Saturday, July 29, 2006

A Volunteering Fool

I spent Thursday and Friday afternoon volunteering. Thursday was definitely more rewarding than Friday. I spent my time with "the cart" on Thursday and did little more. The grand chicky of volunteers took me on a long walk (which somewhat served as a tour) so that we could chat. She wanted to talk to me about what they planned to "do with me" (so to speak). As I mentioned in an earlier post, I will be working with that pilot program for newly diagnosed patients. That will start in September. I will also be working on revamping the way that volunteers are filtered through the system (again, so to speak) and marketing a variety of programs that are available through the center to the metro area. I feel this is all very worthwhile, but I am a little torn. My former career was in marketing/media, I am ready to move on. I offered to help in any way that I could, mentioning my background, so the only person I can blame is myself. I just had no idea they needed so much in this area. As long as I still get to work with the patients in some direct way, I will be happy. I don't want this to turn into my former life on a volunteer basis. I did a bunch of pro bono work before and enjoyed it tremendously. So, this will be an opportunity to do that again. I just don't want it being the only thing I am doing.

On Friday, I worked with a totally different area of the hospital, not even in XYZCC. There is an employee art show/contest beginning next week and yesterday was the last day for people to submit their work. It was hopping, but not fulfilling. People were nice, so I can't complain about that at all. Not everyday can be the best.

My days there will be Monday and Thursday each week. However, this week I will not be able to go because of a previously scheduled engagement. I will go in on Tuesday afternoon instead.
Today, we have a get-together at a friend's house. I am not too psyched about going. We feel really used by these people. I would have bugged out, but my husband confirmed before I could open my mouth. Tomorrow, we have another cookout at a neighbor's house across the alley. We really like our neighbors, so this won't be as bad. It is a celebration for some other alley neighbors that just got married. Here's the deal...the guy that just got married always looks at me like I have 15 heads and totally ignores us otherwise. His new wife is one of the friendliest people you could ever meet. I don't see the attraction, but it is not mine to see. The problem? We hardly know these people. What do we get them as a gift? One is expected, we just don't have the first clue. Hubby suggested a nice bottle of champagne, in hopes that they drink. She smokes, so he felt pretty safe in the drinking assumption. I think he was relying on statistics for this gift. If not, I have no idea what the heck to get them. So, we will take the champagne risk.

Sometime this weekend we must make more progress on the house. Our party is in 2 weeks. The master bath and the powder room must still be painted and the cabinet doors in the kitchen must be completed and reattached. Lots of work. It will be fun.

Ok, I need to go eat some breakfast and get the stuff ready for the cookout at 1.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Awesome Day!

Today was awesome! I awakened with just enough time to shower, dress, and shove a PB sandwich down for breakfast before heading off to the hospital/cancer center for what I thought would be an hour or so of "orientation." Not so. I got the low down on what the volunteer department at XYZ Cancer Center (XYZCC) is currently doing and what is planned. I am so psyched. Apparently, it was not difficult to pinpoint me in a heartbeat as someone who would work well in a new program for patients that is in development. More specifically, a handful of specially trained volunteers will be working with newly diagnosed patients to walk them down the road of what to expect in their treatment. Totally up my alley! I was really flattered by the how stoked they seemed to be to have me there. I mean, could they gush any more? It was so awesome and made me feel wonderful. I thought the volunteer coordinator was literally going to spin out when I told her that I was returning to school in prep for med school. Honestly, I am not sure why. I was already an adult volunteer in her eyes, so that indicated long term commitment, but now she was dealing with someone who had a deeper interest in the patients and the happenings of the hospital. Seriously, it was almost embarrassing.

I partnered with a woman who was in charge of the hospitality cart this morning. Nothing glamorous (I'm not there for glamour who cares!), but a way to get acquainted with the layout of things and the staff. It was wonderful. The patients were wonderful. I really enjoyed getting to do that little thing for them. I mean, I poured soft drinks and juice and handed out crackers and hard candy to these grateful people in such horrible circumstances...I don't know that I could have had a better day. The smiles I was able to exchange. The brushes of the hand that I shared...I was able to bring a tiny bit of joy to these people. It was awesome. I am so thrilled that I chose to volunteer in the cancer center. There is something different there that isn't found in the hospital. I could speculate as to what exactly it is, you know, attempt to put a philosophical label on it, but somehow that would seem disrespectful.

I am scheduled to return Thursday afternoon. I can hardly wait.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Another orientation...Tomorrow

Tomorrow is my orientation at XYZ Cancer Center. I am really excited. I will find out what I will be doing. They have opportunities to do different things with varying levels of patient interaction. Obviously, give me all ya got! A friend of ours (in her 80s) volunteers at a hospital in a different area of the state and she works in the recovery room. I would love that. I wanted to do something a little different than the typical "volunteer in the E.D. at XYZ Hospital" and it was between XYZ Cancer Center and Hospice. They don't even call it "hospice" in many areas anymore, now it is "Palliative Care." I think anyone who has had experience with this service still refers to it as "hospice." My father-in-law underwent hospice care. While I never knew him, I do know that it was a horrible experience for all involved. This however is not the norm. The nurse that was assigned to his case was pretty rotten from what I understand and had little regard for the actual feelings of my father-in-law and my husband's family. My husband, in his line of work, now deals regularly with people under the care of hospice. Many go in an out of the care, which is why they sometimes tend to refer to it as palliative care. This is positive in every way. People getting better, going home...what's not positive about that. Wait...let me rethink that...maybe one day I will get into the nasty and painful discussion of caregivers. Especially, adult children caregivers.

I am really pumped about tomorrow. I look at every new opportunity as a step in the right direction.

I'll post how it goes tomorrow. Oh, and for the person waiting to see a pic of my big puppy... here she is:I have had her since she was 9.5 weeks old. She is now 7. Gosh, I love my dogs. It's amazing to consider the relationship between pets and their owners. I could NEVER be a vet.

Until tomorrow.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I think too much...Do I?

This week was fairly uneventful, I suppose. As I recounted, I went and had my TB test read and got my hospital ID. I had my MMR booster on Friday and will return for the second of two needle sticks in a month. I have scheduled my second of two orientations for my volunteer work at the cancer center for Tuesday and I have been registered for classes for a month. I sat down with my mentor last evening for a very thorough chat about what is going on and my direction. She is always positive so I opted to pose a question that would require a negative answer to be honest. Not that I wanted a negative answer, but I wanted to cover all my bases.

Q: "Is there anything you can identify that I am not doing correctly?"

A: "You are thinking too much."

Apparently, everyone seems to have this wrong. This is supposed to be a relaxing process? I think not. But, I guess I should have expected that from a woman who got her M.D. without a second though except for specialty. In fact, that is her biggest regret in medicine. She had secured a neurosurg residency, but due to a variety of factors opted for IM and later went back and became board certified in Psychiatry and Neurology. Really, I should have expected an answer like that from a person like that. However, there is a reason that I hold her in such high regard. Perhaps I should listen.

I am going to chat on the phone with a couple of my SDN peeps tonight...A planned "3 way" if you will. I am looking forward to it!

Outta here for now.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Unfortunately, the heatwave that has enveloped the country hasn't forgotten us. The mercury soared to 104F today with a heat index of 111! That's insane. Thankfully, I didn't have to go anywhere today, but was mindful of those who did. The plumber came by to fix a problem that had developed since he was last here and immediately commented about how good it felt inside our house. Of course, that doesn't come without a price. When we bought the house, the A/C and heating systems were 20-30 years old and we knew that they weren't going to cut it. So, hubby did a bunch of research and had some spiffy system installed in February. I am thrilled that he did! It has been running like mad to maintain the 72F temperature that we are demanding of it. You know it is hot outside when our chow comes running in the back door when called.
This is the same dog that refused to come inside for HOURS, instead lying outside in the hot, Texas summer heat. Insane! Not today! It was a race to the door. No begging, pleading or threatening today. So maybe the heat does have its perks. :)

A torrential downpour would be wonderful, but I haven't seen one forecasted. So until then, we will just chill inside.

I had some psycho-educational testing done in early June. Today, I got a call for the psychologist who administered it. I do not meet the criteria for "learning disabled," but I am slow on timed tasks my reading level is lower than it should be. The clincher? I "make up for it" in comprehension. I guess it is somewhat funny, since reading comprehension is what drove me there in the first place. Oh well. I am trying to read more to improve the whole level and speed thing, but it is somewhat frustrating to hear. She said that I place way too much undue stress on myself...Setting standards ridiculously high, etc. And..that I should look into guided imagery. Ugh. Whatever. If it will help (or has a chance of helping) I will do it. Maybe I will call tomorrow. I need to get on it so that I can be better prepared for the fall semester.

Until later dudes and dudettes.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sunday...I think.

I slept forever today. The alarm went off at 7:30am and I barely rolled over. Neither one of us went to church. I don't even know when the last time my hubby didn't go! I skipped a bunch when we were at our last church b/c I was so disgusted with the people. I didn't get anything out of the service and felt more hatred than anything. Perhaps it wasn't the best thing to do, but I did it nonetheless. This morning, I was COMPLETELY out of it. I slept until 10:30. I have no idea when hubby awakened. We had breakfast about 11 and crawled back into bed. I ended up taking another nap until about 3:30 (off and on) …we went to Jason's Deli at about 4:30 for lunch/dinner. Unfortunately, while were there, I had a somewhat severe hypoglycemic incident. I am not diabetic, but it was awful. I could feel it getting worse when I was getting my salad. When I sat down at the table, I could barely get food to my mouth. Somehow, I asked hubby to get me a regular CokeƂ—quickly. I never drink Coke. Always Diet. But, I knew I needed the sugar. I gulped it down.… As I ate more, I felt progressively better. It was a horribly frightening experience, but I know that skipping meals (or not eating within 3-4 hours or so) does not agree with me and I should heed the warning signs which I didn't. I have never had an incident like this before. It is usually a lot milder and I take care of it right away. I was seconds from not being about to talk that was not fun. Anyway, I am fine now. No one suspected a thing except for the two of us.

Tomorrow, I need to go get my picture taken for my hospital ID. I hate ID pictures. Somehow, they brand you and you cannot change from the way you were that moment. Rarely, the camera catches a good moment...those are awesome. I recently begged the DMV to allow me to keep my previous driver's license picture. I lost. So, now I must walk around with that moment in the grey t-shirt until I am willing to endure another trip to the DMV. I think I will forego my vanity and keep the picture.

We are searching for an indoor, floor fountain/waterfall for our foyer. I never knew finding a fountain 55"+ tall x 16"+ wide would be such a big deal. We were able to find ONE. I think. I say "I think" because there is reason to believe that there may be a typo in the description. I hope not. It is not my first choice for fountains, however the size overrides any slight dislike I may harbor.

It's nice to have such trivial worries. I have friends who don't have this luxury right now. They are on my heart and mind a lot. Say a prayer of thanks for triviality...and then please add a prayer for those I am thinking of right now.

Peace Out Peeps!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I am thrilled to report that the foyer and upstairs hallway have been painted! Now, for some reason, I am dizzy, have a headache and am woozy. Probably the paint fumes, I guess.

I had decided to apply to a formal post-bacc program instead of doing it on my own. Especially since the university where I am doing my work has such a great program. So I had begun to study for the GRE. But, was not what I thought it was! I have to finish all of my stupid pre-reqs before I can even get into their program. So, I looked further...they have a certification program for people looking to complete their pre-reqs, but you have to have already completed the year of Bio and the year of Chem. That's almost half of it already! What exactly is the purpose? Especially since I can't get into either of those classes this fall. So, we'll have to see what happens. Hopefully, somehow by the grace of God, a spot will open up in Bio and I can jump on it. But, Chem...I need the Intro. I haven't taken it since my junior year in high school. I have decided to take the math placement test over again since I bombed it so royally the first time. I mean, I can do Calc II...what am doing failing an Algebra test? Stupid...really stupid. I need to go get Schaum's College Algebra and look over it. Schaum's Outlines are fabulous if you have never used them. Unfortunately...I have encountered quite a few errors on the answer key. But, for explanation...amazing. I have found them very useful. Keep your fingers crossed and your hands folded that I pull this out. I don't want to rot a semester away in College Algebra!

I am trying to get these pre-reqs out of the way by Summer 2008. Now, try to squeeze the MCAT in there with ample study time and everything will be great. I have some serious doubts. That's ok. What's an extra year when everyone is going to be 10+ years younger than me when I finally get in anyway?? :)

As an aside...I have a zit on the tip of my nose. I guess I am not too old for those!


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Get Oriented...

Finally...something educationally/medically related to report! I had contacted the cancer center affiliated with the med school nearby to volunteer and had received a letter from them around the beginning of June. With all the moving and commotion, I had not contacted them to move forward. Yesterday, I did. I will be volunteering at the (unnamed) Cancer Center, but I first need to go through the general orientation at the main hospital and then another over at the center. I called the hospital today and I will attend orientation tomorrow morning at 10. I guess there is no time like the present!

I am really looking forward to starting down this path of my journey.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Ketchup is better than...

All I ever seem to come up with to post on here lately is catch up stuff. Well, here goes again:

Hubby has finally moved to the new place for good. This is an extremely happy thing, but it seems that all we have done is argue since he got here. That is not so great. My stress level is up, he says that I am always putting him on edge. Something has got to give. I really want to be a better wife, but I am not. He doesn't put pressure on me (that I can identify) and is extremely supportive. So what am I complaining about? I need to get my head on straight. We are in this new place, creating a new life for ourselves because of me! I know that. He just found something good to do with his life while we are here. It certainly is not hurting him or his career, but it was MY choice to move reasons.

I don't really know what to think anymore. Is he uptight or is it me? History would tell anyone that it is me. I have been working so hard on not flying off the handle. I tend to do that and jump down his throat. Sometimes I wonder why the man is still with me.

Anyway, Grey's Anatomy is on...they are showing the first two episodes. Too bad we watch them on DVD like 3 days ago. Usually, I can watch a rerun and it is all new to me - not today. Maybe it is all that edjumakashun that I am gettin' reedin' The New England Journal of Medicine. At my request, it has begun to grace my mailbox. Hopefully, I can learn something and improve my reading comprehension at the same time. I really have to strengthen my reading. It is definitely a weakness...probably my most severe (academically, at least).

Ken Lay died before he could be sentenced for the horrible things he did. In my honest opinion, he got off easy. The people whose life savings he took will have to spend their remaining days working to survive. He was on VACATION when he died. What do you think?