Monday, March 28, 2011

Refinishing the Coffee Table

So like I discussed in this post, our coffee table was in sad shape. Someone who will remain unmentioned put a very hot pizza box right on the table, which may or may not have left a very large white "burn" spot on the table. And with 5 years of use, there are just the general scratches and dings all over it.

See??? I wasn't lying (ok, so the major scratches on the lower left was b/c I started sanding before taking the pic...but, still, it's bad!!).

So, it was time to refinish it, and I was excited!! I've never refinished anything before. I have repainted my dresser a few times, but never stained anything. I've always really been into do it yourself projects and home repairs. I went to Lowes to get the necessary stuff, and went to work.

I clearly have a very advanced method of sanding! I couldn't find any sand paper that fit the electrical sander, and I definitely wasn't going BACK to the store, so the manual method worked! And I didn't think about getting a mask, so my sweatshirt worked fine!! And nothing like some gardening gloves to protect my hands!
So after giving it a good sanding, I went to painting. Wow, I look way to focused to just be staining a table!
In no time, the first coat was on! Either the time passed extremely quickly b/c I was having fun, or because of the extremely exciting lecture I was listening to for school on Antimicrobial dilemas/Antibiotic therapies....I'm gonna guess it was the former : ) Luckily, I found a 2-in-1 stain/clear protective coating so that saved me a step which was nice!

After I let it dry the standard "6 hours" (AKA overnight- who has time to do all these steps in one day!?), I then had to "sand" it with a very fine steel wool and wipe away the dust.

Once that was done, I put the second coat on and let it dry for another day (ok, really it was like 3 b/c I had to work!)....poor Jon, didn't have a garage to park his car in b/c our coffee table was blocking his spot!

And finally, after a quick 3rd coat just to the top, it was done!! We are very happy with the results, and it looks great with the new rug we bought!! I really enjoyed the process, so I'm excited to give it a go again...good thing too, b/c I have a dresser sitting in my garage and a wooden high chair sitting in my laundry room waiting to be re-made! (And no, we are not pregnant, I just found the high chair at a thrift store for $3 and the dresser for $10 on and loved them, so who could pass that up!?!?)

The finished of any pizza box stains...for now : ) I'm still working on the picture wall of the picture frames fell off in October (guess we watch our scary movies too loud!). And then one of the shelves fell off last week : ( Can't keep anything up there. So the layout is not quite what I want...but things from other areas of the house keep having to stand in. Anyways, the point is to show the "new" table with our new rug. I'm loving it!

Oh, and for those of you wondering, the cost was only about $18 (primer/stain, paint brush, steel wool). On a PICU nurse salary, that's not too shabby : )

Curry Craziness!

Jon and I can't get enough Indian food lately! Last week we found a new little "cafe style" Indian joint which other than not having any meat (chicken, shrimp, etc) was REALLY good!!

And on Friday, instead of going out to dinner, we decided to stay in and cook a great Indian meal! Let me tell you, we are AMAZING Indian cooks : ) Not that I'm biased or anything!

I found a super easy recipe here and just tweaked it a bit as we went along. We started off by chopping some veggies: an onion, red, yellow and orange bell pepper, & tomatoes. We then put the spices all together...and if I could do a scratch-n-sniff screen I would b/c this smelled AMAZING!!

Next, we sauteed the onions and a few cloves of garlic. This is seriously one of my all time favorite smells...mmm!!

Add the spice mixture to the onions and garlic, stir, and let cook for about one minute.

As you're doing this, have your wonderful husband peel and devein the jumbo tiger prawns. Add the veggies to the onion/spice mixture and let cook for a bit. This is where we deviated from the recipe b/c we added a lot more water, and about 1/2 cup of greek yogurt...we wanted more "sauce" than what we currently had and this did the trick!

After adding the tiger prawns, this is what we ended up with. We kept doing taste tests and ended up doubling (or a bit more) of each of the spices. We like our curry spicy and with a kick, so that definitely did the trick!! Let the mixture cook about 4 minutes....

And enjoy the final product!! I must say it was delish!! We served it with whole wheat Indian flat bread, and a nice cold bubbly drink!

Now that was a great Friday night!!

And yeah, it was so good, that we made a beef curry tonight for dinner. We used pretty much the same spices, but instead of the tiger prawns, we used sirloin that J cubed. And, I wanted to the sauce to be thicker to stand up to the meat, so I added 2 cups of greek yogurt (o% Fage) and a bunch of chopped mushrooms. We put the meat in last, stirring for 3 min over med. heat, then cranked it up to high heat for 2 min. The result ws perfectly medium rare meat! YUM!

Note to self (and readers wanting to try this): Do not add the yogurt until the end. Otherwise it breaks down and instead of making the sauce truly thicker it does something weird...not gross, just broken down yogurt weird.

But despite the yogurt, it was once again, amazing. Sorry, no pictures. The food didn't last long enough to take any : ) Do you have any favorite Indian recipes you'd like to share??

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Just a quick post

I wanted to post really quick this morning as a follow up to my Spring Cleaning post. Jon and I had some friends over last night and we needed to clean our house...especially dust and sweep!! Jon used the Lemon Pledge that I got in my bzz kit (see THIS post if you have no idea what I'm talking about). Let me tell you, this stuff made our entire house smell AMAZING!!! It smelled so lemon-y fresh and clean! I love that clean house smell!!

It didn't leave any kind of slippery residue on my furniture, and the dust was gone, so I'd have to say this was a great product! Those people at Johnson & Johnson really know how to make a rockin' dust cleaner!!

Now I'm off to have a coffee date with a friend!! She used to be a co-worker, until she turned to the dark side (primary care in a doctors office : ). But, she is now a Nurse Practitioner, and she's helped me through school so much...primarily by giving me tons of books!!! So I'm excited to say that this coffee date is NOT one r/t to school...I no longer need any books for my remaining class. So it'll be nice to catch up, and NOT talk about school!!

Hope you are all having a great Thursday morning. I'll probably post more about work tonight since I've been slacking in the work/school post area! Hey, I've been enjoying my break, and not wanting to think about it unless absolutely necessary!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Cleaning on Spring Break!

One week of Spring Break down, one more to go. I must say that last week just FLEW by!!! How is it that some of the weeks with crazy amounts of school work, clinicals, and work just drag...but the "days off" go by almost unnoticed b/c they are so quick!!

I will say I enjoyed a bit of the warm-ish weather, had a nice long run, cooked a great meal or two, had some good wine, and was able to have lunch with some friends. So the week was not completely a wash!

But this week is all about being productive. Don't get me wrong...I fully intend to have my weekly massage (thank you SO much for a great chiropractor and great insurance!!). And I plan to give myself a MUCH overdue mani/pedi.

But I also plan to do some major spring cleaning!!! And I just got some awesome products in the mail to try out (see pic below)!! I am a "Bzz Agent" (to sign up, click here)- if you've never heard of it, you have to sign up. It's a great way to get free stuff (e.g.: all these great cleaning products that just came in the mail this week!!). All you have to do it share the bzz about the products! In the past, I've gotten Cover Girl lip gloss, eye shadow, Florida's Natural Orange juice, Afrin nasal spray, and other "stuff." The point is, you get to join campaigns to get free stuff, and you just have to spread the word!!
So back to my Spring Cleaning plans. A thorough sweeping, mopping, and dusting is a must. And the Lemon Pledge will be great for that! Ever since we got wood floors, and have tons of food furniture (end tables, coffee table, entry way table, tv stand, etc.) the dust is crazy evident!!

And then there is the beast called our master bathroom shower. For some reason there is a "black" that just WILL. NOT. come clean!!! Now let me tell you, in the PICU we have some MAJOR heavy duty cleaning supplies. Like the kind that says "Do not touch to bare skin. Will cause fetal damage. Will cause cancer"- etc. So these are no joke.

And yet the black remains!! And yes, we've tried straight up bleach, tons of bathroom cleaning products, the aforementioned fetal damaging, cancer causing PICU cleaning products, and other natural products. But the funk known as bathroom blackness will not go away!!! So I'm gonna use the scrubbing bubbles I got in my kit to see if it will help....fingers crossed!!

And finally, a project I'm super excited about. I'm refinishing our coffee table!! I've never stained a piece of furniture before, but I'm really excited to!! Our coffee table is in sad shape, so it's in need of a little TLC. Jon wanted new tables...I didn't want to spend $$$. So this is our compromise. Hope it works out : ) I'll take some before and after photos so you can be the judge...and back me up in case Jon doesn't like it : )

Have you gotten Spring Fever yet?? Any new cleaning tips or products that you love?? Oh, and if anyone has any ideas for the nasty shower we've got going on, I'd love to hear it!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

I'm a Guest Blogger

I've been meaning to post this over a week now, but I was a "Guest Poster"- umm, is that what you call it?? Probably not!! Guest blogger is probably better.

Either way, if you want to see the post, head over to here.

Alan Allard is my dad. But he's also a life and business coach. His website and his blog really has some great stuff. So check it out!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Baby Time!

So what does a PICU nurse/Grad School student do on her "spring break??"

For one, she visits some best friends who moved away- Love you "Megra!"

And then, while she's there, she does a whole bunch of this:

Ohhh, I definitely got my cute baby fix on this weekend!!! And its such a nice change from the "cute baby" in the hospital that I get sometimes. This one is cute...and HEALTHY!! And it was amazing, getting some QT with the best friends, all the while holding the little one, feeding him, and yes, even changing his poopy diaper : )

I must say, it was a great weekend for J too. He absolutely loved the little guy!! He kept asking me to hold him. He fed him bottles. He did NOT, however, change any poopy diapers. Those make him gag. We're going to have to work on that when we have kids, FOR SURE!!

But it was awesome seeing how comfortable he was holding the little man...and how eager he was to do it!! I look forward to being a mom one day. But even more, I know that Jon is going to make one awesome dad! I couldn't ask for more in a husband!!! Love you babe!

Until the time comes for us, I'll just keep holding the little ones of our friends...and enjoying every second of it! Especially the time when they are screaming their heads off, and I can hand them right back to their mom : )

It's the same in the PICU. It's nice to have a cute little patient. But it's even nicer at the end of 13 hours to know that you can "give them back" (or give report to another nurse) and go home.

So we went home after a great weekend with the BFFs. I must say, it was a great start to a (hopefully) great Spring Break!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hand molds

I didn't know if I even wanted to write this post. I still don't know if I want to write this post. But what I do know is that I'm getting teary eyed at things that would never make me cry. Feeling like I'm going to cry when a certain song comes on the radio. Or becomming more sensitive to things that would never bother me before.

Those of you that know me, know I'm not a cry-er. And you know that I generally have pretty thick skin. I think most PICU nurses do. So what brought about this change this week??

My patient at work has made a huge impact on me. On my view on life, and clearly, on my emotions. This, in combination with being consistenly tired, and stressed, and a bit overworked/overschooled, is the reason for this change.

div>My patient was a beautiful, healthy 3 year old little girl who had been vomiting a few times over the past week. But, after she threw up, she looked fine and went back to playing, like so many toddlers do.

But on Thursday morning, her mom went in to check on her and she was unresponsive. After calling 911, she was rushed to the nearest hospital. They put in a breathing tube, and rushed her to get a head CT.

The resuls were bad. Really bad. Like ginormous tumor in both ventricles of her brain, causing her brain to go through the hole in your skull (foramen magnum) bad.

So what does this hospital do?? They tell the parents that there's a little water on the brain and that they would be sending her to our PICU for further care (WHAT?? A little water on the brain!?!?). It was so downplayed that the father even told our transport team as they were getting into the helicopter that he was going home to take a shower, and grab some things for the night.

Um, no sir, you must come to the hospital NOW!! Follow this helicopter!!

So the patient rolled into the PICU room, and no sooner than I could even get her on my monitors, the neurosurgeon did a super quick exam and said "She's brain dead, there's nothing more we can do."

Just like that! There's nothing more we can do. We can keep the breathing tube in place until her parents get there to keep her alive. But there's nothing more we can do.

What do you even do with this information?? Myself, the nurse helping me, the nurse charting, and 2 PICU docs all just stared at her in disbelief. Here was this beautiful little girl who had a raging tumor in her brain that nobody knew about until it was too late.

Until there was nothing that we could do.

I must say, listening to the doctor give the family this information when they walked in (after telling them, "We need you to sit down. We have some very bad news") was probably one of the hardest conversations I have ever been a part of.

I have been in countless meetings where we've delivered this same information. But never in such an unexpected, quick, life changing way. We told the family about the tumor, about her brain herniating, and about her brain death. We then told them that when the brain is dead, the body is as well.

This is a concept that is so difficult for families to handle. They see that the heart may still be beating on its own. But when the brain is dead, the body follows shortly. When the brain is dead, what is keeping the rest of the body alive is machines. We then told them we would have to do 2 brain death tests 12 hours apart (state regulations) and would have a family care conference the next day to discuss the results, and talk about options.

This family went from having family dinner and movie night the night before, to trying to decide if they want a Catholic or Lutheran memorial service. If they want their little angel to be an organ donor. If they wanted her cremated or burried.

And I was left to create her hand molds. These are one of the momentos that we can give families as a reminder of their little loved ones. A heart shaped plaster of the precious little hands that once held her dolly, once played with play-dough, once brushed her cute, curly hair. Now just a small imprint of what once was.

In a way, making these hand molds is very therapeutic for me. A way to help bring closure, whether I was the patient's nurse for one day or one year. A way to provide a "task" when the patient is at end of life. PICU nurses are not great when there are not "things to do." It's the quiet moments that are hard. The hospice moments that become very difficult.

In a way, these moments become difficult, because it's almost like admitting we didn't do our job right. And while this is definitely not the case in many, if not all patients, it still can feel like we failed.

So the hand molds are our way of showing that we still can do "something." We can still be providers, nurturers, protectors. Because that's what we are as PICU nurses.

And when the hand molds are completed, the family will have a momento of their loved one. Only this week, I am realizing more and more, that what's a hand mold to the family, when they really want the full-of-life hand to hold?? And the "therapeutic" effects that normally take hold of us PICU nurses, help us cope with the situation, did not fully "therapize" me.

Instead, I am left becoming tearful at things that usually do not make me so. I become apprehensive when I think about having my own children. Who's to say that the same thing would happen to my beautiful little princess?

But I guess that's what life is all about. That's what PICU is all about. Our greatest successes feel so great, because we have experienced life's biggest downfalls. The greatest miracle in the PICU is even more miraculous, because of the one's that we've lost.

So while I was left to mold this little girls hands, she has helped to mold my heart. She has made me so very sad for her family. But she has also made me so very grateful for my own. She has taught me that one day, when I do have kids, not to take a moment for granted, for I do not know if it may be their last.

And finally, she has taught me that sometimes it's ok to not have something "to do." That just, "being" is ok. It's ok for myself as a PICU nurse, myself as a wife, a friend, a daughter, and it's ok for the families that I care for. In fact, it's in these quiet moments, where we just try to "be," and not "do," that our characters, our souls, can truly be molded into what they were created to be. If only we allow these moments in. And while that may mean a few more tears than normal, or a few angry screams, that is the molding taking its shape.

Getting Lucky

I'm pretty sure I need to buy a lotto the big lotto, or mega lotto, or whatever they call it! I have been super lucky the past few weeks...both at work and in my personal life.

First, one of the blogs I follow was giving away a $150 Visa gift card. I put in my entry and hoped to the 500 other things I enter weekly!

But, I actually won it!! And the Visa gift card came in the mail this week!! I have no idea what I'll spend it on, but maybe a mani/pedi and a little shopping?? And those of you that know my shopping habits know that I can fill my closet with that much $$$ : ) That sounds like fun!
And then, I won big at work!!! Every year we have "The Year of Jubilee" in which nurses can enter to win an entire year of no holidays. I entered, and didn't think anything of it.

But when I came into work, this is what I saw:
NO WAY!!!! I can't believe I won. So this year, I'm getting out of 4th of July, Thanksgiving, New Years Eve, and New Years Day! Definitely very cool.
So I guess I'm one lucky girl! I'm gonna keep entering to win on blogs like I've always done, but maybe I should up the ante! What have you won lately???

I'm Done!!! Part (2 of 4)

So I know this post is 3 days late. But better late than never right??
Wednesday was my last day of PICU clinicals....ever!!!!! While I LOVE the PICU, I am SO glad that clinicals in it are over!

In fact, driving home, this was how excited I was:
Ignoring the poor phone picture quality...and the fact that I clearly look ridiculously tired despite my true inner excitement...I was excited to be getting in that car and driving home! My last review with my preceptor went great. She said that I was "above average" (heaven forbid, they actually tell you that you're "good"). But either way, if "above average" is the best option, I'll take it!
And once again, despite bad pic quality, and the fact that I just look straight up special, this is some true happiness people! This is the face of "above average" happiness : )
And finally, I may or may not have broken out into a rock star....

I'm telling you, this was an exciting day! After the Attending got in my face (ok, not really IN my face, but close to it!) during rounds when I was presenting, asking "Are you a scientist?? ARE. YOU. A. SCIENTIST?" this warrented my rock star attitude. I wanted to answer "Uh, No way!! I'm a nurse!"....but I knew that would not go over well, so instead I said "Yes!"

Adios PICU...hola Infectious Disease. Doesn't that just sound appealing!! Ha! So my next 4 weeks will be spent looking at different "bugs" and figuring out which antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, etc. will be appropriate for the kids. This is definitely not something I'd want to specialize in, but it's a big portion of boards, so I'm excited to have the experience.

So 2 of 4 clinical quarters are done....and 2 was the hardest, most stressful, probably most time consuming! Yeah, sigh of relief! Next week I'm on "spring break"- and while we're not going anywhere spring break-y like Miami, or some other party place in Florida, it'll still be nice to have 4 days off. Yes, 4 DAYS OFF!!!

I don't know what the remaining 2 quarters will hold, but I do know if they go as quickly as the last 2, I'll be a graduate before I know it! And then there will be a whole new set of adventures to embark on. But I think I'll stick to the adventure at hand. Because for now, I love my job in the PICU... and I'm not willing to give that up just yet!

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Weekend of Work

Working the weekend, you never really know what you're going to get. I know I've said before that working weekends is nice because there are less people, it's generally quieter, but this weekend was not the case!!

Our census was pretty much full, and for every kid that we sent to the floor or home, we got another one. And it was SO not an even trade. We gave away an "easy" not so sick (or not sick at all in the case of the kiddos going home)- only to get a SUPER sick, trying to die, kid!

I'm not sure what it was about this weekend, but the kids were rough!! We had one pass away on Saturday, and three more just kept trying on Sunday. It was draining, and at times overwhelming!

We had 3 kids on ECMO (think heart lung bypass machine all the time), 2 on the oscillator (the "big guns" of ventilators), and 5 kids needing dialysis for kidney failure. And one really sick asthmatic wasn't doing well on whatever respiratory treatment or ventilator we put him on, so we had to have anesthesia come to put them on their "big gun" anesthesia machine!

We did things this weekend we don't usually do. We were short-staffed. We ran around like crazy just making sure that every kid was being taken care of well, but also that each nurse got to pee. At least once that day!!

I have to say, when I got home last night I was exhausted!! My feet were throbbing. My brain was tired!! But I know that I provided excellent PICU nursing care and we all worked together as a team. From the charge nurses to the bedside nurses to our wonderful nursing assistants and respiratory therapists, we all pulled together to make the crazy, hectic, weekend not appear that way to our patients and families!

And that's really what it's all about! It's OK to be crazy...that's what it's all about in the PICU! BUT- to be able to be so incognito is the true art. And I think we did just that.

No, I know we did just that. As I was leaving, my patient's father told me "You are a superb nurse. If I had to rate you, I'd give you an 11 out of ten. And I wouldn't say that about all the nurses we've had!"

So there ya go. Another exhausted PICU nurse going home happy! And another PICU family happy! In the words of the crazy Charlie Sheen, I think we're both "Winners!"

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fabulous Friday!!

It has certainly been a Fabulous Friday for me!! First off, I got to sleep in this morning. And I mean, REALLY sleep in!!

Lately b/c of the crazy early mornings that I've been pulling, on my rare day off I wake up no later than 7 am. Jon's alarm clock went off at 7 am this morning, and I groaned thinking "Seriously?? You better go back to sleep!!"

And while no later than 3 seconds later J was back to snoring, I did manage to fall back asleep about 30 minutes later. And I stayed asleep for 2 MORE HOURS!!!! It was amazing!!
Next, I finished the last paper of the quarter this morning as I enjoyed 2 delightful cups of french press coffee. I don't know what's better...being done with the paper, or enjoying the french press. There really is a HUGE difference b/t the coffee maker that I pre-set at night before work or clinicals and the freshly ground, freshly made french press made that morning! YUM!!!
And then I went to the gym and WORKED. IT. OUT!!! I was no joke in there!! And it felt good!!! I really do miss my workouts, so today was great! I lifted some weights and then hit the treadmill...HARD!
Towards the end, I was going so fast I was sure that one of 2 things would happen: 1.) I was going to throw up right on that treadmill, or 2.) I was going to fling right off the back of the treadmill. But I kept picturing all those fat people on Biggest Loser and thinking "If they can do it, so can I." You may be laughing, but hey, it kept me on that treadmill!!

And now it's time to get ready for date night with the man!!! Since I work all weekend, tonight is our time to get some QT. And since the paper is DONE, we actually get some TRUE QT....not the pseudo-date on the couch watching tv/doing homework together. We're still trying to decide whether to get sushi take-out and a bottle of wine so we can watch a movie at home, or go out to dinner and a movie.

But whatever we decide, it has been, and will continue to be, and FABULOUS FRIDAY!!! I hope you've had a Fab Friday as well!