Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer 2010

Summer 2010 is over. Where did it go? I certainly didn't spend it blogging. Though I didn't spend it doing anything blog worthy either, so all is good.

May was the end of school and Ecuador. I still have not posted all of the pictures that I wanted to post or send even one of my postcards that I insisted on buying in Ecuador. I am such a procrastinator. I have all the postcards, they are all written, I just need to finish addressing them and actually take them to the mailbox. Much to much work apparently.

June, well, I missed June. Literally, don't remember anything from June. How sad is that?

July was spent wondering what happened to June?? A lot of my friends turned 31 in July. So old....:) Ok, so maybe I turned 31 in July also. I took a nursing boards review class through Kaplan in July. Even though I will not be taking the nursing boards till January, I figured what else am I doing in July? Towards the end of the month of July, a bunch of the nurses I work with informed me that I need to be applying for jobs 6 months in advance to graduation. 6 months in advance was July. Since then, I have spent the rest of July and so far into August being so freaking afraid of looking for a job, I have procrastinated that also. All I need to do right now is write up a cover letter of sorts and a resume. The very thought of doing so sends me into a shaking ball of fear. What if they say no and I have to find a new plan? Or what if they say yes and I have to move to New York City ALL BY MYSELF!!!???? AAGGGHHH!!!! And yes, I do want to move to NYC. So badly. There is no question that that is where I want to go.

So school starts next week. My goal...write and send my cover letter and resume to the NYC hospitals I want to work for. Though, truth be told, the original goal was for them to go out by the end of July. IT IS JUST SO SCARY!!!!!!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pictures from the Damien House

One of the things I learned before I even went to Ecuador was the details of leprosy. We had a speaker come talk to our class about leprosy and the many myths that so many of us believe about leprosy. I previously thought it was a highly contagious, horrible disease that made your body parts fall off. Nope. I was wrong.

Sadly, I am not the only one who is misinformed about leprosy. It is such a scary disease to most people that we were instructed not to call it leprosy in the countries where it is more common because of the general fear and misconceptions behind it. People are shunned if they have leprosy. Leprosy is also called Hansen's disease. The term of Hansen's disease does not instill fear in people so it allows for better treatment of the patients.

Hansen's disease (leprosy) is in fact, not very contagious at all. Only 5% of the entire human population are even susceptible to it. And if you are one of the 5%, you have to have long periods of time (months to years) of direct person-to-person contact. It can not be spread through skin or by touching someone who has Hansen's disease. It is spread similarly to a cold, through the droplets in the air.

Hansen's Disease is rare in developed countries such as the United States. But it is very common in third world areas of Asia, Africa, and South America. However, "leprosy could be eradicated worldwide, if that goal were to be set," according to Dr. Julie Gerberding, the director of the United States Center for Disease Control.

The kicker of this disease is that if it is diagnosed early, it requires a very simple treatment. The treatment??? One little pill. Most cases are not diagnosed early and are far into the disease before they get treatment. If this happens they require a longer regimen of treatment, 6 months to 2 years. But no matter how long they have had it, leprosy is completely curable. The side effects of the disease with those who have had it for a long time, unfortunately, are not curable.

Patients who have had Hansen's disease for a long time suffer from neuropathy, similar to diabetics, they lose feelings in the fingers, toes, feet, etc. Since this is mainly a third world disease, most of these people work with their hands and are on their feet every day. So what commonly happens is they hurt themselves while working and they can't feel it so they keep hurting themselves over and over again. Eventually, the human body starts to withdraw itself from recurrent injury, which is why many patients have hands and feet that look like they are missing fingers and toes.

This is obviously my description to Hansen's disease. If you want a more comprehensive and/or professional explanation, Which is the web site to the actual place we went in Ecuador, the Damien House. The Damien House is home to 60 Hansen patients and treats about 700 outpatients.

We brought a lot of medical supplies to Ecuador. This is a picture of the supplies we brought to the Damien House.

The men playing dominoes...

This is a picture of Sister Annie, a nun who has been volunteering here since the 1980s. She totally transformed the Hansen's disease wing of the hospital and created the Damien House. She has been there ever since. Pretty amazing woman!! The guy in the picture lives at the Damien house, it was his birthday! I don't remember how old he was, but he was over 80!

This picture has a funny story! This is a room where new patients stay and get treated. They turned off the guy's TV while we were there. Once we had left, Sister Annie tried to turn the TV back on, for a good couple minutes, before the cute old man informed her that she was trying to turn the TV back on with the air conditioning remote control!:)

Me and one of the men who live at the Damien House.

This is the birthday boy who brought out his hammocks that he makes by hand! Over 80-years-old and makes these phenomenal hammocks. $20 a piece! What a deal!

Ok, I look like an evil freak of nature in this picture. But it has a good story. We were in a room that had four old men in it, all who were various degrees of sick. One little old guy sang songs for us and than one of our translators sang a song. The lady in charge tells me to sing something. The only thing I can think of is 'Once There Was a Snow Man', which I sang along with all the movements. I looked and sounded ridiculous, but whatever, I was the only one of us who would sing something. And how could anyone say no to these super cute old people?

A picture of one of the men's rooms. There are three beds in this room.

The hallway of the women's area. The bedrooms are on each side.

A picture of the lady's bathroom.

Half of one of the lady's rooms. There are two beds in each of the girl's rooms.

Me and one of the ladies...

The Damien house appeared to be a happy place. Lots of cute people! Most of them made and sold things, like the guy's hammock or the women who made jewelry and sold it to us. Everyone seemed happy and well loved!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My favorite part pictures. I don't think any of them are that bad but I know some people can't handle even walking into a hospital. So just telling you in advance...

My favorite part of the trip was going to the hospital and seeing how the hospitals in Ecuador differ from the U.S. We went to a county hospital which is where the poor people go. From my understanding, there are really nice hospitals in Ecuador but you have to have money to go to them.

In Ecuador, the streets outside the hospitals are lined with pharmacies. If the patient needs medicine, even in the middle of surgery, it is the responsibility of the patient's family to go across the street and buy the medicine from one of the many pharmacies.

Most of the regular rooms in this hospital had 6 beds to a room with no privacy between beds. The patient to nurse ratio at this hospital was 2 nurses to 50 patients. The ratio gets worse at night becuase most of the nurses go home.

The patient's family stays with the patient in the hospital and really are their main caretakers. This is a picture of a family member sleeping under one of the children beds in the ER. Notice she is sleeping on cardboard. I guess this is common becuase the family is expected to stay with the patient. Also, patients stay in the ER at this hospital for days if needed. I tried to figure out why but never could figure it out.

I was very impressed with the things the hospital workers came up with. The nurses and doctors have the education but not the resources, so they came up with a lot of really good ideas. Like this one, where they blew up gloves to support a patient' heels to help prevent bed sores.

And this is one of their sharps containers.

Ok, so they clean their floors with diesel fuel. I have no idea why.

As we were touring the hospital, we saw a lot of different patients and families. One family chased us down the hall and asked us to come take a picture of their brother. We did. He had been hit by a car and was in a coma. They asked us for a wheelchair to use for him once he got out of the hospital. Sadly, he will never wake up. Not sure if the family understood that.

In the ER we saw different types of traumas. This, I thought, was the most interesting. This man had a snake bite that was being drained manually, meaning the doctor was pushing the venom out of the bite. It was extremely painful but the man did not have pain medication. Remember, they have to supply their own medication.

Ok, enough disgusting pictures. We were able to go into the pediatric rooms. Again, the families were the main caretakers. This little guy was so cute!!

I thought this was a humbling picture. The mom holding the baby's oxygen mask for the baby.

This guy was hilarious! He was blowing kisses at us as we walked by his room!

So naturally we went and got pictures with him!!

This little girl was hit by a car.

Her leg was broken and in traction. Again, they came up with their own way of supplying the weights to hold the traction on her leg. Note the partially filled milk jug.

These two little girls were in the ER with their families.

This one had been there for two days with appendicitis.

This one had just gotten there and was being treated for dengue fever. Dengue fever is transmitted by mosquitoes and has become a really big problem in Ecuador. Interestingly enough, when I went to the travel doctor for this trip, dengue fever was not even mentioned. We left on the trip worried about malaria but we came home from the trip worried about dengue fever.

I watched them put an IV in her hand. She didn't even flinch. Total tough girl!

We also had the opportunity to go into their neonatal intensive care unit. That was fascinating. The rest of the hospital was lacking in so many ways but not this area. It was almost like walking into my hospital. They pretty much had everything we do at home. Even this little guy who was basking away under his tanning (bilirubin) lights!:)

Ecuador in review

I went to Ecuador on a school nursing trip. There were 12 students, two teachers and the nurse who founded the non-profit group, Hands For Humanity. She organizes doctors and nurses that go to Ecuador to do surgeries on kids, specifically club foot, and helps bring kids to the U.S. for lifesaving surgeries. We had a lot of translators with us, some for only a few hours, others helped us for days and days! I can not speak highly enough about the people in Ecuador. Phenomenal.

Ecuador was amazing. I learned a lot, specifically about traveling with different people and in a group.

We stayed in three different hotels. One of which was a 5-star and was super nice. They gave us hot towels when we checked in!!

The food was fantastic! Truly, so good! The fish was so yummy and I could have eaten the rice every day! And the banana chips, which had a name that I can't remember, were surprisingly really good also! They eat them with some sort of mayo mix, also very good!

We went to the ocean....

And I even swam in a sulfur lake...only four of us had the guts to get in. I am proud to say I was one of them!

And, of course, I saw some of these...the famous Blue-footed Booby!!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ecuador trivia

Sorry I have not posted about my trip yet. I brought home some sort of Ecuadorian bug and have been a sicko all week. I am hoping that I will feel better soon. Blah. In the mean time, a little Ecuador trivia. In the above picture, can you point out the lemons? The limes? If you guessed the big yellow ones as lemons, you are wrong!! In Ecuador, limes are lemons and lemons are limes. So if you order a lemonade, you are really getting a limeade. No wonder all my lemonades tasted slightly odd!:)

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Ecuador was AMAZING!! Truly amazing!! I loved it!! I can't wait to go back. Add another place to my list of places I could live in a heart beat. My friend, Lena, has been there many times and told me that I would love it but I didn't understand just how much I really would love it. The people were phenomenal. I loved the big cities and the people and the ocean and the people and the food and oh, did I mention I loved the people. More to come but I literally just got home 20 minutes ago from the airport and I am going to bed.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I leave in 9 days

And apparently I have not spread the word enough. Which is strange cuz I am SUPER excited. I have never been to South America and I am so excited to see another part of the world. My biggest complaint about Paris (which I LOVED) was that it was so much like home. I am really hoping that Ecuador will bring new things, new sites, new ideas, new people, etc.

For those who do not know, I am going to Ecuador on a school nursing trip. There are about 12 students going and 5 teachers. Since we do not have our RNs behind our names yet, we don't really get to do much along the health aspect of things so most of the trip is observation. We are going to an orphanage, a nursing home and a home for those who have had Hansen's disease (better known as leprosy). We will also be visiting two nursing schools and presenting health information in two health fairs. We are touring two hospitals, one for those who have money and one for those who have no money. We get to go to a place called Iguana Park (I am guessing lots of random iguanas), a Catholic church service, the ocean, an island off the main islands of the Galapagos variety, and we may have the opportunity to do a home visit and see a typical Ecuadorian's home. I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!

I am in charge of the presentation that we give at the nursing schools about us here where we live. It is going to be a PowerPoint presentation and I am hoping to make it kind of fun. It will be interesting to see if my sarcasm and attempts at jokes translates well. The goal is to include our school and our labs along with things like where we live, who we live with, what we eat and how we cook, etc. I am also doing two health presentations with one of my friends. The first will be at the two health fairs and the topic is how to prevent diabetes and the second presentation will be at the orphanage and is more geared towards teenage girls. We are hoping to do a craft project specifically for them (the majority of us will be doing craft projects with the kids). The goal is to teach the teenagers about self-worth. A big topic in a short amount of time. How do you show these girls that they are special, really, truly special and that they deserve to be treated that way? It is a daunting task.

I am so so excited to go on this trip. I have a huge interest in nursing outside the US. I hope to be able to return to either Ecuador or another South American country once I am an actual nurse. We will see very shortly if that is a for realsy goal or just something that sounded good until I actually did it. I am hoping that I blog like a mad woman about my trip when I get back. And that you all will think my trip was as interesting as I thought it was!:) But first, very first, I have to pass third semester. Wish me luck.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Count down...

I leave for Ecuador in 12 days. I officially pass third semester nursing school in 9 days. I am practically packed for my trip. I have not even started to study for finals yet. Where are my priorities??

Things I have not done that I meant to do for the trip...get crazy in shape so I can hike like a mad woman. Things I did do...bought crazy cute shoes for the hikes, so even if I am huffing and puffing, (and possibly being resuscitated), at least I will have cute shoes.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Big Guns

Tonight I had to make an emergency trip to the grocery store. I had ran out of calcium enriched OJ and this is unacceptable. (ok, and I wanted cookies, but OJ sounds like a much better reason to go to the store) So anywhos- I ran to the store and while I was there I saw this guy who had giganto arms. Not fat, more like 'spend way to much time in the gym cuz I have a love affair with my own arms' giganto. My first thought?? Gross. And I rolled my eyes. I walked by thinking how glad I was that so far I only had asparagus in my cart instead of the sugar cereal, mint oreos and OJ that would be in my cart by the end. But I also giggled to myself. I laughed because seriously, my first thought about this guy was 'gross'. Some of my guy friends think that girls love this sort of thing. There is this guy that I have met that is all sorts of buff, or so I have been told. I was never that impressed. But some of my guy friends think that this buff guy is all that and that girls love it. Now, as much as I like it when men have arms bigger than my not anorexic thighs, I think it is gross. Maybe it is just me? Or are my guy friends right and most girls really do swoon over men who have giaganto arms?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fake eyebrows

Tip of the day:

If you accidentally wax off to much of one eyebrow, do not try to make the other one match. Because instead of having just one extra thin eyebrow, you will suddenly have two penciled in eyebrows. Ugh.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Shout out

A very big THANK YOU to all of my friends who helped me stay awake yesterday during my drive! THANK YOU!!! You saved my life!!!! I have the bestest friends ever.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The first day of the rest of my life

Today was a big day. A really big day. Today, after over 2 years of waiting and wanting, I finally received my miracle drug. The nurse called me last week, completely out of the blue and informed me that finally, I had been approved through the specialty pharmacy for the drug. I burst into tears. For you see, my dear friends, this miracle drug of mine, will in essence, 'cure' my allergies. Yep, you heard it, cured...kind of.

My allergy doctor told me about this drug a few years ago and initially I was very hesitant. Not that it mattered. It is a very expensive drug and had to be approved through the insurance and surprise surprise, it wasn't. We resubmitted and again, denied. Resubmitted and denied...again. See the pattern here?? Until last week, out of the clear blue, I got approved. I kept it mainly to myself becuase I was sure the pharmacy and insurance people would change their minds. But this morning, at 930AM, I received my miracle drug. Two shots, one in each arm, every two weeks, for the rest of my life. But in approximately 2-6 months, my life as I know it will change.

This miracle drug supposedly takes a person with a severe peanut allergy who cannot even be around a peanut to being able to accidentally ingest up to 9 peanuts without a reaction. What this means to me is that I will no longer have to worry about accidentally eating milk. Now I will not be able to eat a piece of cheese cake, but I will be able to eat a sandwich without worrying about what is in the bread and the meat and the sauce. You get the picture? And I figure if it can beat the crap out of my dairy allergy, it can take down my daily allergens too. Imagine that?

My life is about to change. Very soon, I will no longer...

want to rip my eyes out of my head on a regular basis. I will no longer be an eye rubber. I will no longer have itchy eyes.

And since I will no longer be itching my eyes, no more eye wrinkles.

Which also means, I don't have to wear such super strong eye makeup, I can actually wear stuff that comes off with soap and water instead of super power makeup remover.

I will finally be able to be a nose breather, no more of this low level mouth breathing for me! Actually being able to breath through my nose.

No more itchy throat and ears. Which means for those who have seen me do it, no more trying to itch the inside of my ears by violently pounding on my ear on the outside and going to town on the inside with my tongue, which people can see me doing cuz my tongue pushes my throat out and it looks all sorts of weird.

I will no longer feel like crap so often. No more of this feeling like I got hit by a truck due to my allergies.

No more harassing restaurant staff. Imagine going out to eat with me without my spiel which I alternate between the 'I will die' speech which means I can't eat anything on the menu to 'I have an allergy' speech which lands me in the ER fairly regularly.

Actually being able to eat the whole meal right away instead of eating part of it and then waiting to make sure I don't get sick before eating the rest.

No longer making my friends and family take me to the ER and sit with me while I get all drugged up, freak out and look like a cat mutant.

No longer being allergic to dogs...and cats...and grass...and bunnies...and trees...and hair...and hay...and horses...and smoke...and well, you get the picture.

Being able to go to my friend's houses that have animals! And not having to shower every time I play with Shelby!!

Being able to travel and actually eat the food, meaning no longer having to bring my own dang food with me when I travel out of the country.

Being able to go to new restaurants. How fun!!!

Not having to dissect my food before I eat it, just to make sure there are no hidden pieces of milk inside.

No more ER visits. No more worrying that I am going to die cuz I accidentally ate something. No more worrying about ending up on my floor in the ICU.

No more daily medications. Really??? Really!

Now, as a reminder to me and all of us, this is all just in theory. But I have high high hopes. This really is life changing. Imagine, me being me and not the girl who is allergic to milk. Craziness.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I am thankful for....

So last night, Becca dumped me to go to a party, which left me all alone on a Saturday night. Truth be told, I don't mind, but last night I felt that I should be social and adventurous. Really, all I wanted to do was watch a movie and eat cake, but no, I decided that I should be more fun, more spontaneous, more exciting. So I conned a friend into going to the House of Bounce with me. Picture a huge room full of bouncy toys, those huge blowup bouncy things from the county fairs and the rich kids birthday parties. A whole room full of them. Every kid's dream come true. This is where it is probably important to mention that I am no longer 10. I am 30. And it is high time for me to start acting like a 30-year-old. Because as I heard my ankle snap as I fell off a bouncy maze, I was instantly reminded that my body is no longer 10, no longer as flexible and as bendy and as light and as close to the ground as it used to be. As I fell and my friend and I heard the snap, immediately my thoughts turned to nursing school. They make you quit the semester and hold you back an entire semester if you break anything. And as I fell and as I heard the snap in my ankle, this is about the time when I started going into hysterics over nursing school. Which brings us to the title of this post...things I am thankful for....

I am thankful that Melanie was with me. She is pretty much amazing in every way. Since I could not put any weight on my leg, she figured out how to get us out of the bouncy maze from hell and actually had to pull me out over a large hill. She pulled me out! If she had not been there, I would still be stuck in the depths of bouncy hell. She let me wear her shoes and she wore my horrible uncomfortable heels. She helped me hop out and stood by my side as I eventually decided to crawl out of the place, scaring all the small children. She took me to the ER and waited with me and got me home and into the house and so much more. She is super woman. I am going to make her a cake. And a cape. And Becca thinks I should make her the whole outfit with the underwear on the outside. Though I don't think Melanie would go for that. But she would go for the cake...and the cape.

I am thankful that Lauren answered the phone. Here I am, freaking out. I could move my foot but I could not put any weight on it. I didn't know what to do. Lauren, one of my med school friends, did know what to do and told us to go straight to the ER to get x-rays. She also told me to stop freaking out about nursing school!

I am thankful for the nurses and x-ray techs that got me straight back to the x-ray area so that we would know right away if I had broken myself. No waiting. A pretty impressive feat for a Saturday night in an emergency room.

I am thankful for the x-ray tech who leaned over and whispered in my ear after the x-ray that there was nothing noticeably broken. Which is a huge no-no, but something I needed desperately. I was so freaked out that my blood pressure was through the roof. The bottom number was should not be above 90.

I am thankful that somehow, even though I don't drink milk or eat dark leafy veggies or take calcium pills, that my bones are super strong and did not break. Let me tell you, I was praying really hard and obviously it worked. My prayers were answered. My bones are amazing. I don't know what we heard crack but it was not my bones.

I am thankful that my sister's friend lives in the basement of our house. My parents are out of town this week and she is able to help me and drive me to school and take care of the dogs and go to the store and buy me cake and make me a cake so that I could still watch a movie and eat cake. Now perhaps it will be an entire cake, but who's keeping track?

I am thankful for Becca for being my personal slave. Bringing me things, plugging my phone in, turning my noise maker on, bringing me breakfast, water, cake, my backpack, my icepack, my drink, and it has only been half of a day!

I am thankful for Adam who just got back into town and is free all next week and has volunteered to shuttle me to and from school all week cuz I can't drive and I HAVE to go to school.

I am thankful for educational leave. And health insurance. And for FMLA. I don't have to work anymore cuz I am on educational leave but the days I did pick up for work, I will be covered by FMLA. And even though I am on educational leave, I work for such an amazing company, I still have full health benefits including ER visits, x-rays and crutches.

I am thankful for Alex for hanging out with me in the basement and bringing me lunch and dinner and ice-cream and more than likely much more ice-cream as the week progresses!

I am thankful for BOTH my ankles. This crutches thing SUCKS. I have a severe sprain and I am not supposed to put any weight on it for at least a week. Not that I can right now cuz it hurts like a mother. I can't believe how hard it is to do things without both legs. I keep looking at my other ankle in awe over how amazing it is. I am sooo glad that this is just a temporary problem and very soon I will be able to have the full use of both my legs again.

Oh, and I am very thankful for drugs. Shout out to ibuprofen and Tylenol both of which do not have any nasty side effects and can help make it all better.

Moral of this story...number 1. House of Bounce=bad. The nurses said it should be burned down due to the huge amount of people who come to the ER injured from there. Number 2: I am 30-years-old. It is high time I start acting like it. From now on, it is movies and cake. No more of this adventurous crap. Number 3: I realized how much I don't want to move somewhere new. I still will but when I do, what am I going to do without my sister and my friends who are all bending over backwards to help me? I am so freaking lucky. Lucky that I have strong bones and even luckier that I have such amazing friends and an amazing little sister. Thank you for taking care of me.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Spinning near death

Today I went to my very first spinning class. I almost died. Really. It was a mix of me crying, cursing and trying not to fall off my bike. How embarrassing would that be?? I did almost fall down the stairs as we were leaving due to my legs giving out. That was embarrassing. I am currently afraid of stairs. I am always afraid of falling down stairs but now I have a credible reason to think I may fall right down them all and knock out my two front teeth...which is another fear of mine. Anywhos...

There was this girl in the class who was wearing a green tank top who had pretty much the perfect body. My friend who dragged me to this class from hell kept telling me to watch the green tank top girl and if I want to look like that, I had to get my butt off the seat. I got my butt off the seat.

I'm going to some sort of rowing class tomorrow. Same friend is dragging me to it. I imagine it will be another near death experience with me crying, cursing and trying not to fall off the machine. Here is to the green tank top girl and her perfect body...thanks for getting my butt off my seat!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I just emptied my mother's bag-less vacuum for the first time today. It went something like this...

Oh crap.....CRAP.....swear word....cough cough....sneeze sneeze....CRAP.....swear word....Oh crap...

Luckily I emptied it in my garage cuz most of the dirt fell around the garbage bag and onto the floor and into my lungs. Oh, and I may or may not have done this all on my dad's car hood. I think I prefer bags for vacuums.