Camp NaNoWriMo, Dear Diary

Dear Diary – Ten Years from Now

7-6-2029

Dear Diary,

Retirement is close. I can see it but I can’t touch it yet. It’s within grasp, but just out of reach. I can’t believe I’ve been a medical assistant for nearly 20 years. Where has the time gone? I never thought, in a million years, I would 1. be working in healthcare and 2. STILL working in healthcare. But I’m old, it’s too late to start looking for another job now. My doctor is getting close to retiring, too. He’s about seven years younger than me but surgery is hard on the body and I can see it’s taking a toll on him. He can’t last much longer. It’s hard to believe that our physician assistant is still with us as well. She’s so smart and beautiful I’m sure she could have made way more money with another doctor/hospital/specialty but my doctor and PA have a special relationship and they have worked together for so long I guess she figured it was easier to just stick with what you know.

I know the feeling.

There are times I miss our old nurses. We’re on our third nurse now in the past ten years. Babies grow up, opportunities present themselves and our nurses have gone on to greener pastures: it’s just me, Dr. So-and-So and our PA.

The three amigos. The clinic has gone through so many people over the past ten years I’ve truly lost count. I’m one of two left standing from the original crew. I’m either stupid or loyal, I haven’t decided which yet.

I’ve written so many stories and even submitted a few but have only received rejections. I suppose I shouldn’t give up but it’s hard to keep going when I feel like I’m the only one who likes what I write. I suppose I can really hit it hard when I actually retire.

Kevin wants me to retire in two years but I’m thinking it will be closer to five or six. I feel like retirement will be like my years when I was a stay-at-home mom and though I don’t regret staying home with the boys when they were little, I was bored out of my mind. Will retirement be like that? Other than reading and writing, what else is there to do? Kevin would respond with, “You could always do housework,” which my retort will be, and always has been “haha, I’m not your mom, when are you going to realize that?”

I think I could have rocked being a nurse. No. I don’t think, I KNOW. I’m a great multi-tasker and think quick on my feet. I toyed with the idea, briefly, in 2019, but I had zero interest in going to school, studying and of course, going into debt to pay for school. Not to mention ….. PEOPLE. They just exhaust me. At least, they used to, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t be everything to all people. All I can do is my best and I know, in my heart, that I give 150%  and that’s all I can give. You can’t please everyone so why not just be true to yourself? At the end of the day, does it really matter? In the grand scheme of things, Earth continues to rotate, the sun will set and the moon will rise and a new day will begin regardless of how crappy the day before might have been. I’m glad I didn’t listen to the people who were trying to talk me into going into nursing, I just don’t think it would have been a good fit. I’m empathetic but only to a point, the bottom line is, I just don’t have enough patience to deal with …. PEOPLE.

I would have rocked it though. You and I both know it.

Kevin is nearly 70. I can’t believe how OLD we are. It sounds old, and there are certainly days we feel old, but in a lot of ways, we are still those 30-something people who were just starting out with life juggling careers and young boys. I don’t feel my age in my mind but unfortunately, my body does feel my age. I know I have a good 25 (plus?) years left but I do find myself thinking about death more and more. I pray that Kevin and I both go at the same time and in our sleep. I would hope for something quiet and painless. I want to go together because honestly, I can’t imagine my life without Kevin. We’ve been married nearly 40  years – I can’t even remember my life before him. I certainly don’t want to think about my life after him.

I do find myself thinking about what will happen in our second life, when Christ comes back for us and raises us from the dead to inherit paradise on Earth. Will we know one another? Or will we be two strangers assigned different rewards and lives? Not knowing each other, or not knowing our children and extended family really makes me sad. I try not to think about it too much as I trust God and I’m sure it will be great, but I would be lying if the thought didn’t bother me.

A lot.

Blake is 37 and Brandon is 35. Blake is still not married but he’s dated a few quiet girls here and there. It used to bother me that he might not ever get married but I would rather he be alone and happy than be saddled with a woman who isn’t nice to him and miserable. Brandon is doing well. I’m really fond of my daughter-in-law, thank God, and their little girls are the apple of mine and Kevin’s eye. I love seeing them with Kevin, he just dotes on them. I always wondered what kind of dad he would have been if we had had a girl. He’s been an amazing dad to our sons and he’s a pretty great grandpa.

Blake is a manager of a retail store. He has really stepped up to the bat and proven his organizational skills. People respect him because he’s a man of few words and that keeps people guessing about him.

Brandon is a game developer and lives in Belgium Brussels. It really bothered me at first, him living so far away with the grandbabies, but it gives us an excuse to fly over and see him and his family and honestly, Belgium is a really cool place.

Roy still lives across the street from us. His dog Misty died and he now has another Shih tzu who is a bit more spirited than Misty was but seems to adore Roy. His tremors are worse now and we think he might have Parkinson’s. He hasn’t been formally diagnosed but he sees a neurologist in a few months so we’ll see.

Kevin finally broke down and bought a new(er) truck. His old truck finally bit the dust about six years ago and he has another Ford 150 that he’s driving around. He and Roy still go around to estate/garage sales and collect things but they don’t do it as often as they used to. Kevin sold his Genesis. It was a great car but he never drove it, so he sold it to make room in the garage for more thrift items to put in his booth and to make himself another workshop as he continues the challenge of fixing things up.

I bought my dream car, a Fiat Spider, black. It’s completely impractical but so much fun to drive! Not to mention, I look GOOD driving it. ha!

No plans to sell the houses. I mean, why? It’s just the two of us, we certainly don’t need anything bigger though I’m not going to lie, we do talk about maybe selling at times to maybe buy something smaller and using the excess money to put into investments or to add to our retirement accounts. We always wanted a brick home and I’ve always thought it would be nice to have a basement, but I’ve gone this long without one, I don’t suppose I need one now.

Our parents are doing well. Kevin’s mom is still with us though she’s slowed down considerably, she’s living with Kevin’s oldest sister. Kevin’s dad passed away about five years ago. Mom and dad are still going strong though I feel like dad is looking more frail but goodness, he’s over 80 now. I try and go over and look after them as much as I can.

Who knows how life will look in another ten years. I try not to think about my own mortality too much. I really don’t know why it bothers me so much, maybe I feel like I haven’t exhausted life yet.  Whatever life throws at me, I pray I have my mind, my body and am not a burden on my loved ones.

Post Six
Camp NaNoWriMo, Work Stuff

I Don’t Play, I Slay

(Fifty points if you get that reference).

Work is going well. I took two weeks of vacation off in May to go on our cruise. Our cruise was 8 days so I had nearly a week left of vacation when we came back and I spent that time doing whatever I wanted to. *snap* It was a time to recharge my batteries, Lord knows, I needed it.

I went way too long between vacations. By the time our vacation came around in May, it had been a year since I took any time off and I was going crazy, not to mention my attitude was BAD by the time April rolled around.

I won’t do that again. For my own mental health.

I love my job as a medical assistant. I work for neurosurgeons and there really is never a dull moment. You’re never caught up and there is always something to do and learn. Especially for me, since I didn’t come from a medical background, I just sort of fell into this job. (I was a scheduler and the hospital decided to eliminate my position and said, either become a medical assistant or bye Felicia).

It’s pretty much the same job, day-in-day-out, just the characters change. I think the biggest challenge is making people understand that ultimately they are responsible for their own health, that there is no magic solution, pill, or surgery that is going to fix them. It may help them on their way, but when push-comes-to-shove, people have to take responsibility for their life choices.

Another big challenge is reminding people to keep their expectations real.

For example: Dr so-and-so is going to cut you open, use surgical retractors to keep you open, move organs aside and expose your vulnerabilities to the surgeon working on you. He is then going to cauterize your vessels to keep you from bleeding out, drill and saw into your bones, move your muscles back into place, sew several layers of skin back together before closing you all the way up and stapling the incision closed.

Now you tell me, do you think you’re going to experience pain afterward?

Let me answer that question for you – DUDE, YOU’RE GONNA HURT.

Do you think the doctor prescribes muscle relaxers and pain medication because he thinks you might need it? Trust me, you’re going to need it.

It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who call us after major back surgery to complain of being in pain. I’m not talking unusual, something is wrong pain, THAT’S when you need to call, when something hurts so bad you can’t breathe and it won’t go away. I”m talking about people who call and complain of intermittent muscle/nerve pain. That’s completely normal.

These calls got so bad that our clinic came up with spine camp to help offset those calls. Whenever someone is going to have a fusion, meaning, something is going on with the back and it’s severe enough the surgeon feels like the patient will need hardware placed in their spine, we send them to spine camp. This is a two-hour meeting where the nurse teaching the class goes over everything to prepare the patient for the procedure. From getting things ready at home, to what goes on in the operating room to what kind of pain and experience they can expect in the hospital after the surgery.

Since implementing that class, the number of calls we’ve gotten has DRAMATICALLY decreased. It’s because we have done a good job of teaching patients realistic expectations.

It’s a fine line between being real and being … polite. Patients need to understand there are consequences for poor choices. If you smoke, you could get lung cancer, or COPD, where you are short of breath simply sitting down and trying to have a normal conversation. If you eat too much, you will become obese and suffer from the problems that come from that issue. And speaking of that, I have a “too fat for surgery” speech that I have to give some patients. That sounds crass and mean but it’s true. If your BMI is too high, which is doctor speak for too fat, then you can’t have surgery because the risks of surgery outweigh the benefits (pun intended). For example, you’re under anesthesia for longer because it take the doctor longer to get to the issue because there are layers and layers of fat to swim through first. This in turn, is stressful on the heart, which is already stressed because the patient is too large to begin with. It takes longer to heal and if you’re carrying too much weight, that puts too much stress on the spine and the surgery won’t if the spine continues to be under stress, the surgery will not be successful.

It’s harder to intubate a large patient. Wounds tend to take twice as long to heal on a large patient. And the list goes on.

And yet, I feel sorry for patients in that situation because sometimes, they really need the surgery but they have to get their weight  under control first. When that happens, the surgeon recommends bariatric surgery to help kick start their weight loss journey. (Side note: my spell check does not like these medical terms).

Luckily, I’m a pretty good communicator and I can take my cues off the patient’s tone of voice and body language as far as how to handle them. Some patients are very no-nonsense, so I need to be no-nonsense. Some patients need to tell their story because it helps them understand and process what is going on with them, so I simply sit and listen to them. Some patients need some TLC because they are scared, frustrated, angry at their situation and just want someone to help them.

Being a specialty, we often times get patients that at their wits end. They have seen multiple doctors and have been told, repeatedly, they can’t help them. Sometimes, when patients find out our doctors can help them, they will burst into tears because finally, FINALLY, they see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I have to tell you, I didn’t go into healthcare with the thought it would be my career, like ever, not once did I even contemplate it. But now that life has thrown me into it, I have to say it’s SO SATISFYING whenever someone comes back in after surgery and they are doing well and so happy to have their life back. I can’t imagine how a doctor must feel when that happens.

Anyway, I got off topic.

The purpose of this post is tell you that when I’m at work, I’m there to work. I’m not there to play, to gossip, or sit around and watch the clock hoping that 4:30 will hurry and get here. I’m one of those people that give 150% and have little to no patience for whiners, complainers and people who like to make excuses. You don’t have to like me but if you are fortunate (!!) enough to work with me, then by gosh, you better get the job done. Am I a bitch? Depends. We all vent, it’s how we cope with stress and frustration, I do it as well. But if you have an excuse for everything and you are always asking for help when you can clearly do it yourself or you’re being friendly to my face but ugly behind my back, yeah, I don’t like you and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.

Will I be professional? Of course, but don’t expect me to care about you, or your life. The hospital is paying us to co-exist and give the best care we’re capable of giving to the patients, anything more than that is bonus material.

However, with that said, I am very fortunate to work with some pretty amazing people. They are professional, compassionate, knowledgeable have great senses of humor. We all have bad days, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t, but we all get along and that makes working alongside these people that much  more enjoyable.

I think people are a little scared of me, if you want the truth. And since we’re being truthful, I’m going to say that I sort of dig it. If you’re scared of me, then you’ll take me seriously and think twice before crossing me.

I tell people all the time that you have to have a line when you deal with the public. I will allow you to push me, scold me, and get me in my face if that is what it takes to get whatever is bothering you off your chest, but there is a line – if you start cursing or getting hateful or disrespectful then all bets are off. I use my “professional firm voice” and trust me when I say, I don’t give a rats ass if I piss you off or “offend” you.

Enough is enough. Back off, check yourself.

And people are so self-centered and selfish nowadays. It’s amazing how often you have to steer a conversation in another direction and point out to people that there are two sides to a story. Just because you heard this way or want it this way does not mean IT’S THAT WAY. You know?

I”m awesome to work with, but don’t cross my line.

Post Five

 

Camp NaNoWriMo

Happy 4th

Now if we went to a fireworks show like this, I would be more excited.

 

But alas, we don’t.

The kind of fireworks show we see is more like this:

*yawn*

Since Kevin’s parents sold their house and moved into an RV full time, and we used to go to their house to shoot off the fireworks we bought at their house, we no longer make the effort. Now, we mooch off the country club’s fireworks show about a mile from our house.

It’s nice, don’t get me wrong. And it’s free, so there’s that, but honestly, it’s not that big of a deal.

Blake, our oldest son, loves the 4th of July. In fact, it might be his favorite holiday. He loves the “splosions”, as he used to call them when he was a little boy.

However, poor Blake has to work on 4th of July for the first time, ever. He works from 3:00 PM to midnight. He used to work for Kevin as a bookkeeper, but Kevin “fired” him, in essence, (don’t feel too sorry for him, it had to be done for a number of reasons) and now he works at Walmart as a stocker. (Again, don’t feel too sorry for him, his starting pay is nearly what he made when he worked for Kevin. Walmart is actually a great place to work. Shelve your preconceived notions, please).

To say he’s bummed out is an understatement. He won’t be joining me, Kevin, Brandon and LeRoy to watch the country club’s mediocre fireworks display. I feel so bad for him but honestly, this is real life. It sucks to be an adult sometimes.

This is one of those times.

Happy 4th of July everyone! God bless America!

Post Four
Camp NaNoWriMo, Can We Talk?

Would You Do It?

Whenever you go cruising, one of the things the cruise lines do is take your picture.

They take your picture whenever you disembark at a destination, usually with someone dressed up to represent that country’s culture. Or it could be with the cruise mascot. Or something as simple as a sign depicting where you are in that given moment.

Photographers also take your picture when you’re at dinner. Our last cruise, the first night at dinner, a person dressed up as a pirate ran around the various tables and pretended to hold a cardboard knife to your throat.

Photographers are stationed throughout the ship to take your picture on formal night, or any night really.

The point being, the cruise line is giving you another opportunity to take a piece of your vacation home with you by offering to take your picture.

You can buy a photography package before you even go onto the boat. You get so many of this size, so many of this size, etc.

The photos are usually decent and always available throughout your cruise to buy, if you so wish.

The cruise lines have a photography section on the ship where you can browse through the photos at your leisure. They usually categorize them by event, “First night in the Golden Dining Room.” “First formal night” and so on. They do this so if you know your picture was taken at that event you’ll be able to find your picture.

We have gotten some pretty decent pictures of ourselves this way. The photos are expensive but you can justify it by classifying it as one of your souvenirs from the trip.

Kevin and I did have our picture taken the first formal night of our last cruise. The pictures were decent but unfortunately, we picked a background of colored dots and it just looked too busy and we didn’t buy any.

It was disappointing but as with any photo, you run the risk of them not turning out – it is what it is.

After reviewing your pictures, you have the option of discarding them in a recycle bin. That way, the photographers know you’re not interested and you’ve cleared some space for some other people’s pictures.

This is a standard service on all cruise lines.

By the end of the cruise, everyone who is interested, starts crowding around the photo galley to check one last time on their pictures. Because if you opt not to buy any pictures, they are thrown away and lost forever. To my knowledge, there is not an opportunity to see, or buy, any pictures after the cruise is over.

The last day of our last cruise was an at sea day. Kevin and I went to the library and were playing Scrabble when we started noticing people coming in with stacks of pictures. One group was laying all of their pictures out on the tables in the library and sorting through them. We knew, hearing their conversation, that they had bought the photo package and were trying to pick out the pictures they wanted to keep.

After a while, smaller groups of people started coming in with stacks of pictures as well. Only, they weren’t laying them out to look at, they were trying to find a secluded area to lay out their pictures and then take pictures of them with their cameras.

It got to the point about four or five couples were doing it.

It started with one couple – she would lay the pictures on the floor under a table, and then she would lean over and start taking pictures of them with her phone. She would then look around to see if anyone from the photo galley was around and then take several more pictures. The photo galley was right outside the library.

Another couple would come in, see what the first couple was doing, figured it was okay for THEM to do it and would start taking pictures with their phones.

After a while, so many people were doing it, Kevin and I simply stopped playing out game and started watching with our mouths hanging open. It was amazing to just see people’s audacity – to openly steal and not give a shit who saw them.

Kevin actually got up at one point to try and find a photo galley employee but there was no one around, which was part of the problem, I suppose.

I’m not talking about taking one or two pictures, people, I’m talking STACKS of photos. Like, these people took every opportunity to have their picture taken while on the cruise, with no intention of buying any of them because they had every intention to steal them after the cruise was over.

And yes, they STOLE those pictures.

Would it have been stealing if people had simply used the backdrops that were put out in preparation for the photographers to use but they weren’t there to take the pictures? I don’t think so. You’re not abusing someone’s time or using his/her expertise. You’re simply using something that is already there, using your camera and taking a picture of yourself.

Taking pictures of pictures is the same thing as downloading someone else’s music for free. You know you should pay the creator but if you can get it for free, why not?

Remember how much trouble Napster got into? Same principle applies here.

Kevin and I talked about it at length afterward. Is it stealing if you’re taking pictures of pictures of yourself? After all, you’re the subject. And the pictures are so expensive … you’re just taking what is yours, right?

Wrong. The cruise line has hired photographers to take your picture. You have wasted their time and abused their expertise. Will the photographers get paid regardless? Probably, since they are likely employed by the cruise lines, but have you stopped and considered WHY the photos are so expensive?

They’re most likely expensive because assholes like those on our cruise STEAL them. The cruise line has to recoup the losses somehow. Nothing is free, people. NOTHING.

Kevin and I went so far as to alert the cruise line that was happening on our after cruise survey. The cruise line probably already knows that is happening and if that is the case, they need to take steps to prevent that from happening in the future. Instead of putting those pictures out for anyone to grab, they need to digitize them. If you wan your pictures, then here is a disc of them for such-and-such price. I believe Disney cruise lines already does this.

Would Kevin and I be tempted to take a picture of a picture we really liked of us. Sure. We’re human after all. But would we? Probably not. We would feel too guilty because no matter how much you sugar coat it, it’s stealing.

Not only were we shocked by what happened, literally right in front of us, but we were shocked by HOW MANY couples did it. It was like it was no big deal, everyone else is doing it so what’s the problem? Kevin did end up taking a picture of the initial couple that started the whole thing. I don’t know why, it’s not like the cruise line would have asked for photo evidence or had done anything to the people if they did ask for it, but we have a visual reminder of how people just don’t have any morals anymore. We live in a society where it’s all about me and screw you. It’s so sad.

I remember feeling SO ANGRY when those people started doing that. I was angry for like hours. It’s one thing to talk about people doing things like this, reading about it, hearing it the news, but to witness it? It’s shocking and terribly disappointing. I feel like people just don’t have values anymore and it infuriates me and saddens me at the same time.

This sort of behavior is the reason why our world is in the shape it’s in today, people.

Think about that for a minute.

Post Three
Camp NaNoWriMo, Can We Talk?

You Need to Calm Down

I like Taylor Swift’s music. Have you seen her latest video?

So much to talk about. Ready?

First of all, it’s so catchy. That’s one of the biggest reasons I like Taylor’s music – it’s just fun and catchy.

This video is fun, if not a bit insulting but HEY. it’s okay, I’m not upset and it’s certainly not going to ruin my day but damn girl, depicting people who don’t agree with homosexuality as idiots is a bit harsh, don’t ‘cha think?

I mean, to each his own, I guess. I know there ARE people who look like that, missing teeth, rat hair, holes in clothes, poor education, basically meth heads. But to imply that those are the kinds of people who disagree with your opinions is just … stupid.

People are ignorant. I won’t dispute that. But ignorance is present in coastal states too, not just the Midwest bible thumpers.

I understand where Tayor is going with this video and this song. And she’s right, there are WAY too many people who are offended and outraged over well, everything. People need to calm down.

You don’t agree with homosexuality? Okay. Life goes on.

You don’t agree with abortion? Okay. Life goes on.

You don’t agree with one particular politic party? Okay. Life goes on.

To sum up? People are not ignorant, evil or crazy if they disagree with you.

It’s called LIFE.

You need to calm down.

Taylor says people who are against homosexuality need to calm down – I say – same sweetie.

People who think straight people are devil incarnate also need to calm down.

People who have differing opinions have just as much right as you do, it’s called freedom of speech. Do you have to stand there and listen to those opinions? Nope. You can disregard and walk away. But those that try to bully and threaten their way to “being right” need to swallow a dose of reality. It’s not all about you and your life choices, hunty.

Everyone, take a chill pill AND CALM DOWN.

And one last thought – why is it okay to have one whole month dedicated to gay people but if we try and plan one whole month to celebrate straight people, the world goes apoplectic?

So gay people have chosen to dedicate one month to celebrate being gay? WHO CARES? You do you, boo. But DO NOT get upset when another section of our population would like to do the same for their life choice. You can’t have it your way and only your way, people.

You need to calm down.

This song goes both ways, this song goes ALL ways. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

People NEED to get over themselves. Truly.

And I’m going to be straight up honest with ya’ll – people honest to God DO NOT CARE ABOUT HOW YOU LIVE YOUR LIVES.

They really don’t.

Everyone, CALM DOWN.

<rant over – for now>

Post Two