Sunday, February 21, 2010


In mid-December, I surprised Adam with a weekend trip to Nashville to see one of his favorite singers, Hank III. He doesn’t tour very often, and this show was at an awesome little dive called Layla’s Bluegrass Inn and was free to the first 100 or so people who showed up (bar’s max capacity). Since the place was so small, it made for an awesome show with not a bad seat (standing place, rather) in the house.
As luck would have it, our plane was delayed so we ended up not making it to the show in time to get in with the group they allowed in. But we had come too far to not see the show, so we stood out in the freezing cold until the bouncer finally felt sorry for us and let us in during the first song.
This is from the bar next door called Robert’s Western World. Their boot-shaped koozies are quite possibly my favorite thing ever.
For your viewing pleasure, I took some pictures of a few of the gems at one of the stores downtown. Why other countries think we’re backwards and redneck, I’ll just never understand…

updates, updates, updates...

It’s been a fast and furious new year already at Casa Comstock. In realizing I haven’t blogged since before Thanksgiving, I’ll try to make the recap and quick and painless as possible. Maybe splitting them up will make it a little easier on the eyes. :)
The end of November was bittersweet. Adam’s grandma passed away right before Thanksgiving after a long battle with congestive heart failure. She was a tough old gal, and of course, she decided to pass when she knew everyone would already be in town for the holiday so as not to be “an inconvenience” …what a woman. The weekend prior, Adam was hunting on her land and shot his biggest deer to date. She was able to see it through her window that day and I know she was really proud.
Now you guys know that hunting is NOT my thing, but it’s a big part of Adam’s life, so I’ve resigned myself to the fact that eventually there will be animals mounted on a wall somewhere in our home. But this one will be special. His grandma always went by her middle name, Dorene. Her first name was Alpha, so that’s what we’re naming his deer. Pretty weird, I know, but somehow it makes me feel a little more at ease about having a once-living mammal on my wall.
I spent the last couple of weeks before winter break doing my Mental Health rotation. I enjoyed it much more than I had anticipated. My favorite part was the Seniors unit, where most patients are admitted from a long-term care facility where they’d had an episode that warranted a psych evaluation. I absolutely adored these folks – we mostly did group activities like chair aerobics, arts & crafts, etc., but I was also able to have some really amazing 1-on-1 discussions with a few of them about their lives. With dementia, it’s hard to know whether what they’re saying holds any truth, but even if I was only hearing their version of history and reality, I know it had to be therapeutic for them. I was also able to sit in on an outpatient therapy group and observe some ECTs (electroconvulsive therapy).
Christmas came and went so fast…we had intended to split the time between both our families, but the roads were too nasty to travel so we ended up staying in H’ville. Here’s one of Adam’s many “festive” outfits from this season. I believe that night he was wearing original designs by Goodwill & DAV Thrift.
Towards the end of break, I was able to travel to St. Louis for a couple of days to see all the gals and their babies. It was so much fun to catch up! We were spent New Year's Eve over at the Pintado's with Rachel, Nick & Carter, Emily, and Carie, JP & Riley. It was nice to be with good friends and be in bed by 1AM. Not kidding.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

make that 15 weeks

I have GOT to start updating this thing more often. Geez!

Now that I'm officially on Thanksgiving break, I can use the computer for something other than studying and not feel guilty. Ahh...such a great feeling!

My first clinical rotation has almost come to an end, and I can honestly say that I know I made the right decision in choosing this career path. Each day, I get to walk into a new situation, and it's the best feeling in the world to know that I can make a difference, even if it's just a small one. Without committing any hippaa violations, I thought I'd share some of my clinical experiences from the past couple of months.

1. Observed a hip replacement, knee replacement, gallbladder removal, pelvic mass removal (which I honestly thought was a baby's head when the doc pulled it out of her belly), and a toe amputation
2. Changed a dressing on a wound that was so deep and necrotic I could see bone. Unfortunately he ended up losing the leg later in the week.
3. Took care of a woman involved in a parking lot "altercation" who ended up getting run over by a car and broke her back in two places. (What's our takeaway here, folks? Don't turn your back on someone you just beat up if they are driving a car.)
4. Successfully inserted a catheter (even though it was pre-op and she was asleep, I still say it counts)
5. Took care of a prison inmate that had to be unshackled from the bed each time he needed to go to the bathroom
6. Cleaned up not one, but two, code browns that could have filled a baby pool
7. Buffed an 83-year-old man's balls. (Bet ya haven't done that one's quite nice, really. When you have a patient in such severe heart failure that all his dependent extremeties fill with fluid, the ol' family jewels can actually become the size of grapefruits. But with a little baby powder and some folded washcloths, you can really make his day.)
8. Watched a 310lb pathologic gambler shave her armpits b/c I couldn't leave her alone with a razor since she tried to off herself the week prior
9. Started my first IV on a man who didn't even flinch when I asked if he would do the honor of being my first stick
10. Removed staples from the head of a woman who said she fell, "chasing her cat," but judging by her blood alcohol level and the frequent warnings she gave me about the men who were going to, "break into my house and steal all my money," I'm pretty sure Kitty was non-existant.

These are just the first ones that came to mind when I began to type. It's rare that I go through a day without at least one good story. And I hope I'm not coming across as aloof - because I truly care about each and every one of these people and want to help them get better. But I learned quickly that if I didn't laugh, chances are I would cry. And that won't make me much of a help to anyone.

Today was my first day of my Mental Health rotation. I worked in the seniors unit and really enjoyed it. There are so many people out there who just need someone to listen. Even if it's only for a few minutes - it can make all the difference in the world to them. And if there's another thing I've learned, it's that EVERYONE has a story. I feel very lucky that so many people share their stories with me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

6 weeks down

I can't believe I've been in school for 6 weeks already. It seems like I just started...which I kind of did...but as of today I've completed 2 of my 6 classes for this semester. It has been a whirlwind for sure. I feel like I have just a little bit of knowledge about a whole lot of things. It's kind of scary. So here are a couple highlights from my greenest time in nursing school.

To give you a better idea about my program, it's 80 students (actually I think we lost 1 in week 4, so 79) who are all pursuing nursing as a second career. Everyone in the program has at least one 4-year degree. I kind of assumed everyone would be like me, coming from a job of 5+ years, totally starting over, etc.
That would prove to be the case for about 1/2 of the students. The rest are folks who have either worked in healthcare settings (maybe as a CNA, tech, LPN, etc) or those who just graduated in May from college and decided not to face the crummy job market. So I'd say the class ranges from 21-60. The oldest person is actually a man who has been a carpenter and graduated from college back in 1974. The youngest are some gals who are still lucky enough to live in their childhood bedrooms while they go through this year.

I knew a few students going in from my pre-requisite courses. I say "knew," but really, how much do you "know" someone you've only had a night class with? This brings us to the first class, Assessment, which was a lecture/lab where we learned what "normal" is supposed to be when assessing a patient from head to toe. Then came lab, and we all know that word can only mean one thing...lab partner. So, as I read the list of names of those assigned to my group, I frantically searched for someone familiar.
Yep, I'm the 29 yr-old-definitely-not-in-the-greatest-shape-of-my-life-lucky-if-I-even-shaved-my-legs-today girl. And who was my one familiar face? Why, the 24 yr-old-zero-percent-body-fat-oops-I-wore-my-see-through-thong-today girl, of course!

So there I was, stripped to my bra and undies (which didn't match, of course) behind a curtain with my total opposite. I felt bad for her at first - I mean, it was probably really weird for her to touch actual fat tissue. But modesty goes right out the door when your grade depends on it, so she was stuck with me. Things went fairly smoothly until abdomen day. I guess it had been awhile since anyone had deeply palpated (pushed on) my stomach. So you can only imagine the sound that came out of me when she pushed a little too hard in the lower right quadrant. Yep, the whooooole lab heard it. Awesome.

The other class I just finished was called Foundations. It was another lecture/lab where we learned basic procedures. Everything from the simple stuff like sterile technique and injections, to a little more brain-busting stuff like calculating doses & starting IVs, inserting catheters, suctioning trach tubes, etc. Nothing too embarrassing from this one...I did gross everyone out the first week though when I licked my finger after getting it "dirty" during the bed-changing chapter. Come on people, I knew it was chocolate pudding all along.

Oh another grand thing about nursing school, their grading scale is totally screwy, so an A is 95-100, A- 92-94, B+ 89-91, and so on. So I'm feeling pretty good about my A's in each class. Granted, Foundations was a I pushed it on that one, but I'll take it!

Next week, we begin 4 new courses, Pharmacology, Mental Health, Professional Concepts and Adult Health, which includes our clinical rotations. In an actual hospital. With actual patients. Zoiks.

I've been assigned to a neuro/ortho floor, which I'm really excited about since I've grown up with both my parents in the ortho field. I'm nervous as heck that I'm going to screw up something major, but I've been assured that won't happen since we'll be with an RN at all times.

OK, that was waaaay too much info for one post. They will only get more amusing from here, I'm certain. More to come once I start dealing with real poo instead of pudding poo.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

summer recap...part dos

Hello from the land of enemas and catheters! Yeah, there's other stuff too, but that's just the extra fun stuff so I thought I'd mention it right off the bat.
OK, here's my second half of summer stuff. School details forthcoming...

6. Frushi. This stuff was totally yummy. Had it at Orange in Chicago along with these bad boys...the chocolate pancake flight, or my #7.
8. My little buddy at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
9 & 10. The. Most. Amazing. Cupcakes. Ever. Molly's in Chi-town. The chocolate one was filled with peanut butter and more chocolate. The other was filled with cookie dough. Enough said.

So, golly gee, it appears the summer was full of eating! I guess it's just some strange appreciation I have for pretty food that makes me always get my camera out. I mean, geez, we went to Chicago for Lollapalooza...and I think I have 2 pictures from those 3 days.

Lolla was a great time, however, we realized that we're too old for any sort of music "festival." A 2-3 hour concert is just about enough for us old geezers these days. Needless to say, we didn't even make it to Sunday's shows, which I'm disappointed about now, but at the time there was just no way. Between the 2 of us, we still got to see a ton of amazing bands, including Tool, Andrew Bird,Bon Iver, The Decemberists, Kings of Leon, Of Montreal, Fleet Foxes, Animal Collective, Robert Earl Keen, Langhorne Slim and Blind Pilot. There were so many others I wish we could have made it to, but we're just not built for 12 hour days in the rain or sun anymore :)

OK, tales from nursing school to come soon, I promise. Since our garage ceiling fell in last night, I'm sure the weekend is going to be a blast. Ha.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

summer recap...part uno

Since it's been so long since I've posted, I decided to just upload whatever photos I had in my phone and see if that could capture the past month. It's actually quite telling. So here's the top 10 - broken into two parts so as not to bore anyone to death.

1 & 2: Dinner out with the KC girls at NoRTH. We surprised Al at her dress fitting, then had a night of wine & delicious food. The goat cheese, corn, asparagus & tomato pizza was bueno.
3: I can't believe I used to actually live in this place. On our last trip across the great state of Missouri, we stopped in CoMo for some lunch and I just had to see if the ol' Brown Apple was still standing. How is it that this place is still considered inhabitable for humans?

4: For some reason, I have no pictures from the 4th of July weekend at Carie & JP's lake house. Yet I managed to take one at a gas station on the way home because I was so amazed that this is actually a food offering now. Only in Missouri...
5 & 5.1: Adam's 10 year high school reunion...I told him the only way I would go is if he promised I could drink as much as I wanted and he wouldn't bitch about the cost. Luckily, JJ's wife Katie was equally excited to be there so I had a partner in crime. Needless to say, the night ended with an MJ dance party at Geno's 70s club and a 2:30 AM trip to Pancake City.
Part 2 cominmg soon...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

mmm... 'maters

With a little bit of salt...yum.