Monday, December 31, 2007

red!



A late dahlia in the garden. (scroll down) led me to this, which, is, of course, leading to bigger quilt. I finally got the 1958 elna set up to free motion quilt ( sew in lines that spiral or squiggle). I am very happy about that. It will not be all matching fabric, as this is Budget Recovery Month, so i am working from stash for as long as possible. Last year I made it to mid Feb without a yarn or fabric purchase. This year, I'm committing to Jan, but I'll see how it goes.

I have had five blissful days off work, and am going to have to drag my butt back in tomorrow. It's funny, because I really like my job. I just like sleeping late, staying up late, sewing, spinning and knitting more. When I put it that way, I guess it's not so funny, anymore!

I think this might be the push I need to dye quilting fabric. I'm really low on greens. I actually think green is my neutral. I've at least never seen a leaf not go with a flower, and If it's good enough for Ma Nature, its good enough for me. Going to go write on my new calender, in March "buy green fabric".

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

ARGH Laptop

Yes, The computer died, but was resurrected. ( OOPs, wrong holiday) While I was without computer, I though about the computer, a lot. First was just the fury at having a mechanical something break for no reason. I'd actually have been less upset if I'd dropped it down the steps, or out of a boat. I'd have felt stupid, but not angry. Then The tech support system ( my husband) allowed as how he thought it could be fixed. I refused- didn't want to spend the money on something that was teetering towards obsolesce. Then, I started thinking about computers- what it meant to have a large cadre of invisible friends, to be connected to a group of folks who had some interests in common, even if they didn't have zip codes in common.

I missed my blogs. I missed my email groups. I really missed wikipedia, and I really, really missed Google. All the confidence inspired by the ability to look up anything, anytime, anyhow. I found that I use the web as an adjunct filing cabinet to my brain. Recipes, instructions, maps- all of those things have helped me become who I am. I also rediscovered what a terrible speller I am. I am old enough that my very poor spelling actually help me back in my schooling. Essays that may or may not have been good were uniformly graded down because not only do I not know how to spell, I can't even recognize a misspelled word. I once had a teacher get exasperated that I didn't even misspell things the same way- that is I could use a word three times, and spell it differently each time. Without the little red underline to alert me to my errors, my confidence and perceived intelligence tumble. I've been counting for this paragraph and the little red underline has saved me from shame fourteen times.

I wonder how I learned to read, come to think of it. It must be a different part of the brain, and luckily for me it is a part that works. My poor spelling put me right on the not college material track as a child, and then the advent of word processors put me back on again, midway through my actual college education. I also have to give credit to the office of services to disabled students, to whom I took a grudging referral freshman year, and discovered that I was very learning disabled. My handwriting was so bad, an my spelling so poor, that I had to type my rough drafts before the paid typist would accept them to type them properly, with all the spelling fixed. I learned to have readable handwriting by turning it into a drawing type activity, but if I am not careful, and sometimes even if I am, my handwriting can change greatly even in mid sentence. I write very short, structured notes in my patient charts, and I talk in very long, complicated, all around the mulberry bush sentences.

This last week I spent a lot of time thinking about commercialism, consumerism and money. Christmas week is a tough week to ignore those things, particularly if you do not celebrate Christmas as part of your religion. I thought about what having a computer meant- that I was free of appearing ignorant and dumb, that I was freed to express myself through the written word and find the words of others. I realize that the privilege of doing so comes because I have money, and can't help but think about those that do not have money. On the other hand, I work at a difficult job, a potentially dangerous job ( The only occupation with more disabling back injuries than nurses id that of a dock worker or stevedore.) I earn my money, and I try and do good work.

Like so many of us, I am worried about spending too much, using too much, wasting too much. I worry about the planet, and the hand basket it seems to be in. I love buying myself and my family little treats and luxuries, and I like spending money on yarn. A lot of yarn. Although I spent the week without a computer really trying to see if it was something I could give up, I realized that I cannot, not without really missing a big part of my life. I feel so lucky that I have the choice.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Why did no one tell me?

Been a while since the last nurse post. I teach new diabetics in my current job- the down and dirt survival skills like using a glucometer to check your own blood sugar, drawing up insulin and giving the shot, how to tell if you are too high or low and what that could do to you. Then I strongly encourage them to take some of the classes offered by the hospital- they have a crack team of diabetic educators- the neurosurgeons to my meatball surgery to put it in MASH parlance.

I get the privilege of hearing their whole story- how they first didn't feel well, how they have had no energy and have been buying stronger and stronger reading glasses, but they just don't see well anyway. I hear about their mothers, fathers, sister, aunts struggle with diabetes . I hear their fears about becoming blind, losing toes and then feet and then legs to amputation, about having to go on dialysis. Most of the time, I get the supreme pleasure of being able to offer solid, evidence based reassurance.

It is rare for me lately to be able to assure people that they will get well. Things are complicated, microbes are resistant, multiple diagnosis are colliding and interacting in ways we never dreamed possible. Part of working at a teaching hospital is that we get the sickest, the strangest, the most hopeless after their community hospital has give there best shot. ( Remind me to tell you why you WANT to be at a teaching hospital if you ever get sick.)

But the new diabetic, well, they can get well. Sure, they have to take insulin, four times a day, at least. Yep, gotta check the blood sugar four, six, eight times a day. May at some point actually get a small pump that the wear at all times on their body, pumping insulin in all the time, and more before they eat. Lot of work. Lot of trouble. But, in return, they get to live. Not only do they get to live with their disease, they get to live past it. They can literally have no long term effects of their diabetes if they can manage tight blood sugar control, watch their diet, exercise, all the good stuff. They can keep their vision, their kidney function, their toes, avoid the searing pain of neuropathy, heal well, feel well, live well.

Many times I have had the pleasure of seeing a patient after their hospitalization, asking how they are, and having them whip out their blood sugar log to show me the solid hard work they have done to save their own life. Before insulin was first extracted ( from animal pancreas's) in the mid 1920's, diabetes was a swift and sure death sentence. Now, it is a dangerous dance partner, but one that can be mastered and made to let you dance your own life. I applaud those folks who chose there own life every stinking day.

Then, there is the patient from today. When the Doc called in a teaching referral-a diabetic who needed "a little update" as he was now going to go on insulin, I should have heard that Jaws music. When he said the name, my head sank to the desk. I knew, that no matter what I said and how I said it, that this guy will not care, will not listen, and will not change. I have given him the compliance cheer four times in the last two years, but he always refuses to acknowledge that he has ever had any teaching. He has lost six toes in four separate surgeries. He will most likely lose more on this trip, and he has a bone infection in his hand that is worrisome. He cannot really see well enough to draw up insulin, but that is a common enough problem that I can order him a doohickey that will help him out. He denies having ever owned a glucometer, although I personally have dispensed two into his hands. Whenever I tell him the slightest fact about diabetes, he says, "Well, why did no one tell me that before?" When I mention that I did, he shakes his head, nope, never knew it was the sugar making his toes black. Nope, never knew that was why he had so much trouble seeing that he cut his hand on a saw at work. Nope, never knew any of it, but young lady, I'm going to get a hold of this, this time. First few times he told me that, I believed him It took all my work ethic to go see him today, and it will tomorrow, too. I phoned it in, a little, but I'll badger him until he is able to draw up insulin and jab it into his massive gut. I'll hand out the foot care info, the class info, the food info, all of it, and when he leaves, I will find the intact folder of info right where I put it on the over bed table. (Unfortunately, it will all have to be thrown away because of his habit of taking only one antibiotic a day- no matter how many are prescribed- and he is filled with resistant organisms. Gets him a private room. too) He wonders why all these doctors and nurses get so mad at him- we are all slipping our mask a bit- and this is why: We offer him the miracle of life and health, and he spits out a candy wrapper on it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007