Shining Onward and Bravely Searching,

Living a life full of adventure may not be all it is cracked up to be. Sometimes you just want to sit on the couch with a kitty in your lap, remote in your hand, and a glass of wine within reach. This is exactly where I want to be tonight. I have absolutely no plans to do anything else until morning.

This past week was a nightmare at work. It was not the crazy number of hours it required, it was dealing with some personalities that left me emotionally drained, and unsure of my next move. However, if I have learned anything in my life, it is best to take my time and not make decisions when I am emotional about the situation.

So, I am going to sit back and think about some of the advice I have been given. Right now my favorite advice came from a new mentor. (Turns out that is what they call “work daddies” in the real world-thanks for that T.) Yikes. Not that real work daddy has been replaced. No way. He is stuck with me. Anyway, his advice was to find things you can live with, instead of searching for those you cannot live without. Good advice for me. I have to remove the black and white from situations and be okay with the gray.

People surprise the hell out of me. I find myself forging new relationships and growing more as a person every day, and then I get knocked out by someone who means nothing to me. Why do we let people have so much control over how we feel?

Easy. We want connection. We want to feel like we are valuable. We want to be wanted. We want to be more than someone who can be lived with. Perhaps we even want to feel a little needed. Regardless of what we say, we do want to be loved.

So, in order to live a bearable life, I have to pretend those desires are not there. I have to play it cool. I have to not be too terribly devoted to anything. I am not sure how you find passion in life when you spend all your time trying to quell those passions.

Why does life have to be so confusing? Am I supposed to be searching for my passion, or am I supposed to be calm, cool, and collected at all times? When are you supposed to be excited? Am I allowed to be driven and ambitious?

So, I am continuing to live life looking for my next adventure. I am going to continue to build relationships with people. I will find my passion. I will find people who share my passion. I will feel things as brightly as I can.

Shining Onward and Bravely Searching,

LQ

Shining Onward and Bravely Searching,

Diaphanous and Obtusely Yours,

As I came to an end of my rant about certain people talking down to me and how much I hate it, I was reminded that sometimes I am not careful with how I react and respond to people either. I know for a fact I have said and done things in the past (not always that distant of a past) in a condescending manner. I wonder why we do that. More importantly, I wonder how we avoid it.

I want to be a good leader and a good teammate. I like working as part of a group with common goals. It is exciting and so rewarding. Seriously, what better way is there to learn things you did not even know you did not know?

I suppose I have some explaining to do. Why would I be a jerk when I hate it so much when people treat me in the same manner? To be completely honest, I think it is a defense mechanism. (Or, I could be an asshat- either way, it is not who I want to be.) Perhaps, it is a normal response to put others down in an attempt to raise yourself up. Well, it seems it would make the distance to the top a little shorter. Seriously, it is just math people. 

I wonder why we started losing our responsibility to use manners and to act graciously towards other people. Where did this ‘get ahead at all cost’ mentality start? How do we find the gentle respect we should have for others?

It is almost as if we have regressed in our social obligations to a completely self-driven society. Where did our obligation to help others go? How do we find a sense of community?

Perhaps I am naive. I still find myself daydreaming of a place where the pace is a little slower, and people are quick to strike up a conversation. Maybe a nice english chap who will invite me in for a spot of tea. Doubt I will find him here in Texas. A girl can dream.

For now, I am stuck with people who feel small, and who like to lash out at others to even the playing field. I am choosing to go a different route. What if we all started building each other up? Even professionally, coaching up would be preferable to tearing down. Let’s move away from the guerrilla warfare and collaborate. Leave the ego at the door and open our minds to the possibilities. It sounds all hippy-dippy cheesy, but I think it could lead to good things.

Just be nice. I will continue to work on my tone and attitude. What if we all made that commitment?

Diaphanous and Obtusely Yours,

I am just…

I find myself compartmentalizing my life to the point I no longer know how to be a whole person at all times. It gets exhausting put on and taking off my masks every day. We have a responsibility to celebrate how complicated we all are. Why can’t I be a strong, take no prisoners kind of chick, who loves to cry at romantic comedies? So, if you had to make a list of what you are what would it say?

I am just a…

  • girl
  • mother
  • daughter
  • nurse
  • nurse practitioner
  • friend
  • cat-lover
  • fast driver
  • Tough Mudder
  • boxer
  • writer
  • reader
  • cinephile

I want you to think I am:

  • smart
  • funny
  • clever
  • nice
  • tough
  • strong
  • warm
  • competent
  • useful
  • fun
  • lovable
  • loving
  • kind
  • dependable
  • cute
  • charming
  • enough

I feel accomplished when:

  • My son is happy.
  • My patients do well.
  • I have a good hair day.
  • I write something that explains where I am.
  • I make a hard decision.
  • I spend meaningful time with the people I love.
  • I find time to work out.
  • I say something funny.
  • I make a connection with someone.

I feel frustrated when:

  • I inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings.
  • I fail to communicate effectively.
  • I can’t find the answer.
  • I run out of time.
  • I can’t focus and finish a task.
  • I fail.

I just want to be an honest person. Authenticity is paramount for me.

Oh, and I want to meet a man with the personality of the leading men of the past. I want someone who treats me like a girl. Sometimes I get tired of being the strong, independent woman who can do anything. Kill the spiders. Hold open doors, and do that magic hand on the arm thing. Make me blush and not just from a dirty joke. Ugh. Then take me out to play in the mud.

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Someone should have warned her… There are no easy answers. Have fun.. be true to yourself.

After all, I am just a girl. More on this later, I have to go put on my work mask now.

I am just…

Subserviently Yours

We have all had the good fortune to meet the smartest man in the room. You know the one. The guy who feels the need to educate you and correct you on every thing you do. He may have good intentions, and perhaps he does not mean it condescendingly at all (me? yes, I have been guilty of this from time to time.) I am talking about the other guy. The one who has to be the brightest light in any room, however instead of shining brighter, he just walks around trying to dampen everyone else’s light. That guy is an asshat, officially.  

Collaborative Teamwork.

Doesn’t that sound like a dream come true? I love working with a team of people who are committed to a common purpose. Each person has their own perspective and part of the problem to solve. Respect and time is given to each member of the team. Everyone has a voice. More importantly, everyone shares common goals.

I want to find a place where this is actually the culture. I find myself trying to engage nurses in conversation about their patients. I tell them what I have in mind, and start asking them for feedback. They have seen the situation from a completely different angle than I have. I trust and respect their insight. However, I am often greeted with a blank stare.

When I do not understand why something is being done, there is a high probability that I do not know part of the problem. Perhaps I just do not have a firm grasp on the situation at hand. Nothing is better than when I am close enough to the physician I am working with that I can ask them about it without them assuming I am challenging them. I have learned to choose my words carefully and to explain my intentions, but these conversations have taught me so much over the years.

I have had so many physicians, nurses, NPs, and pharmacists who have been willing to explain and teach me. There are so many disciplines working together, each one bringing their own level of expertise to the table, it would be ridiculous to not utilize their experience. I love learning about things from a different perspective. It gives me a more dynamic understanding of the situation.

Now, what about the asshat leader who is running amok and telling people inaccurate things? It is perfectly acceptable to be wrong from time to time, however I continue to be astounded by the number of people in the world who cannot admit to this. These same people love to walk around with their chests puffed out and head tilted at a slightly posterior angle, while looking down at you incredulously. They appear to be amused by your attempts to use your intelligence to learn about something new. They have to make inconsequential changes to your plans, just so they can say they did something.

Then, imagine their voice as they come over to talk to you. It all seems so earnest. They pull you aside and the whole conversation becomes very serious. They are imparting secret, magical information that cannot be gleaned from Uptodate. You listen expectantly, holding your breath in anticipation, pride welling up in your soul. Oh, he must have seen I was struggling! Perhaps I should let out a little giggle. I am so lucky to have this big, strong, virile man of medicine to keep me on the straight path. I could never have figured this out if he had not come to save me from my own ignorance. 

Then you hear it. He is telling you how he is concerned for your well-being, and how he is so glad he can offer you his expertise. After all, he is a very busy and important man. Oh, swoon. I can’t believe he would take the time to tell me to use two 20 mg vials instead of one 40 mg vial. (Or something else equally ridiculous.) He will explain to you that the current evidence-based guidelines cannot be accurate, he has never seen that side effect the black box is warning against. No, it is not a well-known use of that extremely expensive drug. It is off label. Apparently, all the best cures are secrets. Only the best doctors get access to that information. The elite medical schools train them to pick up signals via a beacon in their neck. That is why they hold their head like that. I swear. I read it in a medical journal. You know, the ones nurses can’t read. 

Ugh. All I want is to be able to have a conversation with the people I am working with. I love it when they have time to explain a concept I had never actually seen in real life, or just one I did not know a lot about. Seriously. I love to learn. I love to see the things I am learning about used in real life. For the love all that is good and intelligent in the world, do not expect me to follow archaic guidelines that are not in sync with current evidence based practice. There is a reason we have standards of care. I have found a lot of comfort in having mentors who taught me how to find these guidelines, and how to use them.

Of course, there are situations that may not fit the usual mold. There is most certainly an art to the practice and science of medical care. Sometimes there is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat. Please don’t try to teach me the wrong way to do things. Don’t use the phrase “that is how we have always done it.” I will want to know why. I always want to understand the rationale behind things. I want to know why we are choosing that particular option. Do not try to convince me to use antiquated methods when I have current peer-reviewed evidence at my fingertips. (Yes, I know the research and evidence is always changing… that is a topic I am woefully not able to discuss with anything resembling intelligence.)

Here is the point. Don’t talk down to me. Don’t pat my head like I am a wayward child. I am a professional, and despite my struggles to always portray myself in a dignified light, I am reasonably intelligent. I actually think there are some topics I can discuss with a pretty good level of mastery. I have been taught by the best! I do things to the best of my ability. If I come across a situation I am unsure about, I assure you I will seek your guidance. If you notice something I did not, or you just want to tell me about it, that is great! I love learning from experts. I may even take notes. I can promise you, I will be looking it up as soon as you walk away so I can remember it for next time.

One more thing I have noticed. Don’t listen to every man in the room and make it a point to not listen to me. Am I the only one that notices a difference when some men talk to women as opposed to how they speak to other men? Why am I hushed when men are invited to offer insight? Why am I a bitch when I am just being matter of fact? I hate to break it to you guys, your penis does not make you smarter. I have to be honest though, men are not the only asshats. I have had these strange interactions with women as well. I am not kidding when I say it bothers me when people are so transparently attempting to exert their dominance over everyone in the room.

So, come on. Give a girl a break. Feel free to educate, correct, and guide me. Just don’t be a jerk about it. I promise to continue working on the same thing. Perhaps there is a way to foster collaboration and open discussion without all the egos and BS. Maybe I should google that.

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Well, cat videos are educational too.
Subserviently Yours

Enchantment and Moving On.

I was driving through the northeast corner of New Mexico when I was forced to stop and take a selfie. Raton is not my favorite city and I was actually planning on driving right on by, however I really needed something to drink and to have a little pit stop. I pulled off into the first parking lot I saw, and you cannot possibly imagine my delight when I met this fella. IMG_0348

I was afraid he was going to lash out and attack me. (I mean, what kind of establishment has a guard bear?)

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Don’t worry, he was chained down. Seriously? Are they afraid he will get away?

I somehow figured out his name MUST be Bert the Bear, and I am convinced I should have spent a little more time investigating this situation. Why is this bear being held captive in front of this tourist trap? Who is a tourist in Raton? Shhh. I was NOT a tourist! Just because I stopped to take a selfie in front of a highway restaurant does NOT make me a tourist. Wait until you see the bathroom pics in the next installment of Signs. Yep, I am still that girl. Sorry, not sorry.  

I suppose you could say I have a weird fascination with inanimate animals. I want them to be having conversations when my back is turned. I guess sometimes the fantasy of childhood stories is still attractive to me. What if these frozen creatures are just waiting to become real?

Margery Williams said it best in The Velveteen Rabbit.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

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Oh, talk about a trip down memory lane. Google Smokey the Bear, I dare you. It is awesome.

Perhaps Bert the Bear just needs to be loved, then he can become real. He would most likely have to go live in the woods at that point. He would want to start dating other real bears, and most likely would like to start a family. Maybe he could even get a job with Smokey the Bear fighting wildfires. Is Smokey even still around?

I imagine I would be sad like I was watching E.T. as a child. I still cry like a baby every single time! The Velveteen Rabbit makes me cry too. I even cried when Steve went to college on Blue’s Clues. I think it may have something to do with loss. Moving on. Starting a new chapter.

This year has been full of transition for me. I changed jobs, started traveling, and made a lot of new friends. The hard part is not seeing my old friends with the regularity I am accustomed to. I miss them. I find myself wondering what they are doing now. I miss the inside jokes and laughter. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? I wonder if I am ever going to have these kind of relationships again.

The most challenging aspect of leaving the comforts of the familiar is the fear of forming new attachments. Part of me does not want to risk feeling the way I did when I was trying to plan for my future. I felt like I was unfaithful to my work family. I had dedicated so much energy to getting the job, learning the job, keeping the job, and finally in the end, leaving the job. What is the protocol for changing everything about the way you live your life? How should you approach the transition from completely career oriented to fighting the tendency with everything you have?

I think I understand why divorced people often get married so quickly. It is an undeniable force with a gravitational pull to the very thing you have been trying to avoid. I wanted to stop having my work as a nurse practitioner as my primary focus in life. This does not make the work unimportant, it is simply an attempt to have more balance. My problem is my constant need to be working on a project coupled with a painfully short attention span.

Oh! Back to the story about Bert the Bear. 

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Bert the Bear was still there! Not entirely sure how I feel about this. He has obviously not been loved enough- YET!

On my way home I obviously had to stop and see Bert. I was curious if he had met someone special, and secretly hoped he would figure out how to unchain himself from his bonds. Alas, he was still in the exact same position when I rolled to a stop in the parking space directly in front of him.

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Barry the Fishing Bear.

Now, meet Barry the Fishing Bear. He is soft, cuddly and could probably keep you a little warmer at night than Bert could. Barry was just sitting inside the restaurant, chillin’, and dare I say waiting? When I saw him our eyes met and it was magic. It was Kismet. Destiny demanded a selfie with this handsome dude. I offered to take him back to Texas with me, but he wanted to go back to Colorado for the winter. I think he skis Vail or something like that.

I totally crack myself up on my road trips. I listen to podcasts and have private concerts. Car dancing is usually a guarantee. I am experiencing more of the world and learning to do something other than work. I think it has been good for me.

The best part? Well, despite the fact I am no longer employed full-time with my old job, we all have phones, Facebook, and I still work there sometimes when I am in town. I have not lost anything. I am simply gaining new experiences and skills. If I find myself too lonely Work Mommy and Work Daddy are just a phone call away. Actually, so is my real Mommy.

This is an adventure. I am lucky to have this chance.

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*Smokey the Bear artwork borrowed from this site. 

Enchantment and Moving On.

Rocky Mountain High. Well, not quite.

My adventures continue to astonish me. I just got back after a long weekend in Colorado. It was my first time! I went to celebrate one of my mudder buddy’s birthday. It was fantastic.

Allow me to say, everyone should want to be in Colorado. It is breathtaking. Actually, it really is breathtaking, there is no freaking oxygen up there! I am convinced they don’t need the legal marijuana, they could probably just get by with the mild hypoxia. Sheesh. 

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You know I had to go to Super Target as soon as we got there. Jill and I were on a team together for the Mesa TM, so this was the ideal place for a selfie.

Here is the great thing about Jill, she thinks I am funny! That always scores bonus points in my book. We had a ball walking around Target and touching everything that looked the least bit entertaining. My mother would have killed me if she had seen me messing with so much stuff. If it had a lid, I opened it. If it looked prickly, I had to feel whether or not it was sharp. Sigh. I love Target.

The plan for the weekend was to head out west to Grand Junction for a wine festival with another of Jill’s friends, Sarah. This was bound to be an epic road trip. Sarah is a ball of frenetic energy. We played car games involving a certain body part and RV names. hehehe. Just three girls with a completely juvenile sense of humor. 

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#JillHasaHemi
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Go ahead and ask me why I am standing like that. I dare you. I am such a dork.

Lucky for me, the girls made it a point to show me the sights. Winding through canyons and going up mountain pass roads, holding on for dear life because I was certain we were going to end up like the rusted out car I saw crashed up on the side of a mountain. We wound our way up to the Continental Divide.

I was enthralled by all the mountains. In my naiveté, I thought we were going through mountains when we were in Golden. I still don’t believe those are just “foothills,” I would rather call them little mountains. Imagine me excitedly shrieking about rocks and the scenery for the next six hours and you pretty much have a pretty good idea of how the trip went. 

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I love these grapes. Peaches and grapes make for some pretty interesting wine.
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Like my new bag? It holds three bottles of wine. You know, for emergencies.

Now, we had to stop to check out the wineries on our way.

The road trip across the state was fantastic. That night we went out to dinner and then went to check out the local “scene.” No details, but there was paint involved.

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Magical concoction served in a copper or maybe it was brass cup.
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Don’t worry, I called.
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Strange times. Glow paint. Guess it was fate I wore that shirt.
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The glow paint was awesome. We danced the night away! Best part of the night? Harassing the poor security guard who never smiled. Second best part? When he was replaced by the cute security guard with a beard.
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I have no idea why I felt making this face was necessary. The guy who painted it claims to have gone to “Art School.”
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Speaking of Art. There was all this random artwork on the street. I fell in love with this ostrich. We named him Art. I am not sure why Jill was trying to strangle him.

This trip was great! I have not even told you the best parts yet. Met some fantastically fun people, and spent the day laughing so hard. Adventures are fun.

Remember: It did not happen if you did not take a picture.

Rocky Mountain High. Well, not quite.

Advocacy is hard sometimes.

You know, if getting the job done were easy, we would not need advocates.

I find myself in difficult situations sometimes. I assure someone I will help them. I warn them I do not know how to solve the problem, but we will figure something out. At that point it is time to start going through the list of people I know, reading up on whatever the problem is, and basically banging my head into the wall.

These experiences turn me into every case manager and social worker’s nightmare. Here I am muddling in their affairs, promising people things we have no way to obtain, and in general expecting all the stars to align in my patient’s favor. Oh, I assure you I am not a miracle worker. I try to set up the expectation I will fail.

And I do. I fail many times. I am forced to humble myself and repeatedly explain to people I have no idea what I am doing.

It is not a big deal to help someone with something you are an expert in, that is typically just finding the need. Now, try to help someone with something you never even knew could be a problem. You don’t even know you don’t know.

So, I start asking questions. People become exasperated when they give me an answer and I deem it the wrong answer. That did not solve my problem. So, next solution. Will the next step please stand up? Admit it, Slim Shady just popped into your head. I pester people until they finally breakdown and start contacting their super magic resources. Still no luck? Okay, let’s keep bugging people until someone finds someone who knows a possible solution.

I do not mean to indicate I deserve credit for any of the out of the box solutions people help me come up with. If we are being honest, my role is to act like a two-year old and continue to pester with “Why?” Why can’t we try this solution? Why won’t they let us do this? Well, the way I want to do things makes the most sense. What do you mean it is illegal? Oh….. okay. How about this? No? Why? Why can’t we try? Fine. This goes on and on.

Now for the best part. After I have pestered someone all day without a good solution, I make them explain everything again. I plead. I cajole. I ask them to throw me under the bus if it will help get the information we need. Please, tell this person the stupid nurse practitioner you work with has messed everything up, and could they please help you understand the process so you can supervise the stupid nurse practitioner complete the task. You would be amazed at how well that works. 

See, if these problems were easy to solve people would not tell me about their issue. If there was already an easy solution one of the other people they had gone to for help would have just taken care of it. Instead, the other people know the difficulty in finding a solution, and they just can’t do it. They may not know anything about it. Maybe they just don’t want to.

Why can’t I do that? Because when I need help with something big for my family, I hope I can find someone who says “I don’t know how to fix this, but we will figure it out.”

**** If you are a case manager, social worker, supervisor, physician, friend, or just someone I call to beg for help… Thank you. I could not have helped without you. You are really the one who worked magic. I just acted as a voice. I suppose that happens when you are an obnoxious loud mouth. You are the best.

Advocacy is hard sometimes.

The Strongest Men We Ever Knew.

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http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/special-report-the-increase-of-dementia-in-ireland-video-338853.html

Imagine a rugged, gregarious, elderly man. He is quick to tell a story and flirt with all the ladies. He was the toughest cowboy who ever lived. He has never been sick a day in his life. He does not even notice the cut on his hand. He will blush and admit to some memory problems, however he is quick to reassure you that he is doing just fine. He explains all the help he receives from his family and friends. He tells you about all the things he is still doing. This man is healthy as a horse.

It is easy to assume he is doing just fine, until you realize this is the third recitation of the same story.  He goes to church every Sunday. He spells out his daily routine. He will regale you with tales of his fishing adventure just last week! Biggest fish he has ever seen! He still drives around the town he has lived in for 70 years. All the while, he keeps forgetting about the cut on his hand. He looks down with a puzzled expression every time the bandage enters his field of vision.

He just wants to go home. Yes, he is well aware that his children want him to move closer to them. He is indignant and proud. He can manage just fine.

Sure, he may have had some difficulty managing his bank account- that darned internet is too complicated for him. It’s not surprising he does not remember which way to turn when he drives down that particular street, they must have changed it all up. There is entirely too much new construction around here anyway. It is just a waste of the tax payers money. They keep changing the roads every week!

He just wants to go home. There is nothing wrong with him. He is fine. He has been taking care of himself for 65 years. He raised four children. Of course it has been more difficult since his wife died. She had always cooked the meals, taken care of the house and laundry, and managed all the finances. He sure does miss her.

Keeping all his medicine straight is difficult, his doctor gives him too many darned tiny pills, and have you ever tried to open one of those bottles? You almost need a hacksaw to get into one of them. It is okay, the lady that cleans his house puts them into a box for him. One says AM and one says PM. Problem solved.

He finds the bandage again. He is getting slightly irritated at the discomfort. He starts pulling off the gauze so he can leave. He does not need to be tied up. Why would he have his hand wrapped up? He needs to get that mess off so he can go home. Besides, that is not his bandage. He doesn’t need it.He does not believe he would care to buy that today. He promises to come buy it another day if I need the sales commission.

He tells you about fishing last week. It was the biggest fish he has ever seen. He reeled in it all by himself. He is demonstrating his manly prowess, and proving he can take care of himself. Sure, he lost his wallet again. Nope, he has no trouble getting where he needs to go. He has never been in an accident or had a traffic violation.

He is quick and sure to answer your questions and concerns.

He can tell the best stories about when he was a cowboy. He still tends all his own fences. He just plowed his garden last week. What on earth could you possibly be saying? Of course he can fend for himself! Besides, he has wonderful friends who drop by and check on him.

He was horribly confused and combative in the night. He pulled out his IV site (more than once.) He spilled his coffee repeatedly. He wanted his pants. What kind of nonsense is this? Stealing a man’s pants? He was not going to stand for this. Fine, you know what? He has money. Where is his wallet? He will buy his pants back from you. He never uses the call light despite repeated reminders. He keeps insisting he is not in the hospital.

You realize he has no idea who you are. You have spent countless hours with him over the past few days, and in fact you were just in his room fifteen minutes ago. Every time you walk through the door, you are greeted joyously. He does not remember the nasty tone of voice he was using with you last time you were in here. He does not remember that you are the one who will not allow him to go home. He tries calling you darlin’ and he gives you a little wink.

It is not too hard for you to redirect him. All you see is a sweet old man. You can even laugh at times. Some of his antics are funny.  He is “pleasantly confused” and you are well aware he does not mean any of it. This is not the man who raised you. You have not witnessed his decline from greatness. You are not the one who will have to go home and feel remorse for not being able to make it work with him at home. This is just another day at the office for you.

His son sits with a resigned expression at the bedside. He never interrupts or corrects his father. He only fills in information when his father looks to him to answer the question. I keep trying to give the son an opportunity to pipe up and let his father know he can’t go home in this condition. I try telling this man he can’t stay at home alone at night. I look to his son and wait for him to tell his dad he has to  come stay with family. He only asks me how long I think his father will need someone to stay with him. I can see the wheels of desperation turning over in his mind. Oh. He is not always this bad. Okay. The infection could explain it. Perhaps a few days or weeks would be sufficient. 

Turns out, Paul Harvey was not going to chime in “With the rest of the story.” (If you don’t know that reference google Paul Harvey.)I am mildly concerned, but feeling a little better. This confusion could be the delirium so many patients experience in the hospital. Nope. Not at all. Charming Grandpa has not been doing well for a while. Ok, no problem. Just get him to go home with his son. Phew. Glad I solved that problem.

It is painful to see adult children struggling with their new role as a protector and decision maker. What do we do when the body still works, but the mind is no longer able to handle the complexities of life? How do you take away your father’s car keys? How do you finally insist they cannot live at home anymore? It is not stubbornness that leads to their insistence to stay home. They are unable to realize and comprehend the reality of their cognitive decline.

So, what happens when they refuse to go to an assisted living, nursing facility, or even to live with relatives who can look after them? How do you compel someone to leave the home they built and raised their family in, when they feel fine? I somehow managed to convince myself patients with dementia actually understood how confused they were. Oh! This is why we perform mental evaluations. People do not know when they are confused. They truly believe everything is fine. Now what? You seem fine in short conversations, you are not physically debilitated, why would I say you need to be forced from the home you built with your own two hands. Yes, I remember you still mend your own fences. Yes, you used to be a cowboy. A real cowboy, not one of those fancy boys. 

This is not an easy process. We don’t like to hold people against their will. You can’t just kidnap grandpa because you decide it is the right thing to do. Furthermore, NO ONE EVER TELLS YOU HOW TO DO THIS! Maneuvering through all the rules, insurance regulations, and red tape is maddening. Now, imagine trying to handle all of this if you live and work somewhere else, compounded by the fact that your parent has everyone fooled. He looks great! He is at church three times a week. He does not realize how severe the problem is, and neither does anyone else, until something happens. He gets lost and drives 3 states away. He leaves the stove on and starts a fire. He takes all of his money out of the bank and no one can find it.

There is no easy answer.

However, your grandpa with dementia may be entertaining a group of nurses tonight. He will keep them on their toes. They will watch over him while you try to sort out his affairs. They will nurse him back to health from whatever ailment landed him in the hospital. They will make sure someone is keeping an eye on the guy who likes to Pole vault over the bed rails while they rush to take care of their other patients. There will probably be a bed alarm that shrieks out every time he tries to get out of bed. A gaggle of nurses will rush to the door to protect him from harm. He will not remember the instructions he received 2 minutes ago to use his call light.  These nurses will quietly ask you about discharge planning, and express concerns about him going home alone. They will be there to support you while you go through the hardest experience of your life.

He will vacillate between irritated and charming. When he turns on the charm in an attempt to manipulate his way out of this situation, he will capture a few hearts. He will demand he be released from this prison. Charming grandpa will constantly interfere with all attempts to treat his medical condition. He will forget he is sick.

Dementia is hard.

The aging cowboy has no idea this is happening. He will tell you again about his fishing trip. He will rip the bandage off his hand, and try to get the string, actually, those are sutures and I really wanted them there, out of his hand. We have only had this conversation 27 times in the past three hours. The cowboy will become furious at his wrongful conviction, and as soon as he gets distracted the situation never existed. He will politely ask to go home. He feels fine. There is nothing in the world wrong with him.

His son will tell me how his dad is the strongest, toughest, and bravest men he has ever known. He is facing a tough battle. He will have to overrule the ruler. No one will be able to convince him he is not a terrible son for taking his father from his home. Worse, it may not even be safe enough for his father to come live with him. The son will have to vigilant to prevent the cowboy from absconding into the night.

If they live long enough, even the strongest men (and women) are at risk for developing cognitive decline. It will happen in bits and pieces. Things will appear manageable even after they are careening through a mine field. We have to support the families of these super heroes. We have to reassure them, offer guidance, and listen most of all. It is heart-rending to watch.

Basically, there is no easy answer. It is difficult to prepare for this situation because you want to believe it will never be that bad. Your dad is the strongest man in the world, why does he have to lose his independence?

It must be hard to parent one’s own parent.

The Strongest Men We Ever Knew.

My Tribe did a Tough Mudder yesterday.

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Ahhhh. The hopeful expressions of the innocent. Just kidding. They know what this is all about. It’s Mudder Time! Colorado is the hardest course in North America. Yeah, I obviously stayed home for this one.

I bet you thought you were going to get away with never hearing about another Tough Mudder again. After all, remember how hard the last one was? Have you seen me at boxing lately? Hey! I have been working! And traveling. And resting. . . I know. I have to find a boxing gym. More about the latest in Adventures in Employment later. This is about my friends. 

Tough Mudder in Snowmass, Colorado. Right after Mesa, I had considered trying to train for this one. Here’s the thing, it is at a ski resort. Yep. They were climbing up and down mountains. Right. So, after my training plans fell through I graciously opted out of this adventure. My Kick-ass, awesome, brave, tough-as-nails tribe have never looked back. They had things to do.

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Wishing I were somehow there with them. #jealous

Details are sparse at this point and it is not my story to tell. However, I was having my butt kicked at work, all the while trying to sneak a peek for their progress occasionally. I was living vicariously through my Muddy Buddies.

My Tribe is filled with great people. We have no problem being authentic with each other and this is one of the best parts of having a group.

For your viewing pleasure: can’t wait to hear or hopefully even read all of their stories. 

IMG_0098 IMG_0097 IMG_0094 IMG_0093 IMG_0092 IMG_0091 IMG_0089 IMG_0087 IMG_0086 IMG_0085Trust me, the beer at the finish line is a big deal.

Hydrate and heal your broken bodies my friends.

The great thing about Tough Mudder is the way everyone even complete strangers, end up as part of a big family. The physical challenge is such a small part of this adventure. There are mental and emotional obstacles for so many of us.

In case you are wondering, my next Tough Mudder is in about a month. I am taking my son to experience this adventure with a HUGE group of lovely people. I know some of them, the rest I am excited to meet. Yep, it is still going to be hard. I am still terrified of heights. I am still fraught with self-doubt and anxiety. None of that matters. We have totally got this. 

My Tribe did a Tough Mudder yesterday.

Growing up in the information age.

Anyone remember the Duran Duran song Too Much Information?

Destroyed by MTV, I hate to bite the hand that feeds me so much information. The pressure’s on the screen to sell you things that you don’t need. It’s too much information for me. Hey TV child look into my eyes. Here by intervention I want your attention. Promotion boy in a suit and tie. He wants you to use it. You’re too shot to lose it. It’s pumping down the cable like never seen before. A cola manufacturer is sponsoring the war. 

071017_jessica_mcclure_470The first big news story I remember seeing on television is when Jessica McClure fell into a well in Midland, Texas in October, 1987. I was seven years old, and I do not think I understood what I was watching, but I knew “Baby Jessica” was in danger. I mostly remember the footage of the bright search lights and I am pretty sure the sun never rose during those almost 3 days. This was IMPORTANT. Everyone was talking about this well and how tragic the situation was. I imagined this well to look like the wishing wells of fairy tales. A brick circular structure with a bucket and a rope, and I could not for the life of me fathom why they did not just lower the bucket and have her climb in. I could be wrong, but I believe this was one of the first big media circuses to be played out on live TV with the plight of regular people as the main attraction.

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http://abcnews.go.com/topics/news/tiananmen-square-massacre.htm

The other story I remember from my childhood is the Tiananmen Square Massacre in June, 1989. I assure you I had no idea what was going on. I simply remember a morbid curiosity because they were talking about students. I was imagining a military takeover of an elementary school, that in my imagination was eerily similar to my school. I remember feeling a sense of worry that kids were not safe in schools. Ironic, since school safety is one of the hot button topics in the news today.

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Oh, look he did have brown hair… I thought he was so cool.

When I was in 6th grade, we had this news program played in home room, Channel One News. The school had been given televisions and VCRs for the classrooms in exchange for 12 minutes of our day. Seems like an okay trade to me. I do not remember much about the program except for Anderson Cooper dashing all over the world and a vague memory of Lisa Ling reporting as well. There were Pepsi commercials. There has been controversy surrounding the ethics of providing so much advertising and commercial content to kids at school, but I remember advertising on our “free” book covers the school required us to use too.

The Persian Gulf conflict (war?), the attack on the World Trade Center, the Branch Davidian standoff,  the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. . . the list goes on. These events impacted the way I viewed the world. I was acutely aware of the danger waiting for me if I strayed too far from home. It is like all the fables and fairy tales were true, if you leave the safety of your home you are bound to find trouble lurking in all the dark corners of the world.

I was lucky I lived in West Texas, and nothing bad ever happened. I do not recall many of my teachers trying to make sure we were comprehending the nature of the current events shaping the world we lived in. I feel like we were shrouded in a blanket of cotton candy, every thing would be fine as long as we stayed dry and sheltered. How do we make sure our children have access to age appropriate current events? How do we teach them to utilize all this information into something they can learn from?

My iPhone gives me all the news I could want. I get news alerts and notifications. Amber Alerts from across the state lead to a shrill and at times frightening alarm that startles everyone in the room. Every weather alert comes via text and several app notifications. There are days I am so bombarded with information I cannot help but to tune it all out. Everywhere I look someone is trying to capture my attention and sell me more crap I don’t need.

Furthermore, has anyone else noticed that Facebook seems to be a stalker? How does it determine who I may know? I only met that person one time. The ads are freaky too. How did it know I was googling green protein smoothies? I have instant access to so much data, I no longer have to remember any details. I can google it. I have not purchased a newspaper in ages. I read the news online. I have to be honest, sometimes I just get my news via other people’s posts. I know, I know. That is lazy and a good way to be misinformed. 

So, what is the first news story you remember? Looking back now, did you understand the implications of it? Did it shape the way you viewed the world?

Growing up in the information age.