Wednesday, June 25, 2014

So, I ran.

I had let my weight sort of get out of control again and my hips felt it.  I had gotten to the point where even short runs left me with painful hips.  And then I started having pain in my hips even when I hadn't run.  So, I took my own advice to a friend with a back injury and gave it a rest.  I've still been walking a bunch, but no running for nearly 3 weeks.  However, I've also lost 12 pounds in the last 6 weeks or so.

Since I've had no pain for several days now, I decided today was the day to start breaking back into running.

I decided to use C25k again.  Just starting with week 3.  I'm going to stick with that and get up to where I'm solidly running again and see how I do.  I've been doing intervals for a few years and that's been good, but I at least want to see how I do on short runs just straight running.  But, I want to be smart about it.  So, I'm going to take my time.

Then, I'll start training for the Spacecoast Half in September.  I'm going to be here in Baltimore until early October, it seems, so all these hills will make for some good training, I think.

But, this morning was beautiful, and I felt strong.  I realize that I've missed running.

Hopefully the weight will keep coming off and I'll get faster and better and stronger.  But, I will definitely enjoy the process.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Be serious. Seriously. For just a minute.

Yeah, well, it's gonna be hard to find a picture of Erica being serious.

But, grief.  It's so weird.

I mean, when my Pop passed, I thought it would kill me.  No shit.  For an hour or so, I felt like I must die, because it hurt too fucking much to keep going.

But, eventually reality and life sort of insinuated themselves.  And, while there are moments when missing him is almost palpable, now almost 4 years out, I have a whole different perspective.  Especially in light of Erica's illness and passing. 

My Pop got to live a somewhat truncated, but, basically full life.  He got to enjoy several years of retirement and grandchildren.

Erica got robbed.  And, in her passing, we all got robbed.  And, sometimes I still get pissed off about it.  And, I rage inwardly at the unfairness of it all.

And, then I think about my friend Hagertha, and the very sudden and truly tragic loss of a husband, the father of her young son, who was even younger than Erica.  And another tall, nordic appearing friend who lost a husband to cancer, far too young. And my cousin, one of the kindest people anyone ever met, who lost not one but two young husbands over a couple of decades.  And little Sammy, a 3 year old girl who was my mother's darling in her church nursery class, who died from cancer, and my friend Beth's little boy, Nolan, who died at 7 from a recurrence of the osteosarcoma that everyone thought he'd beaten.

These moments, I struggle with the intellectual knowledge that life goes on vs. the feeling that it should just stop.  For a minute.  In honor of them.  All of them.  All of the great people who died too soon...mortality.  Mortality sucks.

So, what's left to do except carpe diem.  I can't know how many days I have left.  Or anyone else whom I love.

All I can do is live.  Really live.  Suck all the life out of every single minute.  And love them.  And tell all of them how very important they all are to me. 

So, there.  I promise to try to get back to some light-hearted Nurse Bananahammock nonsense soon.  But, right now... I need a minute.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

It Takes a Village. Or, Village Gains New Idiot

So, I’m in Baltimore.  Yay!  It’s actually a cool town (so far).  The public transit is AMAZING.  I spent a whole day just wandering around, getting my bearings.   I’ll blog separately about my adventures in public transit (never a boring minute).   But, let me tell you about where the stellar housing folks at my agency have bunked me.

Getting here was an adventure.  My GPS took me through downtown Baltimore to get here.  I’m not entirely sure that was necessary.  I think she (the snooty, overly cheerful voice that tells me where to go) was having a go at me, frankly.

Once I was out of downtown, though, and headed north-ish, I drove through some rather alarming looking little areas (really, about the same as the area where I grew up, y’know…ghetto).  But then I drove into a wooded area with older, large houses nestled on hills and then I saw a little “village” (that’s what the sign said).  It’s a grouping of little shops and a tavern near the light rail station.  As I turned up the hill, I was taken by how beautiful the neighborhood was.  Then I pulled into the apartment complex itself.

It’s definitely been here a while.  I’m guessing it was the hot, new place to live when disco was all the rage.  Still, the grounds seem well maintained.  There’s a tennis court, a pool with a hot tub, a gym a nature trail, parks for kids, parks for dogs…It’s pretty cool. 

The apartment itself is really adorable.  It’s a subfloor  unit.  My bedroom reminds me of Laverne & Shirley, looking up at the sidewalk outside.  I want Lenny & Squiggy to come down the stairs.  The living room/dining area and kitchen are “downstairs” from the bedroom.  It feels very roomy.  I also have sliding glass doors out to a little patio that opens to a grassy hill and the nature trail.  It’s absolutely perfect.

Once I got the car unloaded and about halfway through unpacking, I decided I needed to eat.  I used my handy dandy GPS and this time the snooty voice took me directly to where I’d wanted to go. I had dinner (and a Blue Moon draft!) at a tony little tavern that had a fairly limited, but appealing menu.  I had grilled salmon over kale and a half a tomato stuffed with feta cheese.  It. Was. So. Good.  I think the kale must have been marinated in butter and wonderfulness for days prior to cooking it.  Greens were never so delectable.
Then I walked to the Whole Foods (aptly nick-named “whole paycheck” by my friends) that is the closest grocer and got supplies for my breakfast then sauntered back up the hill.

On the way, I initially had the absurd idea that I was a Disney princess, the sound of the babbling brook that ran along the road was accompanied by birdsong that was cheerful to the point of parody.  But this sound was broken by what at first sounded like some large machine, a metal stamp of some sort.  Then I realized it was sort of rhythmic.  Oh, drums!  I realized that there was a garage band somewhere up the hill to my left  and I eventually identified the tune as “Call me Maybe”.  Then it blended into Saio’s “Dynomite”.  I’d moved from a Disney movie to the soundtrack of some sort of 2010’s version of “Grease”.  Found myself singing along and dancing up the hill back to my very cute apartment where I finished unpacking, made up my bed, took a long bath and fell asleep in my Laverne & Shirley bedroom.




Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Nurse Bananahammock's Adventures in Public Transit - warning, language and general grossness included

I am no stranger to public transit.  I grew up in Northern Kentucky where there is a fairly extensive bus system that coordinates with Cincinnati’s system across the river.  All of my growing up years and very early adulthood were spent taking buses and walking to wherever I needed to get. 

Where I live in FL, the public transit is pretty sparse, but I use it as much as I can.  I have used public transit in Albuquerque a lot (including the day that a river of puke rolled down the center aisle from the homeless Listerine drunk who was sitting in the back row) and in Phoenix and Houston.

Baltimore is proving to be a lot of fun on the score of public transit.  Now, first let me say that they have a very good system.  I spent the whole day just moving around on the various forms: bus, light rail and subway.  The handy light rail station at the bottom of the hill has an automated fare machine where I was able to buy a pass for the entire month that is good for all three forms of transit.  Thank God I did a dry run before I needed to be somewhere on time, I’d have missed my bus for waiting on the wrong side of the street.  But, I got on the right bus and rode into town.   

It’s Sunday, so there were a couple of older ladies all dress up for church getting on and off here and there.  Then we started getting closer to downtown.  I saw a large-ish group getting on the bus.  This was a sorry little lot.  The first of them actually said, loudly, as she boarded, “Yeah look at all the meth-heads and junkies!”


Just before the bus pulled away from this stop – which was apparently near a soup kitchen (I presumed as the obese “meth-heads and junkies” MC was loudly critiquing the fare) I saw a chick who looked for all the world like a walker.  Shambling across the street, she stumbled onto the bus and could barely stay awake to slide her little ticket through the reader.  The last nodding junkie sat alone near the front of the bus and I played a little mental game of “will she fall out of the seat”.  She didn’t.  But the larger group behind me was carrying on simultaneous loud conversations.  The overriding voice was the MC.  She was decidedly displeased with the free food on offer at the church.  When she finally debarked, another voice could now be heard loudly discussing his current legal woes and how “that cop didn’t have any right to impede my progress”…obviously a budding legal scholar.  Finally the last of that group got off the bus as well.

At some point a young woman boarded the bus with 2 children, ages about 5 and 7.  A boy and a girl.  They were very well behaved.  This is not surprising in and of itself, but it was a nice little lesson for me on not being too swayed by appearances.  The mother was young, had to be early 20s.  She was wearing some stretchy pants with a garish design on them that accentuated the fact that they were probably about 2 sizes too small for this woman.  Her t-shirt didn’t fill the gap of her slightly pudgy belly that hung over the top of the too tight pants.  But, she spoke softly to her children and they obeyed with an obvious respect for their mother.  And she treated them both with a clear command, but also with such apparent love that it really touched me. 

I became so fascinated with this little scene that I didn’t realize till too late that I’d missed my stop.  So, I made my way toward the front to speak to the driver as we came to the terminus of his line. 

Now.  Before I continue, if you don’t know who Idris Elba is, stop now.  Get out the big Google and look him up.  He is delicious in any language, but that British accent…wait…where was I?  Oh yeah.  The driver.  He was a dead ringer for Elba.  He was also very friendly and helpful.  Asked if I was from out of town.  I said, “Well, I’m new in town, anyway.”  He said, “Welcome.” And winked at me.  I swear I couldn’t decide whether to faint or pee in my pants.  So, I just sat down.  Far back enough that I couldn’t see him lest I have difficulty breathing. 

I then decided to backtrack so I’d know where to go to make my connection when I need to the next morning.  I then rode the subway all the way to its terminus and back.  At one station where I decided to get off and explore a bit, there was a shady guy standing by the exit asking, in a low and sort of sinister voice, “You got a extra bus pass you wanna sell, dahlin’?”  Bus pass scalpers?  How does that work?  I just said, “No, sir.” And got back on the subway.

I then rode to another stop that I wanted to investigate as it would link to a couple of buses that would get me to/from places I may need to get to frequently.  As I climbed the steps to the platform, I was behind an older lady who kept looking over her shoulder at me.  I realized at some point that she’d actually picked up her pace.   Did  I look threatening in some way?  I laughed it off.  Once on the platform, I realized it was actually kind of chilly, so I decided to sit in the sun to wait for the train.   The older lady apparently had the same idea.  I strode toward her and was about to sit on the opposite side of the little bench and strike up a conversation.  She very quickly bundled up her things and scuttled off.  I’ve never scared an old lady before.  Maybe it was the Anna Maria Island hoodie. 

I took the subway back to the light rail to make my way home and there, in the same car with me, had to be the offspring of the MC from the bus.  She spoke loudly, as though on stage, even though she was nominally speaking to the gentleman in the seat next to her.   I came in too late to know the topic of her diatribe, but whatever it was was fucked up.  I know this because she kept saying that in cycles of three:”Dass fucked up, man.  Dass fucked up.  Dass fucked up.”  It had kind of a tempo to it.  I almost wanted to write a song about it.

Then, this little chick who was almost wearing a handkerchief tied on with a shoestring for a blouse got on.  She started playing her demo tape (disc?) loudly on a set of speakers she was carrying with her.  You’ve never seen a group of people who’ve never met look at each other with such clear communication.  “Whaffuck?” was on all our faces.  When she got off a couple of stops later, a gentleman in a seat a bit behind me said, “Were we supposed to tip her?”  Gentle chuckles from the “dass fucked up” lady. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Nurse Bananahammock Goes to Washington

Well….sometime in the next  13 weeks, at least.  I’ve never been to DC in my life.  But now I’m within an hour by train.  Because, I took an assignment for the summer.  To a little hospital called THE Johns Hopkins.  Like, the actual one, not a satellite somewhere in Podunk.  I will be in the actual Johns Hopkins ER. 

Now, as one of my fave ER docs ever, TRex, said, in the end, it’s just another ER.  And this is so, of course.  They have no magic there (here!) the medicine will be the same.  However, I haven’t truly worked in trauma in at least 3 years.  And, much as I love my FL ER, our docs are a bit resistaned to definitive IV access except for EJs and IOs.  My previous experience in trauma (and with unstable patients at all) was that they got central lines.  With central venous pressure monitoring.  (If you don’t understand that part, it’s ok.  It just means a lot of really hard core invasive stuff, but very helpful in making unstable patients more stable in a lot of cases). 

I have a feeling I’ll be doing a lot more of this kind of thing at Hopkins, even though travel nurses don’t get to work actually IN trauma, generally.  And I’m rusty.  So, I’m a bit daunted.  But, hell, a good healthy dose of humility can certainly not hurt.  Eyes and ears open, mouth shut.  Well, for a while anyway.  My mouth stays shut too long and there’s likely to be a thermonuclear explosion.

So, I just drove from FL to Maryland.  That was fun.  No, really, it mostly was.  The constant and sometimes torrential rain from Tampa to Gainesville was, perhaps, a little less enjoyable…but…

I made a detour through Atlanta and got to hang with my friend Nurse Poofy as well as Weeniece and Hagertha.  Hagertha is the friend who tragically lost her young, vibrant husband a bit over a year ago.  This was the first time I’ve seen her in person since and I hope she felt all the love I have for her in that hug.   I gave her a big ole smackeroo on the face, too, forgetting that she just got braces.  Ouch.  Sorry.  But, we had a really nice, quiet little lunch and then Poofy and I went to see Maleficent.  (see it.  Seriously)

I then hit the road at 3:30am as the apartment complex office closed at 5pm and I figured that the 11 hour estimate by Google maps would actually be more like 12 with pee and food breaks, construction, etc. 

I was wrong.

It was more like 13 hours.   And, no shit an hour of that was JUST in Baltimore. 

However, I arrived and was greeted very cheerfully by the office staff of my amazing apartment complex (strong work, housing department at my agency!!).  Only glitch…when they asked to make a copy of my ID, I realized…yeah, I don’t have it with me.  As soon as I realized it truly wasn’t in my wallet, I knew exactly where it was.  My giant Coach purse that I used when I flew to Cleveland.  I had put it in easy reach in a side pocket of the purse for the lovely TSA peeps.    

Thankfully, I wasn’t pulled over on the way here.  And, thankfully I had digital copy of it that will suffice for the apartment and, hopefully, at work.  And, hopefully I won’t get pulled over.  I do have a copy in my purse now, and I suppose they can look me up if it came to that.  But, damn.  This whole dizty thing just isn’t working for me.

In the last year or so, I have worked on focusing on positives.  I am no Pollyanna and this “look on the bright side” thing is absolutely NOT natural to me.  But, the attempt has been successful to the point that I really didn’t get upset at all.  I just knew that it would get sorted and I moved on.

I’ll blog separately about getting to know my temporary new town, but, y’all!  Location, location, location.   I’m right by a train station that will take me directly to the airport when the time comes (flying west in July) and?  I can get on that same light rail train and take it to the Amtrak what will take me to DC.  The general state of public transit is such that I will rarely have to drive.  And thank the sweet baby Tebow for that.  Did you see that it took me an hour – on a SATURDAY—to get to my apartment even once I was actually in Baltimore?  All traffic.  It’s insane. 


It’s going to be a great 13 weeks.