Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fun Giveaways!

One of my favorite bloggers Natalie over at The Bobby Pin is doing a great giveaway.

$100.00 worth of Mary Kay make up and its easy to enter! 

Check it out and while you're at it, her blog is a great read too. :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Seattle... The Marathon Part

The Seattle marathon was a tough one for me. There were so many differences between this run and the San Diego marathon. The weather, the scenery, the people. There were hills... lots of them and one in particular around mile 18 that just killed me. The one below is a picture of a small out and back incline around mile 9. Not bad... but this was also when my iPhone decided to stop playing my music properly. 
It was brutal... I do not like to run without music... in fact... running a marathon without good music is torture to me.

Running 26.2 miles is tough enough.

 The other difficult thing I learned is that you don't actually run 26.2 miles.

When I ran my training run at home I did 26.2 miles in 5 hours and 53 minutes. I was ecstatic having broken the 6 hour time because that is the time limit for the SF marathon coming up this weekend.

When you run in an official marathon though the actual distance is close to 27 miles... maybe even more because you serpentine and weave through people so much that you add distance.

And let me just say.... at that point running an extra mile could be a difference of 10-20 minutes. When you are crawling to the finish line... that extra mile is KILLER.

For the past two marathons I have gotten to a point where I realized that I wasn't going to break the 6 hour mark and I just completely ran out of gas. 

My time for the Seattle marathon was horrible.... 6 hours 19 minutes. 
Participant Detail
Finished In:
Andrea Voci
San Francisco, CA
Age: 26 | Gender: F
Overall: 3391 out of 3529 · Division: 362 out of 379 · Gender: 1551 out of 1645
Pace5 Km10 Km9 MileHalf30 Km24 MileChipTimeClockTime

The steep inclines, the loss of music, the lack of people there to run with me and cheer me on.... it just worked against me. The beautiful race course and the wonderful weather conditions just couldn't make up for it. Seattle was tough.... and in many ways I think there was a point where I realized something that day. I realized that I was not made for this.
 I am not a marathoner. 
I love running. 
I love half marathons. 
I love trail running and all that it entails. 
I am surely not a marathoner.... I am simply a runner.
And you know what? I am so okay with that.

There were parts of the Seattle race that I enjoyed and I am still glad I did it. I am proud that I finished.
I got to run with a group of folks from "Run to Remember"
A pack of men and women who run in remembrance of those who have been lost at war.
Many of them women who have lost their husbands in Iraq and Afghanistan. Runner's World did an article about them earlier this year and I could not wait to cheer them on during the race.
In many ways they inspired me that day and I felt myself welling up with such emotion as I ran past the row of flags and pictures of fallen soldiers that day. Each flag bearer a friend or family member of a fallen soldier.

A few paces further and there was a group of army and marine soldiers passing us water and cytomax.
It was an honor to be served by them that day and it made me proud to be a VA nurse too. 
This upcoming weekend I have the SF marathon scheduled. As of right now I have made a mental decision to allow myself to drop down to the half marathon course. I am preparing for the full in case I wake up that morning and feel like I can tackle the full 27 miles.

We shall see....
No matter what happens though... I can always say, "I ran two full marathons in 20 days!" Not quite enough to make marathon maniac status.... but definitely enough to be proud of. 
:) Marathon #2 is on the books.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nursing Burnout and Divine Appointments

 It is not a secret that my job has been difficult lately. So much so, that I have not felt a desire to talk about it on here much... at all. Summer time in a teaching hospital is difficult and even some of our most positive, peppy nurses have been sucked dry of energy, to the brink of burn out.

I have felt myself on the verge of it also. If I remember correctly and thankfully to the documentation of this blog.... this happened last year also. The difference is that this year my life is much more busy and hectic... but I am also a year more experienced.... so now I know when to say something and when I can just let it go.

I have a new love and respect for our medical students and I am thankful for those that have the zeal of someone who wants to help heal people and the humility of someone who knows they don't know it all. I wish our new interns and residents had the same mentality. It makes me sad when the physicians are at odds with the nursing staff. I promise we are not the enemy.... there is nothing more that I love than having a good relationship with our physicians. It makes my job so much easier and it makes everyone a lot happier. I can share my experiences and they can share their knowledge. That way everyone learns and everyone grows.... working cohesively for the better of the patient. Shouldn't that be the goal? Egos aside... the patient's safety and health is the most important thing, right?

There have been many times this past month that I have left work in tears. Exhausted and worn out. Taking care of people when they are sick and angry is difficult... especially when they take it out on you. You get opposition from all sides... the patient, the family, the doctors, the nurse execs. I have learned that sometimes the only allies you have are your co-workers.... yet, even they can fail you at times. I know I have failed a lot.

The other day a co-worker of mine overheard me explaining why I did not want to work an overtime shift and she said, "Well, you're ahead of schedule!" When I asked what she meant she explained that she was referring to the fact that the average dropout rate for new grad RN's is three years.

3 years is how long most new grad nurses last in this field. By year 2 of their career 57% of new grads will have left their job due to negative workplace conditions. *source Those aren't good odds but I have no desire nor do I have any plans to leave my job. I just simply don't want to work overtime.... hoping to preserve any love for nursing that I have left at the moment.

This past weekend I went to a BBQ with Chris' family and I ran into a random friend of theirs... an old neighbor and also a nurse for many years. This woman is now in her 80's, long retired but still very updated on nursing practice and technological advances in medicine. She has been a patient many times as well. I happened to mention something about my job and that led to about a 30 minute conversation about nursing and being a new grad and dealing with difficult physicians and the struggles of our line of work.

She told me that there were many days when she would go home in tears... so many times she had to stand up to the physicians who treated her disrespectfully even when they were in the wrong... and she told me about the time she was choked by a mentally ill patient and verbally and physically assaulted by many others. She reminded me how difficult it is to work 12 hour night shifts in the ICU. She told me that there are few careers like nursing that encompass so many sides of humanity and how there will be few people.... if any, who will truly understand what we deal with on a daily basis.

But best of all... she told me that I was not crazy... that the pain and the hurt and exhaustion I was feeling was normal and that it too would pass. She reminded me to take care of myself and take time away when it's needed. She encouraged me to lean into the relationships I have with my co-workers. She validated how I felt and affirmed that even though people don't understand how difficult it is... it does not mean that I am alone. She told me that the day I stop feeling so deeply and passionately about my job... is the day that I need to step away... but that I am not there yet.

It was a divine appointment. It was exactly the thing I needed to hear and it gave a voice to my fears and struggles and hurts. This 82 year old woman who did not even know my name gave me something that even the closest people in my life could not. Understanding... and relief.

For those of you out there experiencing burnout... whether on a scale large or small.... New grad or not.... you are not alone. And if at the very least... the next time you go to work and feel overwhelmed or exhausted or like you have nothing else to give.... know that you are not crazy. No, you are not crazy at all....

... and that this too shall pass. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Seattle.. the vacation part

This will mostly be a picture post. My trip to Seattle was short... a three day stint filled with the marathon and the expo mainly. I was able to do a tiny bit of exploring though and I was even able to meet up with an old family friend that I hadn't seen since I was probably about 8 years old. It was fun and it was nice actually to have some time by myself to walk through downtown and through Pike's Place. It had been quite some time since I picked up my camera and I was eager to go use the new polarizing filter I had bought recently.
What I love most about Seattle (besides the weather!) is the color of the city. A portion of taxes go towards public art and it just seems like Seattle is such an eclectic place... a cleaner and slightly milder version of San Francisco.

I loved walking through downtown and snapping shots of the statues and art that lined the trees.
The weather was perfect too. It only rained once and not for long and not too much either. It was sunny yet cool with the day of the marathon being slightly overcast, in the low 60's.
The other thing I love about Seattle is the fact that they have great public transportation. I have a tendency to get lost easily and despite my love for traveling I get anxious trying to navigate in places I am not familiar with. Seattle is wonderful though and
I couldn't have asked for a better place to spend the weekend.

The first day I got there, after the race expo I walked down to Pike's Place to stock up on my favorite honey and jams... take some quick photos and of course make a trip to the homeland of Starbucks. :)
Moon Valley Organics has the BEST honey in the world. They also sell hand lotions and beauty products. I couldn't wait to stock up on a ton of that stuff. I had been savoring the last bit of honey I had bought from them last summer.
Highly recommended if you ever go to Pike's Place or you can check out their stuff here.

I could seriously take photos of the flowers in the market for days. All of them are so gorgeous and cheap too! I was sad that I had no where to put them or I totally would have bought a bunch.
SO pretty!
My friend Andrew is obsessed with mushrooms and last year when I went to Colorado he and I went foraging through the Rockies for all different types of them. Ever since I can't help but get excited when I see anything other than shitakes or buttons and I just had to take a picture for him. Can we say yum?

Another thing I was sad that I couldn't buy... the seafood! They had oysters and crabs and lobsters and basically every type of seafood imaginable.

The day after the marathon when I met up with my friend Esther, we headed down to Fremont to hit the weekly flea market. It was so much fun.... full of lots of local art and booths with vintage toys and clothes and accessories. It's a good thing I had no room in my luggage because I would have bought a ton of stuff.

Although I did consider buying one of these vintage suitcases for a hot second.
All in all it was a fun trip and I had a ton of fun taking pictures and catching up with old friends.

I heart Seattle :)

Friday, July 15, 2011


I despise the month of July. Truly there is nothing good about it. It is hot and the rainy season is long gone and still far, far away. There is way too much to do with no time to do it. We are always short staffed at work. It's impossible to sleep during the day. The hospital is inundated with gobs of new interns who have egos the size of Jupiter and an experience level the size of an ant. (ok maybe not all but most.)

Seriously. I hate the month of July more than I hate peas... or bacon... and let me tell you... that is saying a lot.  

I don't enjoy feeling this way. I don't enjoy that feeling of dread as I read the assignment list every day. There aren't any "good" assignments these days. The patients are either really sick or really crazy or really violent or really mean. I am thankful for my co-workers that keep me sane but even a few of the good ol' standby people have been in a bad funk too.... might have something to do with the fact that they have had to work literally 19 days in a row. 19 days. 12 hour shifts..... 19 days in a row. Yeah, I'd be grumpy too if I worked that much.

When your career is one that involves taking care of sick people it is easy to get tired and burnt out fast. Especially when the people you are taking care of are crazy and mean and unappreciative. I always think its funny... when people (usually the docs) say things like "oh don't take it personally they aren't in their normal state"

hmmm... ok well how about this.... how about I go take a nap in the on call room while you sit here and get spit on and called a whore and a stupid b*tch for the third day in a row and then tell me you aren't gonna be a little bit worn out after 3 days and 12 hours of that. Oh and btw good luck getting a break to go to the bathroom or a break to eat your dinner. Sound good to you?

I am thankful that I get to be an advocate for my patients and I am thankful that I have a job that I usually love... a lot. But sometimes.... just sometimes, I think... I know I am your advocate but who is mine? When you go home every day practically in tears from exhaustion and you know you have a month straight of an insane schedule with no time to re-charge.... it is daunting and it makes you wonder how in the heck you are gonna survive another week.

At this point I don't have any good answers...

Did I mention that I hate July?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sometimes you just have to listen...

I was afraid of this... the day I would decide that I just could not run anymore. On Sunday I was supposed to run a half marathon race about 30 minutes from my house. I woke up at 5:30am.... complained about waking up at 5:30am.... called myself crazy and proceeded to get dressed...
drove all the way to the race... missed the exit... took a 10 minute detour half way to the summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains.... not fun.... especially when you woke up at 5:30am and have not eaten or had coffee yet.... still, I get to the race... miraculously find a parking space.... then realize I forgot my trail water bottle that I always run with... and my GU gels... I officially have to run 13 miles on an empty stomach... with no water bottle.... and apparently no music since I ALSO left my headphones at home.

I sat in my car for about 5 minutes... mulling over the frustration I was feeling.... hoping it would pass... all the while staring at the start line arch behind me.... I then look to my left and the man I had parked next to was angrily moving his car because I had apparently parked too close to him (there was at least a foot and a half from my door to his)... as was portrayed by his very angry wife who was sternly staring at me in my rear view mirror... arms crossed... glare and all. 

At that point all I could think was.... nope... not today.

This is not why I run. I don't like this feeling... and if I do this race I think I will hate running in a way that I never have.

So... I went home, grabbed my headphones.... stopped at Starbucks for an egg white, spinach wrap and my favorite latte.... worth every penny... seriously joy in a cup I tell you. 

And then I drove to my sacred place. The place where I first fell in love with running. I went back to my roots.... back to basics. Because I am a trail runner at heart and that is just where I needed to be... the hills... the trees.... the water.... it beckoned and called to me.... and I answered. 

And you know what?

It was the best 5 mile run I've had in a really, really long time.

Friday, July 8, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. I DID IT! Marathon #2 is in the books friends! It was much harder than San Diego in many ways. My time showed it as I was a 8 minutes slower in this race. Can we says hills, hills, and more hills?! Parts of the course we're beautiful though and I loved the cool weather of Seattle.
2. Had a complete and utter melt down around mile 23 of the Seattle marathon and called my friend Tim to inform him that I would NOT be doing anymore marathons. He bet me ten bucks that in a few days or so I'd suck it up and decide to do the final marathon in SF on July 31st. "I feel like you're just intense like that Andi" haha thanks Tim... and he was right btw. I'm still planning on doing the SF marathon. This time I'll be doing some serious hill training before.... that includes a somewhat hilly half marathon race this weekend. Yay for having two marathons under my belt though! Isn't my medal pretty?
3. These past two months have been insane... between marathons and work and life in general I haven't had much time do anything... let alone blog. Today though has been good and I feel like for the first time in a really really long time I am pretty much caught up on stuff. I even spent the day editing Seattle photos... (all of which I love!) I will do a whole other post of them and the trip itself soon. :) sneak peek for now.
4. I have decided that July is officially the worst month in the ICU (at a teaching hospital). Mainly because everyone and their mom is on vacation = we are always short staffed. Also because medical school ends in June and residency starts up in July = folks who were medical students yesterday are now interns taking overnight call in the ICU the next. It's a scary time people... makes a nurse's job a lot more difficult when you deal with doctors who don't know anything but think they know everything. Luckily they aren't all like that but I have already had my fair share of run ins with people gettin' crazy. Post soon to come: How to survive July in a teaching hospital. haha

5. This week Chris had surgery. Somewhat an emergent one too. He's okay thank goodness but he tore the meniscus in his knee and hasn't been able to walk since Sunday. So that means this week has been full of doctor's visits, MRI scans, surgery and recovery time. I have been nurse at home and nurse at work. Truly "on call RN" is so fitting. I love being able to offer help and comfort in that way though. Now its just 3 weeks on crutches and a bit of physical therapy and he should be good as new.

6. Had my annual performance review at work this week and it went really well! Yay for that. My manager wants me to take the charge nurse class this fall and she also wants me to start precepting nursing students. I'm willing to try it... even though I honestly don't think I'd be that good of a teacher. I try to be an encouraging person but I know I am also crazily Type-A and I have a tendency to be a micro-manager/control freak. Don't know how well those two things will go together. I guess stay tuned and we shall find out? haha

7. Happy belated 4th of July to my American readers! I spent it at work again. (dumb dumb here forgot to ask for it off even though it's one of my favorite holidays) Did anyone get to see any great fireworks? Even though I was stuck at work, I was thankful to be serving our veteran's on a day that celebrates our nation's freedom. One of my favorite photos from Seattle... part of the war memorial garden in downtown. 
Incredibly moving.
Have a good weekend friends!! Anyone have anything fun planned?