30 November 2005

Battle royale (with cheese)

Anyone who has ever had to share a bed with someone understands the unwritten rules in this battle. The object is to be comfortable and asleep for the maximum possible time. It really doesn't have anything to do with the other person in the bed, except that their comfort and sleep will frequently prevent or postpone yours. Two people in the same bed will never have the same preferences, and someone will always be snoring, guaranteed.

Not-So-Pregnant (my sister) was one of the more challenging people I've ever tried to share sleeping space with when we were kids (and yes, things have improved slightly). In addition to the usual temperature battles involving the covers, she would steal my pillow and sleep diagonally across the bed. Being the older sister, I would occassionally dump her onto the floor to reclaim my space. Seemed fair, we'll call that one a tie.

Even sharing a room can be a challenge as my first college roommate demonstrated. She slept in flannel pajamas, under flannel sheets, with a down comforter, and assorted other blankets, in a dorm room where the temperature was generally set to "broil". Still, if I had the audacity to open the window even a crack because my bed was more like a water bed from the sweat, she would wake from a sound sleep less than 5 minutes later and close it again and gripe at me in the morning. Really, I timed her - less than 5 minutes. How the air could even get to her that quickly through all those layers is still a mystery to me. This one is definitely a loss for me as I could never stay awake long enough to open the window every time she closed it over the course of a year.

I guess my subconcious has decided to win a battle for once, because last night, I rolled over and impacted K with something equivalent to a knee drop from the top ropes. Yes, he was quite soundly asleep and didn't do anything to deserve it. No, I didn't do it on purpose but actually just forgot he was there. Between working and traveling lately, I haven't had to share the bed in quite a while. And I actually was somewhat awake enough to think about it before I rolled over, and honestly thought he wasn't there.

So say hello to the new reigning champion, at least for a little while...

29 November 2005

0430 wake up call

K and I went out this morning for a girl having a seizure who was reported to be unresponsive but breathing at the time of the 911 call. Nothing gets me out of bed for this sort of thing like the thought of a kid in trouble. Running through my mind on the way out the door are all the things I hope I remember when I get there, and a checklist of clothes to be sure I'm actually fully dressed. K being with me takes a lot of the pressure off because his experience and higher level of training means he can take charge, but I feel like I'm not going to improve my skills if I don't at least think through what is going on.

Travel at this time of morning was less than easy as there was thick fog and once off the main route the roads are slick with melting snow and ice compacted to the road. After the first couple of minutes, I was able to relax a little because K was driving slowly and promised me he wouldn't crash us because then we wouldn't be able to help anybody. En route, we hear the update that the patient is now awake and responding, although still dazed.

We're first to arrive (barely) and we work on getting all the important info out of girl and mother and then eventually K starts to explain what is going to happen when the ambulance arrives, what might happen on the way to the hospital, and what might happen when they get there (including the long wait while the hospital locates the on-call neurologist). We work under the assumption that the patient is going by ambulance, mostly because it would generally be a bad situation to have a parent driving to the hospital and have another seizure happen. It wouldn't necessarily be bad for the patient, but it tends to panic the driver and cause accidents especially when the mother is already agitated.

Although one of the other staff that K knows and likes is on the ambulance when it arrives 10-15 minutes later, she mentions to the mother that they don't have to go by ambulance if the mother feels comfortable driving the girl. K is visibly biting his tongue at this point, and eventually that is exactly what they decide to do. The whole way home I get an earful about what might happen to these people, how there isn't even cell phone coverage so the mother could call for help if she needed it, and how disappointed K is with the "sign her off and clear the scene" attitude.

I'm not sure where I fall on the issue because I know that they wouldn't have actually done anything for the girl in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, so essentially it would be a really expensive taxi ride, but I agree that if she had another seizure while the mother was driving, that would be bad news. I do know that if anything ever happens to me or anyone I know, I definitely want K right there because he's the best patient advocate I know. He even made a call to the emergency department to let them know the patient was coming so that they might actually start locating the doctor before they arrived.

28 November 2005

Family visitation

Holidays are always weird to me. It seems lonely if I'm not with my family (more than just K) and generally stressful if I am. This one was different. Maybe because my immediate family was all sick with a nasty cold so they spent most of the time sleeping and much less time being annoyed with one another, maybe because my nephew is the most adorable baby ever so everyone was focused on him, maybe we just finally hit the right alignment of the stars and planets, I don't know. It was odd to have a real holiday without K, who worked 120+ hours last week, it has been years since I've done it.

It was great to see the PA relatives since it has been at least 4 years since I made it back there. My cousins are now seniors in high school, driving themselves, and much more social than before - although it would be challenging to be less social with relatives than 14 year old boys. It was nice to be able to talk with them and start to get to know them as adults, they seem like very nice young men with great things ahead of them.

Seeing my grandmother in the nursing home was harder than I expected even though she was in about the condition I anticipated. It is always the little details - the incontinence pads on the bed, the need for assistance with everything - that make real what her daily life is like and how frustrated she is with not being on her own. Also interesting to see the shift in the burden of care. My uncle who had lived with her previously seemed much happier and well rested, more like a man in his 40s than the man in his 60s he seemed before. My aunt who lives closest to her now seemed a bit strung out (although I'm sure all of us camping out at her house contributed to that) and acknowledged the burden of visiting every day, trying to stay on top of the staff, and the guilt of knowing her mother had to be there even though she didn't want to be. I have to say that the whole thing worries me a bit because I'm not sure how I'd hold up in a similar situation, so I'm just going to stay on top of the parents to take care of themselves so I can avoid the whole thing as long as possible.

27 November 2005

No place like home

Made it home from PA this afternoon in time to head to basketball and help us lose by 20+ points. Strangely, I didn't think we played that poorly, but we got thumped anyway. I'll try and put some thoughts together about the weekend and update tomorrow...but tonight I'll be enjoying the silence of my house and the softness of my bed, ohhh yeaaahhh!

20 November 2005

No news is good news

Thankfully, we've had a quiet two days. K had a class Sat and Sun, so he's been riding around the rental car. Both of us are still a bit sore and achy, especially in the neck, but some extra sleep and ibuprofen have been taking care of it, so I think we're on the way to recovery.

We went to hockey Saturday night and it was a blow-out for the home team. Kind of disappointing because it is fun to watch a good game, but at least they finally got their second win.

I played basketball today, and we finally won also, 47-48 against one of the teams that is traditionally pretty good. I feel like I actually had a pretty good game, and I won the tip-off. At the rate I'm going, they might actually let me keep jumping - which is odd because I don't usually start. We even had some team bonding after the game and every one left me alone about not drinking with them when I commented that after the week I've had, I'm not taking any unnecessary chances.

19 November 2005

Week in Review, part 2

Okay, so where was I...Friday, tow truck on it's way, state police roused from bed, hanging out with strangers. This is when K turns to me and says, "If I came up on this call in the ambulance, there is NO WAY I would let those people leave without going to the hospital." And here we were, planning to drive ourselves in later. Looking out the window, we see yellow flashers down by our car and assume the tow truck has arrived, but when I got out there, it was actually another wreck - in the same spot. The woman was able to drive away with some damage to her front bumper, but she simply slid straight into the concrete part of the guardrail.

Finally, we finish the police report and ride back with the mechanic, who sends us in the car with his wife on her way to work so we can get a rental car. Then we finally go to the hospital. K gets x-rays for both his hand and his shoulder which are each extremely tender and swollen (which equals possibly broken), but ultimately no broken bones, just muscle pain, cuts and scrapes. Thankfully, only one day off work for each of us, but unfortunately K still can't go to turkey day which we were thinking he could if he had actually broken anything because he certainly wouldn't be working.

We start making all the appropriate phone calls back at the house, and eventually, it gets to the point where we can't even put the phone down because every time we hang up from a call, it rings again.

Good news for Friday, the electric meter-reader came for his monthly rounds, and then comes to the door and asks if we actually have electricity because the meter is broken. Yes, we do, and no, we didn't know it was broken. Score! Free electricity for maybe close to a month! He quickly replaced the meter.

Okay, I'm pooped from yesterday and heading out to save the world today, so everyone else take care and be safe!!

Week in review

Sunday - Basketball team lost by 9 to a not-so great team. I was puffing and wheezing and had to resort to the inhaler to breathe. But I did get to do the tip-off and that was pretty cool.

Monday - Worked all day, felt too sick for yoga. K gets invited to interview next week for one of the local jobs.

Tuesday - I don't remember it, so it probably wasn't too bad. Took Clunk & Bang to the mechanic because it was making another noise.

Wednesday - I had the pickup because Clunk & Bang was in the shop and the Civic was getting new snow tires. Hit a deer with the pickup. No human injuries, one dead deer, one undriveable pickup on it's way to the body shop until mid-December.

Thursday - I took K to the ambulance to work, then drove myself the 1/2 hour to work. Worked all day and then some. Picked up dinner and K from work. K and I went to basketball practice and ran around a little.

Friday - I was supposed to be working at the ambulance rescuing people and K was supposed to be working 1 1/2 h away from the house, but we had a minor transportation problem since C&B is still in the shop, and the pickup is undriveable. K was going to drop me off at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m. and then head to work. When we head out, there is snow and ice on the roads.

About halfway to the ambulance, K hits a patch of black ice causing us to slide toward the guard rail over a small creek. He manages to steer us away from that one, and now we are headed toward the one on the other side which has a lovely section of concrete in the middle. He makes a last over-correction and sends us into a spin and directly into a telephone pole. We impact at the driver's side door and come quickly to a stop from approximately 35 mph. We're both covered in shattered glass and K is bleeding, but amazingly, we seem to be okay. No cell phone coverage here, so we head up the road to find someone to let us use their phone at 4:50 a.m. I don't know about you, but if someone knocked on my door at that time of the morning, I probably wouldn't answer, I'd just call the police. These kind folks let us in, offered us coffee, and made coherent conversation for that time of morning. Ahh, the joys of small town living.

State police are not on-duty at that time of morning, so we have to wait until they can rouse one from bed and send him our way. We call the mechanic where C&B is, who still has our pickup on the flatbed tow truck in his yard, and ask if he'd like to come tow our next car. He asks if we're kidding. K says not at 5 a.m.

Hate to do it, but I've got to head out to the ambulance right now, so this will have to be...
To Be Continued...

17 November 2005

Put the hubby on hold

See, this is the problem with medical research. One group tells you to do something and the next day someone else tells you not to do it. Oral sex can lead to mouth cancer. So, fellatio reduces negative pregnancy outcomes but increases your risk of cancer (due to HPV infection similar to cervical cancer).

I wouldn't normally think of oral sex as a dental problem, but apparently I would be wrong.

16 November 2005

Venison anyone?

Hunting season started last weekend and I think the deer decided to take revenge. Stupid animal ran out in the middle of the freeway this evening, and I committed venison vehicular homicide. I was in the right lane of two northbound lanes and I saw the deer when it was in the median and slammed on the brakes. If I hadn't seen it, I probably would've either missed it or had it hit the rear of the pickup. But, I saw it and tried to stop, so I hit it with the front corner of the truck instead. K was impressed with the damage when he got there, and was actually surprised the airbag didn't deploy, but I think that was mostly because the majority of the breaking happened before I hit the critter.

Thankfully, across the street from our house is a fabulous mechanic with a tow truck and I wrecked in a cell phone coverage area (very rare around here), so I was able to call the insurance company, the state police, the tow truck, and have someone run across the street and get K off the computer which was tying up the telephone line. If I believed in miracles, all those things happening in one evening would probably qualify.

No injuries. No other vehicles involved. One very nice gentleman who stopped to make sure I was okay and had access to a phone. I was going to exercise this evening, but I think I've used up my allotted adrenaline today.

15 November 2005


Apparently the honest answer was good enough. After K's interview yesterday, we got a phone call saying they would like to offer both of us jobs. K's even comes with a $5k signing bonus, if he stays 3 years (and we all know how likely that is for a man whose current record is 14 months). But. We found the downside. I asked about pay. You know, the how the heck are we going to shelter and feed ourselves kind of question.

Maybe we can just live at the station, because we certainly aren't going to be able to afford anyplace else. Or maybe they have the take your work vehicle home with you set-up like some of the cops, I think we could live in an ambulance - at least there'd be a place to sleep. After six months I could make just over $9/hr. Plus incentives which might amount to another $1/hr. K could make just over $11/hr. The two of us together will make less monthly than I currently make alone. And then if I go back to school, we'll have to live on half that (plus financial aid which equals student loans).

I think I managed to stay pleasant and sound interested with the human resources person on the phone. Really though, I wanted to cry (actually, I still do). Maybe one of K's local job opportunities will pan out, because we aren't moving across the country for that kind of $$. I think I might call Oregon just to feel better, but I'm afraid her answer won't be any better and then I will have to cry.

14 November 2005

Flip, Pick, and Riff

Thanks to Land of Beans for today's creative exercise.

1.FLIP open a dictionary, and point to a word.
2.Type the word into Google images.
3. PICK an image that strikes you.
4.Write a 10-line RIFF on the image.
5. Use the word or meaning of the word at least once in the first five lines of the riff.
6. Tag 3 other bloggers on your list. (I'm just going to tag the one I think will respond)

Word: freeloader

Sitting at the next table was an attractive man working on a laptop, with whom I had exchanged glances on several occasions. Today was the day. I slid my chair over and asked how he felt about freeloaders on his system. He laughed and replied that it was the price of business. Thinking that was a rather liberal attitude, I immediately confessed to having penetrated his system several times when I needed local access.

His reaction was not what I expected. He picked up his laptop and hurried at a near-run out the exit. Seconds later, my screen blinked. A message from him. He didn't think that we should be seen together; after all, there was a price on our heads. And I still didn't know his name.

Tag: Not-so Pregnant.

12 November 2005

UnAmerican research

UnAmerican only in the sense that I think it would be extremely unlikely for this research to be accomplished here. All medical research has to be approved by an IRB (Institutional Review Board) which scrutinizes every aspect of the study, including every survey question, before being performed on humans or animals. And a lot of medical research is funded through federal government grants. Can you imagine the current administration ever funding this: Correlation between oral sex and a low incidence of preeclampsia: a role for soluble HLA in seminal fluid?

Even if you don't read the whole abstract, I think you get the idea from the title. Women should perform fellatio (and swallow) to perhaps avoid preeclampsia when pregnant. Very important biochemically, see honey, the doctor even said so. I can't even imagine attending a research meeting with this group. Somebody would probably break out in Beavis & Butthead chuckles every few minutes. Huh, huh, huh, we said oral sex, huh, huh.

I never said medical research couldn't be fun.

11 November 2005


Just got done with a telephone interview and I'm strung out. I spent all day worrying about it and being completely distracted and now that it is over, I'm still kind of twitchy. I was worried about what kinds of questions you could possibly ask during an interview for a patient-care job. Maybe, do you find patients annoying? If someone does something stupid, are you willing to smack them around a little? Are you willing to talk about people behind their backs?

It hadn't occurred to me how much harder it was going to be to interview over the phone where you can't see the reaction from interviewers or have any sense whether you're giving a good answer. The whole time I'm just envisioning them making faces at one another like "ewww, why would we hire her?", or pushing mute and laughing at my stupid answers. Hard to sound confident when you have thoughts like this going through your head.

I've never felt so nervous about hypothetical questions either. What would you do if...your head fell off in the middle of a shift? your partner turned out to be a raving lunatic? your patient runs off while you turned around? Jeez, I don't know, is scream for help the right answer to all three? How about... 1) keep working, company very important. 2) sock him or her in the nose and see if that fixes it. 3) my patients never run off, I always tie them down securely.

One guarantee about interviews, you're always going get the "why do you want to work here" question. Sometimes I want to tell them, "I don't! I hate you all and think you suck, I just sent you an application to amuse myself at your expense." Then cackle madly. Don't think that would work to get hired though. I don't know if my honest answer today was really any better though, I guess we'll see.

10 November 2005

Release the beast, part 2

This is actually a different sort of beast than part 1. As part of any application process, you always have to have references. The difficult part is when the people who know you and/or your work the best are those you currently work for and who may not need to know that you're considering leaving.

I asked a woman in such a position whether she'd be willing to be a reference. We'd had conversations in the past about the fact that my ambitions may not lie with this job, or even this line of work, and she seemed supportive. I did not go around making a broad announcement I'm leaving, because I'm not leaving yet and I don't know when that day will be. If it isn't for six months, I don't want to feel awkward everytime I go to work. Or find out that I don't really have a job to go to anymore because everyone took their grant money to support someone who was going to be available long-term. I knew she was close with one of the other women I work with, but I thought I'd made it pretty clear that I wasn't really ready to have conversations with everyone.

I guess I didn't make it clear enough. She told another woman, who also supports part of my salary. The second woman then came to me with "Do we need to have a conversation about your future?" I answered, no. She pressed on with, "Well, I hear you're leaving, can we talk about that?" And a long, awkward conversation followed. Then she wanted to know whether another person who supports my salary knew, and whether she was allowed to tell him. Ugh! I told her that I prefered to tell people on my own schedule when I knew more about the timeline of what was going on and what I was going to be able to offer in terms of helping their transition.

This week, I felt guilty that this man didn't know and worried that he'd hear from someone else, so I had a awkward conversation with him too. I'm leaving, but I don't know when, and I don't want to find myself out of a job before I'm ready to leave. At least he was reasonably flattering in the sense that he asked what it would take to get me to stay, or at least keep working with his group. Including wondering if he could double my salary if I joined on with a group he works with elsewhere.

Everyone has been supportive of me on a personal level. They recommend that if I want to make a change, I should charge in, but nobody wants to see me leave behind all the work I'm doing for them personally. But, word is out. I worked from home today to accomplish a few million things and, just a little bit, to hide out from more awkward conversations with people. Hopefully everyone took the opportunity while I was out to talk about everything so they can act like grownups when I get back.

Release the beast

I was considering trying to do HNT, but I think I'm too chicken to show the world parts of myself, and I don't know anyone else who will hold still for a camera. This week is just photo Thursday and maybe I'll keep trying for HNT, but until then, enjoy the beast!

08 November 2005

Subtle knocking

Opportunity never knocks on my door. It generally kicks down the door with four or five friends and bashes me in the head until I make a decision. Go or stay? Near or far? More money or more freedom? Gives me quite a headache at times. I recognize that I am blessed by having an abundance of choices, but isn't it easier when there is an obvious answer?

Just as K and I have set our sights to leaving, some possibilities for staying arise. If we stay, I could probably keep some of the financial security of my current job on a part-time basis, should be able to find a full-time job heading the new direction, and might be able to start school 8 months earlier since the programs here start in January instead of August. But, we would still be "here" in a general sense (because we'd still have to move), which feels like a let-down at this point. "Here" is also not where I want to stay for the rest of my life, but places have a way of sucking you in when you're not looking.

Based on a process he put into motion a year and a half ago, K is suddenly getting invited to apply for good jobs in this area. 3! In less than two weeks! No guarantee on getting hired, or even interviewed, but these are the kinds of opportunities he's been striving to get for the last seven years. If we move away, he will definitely have to wait at least six months and probably longer to get into hiring pools at the new place, and then hope to get hired sooner or later. There's a chance he might never hired as a FF again, but that might not be a bad thing.

And, how can I resist the lure of the hiring officer in Oregon who was excited to talk to us? She really made my whole weekend when I spoke with her Friday, and K on Saturday. We were both left wondering why we hadn't jumped on a plane immediately and signed up. Yes, that is her job. But that is also the job of several other people we've talked to, and I've never hung up the phone feeling this way. Any suggestions?

Off topic: I've heard that you're unable to dream in a foreign language until you've reached a comfortable fluency level where your brain can think through the language even on auto-pilot. What does it say if I'm dreaming about helping and rescuing everyone? All night, every night? And I sometimes wake up panicked because there must be people out there, right now, who need my help and I'm just laying around in bed?

07 November 2005


New door was installed in less than 3 hours with the fabulous assistance of a carpenter friend who only took pizza for payment. Amazing how smoothly things go when you have someone who knows what they are doing. K and I still have to stain and finish the door, and then a little more help on the trim work and we should be all set. Company sent us the wrong stupid plastic plugs for the trim, which we discovered after more than an hour of trying to cram them in tiny holes, new ones to arrive in 10 days.

Drinking and driving is a bad idea. 65 mph into the back end of a farm tractor (5 mph) leaves a mark on you and the car, even at 5:30 pm on a work day. Don't tell me you aren't hurt if you've had more than a six-pack in the last hour. Believe me, you are and you just can't feel it.

Hot air ballooning is more dangerous than it appears. Especially when your "pilot" gets you stuck in a tree for over 6 hours and you're 80 years old and can't get out of the basket even when it is on the ground.

Ways to annoy me: after calling for expert assistance on something, stand there and criticize, or offer "suggestions", that the people actually doing the work don't need. Continue even after being told to stop. Repeat for at least two hours.

Basketball season started yesterday, I missed the game, but the team opened with a nine-point loss to one of the good teams. Hockey season tickets start this Friday, oh yeah!

03 November 2005

Saving the world

I was an athletic trainer in high school; interested in being a physical therapist when I went to college; ended up a long ways from either one. I finally figured out what these original desires had in common - I want to help people. Not particularly because I'm selfless and desire to further humankind or anything really sappy like that. The desire is more along the lines of being able to fix things. Broken leg? You get a splint. Short of breath? You get oxygen. Surgery on your leg? A routine of strengthening and stretching for you. All better, buh bye.

My current job has some aspects of this fix-it mentality, but ultimately is too far upstream from helping people. I can help with research, and maybe some of it will eventually change medical diagnosis, treatment, or policy. But the day-to-day aspect is that I'm furthering the research careers of individuals who frequently express their motivation more in terms of publications and their relative position to other researchers than in terms of making a difference. Everything is tentative, needs additional follow-up studies, and will never be the final word. Otherwise, there wouldn't be anything to ask for more grant money to do, or write more papers about.

I consider my position almost strictly service-oriented. People bring projects and I produce results. It is both the secret to my success and the torment of my days. I'm ready to try a more direct method of helping people. One of my long-held fears about this sort of thing is that I don't want to listen to people complain, and complain, and complain. What if I don't want to help them because they're too annoying? Maybe I'm mellowing with age, but I finally feel like that won't be a problem, or at least not too big of a problem. I've been trying out this new field in a limited way and even "teenage girl syndrome" wasn't as bad as I feared and most people don't want to be a bother, even if they need help. I've spent a lot more time trying to convince people they need help than vice versa.

01 November 2005

Oh! Oh, Canada!

Just back from our anniversary trip to Montreal and I am reminded of how absolutely FANTASTIC Canada is. I love Canada. What is not to love about a country that has a national hockey night?! I know that Montreal has a bad reputation for being unfriendly to non-French speakers, but I've found that they are just as kind and helpful as other parts of Canada. Even when you get into a situation where the people literally do not speak English, they still do whatever they can to help you out. Maybe they curse me in French when I walk away, but I don't know the difference anyway, so as long as they are smiling and nice, good enough for me.

Above is the restaurant where we ate dinner Saturday night. I had the best French dip sandwich ever, followed by an orgasmic piece of turtle cheesecake. Yes, you read it, I said it. K had a great reuben sandwich and super tasty chocolate layer cake. I don't think I've ever waited to be seated at a restaurant and been so very glad that I did. Usually by the time you make me wait for a table, you've ruined the whole experience, but the food absolutely erased any irritation due to the wait. We almost went back for a second dessert after the hockey game, but we're both trying to return to our girlish figures so we managed to resist the lure.

Sunday was very laid back with a nice slow walk through town and a beautiful bouquet of roses. We found a hole-in-the-wall restaurant at the north end of town that also specializes in smoked meat, and there was a rather long line outside, so thank goodness the weather was nice. Delicious, cheap, huge sandwiches were the feast of the night, and we ate at the counter, so we had a great view of all the meats. A reminder of why I like Canada - we were parked on the street and were trying our best to interpret the sign on the parking meter as to whether or not they charge parking on Sundays, when the gentleman who parked behind us politely told us that you don't have to pay on Sunday, unless you're from New York. I laughed throughout our wait at that.

K's casino experience was not quite everything he hoped for, as he did get to play craps but did not come home any richer. We always have time for Tim Horton's when we visit, and I am amazed that TimBits taste as good as I remember they do. I'm not sure how the Canadians manage to be not as fat as Americans, if I lived there I would probably weigh twice as much.

All in all, a delightful celebration of six years of married life and a reminder of why I'm lucky every day to be with K, even if he sometimes drives me insane and I return the favor for him.