Thursday, November 15, 2007

Awareness, prayer

A friend of mine who is in school to be an anesthesiologist is now "getting flak" from her professors who, before her acceptance into the program, stated it would be fine for her to decline--on moral grounds--any participation in procedures such as tubal ligations, abortions, etc.

The medical world is a dangerous arena. When you're surrounded by a lopsided environment, you start to walk funny. I notice attitudes, comments, and behaviors that pander to the culture of death almost everyday. On days I do not notice it, I worry that I have not been on guard.

It is so important to hold fast to Truth, especially the basic fundamentals of natural law. One danger is complacency, but even worse, there is a real danger of becoming infected by the culture in which you're immersed.

Since the problem exists perhaps even more blatantly in the scientific community, Colin and I fully appreciate the blessing we've been given in finding a solid, orthodox, actively pro-life parish in our diocese.

Read this article, written by one of the geniuses (literally) who graduated from my alma mater--even more a genius because he is able to unveil the Truth in simple terms, bringing those lopsided images into focus.

And pray.

Pray for our Church leaders; pray for our legislators.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Proposal

or, ...



How My Coffee Got Cold



Between Mass and our parish picnic on Sunday, October 14th, we went to pick up some lemonade for our picnic contribution. We also stopped to buy a coffee for me, due to my slight headache--which Colin always assumes is caffeine withdrawal, for some reason... :)



Upon returning to the church grounds, there was still about a 30-minute wait until the picnic was to begin. Colin suggested we go into the church and say the Rosary. There is an icon of Our Lady of Czestahowa inside (my favorite image of Our Lady, as she is the patroness of Poland under this title) so he had a grand scheme going.



However, having just purchased a coffee, and wanting to enjoy it warm, I declined the idea of going inside the church, and suggested we go to the outdoor statue of the Sacred Heart and do it there on the benches. That way, I could bring my coffee with me.



"The church is the better place to pray," Colin dutifully reminded me. Feeling the beginnings of guilt and self-accusations of heathenism coming on, I acquiesced and asked if we could put my coffee in his car. After I did so and he locked it up, he glanced up and saw the peaceful, quiet, outdoor Sacred Heart Shrine that I'd been referring to, and said, "Oh, yeah! We can just go there. There are probably a lot of people in the church right now, anyway."



"So, can I get my coffee, then?" I asked. He started laughing and shaking his head (while backing away from the car) and so I decided that I was being nudged to give up my coffee while we prayed the Rosary.



We sat on one of the benches and prayed the Luminous Mysteries. It was a beautiful day; we were shaded by overhanging branches that moved softly in the light breeze. There was only the occasional shout in the distance of the parish kids running around on the large church lawn.



After we were finished, Colin started telling me that he had spoken to my Dad a few weeks beforehand, and that both my mother AND my dad had given him their blessing. I responded by asking when and how and where this all took place, and he gave me a few cryptic responses. Then I realized that I was trying to draw information from him that would ruin any potential surprise effect of a proposal in the future. At the same time, I realized that he had brought it up in the first place!



"Why are you telling me all this?" I asked, accusingly.
He smiled and leaned back, saying, "Because I finally got the ring!" I saw then that he was leaning back so that he could put his hand in the front pocket of his pants. My hands went to my mouth and I started tearing up.


"Oh, ...my God!" I said as he pulled his hand out to reveal the ring, so little between his thumb and forefinger.



I didn't cry beyond the first few tears of shock, because he's so funny: As he took my hand and slid the ring on my finger, he remarked, "I hope today is a good day to get engaged!"



I didn't know what to say, except, "Of course it is!" as I gave him a big hug.



We talked for a little while--and then it was time for the picnic.



Since he was pretty hungry, Colin requested that we go to the picnic, and call our parents later. I reluctantly agreed, but told him we still needed to stop by his car:



I needed to grab my coffee!




Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Engaged....



And peacefully happy.

Thank you for your prayers!

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Better Monday

Prayers are answered, and weekends have a way of ironing things out....

When I came into work this morning, I saw that the young man with C.F. that was just re-admitted last week after a long hospital stay was discharged again quickly--over the weekend.

And Jimmy? I went to see him this morning. His eyes were open; he was extubated! He's still physically in the ICU, but only because there are no available beds in the Step-Down Unit. I walked in while his nurse, "Mark" was doing his morning assessment. Mark asked Jimmy, "Are you hurting anywhere?"

Jimmy laughed and said, "I won't be when you let go of my wrist!" Apparently, Mark hit a bruised spot when he was feeling for Jimmy's pulse.
Mark replied what I was thinking, "Wow! It's good to see you smiling, that's for sure!"

*****************************************

And this afternoon, I saw another patient of mine with C.F. that's in the ICU, who's been wasting away because of a failing lung transplant and needs to get into good enough shape for a re-do. He actually was able to get into a sitting position in the chair next to his bed! It was a Max Assist transfer (meaning, he did, at most, 25% of the work and I did the rest) from the bed to the chair, but he did it!

It WAS a good Monday.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Suffering and Courage

"Are you going to--oh my gosh, what's the matter?" Ginger, one of the ICU nurses, interrupted her own question with a look of worried concern.

I'd had my head down as I was looking over my patient's chart. I thought I'd gotten the last of my tears out in the nurse's break room a few minutes earlier. But as I looked over the chart and glanced over into "Jimmy's" room, I couldn't stop more from shooting from my eyes. Jimmy has been my patient for the past month. He's been Ginger's patient since 7 o'clock this morning, when she arrived for work.

Jimmy is barely in his 20's and has cystic fibrosis. He happens to be a really sweet Catholic kid who doesn't show much distress on his face when he's struggling to breathe. "I guess I'm just used to it," he told me once during an exercise walk around the hospital hallways. I always have to ask him directly if he wants to change anything we're doing in physical therapy. If I don't, he doesn't complain.
All the nurses love him. All the hospital visitors from the local parish love him.
But the fact that he's a sweet kid is beside the point.

The point is that his breathing has been getting more labored, and that despite increasing breathing treatments and physical therapy interventions, he's been needing more and more supplemental oxygen over the past few months. But he was getting better. The Pulmonary Team was going to discharge him from the hospital earlier this week, but he opted to stay "until I get my transplant."
His status on the lung transplant list is "active" -- meaning, he's waiting for the phone call that notifies him when matching lungs are available. "Good" lungs are not abundant. Organ donors, even with the same blood type and tissue type, don't always have healthy organs when they pass away. "Dry runs" are the rule, not the exception--a dry run being, when a patient is all prepped and ready in the O.R., only to find out that the long-awaited lungs are "bad."

Last night, a Rapid Response was called to Jimmy's room up on the Pulmonary floor of the hospital. A Rapid Response is a hospital-wide overhead page that calls for immediate medical intervention by a specialized on-call team. Jimmy's oxygen saturation was dropping. That is, there was not a sufficient amount of oxygen being carried through his body by his blood. This sometimes happens to people when the inner walls of the lungs become so congested or fibrotic, that no matter how much oxygen is sent in, there is too much of a barrier between that oxygen and the blood that is trying to pick it up on its way through.

Jimmy ended up being transferred to the ICU, where he was intubated. This means that a tube was sent through his mouth down his airway, to deliver oxygen to his lungs from a ventilator. The ventilator does the work of breathing for him, so that he does not have to use up his energy on an activity that we do without thinking. He won't become exhausted trying to get enough oxygen, and the Respiratory Therapists can monitor how much flow of oxygen he needs. Because people are not naturally designed to have machines "breathe" for them, it's a scary, agitating condition to be in. So people who are intubated are generally also sedated.

When people with cystic fibrosis are intubated, it is a serious event. It is not done lightly. Their lungs are already in sub-optimal health, so the chances of recovering breathing function with their own lungs is slim. It is difficult enough for people with healthy lungs (who need to be intubated temporarily because of other injuries) to wean off the ventilator, nevermind those with diseased lungs. For people like Jimmy, their primary hope is for transplant: for "good" lungs to become available sooner rather than later.

One of the Physical Therapy Technicians paged me while I was sitting in my team's meeting at 8:30 this morning, to tell me that Jimmy was intubated in the ICU. Upon reading the text message on my pager, I turned and whispered to Allison, our Pulmonary Senior Therapist, that I "hate pulmonary" (my current team assignment); then I completely lost control and had to excuse myself to the restroom to let myself cry for several minutes. When I arrived at the ICU 45 minutes later, I stood with clenched teeth and prayers to my guardian angel for strength, while I stood with the medical students, the interns, and the residents, and listened to the Chief Pulmonary resident on rounds give her report of Jimmy's status to her attending physician. I tried to numb my mind to much of what she said, "desatting into the 70's on non-rebreather mask ...tachycardic in the 150's ... PCO2 of 109 ... chest x-ray films ... worse ... hopefully he'll move up on the transplant list ...".
After I clarified with them that they did want us to continue chest PT (manual percussion on the patient's chest and back to help physically shake excess mucous from the walls of the lungs) I retreated to the nurse's break room for another semi-breakdown while I prepared my note for his medical chart.

And then I was standing outside his room, listening to the "click"s and "sigh"s of the ventilator, and hoping he was sedated enough that he wouldn't open his eyes and see my red ones looking back at him.

"Are you okay?" Ginger asked. "What is it?"

I motioned to Jimmy's room.

"Do you know him?" she asked.

"He's been my patient for the past month," I squeaked. "I'm sorry. I guess I'm just not handling this well today."

"We all have days like that," she assured me. "I hope yours gets better."

I thanked her, wrote my note, and left.

Another patient of mine with C.F. just moved to the ICU earlier this week from the floor. He is a staunch Christian and has been refusing to be put on the lung transplant list for years: he's waiting for a miracle. Yesterday he was lying in bed with his eyes closed, an oxygen mask on his face, his heart racing. His wife was reading to him from the New Testament. As I reviewed his medical chart outside his room, I heard her strong, steady voice read the story of the man born blind that Jesus cured on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees summoned his parents to ask if he really had been born blind.
Then I entered the room and reviewed the plan with her for continued chest PT treatment. I know the team is considering intubating him--but since he is not on the transplant list, that would mean he would be intubated ...indefinitely...? I hope he gets his miracle.

Last week, one of the young women with C.F. that I have as a patient experienced the "dry run." I had stopped into her room that morning, had congratulated her on "getting" some lungs, and had promised to pray for her that night as she went down to the O.R. The next morning, she was still on the floor. In that case, it was bad news that she was still on the floor. "The lungs were bad" was all I heard.

This morning, I looked up a patient in the computer, and saw another patient with a similar name listed one row beneath --and this other patient is one that I know: a young man with C.F. that just left the hospital this past week after several weeks' stay and a hard fight back to his prior level of health. I walked by his room this afternoon, saw that he was on the phone, and waved. He smiled and gave me a shrug.
I'm sure he'll be on my schedule tomorrow.

Thankfully, when I opened my email this evening, I received the timely encouragement of a message that Dad sent today to all of his children:

"We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance (produces) character; and character (produces) hope. And hope does not disappoint us." (Rom. 5:2-5)

and

"Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "'I will try again tomorrow.'"

"We all have days like that," Ginger told me today.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hard at Work!

What I look like these days (minus the sitting down part, most of the time!)



Patient quotation of the week (after I hung that patient's Foley bag on the side of his bed so that the catheter wouldn't pull uncomfortably on him):
"Why, yer smarter'n a wood dog!"

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Labor Day Vacation

Apparently, we went to the best beach in the country this past weekend! You need to take an hour-long ferry just to reach the island (after a 5-hour drive!) but the ferry ride is enjoyable. Apparently, on our ride back to the island after Mass on Sunday evening, the people near the front of the ferry (Colin included) were treated to dolphins playing and swimming right along in front of the boat for a few minutes!

It was a lovely weekend, away from the cares and worries of work, hanging out with Colin and our friend Patrick and his parents.

The beach was gorgeous, the sun was shining, and the water was warm.
There was even a short nature trail (about 3/4 of a mile long) that Colin and I spent much of Sunday exploring for birds, bugs, and butterflies!

Click on my Flickr badge at the right for pictures.... As always, Colin's shutterfly picture share (coming soon to family) has much more beautiful images!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Surreal...

...chatting online, late at night, with a friend in Kyrgyzstan, while she enjoys the sunshine of tomorrow.

Weird and wonderful, this day and age's extensive technology!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

So Many Stories...

Question: So why haven't I posted any?

Answer:
Number One,
My roommate and I still don't have internet, and the few times during the week I go to Colin's house (where there IS internet), it's because we plan to eat dinner there (which means I have to organize and then carry a load of ingredients, some cooking dishes, and sometimes some pages of recipes over to his house).

I don't go to his house until I've cooled off from my bikeride home from work and taken a shower. Then the cooking itself takes some time--usually he walks in his door around the time it's ready, between 9 and 9:30pm. After we eat, I generally take a nap on his futon, or check through my blogroll to see what's happening with friends and family members.

When he is done with his nightly "bug patrol" --literally, he goes outside with his flashlight and camera to check out the critters that have gathered around his outdoor lantern, his plants, and his cement wall-- he wakes me up and I am ready to go home. And ready to crash there. Because I have to wake up at 6am and bike to work for 7am.


Number Two,
My stories are probably going to need a lot of background information. There are always stories, everyday, from working with my patients that I think may really be the "you had to be there" or "you have to understand the context" events. ...And because I've spoken the language for the past three years, and now have gradually become comfortable with how things work and what is expected of me, I don't even know how much background information is too much--and how much can just get picked up by the reader along the way.

Some examples of my situational tidbits...
...The really sweet little man in his 70's with the chest tube due to a collapsed lung and a broken leg in a full cast who cannot tolerate "walking" more than 12 feet total with a rolling walker, tells his nurse that he thinks crutches would be better. "I just want to hop around," he tells her. That in itself is kind of funny.
...But then the fact that when his nurse pages me, she and I decide to actually toss him the bone, just because it will motivate him to get up one more time that day--I show up with crutches, try to tell him it takes MORE balance and energy to use them than it takes to use the rolling walker, but he is adamant. So I grab his nurse, and she and I practically have to carry him while he "uses" them for about 6 feet before he decides to give in and "forget these crutches!"
The lengths to which we will go to get people up and moving...


...The man who gets admitted because of "altered mental status" (AMS) who asks me what color I think everything in the room is, asks me if I see the bubbles going up and down the wall, then shows me his hospital bracelet and says it's made of lamb's wool. Then he says that his doctor told him earlier that when the patient sees me, that means he's "passed on." After I try to console him by telling him that he is in the hospital and that we're taking care of him and that he's getting better, I decide that maybe I'm upsetting him and this is how it's being manifested. As I exit the room, the phlebotomist enters, and smirks as she whispers to me, "See you later, angel!"
...The patient's nurse is concerned that the man is starting to talk about more than just colors and bubbles, so she notifies the primary physician. Who fails to understand why talking about death may be of more concern than talking about bubbles....


...Praising people for coughing up sputum is one of the most difficult aspects of my job. Especially now that I'll be rotating to the "pulmonary" sub-team of my "Neuro-Cardio-Pulmonary" team this week, where coughing up sputum is generally a primary goal! I don't mind a lot of things that I thought I would mind. But when that junk comes out--whether I hear it gurgling in the throat or see it shooting out of a tracheostomy--I have to really control myself to avoid visibly cringing.
"Great!" I coo with dramatic enthusiasm. "Better out than in!" or "Keep it up!" or "Nice job!"
Blech.
Almost as bad is asking them to describe the color, thickness, and amount they coughed up when I wasn't there to see it. My imagination is a little too vivid.


...Sometimes it's hard for people to feel comfortable when they hear me say that I'm going to be the one to help them get out of bed. I'm often challenged with skeptical responses: "You?" or "You sure you can handle it by yourself?" or "I think it may take more than one person." It's great to show them that my technique--not my strength--plus whatever they can contribute themselves, is effective for the job at hand. I'm learning how to gain their trust sooner, though, with statements such as "one thing at a time," and "we'll sit at the edge of the bed first and see how you feel," and "we won't do anything until both of us are ready," etc.
One larger patient's husband got a kick out of me helping his wife into the chair a few different times. On one occasion, her nurse paged me because she and another nurse were having a difficult time helping this woman back into bed. So I went back to the room to give the nurses some tips as well as some physical assistance, and was greeted by the patient's husband, "Here comes the little crane for the big load!"

Another patient looked at me in wonderment after I helped him stand a few times near the edge of his bed. He said,"Wow, little lady! You're strong for bein' so small! You must work out or somethin'!"

I try to tell these patients that they do more than they think, that it's my body position and the gait belt I use that makes it possible, ...but it's a fun part of my job, nonetheless.



So these are the kinds of stories that fill my days. I suspect that this at least gives a flavor of the environment I'm in all the time.

When I get internet at my house, I may be able to post them more regularly. That is, on the days that I cook dinner in my own kitchen!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Baggage Delivered!

Having my bag again means, of course, that I have my pictures from the wedding!
The first thing I noticed about Miranda (this is the first time I actually met her) was her big, beautiful smile. It flashed across her face continuously, and brightened everything around her.

Please notice the color of Brian's tie... :)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A post of numbered items...

Happy news:

#1. My car is fixed, the problems being not-so-serious. I know this because the car mechanic paged me at work and when I called him back, he told me what the problems were:
"[amidst car mechanic language]-blah-blah new gas cap blah-blah new plugs blah-blah new wires..." and then he stopped.

So I responded, "All that doesn't sound too serious to me--or am I just very naive?" To which he replied, "No, it's really not serious."

So I said, "Please proceed and fix my car."

Then I paid with my debit card, which was a happy moment, because there is money in my bank account :) :) :)

#2. Because of my set of four wheels, I can now travel the 6 miles to Colin's house, where my computer resides, and update my blog--without having to leave right after dinner in order to bike the 6 miles back to my house before I am completely exhausted!
(Actually, Colin has been making that trek since my car has been out of commission: he's been riding his bike to my place for dinner, then biking the 6 miles home--because he's always going to be in better shape than me, and also because he's just wonderful like that! Either way, my computer has not been accessible to me.)

So now I may give an update of the very recent West Coast Wedding experience I had.
Hereafter, I shall more easily give updates of life as a physical therapist in acute care--there are already, and will always be, stories in that vein!!

But now, for the wedding....

The ceremony took place in a beautiful spot, on a bluff overlooking a bay north of San Francisco within Point Reyes National Seashore. And the reception was fun--it was at a nearby Inn, where they had yummy food and swing-dancing :). I mingled with the best (worst?) of the Harvard / Yale / Berkley / Stanford crunchy people. Please be proud of me, for mingling is not my thing. But I was alone and decided to force myself to be a little more extroverted!
The nice thing about those peeps is that they're always so friendly and sincere. (It's the things that they're sincere about that make them a little wacky; things that are not-so-fundamentally-important to the good of society). It's funny to me how they intellectualize everything and take it all so seriously.... But anyway, I had fun. The best part was the swing dance that I had with Brian. And Portia's in-laws out there, with whom I stayed for the weekend, were exceptionally wonderful to me.
Otherwise, the entire affair might have been called a disaster...
1. The trip began Friday night, flying out of Raleigh, NC. I missed my connecting flight in Atlanta and spent the night in the airport. I can sleep anywhere, but with the airconditioning on and no one around, it was SO COLD! Every once in a while I would wake up shivering, so I'd walk around the airport a while and then find a bench (sometimes the same bench as before) that I thought might be far away from both the vents and the loud overhead televisions. At about 5:30am, when the airport started coming alive again, I got up and treated myself to a cup of Starbucks, partially just so that I could cradle it in my cold hands and press it to my chest!
2. So I got into San Francisco on Saturday morning. (At least I made it in time for the wedding, which was at 2pm!) But by the time I got my baggage and was driven to Portia's in-law's house, I had about 10 minutes before I had to leave to get to the site of the ceremony. (The baggage alone took about 30minutes to collect after I got off the airplane.) So ... no shower, after a full day of work on Friday and an night spend in Atlanta's airport!
***Here, insert Portia's brother-in-law and father-in-law kindly retrieving me from the airport, then her mother-in-law feeding me a sandwich and graciously driving me 40minutes to the wedding, because I "must be so tired," and so that I would be sure not to get lost along the way.
***Also here, insert beautiful wedding afternoon and evening, where I finally met the woman that Brian has been raving about for the past 10 years***
(despite the fact that their wedding website and invitation said "casual" since it was in the park, and I was almost the only woman there who was not in a cute dress... Oh, well. Brian didn't seem to care!)
3. The morning after the wedding, beginning at about 4:30am, I felt sick to my stomach. "Crazy," I thought. "I had 3 glasses of wine all night. Maybe I'm just super-dehydrated because of the airplane trip and everything." But after emptying said stomach's contents into the toilet bowl several times, my body continued to try to empty that-which-was-not-there until about 7:30am.
***Here, insert Portia's compassionate mother-in-law giving me a homeopathic remedy for my sickness, then going out early that Sunday morning to buy cans of gingerale and a box of saltines.***
***Also here, insert that I recovered, for the most part, by about 8:45am, so Portia's mother-in-law said that it was probably food poisoning. So much for "yummy food."...I hope more of the wedding party didn't get sick!
4. My already late-night connecting flight back to Raleigh from Atlanta was delayed, so that Colin had to come to the airport to pick me up at 1am instead of at midnight, late between Sunday and Monday!
5. Half of the delayed flight's passengers' baggage was not there when we arrived in Raleigh; the line into the Delta customer service closet was so long, it wound around the baggage claim belt. When I got to the front of the line, all they needed was my address, phone number, and bag tag number so that they could gie me a "file reference number." They said my bag would be delievered the next day. ...I arrived home around 3am.
6. It's now Wednesday, and I still do not have my bag. Mom is praying to St. Anthony (and so am I!) but it might be gone for a while... meaning, "forever"...
7. May I add that my bag is really small, and the only reason I didn't carry it on the plane was because I didn't have any plastic baggies to accommodate the "liquids" policy they have now. --I almost carried it on anyway, especially after waiting 30minutes in San Francisco for said bag to appear on the baggage belt on Saturday morning!!
But guess what I told Portia Sunday morning over the phone? "I don't want to risk carrying it on without any plastic baggies, and sending it through security, hoping they don't open my bag (something she suggested) because I don't want to risk having all of my make-up confiscated." Looks like a lot more than that is "confiscated" now!
Believe it or not, despite all of these mini-"adventures," it was worth the trip!
So that's my most recent story of what's happening here. The only other thing that I'm excited about these days is that I've been picking up evening shifts... Where I don't do anything except remain in the hospital building so that there's a therapist "supervisor" here while our techs do some evening treatments! I get comp time for this--which is time accrued for later use, ...meaning that I can take eventually take time from that bank to have some days off.
I literally sit at work, writing emails and taking care of business. (Last night I signed up for dental and vision benefits, then I ordered a thank-you gift for Portia's in-laws...). And I get comp time for doing this. I will never understand why my colleagues think I'm burning myself out, volunteering to fill the evening shift holes! They look at me with concern--"are you okay?"
I suppose I'd feel different if Colin didn't work until 9pm anyway. I certainly wouldn't like to do it if I had a family waiting at home for me. But for now, ...this is leisure compared to PT school!!

...Too bad Blogger is not one of the hospital-approved internet sites!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Q & A

Q: What do you do when one of your best friends from high school is getting married in California during a transitional time in your life when you have no cash, no time off, and cannot even afford to go to cousins' weddings on the same (East) coast that you're living on?

A: All things being equal, you sadly check the "regretfully declines" box and put the reply card in the mail, then exchange emails with said friend, informing him of your disappointing rsvp that is on the way.


Q: So what happens when that same friend sends an email back, offering what he calls a Friend Fellowship, whereby his parents have offered to pay for your airline ticket, since he really wants you at his wedding, and furthermore, the ticket will be from Friday night to Sunday afternoon so that you don't have to miss work?

A: All things being equal, you call your sister in California to see whether her extended family may be able to assist with the rest of the pragmatic logisticals--transport, accommodations, etc--and then, when assured of your family "in"-ness, you accept the generous offer, realizing that at this point, there's really no other choice.


In other words, I'm headed to northern Cali the weekend of July 28th to attend Brian's wedding.
It truly marvels me how God keeps allowing this rare friendship to continue.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Time to be Tagged!

Mrs. Bear has tagged me for a fun little meme. And since I don't have to be studying with every spare minute anymore (I love this!) here we go!

A picture of now, between past and future.


1. a. Describe your outfit. Hand-me-down (from my younger sister Alvie) orange and white striped blouse with orange embroidered flowers along the front buttons, TAC grab-box khaki shorts that still fit in summertime, black and orange teevas, orangy-brown bead earrings.

b. What associations does the main color evoke? Orange. Since it's kind of a light peachy orange, and the fabric is also really light, this orange says cool and breezy.

c. Is there a memory associated with that outfit (or part of
it)?
I bought these teevas right before my memorable first-and-last annual Utah river trip with EC. They have seen plenty of wear, but still are so sturdy and super-comfortable. The shorts have been worn for many summer hikes since I grabbed them in May of 2001. And the shirt just reminds me of my sister everytime I put it on!

2. a. Are you listening to music? Yes. I'm at Colin's lab (because he has about an hour of work to do) and I put the Celtic station on his computer's yahoo "launchcast" radio.

b. Was this intentional? I intentionally put on music because I knew I didn't have to study, and it doesn't bother him over where he's doing his experiments. I like the Celtic station--it's everything from calming music to Irish pop, and this is a unique opportunity to hear things I can't hear on the local radio.

c. What does the music make you remember?
It doesn't necessarily make me remember anything, until a question like this makes me think about it, then it becomes a stream of consciousness memory. I suppose the classical Celtic music with its wind instrumentals makes me think of rolling hills, which I see whenever I go on cross-country road trips, which makes me remember the green summer I spent in Kentucky, which makes me think of my former Clinical Instructor who just had a baby in March, which makes me remember that I have a lot of phone calls and letters to catch up on now, including that patient up in Massachusetts, and the Smilllies up there--oh, shoot I never sent Tess that peanut butter cookie recipe....etc.

3. a. Describe the objects within arm's reach. Hmmm... I'm at Colin's desk, so ...lots of scientific papers. For example, here is an excerpt from a paragraph I just looked down and started reading: "For analysis of meianocyte differentiation, dorsal neural plate explants were isolated from somite stage 10 quail embryos as described for equivalent chick explants."
huuuhhh??
Also, my laptop is right here; I brought it in order to post pictures from it online. Then my sunglasses, car keys, and cell phone, a few half-full water bottles, scissors, batteries, a stapler, cell diagrams taped to the wall above the desk, a box of envelopes, a contact lens case (Colin puts in his contacts whenever he goes over to the gym to play basketball), and speakers that are emitting Celtic sounds!

b. Choose one object and tell where you acquired it. My laptop was issued to me when I started PT school, and I effectively "bought" it by completing the program, so now I get to keep it! IF I had failed out or dropped out, I would have been required to buy it with real money. So there was another incentive to work hard and finish my degree!

c. On the whole, are the objects new (memory blanks) or old (memory filled)? Since most of these objects are not mine, and since I cannot understand most of what surrounds me right now (there are tons of papers piled up) then I would have to conclude that they are definitely memory (and mind!) blanks.

4. a. What room are you in? I am in the cubby where Colin's desk is, in Dr. Majesky's Lab, on the eighth floor of the MBRB (Medical BioResearch Building) on the campus of UNC.

b. To what extent is it yours? Not at all. And no, thank you!

c. What kind of memories will you have in the future of this room? Someday I hope to be in this cubby, helping Colin pack up all of his belongings, because he will be graduated and moving on to greater things! Until then, I will continue to drop in while everyone is working, occasionally sharing in their ice-cream breaks or non-work related conversations. He works with some of the sweetest people--I would never have thought that some of these Asian women were researchers; they're so kind and quick to smile. Not at all the high-powered, stressed, super-concentrated atmosphere I pictured.

4. What were you doing before starting this post, and what would you like to do next? I was updating my blog and Flickr account with some recent pictures before I started this post. Next, I will change my clothes so that I'm wearing a long skirt, and Colin and I will head off to Sunday (evening) Mass.

So now I will tag Portia (because I got to her before Nutmeg!), EC (since I still haven't been able to connect to her in the past month or so!), and Alvie (because maybe--just maybe--this will get a new post out of her?)

At home in NC

This past week, I've been working on starting a new job, as well as moving into a new house:

Heather and I will be renting the main part of the house. Below us, through that small door to the far right of the driveway, there is a small single apartment, which will be occupied by another young woman, a dental student. She hasn't moved in yet, or even seen the place, but I'm sure things will work out just fine. Dental school is tough--she probably won't be making a lot of noise!!
Through the other door on the left side of the driveway is the basement, with a washer, dryer, and plenty of storage space. My bedroom is directly above the driveway.
One thing I love about this house--aside from the quiet and safety of the neighborhood--is all of the natural light that comes in during the day.

Below is a picture of the living room that faces the back of the house. You can only see about half of it in this shot, but the windows continue along the entire back wall there.


And here is my room, small but with a lot of natural light, and surrounded by trees filled with birds that wake me up at dawn! There's also a nice breeze that gets going in there, since the windows slide open to make a whole vertical half of them open.

The hospital is about a 3-mile bike ride which is mostly uphill (which means that it's mostly downhill after a long day of work!). And Colin lives about 3 miles from the hospital in the opposite direction, so we're about 6 miles apart now. That works out okay: he can make the downhill ride to my place for dinner after work, and my bike rack has become a permanent fixture on my car so that I can then give him a ride home later on.

I get my own desk at work, which I find very exciting! It's also a lot of fun to introduce myself to people as a physical therapist. Wow. Crazy.

And so life in the real world begins.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Passed!

Great news!!

Yesterday I talked to the woman from Human Resources at the hospital, and she told me that the NC Board of Physical Therapy Examiners updates their website every morning at 1am. I have been checking that website since Wednesday, entering my last name to see whether I'm listed among the licensed physical therapists in the state. After the HR lady gave me that hint, I decided to stay close to the internet last night. I awoke around 2:30am, and switched on my computer as I stumbled to the restroom.
When I sat down in front of it five minutes later, I was so nervous to put my name in. I told myself that not everyone finds out in 3 days. If my name's not there, that doesn't necessarily mean that I failed.

...But my name was there! I passed the exam! I'm a licensed physical therapist in the state of North Carolina! And that means I start work on Monday!

:)

In a few days, I will receive a letter from the Board that gives me my score. But to tell the truth, I don't care about the score. All I care about is that I got a score high enough to get my license.

I know that I had the help of many prayers both in the days before and on the day of the exam. I am grateful for all of them. Thank you so much. I really felt the grace of all those prayers; I could not have done it without your support.

Even though I won't be spending July 4th at an 18th floor balcony party in Crystal City overlooking the nation's capitol, my prayers have been answered.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Exam Day

Off I go to my exam...

...with plenty of prayers behind me, I know! I am very grateful for all of them.
Now all I can do is my best.

This was a refreshing start to my day, after the daily readings: a beautiful tribute to Saint Josemaria Escriva, founder of the Opus Dei movement.


The first few quotations are particularly enlightening.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Living Faith

Go listen to this talk by Fr. Newman about Evangelical Catholicism, linked by my very good friends here. It is a reminder that our call to holiness is really about an individual relationship with God--necessarily linked to, but not solely confined to, our weekly (or daily) encounters with Him in the sacraments. Very simply explained and easy to listen to, even if you don't have time for the entire thing; it's very good.

I'm sure there are misunderstandings and legalities that most cradle Catholics, especially, have had to face in their personal journey at one time or another. This past weekend, I was telling stories about going to Confession as a child, every Saturday afternoon.
I dreaded Saturday afternoons, but felt that this was the way I was going to grow in holiness. During the week as I remembered my sins, I would write them down in a pocket notebook--calling it my "sin list." That way, I would be sure not to forget anything when I arrived at Confession! The priest was a very holy man, but was even more scrupulous than I was, and did not make those encounters particularly easy for me. Every week, my penance was the same: a set of mysteries of the Rosary. It got to the point where I would go early and start the Rosary beforehand, just to save time later!

"Girls I know like you," Colin's dad told me, "are now Protestants."

He has a point. Because the Church contains the fullness of Truth, there is so much to cover; it cannot all be taught at once. The essentials are taught first, which is good. Children need the basics first. Different emphasis is made about different aspects at different stages of life. Understood. But I think that part of the problem that some cradle Catholics have is that no one taught them beyond the essentials. And it is necessary to obtain more depth.
Hence, Fr. Newman's observation that ex-Catholic Protestants say they left because they never "met Jesus."

I know that my parents' early emphasis of a personal relationship with Christ, through His mother, was a crucial aspect of my consistent participation in my Faith growing up. They encouraged me to nurture a personal prayer life. I was provided with instruction on how to start, and then how to develop that.
But of course this makes sense, if you think about it--if the sacraments do not translate into something personal that I can keep within me, then what's the point?

I remember a spiritually difficult time during my junior and senior years of college, when I was studying St. Thomas and learning more about the divine nature of God. The difficulty was not about belief in God, or in His Church. But it was then that I had the most trouble connecting the God of Creation with the God in my heart, and understanding that He was the same Being. Between Theology classes, when I would go to daily Mass, I would almost have to "put aside" my newfound knowledge of an unchanging, unaffected, About-Which-Nothing-Can-Be-Attributed eternal Being, for the loving, expressive, and personal God I met in prayer. It took me a while to really connect the two identities with one another. I still don't know if the full connection has been made.

But here is an article that reminds us how essential it is to really keep that connection intact. It is a short read: Fr. Paul Scalia shows how the gospel story of the woman who touched Jesus' cloak illustrates the difference between encountering God accidentally and encountering God on purpose, or with faith.
This is now the challenge of those who are beyond the crisis of whether to keep the Faith. Now the challenge is to keep the Faith alive. To remember, Sunday after Sunday, the gravity of what I am experiencing, the reality of what is going on. I know I, personally, have been guilty of receiving Communion "accidentally," or with casual complacency. Ironically, it is even more tempting to do so when I get into the habit of going to Mass daily, because the habit of it makes it harder to remember the awesome mystery of the Eucharist.

But this is the challenge: receive the sacraments with purpose and reverence, and then cultivate the life of Christ in me by meeting Him daily on a personal level.

And I suppose that the word for that these days is Evangelical Catholicism.

Monday, June 18, 2007

"No Cooking"

This is an instruction from Doodle for this last week before my licensure exam.

"You just have to buckle down and study, study, study this week," he told me--even reminding me on the way home in the car that it was a perfect time to do some of my reading!

And as he gave me a hug last night before I left his house to drive home, he added, "And no cooking. You've cooked for the past how many months; I am more than capable of cooking for a week. Just concentrate on passing that exam."

I have the best boyfriend ever.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Trips North

Starting to feel left out of the "traveling north" excitement over at the Nuthouse.
Plus, the United States Postal Service doesn't ship liquor, even for Father's Day.

"I guess you'll just have to deliver the scotch personally," I chirped to Colin, whilst he attempted to brainstorm about what ELSE he might POSSIBLY get for his Dad.
"Hey, wait a minute..." I continued. "Why don't we? Let's just go! We did it over Easter--let's leave on Friday after you get out of work, and come back Sunday evening! It'll be great!"

After some more convincing arguments about how practical this plan is, what a fantastic idea it is, and that I can study at his parents' house with same amount of rigor as in Chapel Hill, he agreed.

The plan was to surprise his dad, but we think that plan is already ruined:
"Come on up!" his mom [practically shouted, according to Colin] into the phone, with her signature exuberance. "But your father is sitting right here, and I think he can hear you," she laughed.

Personally, I believe he would have heard her, even if he was on the other side of the house! His hearing is incredible.

It will be a good time, surprise or no.

Now I've got to go out and find some Lagavulin!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What will Posterity think?

This is going to look interesting in the history books, years down the road.
Hmmm... What will be the possible explanations given, for why 21st century America didn't resist the conquest of radical Islamists?

Possibly... (depending who's teaching the history at that point)--

--Deep down in the hearts of all Americans was the knowledge that Islam was the answer to the grievous corruption rampant in their country.


Or take your pick of these...

--They had so much time for leisure, they were too stoned to know the seriousness of what was going on.

--Politicians were more concerned with looking like they cared about everyone else's opinions, that they didn't have time to think about the common good.

--No one wanted to take responsibility for being "prejudiced" against things they themselves don't believe.

--Alexis de Tocqueville predicted: in a democratic state, the minority voice eventually cries out louder than the majority voice, as the quest for equality off-balances itself.

--Catch phrases such as "open dialogue" and "freedom of religion" shut up anyone attempting to sound the warning calls.

--Denial is easier in a relativistic society, "If I don't interfere with them, they won't interfere with me."


God save us from ourselves.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Dreams

Daydreams and memories . . .

Wouldn't it be great to go back, someday?

Why is it...

...that I cannot, for the life of me, study at home?

Today is my 3rd or 4th attempt, and it's not working. Has anyone else experienced this problem?

God forbid I ever try to work from home: nothing will ever get done! There are just too many other distractions: dishes in the sink, clutter in my room, recipes that need to be found for dinner, meat that needs to be thawed, blogs that need to be checked ...things that are low priority--but are high demand--whenever I stay home.
I like to think it's my natural "nesting" tendencies (rather than my selfish "lazy" tendencies) that keep me from my primary mission right now. But that is highly improbable.

Whatever it is, I must cut it off and pluck it out, as it were (Mark 9:43-47), and focus on my present calling: pass my boards. pass my boards. pass my boards.

I'm leaving now....

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Test Scheduled!

After a month and a half of waiting, waiting, waiting, I finally have my test scheduled:

Tuesday June 26th at 12:30pm

The exam lasts about 5 hours, so if you pray for me at just about anytime that day, I will be in there. Don't worry, I will remind everyone when the time gets closer (probably even AS the time gets closer!!)
Please pray. I don't know that I'll ever "feel" ready for it. But God's taken me through this far, so I'm trusting that He'll help me finish it off now! I'm taking another practice test tomorrow....




S0 I'm off to study some more!



(thanks to Portia, for the cute cartoon idea)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Reggae, anyone?

Who would've thunk?

A Catholic boy raised in Ireland and Germany, whose father is an Army Ranger, whose mother still swims competitively, who is repulsed by the idea of tatoos and body piercings, who loves both nature--especially birds--and heart research, ...

...has been introducing me to reggae music. That's right. I was surprised at first. But apparently, back in the '60s, his Army Ranger dad went to James Brown concerts where he and his friends were the only white guys there. His dad really appreciates any music with soul and rhythm. And although Colin can't carry a tune, he also has a very keen sense of rhythm. His defense for reggae music is similar to my defense for country music--for the most part, the music carries a good message, is family-oriented, and isn't afraid to talk about God. I never realized this before I started listening to his music. And, of course, there are the exceptions to these rules--songs that end up making it big on the charts--just like in country or any other genre of music.

Of course, the huge theological difference between country and reggae is that "God" to the reggae singers is the Rastifarian "Jah"--who is not the same as the Christian God.

But while listening, I have come up with another difference between these two types of music:

Country music - takes the goodness of the family for granted, identifying with it and glorying in it through stories and love songs.
while
Reggae music - realizes the need for family and God, and so promotes that realization to convince listeners that they won't fill that need somewhere else.


As a result, there can be a lot of gang and slang -talk in reggae music. The target audience is different.

Never thought I'd be in that audience... but tonight, Colin is treating me to a reggae concert in Raleigh! He's even supplying the earplugs.

It's fun to dance to, anyway!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

8 Facts Meme

I have been unabashedly tagged by my solitary older sister, whom I have been conditioned to obey with halcyon obeisance from the earliest days of my felicitous youth.

So here we go:

“For this meme, each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.”

1. I don't read the news. Nor do I listen to it on the radio. Nor do I watch it on television, except for rare occasions when I happen to be waiting at Firestone for an oil change or something. How do I know what's going on, you ask? Well, I don't, generally speaking. Until other people tell me. Or until I read / hear mention of something and decide to go look it up.

2. I sleep anywhere, and deeply. The funniest place I've fallen asleep was on a jeepney. And it's a good thing I sleep deeply, because according to Colin, the thunderstorm that startled me out of sleep once or twice last night was so close, that he reported hearing the electricity "return to the sky" with a crackle after every flash. He also said that the thunder and lightning occurred simultaneously--at least at his house. I would have freaked out if I had been awake for that!

3. I just bought a secondhand 10-speed bike for $40; it is very old, but it's blue and rides smoothly and I'm determined not to let it get stolen like my awesome $300 Trek hybrid did a few months ago.

4. I have 4 sisters, but I also have about 6 other girlfriends in my life whom I think of and turn to as sisters. And they're all over the country--soon to be all over the world. I believe these sister and sister-like relationships have contributed to my spiritual growth, my sense of well-being, and my understanding of what real romance is.

5. I am a physical therapist. Wait. Did I just say that? I am a physical therapist.
I know you all know that one by now, but I like saying it. Pretty awesome.

6. I'd rather be in the mountains than at the beach. Yep--give me a hiking trail, a scrambling mound, an alpine lake, or a ski slope any day. This has much to do with not liking sand sticking to me, as well as the feeling of adrenalin-inducing terror immediately prior to cresting the monster-waves. I enjoy the beach, but I enjoy the mountains more.

7. I enjoy experimenting with different kinds of sun tea. My latest favorite is Twinings Herbal Revive. I noticed it on the shelf at the store because the box is purple. But the tea itself has black currants, ginseng, and Tahitian vanilla. It's a yummy cold tea!

8. Counted cross-stitch is one of my favorite creative hobbies that I cannot wait to return to when I settle into my job!

And to tag...
Hmmm... I don't think I KNOW 8 people to tag for this one....


The meme stops here.

Thoughts about the Internet

I have been joking with friends recently, about how I get everything I have from the internet:
My current sublet, my next living situation, including my soon-to-be-roommate, my bed, my bike, ...heck, even my boyfriend!
Recently I've become more aware of how much time I spend online:
~checking email
~paying bills
~reading my sisters' blogs (and usually at least one of their links!)
~reading articles
~browsing sales (we'll need furniture in our new place, for one)
~finding all sorts of information, whether it be where the nearest Goodwill donation center is, or whether a mosquito-catcher..."actually, it's called a Crane Fly, and it doesn't eat mosquitoes, or even bite," Colin says ...ahem, whether it eats mosquitoes or bites (yes, I need to read it myself!), or what kind of government Guyana has.

I must say that the internet is to me what cable television is to many of my friends. I would have a very difficult time giving it up.
And yet, I don't think that I would really miss that much, objectively speaking.
So I'm starting to make an effort to cut back. And the first step I've taken is to leave my computer at home. It may sound funny, but my computer has tended to travel with me--a habit enforced by continuous schoolwork over the past three years. Recently, though, I find studying for my boards much more productive without the internet at my fingertips.

There is something impersonal about the internet. It's like a protective--or even a defensive--screen that doesn't allow full personal disclosure. A mask is automatically in place unless there's already an intimacy or understanding between people. Interestingly, because of this mask, people feel freer to say things online that they may not say in person. They can be less socially reserved because they don't feel as intimidated by a screen as they might by an actual human face or voice. The danger of this, of course, is that people make up fantastic images of themselves to portray to the world, and become addicted to the expression of that image. Just take a look at MySpace and the lives that people live through those pages. It's enough to make you wonder whether they live on the same planet as the rest of us. (You don't really have to look there--it might not be the best use of your time, actually).
Colin and I both felt the presence of this "mask" when we first made contact last year, and we were both impatient to remove it to see whether there was something real that existed between us. We did our best to peel it away through our emails, letters, and phone calls, but ultimately, the emails we exchanged after knowing one another personally automatically had more meaning than previous exchanges. Although the internet gave us the opportunity to find one another, we both saw it as an early stepping stone to move beyond as soon as possible.

Now I am going to say that this mask, the mask that can encourage false confidence and tempt people to personal fiction, can also facilitate good things--like the rekindling of friendships.
Last night, I re-connected with an old friend who happened to be online when I was. This girl is someone I met through college, even though she didn't attend my college. She was a friend of a friend, who I somehow became close to in the course of one night when she stayed in my dorm room during a visit to see him. Ironically, he and I don't keep in touch--and she doesn't keep in touch with him, either! But over the years, she and I have connected and re-connected and have been able to pick up talking at any time. The funny thing is, I recently scanned through my phone contacts and saw her number, paused, and then continued through without calling. It's been so long--what would I say--it'd be weird to call out of the blue--this may not even be her number anymore--but I'm not going to erase it--
Last night we caught up via instant messenger, to some extent, but we also resolved that we would talk soon on the phone. Online communication gave us an easy avenue for getting back in touch with one another.

Maybe it's just me, but I propose that the internet and its mask can be used to casually reconnect in order to revive meaningful friendships.

And trust me, I'm not against connecting online in order to begin meaningful relationships, either! God can work through any medium.

There just has to be an awareness of the mask, both the mask that shields my face and the mask that shields the face on the other side.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Days of Rest

Saturday night, I got together with a few of the lovely women I worked with on this last clinical. Pictured here is my former clinical instructor (CI), getting a kick out of Kari's poodle, Hugo. Kari is an OT, originally from New Mexico.
It was so good to spend some down time with them. The last time I saw them was the week before graduation, at work. So this was great. They encouraged me in my study efforts for the boards, which was helpful.

Sunday was going to be a full day off(!) for both Colin and me; so I planned out plenty of things for us to go do outside--from visiting the city flowerbed gardens to renting canoe at the marina to swimming at the lake.
And, of course, the best-laid plans of mice and men....

We both got up late yesterday. It probably had a lot to do with
1. Colin getting to bed late after coming back from a conference in Virginia
2. Me not used to getting up with my alarm these days, and even if I had awakened,
3. Colin's phone is temporarily disconnected, due to an "auto-pay" disfunction, so I couldn't have called him to wake him up.
4. It was dark outside, even at 10am, because
5. It was raining cats and dogs all night, and still drizzling most of the day.

I suppose some extra sleep isn't the worst way to spend some of your designated "day of rest." But that meant we did not make the hour-long drive to go to this parish we finally found (I just registered last week). Instead, we went locally ...then went out to breakfast ...then went to Dick's and bought me a tennis racket ...then went to collect treasures at Home Depot ...then went back to Colin's house where:

There was much rejoicing, as this plant was on sale, and it also happens to attract tree frogs, which are some of Colin's favorite creatures (besides geckos and skinks and salamanders and birds and snakes and moths and spiders and ferrets and dogs and cats and hippopotamuses...)



It's only about 5:30pm here! We're not used to it getting dark until around 8:30pm or so. It was a funny day....
Hurray! One down! And you can sort-of see the butterfly bush in front of Colin's left knee that I am going to inherit, since he says it will be happier at my place with more sun... :)

To finish off our Day of Rest, we ordered some Hawaiian pizza, drank some Colorado-brewed beer, and watched Dream Girls.

Today I'm taking my car to the Saturn dealership, since it collected water in the backseat and trunk during the rainstorm. This is not the first time it's happened in the trunk, but it IS the first time it happened in the backseat. I read online that Saturns with sunroofs tend to have this problem. I hope to get it fixed in order to prepare it for the wet climate of North Carolina. The season of humidity has only begun--and I don't need a moldy car!

Wish me luck, 'cause then it's back to the grindstone...!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Distractions from Studying

While I should be studying for my Boards, I "happened" upon this report from the Onion; read it for an ironic--although somewhat irreverent--chuckle. Every once in a while I remember that The Onion exists, and I make a visit to allow myself a break from serious news. No, I'm not an escapist!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Meant to share these a while ago...


Over Easter, Colin and I went back to St. Patrick's Church in D.C. where we first met over Thanksgiving.
It was neat to be there with him again, remembering that day to each other from our individual perspectives, and appreciating the beauty of the church again, this time completely at ease in each others' company.
I remember that Friday in November, standing next to him at Mass, marveling at the likelihood that I would look back someday and smile at how unfamiliar and shy I felt with him right then.
Funny how little time it took....


Just to illustrate the point, I would've never allowed myself to look this the first day I met him!

Pray for our Priests

We have always been encouraged to pray for priests, who are mortal men answering a divine call. They carry heavy responsibilities, as well as high expectations from a world that at the same time, generally despises what they stand for and espouse.
Recently, I have become more in tune with the need to pray for these men. The parish priest here in Chapel Hill consistently concludes Confession with, "And please pray for this sinner, too."
While visiting Colin's parents in D.C. over Easter, the priest who heard my confession there on Holy Saturday specifically asked for prayers. And I was again reminded by an email that my spiritual father in Connecticut sent yesterday. We have been phoning and emailing back and forth, and I had recently sent him an extensive email citing all the possible ways that we could coordinate his visit to Charlotte in July with Colin and my work schedules. I had then ended my message with a promise of prayers and an eagerness to see him. His reply was one line, and its simplicity struck me:
"Many thanks, [Sephora], especially for the prayers. God will provide."(emphasis mine)

Colin and I have recently added this simple prayer to our evening prayers--although this is from a tiny pocket-sized prayer book, and I believe it is an abridged version of a more extensive prayer. It is just one of many possible prayers, but it is a reminder of what a gift our priests are, and how much they depend on our spiritual support for their strength.

O Jesus, I pray for your faithful and fervent priests; for your unfaithful and tepid priests; for your priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields; for your tempted priests; for your lonely and desolate priests; for your young priests; for your dying priests; for the souls of your priests in purgatory. But above all, I commend to you the priests dearest to me, the priest who baptized me, the priests who have absolved me from my sins, the priests at whose Masses I have assisted and who have offered me your Body and Blood in Holy Communion, the priests who have taught and instructed me or helped and encouraged me, and the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way.
O Jesus, keep them all close to your Heart, and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity. Amen.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Lease signed!

Today I met my roommate for the next year or so. Her name is Heather, she just graduated from nursing school, she'll be working at the hospital where I'll be working, and she's really sweet. We both liked the places we looked at, for the same reasons; so our tastes are similar. Plus, she really likes coffee and enjoys breakfast food--so we're going to get along GREAT!

We finally decided--after much deliberation, phone calls with further questions, and pro/con list-making on a napkin over lunch!--on a cute little 3-bedroom house (yes, we are encouraging visitors--family and friends a-HEM!) situated about 3 miles north of the hospital. That puts me a full 6 miles away from Colin--which, after getting used to the mere 2 and 1/2 mile bike ride, is somewhat significant! But the extra exercise, or five minutes in the car, will be worth it! Boo, hoo, I know! I'm so blest, and I am really very grateful for my state in life right now. To tell the truth, I couldn't ask for more.

The house has two lovely great-rooms; one with a fireplace, and one with 3 big windows along one wall that look out over the back garden. There is plenty of natural light, as well as light fixtures. It is nice and cool in the house, even without the A/C on, because it was originally made of cement blocks, and later covered over with dry wall, etc.
The older couple who is renting it to us is so sweet. When we wanted to go back today to take measurements of the bedrooms (for Heather's furniture) the wife told us over the phone where the spare key was, so that we could let ourselves in! Then when I called back later to say that we'd like to rent the place, the husband got on the other line and gave me directions to their house to sign the lease! So cute.

I'm so excited. Pictures in a few weeks!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Requesting prayers...

At 2pm: Colin has his committee meeting, where he presents all of his current data to his board members, answers their questions, and receives feedback and "ideas" about his dissertation. His advisor and one of his board members are here at UNC and so they will attend in person, but two of the board members are back at his school in Houston. So a video conference to Houston has to be set up--also his responsibility today.

Apparently, not all faculty are as nurturing and supportive as mine have been. From what Colin tells me, it sounds as though professors of science make it a point to grill their graduate students as hard as they can to make sure they know what they're talking about.

Colin has been working on this presentation for several weeks now. We spent this past "holiday weekend" in his lab building--him at his desk working on his "figures," which is what they call confocal microscope images--and me a few floors below, studying for my boards.

After today, if all goes well, plenty of stress will be lifted from his shoulders. Of course, then he'll start working full-force on a "first author" paper which his advisor would like turned in by the end of July to be published. I never realized that the order of authors' names in scientific journal articles matter.
The first author listed in a scientific journal article is the one primarily responsible for the data collection, analysis, and writing of the paper. The last author is the Primary Investigator, or PI, in the lab where the data is collected and analyzed (in this case, Colin's advisor). This is the person who decides what research is being done, who consents to, changes, or rejects ideas of everyone working in the lab, and who ultimately has to answer to the NIH about what goes on in the lab.
The authors in between the first and last authors are other people working in the lab--also under the PI--who indirectly contribute by the work that they all do as a team, but do not necessarily contribute specifically to the writing of that paper.
Interesting....

Please keep him in your prayers today.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Random Memory...

My lease is up on June 30th. After that, I will be living with a young woman who was also hired at UNC hospital, having just graduated from nursing school. We will be looking at different places on Wednesday, and it's my job--since I'm already in the area--to set up appointments at different places to investigate.
While searching for housing possibilities, thoughts have been coming to me regarding single-bathroom homes. There are plenty of 2- and 3-BR homes up for rent now that each have one full bathroom. That's well and good for a family, I always think, but my roommate and I would each like our own bathroom. And although this is more her preference than mine, I don't mind being responsible only for my own bathroom's cleaniness. One thing that makes my skin crawl is an icky bathroom....

So during these musings and hunts for 2-BR, 2-Bath rentals, a random memory came to mind, of a framed embroidered poem in my grandparents' bathroom, which I remember staring at as a child:

WHO WAITS OUTSIDE THE DOOR
ONE MAY NEVER KNOW
SO TARRY NOT MY FRIEND
HE TOO MAY HAVE TO GO

Not fully versed in all English vocabulary at "that" age (whatever age it was!), and having no punctuation to guide me, I remember time after time, reading and re-reading that wall hanging, trying to decipher what it meant.

My primary difficulty, given the names of all of my father's siblings, was figuring out who the heck Tarry was.... and after that, why he was "not my friend"...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Happy Day!

Please congratulate this beautiful sister of mine and her DH on their 11th anniversary!

...and...

Please pray for this lovely friend, her husband, and their little baby girl who is coming into the world today!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Purpley purpled purpleness

What Your Favorite Color Purple Says About You:

Intuitive --- Seeking --- Creative
Kind --- Self-Sacrificing --- Growth Oriented
Strong --- Very Wise --- Rare


I never knew my favorite color was so meaningful!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

File under...

Classic Quotes:

While watching Sweet Home Alabama:

Colin: "Do you hear that warbling vireo in the background?"

Yes, the movie was my choice, and I did sort of coerce my boyfriend into watching it with me, but still.... he was DEAD SERIOUS.

Gotta love 'im.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Need I say more...?

Here I am, pictured with the two primary players who made it happen, thanks be to God!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Graduation: May 12th

"I stood on faith and the corner of ambition
I came here to sink or swim..."
~Alison Krauss, Broadway


In three days, I will graduate from my program and receive my degree, DPT:
Doctor of Physical Therapy

These past three years have led me down several paths and back again, and I am so grateful for all of the experiences, but also that it's all almost over.
It's funny how I seem to have been waiting, all my life, for life to really "begin." Meanwhile, it's racing by. I remember one point last spring when I really understood how important it is to live in the present. This is life, right now, with all of its uncertainty, expectancy, and adventure.

One event will not change the overall uncertainty of life; it will only serve as yet another stepping stone in the crossing to eternity.
This is true for graduation from my doctoral program, and it will continue to be true as other major events of life come along: my wedding day... the birth of my first child... my husband's new job... the purchase of a house... my final student loan payment... my children's graduations... retirement...

So I am determined to realize the present, live it to the fullest, and be grateful for all of my many blessings.

~Which means, this weekend is one of great rejoicing!~

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Funny Hospital Story

Add this one to the books...

Here at the hospital, I'm on the "Surgery Team," so I see patients on any services where surgery is provided--transplant, abdominal, trauma, ortho, plastics, general, women's, etc--all except for neurosurgery, oncology, cardiac, and pediatric surgery.

One of my patients this past week was on the trauma service--after a bicycle crash she had lots of different injuries. One day this past week, I went into her room for a treatment session and found her gradually slipping down in her recliner. So I brought the recliner up to upright and helped her bring her trunk forward so that I could help her with a "hips backward in the chair" trick. Well, I really had to help her--we call it "max-assist" in PT lingo--, she couldn't help out that much because of her injuries, she wasn't really "all there" anyway, and the brakes on the recliner were not all that stellar.
NO, ...I didn't drop her!!
But we didn't achieve very much "hips backward," either, cause the chair was moving back with us.
Suddenly (dun, dun, dun, ...the plot thickens) a gentleman in scrubs, complete with cloth hat, walked in, said, "how's it goin'," then proceeded to ask my patient a few "mental status" questions. Which means, he asked her where she was, why she was here, what year it was, etc. After she tried to answer, I introduced myself and identified myself with PT, hoping he would also introduce himself. He didn't, but asked what we were working on, and whether I needed help.
Bingo... just what I needed. "Well, right now, we're just trying to get her hips back farther in the chair. Yeah...actually, would you hold the chair? It keeps moving," I said, glad that this would actually work now.
After a successful shift was accomplished, he started to leave. Determined to find out who he was, I said quickly, "And you are...?"
"John Ufmerk*," was all he replied.
"Oh, okay. Well, thanks for your help," I said. I had no idea who that was, ...so I asked my clinical instructor later. "He said his name was Something-Oferk? or -Omferd?" I tried to remember.
She told me she had no idea who who that would be, and I assured her that I only had him hold the chair for me (anybody with two arms and two legs can do that, and at least he had scrubs on!). I told her I thought he was maybe a Neurology resident or something, because he asked my patient mental status questions. Very convincing, I know--everyone in the hospital asks those questions to patients!

A few days later, I went back to the step-down unit, and discovered that an MRI finally came back positive, that this woman had a subarachnoid hemorrhage, and that she'd been switched to the Neurology service.
I saw her chart, and there was her name on it with the name of her new attending physician: DOE,J / UFMERK
"Oh!!" I immediately thought to myself. "Ufmerk! That's what that guy was saying!" It also made sense that I hadn't known who he was, because he was an attending physician on another service in the hospital.

Only later did it hit me that I asked --not some intern or some random resident, not even a senior resident, no,... I asked-- the Chief of Neurosurgery for the hospital to "hold the chair" ...while this little student physical therapist does her "hips back in the chair" trick with a patient!!

The humor of this makes more sense --and is funnier-- if you are familiar with the hierarchy that exists among M.D.s in the hospital setting. Roughly, it goes like this, from lowest to highest:

1st, 2nd, and 3rd -year medical students (MS1, MS2, MS3)
Interns - this is where real clinical responsibility for real patients begins
Residents, numbered according to post-grad year (PGY1, PGY2, etc, ...up to even PGY6).
Fellows
Attendings, who have the final say, and are responsible for the actions of all the residents and interns under them.

So there are not many attending physicians on each service--you can usually count them on one hand. Each of the attending physicians has plenty of residents working under them, and then a few interns. And the residents and interns all rotate on a regular basis. Here, all the interns rotate every four weeks, and the residents every few months.

The physical therapists usually communicate all of their needs for their patients to the interns, and naturally, the interns get a lot of pressure from above, as well. It's a high learning curve for them, since they're only on each service about 4 weeks. So in dealing with the interns, I've learned to respect the amount of stress they're under, and to try only to ask them for things that I really need.

I'm not hearing the end of this situation, though, from my CI.... She loves it: "Hey! Maybe you can get him to wash your car for you this weekend!"
and
"How about for this next week, we make it a goal that you boss around a few more Attendings..."

Can I just say that this truly is a teaching hospital, where the Attendings will stop and discuss patients with you, explain things to you, and even help you out (case in point here!). I'm so excited that I have a job here after I graduate in May!


*name has been changed

Friday, April 13, 2007

Grateful to be a PT

Before I left the hospital today, I checked up on one of my patients that I noticed had been transferred to the Medical ICU. I found his chart outside his room, and was looking through it to try to figure out what had happened to send him there.
While standing there, 2 residents coming from different directions stopped in the hallway almost next to me.

And this is what I overheard:
Resident Guy: What's this?
Resident Gal: Mr. [So and So]'s blood gases. ...
(silence as they solemnly review them together)
Then followed some unintelligible conversation, partly because I was doing my own thing, partly because I didn't see what they were talking about. Basically, they were discussing what they might do next.

Attending Physician (or Senior Resident, who knows which Big Shot) approaches.
Big Shot: What are you guys thinking about over here? ...looks at the paper they're examining. Who is this?
Resident Gal: Mr. [So and So]. I guess we have to [insert unintelligible phrase here]
Resident Guy leaves

Resident Gal, confiding to the Big Shot: I just hate it. I hate my job with him. I'm just basically slowly, ...slowly, ...
Big Shot: ...slowly letting him die?
Resident 2: Yes! And it's just awful. I feel so helpless.
Big Shot (sympathetic): It's a tough job. But it is your job. And you're doing really well. Sometimes the job is to let them die.

They slowly begin to walk away. I think Resident Gal noticed my thoughtful glance in her direction, because she quickly added, "Not this patient (referring to the guy whose chart I was holding), in case you were wondering!"

Grateful that "letting someone die" is not in the direct job description of a PT, I finished reading the chart, closed my binder for the week and headed home.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Hurray! I knew it must be.

Your Brain is Purple

Of all the brain types, yours is the most idealistic.
You tend to think wild, amazing thoughts. Your dreams and fantasies are intense.
Your thoughts are creative, inventive, and without boundaries.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking of fictional people and places - or a very different life for yourself.


Thanks, 'Meg!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

North Carolina Bird Sightings

I am finally here in (sunny!!) North Carolina, and after three weeks, I'm loving it. I bought a few bird feeders and have enjoyed watching the many birds that live in the wooded area behind my apartment. On Wednesday mornings that's what I do: sit and watch the birds on my porch with my tea and breakfast. It's a super-nice break in the week to work 4 10-hour days and have Wednesdays off.
I also bought some seeds (herbs and flowers, mostly, but also some lettuce shoots in case the seeds all fail!) and potted them out on my porch. This is a true indication that I will be "staying put" for a while. I don't travel with plants.

Below are a few pictures of my recent observations in North Carolina (on the wish-list, of course, is a better camera!)
This is a goldfinch at my little disposable thistle feeder. They are getting to be brighter and brighter shades of yellow as the weeks progress. Usually there are about 2 or 3 there at a time. They're very timid, and will didsappear immediately if I so much as walk by the sliding glass door. When I'm sitting on the porch, they will fly toward the feeder and then suddenly vear away in a sharp zooming arch--I guess they don't see me until they get a little closer!


These goldfinches are on two different feeders. The one on the big feeder will inevitably join the other one, since they all prefer the smaller thistle seed.




This Carolina wren is watching me, because I have the sliding door open and I'm just sitting there looking at him. He's very hesitant to take anything from the feeder, because he'll have to divert his attention away from me! He has such a beautiful song, and I heard him long before he ventured over to my porch.
The house finch, which has a beautiful red head and breast, won't even appear when he sees me out on the porch, or right inside with the door open!







You can barely see the Carolina Chickadee at my suet feeder. Besides this little guy, I see Downy and Red-breasted Woodpeckers there often, which is a lot of fun. Below is a Downy, although the red cap can't be seen very well. I know it's more fun to see birds live, anyway--but it's sad that my camera really isn't a very good tool for capturing their charm.


This female cardinal will come to my railing (where I leave a bunch of seed) or right onto the floor of my porch. The male generally follows and they sit there together for a while, but he didn't show up this time.

What also didn't show up to pose for my photo-session today was the Red-bellied woodpecker, the house finch (which has a beautiful red face and breast), and the dark-eyed junko. They're all daily regulars, as well.


Here's a final bird-sighting, just 'cause he's my favorite one to watch!

This is known as the Doodle-bird, or Doo for short. His call sounds like a short "Erp!" but you'll only here it occasionally, as a greeting when he enters a familiar environment. He has funny behaviors, which include putting on swimming goggles when he's miles away from any water. He also has a habit of regularly mistaking socks for mittens. This is the most common behavior of the Doo, as you can see here.
This bird can handle high levels of graduate-level research stress, always maintaining a cheery smile and keeping a dry but silly sense of humor. He keeps the ecosystem of Chapel Hill, North Carolina fun and interesting.

In short, I'm having an awesome time here, and couldn't be happier. There is no doubt in my mind that this is where I'm supposed to be right now. And no question in my mind that Doo will continue to be my favorite bird to sight for the rest of my life.