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11/3/11

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I have decided to move my blog ... Check out my latest post Instant Everything at wordpress.com!

10/27/11

I might be moving ... the blog that is

I'm playing around with wordpress.com and I think I might like it better than blogger.com.  So I'm contemplating a move.  


For now this blog will be in both places - but please check out my wordpress.com blog and let me know what you think.  I kinda like the ease of creating categories and not just tags.

Click Here for My (Crazy) Life Starts Now at the potential new location.

10/17/11

Forks Over Knives, Nutrition, The China Study ... and a direction

On Saturday morning I was waiting for B to wake up and figured I would watch some television.  Being too impatient to wait for the satellite receiver to work through it's many checks - which takes about 5 minutes (why it goes through that every time I turn on my TV is a story for another blog ... or maybe this one, but later) I decided to see what I had in my instant queue on NetFlix.  I found Forks Over Knives, a documentary about food/nutrition.  B wasn't up.  There was no one to bug me about watching something "interesting" and I no longer have to worry about the Neanderthal-minded making fun of my "hippie" side, so I hit play and settled in with a cup of coffee.


Shortly after the film started B emerged from her cave, the night's slumber apparently over (or mostly so).  We watched the film together.  It was incredibly interesting.  It was a little bit surprising, even though we'd been exposed to most of the information before the presentation made it "click" for both of us.


After watching Forks Over Knives, we cleaned the kitchen.  Included in cleaning the kitchen was pulling out, dusting off, and moving to the kitchen all of our vegetarian and vegan cookbooks.  WOW!  There are more than I remembered.  






As a reward for our hard work we decided to head into the "big" city and go to EarthFare for lunch and some healthy shopping. 


B and I have both decided to finally just say, "To hell with the small-minded, judgmental attitudes about eating in the Deep Fried South!" and make the move to a strict vegetarian diet.  No meat.  And very very very little in the way of eggs and dairy.  We will, for now, leave open the possibility for those foods in our diets when it is the choice between eating something made with milk/butter/eggs or not eating at all.  


It was a fantastic lunch - huge salads, great Indian soup (Dal), and amazing stuffed grape leaves!  It was an even better shopping trip.  We had a blast.  It reminded both of us of shopping at Wild Oats and NutritionSmart in Tampa.


Then it was time to pull out the cookbooks and start planning some meals.  To start thinking about nutrition and what we were fueling our bodies with.  A subject on which we've spent precious little time recently.


We're having a lot of fun getting the kitchen back in shape, planning healthy meals and generally just being our weird selves.   So much so that my amazing daughter baked Caramel-Apple-Spice cupcakes - and they're vegan!  Yay!  So much for the idea that vegans don't get to eat delicious, rich, decadent foods.  


It is so very frustrating to then go to school and listen to lectures from books written by highly educated health professionals who seem to be unable to wrap their heads around the idea that a vegetarian diet can indeed be healthy.  In fact it is often far more healthy than an "omni" diet precisely because vegetarians often choose to make what they eat a priority.


I so wish that I could introduce both my instructors and the authors of my textbooks to the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Campbell, Dr. Ornish, and Dr. McDougall, among others.  


Which brings me to the direction portion of this blog post (yeah, I know, took forever to get here).  The link between diet and disease processes is complex, but it fascinates me.  The China Study is on my list of things to read again.  I want very much to delve further into the links between nutrition and diabetes, pain management and cancer.  I'm starting to think that after I have my BSN, I may want to seriously consider further education in the field of nutrition.


My inner hippie is simply dying to get out ... again.


As always it is a crazy life! 

10/12/11

Accomplishments

There are times in every life when the person living it sits down and says, "But what have I really accomplished?"  I don't mean the proverbial mid-life crisis.  Rather I mean those little check points when you pause long enough to say ask yourself if you're really getting anything done or if you are just running on your hamster wheel expending energy like crazy but getting to no particular destination.

I think this is particularly true of nursing students (or any field of study that is so focused that it becomes an all-or-nothing proposition).  We get so used to going and going and going - from class to class and clinical rotation to clinical rotation - that sometimes it seems as though we might forget to do such fundamental things a breathing.  Certainly we often forgo necessities like eating and sleeping. 

I've reached a point where I am more than half of the way through my third semester, with three semesters more to go.  Almost, but not quite, to the half-way point.  When one things of being half-way to anything there is a mental picture of something that is in balance.  The pointer on the continuum is at the very middle.  Like a teeter totter that is balanced.  Somehow that isn't quite what approaching the half-way point feels like.  It feels, instead, as though I am Sisyphus and the magical midpoint is really simply balancing the ball at the top of the mountain waiting for it to begin a headlong rush down the far side where I will once again put my all into pushing it back up that damned hill.

It gets frustrating.  It becomes easy to simply slide into a state of apathy where I simply cannot muster the energy to care about crossing the finish line.  Rather than feeling more at ease because I am half way there I end up feeling only overwhelmed that after all this time, after all this work, after all of the reams of paper and scores of ink cartridges, after all of the hours of studying and the sleepless nights before tests and clinical shifts I am only half of the way done. 

When I get this way and I am tempted to just say, "Welcome to McDonald's.  Can I take your order?" I have to make myself pause and take stock of what I have actually accomplished.

I enrolled at my local community college in July of 2009.  I began classes in August of 2009.  Why?  Because life as I knew it ended.  The marriage that I thought was basically stable but going through a rough patch ... well, let's just say that it wasn't anything that I thought it was.  I needed a new plan.  I needed to get that college education that I'd been putting off for so many years.  At the age of 40 I set out to become a nurse.  I have been going to school since then.  No semesters off.  It's been a little more than two years since I enrolled.


In that two years I:
  * Lived an "in house" separation with my husband of 15 years (a special kind of hell)
  * Attempted to reconcile with my husband
  * Discovered his infidelity and still continued to try to reconcile
  * Discovered his continued infidelity
  * Announced my intention to divorce
  * Found a new house
  * Moved into the new house
  * Hired an attorney and filed for divorce
  * Adjusted to life as a single parent (one who fortunately has a lot of help from her own parents)
  * Helped my own daughter through her adjustments to live as a child of divorced parents


And while I was riding the emotional roller coaster from hell I manged to maintain a 4.0 GPA in all of my non-nursing related classes, get accepted to Phi Theta Kappy (a national honour society for students of 2-year colleges), get accepted to the nursing program, completed two semesters of nursing school with nothing less than a B, get accepted to Sigma Kappa Delta (English honour society), and make it through to this point in my third semester of nursing school.


All in all - not a bad list of accomplishments.  Sometimes you just have to pause and look at where you started and how far you have come to put the future into the right perspective.  When I do that I can see the the future really doesn't look so bad after all - and I can see that I am half way there!

10/11/11

Tests, clinical rotations, illness, new cars ...

It has been a busy busy month since my last post.  Of course that begs the question, "When isn't it busy?"  The short answer is never.

But this past month has been busy even by my newly formed standards of what constitutes busy.  This semester I have two nursing courses with vastly different content.  Nursing 106 is Maternal and Child nursing (OB and Pediatrics) and Nursing 201 is a Medical/Surgical course with content that includes psychiatric nursing, oncology, lower GI disorders, the reproductive system, the endocrine system and sensory systems.  Along with the course work and tests there are also my Med/Surg clinical rotation (90 hours), pediatric clinical rotation (22.5 hours) and OB clinical rotation (22.5 hours).  It's been a bit of a balancing act just to keep it all straight.

Throw a pretty significant iron deficiency, a cold and sinus problems that just don't want to clear up ... well, you get the idea.

The upcoming weekend includes some down time.  But the next three Saturdays after that are entirely spoken for as B has the ACT and two college campus open houses to attend.  I'm feeling that "burning the candle at both ends" feeling.  Just have to hold on until December.

On the up side there have been some pretty cool developments.  

First, I got a new car.  Not a new new car, but a new to me new car.  It is a 2010 Ford Focus and I am very happy!  My old car was 11 years old and pushing 110,000 miles.  We were rapidly reaching the point where the needed repairs were going to cost more than the car was worth.  So my parents once again came to the rescue and helped me get my new car.  It is wonderful and I love it!

Second, B got a new car.  Yes, I know.  She's not even 16 yet.  But 16 is fast approaching (less than 5 months away).  My dad was going to give her his car and get a new car for himself.  Alas, he loves his SUV and had no real desire to get rid of it.  He tried to talk my mom into getting a new car, giving him her SUV and then giving B his SUV.  But my mom loves her car and didn't want a new car.  It was a dilemma.  When B announced that she had been accepted into the National Honor Society my dad pounced on that as a reason to buy B a new car (thus letting both my mom and him keep their beloved cars).  B is now the proud driver of a 2012 Ford Focus, even if she does have to drive it with a licensed driver over the age of 18 in the car with her.  

In less than 5 months though she will be driving all on her own.  I'm not sure when she got that old, or who gave her permission to grow up - but it's pretty awesome just the same.

My house is a disaster area and nothing seems to be getting done on that front - but school is going well and I am managing to keep my head above water with the "have to do's" for school.  I just have to hold on until the end of the semester when I hope to be able to catch up on housework. 

I also hope to be able to spend a little bit of time doing a project or two to make our house a little bit more personal.  I'd like to paint my bedroom and maybe hang some decorations that make it feel like my own space. 

After reading the blog of my friend, C, I really am chock full of desire to do it - now I just have to find and make the time.  It won't be until the break between my fall and spring semesters.  Watch this space for updates and possibly even photos of the process of turning my house into my home.


I also hope to be able to spend some more time blogging - and perhaps even write about something a little more thoughtful than "This is what I did on my summer break." 


Until then - My life remains crazy, and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

9/14/11

Anemia and the Nursing Student

Sounds like the title of a torrid romance doesn't it?

Sadly this is not a love story.  It is a story of the conflict between what the mind wants to accomplish and the limitations of a the body.  Truly a matter of the soul being willing but the body being weak.

The semester "ramped up" over the course of the first week.  As usual we hit the ground running and it's been pretty much non-stop.  Two 4-credit hour classes, 90 hours of med-surge clinicals, 22.5 hours of pediatrics clinicals, and 22.5 hours of Maternal/Newborn clinicals and simulation labs.  

Unfortunately, right about the time I hit the beginning of another busy semester as a nursing student my body decided that an anemia crisis would be a good idea.  I am chronically iron deficient due to malabsorption and poor utilization of iron.  I can usually tell when things are getting bad before I reach critical mass.  It managed to sneak right past me this time.  Of course that could be because I was telling myself that I was just tired from homework, stressed out from tests, my legs hurt because I spent 12 hours on the med-surg floor.  It wasn't that anything was "wrong."  I'm just a nursing student.  We all feel like this.

I was both right and wrong.  Yes, every nursing student feels stressed out, overloaded, overwhelmed, stretched too thing and exhausted.  I doubt, however, that every nursing student has daily headaches, shortness of breath on even the slightest exertion, nail beds that are the new in colour of "barely pink" and conjunctiva that is nearly as white as the sclera of the eye.

I have an appointment on Friday for some fasting blood work.  Should be interesting to see what my H&H looks like and what what my iron levels are.  Even more interesting will be figuring out what we will do about this.

In the meantime I will simply do my level best to keep my head as far above water as I can.  Certainly there will be times when that won't be nearly far enough above the waterline as I'd like and I will feel like I am about to drown.  I'll just hope to stay afloat for "one more day."

How do you get through nursing school?


One day at a time.


They do say that if something is going to happen it will happen while you're in nursing school.  Clearly they were right.


It's a crazy (and exhausting) life but I love it.

8/27/11

The things you find when you're not looking ...

It is always so amusing to me when I find things that I'd give up looking for or never knew I wanted to find.  These things, the things you need, the things you once wanted, the things you'd stopped hoping for, the things you didn't know that you wanted or needed are always found when you least expect them.

One of the things I thought that I knew for sure I didn't want was a kitten.  But alas, he found me and when he found me he found a sucker willing to give him a new fur-ever home.


I found this very tiny, very young kitten in the parking lot of the Huddle House restaurant where I frequently have breakfast with my mother.  While we were eating I thought I heard the cry of a very young kitten.  Telling myself I couldn't have heard it I carried on with my coffee and eggs.  As we were leaving I stepped off of the sidewalk into the parking lot and I heard it again.  I doubled back and as I came around the front of a pick up truck I saw him.  Shaking in fear and crying for all his little lungs were worth.  I immediately picked him up and drove him straight to my veterinarian's office.  His check up went well and she estimated that he is about 5 weeks old.  He's no larger (in length) then a paperback novel, he's shorter than a shoe box and he weighs 1 pound 7 ounces.  

B's boyfriend, J, called him Peanut and it stuck.  

I didn't want another animal.  We were, in my opinion, maxed out on the furry inhabitants of our home.  We have Bolt (a Boston Terrier), Lilly (black domestic long-hair), Queso Blanco (white domestic short-hair), Roxie (ferret), and two of the meanest hamsters God ever created.  The ark is full. 

And yet ... in the last place I would have been looking for an animal that is the last thing we really needed he found me.  A little tabby ball of fluff who needed a home. 

The other things I found were peace, healing and closure.

I know that closure is a buzz word and that it means different things to different people.  For me closure is not something you get from someone else.  Closure is a gift that you give to yourself.  It is the permission to truly close the book on a part of your life and to fully and completely move on without doubt, regret, guilt or shame.  For me in finding peace and healing I found the last remaining things I needed to give myself closure on the last 18 years of my life.

The most startling part of it all is that I found healing and peace in next to the last place I would have ever expected to find it.  I found these things in conversation with another person who understands the last 18 years of my life almost as well as I do.

This person turned out to be the polar opposite of what I was expecting.  She was, as far as I had known "the Other Woman."  She was to me a woman who knew my husband was married and allowed him to pursue her anyway.  She was one of the women who had had a hand in tearing apart my family and ending my marriage.

I don't know exactly what I expected her to be.  Perhaps I expected her to be as self-centered and manipulative as my ex-husband.  Perhaps I expected her to play the pitiful victim.  Perhaps I expected her to be like C.S., with whom T had a 2-year long affair and whose apology to me was, "I'm sorry for what I did, but I am a good person."  No, dear.  You are  most certainly not a good person.  A good person does not cheat on her husband with someone else's husband.  They just don't.  But I digress.  Back to dinner.

Filled with worries about tempers flaring, extreme emotional outbursts or coming face to face with the type of sociopath who just doesn't care who gets hurt I went to have dinner with her, with the other woman.  Knowing what T had said to my face about me I could only imagine what he had said to my soon-to-be dinner companion.  Had she believed him when he told her I was controlling, unstable, jealous, angry, vindictive and out-of-control?  If she did believe him could we have a civil meeting?  Or would this end up being a drink-throwing, curse-filled cat fight worthy of a Real Housewives episode?  Was she as reasonable as she seemed in email?  Or was she secretly a bunny-boiling nutcase that would make Glenn Close's character in Fatal Attraction seem reasonable?

There was no way to know except to know.  So off to the restaurant I went.

I found that she was none of the things I had expected.  Over good Mexican food and margaritas I found that she was honest, forthright, intelligent, insightful and forgiving.  This woman was a total stranger to me and she had as much reason to dislike and distrust me as I did her.  We were both able to put aside our preconceived notions of one another that were, it seems, built on a carefully laid foundation of lies.  In doing so we were able to help one another find answers.  In some cases I found answers to questions I didn't even know I had. It brought a clarity to my view of my past.

I've been doing a pretty good job of moving on, of moving forward, in my life.  I'm doing well in school, I'm developing new friendships, I'm renewing old friendships, I'm working on being a better mom.  I'm making short-term plans (one semester at a time) and long-term plans (my move to Seattle).  I'm making strides toward becoming a healthier person both physically (getting ready to start the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart) and I'm working on finding out who I am now and who I want to be in the future.

But there was still something keeping me from closing the door on my past.  The door was still open just a tiny bit.  There was a part of me that was unable to let go of the past 18 years.  It was, perhaps, a bit of reluctance to turn my back on the majority of my adult life.  I met T when I was 24.  I was barely an adult, even though by that point I'd been married and divorced once already.  The past 18 years are the better part of my adult life and nearly half of my entire life.  I felt that I couldn't really let go of that.

I found what I needed in order to be able to let go of what I thought was and what I dreamed could be.  I found out that my entire marriage, from the very moment it began was a complete lie. 

There were several Other Women in my ex-husband's life.  It is a pretty large cast even when you only count the ones I know about.  It turns out that one of the Other Women, R, was not just a woman he knew in high school and reconnected with on Facebook in the past 4 years.  In her own words she was "involved" with T through his first marriage, his second marriage (that's me) and his latest relationship.  For more than 20 years this woman has been a part of his life.  She predates me.  She was never gone.  And knowing how many women there were in his life at the end of our marriage (some who knew he was a married man but didn't care and doubtless some who were deceived and lied to as much as he lied to and deceived me) I have no reason to believe she was the only one in the years between the first affair I discovered in 1998 and the one that began in 2007.

That certainly makes walking away from those years a lot easier.  I will always carry the memories of those years, but now I can look back at them for what they are.  Pieces and parts of a very elaborate web of lies. The fun I had and the things I enjoyed ... those were genuine emotions on my part.  I live my life in an authentic way.  Perhaps some people will say that I was hopelessly naive or terminally stupid to not catch on to what T was doing for so many years.  All I can say is that he is a masterful manipulator.  I thought he genuinely loved me and I believed that he loved his child.  I believed him to be honest and truthful when he joined the Catholic Church and received the Sacraments.  I believed any number of things - perhaps for no reason more than because I wanted to.  I don't know.  But I do know that nothing in my life was ever what it appeared to be.

With the help of an amazingly honest, intelligent and strong woman I have pulled back the curtain and I have seen the little man for what he really is.  I will no longer live my life with "What if" and "If only" ... the shouldas, wouldas, and couldas that have held me back and wedged that door open just a tiny crack.

We enjoyed a nice dinner together.  We talked about T and our experiences with him.  We uncovered some truths.  We uncovered some lies.  We talked about ourselves.  We even managed to laugh.  We began, I hope, to form a friendship.

It would be great if in the midst of all of this not only did I find a kitten, peace, healing and closure - but a friend as well.


Blessings,
   Carole