Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Semi-weekly post (!)

Well, I am given the Daily Dose Award by MightyMom and then I go and rest on my laurels for several days. Rather smug, huh?

Not really. I’ve just worked the weekend, and as I am now precepting a new employee, and rather young nurse, I have been trying to stay ahead of, I mean challenge my orientee—no small feat as she is a regular little sponge and I have gotten a little complacent in my skills. Then the little snot has started 3 IV’s that I couldn’t. I told her she is not to outshine the preceptor until the orientation is officially OVER.

She’s a sweetheart, just 4 months younger than my daughter, and I am just a few months younger than her mother. As her mother is still in the Philippines, she calls me “Mommy” for laughs. I asked if this meant I now have a son-in-law and a 4-year-old grandson, and she nodded. “It’s automatic,” she informed me. Then she caught a patient who was falling, and lowered him to the floor—and strained her back in the process. Just like her preceptor. I took advantage of the situation and educated her in the dos and don’ts of Workers’ Compensation. She’ll be okay, and should be back at work on our next shift, tomorrow night.

So, to refrain from that old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do”, I have not been able to read many blogs nor post on my worknights. I’m getting behind, but I'm making rounds, I promise.

Also, last week was my appointment with the pulmonologist about the sleep apnea. I filled out his long questionnaire, marveling at the number of questions I answered in the affirmative. Based on those alone, he suspected I fall in the moderate to severe range. To prove a point, he reached down and pressed two fingers into my shin. Holy Cow! I have major swelling in my legs. I didn’t know. Some observation skills, huh? I mean, my shoes are always tight when I get home from work, but hey, I’m up on my feet half the night and sitting at the computer station teaching and charting the other half. And since I have short legs, the seat of the chair does tend to press into the back of my legs. But I had never checked my own legs, though one of my complaints at my PA’s appointment in Dec. was that they always felt so heavy, and I was just too tired to try and exercise to strengthen them.

He says I’m showing the early signs of right-sided heart failure as a result of my up and down oxygen levels at night, making my heart work harder and fluid back up due to a little pulmonary hypertension. And despite doubling the dosage of my blood pressure meds, my BP was 155/87 at the appointment. Sleep apnea also causes frequent night-time urination, and aching in joints and muscles—which is why I walk like an old lady for the first 5 minutes I am up. It’s amazing the effects this has on the body. Dr. P said correcting this could add 10 years to my life.

I felt kind of dumb after meeting with Julie, my PA. Sometimes it seems like this is the “trendy” diagnosis, a yuppie thing, the mark of the Baby Boom generation. Heck 20 years ago the term hadn’t even been coined. But Dr. P, (who by some odd coincidence has the EXACT same birthday, to the year, as I) said Cardiologists and Pulmonologists began questioning why there were so many deaths during sleep—a time when all should be peaceful and relaxing. Why so many heart attacks, strokes, and sudden deaths? That’s what led them to begin researching it all. Did you know there are 88 different sleep disorders? Restless leg syndrome is considered a sleep disorder. Amazing. I never knew there were so many.

So last night was my sleep study. I showed up at 10pm, filled out consent forms, got ready for bed, and then had more wires connected to me than Carter has Little Liver Pills (okay, anyone else out there dating themselves?) I was to try and sleep on my back. Right. Folks, I sport cantaloupes on my chest. Sleeping on my back without benefit of a recliner is a joke. Turning over with wires on (or in) my nose, temples, chin, head, shoulders, finger and shins, and two belts around my chest and waist is just as ludicrous.

I took half a sleeping pill. Within an undetermined amount of time (I wasn’t allowed to know the time), I was wide awake again and needing to go to the bathroom. Of course. I tried to ignore it, but you all know what good THAT does. So I spoke to the room, as instructed. “Hello, this is Stephanie and I need to get up.” And the Voice From the Darkness said, “I’ll be right there.” You know, it’s kind of creepy to be watched and listened to while you sleep—especially when it’s by a stranger. Like being in some grade B Sci-Fi movie.

Since I have done this in the past and stayed awake for 2-3 hours afterwards, and since they need 6 hours of sleep for the monitoring, I took the other half of the pill. Eventually I went back to sleep, but I remember waking several more times before hearing a commode flush and muffled voices. I thought of trying to turn over for a few more Zzzzs, but the Voice said “Since you’re awake, I’m going to come on in and unhook you.” Drats. The Voice sees all and knows all.

I opted not to schedule an extra appointment to meet with the doc to discuss the numbers, just scheduled the second study for the night of 2/15 to sleep with a C-PAP. So Robert, my technician, measured my face and will order me a mask. If I could have worked it out with my schedule, I could have come back in the next several days. No matter. The test confirmed it—Robert said based on what he saw, he would place me in the moderate to severe range.

Coincidentally, my new manager and I have been comparing notes. When I told her of all the symptoms I’d been having, and what I’d researched on the internet, she confessed to having the same symptoms, and also feeling she was going nuts. In fact, no one had picked up on this and they were trying several different medications, including mood meds, in an effort to help her. She scheduled an appointment with her family physician last week armed with this new information, and was to check out a pulse oximeter from the same respiratory care company to see if her oxygen levels are dropping also.

Well, I have babbled on long enough and you have had your health education for the day. I need to finish my 4 Seasons Quilt and mail it off, and I really want a nap. Preferably without wires. I will keep you updated, but if you or anyone you know has some of these symptoms, I urge you to get it checked out. It's more serious than most of us think.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Major Award

Ta-Dah! MightyMom has presented me with an(other) award! It's the Daily Dose Award, and means she likes me, she really likes me! lol

Someone named Xandra created this award:
"Xandra started the Daily Dose to celebrate sticking to blogging. As she says,
'I’m calling it The Daily Dose award, and it goes to the blogs that I must read every day without fail. Seriously, I might as well mainline new posts…it’s that addictive. I feel acute disappointment when I go to my favorite blogs and find old posts (no pressure here, girls!).
So here’s to all the blogs that you’ve discovered that you can’t possibly live without. They make you laugh, cry, think and feel connected every time you read a post. They give you a thrill as you see them loading into your browser and you get an equally satisfying thrill when you see that they have commented on your blog.'"

Thanks, MightyMom, and know that I check your blog at least daily to see if you've written anything, and miss you when you don't.

Now to pass the award on. I'm not sure if I can give it to someone who already has the award, but of my blogroll on the right, there are several I check every time I get on the computer. In no particular order, here they are:

My Wonderful Life
Cheese in My Shoe
Poppy Joy
A Simple Girl
PEA's Corner
Blue Yonder

Of these, I have only lurked at Poppy Joy, so Angie will not know who I am, but I still check her site daily and have never failed to be inspired by her faith.

Thanks again, Sarah, and I will try my best to live up to this award!

Friday, January 25, 2008

You Might Be a Procrastinator If....

1. You have tulip bulbs purchased in the fall of 2006 still in your freezer.

2. You open the can of paint you bought for the porch railing, and it's dried.

3. Your driver's license is expired--and it was from the state you left 4 years ago.

4. The fabric pieces you cut out to make 2 new scrub tops are now one size too small.

5. You are thinking it's time to get started on your taxes, so you pull out the boxes labeled "2005", "2006", and "2007".

6. You renewed your car tags 2 months ago, but the inspection sticker on your car is 14 months old.

7. There are items in your closet still wrapped in Christmas paper.

8. It's 6 pm and you're pulling out the bacon and eggs for supper--again.

9. You take a spice bottle down from the cabinet, and find it expired in 2005.

10. There are only 6 days til your quiltlet for the winter swap must be mailed, and it's still in pieces.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Check this out!

I read about a new-to-me site in one of my online quilt groups today. It's called and it has a bookoodle of Stuff. Stuff like how to make CD organizers for your car visor, rice bags to microwave for hot packs, how to boost your battery, slow-cooker recipes, etc. Some of these I've done before, like making "smelly jellies" from liquid potpourri and gelatin. Others I've never heard of, such as making instant cappucino jar mixes.

Anyway, just thought you might want to check it out. I can see myself spending WAY too much time there. (As in, it's already after 2:00 am here, but then again, I'm not sleeping that well anyway and it's too late to entrust me with sharp objects such as rotary cutters and sewing machine needles.) I'm going to put it under Tools and Notions along with, and my favorite snow-flake-making site! (Another time-waster, but oh, I am so GOOD at those now! I was referring to snowflakes, y'all!)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Commercial Break

Best Buy is giving away a Bluetooth MP3 player via this website: 5 Minutes for Mom. It looks really neat, and as we have no MP3 players in this household -- yet--I'm looking forward to winning this one! lol So go visit the site and look this thing over. What fun!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Home again

We had SNOW! LOTS of snow! Well, lots for us, anyway. Up to 6 inches in places. Enough that the schools closed, the little mom and pop shops didn't open, and some of us had to bunk in at the hospital.

Since we had advance notice, I was able to pack extra scrubs and an overnight bag. I knew the interstate would be fine, but the local roads wouldn't be easily navigated that hour of the morning, and I live on a little mountain. No problem, I can just stay in an empty room.

Wrong. The case manager said the patient rooms hadn't been released, and the sleep center rooms were already committed. What was left? 4 cubicles off the emergency room. One had two cribs in it, one had a bed, one had a stretcher, and one had a chair. She thought she could get us mats for the floor. But she couldn't promise we would be able to get a shower. WHAT????? For this, they want me to stay so I can work the next night? Come on, we're not talking Hurricane Katrina, here. Just a little snow and ice.

So I booked a room at the Days Inn next exit up. Four miles away. Interstate is clear, rooms are plenty, there's a coffee pot just for me, and a SHOWER. The receptionist was very nice. She gave me a 10% discount. She put me on the back side of the motel, across from the pool and away from the noise, no one above me or for several rooms around me. Nice and quiet. My own thermostat. My own blankets. 3 pillows just for me. No sleeping on the floor. No sharing the remote. Days Inn, I love you.

No reason not to sleep well, right? Except that pesky sleep apnea. And I forgot my meds, so no sleeping pill, no Claritin-D. It was the worst day's sleep I've had in months.

Thank goodness for a moderately busy night and a new orientee. Otherwise it would have been so difficult to stay alert. Today the roads were clear in most places, my driveway melted clear, and tomorrow it's supposed to snow again. But I am safe and warm in my own house, with my own sweet little cold-nosed barker, my snoring, blanket-hogging husband, my meds, 3 flavors of coffee, my sewing machine and stash, a new DVD--and 4 nights off.

Life is good.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Almost back in gear

Well, Christmas is almost put away, but the sewing room is still bare. Tomorrow night I start another 3-night stretch, and those just wipe me out. Seems all I do those days is work and sleep, so sewing will have to wait until the weekend, and then I HAVE to get my Four Seasons Quilt done. But things are looking up.

For the past 6 months or more, I have just been not physically or emotionally right. It was nothing I could put my finger, so I blamed it on work, and taking on a leadership position in our quilting group, and the knee injury. The anti-inflammatory I was on caused me to have GI bleeding this summer, and dropped my hemoglobin, so that made me a little tired, but it came up again after stopping the medication. Seems the irritation brought on some problems with acid reflux, and I'm taking care of that. In addition, I have gained back the 40 pounds I lost 2 years ago on the South Beach diet, so THAT makes me feel sluggish and rotten, too.

But the most difficult thing to explain or understand was the irritation to the point of constant anger, the inability to cope with situations, the perpetual tiredness. Most of the time I could get to sleep, but couldn't stay asleep, though sometimes I couldn't fall asleep. I chalked that up to working nights, but I've worked straight nights since 1993. My sweet husband is so laid back and understanding. He'd just say, "Well, if you're tired, go take a nap." It didn't matter to him if the house was messy, clothes were clean, but in the basket, and suppper was fast food probably once a week or more. He's such a good man.

Being a nurse, I tried to self-diagnose, of course. I decided it probably wasn't hormones, as I am 5 years post-menopausal (thank you, Lord). But maybe it was my thyroid. Maybe I was still a little anemic. Or it could be depression, but why now? As far as I know there is none of that in my family, and I haven't had most of the events on the stressors scale: divorce, death in the family, job change, move, etc.

Finally, I came to my senses just before Christmas and scheduled an appointment with my physician's assistant, Julie. My blood pressure that day was 150/100--and it was mid-morning, I hadn't worked the night before, I'd been taking my BP medicine, and there was not much traffic out there (I confess to a bit of road rage at times.) That alone could make me feel lousy, she said, so she doubled my dose, but in the meantime, ordered some lab work. We discussed the possibility of depression, but decided to rule out physical causes first. SHE brought up sleep apnea, and gave me a script to sleep with a pulse oximeter one night.

Well, my thyroid is fine, I'm no longer anemic, and I am feeling some better since my blood pressure is down to almost normal. But the pulse oximeter showed my oxygen saturation level is dropping below 90% at night. I started paying attention to the many times I wake up at night. I noticed I sometimes wake up unable to breathe out, and it doesn't seem to matter if I'm on my side or not. And occasionally I wake with my heart racing.

So next week, I have my first appointment with a pulmonologist (lung doc) who runs a sleep clinic. I will need to fill out a questionnaire and meet with him, and then will set up an appointment for a sleep study. Funny thing is, J-Man was diagnosed with sleep apnea several years ago, and I remember helping him fill out the questionnaire, thinking some of the questions were kind of silly. After all, doesn't everyone get sleepy mid afternoon or when they watch television?

In retrospect, I think I may have had the beginnings of this for a while, but managed to function until this summer. REM sleep refreshes your mind, while the deep sleep oxygenates and heals your body. Not getting enough of both would explain why I can't seem to cope with anything any more, and why I'm still having trouble with my knees and don't have the energy to exercise any more. And when I'm tired, I eat.

It is such a relief to think this will all be taken care of soon. The sleep study will show how much and how often my level drops, and suggest what we can do about it. Probably a C-Pap machine, and it may take 2 months to get the sleep study scheduled, then the follow-up appointment with the MD, etc. I know things will be rocky for a while, but I'm trying to be smarter about this. Julie gave me a prescription for a sleeping pill, and that has helped. And I am trying to keep my cool at work and not bite my co-workers' heads off. Just knowing it's being taken care of, helps a little.

Moral of this (rather lengthy) story? Don't procrastinate if you don't feel right--go see your physician (or his P.A.)!

Edited to add: There are so many people who have gone through so many things, that I originally felt rather foolish going to my PA with such vague complaints. If it hadn't been for a couple of co-workers confronting me with my irritability, and the fact that I couldn't stand myself, I might have gone on ignoring my body. But you know, no one is going to take care of our bodies but ourselves. Help is out there, and I don't think God intended for us to be so busy taking care of our families and friends and things that are less important, such as committies and such, that we neglect the life He gave us. So, please, pay attention to your minds, your bodies, and nurture yourselves as much as you would your child. Besides, you can't take proper care of others if you are functioning at less than optimal levels.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

In the words of Ross and Rachel....

"But we were on a BREAK!"

Gotta take a few (more) days off. Back soon.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

On a Tangent

It probably happens every year, but I don't remember.

I'm trying to put away Christmas. I love Christmas: the sounds, the smells, the sights, and rediscovering old friends in the forms of ornaments and candlerings, and stockings.

Putting it away is another matter.

All 15 bins are out, lids off most of them, as I go through and see what I DIDN'T put out this year and what I REALLY want to keep and what can go to a thrift store, or, if I can stand it, be put aside in a box for next December when folks post requests on Freecycle for Christmas decorations. Then I try to keep things logical, putting all the Santas together, and the snowmen together, and little figurines. After a while it's like packing a house to move--you start putting things in wherever they will fit, just so you can get it all done.

From there it spreads. Before I start putting all the usual things back in their everyday places, I wonder if I TRULY love it, if it makes me smile, or do I just keep it out of habit. I get ruthless, filling boxes to take to the local thrift store. Already today I've thrown away half a kitchen trash bag full of expired medicines, half-empty bottles of lotions and creams I no longer like, make-up that is at least 4 years old, etc. Yes, these were in the master bathroom and closet, which is nowhere near the Christmas tree, but that's exactly what I mean. It's like an annual virus. Maybe I'm a little obsessive-compulsive.

So I say to J-Man, "Look at this clutter. We can't just have the DVDs laying around on top of the videos, on the coffee table, the end table and the TV. They're taking over."

"What do you suggest?" he asks, trying to sound as if he sincerely wants to know.

"Let's get rid of some of these old videos. Between Dish Network and the option of using Netflix, there is no reason we need all these videos. Except for a few we want to collect, like your Stargates and Titanic, and The Stand, etc. or don't come on often, like Schindler's List, we should just toss them. We're only buying DVD's now anyway."

J-Man mumbles something illogical and I head into the kitchen to see what else I can declutter.
Drifting back through the living room, I note that Jurassic Park is on AMC again tonight, celebrating its 15th anniversary. J-Man says, "I'm taping it."

"What?" I exclaim. "It's on a channel with commercials, and besides, we have it right here on video! Why take up time on the DVR taping something we can already watch any time we want?"

"This is a better quality," he explains.

Did he or did he not just make my point?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Winter is Here

We woke up this morning to a powdering of snow on the ground, a temperature of 16 degrees, and the wind chill factor is -4! Poor Tandi--she really didn't want to go outside to potty, and I wasn't too keen on accompanying her, either. You haven't lived until you've watched dog poop roll down an embankment dusting itself with snow along the way. And only 4 days ago, it was mid-60's outside. Brrrr!

The cure? Watch the HGTV Dream Home show from last night.

Beach scenes, coral-accented living rooms, chartreuse bedrooms--gotta admit it's warming, but oh, how ugly! The views of the ocean and bay are beautiful, but the color and boxiness of the house, the "neighborhood" that is planned, the "yard" do nothing for me. Of course, this doesn't stop me from entering online daily. If I win, it goes back on the market immediately.

Last year's Dream Home was in Winter Park Colorado, and was won by a man in Johnson City, TN, a couple of hours from here. He sold it to two surgeons from Denver who had no idea they were buying a famous house. They only wanted it because of the skiing nearby.

The year before, '06, was only about 45 minutes drive from here, in Lake Lure, NC. We met up with some of the other message board participants and toured it as a group. I have to say, that has been my favorite so far, even better than the one in Oregon.

There were too many stairs for the J-Man, but we could have managed, as the main floor had just about everything needed. Downstairs were an exercise room, a sewing/crafts room to die for, and a beautiful bathroom. I could have lived down there with a microwave and a coffee pot, providing I didn't have to cook for the J-Man! (Did you know there are message board participants who make a quilt for each winner? THat alone is worth the entering.)

The Nehalem, Oregon home was gorgeous, too, and it was the first one I ever entered. I knocked myself out, sending in dozens and dozens of postcards, all hand-stamped. That was before we had a computer, and I foolishly thought bright postcards would catch their eyes and someone would draw my name. That year, there were only 5.3 million entries. Only.

At the tour of the '06 home, we met Don and Shelly Cruz, the winners of the '05 home.

They lived in the Dream Home for a year, but were unable to keep it. Such nice people, but HGTV really goofed when they built that one. The planned community fell through, the clubhouse closed, and the Home was built on leased land--making it stuck out in the middle of nowhere. It just didn't sell, and now the Cruz's are auctioning it and all the furnishings, etc. I don't know if any of the winners have been able to successfully keep the Homes.

The winner of the '02 home, Milton, was a jewel, answering questions for those of us on the message board, no matter how trivial they seemed. He sold the Maryland home, but kept the car. I understand he was going to continue with plans to build his own home on land he already had, but he also paid off his mother's mortgage. What a generous, thoughtful son!

So no one can really afford the insurance and the utility bills and the taxes on a house of that magnitude. Oh, but the dreams you can fill from the proceeds of the sale of the Home, right? And that is what makes it a Dream Home.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Feels like ages since I've posted, but it's only been a week. After working the 25th, 26th and 27th, I was bushed and slept most of the day Friday. BUT, as my brother and sister-in-law were driving up from Alabama to spend the weekend, I spent most of Friday evening clearing out the sewing room so I could put up the inflatable queen-sized mattress. There are some exceptions, but the majority of fabric that is NOT on my bookshelves ended up on the back porch.

Other items are in the guest room, which, unfortunately, only holds a double bed.

Saturday we took them to lunch at a Chinese buffet, then to Main Street to wander through some fun shops. While there, we bought a game Apples to Apples and stayed up til after midnight playing it. What a fun game! If you haven't played it, you have to find a way. I will never think of cockroaches in the same way ever again! lol

My SIL, who loves old hurricane/kerosene/oil lamps as much as I do, bought four at one of our local antique shops and was able to find one of them listed in my books. It's a sewing lamp, larger and heavier than most old lamps, and very appropriate, as SIL is a genius with a sewing machine.

They also found a wonderful handmade wooden rocking horse for their grandchild-to-be at a great store in a nearby town, O.P. Taylor's. There are no digital games in this store, just good old-fashioned games to stimulate the imagination. Seems my nephew and his wife are having a baby in June! It'll be the first grandchild for my brother and SIL, and as SIL's brothers and sisters all have boys, also, everyone's hoping for a girl. We should know something next month.

ANd, oh, my brother brought his famous ambrosia--the 7th large jar he made this year! My dad used to make this for New Year's and it's heaven in a jar, for sure. There is maybe one bowl left in the fridge, and the J-Man and I are both eyeing it. I think I'll beat him to the punch and divide it up into two containers before we come to blows!

I think I cooked more this weekend than I have in a while. I steamed the last of the tamales and we had those with chicken enchilada casserole and spinach enchiladas like our family had on Chistmas one night. For breakfast one morning, we had ziploc omelets with toast and bacon, and this morning we had an easy breakfast casserole with some tangerine sections on the side. I found the recipe in a Pampered Chef cookbook I bought at a yard sale:

Denver Egg Strata

6 eggs
1 3/4 C milk
1/2 tsp prepared mustard
1/4 tsp salt
ground pepper to taste
6 slices bread, cubed
1 C (4 oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 C cubed ham
1/2 C chopped onion
1/2 C chopped green bell pepper

In large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, mustard, salt and black pepper. Stir in bread, cheese, ham, onion, and bell pepper. Pour mixture into greased 9' baking pan or glass dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake, uncovered, 1 hour or until set in center and golden brown.

Makes 5-6 servings.

They had planned to leave yesterday morning, but as I don't have to go back to work until Wed. night, they decided to stay one more night. We grilled steaks indoors with baked potatos and salad, and watched the ball drop--AFTER the Auburn/Clemson game.It almost took all weekend, but Tandi finally warmed up to the two of them. My brother fed her bits of bacon and the remainder of the scrambled eggs one morning, and scratched her ears every chance he got. My SIL snuggled her and scratched her ears, too, winning Tandi's affections, UNTIL last night when SIL flopped one of Tandi's long, curly ears over the top of her head like a toupee. I think Tandi's expression speaks for itself:

Tandi might not miss them much, but the house sure seems empty right now. It's almost enough to make me want to move back to Alabama. Almost.

Hope you all are having a wonderful start to this New Year.