Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Happy Thanksgiving! I work tomorrow, the real day, so Spencer and I decided to celebrate on Sunday, instead. (Yes, the hospital offers a free turkey dinner for employees, which is very generous. But...shoveling down canned turkey, canned green beans, and cardboard mashed potatoes between med passes and bed baths just didn't cut it for me).
So we invited over Spencer's cousin and his friend. 4--it seemed like a reasonable number for our apartment. It eventually grew to 7, which made for cozy quarters and some creative seating, but also for a lot of fun. We had Andrew, Paul, and Lizzie Early (all Spencer's cousin) and Andrew's friend, Mona, with her niece, Anisha.
Thanks to my sister, Martha, for her AWESOME recipes and to Lizzie who sat on the rocking chair since we only own 4 chairs. (I also have to brag about my creativity: you can see the size of our table and of our kitchen. There was no way we would be able to serve all the food we had off the table or out of our little kitchen. So, I dressed up our ironing board with a table cloth and did buffet style. Not bad, huh?)
While we were eating, Spencer asked us all to name something for which we are grateful. I was so busy making sure everyone was getting fed, etc., that I never said mine. As cheesy as it sounds, I am so grateful for Spencer because he makes nights like that one not only possible, but so fun. From the shopping to looking up recipes to carving the turkey to chatting around the table, even while doing the dishes, he was as excited as I've ever seen him. It would be such a bummer to have a spouse who didn't love traditions and holidays as much as I do! You're the best, Spencer J!
I hope y'all enjoy your holiday as much as I did!

Sunday, October 9, 2011


I have been so happy this week for so many reasons:

this (Tucson in the fall):

and this (Cooking Light's monkey bread recipe...mmmmm!):

and this (I read it for the third time and can't get enough of it):

and this (our forecast for double, rather than triple, digits):
Sunday, 9
83 | 52 °F

and especially this:
where we heard things like this:
"Brothers and sisters, the most powerful Being in the universe is the Father of your spirit. He knows you. He loves you with a perfect love.
God sees you not only as a mortal being on a small planet who lives for a brief season—He sees you as His child. He sees you as the being you are capable and designed to become. He wants you to know that you matter to Him."
(President Uchtdorf, "You Matter To Him")

Saturday, June 18, 2011


This week I ended up with three days off in a row (or so I thought...that's another story) so Spence and I ran away! We got a fabulous deal on a little room  and we spent three days

riding our bikes through vineyard country
hot tubbing
eating McDonald's soft serve icecream
laying out on warm rocks by Crescent Moon Ranch River
enjoying the, pink, and green everywhere
eating cranberry walnut french toast
enjoying our balcony
talking politics 
talking everything else
soaking in weather below 100 degrees

Thanks Spence

Saturday, June 4, 2011

RUPTURED AAA...and my awesome co-workers

Last post expressed my amazement at medicine. Thursday was an epitome of a medical miracle! My patient had a "ruptured AAA," meaning her aorta (the main vessel from the heart running down the abdomen) ripped open. She was taken to immediate surgery, where she lost 5.5 liters of blood (the human body only has about 6). The surgeon opened her up, patched the aorta together, gave a bunch of blood and sent her to us. The next 4 hours we frantically dumped in 31(!) liters of fluid, gave all kinds of medication, ran tests, etc. 2 or 3 times my blood ran cold we almost lost her. But the intensivist kept giving orders and she made it through her first few hours...
The night shift ran all through the night, doing the same. When I came back the next morning, she was basically stable--maintaining blood pressure (with medications' support), looking (almost) pink, perfusing to the point of palpable pulses, and making pee (the things we get excited about as nurses! But that means her kidneys were getting blood). That lasted the whole day. She is not out of the woods, but doing fantastic considering her condition.
I was reading a study (USC center for Vascular Care) that says almost half of patients with ruptured AAAs die before reaching the hospital. Of those who make it to surgery, between 50-70% die. Not surprising, since they open the biggest vessel in their body! So, she is quite a miracle and I'm totally amazed at medicine, again!

**Here I put in a plug for my co-workers. There were 3 other nurses on the unit, each with 2 sick patients of their own. Yet all 3 rushed into my room when the patient arrived to help me get things going. 2 PCTs ran tirelessly: getting supplies, running labs, and making calls. Even my manager popped in (shirt, tie and all) to see if he could help. One nurse stayed with me until the end of shift, hanging blood, checking lines, etc. Another stayed not only until the end of the shift, running tests and helping the doctor insert lines, but he also stayed 2.5 hours(!) after our shift to help me check orders and chart. We finally finished with that patient and he was ready to leave. But, he learned I still had to chart on my other patient and that I was parked 1/2 mile away. He insisted on staying until I finished to ensure I reached my car safely. Wow! I feel spoiled!**


Lately I've been amazed at what medicine can do. And how fast it can work. Here are some of the things I consider medical miracles:
  • I had a patient go to surgery and "code" (meaning her heart stopped beating and she lost all perfusion). While doing CPR, they brought the patient to me in the ICU (I was told later I looked the same color as the patient when I saw them coming). We quickly found the patient had a "tension pneumothorax" (pneumothorax is a collapsed lung. It becomes a "tension" pneumothorax when the pressure from the collapsed lung pushes the heart and vessels. Hers was bad enough that they were too far shifted and compressed to pump at all.) A surgeon put a chest tube in to relieve the pressure and walaa! She had a blood pressure, a heart rate, and her color went from dusky to rosy. Within a few minutes she opened her eyes and was trying to talk to us. Wow!
  • Another patient went into "a-fib with RVR" (atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular response. Basically, his heart was beating twice as fast as it should and less than half as efficiently). I called the doctor and got orders for an amiodarone drip (a strong heart medication) within 3 minutes of onset. I let the pharmacy know and within another 3 minutes I was giving it. Another 3 minutes, his heart rate was back within normal range and he had a blood pressure. Again, Wow!
  • Still another patient had lost almost all circulation to one foot. It was cold and white as white can be. And she had a sore on her ankle that had been there weeks, unable to heel.  She was taken to surgery. They took a little piece of a healthy vein, hooked it on to the artery and "bypassed" the blockage. She came out of surgery with an incision from her hip to her ankle, but with a pink foot. And she could feel when something touched it--a sensation she claimed to have not had in months. (And this was just for a foot--imagine doing that to the vessels of the heart!)
I could go on for hours. Every time I titrate a "pressor" (medication to improve blood pressure), I'm amazed at the immediate effect. When I watch a patient get electrically shocked out of a dangerous heart rhythm, when I give sedation and suddenly the patient is out cold, when I give a little fluid to a patient whose numbers just aren't right and they suddenly all's always amazing to me. (It's daunting, too, as I realize the impact a mistake can have.) But I love having some immediate gratification in my job!

Friday, May 27, 2011

camping...attempted again

Last January, Spencer and I went camping. At 5am, we were both icicles, so we bailed. We packed up and hurried home to our hot tub. Ever since then, we've wanted redemption! So, yesterday, we packed up the car and headed up Mt. Lemmon only to find out we couldn't have a fire. Bummer, but we figured, being May in Tucson, we didn't need a fire anyway.
Wrong! The sun hadn't even gone down yet and we were shivering. We thought we'd troubleshoot and sleep in the car so we could at least have the morning on the mountain. But then it was dinner time and what had we brought? hot dogs! Have you ever had a cold hot dog? After 4 wretching episodes and having to turn the car on to warm up the car to stop our shivering, we bailed again! 
So maybe we aren't as tough as we'd thought we were. But, we definitely still had fun. We had gone for a beautiful hike, seen a great sunset, and we got to end the night--rather than freezing and hungry, tossing and turning in the car--eating McDonald's soft serve icecream and watching "Man From Snowy River" in our cozy apartment. 
But just you wait--Spencer and I WILL have a successful camping trip one of these days!