know Herman and the rest of them aren't real anymore."

Needless to say, Ms. Whaley asked for a room change later in the evening, for fear her "confused" roommate might start seeing more "friends" in her altered state and harm her in the night :)

Ms. Whaley's family approached the Nurse's station sheepishly and wide-eyed, after they'd stopped by to visit Ms. Whaley. After hearing Ms. Smith on the other side of the curtain talking to "Herman," they very slowly and nervously requested that "our mother please be moved to another part of the hospital- away from that woman talking to people who aren't there."

Seems Ms. Smith's talking to Herman had turned to yelling, making everyone within a five yard radius very uncomfortable.

We nurses looked at each other later and smiled.

I visited Ms. Smith later and told her she and Herman were going to have to quieten down, so as not to disturb the rest of the hospital.

"Oh, okay, we will. He just is so annoying sometimes," she replied


This has always been and forever will be my favorite part of being a Nurse: the people; the colorful, wonderful, beautiful people I meet every night.

We are all unique, and that makes my world go 'round a little better on any given day of the week :)

Happy Saturday, friends-- Enjoy the world moving all around you :)

Camp Nurse

Every summer, come May and rising temperatures, I don a different Nursing cap: a Camp Nurse cap.

I walk into the wilds of a large and busy summer camp which serves nearly 900 people each week.  The summer camp where I work houses a health center which weekly employees four nurses to staff it and take care of campers and camp staff alike.

We do four times per day medication calls for all the kiddos on scheduled medications.  We do sick visits throughout the day for anyone who might come down with a sore throat, stomach ache, or flu-like virus.  We are emergency responders for things like lake accidents, water slide injuries, ropes course mishaps, etc.  We do much more, too: like lice checks, launder soiled bed linens for campers, allergy shots, manage diabetic campers, and cure homesickness with our secret weapon- Pop-Ice.

It is a wonderful change from the walls of the hospital and adult medicine.  Working within an outdoor setting at the camp, with smiling kiddos, always renews my heart for nursing.

We also work very hard.  Our health center opens at 6:00a.m. and stays open until midnight.  After a full week of long hours, we nurses always go home dead tired but very full in our hearts from all the people we have served and met throughout the week.

By day 3, you begin to remember the individual kids as they come through the "Med. Call" line for their morning medications.  You begin to build rapport with them and are able to encourage them in their day, love on them a little, and always, always- laugh.

For a nurse, camp nursing is a challenge.  With no doctor in the immediate vicinity, and the potential for absolutely ANYTHING to walk in the door- good assessment skills become a must.  I've seen everything at camp from snake bites, to a raccoon attack, to orthodontic mishaps requiring minor oral surgery on the premises, to a swine flu outbreak that resulted in Camp Quarantine 2009. 

There is never a dull moment in camp nursing.

Last week at camp, we nurses made up a little Med. Call song with a guitar to sing as a diddy for the campers and counselors.  The words went a little something like this:

"It's the crack of dawn,
as you start your day;
you've gotta get your meds,
so, you'll be on your way...."

Then we nurses went into a little coordinated rock and sway routine with our Pop-Ice, band aids, and stethoscopes that would rival the Rockettes any day.  In fact, we aptly named ourselves for the musical number, "The Nightingales," as a homage to Florence.

Being a nurse is always an adventure, and being a nurse at a camp is a very special and unique adventure.  If you've never tried it, you're a nurse, and you might be interested, Go for it! 

Nothing will brighten your day more than a wet, swimsuited camper, coming into the health center with their towel dragging behind them, ready for a day of fun in the sun, who just might need a boost from a smiling, caring nurse.  Nurses have a special gift of comfort and care, and it's awesome getting to impart that to the little campers who come through our doors.

So, nurses- what are you waiting for?  If you'd like to learn more about Camp Nursing, visit the Association of Camp Nurses's website at http://www.acn.org/.

Happy Summer, friends!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Taking A Glimpse at the Portrait of a Life

"I never knew a man could fall so far
'til I landed here....

Come to me, Hannah,
Hannah, won't you come home to me
And I'll lay down this bottle of wine,
If you'll just be kind to me....

I'd walk one mile on this broken glass
to fall down at your feet..."

--lyrics from the song,"Hannah," by Ray LaMontagne--

Last night at work, I took care of a patient named Mr. Lewis.*

Mr. Lewis has been a heavy alcohol user for most of his life. He came to us after being in an motor vehicle accident. Upon initial hospitalization, doctors and nurses treated his withdrawals from the alcohol, which, he informed me, "was like going through hell." Now he's sober, with some broken vertebrae, and coping with real life.

His wife came by our hospital to serve him divorce papers yesterday. By the time I came on shift, nobody was home behind the beautiful blue eyes that covered his face. He was absent, lost somewhere in regret and shock.

He told me about the divorce papers, after I let him know I'd be his nurse for the evening and spent a few minutes talking with him. He looked everywhere but into my eyes, as he talked about those papers and how he'd been married to his wife for over twenty years.

I asked him if he needed anything on my way out his room, and he said, "Unless you can buy me back my life, I guess not."

Time is a thief. It doesn't give back what it takes. The years roll by and they take our lives right along with them.

You can sell your soul to the devil, but he takes what you give him and doesn't look back.


Ms. Rivers* was my other patient last night in room 308B. She is 90 years old and has several tubes and lines attached to her presently, as she sits in a hospital room in her wheelchair.

"I wish they'd take this tube outta me," she said. "It's ridiculous. I'm 90. I thought I'd die here last week, and I just want to enjoy what I've got left."

She smiled at me and then took me by the hand and told me to enjoy my youthful beauty and soak up life for all it is worth.

"It goes by too fast," she said. "Slow at the same time, but at the end of all things, you realize, it went by entirely too fast---and you only get one shot. Make it count," she said, as she looked into my eyes and smiled.

That smile told me a million stories about the life Ms. Rivers has lived. It didn't house regret- it housed fullness, like she had a secret of something sly and wonderful hidden behind her wrinkled, cherry red lips; her smile resembled something like a wink of the eye.

I often say being a nurse is like walking into wisdom's classroom each night I go to work.

Last night was no different :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Discover That Ye May Burst! :)

I've been a bit of a slacker around these parts of late :)

What can I say- life is busy these days- as Bethany Dillon wrote in one of her songs, "I'm a dealer in my time."

Wanted to leave you with a Word for the weekend:

"Dear friends, listen well to my words; tune your ears to my voice.  Keep my message in plain view at all times.  Concentrate!  Learn it by heart!  Those who discover these words live, really live; body and soul, they're bursting with health." 
Proverbs 4:20, The Message

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Strawberry Salad

This Strawberry Salad sounds delightful :)

It's light and sweet- always a winning combination.

I saw it on Bethany Dillon's blog, so simply click HERE to enjoy a healthy, light, warm weather meal.

Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ms. O'Malley

Ms. O'Malley* was my patient last night in room 303.

Ms. O'Malley is a very frail, pint-sized little lady.  She is so small, we have to use a pediatric blood pressure cuff to fit her little arms.  Disease and illness have shrunk her body to it's bear frame.  Her face seems hard, as her cheekbones protrude through.  But there was something about Ms. O'Malley that drew me into her presence as a nurse.  I found myself wanting to linger a little longer at her bedside.  She was spunky, polite, and resolute about her hip pain, not demanding or needy.  She always met me with a smile and a humble "thank you" each time I was in her room. 

I went by her room every hour or so to check on her and found her watching "Turner Movie Classics" on television.  Last night was the kind of night at work that entailed never sitting down- until after I'd given report to the nurse coming on after me.  My patients were a busy group, constantly needing pain meds, help to the bathroom, another blanket, etc. 

So whenever I'd head into Ms. O'Malley's room to check on her and she was fine, I took the opportunity to sit in the chair beside her bed for a few minutes to rest my legs and visit with her. 

At one point she was watching a bio on Henry Fonda, so I sat down and watched images of Mr. Fonda flash by on the screen.  We watched Henry dance with his leading ladies, and Ms. O'Malley spoke of how handsome he was and what a classy guy she always thought he was.

Later in the evening, she was watching snippets from "On Golden Pond." 

"Have you seen this movie?"  she asked me.

"I haven't," I responded.

She looked at me long and hard, shook her head then, and made me promise I'd go out and rent it this weekend.

It's on my "to do" list :)

Ms. O'Malley was a breath of fresh air to my evening last night.  The last time I went to check on her, as I rose out of my chair at her bedside and told her good night, she said, "Thank you for taking care of me tonight in such a loving way.  I enjoyed you and hope you have a safe drive home."

Truth is, I simply sat beside Ms. O'Malley and "chewed the fat" with her, as they say here in Texas :)  I enjoyed her immensely, and she provided welcome relief to me that night in the midst of all the busyness and running around.

Ms. O'Malley reminded me of something last night in my work as a nurse: she reminded me of the importance of presence.

The precious gift of simply being present with one another in this busy world, is a very valuable thing :)

(*name has been changed to protect confidentiality)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Smoothie Recipes

Here are a few of my favorite Smoothie recipes, involving the use of protein powder.  I try to have one protein drink a day, as I am a big believer in it's energy, strength, and immunity-building benefits.  I use Spirotein protein powder, but there are many other kinds.  I like Spirotein because they make so many different flavors.

I call this one, the "Chunky Monkey" smoothie:

-1/4 glass full of ice
-1/2 glass full of milk
-a few scoops of peanut butter
-a scoop of chocolate protein powder
-a banana sliced up

Blend all ingredients together and Enjoy!

This one is my "Granola Goodness" one:

-1/4 glass of frozen strawberries
-a banana sliced up
-a few scoops of peanut butter
-1/2 glass full of milk
(sometimes I'll throw in a little strawberry yogurt, too)

Blend all ingredients and top with granola (this can be any kind- I use my granola cereal alot).

**If you want to be super-healthy, use organic peanut butter and soy/almond milk.  I have to confess I'm a regular milk-drinking gal, so I actually haven't tried soy milk in these to see how that would taste.  I simply don't like the taste of soy milk and can't bring myself to drink it.  These recipes are using skim milk.

My secret smoothie-making weapon is one very important item:

The Magic Bullet.

Some of you may have seen these on television.  I did, too, and was skeptical.  Then one of my roommates owned one, I tried it, and have decided it's the best thing since sliced bread.  I make protein shakes, smoothies, and even chop veggies in it from time to time.  Bed, Bath, and Beyond carries them, and I only mention that store because they put coupons in your mail so often, you can get one for 20% off if you have one of their coupons.  I'm a huge fan of the Bullet and would recommend it if you are a regular smoothie/protein shake drinker.

The reason I love it is because you put all your ingredients in the Magic Bullet cup, blend it with the cup, screw the top off, and go.  You only have one small part to wash after the blending, which makes preparation and clean-up a whiz.  I am on-the-go often, so if I'm going to be making smoothies, I need them to be easy to make.  And the Magic Bullet makes it oh-so-easy.

Enjoy the beautiful spring day, everyone!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Bible: It Will Pump. You Up.

"A sound mind makes for a robust body, but runaway emotions corrode the bones."  Proverbs 14:30

The Bible tells us to be "transformed by the renewing of our mind"- we do this by the reading of God's Word. 

Want another tool to help you have a "robust body?"  Another way to prevent bone erosion and runaway emotions?

Spend time in God's Word today.  It really is the best medicine for what ails you :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

10 Ways to Avoid the Emergency Room

Over the holidays, The Post in Tennessee ran an article one day entitled, "Top 10 ways to avoid emergency room visits."

As a nurse, I believe prevention is key, so I was excited to read the article.

After reading I thought I would share the article's tips with you.  Dr. Kevin Beier, the chairman of emergency medicine at Middle Tennessee Medical Clinic, shared these tips:

1. Use appropriate protective equipment with tools and use tools only for indicated and directed use.  (You can bet if this is the good doctor's numero uno tip, there's a reason.  You would not believe the things that come though an E.R. every day).  Dr. Beier said, "Especially important is use of eye protection with power equipment, hammering, and lawn equipment."  Aye, Aye, Cap'n- we only get one set of eyes in this life!

2.  Use seat belts while driving and especially with heavy equipment operation, such as bulldozers and tractors.  Yes!  The nurse agrees!  I've seen too many people banged up and with head injuries to not advocate the seat belt.  Put it on!

3.  Ladder and height-related injuries are one of the most common causes of serious limb and life-threatening injuries.  'Nough said.

4.  Use great care with pools and use child-protective equipment and close supervision of children and those with heart and neurological problems with pools to avoid drowning.  (That was a very long run-on-sentence, wasn't it?  Glad to see I'm not the only one who writes those now and again :)

5.  Mandate safety classes with firearm use, and don't take loaded firearms indoors.  Now Texas, I know around here carrying and owning your own handgun is like carrying your wallet every day, but this is critical.  Gun safety is just plain smart.

6.  Consult professionals for home repairs outside of your scope of expertise, especially electrical and roof-related repairs.  Yes, Tim the Toolman Taylor is fictional- remember that- he was the figment of a writer's imagination- don't go tryin' it at home if you aren't skilled. 

7.  Avoid high-risk activities such as 4-wheeler, all-terrain vehicle use, and recognize and avoid potentially catastrophic injuries, such as camping/hiking situations that expose one to bear attacks or hypothermia.  Not that y'all would go pitch a tent next to a bear in sub-zero temperatures, but it's a good reminder :)

8.  Be especially careful and aware of kids while mowing the lawn to avoid projectiles hitting kids or backing over kids.  (I know it is entirely not okay that this one made me laugh, but it did.  Nurses have horrible senses of humor sometimes, forgive me).  But do remove all projectiles and small children from your lawn before proceeding with your lawn-cutting duties, please.  :)

9.  Falling on stairs commonly causes head and extremity injuries.  Many of these can be avoided by holding on to the railing and turning on lights.  Yes!  I can't tell you how many hip and knee replacement patients I have at work on a weekly basis due to a fall on stairs.  Usually these are involving more the elderly population, due to those brittle bones I mentioned a few posts ago, so stay up on taking your vitamins, and turn those lights on!

10.  Don't use waders while duck hunting or fishing in boats.  I have absolutely nothing to say about this one, because I have no idea what waders even are.  I'm assuming they are some item of clothing one wears in outdoor pursuits, so just remember to take them off around the ducks or while on the boat.  Apparently, this is important.

--We often joke at the hospital that the reason silly warnings are placed on things is because someone actually did something warranting the warning.  If these are an E.R. doc's top 10 tips, then he has probably had many patients doing things that warrant these tips.  Therefore, we'd all be wise to take heed!

Happy Monday, everyone!

(--Taken from The Murfreesboro Post, January 3, 2010).

Friday, March 26, 2010

Viagra: And How I Almost Had a Heart Attack

This week I took one of my favorite little people, Henry, out for ice cream.

We landed at the local Dairy Queen and sat down in one of their old-fashioned booths.

I asked Henry about all manner of little people things, like soccer, school, toys- you know, the usual stuff.

Then we talked about buying his Mom some flowers on the way home.

Our local Dairy Queen has one of those large flat screen televisions on the wall, so while I was in mid-bite of my ice cream, Henry suddenly exclaimed, "Ms. Beth!  Look!"

I looked up to the television where Henry was pointing only to discover a commercial for the medication, Viagra.  I'm sure my face turned beet red, as I slowly turned back around to face Henry and figure out why he was so excited about a Viagra commerical.  I tried quickly to figure out answers in my head to the questions I was sure were on the way.

I was already a little nervous driving around someone else's treasure of a child in my car about town, so this almost sent me over the edge.

I looked at Henry next with my eyes raised and slowly said, "What is it, buddy?"

"Flowers," he said with a smile.  "Like the ones we might buy Mommy."

The old man on the bicycle happily riding off into the sunset on the commercial, due to Viagra, was holding flowers- like the ones we were going to buy Henry's Mommy.


I may or may not have had a mild heart attack right there in Dairy Queen with my dipped cone.  I remember praying that I will never EVER, please, dear Jesus, one day have to explain to my children what Viagra is for and why all the old men seem so happy about it, as they ride off into the sunset.

The nurse decided this week maybe she's not ready for this thing called motherhood- so many near calamities could happen- in the name of eating some ice cream.

Have a great weekend, everyone :) 

See ya back next week with another patient story or two, some easy and healthy Smoothie recipes, and tips on how to avoid the Emergency Room.  Obviously, STAY AWAY from the television with small children if you want to avoid some mighty strong heart palpitations :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Let My Circle Be Unbroken...

Last night seemed to be Marriage 101 at work.

Since I'm a single, I took notes.

I received a new admission patient first off, early in the afternoon.  After we'd gotten her settled into her new room, her husband came and sat with her for the afternoon.  He wore cowboy boots, a light blue suit jacket, navy blue suit pants, and a very large beige cowboy hat.  I kept having to look for his face under that hat :)

As I was assessing my new patient, Mrs. Phillips*, and asking her questions, Mr. Phillips, her husband, began to ask me some questions.  He finished up with, "Are you married?"

"Nope," I said.

"Well, sit down and let me tell you a few things."

He waited for me to actually sit down :)  (Nurses don't really sit, so I had to actually go outside and search for a chair).

"First things first," he said. "Your husband's got to be a Christian.  That's most important.  I don't know if you are a person of... faith, and don't be one of those girls who thinks she can make him into a Christian after the 'I do' at the altar.  If he ain't been a Christian all along, he won't 'poof' turn into one because of your wiley ways.  Got it?"

"Got it," I said.

"Okay, now look, if he's a  Christian, and he's REALLY a Christian, then good.  This here's my wife of 60 years.  60 years and she's still my wife; my queen; my lover; my friend; my best woman.  Now that hasn't changed, and in fact it's grown deeper.  You've got to have a Christian man."

I smiled.

He went on to talk to me about divorce, the challenges of blended families, and other things.

"Now, let's circle up and pray," he then said.

The Phillips' daughter was in the room, so the four of us, plus the family's Pastor who had somehow slipped into the room in the middle of all this- we joined hands and Mr. Phillips began to pray.

"Lord, thank you for my wife.  And thank you for a Christian nurse.  We pray for her RIGHT NOW, God, that you will send her a Godly husband.  That you will bless her home that one day she might say, 'Let the circle of my own family be unbroken.'  Bless her in all she does.  Amen."

Amen.  I received it!  I felt so blessed to be prayed for like that.  A little heaven dropped onto my earth last night, and it felt lovely :)

Later in the evening, I stopped by my patient's room to check on him, and his roommate motioned me over.  His roommate, Mr. Oneida,* and Mr. Oneida's wife were watching television together.

"Say, will you tell my nurse I need a sleeping pill?"

"Yes, sir, I will."  After helping him out with a few things, he said, "Say, are you married?"

I must have had a sign on my forehead last night or something.

"No, sir, I'm not."

"Well, we'll be married 60 years next month."

"What's the secret to 60 years?" I asked them.  I've learned to ask my sweet older patients this, because the answers are often humorous and heartwarming at the same time :)

"Love. One. Another.  That's it.  All these people who get divorced and say it can't work- well it can.  Give it a go- and Don't.  Give.  Up.  That's the key.  It's really simple and people make it all complicated.  Choose to love one another.  Sometimes it's a choice.  But the choice eventually leaks over into a feeling, just give it time.  It can work, and it is a blessing to remain together for years and years.  I'm proud of my wife, and I love her."

Mrs. Oneida puffed up her chest at that :)

I believe God was giving me hope last night in the form of my patients.  It is easy to look out over this crazy world and wonder if your simple girl's hopes and dreams for love and marriage will become reality.  You look out at all the media, the lust, the ravages on family, and fear can easily set in.  You wonder sometimes if what you still want to reach for is possible.

My patients last night reminded me it is- in a very heartwarming way. 

I pray we Americans aren't losing the lessons our older generation would teach us if we would simply stop to listen.  That's one reason sharing with you what they teach me is so important- they have a wealth of wisdom to offer.  I'm blessed to sit among these elders each night I go into work.  Seems foolish sometimes, in comparsion to the ways of the world.  But God said He would use the foolish things of this world to confound the wise :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Low Down On Bones

"If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people's sins; If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places-- firm muscles, strong bones. You'll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry." Isaiah 58 (The Message).

If you're like me, you've been hearing alot in the media about osteoporosis, calcium, and bone health.

Recently I was asked to work a community health expo as a stroke nurse to educate the public more about strokes.  While I was there, there was a booth for free bone density scanning.  That afternoon, the nurses at the bone booth had me come over and check my own bone density to ensure all was well.

Rather confidently, I went over and put my foot on the machine, expecting a stellar result.  I was one of those kids who drank milk like it was going out of style throughout my childhood.  I still drink a ton of milk and was sure my bone density levels would be stellar as a result. 

Imagine my surprise when the nurse looked over her little beady glasses at me and told me I was close to the "Danger Zone."  Yep, those are the exact words she used, thank you- the "Danger Zone" for being at risk for calcium deficiency and bone problems. 

I had a mini-freakout on the inside, me the lady who ingests milk like candy, and asked her what I needed to be doing so that I don't cross over into the "Danger Zone."  I wasn't sure what that meant, but it sounded scary.

"Just take an extra calcium + Vitamin D pill with your daily multivitamin," she said, "And you should be fine."

Alright, ladies (and gents, if any of you out there are reading), here's some lowdown on bone density health and why it matters.  I didn't know much about this, even though I'm a nurse, so I decided to get schooled since the yellow tape was flying around, saying, "Warning- near the danger zone!"  And the best prescription for good health, I believe, lies in the words above, taken from the book of Isaiah in the Bible.  Honoring God with our lives means everything is better- including our physical health.  Discipline begets discipline, I once heard a wise woman say.

---Why does it matter?  Good question.  Here are some statistics on why taking care of our bones matters: 
     According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, and 1 in 5 men will.  A 10% loss of bone mass in the vertebrae can double the risk of vertebral fractures, and similarly, a 10% loss of bone mass in the hip can result in a 2.5 times greater risk of hip fracture.  58% of women aged 50 to 59 have low bone mass, and the percentage gets higher with age.  1.5 million fractures per year are caused by osteoporosis.

---What actually is Osteoporosis?  Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become increasingly brittle, porous, and likely to break/fracture.  This can result in decreased height, pain, and skeletal deformity.  It is more common in the elderly and those on long-term steroid medication therapy.

---Vitamin D is important because it helps your body absorb and retain the calcium you take in.

---What does "bone density" actually mean?  Well, it's like this: the higher the mineral content in your bones, the more dense they are.  The more dense your bones are, the stronger they are.  If they are stronger, they are less likely to break.  This is why a fall for an older person often results in a fracture- their bones simply aren't as strong to sustain the fall.

---How much calcium/vitamin D does one need per day?  In all my research, different people say different things.  I will say, I think a yearly checkup with your physician will provide the best answer to that question.  The need will depend on your age, your health history, and your diet.  I could go into numbers here, but everyone from the Harvard School of Public Health to the Mayo Clinic to the International Osteoporisis Foundation has a different idea on recommended levels.  If I post those here for you, it will only confuse you, as it did me.  I would say for most of you, if you're eating a balanced diet and taking a daily multivitamin, you should be well on your way to good bone health.  There are higher risk factors for osteoporosis including a family history, alcohol/tobacco use, chronic use of steroid or anti-seizure medications, and being a small, thin-framed individual.  Next time you see your physician, simply inquire about how much Vitamin D/Calcium he/she would recommend for you individually.
---What else can I do for bone health?  Exercise.  Bones get stronger with exercise, and strength-building or weight-building exercises like lifting weights, walking, or climbing stairs will all build good bone health.  Diet and exercise prevent almost every major illness affecting our country today.  Bone health included!


I hope this post today simply raises awareness.  So the next time you meet with your doctor, you can inquire about your own bone health and take steps to proactively ensure the best quality of life for yourself.  We all have to start somewhere, and if you feel behind- don't worry!  It's never too late to start making good choices for your health and your body.  That's one of the beautiful gifts God has given us- new mercies every morning.  I struggle too, daily, making myself go to the gym or take a jog.  I want to eat some chocolate-sweet-goodness as much as the next guy.  If we fall down, we simply get back up, and keep trying!

At the end of the day, it's about experiencing LIFE in all it's fullness- the good life Jesus affords us if we only lean in.  Let's reach for it together!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Eating Well, Living Well

I grew up in Tennessee as a true Southerner.  Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and creamed corn were weekly diet staples at our house.

Heck, fried anything was a staple. Along with cooking any recipe with at least 2 whole sticks of butter. (I once observed my mother cooking the Thanksgiving dinner and vowed to never watch again. Lord, help us, all the butter).

Then God up and moved me to Texas, where I landed in a home with 1 native Californian and 1 native Coloradoan as my roommates.

To say our eating habits and meal choices were different is an understatement.

My cabinet was full of potato chips, candy, and starches galore.  Their cabinet had organic this-or-that, raw sugar, whole wheat flour, and odd words like flax seed and lentils.

I snubbed their healthiness until I got tired enough of staring out at sick people every day at the hospital in my work as nurse.  I was quickly developing a fear I might one day turn into one of them. Where I live in East Texas is considered the stroke belt of our nation; this is largely due to diet and lack of exercise.  Our Southern diets are killing us or disabling us too early and cheapening our quality of life.

So, I decided to humble thyself and learn this thing called: Eating Well.

My roommates schooled me, and my arteries are forever indebted to them :)

It's not so difficult. I feel a lot better eating well, and I have a proactive weapon against the fear of a declining quality of life in my golden years.  I'm still learning what it means to eat healthy foods, and here on the blog, we'll learn together. We'll explore some things like acai juice, juicing, flax seed, etc.

To kick off the Eating Well, Living Well section of this blog, here's a recipe I recently obtained from a friend.

I call it "Salmon Salad Goodness:"

-Romaine Lettuce
-Bag of Salmon (Chicken of the Sea has these bags in the tuna section of the grocery store, and they are very cost efficient)
-an avocado, cut up into cubed-sized pieces
-pine nuts (I found a bag of them at the store, and after making 5 of these salads, I still haven't used the whole bag.  Just throw as many onto the salad as you would like).

-Mix salt, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar to taste.

Put the above ingredients together and drizzle on the dressing.

It's easy-peasey. I don't often crave a salad, because I still feel hungry after eating them. But, probably due to the avocado, this one is very filling. I'm not a huge salmon fan, either, but I like this. It's also high in protein- great for you diabetics out there and anyone else who lives on a busy schedule.  Protein is nature's gift of an energy boost.

You'll want to multiply the ingredients based on how many you're feeding. I'll buy a smaller bag of salmon when I'm making it just for myself and use half an avocado for one serving. Go easy on the vinegar- I learned this the hard way :) It's a delicate balance, oil and vinegar. Doesn't take much salt, either. So, go easy, all you salt fanatics out there :)

Hope you enjoy this salad, and I'll post other heart-healthy, not-so-difficult recipes on here from time to time. 

And, the best recipe for good health:

"Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own.  Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He's the one who will keep you on track.  Don't assume that you know it all.  Run to God! Run from evil!  Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!"  Proverbs 3:5

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hitting the Ground... Walking :)

This blog was ready to go in December.

However, as I soon figured out, I wasn't. To everything, there is a season :)

So I continued to post over at Journey. Thank you, readers and friends, for hitching along your wagon to the wonderful bloggy community with me. I can't see giving up that blog- it's been too much of a chronicle to let go of it just yet. I'll still post there from time to time, as well.

But alas, finally, it's time to turn over a new leaf.

Nurse's Nook is joining the blogosphere.

You'll find stories of what it's like to be an American nurse at the bedside in today's hospital world. And, sorry to disappoint you folks, but it ain't like Grey's Anatomy.

It's better.

Better, in a much more real and raw way. You won't find Dr. McDreamy here. But you might find his grandpa who will warm your heart and lighten your load.

So, stay tuned...

Some LIFE is coming here to these parts :)