Vacation

Goin' With The Flo

The Pioneer of Modern Nursing

The Pioneer of Modern Nursing

I made the mistake of heading into the Hallmark store in my office complex yesterday. What part of me thought that taking that little detour on my lunch break during this time of year was a good idea? Yeah, silly me.

Lucky for me, every year Mother’s Day happens to be only a “day” in the midst of another important week of the year. Well, at least for those that happen to be “tight” with Florence Nightingale, anyway.

Yes, every year Nurse’s Week is celebrated in the US from May 6th to May 12th. Why those days specifically? Well, it’s because May 12th is the actual birthday of the “Pioneer of Modern Nursing.” And May 12th is officially known as International Nurses Day.

So yeah, having a whole week “dedicated” to my profession … it certainly takes the focus of the one day of the year that practically the whole nation celebrates the one thing in the world that has eluded me the most. The one day that celebrates the biggest disappointment I’ve encountered thus far in my life.

But going back to the whole Nurse’s Week thingy … I have to say that I find it pretty humerous that I ended up in the profession I did … and “liking” it.

Click on image to read the pledge and Detroit's history in it ...

Click on image to read the pledge and Detroit's history in it ...

First of all, there are waaaay too many Filipinos in this profession. And in my youth, I was constantly trying to break out of the stereotypes that follow my culture. But ultimately it was the whole “respect your elders” part of my culture that had me ending up pursing a career in nursing. In other words, rather than spend my undergrad years “pondering” what I wanted to do in life while my parents (most graciously) funded my university education … the suggestion was made by many-a-relative that nursing would provide me a lucrative* career while I figured out what I really wanted to do with my life. Lucky (or unlucky, depending how it’s looked at) for me, while I still don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life (as motherhood obviously hasn’t worked out) … at least there are enough “avenues” in the profession of Nursing that I’ve been able to dabble in other areas other than bedside nursing.

I do have to add this though … no matter where I’ve worked (in an office setting or at the bedside), I am constantly being asked when I’ll be bringing in pancit or lumpia to any potluck. Totally sucks for my co-workers who have the perception that all Filipinos are able to cook. Hah!

And speaking of different “avenues” of Nursing … I have to point out that this is probably the reason I do “like” the profession I’m in. Because believe me, in this modern day and age of health care … burnout in the “bedside” aspect of Nursing is pretty darn high. That’s because despite the advances in medical care, people that are admitted to the hospital are much much more “sicker” than they were in the past. And despite the higher acuity in patient care needs, the nurse-to-patient ratio has not improved in years. In fact, in many parts of the nation, the number of patients assigned to one nurse has exponentially increased; leaving Nurses at the bedside with more to do with less resources.

My Nursing School's reknown "Nightingale Award" (click on image)

My Nursing School's reknown "Nightingale Award" (click on image)

This is why I am glad I’m no longer doing “direct patient care.” This simply means that I’m not physically reaching out and touching a person. (Not to say that I’m not “caring” for them, though.) Rather the aspect of Nursing I’m part of is Case Management. So what’s the role of an RN Case Manager? Well, in a basic explanation, a Case Manager assists in coordinating the care of a clinically complex person in order to maximize this person’s ability to care for themselves.

Confusing, right? Well, let’s just say that instead of physically caring for a patient while he/she — I don’t know — is “tossing their cookies” … I’m the Nurse that, once the acute illness “settles down,” is helping to make sure that these patients follow up appropriately with their physicians or other health care professionals in order to prevent a recurrence or complication of their condition. And I’m the same Nurse that spends MORE time educating a patient and/or family member about their disease or condition so they can understand their physician’s plan of care and the various options they may have available to them.

Florence "The Lady With The Lamp" Nightingale

"The Lady With The Lamp"

Yeah, I bet you didn’t know that there were many aspects of Nursing as a profession. Just like I’m sure that you may forget about other jobs that Nurses do that don’t necessarily involve working in a hospital, nursing home or Doctor’s office. Yes. Nursing is everywhere. Like in the home setting. Or in the community. Or even at your own workplace.

Heck, you might even work directly with a Nurse. Or even an “ex-Nurse.”** Because believe me, we’re everywhere.

So with that said … I must remind everyone out there to wish all the Nurses you know a “Happy Nurses Week” over the next seven days. Because despite what it feels like to most Infertiles out there … this week isn’t all about being a Mom. Sometimes it’s all about going with the “Flo” … Florence Nightingale, that is.

Yeah. I’m that cheesy.

On an even sillier note … I must share this picture with you to show how “smart” my kitty cat can be. Notice how she’s perched on a pillow? Well … as she knows she’s not allowed on our new sofa, she’s found a way to get around it … by being on top of a pillow instead of directly on the sofa. How cute can she be?!

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* “Lucrative” as in “there are always going to jobs available in nursing” … not “lucrative” as in financially “stable.”

** Although I always say, “Once a Nurse, always a Nurse.”

Show and Tell: That "Just Married" Look

showandtellWow. I seriously can’t believe I’ve made it through half the month for NaBloPoMo. It seems like a week in, I was already struggling to find stuff interesting stuff to post about. And now … I’ve reached the halfway point.

So today, I decided to share a picture of Hubby and I on our honeymoon. And based on the picture, where do you think we went?

Hmmm …. jackets and sweatshirts, cuddling close to each other. Probably some place pretty cool in climate, eh? Maybe hiking in one of the state parks in Washington … or perhaps Alaska even?

Honeymoon

Nope. Hubby and I went to Hawaii. Yep, if you could only pan out a little further in this picture, you’d see that we’re both wearing our Doc Marten sandals with no socks … and completely freezing our tushies off.

That’s because we made the trek up Mt. Haleakala on the island of Maui, just to watch the sun rise over the summit of this dormant volcano. To put it in words would be near impossible. Just know that it was simply gorgeous.

But back to the picture. Can’t you tell how incredibly happy we are? By then we would have been married 9 days (even though the date displayed one day ahead …. what can I say? This was pre-digital!) and this would have been the second to the last day of our honeymoon.

To say that we enjoyed our trip would be an understatement. We started out in the island of Kauai, which was absolutely perfect for us to unwind from all of the wedding events. You see, Kauai is more of a quiet island (as compared to Oahu or Maui). Not too much going on throughout the island, but lots of beautiful scenery. We stayed at the Hyatt in Poipu, which is the southernmost city of the island. And we were absolutely spoiled rotten there. The oceanfront view, the beautiful gardens on the property, the multiple swimming pools and lagoons, and the incredible daily brunch spread that, to this day … cannot compare to any other brunch we’ve had. We took a raft up the Na Pali Coast and snorkeled at one of the isolated beaches. We drove up to Waimea Canyon and met a orange tabby cat named Simba, who was adopted by the vendors in the area. Oh, and we went on a helicopter ride, where … because of the extreme motion sickness I experienced … I realized it was not my life’s ambition to be a pilot. Although, what I do remember was beautiful. In all, we spent about 6 days on this island, relaxing and basking in our newlywed state.

Then it was off to Maui, which after spending almost a week in “seclusion,” seemed like a major metropolis as compared to Kauai. It was definitely an island with many more sites and activities. Oh, and lots of shopping too! We stayed at the Embassy Suites in Ka’anapali, which is on the northwesternmost part of the island. In order to get there, we drove through Lahaina, which was, at one time, the center of the world’s whaling industry with ships from around the globe docking at this port. This has certainly made Lahaina the “seaport” village that it has become; lots of storefronts and boutique shops line its streets.

Along with the aforementioned 2:00 am drive up to the “House of the Sun” to watch the sun rise, we also made another beautiful day trip to the east side of the island. Which, if you’ve ever been to Maui … it’s almost like being on a completely different island. Where the west side is more arid and dry, the east side is more lush and green. The highway to the east is widely known as the “Road to Hana” and it’s a wondrously windy road with more than 50 bridges, many of which are only one lane. Along the way, we passed by numerous waterfalls; some of which we were actually able to swim under. And at the end of our journey, we reached the “Seven Sacred Pools,” which are actually a series (of more than seven, may I add) of pools formed by cascading waterfalls that literally tumble into the ocean. It was stunningly beautiful.

By the end of the 11 days we spent in Hawaii, we were well rested and ready to start our lives as newlyweds. What we absolutely loved best about our honeymoon was that we were there together, exploring a place where neither of us had ever been before. On our very own. With no timetable or schedule to go by. And to this day, this was one of our most favorite (if not the favorite) vacations of all time.

Unfortunately, all my honeymoon photos have not caught up with the digital age at this time. Perhaps one day, I’ll be able to scan them in. Until then, I’ll just have to enjoy the beautiful picture of us up in the “House of Sun.”

Now; make sure you go and check out everyone else’s Show and Tell posts!

Emily Talks in Third Person

Emily realizes that, for the past couple posts, she’s titled them in 3rd person. Emily thought it might be funny to do a 3rd title in 3rd person … just because.

But Emily also realizes she’s promised to post pictures from her latest trips. Unfortunately, Emily’s been known to be “trigger happy,” so Emily has TONS of shots. So Emily has put them all on a few P.ica.ssa photo albums. Click on the album you’d like to see …

Emily hopes you enjoy the pictures …

Banff / Calgary Vacation
San Diego Comicon 2008
San Diego, 2008

Emily Goes Green

First things first. Go over to Kara‘s blog and give her a virtual hug. She needs it right now.

Alrighty then … now that we got that bit out of the way …

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So the title of my latest rambling is “Emily Goes Green.” (Duh, sayeth the reader. The title is right there!)

And no, I don’t mean that I’m going “green with envy” … although the fact that my SIL is due to deliver by c-section in a mere 4 weeks might have me feeling more blue-ish/green (turquoise, if you will) for a spell. I just hope it’s not one of those spells that have me riding up and down and upside-down, much like a roller coaster.

Check out the "green" toilet in the Portland, OR airport!

Check out the "green" toilet in the Portland, OR airport!

Nah, I’m talking about the “social awareness” type of green. You know, save the environment, Mother Earth needs to be nurtured, etc. You see, I’ve always been “green” in some sort of way since my later years in high school. Did a lot of recycling of paper, plastic and aluminum for most of my life. Collected newspapers for school recycling projects. (Heck, I’ve also been known to use the Sunday Comics as wrapping paper!)

In fact, at work I’ve been called the paper recycle queen. I’ve collected the stupid d*mn banner sheets off of our printer / copy machines and have forced people to reuse the back of the banner sheets in our fax machines. I’ve encouraged people not to print up things that they can readily access off of their computer. I’ve helped to establish desktop faxing so there is less waste of paper. I’ve stopped buying bottled water and instead have been filling up my reusable water bottle from the filtered tap water in our cafeteria.

Here's a closer look at the "Green" toilet instructions!

Here's a closer look at the "Green" toilet instructions!

And I do all this because I know (even before watching “An Incon.venient Tr.uth” ) that mass consumption is going to be the death of our earth. (Go see “W.all-E“, by the way …)

So imagine my surprise when we went to pick up our rental car during our recent trip to San Diego (which, by the way … pictures are forthcoming!) and found out that the rental company assigned a hybrid vehicle to us. Yeah, I was ecstatic … because for the past couple years, Hubby & I have been thinking of getting a hybrid vehicle.

Let me preface this by saying a couple of things:

  1. We live in the Motor City, so everyone (and I do mean everyone) owns a vehicle because … G*d forbid, we have any reliable source of mass transportation (and no, the Pe.ople Mo.ver does NOT count) …
  2. Hubby works approximately an hour and a half away from where we live and has single-handedly put on over 200,000 miles on both of our cars over the past five years or less … AND
  3. Gas prices just SUCK

So yeah … having rented this vehicle just happened to provide us with a great opportunity for us to test-drive a hybrid. If only the first half hour wasn’t so damn funny … and I do mean funny as in “strange” and funny as in “ha ha!”

Now, Kara … I have to warn you, you’ve already heard this story … so, turn away if you must!

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Okay, picture this. It’s 11:45 pm California time (PST). Our friend J and I are waiting for Hubby outside in the rental car lot while he signs the paperwork. Hubby come out and excitedly tells me that they rented out a hybrid vehicle to us. And because we have about 5 bags (including our carry-ons) among us, Hubby said that he’d walk to the rental and then drive back to pick us up.

The Magic Key

The Magic Key

About ten minutes later, no car. Suddenly my mobile phone goes off and I immediately know that it’s Hubby. “I need your help,” he says. “Can you walk over to the car and take a look at something for me?” So I walk a couple hundred feet to the white To.yota Pr.ius, where Hubby has the car door open and is handing me a keychain containing two keyless entry remotes. “I can’t figure out how to get to the key out to start the car.”

I look at the little black rectangular keyless entry remotes and think that perhaps there’s some sort of button on it to “release” the key; much like some other cars do. After about 5 minutes of pushing and pulling and sliding different thingies on the remote, Hubby decides to walk back to our friend J so that the two of them can bring all our baggage over.

In the mean time, I slide into the driver’s seat to get to the compartment where the owner’s manual should be. And then I see this green, glow-in-the-dark rectangle by the steering wheel. No way … I remember thinking. It can’t be that easy.

"By the Power of Greyskull ..."

"By the Power of Greyskull ..."

But sure enough, I take the keyless remote and slide it right into the green rectangle. And suddenly there’s lights and a beeping noise as if I left the car door open (which I did) with the keys still in the ignition (which apparently the remote was the the key).

And yet … no sound of the car running. “Oh,” I say out loud, as I notice this big round button that says “Power” on it. Perhaps if I push the button …. but still nothing. By this time, Hubby & J are by my side, amazed that I even figured out how to get the keys in the car. And yet, every time any of us go to press the “Power” button, we would get no indication that the car was actually running.

So now it’s about 12:15 am PST, which … for those who just flew in from Michigan … is about 3:15 am EST, the three of us had poured over the d*mn owner’s manual with absolutely no idea on how to start the car. And all we wanna do is get to our hotel room so we can crash for the night. “This is ridiculous,” says Hubby. “I’m gonna ask the girl inside.” And so off he stalks.

Within 3 minutes he’s back at the car. “She says to press the brake while pushing the power button.” (Because that little bit of info is nowhere in the owner’s manual!) And so he complies. Bingo … the digital odometer finally appears as well as a slew of other important car features (climate control being my priority, of course!). “There we go,” says Hubby, as he starts to shift the car into drive.

The Funky Gear Shift (and the Park button, too!)

The Funky Gear Shift (and the Park button, too!)

“Wait,” I say to Hubby. “Are you sure it’s even running? I don’t hear a thing!”

“It is,” Hubby assures me. “The girl said the engine is extremely quiet, so it always tends to fool first-time hybrid users.” After that, he presses the brakes and places the car into “Drive.” And once he lets go of the gear shift, it promptly returns back into neutral. “Weird,” Hubby says and tries it again. And once again, the gear shift returns to the neutral position.

J and I look at each other and I know we’re both thinking the same thing: “How the h*ll do we get this car to move forward. Or backward. Or at all?!

“Oh, I get it,” says the driver. “I think the gear shift is a simple lever.” Sounds strange, but I knew that Hubby meant that really … the car could move either forward or reverse at the touch of a button. But because we’ve all gotten so used to the concept of a gear shift, the carmaker developed a contraption that works very similar to what we were familiar with. And once we all understood that, Hubby “pseudo-shifted” the car into Drive,” and finally got the car to move forward.

Wicked (and I mean WICKED) Interior

Wicked (and I mean WICKED) Interior

In the midst of our short drive to the hotel, we discovered other crazy things about the car. For instance, the digital display monitor is multi-functional and controls not only the interior climate but the radio tuner as well. And when the car is placed in reverse, the digital display monitor functions as the screen for the “backup camera” feature, which allows for a view of the car’s rear area. “How frickin’ cool,” we all think when we see it for the first time.

By the time we pull up to our hotel, it’s about 1:00 am PST (4:00 am EST, if you’re keeping track of how long our day has been). “Uh …,” says Hubby. “Now how do I put this sucker in park?” I glance over at the display and confirm that there is no “Park” option in the gear shift. I shrug my shoulders as Hubby and I both happen to catch this little sticker label right by the gear shift. “Push the ‘P’ button to place in Park,” Hubby reads out loud.

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So yeah … that was our first ever experience with a hybrid vehicle. I have no idea if this is what other hybrid vehicles are like, but this one certainly had the three of us simultaneously banging our heads up against the car window and laughing our a$$es off.

Making the world a little greener ...

Making the world a little greener ...

Now ask me if I’d ever drive another To.yota Pr.ius again, and the answer is a resounding yes. After figuring out how to work everything in the car, the little bugger was so d*mn cool. But the best part was … after about six days of driving the car essentially all over San Diego and as far up as Del Mar, we only used a half a tank of gas. That’s almost 250 miles of driving at a mere 4-5 gallons of gas.

Makes me wanna paint the whole world green …

Blue Steel*

My day started of with Hubby not feeling so well. We’re still in San Diego and, as of the end of today, we have two more days left to enjoy sunny California. I feel bad that he’s got the scratchy throat and the hacking cough (which has progressively gotten worse), because I’m pretty darn sure I was the one who gave it to him.

I tried to convince him to stay in the hotel room today and sleep, but Hubby insisted he wanted to return back for the second day of the San Diego Comicon. Apparently his love for all things Comics (which, by the way, is the main reason we’re here in SD) superceded his need to get some well-needed rest.

The next silly thing I did after dropping Hubby and our friend J was drive down a one-way street. But I swear to G*d … the street was two way five feet ago! And then, in a blink of an eye, I’m suddenly dashing cars headed straight towards me. Probably not a wise thing to do, especially in the midst of morning rush hour traffic (and not to mention Comicon traffic as well).

Last night, however, I vowed that nothing … including almost getting into a head-on car crash … would spoil my day today. That’s because today, I had plans to meet up with Kara.

As I approached the strawberry blonde gal studying in the cafe at the La Jolla mall we agreed to meet at, I was suddenly struck with such an almost indescribable feeling. It was like seeing someone I hadn’t seen in a very very long time. And, at the same time, meeting someone for the very first time. Which, in essence, is the truth.

I’ve never met Kara in real life before, but by reading and commenting on each other’s blogs, we both agreed that we felt we knew each other … really got each other. And that was what made it seem like we’ve been the oldest and bestest of friends. Or,as we joked around, that we have been really good friends for like twenty or so “internet years.” You know … kind of like dog years in comparison to human years.

So getting to really know one another, that is without the barrier of cyberspace, felt like a total piece of cake. I mean seriously … the minute we started talking, we talked about everything. Even the things we couldn’t really talk about on our blogs or comments.

And we especially talked about all the emotions we had about our inability to have children of our own flesh and blood. And it was raw … and sometimes tearful (okay, Kara … I’ll admit it! I was the tearful one! 🙂 ), but yet it was like a breath of fresh air. Because you know what? For once in my life, I was eager to talk about what a number IF has done to me. And how it’s wreaked havoc on my otherwise normal existence. Or how it’s changed me from a normally upbeat and happy person to such a jaded and sadly disappointed mess. And I could cry about it and not feel ashamed for who I am and what I’ve become. Because Kara understood. Without hugging me or saying a word … I just knew she knew the shoes I was walking in. And I hope I did the same for her.

So after like, more than an hour of gabbing at this cafe … Kara insisted that we head out towards the beach. Because really … I was perfectly content in sitting at this place and talking. But since I had already confessed to her (and the rest of the blog world) that I love the ocean and the beach, she was intent in bring me to the coast. And after a beautiful drive up the coast, we ended up at Il Fornaio, a wonderful Italian restaurant in Del Mar that has this amazing view of the ocean. We then proceded to devour the excellent breads and thin-crust pizzas we ordered. And we continued to talk non-stop. We talked about our parents and family. We talked about our love of 80’s music. And, oh … we talked about how our cute waiter with dark hair and gorgeous eyes reminded us of B.en Sti.ller with his trademark “Blue Steel” look in the movie, Zoolan.der. Lucky for us, he was a nice guy who, not only provided us with more of their excellent bread to take home, but also was more than willing to take a picture for us. (It’s just too bad that I still can’t download any of my pics until I get home … grrr!)

After lunch, Kara and I had to part ways. And yes, I was incredibly sad to say goodbye. And even though my Hubby’s love of comics got us to visit San Diego, being able to meet Kara in person totally made my day and … I’m being totally honest here now … made my entire vacation!

So Kara … whenever you make it out to Michigan, you and Duane are more than welcome to visit us. And then we’ll plan a Michigan IF blogger round up. Or better yet … when should we start planning our trip to Las Vegas with the other bloggie friends?!

Ack … I miss you already!

* Again, pictures to follow once I get back home. 🙂

Sun-soaked*

I am home. Or at least where I feel like Hubby & I should be if we ever could afford to move out of Michigan.

Hubby & I, along with our good friend J are here in San Diego, Cali. We arrived around 11:00 Tuesday night and spent the following day at the beach. Well, at least some of the day.

We started the day out driving up to La Jolla where we had a late breakfast. The minute I stepped out of the rental car, I suddenly felt giddy. I turned to J and said, “I can already smell the ocean.” The complete happiness around being close to the ocean must have been really evident, because this led to quite a discussion around my apparent need to constantly be around a body of water.

“It’s the Cancerian in me,” I explained to J. “I just have this longing to be around water.” Which is so true; the desire to constantly be close to a river, a lake or an ocean. “That, and the fact that I’m such an Island Girl at heart,” making reference to the fact that I’m 100% Filipino.

“Which is rather funny,” said J, “seeing that you were born here in the US and have never lived in the Philippines.” I could hear my Hubby chucking. After all, he was actually born in the Philippine Islands and moved to the US when he was 5 years old.

“Yes,” I said to J. “I know. It is rather odd.” I explained to J that somehow being around water makes me feel so content. And happy. And less anxious or highly stress. Like I do when I’m back in my regular environment. “It’s like I let go of my Type-A personality when I’m in places like this.”

“I had no idea you were Type-A,” J deadpanned. And we all knew that was furthest from the truth.

But there’s really something about being around the water that calms my anxiety. As we all sat on our towels later that afternoon on Pacific Beach, I felt peaceful. After playing in the waves, Hubby & I plopped down next to J, who was reading a book. We laid down on our towels, pulled out our books and proceeded to do the same thing.

As I lay in the sun-soaked beach, I took in all the action around me. The chatter of the families around us … the toddler next to us who was shoveling sand to make a castle … the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore and then retreating back into the ocean.

Wow, I thought to myself. Reading a good book and being at the beach?!  Next to Hubby, these are the other two loves of my life.

That’s when I turned to Hubby and said to him softly, “I’m home.

* Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the appropriate cables to download any of the pics I’ve taken thus far … so check back next week when I get back to MI to see some amazing beach photos I’ve taken. Ack! How un-Type A was that?!

Blowing out the Candles

Yes. So today’s the day. The day I turn a big whopping thirty-six. Woo-hoo. (Uhm, yeah … that was a sarcastic woo-hoo, if you didn’t catch on.)

It’s 9 am this Sunday morning and I’m back at home from vacation, after arriving from the airport at about 10 pm last night. Did I mention how much I missed sleeping in my own bed? As much as I love traveling and exploring new places, I do enjoy coming back home and climbing into my cool, soft, comfortable bed. Nothing says “I’m home” more than that … Okay, so I lie. No matter where we’re at, being with Hubby is always going to be home. Must be the Cancerian in me.

Anyway, I decided today that there is no way in H*LL that I’m going to catch up with reading over two weeks worth of G**gle Reader posts. SO … I’ve made the decision to just clear any new ones off my list for now. I promise to be much better at reading and commenting this year … but right now I just don’t want to be overwhelmed and stressed over something like that. At least I can control THAT stressor.

Speaking of stress, I mentioned in a previous post that I’d tell you exacty how high my blood pressure (BP) got at my Doc appt on the Friday before I left on vaca. It was as high as 180/100. Yep. You read that right. And the scary thing … that’s not the highest I’ve ever been. The first time I was diagnosed with hypertension (HTN) was after the last laparoscopy I had in October of 2002. I was feeling dizzy at work that following Monday after surgery and one of the many nurses at work decided to take my BP which was 180/110. So I drove my butt to my primary doc at the time (and got a d*mn speeding ticket along the way … grrr), and was promptly started on the lowest dose of hypertensive medications possible. They didn’t want to put me on anything stronger at the time, as I was still trying to get pregnant.

Flash forward five years. My HTN has been “controlled” through a variety of different BP meds. Because since I’m not actively trying to get pregnant at this time, we’ve decided to try a little stronger medication. My baseline BP has been running in the 140’s/80’s. But nope. Not that Friday before vacation. Of course, it could have been that I was affected by white coat syndrome. But the truth is, it’s probably because of all the weeks months of stress I’ve been experiencing in my life.

A-hem … let’s recap what has happened in the past 7 months, since the beginning of the year. Hubby’s grandmother passed away (bad stress). Found out good friend in Portland, OR is expecting (bad stress, but gotten over it over time). And within that same week, found out SIL was also expecting (bad stress … and the jury is out still on how I’m dealing with it). Dad had a heart attack and subsequently hospitalized for three weeks after complications from surgery (bad stress). And have been going with him to follow-up appointments (expected stress) to make sure he follows up on his health (bad stress). But since he’s “master of his own body,” I’ve all but told him it’s up to him how he wants to keep up his health (good stress). I’ve taken part in a work-improvement group (good stress) and initially have gotten negative criticism from my peers (bad stress) but have since improved as we continue to roll out changes (good stress) and work towards our end-of-July deadline (bad stress). I’ve seen pictures of my high school friend’s new baby … whose middle name is that of a Red Wings player, just like his older brother (actually … good stress. I’m happy for her!). And I’ve been to Chicago a couple times to visit with Dr. Bro, Dr. SIL and the cat-nieces and dog-nephews (good stress). And I’ve just recently been on vacation in Calgary and Canmore / Banff National Park (good stress) with my parents (mixed stress). Except on the morning we flew out, Hubby & I had to drive back and forth from the airport to pick up our passports that I thought we left from home (bad stress). And now I turn 36, knowing full well I’m on the downhill slope of my already screwed up reproductive years (bad stress).

So there you have it. I’m stressed. But then the question I always ask myself is … Is this any worse than anybody else’s level of stress? And why should I be sitting here b*tching about being stressed when there are probably so many more people out there with much more stress in their lives (uh … cancer or unemployment, for example)? Am I being such a frickin’ sorry a$$ for feeling so stressed and letting my health be affected by it?

Seriously people. I’m not just being rhetorical here. I really wanna know.

On a separate, but somewhat related note … while in Calgary, we visited with my younger cousin (M) and her hubby (D) who just recently had their first baby (J) last September. M & D have been married now for at least 5 years (I’m so forgetful with these things) and they are the absolute greatest couple together, so I can’t be anything but completely happy for the two of them that they have this incredibly beautiful son who … even at close to 10-months … has this incredible personality. And to watch M & D with their parenting style … I couldn’t be more proud of the two of them, knowing how much they’ve grown since last spending this much quality time with them.

But as I was already expecting (d*mn infertility!), the hour ride back to Canmore from Calgary and the day afterwards was tough. It’s that desire to have what M & D have; the wonderful baby, the teamwork and … most importantly, the happiness that they have with taking care of J.

Let me be clear here (for those non-IF readers), I don’t consider the desire to have what M & D have is jealousy. Because to be jealous infers that I’m envious of what the two of them have and that I wish that the two of them could experience even a fraction of what I’m feeling with my IF. No way would I EVER wish that on them; they are truly a couple that deserves to have this happiness in their life.

Okay, now back to the previously scheduled blog session …

As I was saying, it was quite a difficult couple days after that visit. My mind kept going back to all the disapoinments I have with myself and with my infertility. I kept kicking myself down for not moving any more forward with the adoption process which then made me feel like I am such a wimp for being so afraid to take the next step. Which then made me just so … sad.

Sad because during that visit, I also saw how much my parents love babies. How great my Dad is in getting babies (and any kid, really) to play with him. How my Mom tried to sit patiently until J came up her, but in the end went up to him because she couldn’t wait to hold him. And seeing the look in their faces. Seeing how happy they were to be holding a baby. No, they didn’t have to tell me what I already knew. I saw it in their faces how much they really wish they had a grandchild of their own. And. That. Just about. Killed. Me.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to feel these things. And sometimes I wish I wasn’t so attuned to other people’s feelings. I truly wish I could go back in time and change some events that may have affected my reproductive health (eat better, exercise more, see an IF specialist sooner, etc). And I absolutely wish I could give my Husband our biological child.

So on this birthday … you know what I’ll be wishing for. Better health. More emotional strength. And a grandchild to give my parents who gave ME life on this day.

Reading & 'Riting

Well, today is Day 5 of our vacation in the Banff, Alberta area. We’ve been so busy since arriving to this beautiful area that today is the first day I’ve actually had the chance to sit down and write. And to tell you the truth, I’d rather be finishing up the novel I started reading on the plane ride down here than compose a string of words to form a sentence. BUT … I figured if I don’t do it now, I may never get around to it until I get back. And quite honestly, I think I’d forget all that we’ve done here on our vacation.

I have to tell you, I am so utterly enthralled with the scenery surrounding Banff National Park (BNP). Not only do the majestic mountains continuously surround you at every turn, but all the water … Ack! It’s pure heaven for the Cancerian water-sign girl in me. The colors are simply amazing. You know how when you see pictures of certain bodies of water that are so brilliantly blue in color but when you actually see the water with your own eyes … it’s just this brownish-greyish color? Nope. Not here. Every picture I’ve ever seen of Lake Louise captures the exact same hue of turquoise that I’ve now seen IRL. It’s. That. Brilliant. And pretty much every lake we encountered was that shade of blue or … gasp … even deeper.

The thing about Lake Louise though is that it’s an incredibly calm and quiet lake. So quiet that the surface of the lake actually looks like glass. And because its surrounded by these beautiful mountains, you can actually see the reflection of them in the water. Hubby & I decided to rent a canoe for the hour to try to make it to the other end of the lake, but nope … we didn’t make it. However, in the process we were able to get some incredible pictures that we would have never been able to get otherwise. Out of all the things we’ve done thus far, I have to say that canoeing Lake Louise was one of the brightest highlights.

Not that we didn’t do other sightseeing things … in fact we did do quite a bit in these past five days. We took a gondola ride up Sulfur Mountain and then proceeded to climb the up to the summit … something my Dad didn’t think he could do and then did it on his own time. (Yay Dad!) We drove west on the Trans-Canada Highway and then up to the highest point of passing in BNP. Along the way, we saw more beautiful lakes and glaciers! I’ve never seen glaciers in my life, so to see how ginormous one is … it was incredible. We stopped at Crowfoot Glacier, which was named because it was appropriately shaped like a crow’s foot with its three fingers clutching the mountainside. Unfortunately, the lower finger has pretty much melted (damn global warming!) and all that’s left is the top finger and half a middle finger (oh … the jokes I could make … :-p ). We’ve done tons of walking that we would have probably lost some weight. If only we didn’t go around eating lots of good meals!

One of the best things we did for ourselves was an hour-massage at a spa located by one of the natural hot springs in Banff. And despite the fact that we arrived about 15 minute late, not only did we get an incredibly relaxing massage but the staff was kind enough to actually give us the whole hour massage! What a great way to help us destress.

We spent Canada Day (July 1st, for my fellow Americans) with my cousin and her hubby & 10-month old son at their house in Calgary. And that was just simply wonderful. So wonderful that I’ll probably post more about it in another future post.

And tomorrow on the 4th of July, we’re heading back to Calgary for the day. For … da da da dum … the Calgary Stampede! Who’d a thunk that a city-gal would want to go see a rodeo or a chuckwagon race? Or surround herself with all things Country-Western … Well, hey, because Calgary is known as the “Nashville of the North,” I figured that “when in Rome” …

So that’s what we’ve been up to this week thus far. Perhaps when I get back I’ll have more stories to tell, along with pictures of my cousin and Hubby with their adorable 10 month old.

And now … back to reading. And relaxing.

Have a great 4th of July, everyone!

Heinz 57

Well, I admit it. I failed at NaComLeavMo. I was doing so well the first two weeks … oh, who am I kidding? I failed the minute I set foot in Orlando in the beginning of the month. But it’s not for lack of wanting to do so. Honestly. It’s just been a horrifically busy month, both personally and professionally.

Work has been work. My normal assignment has been abnormally insane. Normally, this time of year hospitalizations around our area tend to slow down. More people are on vacation and are therefore not around to be hospitalized; less people schedule elective surgeries around this time of year. But for some reason, we’ve seen an incredible rise in our caseloads.

Add that to the fact that the workgroup I’ve been on is now on super-rush mode … all in efforts to make sure that we have at least 90% of our projects done by mid-July. And at that time we get to present our work to not only the Executive staff for our department, but to the big wig Board Members in mid-August. Yikes.

And then there’s the personal life. Ack. Where to begin?! Well, since the beginning of this month, I have now traveled out of town for three of the five weekends in June. First Orlando. Then Chicago. And this weekend? Calgary, Alberta. More specifically Canmore, Alberta. That’s right, Mrs. Spit … I’m actually in your neck of the continent. And if I could … I’d be delivering Lord Stanley’s Cup to your doorstep. At least for a lookey-see.

Hubby & I have no particular reason to be out here for the week in the Canadian Rockies, other than to take in the absolutely beautiful scenery. My parents are part of a timeshare program and asked if we wanted to tag along. And of course we said yes. Free lodging and all we had to do is pitch in for groceries and buy airline tickets? How could we resist? That and the fact that I have a cousin that currently lives out this way and haven’t seen, like, in forever. Plus she and her Hubby just had a baby boy last September and this will be the first time I get to meet him. I am truly excited to meet her little one, as he just seems to be the most adorable baby. At least in all the pictures I’ve seen of him.

What more should I tell you about my personal life lately? Hmmm … I turn a big whopping thirty-six on the first Sunday in July. I’m still trying to put the feelers out on exactly how I feel about being yet another year older. Part of me is trying to be incredibly optimistic about it. You know, be happy that I’ve made it through another year. And can I actually believe how much I’ve changed for the better over the past year? Yeah … yada yada yada. And truly, I am grateful for all that I’ve done since July 6th of last year … all the friends I’ve made online and all the moments I’ve broken out of my infertility shell and stopped feeling so alone.

But the other part of me feels like I’m physically falling apart. Yes, I’m done with the Lupron (praise be all the fruitless goddesses!), which should help temper the fiery demon I call endometriosis. That’s the good part of my health. The bad part is that I have horrible blood pressure control (despite being on two different drugs to lower my blood pressure). And have, for over the past year, been finding myself incredibly exhausted and fatigued all the time. Of course none of this has anything to do with the fact that I’ve been, probably for the past ten years, incredibly stressed out.

These are the concerns that I brought up to my new primary doctor, whom I saw for the first time yesterday morning. I decided that I needed to “break up” with my old primary doc, who I’ve been seeing for years because, quite frankly … I just need a change. I needed another person’s opinion on all the issues I’ve had. And so far, I’m liking her. But of course, I think I would like anyone who can be empathetic towards a blubberring idiot who fell apart when she asked whether or not I had kids.

I’m sure I’m making too big of a deal over this birthday. And even though I’m trying very hard not to focus on the whole childless aspect of it all, certain things just seem to pop up. Like the adorable 3 month-old sitting across the aisle on the plane ride here. Or the parents at the airport with the child who was obviously adopted from China.

But the best one was the commercial I heard on the radio to work the other day. It was for the Ch.evy HH2. And it talked about how busy this 36 year old woman was. How she ran around every morning going to the gym for weight training. And then meetings across town. And to the yoga studio afterwards for some cardio. And all while taking care of her new baby.

Ouch. Nothing like emphasizing to me how different I am from the rest of the population.

But right now … while on vacation … I’m going to focus on enjoying life. And relaxing. Because at the rate I’m going with my hypertension … I may just have a stroke before I turn 40. Yikes.

I will try to post again later on and tell you just how HIGH my blood pressure went at the doctor’s office … and how incredibly stressed I was this morning before we flew out. And maybe this week I’ll be getting around to posting some comments on other people’s blogs that I’ve been wanting to do for the past few weeks. Like KC – I seriously wish I could give you a huge hug right now. And Sara – when can I come and keep you company for a day? Or Kara – who I’ve been meaning to contact about my trip to SD at the end of July. And many many more of you … that I wish I could pick up the phone or IM you to tell you that I’m thinking of you.

And now … since my body is still in Eastern Standard Time … I’m going to crash. Even though the clock here in Canmore says it’s only 11 pm. Good night, y’all.

Family Bubble

Well … it’s been a week or so since I last posted or responded intelligently to the few blogs I had a chance to read over the past week. Trust me … it’s not for lack of wanting. Rather, I appear to be “paying” for that mini-vacation I took to Orlando. Like I mentioned in this previous post, the theory of having more work to do prior to and after returning from vacation is a definite.

Not only has work been a killer, but life after work has been pretty hectic too. Which, of course leaves little time to read, let alone comment on blogs or even write a post for me-self. But that ends today. On my scheduled day off from work. Well, at least for a couple hours anyway … just got done running around town and doing yardwork. And now I’ve got a couple hours before Hubby gets home from work.

How was our mini-vaca? In a word … FUN! Our goal was to create time to spend with our cousins outside of the usual weddings and funerals. We wanted to make it a bigger group of cousins, but timing allowed for the majority of the cousins to do it on that particular weekend this year. We’re hoping to start planning next year’s “reunion” by the end of this summer. Hopefully that will give the rest of the cousins … not to mention our parents … the time to set aside the date. Next year, we’re thinking lakefront cottages on the west coast of Michigan. If you’ve never been there, you’re missing out!

Did I mention we stayed at Hubby’s uncle’s house in the Orlando area? I say uncle, but really he’s only a couple years older than Hubby. And although there’s a bit of a “cultural difference” (a-hem … meaning he was born and raised in the Philippines while Hubby & I have been strongly influenced by the American cultures, as I’ve mentioned before in passing), Hubby & I get along great with him and his wife as we have some similar interests.

Hubby’s uncle and aunt (we’ll call them E and ML) met and married about two years after Hubby & I got married. Two years after that (in 2000), their son ME was born. And another two years after, their daughter, J joined their family. But because they lived in Florida, we did not get to see too much of them over the first half of this decade. It wasn’t until about late 2005 that we finally got to spend a little more time with their family, when they came up to Michigan for the kids’ first experience with a “White Christmas.” Hubby & promptly fell in love with ME and J. The two of them were so smart and so affectionate to us. While ME was quiet and shy, J was “Little Miss Personality.” Six months later, the family flew back up for SIL’s wedding. J was the flower girl and was loving every minute of it, while ME enjoyed his time with the other younger male cousin’s and with our nephew.

Prior to the Orlando trip, the last time we saw ME and J was for Hubby’s grandmother’s funeral in Virginia Beach. And while it was overall a somber occasion, we did get to spend some fun time with them as well as the rest of the cousins. (In fact, this is what spurred the cousins to try to get together in the first place!)

While playing a board game at this Virginia Beach gathering, I was amazed to see how incredibly smart and logical that ME and J were. Not that our other cousins and our nephew weren’t also being smart and strategic … it’s just that with these two cousins, they had this reasoning behind their actions that reminded me so much of how Hubby & I think. I was floored by that observation.

Also, during one of the more somber moments of that trip, I stumbled upon E and ML with their kids while they spent some private “family time” together. J was sitting on E’s lap while ML and ME sat on either side of them. They happened to be reading a story book together and I could sense the intense love and closeness that they all had for one another. It was as if they were in their own, impenetrable family “bubble” that no one could ever take away from them.

It was that image and the previously mentioned observation above that it suddenly hit me square in the chest. That ME and J were the living incarnate of what I always thought our children would be, if we ever were able to produce our own biological children.

I can’t remember if I told Hubby that comment back during that Virginia Beach trip or not … but I certainly did this time, after our Orlando trip. On the car ride home after arriving from the airport, I turned to Hubby and told him how I thought ME & J were who I always imagined that our kids would be like.

Hubby said nothing for a small spell and then said, “I know.” Those two words simutaneously filled my heart with absolute pure love and broke it into a million pieces.

That’s because we won’t be able to have a son like ME, who is shy and reserved just like Hubby. Who, as his parents claim, is such a big bookwork like Hubby & I both are. And who likes to draw comic books as much as Hubby loves to read and collect them.

Nor will we ever have a daughter who has such an infectious laugh with enough sass to light up all of Disn.eywo.rld, just like (according to my Mom, anyway) I was when I was around her age. Who, in her parents’ opinion, feels the need to include everyone in anything she does, much like Hubby & I do. And who loves to be out in the sun and at the beach as much (if not more) as I do.

Because, while I know there are different ways that Hubby & I can have that dream … have our own image of that “impenetrable family bubble” … the reality is … we are not going to be able to pass on those unique biological and genetic traits to our future children.

And that’s one H*LL of a big bubble to have had burst.

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

And now, for your viewing pleasure … some pictures from our Orlando Vacation

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