Monday, December 6, 2010

A nonproductive study break...but a great blast from the past!

 As you are about to tell I have been really productive with my time since I got home from class! On Facebook this past weekend there was this movement of putting up a picture of your favorite childhood cartoon as a way to fight back against child abuse. Well, I had a hard time thinking of my favorite...Tail Spin? Gummy Bears? Chip n Dale? I started remembering shows from when I was a kid. Trav and I always talk about how our cartoons and shows were so much better than what is on now. You didn't have to worry about all the censoring or what could possibly be on an episode. They were just carefree and geared towards KIDS! 

I youtubed the theme song for Fraggle Rock and it kept suggesting more cartoons from the good old 80s and early 90s. I than became seriously distracted going to each one to see what I remembered. I decided to share them with you! :-) Now, what's going to happen when I enter in "Saved by the Bell" or "Brady Bunch" ?!

( Just click on the link to hear the theme song! I know you feel like procrastinating from whatever you are doing right now to skip down memory lane....)

Fraggle Rock

Disney Gummy Bears

Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers

Duck Tales

Dark Wing Duck

Tail Spin

Care Bears

Under the Umbrella Tree

Reading Rainbow







Tiny Toons

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Critical Care

I am already 4 weeks into my final term of nursing school. I can't even believe it! My classes consist of critical care lecture and clinical along with a course called Integration of Nursing concepts. All I have to say's alot of work! 

I truly like critical care but it is challenging. I usually am able to grasp concepts right away but this stuff I study for hours and I still can't comprehend it! I am just waiting for the day when it all just "clicks". ( It hasn't yet, lol) My lecture instructor is a hoot. She is straight from the south and her accent is amazing. Alot about her reminds me of my mom from her pixie hair cut, her animated stories, and more.She has been a flight nurse, trauma nurse, cardiac nurse, and the list goes on. She knows her stuff! Thankfully, she keeps class moving at a good pace but she keeps us focused and enthusiastic. Aside from her brutal test, I look forward to Tuesday morning with her.

Critical care clinical is at Placentia-Linda, this tiny little hospital hidden on Rose Drive. I love it! It's small enough where you don't feel lost as a nursing student but yet a handful of the nurses are willing to teach with a joyful attitude. We are rotated through units such as tele, ER, GI lab, outpatient surgery, ICU, and a day as team leader. After having a break between terms when we finally stepped into the hospital for the first day of clinical, I sighed a sigh of relief. I love hospitals. I love the shiny floors, the beeping call lights and IV pumps, the hustle and bustle, and constant changing. It's just the right place for me. :-)

Integration of nursing concepts may be the death of me. We are set up with an online virtual classroom where we had to take a predictor test for the state boards and based off our initial scores we are assigned a calendar to prep for these next weeks. I was given a 5 week one which entails practice exams after practice exams. And if you don't meet the bench mark score you are given remediation assignments and yes, more practice exams. I'm killing my eyes from staring at a computer taking tests all day....I'm also going to give myself some serious skin breakdown from sitting on my bum on the bed all day to do so! On top of that we have exams to take through HESI, Kaplan, and evolve case studies. Whew.

Last but not least, Simulation lab. I take back what I said before because THIS will be the death of me. I have my first testing this week on Wed/Thurs. Last week, they failed everyone on the first day. At least I won't have high expectations going in. This is where they see what we are made of. We have a whole suite on our campus for Sims. It is set up just like a hospital inside. In each room is a dummy, computerized charting, med carts, monitors, O2, and more. On one side of the room the whole wall is a one way window...that way our classmates can sit on the other side and critique us. In the corner is another one way window that leads into the control room where multiple instructors sit to evaluate you and control the situation. We each get 20 minute scenarios. We are given report, assigned a classmate to be our CNA, and that we must perform our head to toe assessment and enviroment checks within 5 min. Should you miss one thing, you miss it all. They grade us for technique, teaching, delegation, and the list goes on. At some point in the scenario our patient changes. He/She may have an MI, stroke, seizure, pneumonia, allergic reaction, pulmonary embolism, GI bleed, hypovolemia, A-fib, and undergo respiratory depression. They may go into V-tach/fib and need to be defibrilated which in that case we call a code and run through the whole thing, with a live, working defib machine. 

They want to see our focused assessments when something changes, nonpharmacological interventions, how we contact physicians, how we order labs and take med phone orders, how we chart, hang blood, push IV meds, and more. One of the instructors does the voice of the patient so that they actually respond to what we say. They are the doctor or pharmacist or charge nurse or whomever we call. There are cameras on us the whole time so they can zoom in to see the smallest of details. They record it so we can watch ourselves after and see what needs to be changed. The dummies are like live people. They sweat, cry, become cyanotic, have sputum, snot, they pee, they vomit, the poop, they seize, they show all physical signs of a stroke, and their pupils react to light. All sounds are there too. Every heart sound, lung sound, and bowel sound can be assessed. Pulses can be felt and their chest rises when they breath. You can get a real blood pressure reading too. And our instructors know if we touched the pulse in the right spot or listened to the right locations on the heart because it shows on their monitors.

Can you see why I am nervous? I want to throw up just thinking about it! I'm just praying I don't blank on Wed and I pray I don't kill or harm my fake but real patient! I can't believe these are the final weeks. I'm so ready to be done but seriously lacking the motivation to get there. I'm a breath away from being burned out. So please pray for strength and motivation to push through till the end!

Ermelings visit!!

The best part about schools in AZ is the early fall break they get! In October, the girls were given a week off from school so the Ermelings planned a Disneyland vacation! Of course I was pumped because that meant....they were coming to me! They had a fun trip planned and got great deals on Paradise Pier Hotel and multiple day pass to Disneyland!

Although I couldn't miss class and Trav was working, it still worked out for us to meet them at the happiest place on earth a few times. The new show, World of Color, at California Adventure is the hot new thing at Dland. However, you have to have a fast pass in order to see it. Lyns found that certain restaurants give you passes to up close viewing if you eat there first. So, we met them for a delicious dinner at Ariel's Grotto. After dinner we got front row viewing for the water show. It was beautiful! Disney really did a great job bringing everything to life. They had a long day at the parks before hand and Tessa was tired by the end of dinner. During the show I leaned down to see how she was liking it. She was swaying back and forth! She was sound asleep on her feet! I scooped her up and held her for the rest of the show. Oh how sad I'm going to be when I can't pick her up anymore!

The next morning we were both able to come back to fill a half of a day at the park! The girls had a list of rides they wanted to go on. They both love Big Thunder now....and I love that they are able to ride big rides finally! Lexi learned she was tall enough to drive her very own car on Autopia!!! I remember that totally feel like you are driving your own car...ruling the road! Tessa went on Materhorn...twice!

We had a blast with them while they were here! The visit was too quick but I am thankful I have seen them already since than! Christmas couldn't come soon enough!!!

Friday, December 3, 2010


( I promise I will get back to writing about my last term. I've been avoiding it because I spend so much time studying and in the books that being on the computer to do something non nursing is a good break! As we speak, I am even taking an online practice exam but I simply cannot focus, so I thought I would blog)

Aloha means hello AND goodbye. For Trav and I this week, it meant goodbye. A few weeks ago Trav gave a presentation that would be the final piece in preparing for a promotion. He was approached before Thanksgiving in regards to being a top candidate and was asked if he was relocatable. He responded yes and gave a list of places we would be willing to go: Arizona, Colorado, San Diego, the bay area and St. Louis. They informed him he would not hear anything until after Christmas. Whew. We would have time to enjoy the holidays with family before any life changing decisions had to be made!
Yesterday Trav called me in the morning which is odd because usually he can't call until after a certain time. I was excited to hear from him and started rambling away. He interrupted me to say,
" My boss approached me. They would like to promote me and relocate us." What?!? Already? Where too? My heart was racing. He went on to say, "They want to send me to Hawaii."
I'm sorry, they want to WHAT?! I mean we have been praying for God to open a door for a long time now but I haven't been praying for a plane flight to the Big Island unless it's for a summer vacation! I quickly shook myself out of the initial shock and picked my heart back up from where it had dropped inside me. We began to talk through it. He needed more information and we were ready to be open to the possibility and research as well. But we had less than 24 hours to decide.

We both received advice throughout the day and did our own digging around into the possibility of living on the Big Island. There was a never ending or closing prayer that ran through my head and heart all day as I anxiously waited for Trav to come home so we could make our decision. Dinner at Ricardos, a comfortable and familiar place for us, was the perfect spot to have our heart to heart. The position they offered him was huge. He would be promoted as a business partner with Target, in charge of all asset protection for every island in Hawaii. On top of that he would be the District Facilities Manager for all of them as well. What an honor! However, it was a 3 year commitment...which can always turn into something longer. Every detail was laid out to talk about from cost of living, to nursing jobs, having kids, seeing family, and more. We worked through the pros and cons of living there.  Trav would island hop weekly to oversee each store, which also brought some concern to the table. 

We came to the decision that this was not the right move for us for multiple reasons. Thankfully Trav's boss had reassured him earlier in the day that if he was to decline the offer it would not hinder his chances in the next few months for another promotion. Trav found out as well that the lady who had chosen Trav was aware he was relocatable but not aware of his first choices. Trav let her know that he was willing to go to AZ, CA, CO, MO, and he added in TX. 

So, what now? We wait. He probably won't hear anything till after Christmas but the exciting thing is that where ever they offer him next will probably be something that we will take. As we talked last night we were both a little overwhelmed but really excited for the new adventure life is bringing us in 2011. I look back to a year ago and how we never would have thought of anything but the OC. And now, we have so many options and we are so excited to see where the Lord leads us. Our God is amazing and what a comfort it is to let everything go so He can lead. 

Now, I think a summer trip to the Hawaiian islands might be necessary......

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Quick Dessert

Ever need a quick dessert and don't have time to run to the market or make something fancy?! I have a few "go to" desserts where I somehow always have the ingredients in the house in case I need to bake something on short notice and don't want to risk trying a new recipe. One of my favorites is this Triple Chocolate Cake. It looks like it took time but it is by far the easiest thing to throw together! :-) 

If you have any quick and easy dessert recipes, let me know! I am always looking for new things to add to my recipe book! 

I can't believe it's already Christmas season! Which means......lots of yummy treats! My family has the best Christmas recipes that we all look forward to each year! I can't wait to eat my mom's chocolate fudge....and I know my sister, Lyndsay, will have butterscotch at Christmas. I'm already salivating! Our grandma's Christmas cookies are by far the best you will ever have. Bold statement, I know. But it's the truth. I'm sad to miss the Christmas cookie baking day this year....well, I'm really disappointed to miss sneaking chunks of dough to eat with my sisters when our mom is not watching!!! I can't wait for Lyns' twisties on Christmas morning or for Christmas bread! And, I'm going to be daring this year and try a German cookie recipe that my Grandma used to make. My dad loves them and I think a little reminder of her and his childhood  will be special! =)

Let the holiday cooking begin!

Triple Chocolate Cake

1 box Devils' food cake mix
1 small box instant choc. pudding
1 12 oz package of semi-sweet choc. chips
1 and 3/4 cup milk
2 eggs

Add all ingredients together. Pour into a well-greased bundt pan. 
Bake at 350 for 50-55 min. Let cool in pan for 15 min. 
Remove and top with powdered sugar!
Top with some cool whip!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mmmmm, Mmmmmmm, Mmmmmm

I don't know about you but I am a pumpkin fanatic! I look forward to fall so I can literally eat pumpkin anything for 2 months straight. I recently stumbled across a new recipe for pumpkin cookies that I will say, are to die for. I literally could eat a whole batch well as my in laws! In fact, I made them once the night before an event and within two hours the entire batch was gone! Oops...I just had to make more :-) 

Pumpkin season is almost over so I thought I would share the recipe so you as well could enjoy the deliciousness of these cookies! Really, they are heaven in a bite of pumpkin! :-) Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups light br sugar
1/2 cup butter.marg. softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 1/3 c chopped pecans
1/2 c vanilla chips

Preheat to 350. Grease cookie sheet.

In a large bowl beat brown sugar, butter, eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, and spices. Stir in pecans and vanilla chips. Drop onto sheet.

Bake 10-14 min or until lightly browned. Cool for 30 min or so.

I than put vanilla chips in a bown with a tiny bit of cooking oil....just a few drops and microwave to melt. I spoon it into a plastic bag and cut off the corner to than drizzle over the cookies.

"Just when I think you couldn't possibly be any dumber,

You go and do something like this....and totally redeem yourself!" Oh yes, another ever famous line from Dumb & Dumber. Trav quotes this movie on a daily basis so naturally when we traveled to Colorado and were right there in front of Aspen, I heard the entire movie from start to finish straight from Trav's memory! =) 

As a birthday present from Trav, a chance to visit a friend and explore Colorado, we headed out to Denver the first weekend of October. I love traveling with Trav. We've developed a routine at the airport from checking in, to going through security, and of course finding the right seats on the plane. When we landed in Denver it was dark but the airport was lit up, looking like white capped mountains scattered across the dark sky. We picked up our little, tiny rental car and headed to find Littleton, CO. Christie, my roommate from Azusa, lives in Littleton as well as her parents. Her parents were kind enough to open their home for us to stay in because they were in the mountains at that time. Christie and her boyfriend, Brandon, took us to one delicious authentic Mexican restaurant for dinner. We ate till we couldn't walk. After, we debated heading out to downtown Denver, but we are all old folks now and decided just to sight see it from the car. ;)

The next morning, Christie took us to the cutest lil restaurant for breakfast in downtown Littleton, Cafe Terracota. I loved how it was in an old, town style felt very quaint! Afterwards, Trav and I set out on our own lil adventure. We had some things we wanted to see before heading to the mountains with Christie and Brandon for the night. We first visited the new Columbine Memorial. It was breathtaking. They did an incredible job of honoring those who were killed and remembering their greatness. I was in awe as I read the tablets on each individual. I was amazed at how strong they were, their courage, and their faith. Some families chose to put poems or journal entries their child had written before the shooting. God works in mysterious ways and what they wrote about just weeks before they lost their lives is living on to teach others about why we are really here and what the end goal really is. It was only minutes before I had tears streaming down my cheeks. I know I will never forget that day. Watching the tv with my parents and the way I felt. Running along the edge of the memorial was a wall with quotes engraved from what people said that day as well as the days after as they recalled the events and emotions. I can't get Trav to read a book, but he read that entire wall. I glanced over to see him sitting in front of it and even from a distance I saw the glistening on his cheeks and knew he was feeling what I was feeling.

We drove around the high school after. Thank we headed up the street a little further to find my old home. We even found our old church that was right down the street! We met back up with the others and took off for the mountains! What a drive! The scenery was breathtaking! The road to their cabin was decorated with colorful aspen trees and I realized what we miss out on in California....fall. The Brady's cabin is feel like you are in a movie yet you feel like you are at home! Her parents have a yellow lab, Rory, who immediately took to Trav. Shocking, right?! Her two lil cousins were there who I have always heard so much about but it was fun to meet and play with them. All of us headed to the "town" to grab a bite for dinner. It was a fun BBQ place, much like Heros here in Fullerton, where you throw your peanut shells on the floor. Later that night Trav, Christie, Brandon, and I sat in the jacuzzi, talking under the starlit sky. It was wonderful!

Before heading back down the next day, Christie showed us one of her favorite hikes. Probably the most breathtaking hike I have ever been on. Pictures couldn't even capture how beautiful it was. We spent the afternoon cheering on the Broncos and bbqing at their house. We feel pretty blessed and thankful for their hospitality. They treated us like family the whole weekend. 

On our last night their, Trav and I got an ice cream craving so we drove to find a Dairy Queen. Along the way we stopped at the Super Target so Trav could check it out. Needless to say both of our jaws dropped when we went inside. This is unlike any Target you have seen. Lined across the front of the store was over 40 checkout lines. The grocery in this store was bigger than the Vons by my parents old house and I thought that was a big grocery! We walked the aisles in complete awe. There was even a self-serve candy section. How dangerous would that be if it was at Trav's store!?!? 

On our last day in the great CO we did some touring of our own. We headed out early to see the different fields. Finding the stadiums in different cities we visit is a tradition/hobby of ours and I just love it! We stopped by the Broncos first....but Tim was not there ;) We drove by the Pepsi Center next and let me tell you, that is one awesome arena! Soon after we had an appt at the Denver Mint. We took the tour and learned alot about the production of coins here in the US. We walked to the Capital building as well and loved the architecture. On our way to 16th St we found Coors Field, another awesome stadium and than Mermaid Bakery where we had to grab a cupcake even if it was 10am! We finished off our downtown touring with a hamburger at Good Eats.

Before heading to the airport we drove out to Golden, CO to tour the Coors Factory. Golden was not what I expected. Instead, it was this little town that mimicked what and old town would have been like back in the wild west days...I loved it! I will say the Coors tour was pretty neat. And, you get to sample at the end which is always fun. We walked around the downtown a bit after and again, fell in love. On our drive to the airport, we talked about everything we had crammed in during our short visit and the fun we had. We both fell in love with's a whole different world in so many ways! There are so many places we want to visit in the US....and so much history to see. We are already planning our next adventure. 

Now, you may think I am crazy for posting this song, but everytime we got in our car this song came on the radio and now whenever we hear it we think of Denver and our adventures.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Waaaayyyy Behind

Wow. It's been awhile since I have written about nursing school on here. Alot has gone on in the past month and I was so completely physically, mentally, and emotionally fried when my last term ended I simply couldn't bring myself to write about it as well. But now I am behind and I promise to write about our Colorado trip, my sister's visit from AZ, and our St.Louis trip after this! :-)

As you know last term I was in pediatrics, leadership, and mental health with two clinicals as well. It was an interesting term and I learned a ton. But man am I glad it's over with because it sucked everything out of me. When the time came for our exit exams, we learned that they would be given on three consecutive days. Now, you might think that is no big deal because it's just a final exam. Wrong. These exams are the death of me and I usually really like school. An "exit exam" is our way of showing the school that we have mastered the content in that area and should be allowed to move forward. It is a mock state board exam but focused in on just that particular subject. We are given a minute per question and a raw score we have to achieve to move forward. I studied my life away for mental health. I mean I literally locked myself in my room and did everything I could to master a subject I despise. That was the first exam on a Wednesday afternoon and...I passed. But as great as it felt to pass, I was still stressed because leadership was the next day and I hadn't even begun my review for it. Ahhh!

Leadership came and went...I barely passed but hey, passing is passing. Friday, our last day, was pediatrics. I don't mind studying peds. It just makes sense to me. Everything with peds seems like common sense or second nature which maybe should be a sign to me that I should be working in that field. That test came and went as well. As I walked out of the test room doors, it felt like a load had lifted off my shoulders. My friends were there waiting for me ( they had all passed all 3 test too!) and we kept quite till we got in the stair well and than the squeals let out! We made it! Only 9 more weeks of school and we are RNs! Praise the Lord! As I called my dad to tell him the good news, I had tears streaming down my cheeks. When I got home I couldn't move. I barely made it to my bed and I slept till 6 that night! Ha, guess my body new I needed a lil rest!

Sad to say though, we left behind a huge handful of classmates who did not make it till the next term with us. It's always hard because you become like a family and no one should be left behind. But our school really likes to ween people out and it's hard. 

So, my final term of nursing school has started. I have 7 weeks left. Scary?! Um, yes! I've already started applying to new grad programs and are anxiously waiting to hear back . Critical care is my main course and clinical this term. It's going to be good. Hard, but exciting. And the light at the end of the tunnel is so close! God is good =)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Random Fact of the Week :)

I like random nursing facts. The things hat aren't highlighted or easily seen in text books. My critical care teacher is great at throwing in these random tid bits during lecture. Some come from her own personal experience out in the nursing world and others are just additional information.

My favorite this week was about brushing your teeth at night. My professor admitted that while she brushes her teeth 3 times a day it usually is not before bed. There are days when she was so tired that there was just no way she was going to use whatever small amount of energy she had left to scrub, floss, and Listerine up. Have you ever felt like that? I have. ( I promise I have good hygiene!) If I lay on my bed before doing my nightly routine, you will not get me back up. Of course, this is only after a 14 hour clinical or class day when I come home and can't feel my legs anymore. Last night I laid down on my bed and thought, " I'll just close my eyes for a minute!" ( It's never a minute. I would have been out for the count) But, as I was laying there, I remembered what Professor Bosveld had said causing my eyes to pop open and I scurried out of bed into the bathroom so I could brush away.

You see, if you don't brush your teeth at night all those icky, nasty germs in your mouth that have accumulated during the day become alive and active. We all aspirate in our sleep every night. So all those germs slide right on down the back of our mouths and into our lungs and this leaves us with......a cold.  Gross, huh? So, if you are looking for a natural remedy to prevent common colds this winter,....brush, floss, and swish any germs away every night. :-) 

Don't worry....that's not the only thing I learned in Critical Care on Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Will Follow

The Fish always seems to provide me with my weekly songs. And they always come at just the right moment where I know God is using the lyrics to speak directly to me. However, this song hasn't just stuck around for my weekly song, it's been much longer.
If you haven't heard "I Will Follow" by Chris Tomlin I am attaching the link below so you can. It's wonderful. Right now Trav and I are at an odd place. I'm finishing school. Trav is on the verge of being promoted. I'm figuring out my specialty. Trav is figuring out his lifelong career. We are still living at home. But in 10 or so weeks all of this could/will change. Where will we be in February you may ask? I don't know. Actually, I don't have the slightest idea. We could be right here in Brea. We could be in South County. Trav could be at Target. I could be at Choc. Trav could be coaching. I could be in Labor and Delivery working. We could be in San Diego, Arizona, Colorado, St. Louis, or Maine for all that matters. We have no idea what our future holds and it is slightly scary but really exciting.
It's easy for Trav and I to talk about "our" plans. Because we always know what's best for us, right? Ha. We have definitely learned that when praying for our future, it means letting go of our worries, concern, doubt, wonderment, and our own plans while laying it at the Lord's feet and saying, " Here. Lead us. Guide us. Place us where YOU have planned for the two of us to be." Yikes that is hard. It's taken a year and a half for Trav and I to be able to pray that with peaceful minds and a calm heart as we truly do trust He will lead us. There hasn't been a morning or an evening of each day for the past 1 1/2 years where we haven't joined together to pray for what's to come after nursing school. Trav always ends our prayers with, " Lord, let us follow you. Guide us to where you need us to be. " It's those words that Trav lifts up that either let me fall asleep with a restful mind or start my day with encouragement. The Lord is good and I know His plan for our life is going to be great whatever it may be.
It's interesting how we have grown over this time I've been in school. There were days I really doubted our future and was insistent about "my" plan. Than there were days Trav was worried and had his own plan in mind. But somewhere in the midst of all the nightly talks, the internet searching, the Concordia Chapel chats, and most importantly the prayers, we both came to one solid ground with only one thing for certain: It's not our plan and we want to openly with a gracious heart seek for what God has planned for us. It's exciting. Don't get me wrong though, I still freak out. I like to have things planned out and the unknown tends to freak me out big time. However, John Tesh told me the other morning ( Yes, he too speaks directly to me) " Never fear the unknown with a known God."
So we will work on not fearing the unknown. And we will continue to pray for His plan to unfold. (Sooner rather than later, Lord! ;) ) We do ask that you keep us in your prayers over these next 8 weeks. Nursing school has not just been something I've been going through. Trav has been every bit as deep into it as I have been and little does he know these last 8 weeks are going to be one heck of a ride! :-) But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Please pray that we are able to keep our focus on God's plan and the amazing things He has in store for us in this upcoming year. And that we never loose site of wanting to follow where He leads.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Story Behind All the Pink

October is breast cancer awareness month. It's a time where we take 31 days to honor those who survived, remember those we've lost, encourage those still fighting, and join together for  finding a cure. I love this month. Not just because the weather is changing (well, kinda) or because fall decor and scents are everywhere but because aside from all the Halloween decorations out, there is pink scattering every store. Football fields are scattered with pink shoes, gloves, towels, hats, and more. You see, I love pink. But there is more to the color pink than it just being a "cute" color. Let me tell you what pink means to me and why in high school it became my favorite color.

There have been few times I have shared even a snippet of this story with anyone. But I think it's time I do...time for me to open up and hope that I can help someone else through my family's story. So, be prepared...I'm about to get brutally honest and make a part of my life an open book.

Growing up my mom and I had a somewhat typical mother-daughter relationship. When I was a young child I strived to be like her. I wanted to help her cook, I attempted to fold laundry with her, go for long walks finding the biggest sticks and rocks, and I couldn't take a nap without her falling asleep with me. Those years passed by and I hit grade school. Most of these still stayed true although I did want to exert my own independence. But still, I turned to my mom when I wanted to shave my legs for the first time, talk about issues at school, read a good book or to share in the everyday joys of life. After that I hit middle school and I'm sure my mom wanted me as far away from her as I wanted to be. You see, my parents aired on the strict/conservative side. So what my friends were wearing or doing or watching in middle school, I was not allowed. Did I react well to that? No. I believe my entire 7th grade year was spent being grounded from the phone due to the fact that I often talked back with quite the amount of sarcasm. I slowly grew out of that stage, but not completely. High school came and my "cool" factor ( or what I thought) sky rocketed. I was independent....after all I was a big freshman. Ha! But it led to battles over dresses for dances, curfew hours, and where I was allowed to go on the weekends. My junior year rolled around and I was living the dream. School was great. Friends were even better. And I was loving the social life of high school. I had been given a lead in the spring musical, my first, and I had my first real relationship. But in one day, that all crashed down around me.

I knew something was wrong. I came home from school, took a nap, and woke up feeling weird. I had about 10 missed calls from my sisters that I had ignored while I was asleep. I finally answered Lea's call and knew instantly from the sound of her voice things were going to change. "Did you hear?" she asked. I didn't even need to respond. I knew what was coming. At that moment I heard the garage door open and I fled downstairs. As I hit the bottom step my dad walked through the door....I saw the sadness in his eyes. I peered behind him to see my mom, tears lining the brim of her eyes. I shook my head no but she confirmed my worst nightmare. "It's cancer." One never wants to hear that word associated with their parents, let alone come out of their own mouth. She wrapped me in a huge hug and as tears streamed down my face she said, in a calm voice, "Don't worry. Everything will be fine."

"Are you kidding me? Fine? You just told me you had cancer. How can you be telling me you will be fine?" Of course, I did not say this out loud. Instead I did the mature ( ha) thing, picked up the car keys, and took off. I sat in my car and cried until there were no tears left in me. I came home and couldn't talk. My parents sat on the couch talking about treatment options and I wanted to put my hands over my ears and scream at them to stop. That my mom didn't have cancer and this was all a nightmare. Mature again, right? Dramatic? Yes. The next day I was sitting next to my big sis in chapel ( she was my teacher) while two students sang Celine Dion's "The Prayer." There I sat, on the school bleachers, with tears once again streaming down my face. Lyns reached over and grabbed my hand. She stayed strong for the both of us. Life became a blur the next few weeks. My mom's surgery was coming up fast. I was scared. I didn't know how to handle what I was feeling. At a time in my life when I should have turned and ran into Christ's open arms, I didn't. I was angry. How could he love us but put my mom and our family through this?

All of my sisters were in town for her surgery. I went in to tell my mom I loved her before she went back and almost lost it. All I could think of was, " Please let her be here to help me find my wedding dress when the time comes. To hold my baby in her arms one day. To hug me and tell me she is proud of me. "  I wanted to take back every hurtful thing I had ever said, everytime I ignored her or chose hanging with someone else instead of spending time with her.  My mom did great through her surgery and she looked great after. She was able to choose her surgery option and she choose a mastectomy that would be followed with chemotherapy. She finally came my dad and I ...after everyone else returned home. My dad is amazing. He emptied her drains without ever showing a glimmer of discomfort or hesitance. He stepped up in household duties and his love for my mom and this life changing experience was remarkable to see .I used to watch him and think, " Wow, that is what true love is. That is what it means when the vows say, "in sickness and health." My mom's cancer affected each of us differently. We all reacted different, handled it different, and played different roles in our mom's recovery. I won't speak for my sisters and my dad. This will just be from my experience.

Having my mom home after surgery changed things. You see, all of a sudden she was not able to do things she used to. She was tired but she fought through it. Her mobility was compromised and assistance was needed with the smallest of things. Our schedules changed in our house. So did our roles. My mom and I switched roles . Her ability to shower or go to the bathroom on her own was gone. I would bathe her  and than blow her hair dry for her. After her chemo started there were times when I would be doing her hair and just a little more than usual would end up on the brush. I would always hide it in my hand and throw it in a different trash can. She never lost her hair with cancer...she was fortunate. A humbling experience was assisting my mom to use the bathroom. Picture taking a toddler, helping them all the way through. But I didn't mind. She was my mom after all. Aside from that, I shaved her legs, covered her with lotion, made sure she was comfortable, and any other aspect of daily care. I started setting my alarm extra early in the morning so I could help my dad, help my mom, and get ready for school. If my dad wasn't able to head home at lunch, I would so that my mom could go to the bathroom and get something to eat. I always headed back right after school to do the same. I worried about her when I was out with friends, at school, or anywhere other than home. Family friends were amazing and frequently brought over meals that was the biggest blessing. I was tired but my dad, he never showed it. And my mom maintained a positive attitude through it all. One day, she told me the verse that helped her and she hoped would help me. It was 1 Peter 5:7," Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." There my mom was, amidst all she was going through, making sure I was ok and knew that this was all apart of His plan. She would tell me how there was a reason for this, how He doesn't give you more than you can handle, and that someday, we will see the good that came from it all.

I didn't really believe it still though. Shortly after my mom came home she started chemo and a whole new routine took place at our house. On the days of her treatment I would go to her Kindergarten class after school and help out, taking them to computer class and finishing up the day. What amazes me is that through it all my mom still taught. Chemo didn't slow her down. The first time I took her to chemo broke me. I was doing fine, sitting with her as she was hooked up, but than something changed. She must have realized it because she suggested I head next door and grab a soda. It was a good thing because I felt like I was chest was tight... I couldn't breath...and I pushed through the front doors and took a deep breath of fresh air. How could my mom be hooked up chemo? What in the world are you doing God? How can something good come from this?Looking back, I realize how silly I was to question Him. Because she was immunocompromised we had to be careful at home. Every fresh fruit or veggie had to be scrubbed and we had special soap to use. Mouth sores are a common side effect, so my dad cooked bland dinners so she wouldn't have any irritation. But she still trucked on.. always with a smile...always with my dad smiling beside her. 

One of the memories I will always hold close to my heart came during her chemo regimen. When I was in junior high and even high school, my mom would try to hold my hand when we went out. Being the brat that I was I would pull my hand away and tell her I was "too old" ( what I meant was too "cool") to be holding my mom's hand in public. She would reply in a sad voice, "But you're my baby." ( It's like when she used to used to come with me into the changing room or ask to see a swimsuit to approve it before purchasing and I would say no. She would always reply," I birthed those buns!") Looking back at those moments I regret how I responded. My mom tired easily during her chemo. But she rarely showed it, instead she did her best to keep a smile and keep pushing through. She would have me help her walk around the house as she clinged on for strength. When she was able to make it around the house without we would head outside to try walking to the greenbelt. Than we moved onto the mall and would make a slow lap inside the Brea mall....and I held her hand tightly every time. This time it was me who didn't want to let go. 

During all of this my mom had the appetite of a hippo. Seriously. We would always go to Arbys after our Brea mall walks and she would order TWO roast beef sandwiches, fries, and she would even finish my food! My dad used to make daily runs to Marie Calenders or Polly's for a slice of banana cream pie. It got to the point where he was tired of making so many trips so he would just buy the whole pie....and my mom would eat the entire thing in two settings all while waking up having lost weight the next day! 

Anyway, somewhere, in the midst of all of this, I changed. A part of me grew up way beyond my years. I took my faith and leaped with it. I had lost it for a brief bit but when I pushed aside my selfish feelings and saw how the Lord was working and how great His love and grace is, I was convicted and changed. My faith became a living, breathing, every second of the day part of me instead of merely the routine of going to Christian schools, church, chapel, and the whole bit. I now had an intimate and personal relationship with my Savior that is still growing daily. 

And somehow, at sometime...maybe it was showering my mom or maybe it was cheering her on as she made the lap around the mall....I realized I was created and designed to be a nurse. Taking care of someone, seeing their recovery, encouraging them, providing dignity and respect, and doing the smallest of things to make one person's day a little better is what I have been called to do. Even when I tried to ignore it due to fear of failing, the Lord still called out to me that his is what He had created me for.

As silly as it may sound, pink is more than a color to me. It's a reminder of the roller coaster in my faith journey that led me to know Christ in a deeper, stronger, and closer relationship. It's a reminder of the battle my mom fought and the journey my family went through. It is Hope. Strength. Faith. Fight. Courage. Love. Healing. I always said if I ever were to get a tatoo ( don't freak out mom, I'm not saying I am!) it would be the breast cancer ribbon turned sideways to replicate the fish and remind me that the Lord doesn't give me anything I cannot handle, but desires for me to live each day to His glory, and with that He alone will help me through whatever is put before me.

Cancer doesn't scare me anymore. Breast cancer has made it's way through my family. It robbed me of ever meeting my grandma. My great aunt Katie and my aunt Barbara each fought their own battle, traveled their own journey, and overcame it. Oncology has become a passion for me. I would be honored to work with cancer patients one day whether in the hospital setting or simply volunteer work. I'm not sure what field of nursing I will end up in but I do know that I will always look at a bald head and think beauty, fight, and love. I will always look towards a cancer patient and think courage, strength, and hope.  

Being that this is breast cancer awareness month, I encourage YOU to do something. Maybe you have never been to the doctor for a annual check up: Call your doctor and schedule one. Maybe you know someone who has fought breast cancer or is fighting : encourage them and let them know you are proud of their fight. Maybe you have lost a family member to breast cancer : Purchase the $1 ribbon at the grocery and write it in their memory. Maybe you have no connection to breast cancer at all: Pray for those who are struggling. Tell your mom, grandma, aunt, sister, daughter, cousin, or friend that you love them. And go buy something pink :-)

Mom, I love you super duper bunches, whole lotta love. I'm thankful for you each day. 
 Kahler Ladies

"Our Family is a circle of strength and love. With every birth and every union the circle grows. Every joy shared adds more love.Every crisis faced together makes the circle stronger"

My mom helped me pick out my wedding dress....and yes, we still hold hands =)

A little behind

I just reazlied I haven't written about the past two weeks of mental health! Between midterms, Colorado, and constant paper writing, I haven't had the time to sit and write. So, I think I will wrap up two mental health clinicals in one....and I'll save last night's for it's own entry.

Three weeks ago Brooke and I were places on the GICU, Geriatric Floor, at College Hospital. I went into it thinking it would probably be similar to being in a SNF or Long Term Care for geriatrics. But it wasn't. We were on the floor in time for shift report. Al the patients were in the day room doing an activity so we decided to sit down and join them. The table we sat at had two ladies both working on their own thing. I started talking to the lady across from me and in the middle of our conversation she began slurring her words. She told me her mouth felt weird, her tongue was not normal and she couldn't move. Immediately I knew she was experiencing EPS (Extrapyramidal symptoms) which is a pretty severe side effect to medication that needs to be treated right away. I went and told her nurse, who did nothing. I wasn't about to let her get worse but I knew the nurse would get mad if I went around her. I debated and than decided to let the RN get mad at me and I went straight to the med nurse to report her symptoms. They quickly gave her Cogentin for an antidote and she went to her room to rest.

After that, I went over to chat with an older gentleman who was coloring a picture. During our conversation a lady came up to me and started talking, asking me why I was there. I told her how I was a nursing student and was just there to hang out. She looked at me and said, "You are here to talk to me? Who sent you? What do you want to know? Why did you choose me?" It took me a minute to respond and by the time I had she was sitting down, blocking me into a corner. Great. #1 rule is ALWAYS have a way out. She asked me if I was going to publish her story in a journal because she didn't want her information out there. " No mam, I don't work for a journal. I actually am just here to chat and join in our the activities for a bit." By this time, Brooke had come over to rescue me but somehow got sucked into the conversation as well. The lady started telling us about how she was gassed the night before with the "orange gas" She stated that it came through the ceiling vents and that we shouldn't look up because "they" are watching us. She talked about the "little latino men" who were creeping through the smokey hallway and how they took everything out of the room. She talked continuously, most of it not making any sense at all. At one point she was pretty agitated and I thought she was going to lash out. My only way out would have been to fling myself across the table. That would have been a site. The interesting thing was, in all of her rambling and scattered thoughts, there was some truth to the story. Their floor had just been under repair along with getting all the floors cleaned. Their were "little latino men" who had been roaming the halls, there was a strong, gas like smell, and the smokey hallway had been there too. I've learned you have to pay close attention to what people say because in all of that scatter is always something that they are trying to get across.

Later that same clinical day ,Brooke and I were sitting at yet another table talking to another gentleman. We could hear a patient who was pretty upset yelling in the hallway. She came storming in the day room and was threatening all the staff. No one else in the room would make eye contact with her, they just looked down and continued to work on their activity. Through out her aggressive outburst, she was rigt behind Brooke, swinging her arms around pretty close to her head. I mouthed to her, "Be careful" and she slowly scooted over a bit. We continued chatting with the gentlemen at the table when the lady decided to act out again and was walking by our table. Brooke and I would have liked to get up and leave the room, but we were stuck because we would have had to walk past her and she was acting out on anyone in her way. She came right behind me and I could totally feel her presence. I didn't want to acknowledge her in case it would upset her, so I just sat still. I could see Brooke's face expression change and for some reason my gut told me to lean forward, so I did. Thankfully because she had been swinging to get me but missed and ended up going for the man next to me. Thankfully, the nurse was able to calm her down and it was time for our dinner break! Whew!

The following week we were assigned to NICU...which is a high acuity unit. There were a few new admits that day, police drop offs. Our teacher placed the only male student with us that day which made both of us feel a little better having him right there. Each of us met and interacted with someone and although we were only on the floor for a short time, we learned alot. One of the patients had EPS, so we were able to see that again with different presenting symptoms with this case. We watched an new admit assessment interview and were able to talk with him about what he has been struggling with.

Although mental health is not really my thing, I love how each week is so different and I walk away with a new appreciation for the field every time. It's crazy to think I just have 2 more clinical days at this site!!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

See Ya on Monday!

Midterms are finished and it's Colorado bound for us!!! We can't wait! It has been way too hot here in Cali for October, so experiencing a real fall will be wonderful! We have lots planned in these next 4 days, much of it thanks to my wonderful roomie from Azusa who we will be staying with! We will land tonight and head out to a yummy Mexican restaurant that she has talked about for years. This weekend we plan to see the new Columbine Memorial, my old house in Littleton, head out to Grand Lake for some nature & hiking, cheer on the Broncos, see how money is produced, be a tourist at the capital, and maybe even a taste of the rockies ; ) ( For Trav of course!)

Have a great weekend!!!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Heavy Heart

Last Tuesday marked our first day in the pediatric unit. It was nothing like I had expected. I was placed at a sub acute facility but it is more than that, it is a home to each patient. A school bus comes and picks up just a few for class. The rest are, and I hate to use this term, in a vegetative state. Why? Some are from birth defects or genetics, but others are preventable childhood accidents. I left that afternoon with a very heavy heart. Here are a few reasons why:
  • As I looked at each child, I couldn't help but be reminded what they were missing out on. Here they were, hooked up to ventilators and restricted to their beds, children who should be learning to shoot a baskteball, ties their shoes, snuggling up to read a story, hugging their parents goodnight, and dreaming big for their future. But instead, they lay there, and their parents slowly stop coming to provide care and love that they so desperately need.
  • For some of them, their condition was uncontrollable. They were born with severe handicaps that are incurable. Yet, aside from that, they are children....sweet, loving children of the Lord. One girl who was 17 years old but had the body of my 4 yr old niece would turn her head to the sound of my voice. I have no idea what she could comprehend but she would look at me with these big, brown eyes and a smile would cover her face briefly, lighting her entire face up, and than it would dissapear and she would return to how she was. Some patient's faces stay with me forever....her smile is engraved in my heart.
  • My patient was a 4 year old girl, admitted to this facility when she was just under 2. She had been in her stroller out for a walk with her mom when her mom stepped off the curbed to cross the street. A car came around the corner and hit the stroller, leaving her with multiple hematomas in her brain and impairing her neurologic status forever. There were pictures covering the board in her room of her as a toddler. The day she was born. Taking her first steps. It was hard to look at those and than see her helpless & confined to a bed. I don't know if she could hear or understand me, but I stroked her head and talked to her. I wanted to read her a story but her parents didn't leave anything in her room for her. She has a problem with her thermoregulation from the accident. I had to swaddle her like an infant...adding about 5 blankets and two hats on top of that. She was a precious little angel. So tiny and fragile. But you could see everything through her eyes. Yet you could also see how lost she was.
  • Another patient I worked with was 4 years old as well, also living a normal toddler hood. However, she ate a hotdog that was not cut in half ( yes, you need to cut the first piece you cut in half) and it lodge in her throat, cut off the oxygen supply to her brain, and now she is braindead. Her childhood lost.
  • The nurses did not seem to truly care. I don't know if they are just so removed from everything or too relaxed at the facility. But, they didn't do much and it really bothered me.No matter what state of alertness your patient is in, absolute care and compassion should always be provdied.
I left the facility that afternoon to find myself in bumper to bumper traffic. I took this time to pray for each one of my twelve nieces and nephes. For their safety, their health, that they dream big and that they may expereince every joy that life brings them. This clinical is causing me to reconsider working in pediatrics. I can already see how I may struggle with becoming to attached to each patient. I had a friend tell me that if I thought this was hard I would never make it in peds oncology. I disagree though. In peds oncology not every patient passes away as most people think. But those kids have a fight in them, a will to live, and a hope that is greater than I will ever know. They are able to still live a somewhat normal childhood amongst all their treatments and hospital stays. Regardless though, I will be committing this to prayer that the Lord will lead and guide me to the area of nursing He can best use my strengths & gifts. Whether it be pediatrics, adult oncology, NICU, or L&D, my prayer is that I am able to follow the Lord's plan and reach out to offer love and compassion to each patient who comes along my way.

Go hug the little ones in your life. Squeeze them and tell them you love them. Life is just too short not too.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Previously On....

Last week was interesting to say the least at our mental health clinical. I was placed on the same unit as the week before but this time there was a whole new batch of clients.The day started out rough. After being forced to park at Cerritos College Vanessa, Irene, and I headed down the street to the hospital. While talking to us, Vanessa tripped and fell by the gutter on the curb and busted her ankle. She made it to the hospital but I ended up driving her back to her car so she could go home. Thankfully, her ankle was not broken but it is still to this day swollen and bruised.

Brooke, Rommel, and I were placed on the same unit as the previous week, EICU. We walked into an activity session where they were making bracelets. I kind of like coming on the floor during times like this because it offers a comfortable situation to approach a client. We pulled up chairs and sat down at the table. Before any of us said a word one girl started up a conversation that ended up lasting most of our time there. I pulled out of it part of the way through because there was a young girl sitting across from me, not participating in the group convo, that I wanted to get to know. Se was only 18 yet this was her 3rd time to the facility. She had previously been admitted for attempting to hang herself after her boy friend broke up with her and for a mjor depressive episode. She is a polysubstance abuser. Growing up, her brothers had her ask her father for money so she could go out and purchase drugs for all of them. Currently, she suffers from panic attacks and nightmares leaving her with insomnia. She is unable to eat and look as if she was wasting away. I asked her how she came to College and she informed me she wanted help so she hopped on the bus and admitted herself. Although she was originally on a voluntary status it's changed to a 5150 ( involuntary hold) because she became angry, threatened the nurses, and told everyone she was going to overdose on Ambien.

My heart broke for her as I listened to her life story and saw the sadness along with hopelessness in her eyes. The one time there was a hint of joy is when I asked who she was making her bracelet for. It was for her two year old niece. We started talking about being an aunt and she mentioned it was the "best". I couldn't agree more and I am so glad she has something to bring her some happiness amongst all the dark in her life. The rest of the evening on the floor was spent observing as the unit was labled "unsafe" due to new admissions who were having a hard time coming off their street drugs and/or adjusting to their new meds.

It was yet another great learning experience. Who knew I would end up somewhat enjoying my mental health rotation. It's never boring, that's for sure!!

This week was even more eventful. Want a sneak preview?!
1. EPS ( google it)
2. Little, latino, gasing men
3.A swing at the blonde

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Arizona Part 2

After the day at my sister's, we headed over to Anthem, AZ to see where my parents now reside. I love seeing new places. I wish my parents didn't live in another state but after just driving through the streets of Anthem, I knew this was the right place for them. I'd like to call Anthem "quaint". Usually when I use that word it is for some small town in the midwest or up north or even in another country. But there is something about their new city that is. Maybe it's because it is new, so everything is still up and coming. Or maybe it is because they reach out to each resident in a manner that is very similar to a small, midwest town. My parents now live at the Anthem Country is beautiful to say the least. I still had a weird feeling in my stomach as we pulled in their new driveway, because to me, home is still on 2644 N Rivertrail Rd. That feeling quickly went away when I walked inside. The house still has a familiar smell to it. The old furniture from before still fills the front room, bring a feel of the years in California right there in AZ. Their family room has all new furniture and I was shocked to see my parents bought more modern furniture than Trav and I owned! Needless to say, the house is beautiful and it totally fits them. I instantly found myself at peace with the move.

For dinner that night we headed down to eat at Chiles....definately a favorite of my parents here in Cali. BUt really, who could resist a pan of skillet queso and a Chile's margarita?! We went for a brief tour after dinner, driving by the country club and golf course. Beautiful. Let me tell you, there really is nothing like an Arizona sunset. Especially from up on the hill of the city of Anthem. It was breathtaking. My mom had to work the next morning. My dad, Trav, and I headed down to the Good Egg for breakfast. Delish! Than off to see my mom's new school. Her school is unlike any preschool-jr. high I have ever seen! The pre-school is amazing! My favorite part was the science lab ( yes, science lab. An RN who is a mom of a student came in and made it for them! Ah, in love!) and the computer lab! It was fun meeting the people she works with and getting a feel for her life in Anthem. Afterwards, Dad, Trav, and I headed out to the outlet to do some shopping! LOVE the Anthem outlets! We found a street named, "Emma's Way". Perfect! They were meant to be in Anthem! That afternoon we met up with the Lusters, who live fairly close to my parents. We had to do a Last Chance run....and did we ever! I could have stayed in there shopping even longer! Nothing like walking out with a tank top for $1 and a scarf for $2! Such a steal! We ate dinner at this place called Rock Bottom and than headed home to watch the Bachelor Pad. ( Well, Ash and I watched while Trav and Levi made jokes the whole time) The next morning Levi made us the "Luster Special"...can you guess?! Biscuits and gravy! Trav always orders them when we go out....all thanks to Levi! They were very first time to ever eat them!
 Trav thinks this is his dog...he couldn't be more wrong ;)

We spent the rest of the afternoon with my dad. We took a tour of their community center. I have to say, I have never seen anything like it! The gym, swimming pool, rock climbing, and water park were enough to sell me on them living there! There was this huge recreational park with skate parks, hockey rinks, baseball fields, soccer fields, beach volleyball, train park, and massive playgrounds! I know all the grandkids are going to be in heaven when they visit! A monsoon hit! Perfect time for me to take a nap with my puppy! That night we met up with Kristel and Zoey for dinner. Zoey is too cute out at a restaurant. Towards the end, she came and sat on my lap. I wanted to take a picture and everytime Trav would  click the camera she would make a farting noise. Thank Parker and Kody! But, it made for a cute picture still! 
On our last morning we headed down to Gilbert to take Lexi and Tessa lunch at school! We had so much fun eating and hanging out with their friends. They are both getting so old and it's happening too fast! I soak up each moment I have with them! We had a wonderful weekend away with our AZ family. I can't wait to head back out there this Friday!