Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Control Freak

In my line of work I meet so many people. I meet them under circumstances that are, for them, extremely anxiety-provoking and uncomfortable. I bring them to a cold room, put them on a narrow table, and start invading their privacy. I expose parts of them that maybe only their significant other or family physician has seen. I shave their groin area, put sticky patches and wires all over them, and stick needles and tubes in them. I completely take away their control, preparing them for the terrifying unknown of the heart tests they are about to undergo. These people are well-informed (due to legalities) that the tests we are doing actually attempt to provoke a heart rhythm that could potentially kill them. We tell them it's ok, though, because it's all in a "controlled environment." It's easy for us to say, since WE are in control.

I do this several times a day, every day. For my patients, it's hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

How people behave when their control is taken away along with a good portion of their diginity is often remarkable. Grown men shiver and cry, little brittle women take it all in stride. Formerly composed professor-types panic, knuckle-dragging slackjaws show you courtesy and forbearance you could never imagine. So many people, so many surprises.

I am a control freak, and I have been on this table. Twice. I had my own heart rhythm problem. I have been the patient, known the terrifying loss of control. I had the "benefit" of knowing what was coming. Regardless, it was difficult. It has made me so much the better nurse, though. Who more appropriate to help patients through their own experience? I know it sounds corny, but sometimes I feel like I was "called" to do this.

Today, I met a patient who amazed me; one that will be forever in my memory. This man was 100, count'em: one hundred years old. He will be 101 in three months. What an inspiration! He was deaf as a post, sharp as a tack. We asked this poor crooked man to lie straight and still on a hard table for two hours. He never complained. He was polite, congenial, and tolerant. He told us of the 10 different places he was stationed in WWII all over Europe and in Africa. We had to stick him 6 times with needles for an IV and he never once grumbled. When he asked me to adjust his pillow, I told him he sure was a big complainer...he laughed and laughed. When the procedure was over he took my hand, squeezed it tight, looked right into my eyes, and thanked me for "guiding" him through this procedure. Yeah, this is why I come to work...on the chance that I might meet someone like him.

Another Dinner Table Conversation:

Plato: "Mom? What's the bad 'P-Word?'"

Do you know any bad p-words?

Plato: "...Nooooo..." Thinks a while. "Mom?"

Yes, honey?

Plato: "I know the bad "S-word."

The Boss has been listening and can't help but contribute: "WE DON'T SAY POTTY WORDS, JUST ONLY IN THE POTTY!!"

That's right, potty words are only for the potty (I didn't teach her this, but I like it!). Plato, what is the S-Word you know? I promise myself I will NOT laugh when he says it.

Plato: Well, I'm not supposed to say it. You won't be mad? It's a really, really bad word.

I won't be mad. You can tell mommy anything.

Plato: Well....okay... (takes a big breath)...it's..."Stupid."

I am trying hard not to crack up. Yes, honey, "stupid" is a very bad word.


Gosh, I hope he stays this innocent for a few more years.

Work vs. Life

A coworker of mine made an observation yesterday about Americans and work. She said, "You know, in Europe they have a saying: Americans live to work, while Europeans work to live." Not an hour later this same coworker was trying to guilt trip me into staying for an extra 1-2 hours to do another case.

Guess she sides with the Americans.

While in most scenarios I agree with Americans and their values, I heartily side with the Europeans on this one. I have spent 11 years in the work force, 9 of those years searching for a job that fits my specific needs. See, I have this ethical flaw...I want to spend time with my family. Unfortunately, our budget doesn't allow for me to be a stay-at-home mom. I have often said that being a stay-at-home mom would drive me crazy, that I wouldn't be as good a parent because I would be terminally stressed. I was kidding myself; creating justification for the choices I have made. I have come to the realization that stay-at-home moms find things to do. They also find other stay-at-home moms.

But I digress. The point of this rant is that I have chosen my current job primarily because I can leave it at work. I can work a normal workday (I worked night shift for 6 years...blech!). When the workday is done, I can go home. I don't have homeowork. I don't have to plan for the next day. I do not have to carry a pager and be preoccupied that it might go off and I have to drop everything and go save a life. I don't need the overtime pay, and it doesn't compensate for my time away from my family anyway.

After 10 hours away from my kids, is it wrong to be possessive of those precious 2 hours I get before they need to be in bed? My coworkers without children seem to think so...even some who HAVE children seem to think so. THEY live to work. I work to live.

I didn't fall for the guilt trip, by the way. I went home, had dinner with my kids, tucked them into bed, and got to hear both my kids tell me they love me and I am the best. $60 in overtime couldn't compensate for that, baby.

And hey, if I hadn't been home, I would have missed this:

Dinner Table Conversation 3/26/07

Plato is thinking.

Uh oh...Wait for it...wait for it...

He swallows his meatloaf and says "Mom?..."

"What's Uranus?"

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Story of JeepMan

Looking back through my posts I get the impression that I am portraying JeepMan as a jerk. While it's true that he can be a jerk, I can also be a real...pain. Most of the time we get along fine. As I have already said, he is a really good dad. And I have to give him props - he does very well considering his background. It's amazing that he is not more of a jerk, or a deadbeat dad, or in jail.

JeepMan (I'll call him JM for this story) was born to a very young couple in a tumultuous relationship. JM's dad was a dope dealer who left (or was kicked out of the house) when JM was two. His dad was in and out of his life until JM was about 8, at which time he was put in jail for drug trafficking and for having false identity (he always had an illegal alias). He has been in and out of jail ever since.

JM has few good memories of his father. He says the only good thing he got from his dad was the ability to throw darts and play pool (both of which he does very well). JM remembers being taken on drug deals with his dad, and to this day associates the smell of cigarettes with the dope deals. He remembers going out "for fun," and driving along gravel roads looking for license plates in the ditch that his dad could put on his car so his own couldn't be tracked. His dad never paid child support. He tried to stay in touch with JM over the years, from jail, but JM never had a desire to reciprocate. Go figure.

JM's mom, on the other hand, lived a pretty wild life. JM had to switch elementary schools at least 10 times, sometimes going back to one he had attended before. This was because his mom frequently moved in with whatever boyfriend she had at the time. Then when they would break up, they would move out. JM never made many friends, and the ones he made he couldn't keep. JM was an obese child, which didn't help his social situation. JM was put into situations where he was exposed to his mom's, ah...adult activities... Suffice to say activities a child should not be exposed to. He witnessed fighting, occasionally his mother being hit. When he started high school, his grandparents bought a house for he and his mother to live in so he wouldn't have to be moved around. About this time, his mother was beaten so badly by a boyfriend that she was hospitalized. By this time he was so jaded that he walked into her hospital room and told her she got what she asked for, then walked out. She changed the locks on her house, then a week later gave the same guy the new key. JM moved in with his girlfriend.

He was with this girlfriend for several years. When he moved to college, he found out after a few months that she was cheating on him. She got pregnant by this other guy, and eventually married him. About this time we became friends. He went home for a summer and one of his mom's boyfriends convinced her that JM should be paying rent and buying his own food. He never went back after that. A few years later we started dating and eventually got married.

The saga still continues with his mother. Very long story short, she has gotten married to a good man with a very good income. She has embraced the "rich-bitch" lifestyle wholeheartedly, and seems to forget her former destitution and poor mothering. It is difficult for JM to be around her most of the time and their relationship has been strained (though she seems blissfully unaware of this). To top it all off, (and a whole other story) his grandmother is basically a psycho. Hope it doesn't run in the family.

It is amazing to me that JM has any idea of how to be a husband or parent. His best friend in high school was from a picture-perfect type of family and he spent a lot of time at their house. That is probably the best thing that ever happened to him in his youth. I have to give him credit for doing the best he knows how, but it has been difficult. When we have our problems, I always have to remind myself that I KNEW who I was marrying. I can't make up new expectations, change the rules.

So that is the short version of the story of JeepMan. I'll post this now and add to it if needed later.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Doctor Drama

JeepMan thinks I baby the kids too much. While it's true that I baby them much more than he, I don't think it's excessive. Maybe I overdo a little because he doesn't really do it at all. Making up for what it lacking, so to speak. I imagine many moms find themselves doing this.

Sunday The Boss was whiny. This is nothing new. At almost 3, it's just part of her age. Also she didn't get any mommy-time on Saturday since she, Plato, and JeepMan were at the in-laws while I was miserable on the couch all day with my Kleenex and the Lifetime Movie Network. Okay, the LMN thing isn't true (I can't usually watch those movies) but the rest is.

So back to whiny. The thing that caught my attention was that the whining was all universally themed: "My ear hurts, Mommy." It always came back to this, and it was always the same ear. Unfortunately 2 1/2 year olds don't have the capability to elaborate. Why, where, when, how...these are all foreign concepts to kids of this age. And so it went for most of the day. I got a flashlight, looked in both ears. The left one looked ok and the right looked...well, different. What I wouldn't have given for an otoscope (the ear-looker thingy that doctors use)! JeepMan was watching all this with mild irritation. "She was FINE yesterday. Now Mommy is around and she's getting lots of attention..." The accusation in his voice was less-than-subtle.

At the far opposite end of the spectrum, I was contemplating an ER visit (how is it that sick kids just seem to KNOW it's Sunday?). But the $50-$100 copay loomed large in my mind. Even larger the idea that I would have to answer to JeepMan when the ER doc told me things were fine. So I put it off. But the nagging Mommy in me just couldn't let go of the idea that something wasn't right. To top it off, when I was putting The Boss to bed, I decided to attempt a final interrogation:

"What's wrong with your ear?"

"It huwts!" (big tears)

"What happened to your ear?"

"I put a stick in there!"


"I put a stick in there!"

"A stick? Where did you get the stick?"

"Because I did it!!"

"No...uh...okay, um, can you show mommy the stick?"

"Uh, huh..." (goes to the window and points) "Out dare..."

Ugh. Now I had to really think. Go to the ER on a Sunday night at 8pm on the word of a 2 1/2 year old, or wait? I waited.

It was a long night. The Boss waking every hour or so, crying about her ear. I finally brought her into my bed (JeepMan was already on the couch due to the racket). I never let the kids sleep with me unless we are in a hotel. I found out she punches in her sleep. Between dodging her left hook and the crying bouts, I did not sleep well.

In the morning I showed up at the clinic at 8am when they opened. I have never ever done this...I am fanatical about appointments. After I explained our story, the scheduler had the nerve to say, "Well, Mondays are busy...I will have to check and see if there are any available appointments..." I am sure that she did not appreciate the kind of peril she was in at that very moment. Or maybe she did because miraculously an 8:30 appointment became available. We waited.

Funny how kids suddenly become perfectly normal when in a doctor's waiting room. My whiny, lethargic, ear-hurting child metamorphosed into a bubbly toddler. My doubts resurged. Mind you, I really hoped everything was ok with her and I was just being a hypochondriac (displaced). Secretly, though, I was planning a big IN-YOUR-FACE speech if there actually was something wrong!!

Long story short, she DID have a perforated eardrum. There was no stick in there, though, so who knows about that part of the story. She had a ton of fluid behind her left eardrum, too, so spontaneous rupture was a viable theory. She's on antibiotics now and seems to be doing a little better.

And JeepMan DID get a (slightly modified) In-Your-Face speech.

Moral: Moms, listen to that little voice. Dads, listen to Moms.

Monday, March 19, 2007


I am not sure why my last post is not showing up. I am posting this test to see if it will coax the other one out of hiding...test, test.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hot Boots

I have a few precious moments...The kids are watching Scooby-Doo 2 for about the 20th time in Plato's room, and JeepMan is glued to the NCAA tournament games. I don't have a lot of interest in watching game after game after game, so I am taking some mommy-time.

I was sick with a nasty cold yesterday (still am today), so JeepMan took the kids to the in-laws by himself. He hates doing this and I got the cold shoulder a lot of yesterday morning and evening. I don't know what the big deal is; I don't care if I have to take the kids to my folks without him. I guess he just wants to spread the misery around: my mother-in-law IS quite a specimen (a subject, no doubt, of a future blog).

Anyhow, I was at the breakfast table this morning, asking the kids how it went yesterday. The Boss pipes up with, "WE HAD FUN MOM!"

I said that was good, and Plato says, "Mom, I saw a girl at the resturant and she was HOT!" He really emphasized HOT, grinding out the H like he was hocking a loogie; similar to the "CH" sound that people who know how to properly pronounce "Chanukkah" use.

I was speechless (as usual), and JeepMan about spit out his French Toast laughing.

I decided to see if I could steer the conversation in a useful direction. "What about her was hot?"

"Well, she was bigger than me though," was the offhand reply.

I refused to let it go at that. "But what makes you say she was hot?"

He pondered a moment, then offered, "Well she was wearing HOT boots!"

As vague as that may sound, I could already picture the little skank in my mind. I was preparing to continue the interrogation when JeepMan offered the useful comment: "Oh, yeah... I saw her too! She had on a tight green shirt and a little black skirt with those boots."

I gave up. Obviously she made a lasting impression on a few men last night.

I got to thinking, though, I don't recall even knowing that boys existed until I was at least in 3rd grade...and that was only because one declared that he had a crush on me. Are kids these days that much more sexualized at earlier ages? I suppose it makes sense. Between the media and other kids I suppose it's unavoidable. I will just have to ramp up the efforts to keep the conversations open. And to keep JeepMan from egging him on.

I imagine he won't think it's so funny when it's his little girl making the comments or getting the attention!

So then I gave the rugrats a bath. I still let them bathe together. I have been wondering when I should stop doing that, but it's so much more convenient for consolidating time and mess-containment! Anyway, it's scenarios like this that really make me wonder if it's about time to separate them at bath time:

I was blowdrying my hair and observing their play, making sure the floor didn't flood and nobody drowned. It's all fun and games, as you know, until someone gets a lungful of bathwater. Anyway, the kids were playing with The Boss' little mermaid dolls.

(Yes, I let my son play with dolls. As evidenced above, I don't have any qualms about it conflicting his future gender-preference!)

Anyway, they were role playing some kind of "Super-Mermaid" scenario.

It went like this:

Plato: My mermaid has WAVE-POWER!! (appropriate sound effects)

The Boss: MY MUH-MAID HAB HAIR-POWUH!! (more sound effects)

Plato: MY mermaid has WATER-POWER!!

The Boss: MY MUH-MAID HAB STINKY BUM-BUM POWUH!! (maniacal laughter)

Plato: (giggling) My mermaid has TAIL-POWER!!


OK, NOW I had to intervene: "HEY, Knock it off you wackos!!"

I can't help but think that if she hadn't been in the bathtub with her brother this comment wouldn't have been made...

Yeah, I think it's about time to give them separate baths.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Dinner Table Conversation 3/16

As a child growing up in my parents' household, I remember that dinner as a family was a high priority. Many topics were discussed, and even the silent dinners still held a sense of sanctity and cohesion. In spite of having a bit more hectic schedule than my parents, I have struggled to preserve this ritual for myself, my husband, and our children. However, it is only in the past year or so, as both my children are becoming eloquent in expressing their thoughts, that I have really come to reap the rewards of this nightly ritual.

Our conversation at dinner last evening went something like this:

Plato: Mom?

(most of our conversations start like this...)


Plato: Mom? I LOVE you.

Thanks, babe. I love you too.

The Boss (in that cute squeak that can only come from a 2 year old girl): I LUB YOU TOO MOMMY!

I love you too baby.

Plato: You're the best mommy in the whole wide world.

Thanks, honey. And you are the best boy I could ask for.

The Boss: MOM!! You are da best mommy ebber!

Thanks LuLu (my pet name for her). And you are the best little girl I could ask for.

I notice JeepMan taking all of this in. The kids really do lavish a lot of attention on me. I think it may have to do with the fact that I reciprocate? Anyway, I try to involve him:

And what about Daddy?

The Boss: DADDY IS A POOPY DIAPER!! (she cackles hysterically, very pleased with her sense of "humor")

Plato, nearly 6, is a bit more diplomatic:

Plato: Well, Daddy IS stinky, but he's a good Daddy anyway.

JeepMan just shakes his head and smiles that little smile of his. I never know if he is trying not to crack up or if he is secretly irritated.

Silence for a while. Plato is deep in thought. After a while he speaks:

Plato: Mom? What if the Earth crashed into the Sun?

I struggle to process what he just said. I stare at him. Finally I manage an oh-so-sage reply:


Plato: What if the Earth crashed into the Sun?

JeepMan steps up to the plate to hit this one out of the park:

JM: Well, I suppose we would all burn up.

(ugh!) Plato's eyes are getting big...time for damage control:

Honey, that would never happen. The Earth has been where it is forever, and it is not going to crash into the sun.

Plato: Well, what if a bunch of people got really fat and the Earth went crashing into the sun?

That couldn't happen. The Earth is much too big.

Plato contemplates this for a minute. Then speaks:

Plato: Well, THAT's why I am NOT going to eat too much sugar!
I wonder where he gets such thoughts? He comes up with this stuff all the time. Wacky questions that usually start with "Why" or "What if...", observations that usually start with "Did you know..." I realize that much of this is normal for kids his age. He is exploring his world, learning new things every day.

But there is so much more to his thinking. He worries, obsesses.

For instance when he was 4 I had put him to bed. This is a kid that usually konks right out and I don't hear from him for 11 hours. But an hour after I put him down he was in the kitchen sobbing. I asked what was the matter and he told me he couldn't sleep. He was nearly inconsolable! I finally managed to calm him down and when I asked him what the matter was he said, full of despair, "I am NEVER going to learn how to drive a car!!"

He went through a phase at 4 1/2 where he was devastated that he was not going to be able to marry his sister. He obsessed about how he was EVER going to find someone to marry.

His wish upon blowing out the candles on his 5th birthday? "I wish I was seventeen."

His first week of kindergarten was spend mooning over the 3rd grade girl who rides his bus and how she wouldn't be his friend and she was the PRETTIEST girl he knew.

And his current obsession. Death. He told me, "Mom, I just care about EVERYTHING. I don't want anything to die!"

This child has put me at a loss for words numerous times. What do you say to a 5 year old who thinks like a 10 year old (but still is really a 5 year old)? I am finding diversion to be an excellent tactic.
Well, I am sure the dinner table will continue to provide endless material. That's all for now...


Friday, March 16, 2007

Welcome to My Life

I am a 34-year-old working mom. I have 2 kids, a boy who will soon be 6 and a girl who will soon be 3.

My son is in kindergarten. He is of course beautiful and brilliant. He is my sensitive deep thinker. He obsesses about all sorts of things that kids his age shouldn't be concerned about...I am sure that will be a frequent subject on this blog. I guess I should refer to him from here on out as "Plato," since he is such a deep thinker.

My daughter is in daycare full time. She is of course beautiful, I imagine she will turn out brilliant as well. For now she is egocentric and determined. I will refer to her as "The Boss", because that is what she says she will be when she grows up.

I work full time as a nurse in a cardiac electrophysiology lab. For those of you who might say, "huh?" I would explain that I help perform procedures on patients who have heart rhythm problems. Pacemakers, ablations, etc. It's fast-paced, high-tech, and has a huge learning curve, which suits me just fine. I get bored easily if I am not challenged.

I am married, have been for almost 11 years. My husband and I have had our ups and downs, but have managed to stay together through it all. He is a good husband and father. He works for a university in the financial aid office listening to students whine about their money problems with an iPod in one hand, a Starbuck's Frappuccino in the other, and a cell phone blaring custom ringtones every 30 seconds. I don't know how he does it; I would probably be suicidal. His major (translate: expensive) hobby is offroading our 2005 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. I'll get to that more later. I will call him JeepMan.

As for me, he likes to call me G-Money, since my first name starts with G. I'll abbreviate that as G$. I am on my lunch break (they give me a WHOLE half hour, woo hoo!), so I gotta go for now. Hopefully I can keep up with this blog better than I do with the kids' baby books.