Monday, December 27, 2010

The World of an Introvert

A few years ago when I went to Colorado for my best friend's wedding, it was the first time I was able to actually sit and talk to her husband Andrew. I quickly realized that he and I were two peas in a pod... both of us deeply intellectual people and reflective by nature, creatively oriented and severely introverted. I was so happy to know that I was able to connect so well with Ami's husband because I knew the friendship I had formed with her was going to be a life long one... and knowing I could get along with Andrew so well meant the world to me... and her also, I think.

During one of our long discussions on that trip we began talking about the popular Myers-Briggs personality test. I had never heard of it before but once Andrew and Ami began explaining it to me I was enthralled and wanted to immediately know what "type" I would be... the test is broken up by eight different type indicators and each person has four out of the eight.

You are characterized by being either:
Extroverted or Introverted
Sensing or Intuitive
Feeling or Thinking
Judging or Perceiving
I turned out to be an INFP on my original test but was also very borderline on the Perceiving vs. Judging line and these days I tend to lean more towards INFJ. (INFJ's make up only 1% of the population btw, the rarest type of all the Myers Briggs combinations.)
Now I know a lot of people think that these personality tests tend to be silly or limiting and I've often heard... usually from men that I know... that they think it's kind of dumb to put yourself in a box by labeling yourself as one of these types. I on the other hand love Myers-Briggs... and I'll tell you why. I tend to have a very strong sense of my identity defined by the fact that I am an extreme introvert and I think if you read the description of what an INFJ is... you would have me dead on.

"Consequently, most INFJs are protective of their inner selves, sharing only what they choose to share when they choose to share it. They are deep, complex individuals, who are quite private and typically difficult to understand. INFJs hold back part of themselves, and can be secretive. " Source

Bingo... me in a nutshell. I think for so much of my life I felt like I was living in a world that did not understand me... a world full of people that didn't really see me or value the things that I valued... and you know what I've realized over the past few years? I was... and I still am living in a world of people who don't understand me! When I first discovered the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator... and after talking to Andrew and discovering how similar we are... it was as if a huge weight was lifted off of my chest. For the first time in my life I felt deeply understood by someone... finally there were words that explained who I was and I realized that the reason why I often times felt uncomfortable in my own skin is because I was forcing myself to be something I am not.

See... I live in a world that is often driven by extroverts and people who love and value everything opposite of what I love and value. I am a person who so deeply values alone time... it is a necessity for my psychological well-being and physiological health. I enjoy silence and I gather energy from the calm, quiet moments I am able to withdraw from the crowds and reflect on what I'm feeling... what I am processing internally. Although I am articulate, I often times have difficulty verbalizing what I am feeling... but give me pen and paper and you will see my heart. I hate being in large groups of people where I have to small talk for hours and engage on an active level.... for me it is incredibly draining. I love having small groups of like-minded people that I can share my heart with. I love it even more when I can sit one on one with someone and share my thoughts, feelings and experiences with them and I absolutely love to be a recipient of the same on their end.... but more than anything I just long to be known .
The more I share... the more you listen and the more you are able to share your heart with me.... that is the ultimate prize in any relationship of mine.

The problem with being me is that often times people misunderstand my reclusive tendency as snobbery or they assume that because I want to be alone so much that I am lonely or shy. Both of which I am not. If I am in a group or with someone who is louder and more talkative than I am... I tend to shutdown internally and it is very easy for me to remain on a surface level with them... sharing pleasantries and laughing at their jokes but you never really see the real me in those situations and I very quickly become exhausted when around those types of people. Consequently, I have chosen to surround myself with people who are all similar types to mine. Out of my group of best friends (there are more than 10 of us who are extremely close to each other) I can safely say that only 1-2 of them are genuinely extroverted.... and even then they tend to lean towards the introverted spectrum. All of us for the most part are quiet, reserved people who value more than anything the ability to be known by one another... the ability to rely on the fact that our friendships are deep and based on being able to share and trust that our friends will actively listen and we will be heard and understood by one another. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have so many friends who I know understand me... the real me... and value the things that I value.
Now if only the rest of the world could be the same.

I am curious... have any of you ever taken the Myers-Briggs test? If not you can take it here. If so... what type are you? 
For those of you out there who are introverted like me... in what ways do you think that has affected your relationships with others, especially those around you who are extremely extroverted? 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Eve Friends!
This holiday season I am working 7 shifts out of the 9 days over the holiday week... I'm not even halfway through the stretch and I am already feeling completely overwhelmed and physically exhausted. Being a certified insomniac doesn't help the matter and I've been going on virtually no sleep for the past few days. As a matter of fact I've been up since 3am and I have to head back to work tonight for another 3 day stretch of 12 hour shifts.... Merry Christmas to me huh? :(

On a happier note, I did manage to put my tree up though! Being the Starbucks fanatic that I am... I have Starbucks Christmas ornaments all over. This one is one of my favorites :) I also was able to take part in a gift exchange with Chris' family yesterday and I got a gift card to Cinnabon (heaven) and a Disney ornament! I also got in some good call of duty playing with the boys which is always fun!

We also have the wonderful Charlie Brown tree set up with its single ornament.
Charlie Brown is probably my all time favorite holiday movie because I think there is so much to learn from that one cartoon. Such a good message and in many ways I feel like most of my life I have been a Charlie Brown tree myself.
I put the Charlie Brown tree next to one of my favorite prints by Vol. 25. She has a great shop on Etsy that you should all go checkout. For me it is a great reminder to stay thankful and this holiday season that is no exception. There is so much to be thankful for... I am truly blessed in so many ways. So today I wish for each of you to have a wonderful holiday season filled with laughter, family, friends, love and a gratefulness for each day we are able to wake up and live life to its fullest. 
I am so thankful for each of you!
Merry Christmas Everyone :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thank you goes a long way

For those who know me, I think most would describe me as being a pretty feisty character. I make up for my vertically challenged 5'1" self by having a large personality and a seriously scrappy side. Now granted... I have my moments where confrontation is difficult and there are times when I think I could use a little more gusto in speaking up for myself... but on the whole... sharing my opinion is not usually an issue of mine.

In a lot of ways I think its a very necessary trait to have as an ICU nurse... especially an ICU nurse working in a teaching hospital. I know I've mentioned it before but I will say it again... working in an environment where sometimes the physicians you are working with have such little clinical experience can be tough because often times we are all learning together.

In my unit the residents and interns cycle through their ICU rotation on a monthly basis. When I first started working here it was completely discombobulating because every month... just as the old ICU team settled into their routine and figured out how we worked here ( and usually just as I was remembering their names)... they were headed off to their next rotation and we were left to adapt to a whole new set of residents and interns. It's tough also because with each new set of folks you have to figure out which ones have more experience and which ones work well with the nurses.... which ones are good about putting in orders when you ask them to and which ones will actually work with you and not above you... if you know what I mean. To put it plainly... the rotation process of working in a teaching hospital sucks.

But... now that I'm starting to head well into my second year in the ICU there are some things that I am starting to really appreciate about the teaching hospital environment. One thing I have really been loving recently is the fact that I'm starting to see some of the physicians come back for their second rotation here. Those scared, unsure interns that we worked with last year are now coming back as confident, more experienced residents... and not only that but most of the time I know them well and have built a rapport with them which is so cool. I love seeing the growth in them and I love feeling invested in their growth as burgeoning, competent doctors.
What's even better about it, is that in many ways I think we as nurses can be a strong resource of clinical experience and encouragement for them (or a serious pain in the you know what... if you so choose). I have to admit that I have been known to have my bad days with interns... especially when they decide to do basically everything in the book to irritate you. 
See: How to Make Your Life Miserable in the Hospital--Guar-OWN-teed: A Ten Step Guide  by my favorite blogging doctor for a great example of what I mean.
But now that I'm starting to see these people come back through their second ICU rotations... I understand the value in actually investing into each one of them...
A few weeks ago we had an intern in our unit who managed to do basically everything on the "How to piss off your nurse" list and  it ended up being a very rough night. Poor thing was trying so hard to be nice and I don't think she had any clue what she was doing but I wasn't reciprocating the friendliness. When the morning came around and she thanked me for doing such a good job and acknowledged how busy the night was... my response was less than friendly, "Just part of the job I guess... but I appreciate that." My tone was not enthusiastic.
Then a few nights ago I walk into our breakroom and this same intern left one of the most thoughtful notes on our bulletin board. She thanked us all for being the "best and most intelligent nurses" she has ever worked with... "Thank you for teaching me, guiding me, feeding me and making me a better doctor!" 
Instantly I felt like a terrible person because I knew that the one on call night I had with her was completely horrendous. I guess the good news is that I definitely learned a good lesson here... no matter what the situation... there is always room for more humility and grace on my part... and also...a genuine thank you seriously goes a long way.  

Friday, December 17, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday

It's been 7 days since I last posted and since I have a ton of things to write about and absolutely no time to write them... I've decided to join in on Conversion Diary's 7 Quick Takes Friday!

Last Saturday I ran my first trail race! It was a 10k which was perfect because for my long run that weekend I was supposed to do 6 miles... why not throw in an extra 0.2 miles right?! Well, unless you are dumb like me and you decide to follow people off trail and make it 7 miles instead of 6.2... not so fun then. It was by far the hardest run I have ever done... possibly harder than my half marathon because it was UPHILL the entire first half. I survived though and I even got a cool medal for it!

The following two days after my first trail race I could barely walk because every muscle from my waist down was screaming at me and punishing me for being so cruel. It was so bad I had to call in sick to work the day after.  Don't think I will be doing that race again next year... 
I was lucky enough to meet a good portion of Chris' family last week (he has 8 brothers and sisters... 6 boys and 3 girls in the family!) I was expecting to feel incredibly overwhelmed because I'm so introverted and I come from such a small and not-so-close family but it was actually really, really great and I absolutely love them all already. They were all so welcoming and I was so thankful for that. I've always wished I had a bigger family that I was close to and I'm excited to get to know them all more. 

Despite the fact that I feel like I have no time to catch up on anything... blog writing, cleaning, sleeping, running, seeing friends... I have been able to keep up with my marathon training... I think signing up for regular races has helped with this and it has paid off! I officially made a record for my mile time this morning on the treadmill. When I started running 7 months ago I ran a 13 minute mile and today I ran an 8:45 minute mile! Woohoo!!
This week at work was absolutely INSANE. I got to see a man's chest opened up at the bedside by our CT fellow because he went into cardiac tamponade. The only way to fix it was to crack open his chest right then and there. Literally I stood a foot away from a man's open chest and beating heart. By far one of the most amazing things I have EVER seen in my entire life.
I was able to take care of this same patient the day after they opened his chest up and it was incredibly terrifying for the first four hours because he had an intra-aortic balloon pump. It was my first time working with one of these and within minutes of me getting report on him he crashed his blood pressure and went into a heart arrhythmia called SVT (supraventricular tachycardia) = not good.
It has been a very long time since I  have been scared at work and let me tell you.... I was TERRIFIED. It all ended up being okay though and it actually gave me a great shot of life in terms of being excited about work again.... I mean how many times do you get to see a person's heart beating in their chest?!
 I have yet to do any Christmas decorating... yes... it is the 17th of December and I just started my Christmas shopping last night and I have not hung a single Christmas decoration and my fake tree is still sitting in it's box... hopefully I will fix this problem today and hopefully I can take some pictures and post them soon... haha might be an ambitious goal.... wish me luck.
On that note  I think I am going to get started.... time to be productive. :)

Yay for the weekend being near! Happy Friday Friends!

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Please Lord... don't let me cry"

"What Sarah Said" by Death Cab for Cutie

And it came to me then that every plan is a tiny prayer to father time
As I stared at my shoes in the ICU that reeked of piss and 409
And I rationed my breaths as I said to myself that I'd already taken too much today
As each descending peak on the LCD took you a little farther away from me
Away from me

'Cause there's no comfort in the waiting room
Just nervous pacers bracing for bad news
And then the nurse comes round and everyone will lift their heads
But I'm thinking of what Sarah said that "Love is watching someone die"

I know that death comes with the territory of being an ICU nurse. It's simply a part of the job and in many ways it can be a wonderful part of the job. My view on death since I have become a nurse has changed drastically. It is not something I fear anymore... nor is it a negative thing by any means. 
Death in many ways is beautiful and peaceful and incredibly full of grace. 
To be present and actively involved in such a deeply personal moment with someone is truly a gift. 

This week I had a patient die (seems like its been happening to me a lot lately) and it was the most painful death I have ever witnessed. It was expected because the patient had lung cancer with mets to the brain, and bone but still... I don't think there is ever a way to be fully prepared for the death of a loved one. Just a week prior to his death the patient was playing golf with his friend when he suddenly couldn't breathe and was admitted to our ER with a pulmonary embolism. He ended up intubated, sedated, chemically paralyzed and on every medication in the book to maintain his blood pressure, prevent heart arrhythmias, prevent blood clots.... the list goes on.

When I received report from the PM shift nurse... he began desaturating to the low 70's (normal is ideally above 95%). His blood pH was 7.11.... extremely acidotic... not a survivable level by any means. He was on 100% oxygen on the ventilator with peep and pressure support settings maxed out as high as we felt comfortably going. The ICU fellow, intern and resident all crowded into my room and we began thinking of everything we could do to try and fix this.

"I can increase his tromethamine to 20gm? Maybe that will help with the acidosis?"

"ok let's do it..." next blood gas was even more acidotic at 7.10.
"Or what if we increase the peep to 20 and then add vasopressin to increase his pressure and counteract the decrease in cardiac output?"

"We are already on vasopressin... it's maxed out at 0.04... we could try dopamine?"

"No, he has a history of Atrial fib.... it's why he is on amiodarone."
"yikes, ok scratch that idea."

My alarms started beeping... he was now dropping his systolic blood pressure to the 70'sand his oxygen saturation was dipping into the low 60's.
I turned to the resident and reluctantly said "I think we need to bring the family in..."

"I've already sent the intern to call them"

You could hear everyone take a deep breath in and the feeling of defeat in the room instantly filled the air. This was not a battle we were going to win. By the time the family arrived we knew we had only a matter of minutes to have a plan of care discussion. The resident began explaining the situation and the decision was made to withdraw life sustaining measures and to provide comfort care only.

I encouraged the family to take a moment to say goodbye... warning them that it only would be a matter of minutes to possibly hours after I remove all of the medications.
They said they were ready and so I began...

One by one I removed 4 IV poles worth of medication.
I started by increasing the sedation and pain medication and I began with removing the paralytic.
As I wrapped up each IV bag and threw it in the waste bin all I could do was pray... the lump in my throat was growing larger by the moment and all I could think was, "Oh Lord, please be with this family."
"Lord, please give this family grace.... and Lord please.... please don't let me cry."

After all the medication was off I sat in the room with the family and just talked them through what was going to happen. We sat in silence.... the son, daughter-in-law and the patient's wife... all four of us sat in the room and watched my patient's heart rate drop down from 60... to 50... 40.... then at 36 it maintained for a little while.... he was holding on. His daughter and his grandson finally arrived and within seconds the last few beats of his heart mapped out along the monitor and faded away.... he was gone. I stood up and listened to his heart, checked his pupils and looked up at the son and nodded.

Instantly the room was filled with tears. 
"I'm so sorry for your loss. I will give you a few minutes and I'll go get the physician to confirm the time of death." The son nodded back at me and I left the room.

Luckily, my friend Dirk was my neighbor that night and I went straight over to him.... he must have seen the look on my face because he instantly gave me a hug....
"You ok?"

I nodded with a big sigh, "Yeah I'll be fine... this just sucks."

"I know." he replied.

The next few hours were filled with the logistics of dealing with a deceased patient. Setting up the family with the resources they will need. Calling the police to have them escort us to the morgue. Preparing the body, and wrapping him in that dreaded body bag. I held it together for the rest of my shift and when I made it out to my car I tried not to think about the night I had just endured.

Then... I turn on my car and the song by Death Cab for Cutie comes on....
I was instantly frozen... and sooner than I could say "Please, Lord... don't let me cry..." I hear the words
"Love is watching someone die"

Like a ton of bricks on my chest, the reality of what I had just witnessed hit me... and I felt those walls I put up crashing around me... 
and I cried ... I cried that horrible, ugly cry, the entire way home.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Funny how life works...

If you would have asked me a few weeks ago to describe the perfect guy... I probably would have used words like confident, quiet, introverted, serious, strong, charming, determined and disciplined.
In the past my "type" of guy has always been the kind of guy you'd see in the military... I've always had a tendency to go for the real "macho... smooth talker" types.... you know the kind? The guy that all the girls are in love with and the one who just knows how to make you fall in love with him instantly. I've learned that most of the time if the guy is a smooth talker it's because he's had a lot of practice in telling a lot of women just what they want to hear. I almost always go for the guys that I have a ton of chemistry with.... a ton of chemistry and absolutely no trust. And what usually ends up happening is I'm blinded by those initial butterflies and that passionate draw towards someone and I fail to see the signs that this might not be the kind of guy I want to get into a relationship with.
To put it bluntly... I'm good at falling in love with jerks.

When I first met Chris he was not on my radar at all... there wasn't that typical "spark" of chemistry I'm so used to having with the guys I end up having feelings for. A long time friend of my roommate, Sam he would come over occasionally and all I thought was, "This guy is crazy!"
He is the opposite of anyone I've ever dated and the opposite of the typical guy I usually go for.
He's extremely extroverted and loud... especially when he is in groups. He's very social and goofy and funny. He's easy to be around and not pretentious by any means. He's incredibly genuine, honest and intense in his own way. When it comes to Chris... what you see is what you get. 
A few weeks ago, during an online conversation we were talking about the new  Call of Duty: Black Ops
 Call of Duty: Black Ops
(Awesome game btw)
When I got really excited about the new crossbow they had in the zombie level... he asked me to marry him. 
Literally... his response was...
"omg, Andi, you're the coolest chick ever. will you marry me?"

So when he asked me out a few weeks ago... I wasn't surprised and even though I wasn't interested at the time, I was oddly able to have a very open and honest discussion as to why I didn't think we would work.
Unusual for someone like me who HATES confrontation and awkwardness in any form whatsoever.  
I explained to him that I thought he was great but that we are just way to different. I am almost always serious and extremely introverted..... and to top it off I am in many ways a "single at heart."
I loved my single life... a lot... and truthfully the thought of marriage, a relationship or even dating sounded incredibly overwhelming to me.... especially with someone who was basically the exact opposite of me in every way.
So... we left it at that and we continued to talk as friends... 
and I stored that conversation in the back of my mind... just in case.

Then, the day before Thanksgiving I had one of those no good, horrible, awful days where everything went wrong and I didn't get sleep and was basically in a really crappy mood.

When I talked to Chris that evening and was complaining about my awful day and the sleep I didn't get and the cooking that had to be done before Thanksgiving dinner... he offered to come over and help. He brought peppermint hot chocolate and sat and listened to me vent about my no good, horrible, awful day.... He didn't joke the entire time and he showed a serious side that I had not seen from him before. He even stayed and helped me cook all of the dishes I had to make for Thanksgiving the next day. That evening after he left, I told my two girlfriends Helena and Kelly that I was reconsidering dating him and that I had invited him to BFF thanksgiving.
I wanted to see more of the serious Chris I had discovered that night... I wanted to give the "nice guy" a chance. And for the first time in my life I decided that maybe chemistry wasn't such a good thing to base a relationship on... maybe... just maybe some fires start small, right?

On Thanksgiving night he came over, brought the newspaper and we proceeded to sift through the ads and plan out our insane black friday shopping plans (all of which included a 3am start at kohl's and a failed, yet desperate attempt at getting a 40" TV at target). That night he asked me out again and I said yes. We spent the entire weekend together that week and the rest is pretty much history. 

I mean really now... any guy who is willing to stay up all night with you and then proceed to go shopping with you and your girlfriend at 3am on black friday on no sleep... now that's a keeper.

The amazing thing about this whole process is that we still are very different from each other and that probably won't change. I still have moments where I think... "How in the world is this gonna work?!"
But the funny thing is that I'm not afraid at all. I don't think I've ever been so comfortable with someone in my entire life. I have a trust with him that is so foreign to me.... and yet so refreshing at the same time. I'm still getting used to the idea of being in a serious relationship but I think this is a big first step for me in figuring out whether I am truly meant to be single or married.
 I can't guess what the future will bring for Chris and I, but I can promise that this journey will be quite a ride at the very least. :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Life Lately

First off... to all my American readers... Happy (Late) Thanksgiving! I was all excited to do a Thanksgiving post... full of lovely photos of the dinner I had at my house (including the 25lb turkey I cooked!) but I failed miserably and forgot to take any pictures at all! Every year my group of friends and I have this tradition of doing what we call BFF Thanksgiving... usually the weeekend after and it is probably one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. I've said it before but the holidays with my family are usually pretty stressful and BFF Thanksgiving is the opposite of that which is why I love it so much. Although this year my family decided to split things up and it worked out well. Dinner with my grandparents in the afternoon and dessert with my mom and her friends in the evening... made for a lot less fighting this year which was much happier for everyone I think. :)
Thanksgiving morning I ran my first 5K race... in 38 degree weather, might I add (that is freezing for us Cali folk)! The race supported an organization called KidsStrong. A charity that supports families of child cancer victims and survivors. I was happy to make a personal record also! 28:50 minutes for 3.1 miles... not bad for someone who ran 13 minute miles just 7 months ago! :)
Another fun thing that has been a great addition to my marathon training... trail running! One of the things I love most about where I live is that we have the most amazing hiking trails just minutes from my house. Full of lush green trees and redwood forests. How could you not want to run all the time when the scenery looks like this?! One of these days I'll take my SLR out there and get some better pictures of the place. Unfortunately my iphone takes pretty crappy pictures but I think you guys get the gist :)
In a few weeks I will be running my first 10K trail race too which should be fun... especially because there will be finisher medals for that one. I'm a total sucker for those racing medals!
On a more personal note... this girl... the one who has been infamously single and has (for the most part) loved it and thought she would remain that way forever... is now in a relationship... *gasp* I know... there will be updates on that to come soon but for now I must get back to work :)

How was everyone else's holiday?

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Running History

In the past few months my life has quickly been consumed by running.
I guess I traded one addiction for another... but at least this one is healthy... right?
I've always hated running... I've never been fast and it's always been one of those things that has intimidated me. When friends would say things like, "Oh, we should go for a run sometime!"
I would immediately cringe and become borderline angry. "eeww I HATE running... I don't understand people who say they like to run... that is honestly just not possible!"

I reacted that way because I knew if I was to run with anyone they would quickly realize that I literally could not run for more than 3 minutes straight without wanting to puke... seriously... not how I wanted to be portrayed in front of anyone. I also knew that if anyone would try to push me along, "Come on, Andi! You can do it, run a little faster" I would feel even more anxious and cornered and would probably end up losing a friend in the process.
Yeah. Not good times... at all. Hence me never being a runner.

Until.... a few years back when Lent was coming up and I was trying to think of what I was going to "give up" for the 40 days. I decided that I was going to do something unusual and instead of giving up something like watching TV or eating chocolate... I decided that I was going to go to a local state park and hike every day. It was more a sacrifice of time and energy than anything else but I also knew it would be a good opportunity to pray and have some good quiet time to reflect. It was a difficult time in my life and I knew the conscious act of getting away to process things was going to be very needed at that time.

So... I started hiking every. single. day. 
Eventually, I got a little bored walking the same trails over and over again and the hills started really tiring me out... so every few yards or so I'd jog for a little bit and sometimes I'd run up the hills just to get them over with more quickly. Maybe I'd even run a couple minutes at a time... then when I was tired I would resume walking. By the end of the 40 days I was up to running almost an entire 5 mile trail every. single. day. Sometimes I'd even go twice!
It became my sanity... my sacred place and the one part of my day that made complete sense.

Eventually, after the 40 days were over, life sort of got in the way... vacations came up... my class schedule changed and I stopped running.   

six months ago I put out my last cigarette and traded my smoking breaks for gym breaks...
and very quickly... the treadmill and I became very good friends.

Now... after months of training, building endurance and a half marathon later... I think I can safely call myself a runner. The only books I read are ones about running and training programs. My favorite magazine is runner's world... it's the only one I will read cover to cover in one sitting. My future vacations are mostly planned around my future races and the money I once spent on cancer sticks, now goes to various types of running gear.

If you would have told me seven months ago that I would be signed up to run a full marathon the following year... I would have laughed... 
Now I am signed up for a bunch of half marathons on the west coast and a full marathon in San Diego next June! I might even be doing a full marathon in Seattle that very same month!
Yes... I have become that girl... the running maniac...

If you haven't ever run a race in your lifetime... I would highly recommend it! Even if its a 5k walk/run... it's truly amazing to see everyone come out and cheer you on... even though they have no idea who you are. Seriously... turkey trots are just around the corner friends! :)

So... as of now I am starting the Jeff Galloway training method and in seven months will be a marathon running machine! I'll be posting regular updates on here about my training triumphs and struggles... and of course my races. :)
I hope you all will enjoy coming along for the ride and maybe will be inspired to get active with me!

Finally got my finisher's medal in the mail from my half marathon in October! :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Life and death matters

Today, I was reunited with my old friend the ugly cry. I got off of work and I drove home in a silent reverie of emotions and wandering thoughts and by the time I arrived in my driveway I was a ball of water works. A broken down, sobbing disaster.

My patient died this week. It's been a while since a patient has died on my shift. As a matter of fact I think it's been well over a year since I've had a patient die. This time it was different too because this was a patient I had taken care of before... I had a chance to meet him when he was still very alert and talkative and full of life. I was off for a week and came back to discover he had been placed on comfort care.

The night he passed away he was doing relatively well considering the circumstances and he had family and friends from all over the country coming in to see him. They all shared such great stories about him and his life... it was truly heartwarming.

When the family came to see him in the morning they looked like zombies. They hadn't said goodbye to him the night before because we were all certain he was going to make it to the hospice unit the next day.

He didn't obviously and they were devastated.

Watching them as they came into the room where their father, grandpa, friend and brother was lying, cold to the touch, completely lifeless... it was painful.

The worst part came when one of his children came over to me... that look of shock on his face... tears streaming down his cheeks...

"What do I do from here? I mean... what.... what are we supposed to do now?"

I felt helpless... I reached out to grab his hand and all I could say was 

"I'm so sorry..."

I swallowed the lump in my throat and shook my head.

"I'm so sorry."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Life in bullet points

  • I have been craving cake recently... anyone have any good recipes to share??
  • I realize that when I am running on no sleep... when I am exhausted I am a completely different person. In fact I can't even stand myself when I get to that point of exhaustion because I am a certified pain in the ass. 
  • I despise hormones and what they do to my body. 
  • aka PMS sucks.
  • I think I am the only person who can manage to gain weight while training for a marathon. 
  • BTW, did I mention that I officially am registered to run my first FULL MARATHON  on 6/5/11?
  • I bought new trail running shoes this weekend... aren't they cute? (sorry for the crappy iphone pic)
  •  I haven't pulled out my camera since Colorado and I'm seriously jonesin' for some photography time.
  •  Sometimes when I look at my photos I close my eyes and try to pretend I've never seen them before... when I open my eyes and see them again I fall completely in love with every single image.
  • This girl has an amazing voice and I've been listening to this song over and over again.

    • I have a really bad habit of listening to a song on repeat for days.... literally days.
    • Boys are dumb and I don't understand them at ALL... truly part of the reason I love being single is because I don't have to try and figure them out... most of the time I just pretend they don't exist but every now and then that doesn't quite work and I realize all over again that they are just frustrating... stupid boys.
    • Something REALLY exciting.... I'M NOT MOVING! I've convinced my roomie Sam to pay a little extra so we can just have a spare room and that way we will keep our awesome condo, have a guest room and no moving!! yayyyy
    • Sorry for the lame post but I have not had the time to sit and properly blog. Hopefully that will change very soon. :)
    Happy Friday Friends!!

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Today is not about me

    My patient kicked me last night. He was confused and angry and was starting to feel that "dooms day" feeling you get at the end of a long battle with congestive heart failure. That basically sums up what the past 3 days of work have been like for me. It was a long 12 hours and its been a very long week. 

    But today it isn't about me... today it is about the men and women I have the privilege of caring for everyday in my unit. Despite being kicked and spit on and called names... I was still able to say to both of my patients today, "Happy Veteran's Day. Thank You." I think it says something when even on your worst days you consider it an honor to do what you do.

    I am incredibly lucky and honored to be a VA nurse today.
    A gift to a patient who had recent heart surgery, his wife lovingly calls him an alien because the man never sleeps.

    One of my favorite patients of all time... so far :)
    To all of our soldiers who will someday be veterans and to all of the veterans out there who have served our country... Thank You, Thank You, Thank You..... it is an honor to be your nurse. 

    Happy Veteran's Day!

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Life as an addict

    Greeted by an amazing sunrise outside my unit the other day.

    "God, Give us the grace to accept
    the things we cannot change, 
    Courage to change the things we can,
    And the wisdom to know the difference."
    The serenity prayer; a well known entity in the lives of alcoholics and addicts everywhere.

    Today I am celebrating the fact that I have been a non-smoker for six whole months! I truly never thought I'd survive this long without smoking but I have... and I am so. flippin. proud. :)

    There have been so many moments that have tested the very core of my being. Moments where I have had to realize that well.... this is how life is for me now.... this is the life of a recovering addict. 

    I may not have been a raging alcoholic or an out of control drug addict.... I used tobacco, but I would bet that the internal struggles are the same in any addiction. 

    You crave it, you want it, nothing else seems to matter.... but you refuse to let it control your life any longer.  

    You choose to stay free.... every. single. day.

    I have learned that just because I want to smoke... does not mean I have to or should... and even on the days where the weight of it feels unbearable... I know that choosing freedom is more important... choosing life is more important.... choosing to fight for me is infinitely more important.

    So, today I celebrate freedom again and today I celebrate the new Andi that has emerged during these past few months. The runner in me is very, very thankful for that.
    Here's to another clear, deep breath and many, many more to come!
    Right before the finish line of my first half marathon!

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Managing the Gap

    When I first started working in nursing I actually thought that maybe, someday I would end up in management. You know.... years down the line when I was tired and burnt out from bedside nursing I could switch over to the administrative side of things and still feel useful in my career.


    The more nursing experience I have the more I realize that management in nursing is the exact opposite of everything I love about the job. I recently want to a "Journey to Magnet Excellence" conference through my hospital and it was surprisingly disheartening. Now, I know I tend to be a critical person... I am an ICU nurse after all, but I did actually go to this event with high hopes. I enjoy a challenge. I enjoy taking pride in my work and I enjoy being pushed to always become better. Still, the reality between the ideal and the actual is so far and wide. 
    I know that in the nursing profession, research is important; it's what makes us better as a whole and individually and it improves patient outcomes. At least that's the idea, right?

    I think I'm finding though, that what is done at the bedside and what is done in everyday practice is so completely different than what nursing executives try to implement into hospital policy. What is expected of the everyday bedside nurse is sometimes just not possible! 

    Save money, prevent infections, work short staffed, but make sure you find time to take a break so that you never call in sick and waste the hospital's money. Audit charts and physician orders, document on time and with incredible detail. Reduce patient falls but also reduce the amount of restraint use. Decrease the amount of sedatives and chemical restraints used on patients but live without simple resources that will make it a safer work environment for patients and staff. 
    Seriously, by the end of the conference I was so disheartened.  I felt like my job was impossible... being a good nurse according to your patient and being a good nurse according to your boss......
    two very separate and often times unrelated things.

    There are so many roles we fill as nurses. We are the front line workers. We are the ones who coordinate between all of the different services. We are the ones who know more about the patient than probably anyone else on the unit. We are the ones who put up with verbal and sometimes physical abuse from patients and family members. We are the ones that go without bathroom breaks and food for sometimes an entire day. We are the ones that have to be patient advocates....

    But who advocates for us?

    I am lucky to be in an area where nurses are paid well and because I work for the government I have good benefits. I love my job and I will always try to become a better nurse than I am today. Still, its hard not to look at the bar above and wonder just how in the world we will ever jump that high.

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Time for some hometown pride.

    Admittedly, my number one baseball team is the Red Sox. I grew up watching the Red Sox because my grandfather was from Taunton, MA. (Pronounced taw'in if you're a true MA native like my grandpa)
    As a matter of fact, back in nursing school during the series the Red Sox were in... I was writing a paper while watching the game. When I got the paper back after it had been graded, I see a huge red circle at the bottom of the page "I'm assuming you were watching the game last night? Boston fan are we? :) " I had accidentally written sox instead of socks. haha good times.

    But today, since I am an SF bay area native... and because I LOVE my city.... seriously SF is the greatest and I've been to a lot of places.... well, today I am a 100% certified, very excited SF Giants fan. I may have a Boston Red Sox hat, but today I will be sportin' my Bonds #25 Giants T-shirt at work.
    ******** GO GIANTS! ********

    My friends and I at a game this past summer and me with my Giants beer and awesome garlic fries. Yummm AT&T park has the best garlic fries.
    Time to make history baby!!  I <3 SF! :)

    EDIT: OK, all I have to say is WORLD SERIES CHAMPS BABY!

    I wish you could all see what a glorious and amazing thing it has been to be in the bay area during this series. The incredible family of fans this team has created is such an awesome thing. When I came to work today, a few of us night shift folk, all dressed up in our Giants gear, ran into a room of a day shift nurse that had the game on. Luckily her patient was intubated and sedated... hah terribly unprofessional lucky ICU nurses aren't we?

    We sat there, all of us, arm in arm, clenching each other as tightly as we could... and  when that last pitch was thrown we immediately jumped and ran around yelling like crazy people.

    Seriously.... for hours people were running around outside the bars near AT&T park spraying champagne and yelling. For those hardcore Giants fans, this is long over due and I know there will be much celebrating going on for a long, long time because of this amazing victory. GLORIOUS is all I have to say....

    I LOVE MY CITY :) I think I just became an eternal Giants fan (just don't tell my grandpa k?)

    Sunday, October 31, 2010

    Happy Halloween!

     My roommate's crafty pumpkin :)

    From my home to yours... hope you have a fun and safe halloween!
    Are you dressing up? Going trick or treating? 
    I sadly will be at work... hopefully it won't end up being a complete nut house! :)

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    Home is where the heart is...

    I hate moving.... with a passion.
    I don't know any person who enjoys moving... but seriously... I really hate moving.
    House hunting, signing leases and figuring out a new area.
    Taking everything down off the walls and living in a bare and empty house, unable to figure out where anything is for weeks before. Navigating around boxes stacked all over the house and actually finding enough boxes to fit all of those last little bits of things you never even knew you had. 
    Unpacking that takes an entire month and trying to decide what to keep and what to get rid of.
    I hate it.

    I have moved 3 times in the past six years and come this December that tally will increase to four times. The house that I am in now I moved into just this past December and minus the annoying H.O.A. and the fact that my room is boiling hot in the summer... I have fallen in love with this place and the thought of moving again makes my stomach turn. Now I know that moving three times in 6 years is not bad for some people but the moves I have had to do have been horrendous.

    I had anywhere from 4-6 roommates, with a relatively large house and a PACKED garage and the process of sorting through who's stuff is what and which house it goes to and who's responsibility it is to clean what and sort through what... ugh.... it. was. a. nightmare.

    The last house I moved out of was probably one of the hardest moves yet. It was a house of people I had lived with for the past 5 years and it was heartbreaking and seriously drama-filled when the house split up. I still close my eyes and cringe everytime I think about it.

    So... all that to say when I moved into this house last December... I was planning on staying for a long.... long time. My rommate Sam and I have been living together since I first moved out on my own at 19 years old. That's about seven years! When we moved to the place we are in now, we added a friend of mine from highschool... a girl I have known since we were little and a friend of Sam's as well.
    Katie and I go way back to our highschool field hockey days and years in youth group at church during junior high and on.

    Mine and Katie's plan was to keep this house until one of us got married and from the looks of it... we figured that would be quite a while considering the luck of our love lives.... (seriously we both had an uncanny ability to pick some real "winners" if you know what I mean)
    well... somewhere over the course of a year I decided that I probably just wasn't the marrying kind and she decided to go get herself a serious boyfriend that she is now living with... much for the plan.


    So here I am... prematurely grieving the loss of another house that has just become home. Understanding that I have serious attachment issues.... I just can't seem to let go of anything or anyone these days. Change feels so earth shattering and I've been feeling extremely vulnerable lately...
    I think I really just want to grow roots somewhere.
    I've been finding some places online with great potential but despite that, my heart sinks everytime I walk through my house and look at the things I will probably have to give up.
    My wonderfully large kitchen with a gas stove and a beautiful bay window that overlooks the trees and streams in light while I cook.
    The peaceful view I have from the balcony off of our living room. The water that reaches right up to the deck below us.

    Our neat, little living room with our cozy fireplace and vaulted ceilings...

    But most of all I think I will miss the memories that have already been formed in this house. The birthdays, parties and get togethers. The excitement of having my first "grown up" house on a nursing salary, with nice furniture and that welcoming sense of pride I carried with making this home. The sense that I have finally... finally arrived to where I have wanted to be for so very long.
    moving. just. sucks.

    So... for now I am enjoying the last few months in this house and I am praying that this next move will truly be the last for a very long... long time.

    And I'm hoping that somewhere beneath it all, there will be a lovely silver lining amidst the dark and gloomy clouds... and who knows... maybe this next house will woo me to love it even more than the one I am in now... one can always hope, right?

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Weekend Re-Cap

    First things first! Congratulations to one of my favorite co-workers and blog readers... Mrs. Tricia Williams, your wedding was beautiful and ridiculously fun (maybe too much fun!) and it was so great to be apart of something so wonderful. Wishing you many, many happy and fulfilled days to come. You're a wife now! :D
    Some of my favorite work folk :)

    We definitely knew how to party it up and it was a blast to get together with my nursing buddies and cut loose. Working in the ICU can be crazy and it's nice to know you can work hard and play hard together too. This lovely woman here below is my friend Teresa... my running inspiration. She started running about a year before I did and has always been such an encouraging force for me. Love her :)

    One of the greatest ideas for a wedding ever... the photobooth.
    I didn't jump in on as many of these photos as I thought I would but it is seriously so much fun. Last year when one of my best friends got married she had one at her wedding and my group of BFF's went crazy all night.
    Such good memories and a great way to have photos of it all!

    So, since I got back from the wedding yesterday I've been a complete lazy bum....I'm not gonna lie friends.... I've done virtually nothing productive in the past 24 now I'm off to get up and clean or run and get ready for work tonight....or something to that effect. :)

    How was everyone else's weekend? :)