Summer Fun

As a celebration of an end to an era of pharmacy school, graduation and passing of board exams, celebrating a new engagement for my son, and for general fun together as a family… we went camping this past weekend. We decided to camp near Wilson Creek, NC where campsites were first come first serve, land with a fire pit next to a small creek. This was not a problem for most of the group that went. Two of us, my youngest two, had never been primitive camping before. One of these had very little idea as to what to expect. He learned, though.

As the brothers and sisters continued to pick on each other constantly, nerves were worn a little thin once in a while. Food, as always, saves the day when attitudes are poor. We ‘knew’ there’d be plenty of wood around to build a fire and so didn’t bring any along… first mistake. We also ‘knew’ the forecast couldn’t be better… second mistake. Truly, though, we still had fun.

Me with #1 and #2, two of my favorites!

Day 1 – arrival chaos, unpacking, putting up tents, taking over an hour to start a fire from not so dry wood, eventually relying on a pocket rocket to start the fire. Dinner served at approximately 10 pm… Starving kids make for grouchy monsters. Stinging nettle seemed to appear and put boils on a few of the group requiring some Benadryl… thankful I brought a fully functioning first aid kit.

Day 2 – up and breakfast… nope, have to wash the dishes from dinner first. First tub is soapy water, second rinse, third sterilize with a little bleach… then breakfast.

#3 and #4, two more of my favorites. Who needs a swimsuit?

All of us climb into one vehicle, drive up to the river, search for a parking spot, discover a great path down, plant ourselves in a shade on the rocks and wish we put on our swimsuits.

 

No problem, though, two decide swimsuits are unnecessary and are soon immersed in the cool water up to their heads.

Lunch and dry on the rocks, hang out a little longer then back

On the rocks, dressed.

to camp to fix dinner… collect wood along the drive back, start fire very slowly, Mom gets kudos for being a pyromaniac. Dinner served as hobos, corn, and peach cobbler. Satisfied tummies, a good day.

 

Day 3 –

#1 Starts this!

Up and breakfast, dishes done last night. Mom cooks egg-n-bread with bacon, swimsuits on, hike to a water fall,

 

Let’s all do it!

Me too!

head back to the river and find the same spot we had yesterday. Climb down, perfect spot, hop from rock to rock, discover the new fiance is an expert at playing on the rocks in the river.

On the rocks, the pro standing and watching and laughing at the non pros.

Mom settles down on a large rock in the middle of the river as the rest of us take a circuitous path around the river

 

from rock to rock while she entertains the dog… rain, just a little, no worries. They finish their circle around the river

 

and we decide to head back to camp for dinner… gather wood along the way, discover puddles… arrive to camp with two tents not closed and full of water… oops. Lessons are learned, sleeping arrangements are changed, clothes are shared and a fire is attempted… Burn the entire bag of charcoal and it still doesn’t start, finally enough wood dries well enough and Mom starts a fire again, hooray! Tarp hung over a portion of camp just in case. Chili, and s’mores for dinner. All to bed as more rain arrives. Lightening and thunder but no wind where we are makes for a tense couple of hours as we rest in our tents waiting for it to pass… sleep.

Day 4 – Mutiny, we pack up instead of fix breakfast, eat Bojangles on the way home. Arrive home safe and sound. An excellent trip!

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Perfect Life Picture

Still unemployed, almost done with my board exams, I’m wondering what a picture of the ‘perfect life’ would look like. The picture perfect life? Hmmm… I already love my life but what could make it perfect?

The physical things: a running car that doesn’t need fixing, maybe a sporty one with excellent gas mileage? A house that is clean with plenty of room to play? A yard that is cut? Physical comforts such as air conditioning, heating, and running water? Maybe also have my house fixed up like new, with no holes in the siding and wallpaper that isn’t thirty years old?

The me things: the things that keep me healthy? A slim waist, muscular body? Maybe another six inches taller? Hair that doesn’t gray, and free haircuts? A massage every week? Or, even better, a massage twice a week? The ability to see my dentist, eye doctor, or regular doctor whenever I need to without fear of money or health?

The other things: my kids visiting frequently because they actually want to be near me. My pets groomed, clean, and up to date on all of their health things. My friends and family feeling welcome at all times, knowing they mean the world to me?

There’s so many ‘things’ that a picture perfect life would have, but the only thing that matters is the things that we do not the things that we have. The helping a child learn to swim, or feeding a family who has no funds. Putting ourselves out there so others can learn from our mistakes, not having to repeat them themselves.

I want a picture perfect life, and I think I might already have it. It’s the little things that make the difference isn’t it? A job, though? I’ll need one of those as soon as possible.

thanks for reading,

me

Let Us Create

Creations. I wonder sometimes why we create things. Look around, everything you see. Everything, was created. The trees by some god somewhere, at least started. Or maybe created from a seed… I don’t want to discuss God at the moment. But everything else? Look. Do you see the sky line? The buildings, tall and proud? Do you see the paintings, the Mona Lisa? Creations.

As I type right now, I am creating. I’ve painted pictures, though few look good. I’ve drawn, sewn, cooked… all creations. Do you see it? Everything is created. What power we have! We have the ability to create anything we put our minds to. Anything.

Hear me. Hear my voice in this typeset. People have created music, and speaking; words, languages. Everything we hear is created. Even the wind was created. The opera, the concerto, the violin and piano? All created.

Maybe the question isn’t why we create things, maybe the question is how can we not? Is it even possible to not create? Be still, listen to your thoughts, even then you create. What power!

Now, realize this. Knowing that you create regardless of what you do, now you can choose what you want to create. Does the artist know what he is painting when he starts? Does the author know the full scope of the book before he puts the first word on paper? Not always. He may have an idea but the idea is not fully formed until the creation is done.

Realize this, with such power to create, might we be able to choose something good over something evil? Might we be able to choose a path that leads to fun, freedom, adventure; rather than one of fear and torture? Do we really have that power? The power to create our futures?

I say we do. I say we have always had that power but we fail to use it righteously. We fail to mark our thoughts and train our minds. We fail to reflect on things worthy. We allow ourselves to be blown by the wind, by the latest fad, tv show, rumors; we allow ourselves to be tossed in the waves.

I say let us create. Let us realize our potential to make amazing things. Let us gather our thoughts, focus on our dreams and live life to the fullest. Let us grow old in time and die with no regrets. Let us love every moment we breathe here on this earth.

thank you for reading,

me

Claiming Power in Life

As I prepare for life outside of university, I have discovered that life is really up to me. Yeah, I know that’s obvious, but hear me out. For the last five years I’ve had my scheduled planned by outside forces, specifically school. I had to arrange all that I do around when my classes and exams were. There was no way to change any of it. What they said was what I had to do if I wanted to pass.

Prior to school, my life was led by my family, specifically my husband and kids. If I wanted to do something on my own, for me, I had to make certain it was okay with everyone else in the house. My name was last on the list. My husband, kids, dogs, all came before me when it came to scheduling ‘free’ time.

Prior to marriage, my life was again controlled by university. Prior to that I was a child.

Now? Now, for the first time in my life I get to choose whether I get up in the morning or not. I get to decide if I want dessert for breakfast, whether I want to take a shower, or laze around in my pajamas all day. I get to decide how and who I want to be.

This is odd. It’s odd because I have no idea who that is. Who is the person who rules my body? Who is the one who controls my thoughts? Is it really me? Weird. Who is responsible if everything fails? Me? Wow. The enormity of it all is breathtaking. The ability to decide how my life will be from here on out?

Yes. I get it. I cannot have a great life if I just sleep all day, never shower, never eat… I know that. But, I have the power to choose. I may have had that power before but I never claimed it. So who do I want to be? How do I want to look? behave? What on earth am I supposed to do? ‘Supposed to?’ What’s that about?

Life. What a rush! Claiming my power has been the absolute hardest, and most rewarding, thing I have ever done. Claim yours. Need help? I’m willing to chat about it.

thank you for reading,

me

Forced Relaxation (Patience?)

Sailing is amazing: going out on my boat, pulling up the sails, feeling the wind take over, floating at speeds my engine can’t make me go. The silence of the motion, the peace of the journey, the ability to get away from the chaos of the world all are reasons I love sailing. Last Saturday I went out on the boat with a girlfriend. The weather was perfect! Not too hot, not too cold, just right; like Goldy Locks and The Three Bears and her porridge. Perfect.

The sails are full, wing on wing.

We had both sails out and full of air. The boat was moving swiftly and quietly through the water. This is why I sail. The peace that comes with harnessing the wind. The being one with nature, yet having her push me along. My friend is actually lying on the bow watching the sky in this picture although you can’t see her.

Later, though, things changed. There are always lessons to learn when I go sailing. I’m still new enough that I have barely touched the tip of the iceberg on what I can learn. Nature had other ideas for later that day.

We traveled along the Pamlico River inland toward Little Washington. I really wanted to see what it would be like to sail to the marina on the waterfront there. I wanted to know if I could do it and I wanted some sort of approximation of distance and time to get there. I was stretching myself a little but the weather was fine and it was still midday. There wasn’t any problem at all. I lowered the sails and motored into the marina and docked. We went on land and bought a late lunch and I marveled that I had arrived at my destination by boat.

Leaving the marina was simple. The wind was low and we motored out. It was late afternoon but the sun was still high enough. I had a little inkling in my stomach that something wasn’t quite right. Nothing major, just a little antsy. I was beginning to wonder if we had waited too long to leave. The sky was still blue, though, and the wind was supposed to pick up some. I didn’t expect we’d have any real problems getting back to my home marina.

Historically, if that’s what six months of boat ownership is, I’ve learned that my electric engine isn’t all that great at staying charged and so I try to use my sails as much as possible, saving the motoring for docking. I love the electric engine; it’s easy to use, just like a car. All you have to do is turn it on and turn it off.

The wind picked up as expected. I set the sails again and we started off. It wasn’t quite a head wind but I still needed to make my way back to the marina in a less direct way. I locate some landmarks and begin to notice they aren’t changing. It feels like we’re sailing, the wind is blowing like crazy. The sails are full but they start to complain. The wind builds so I decide to lower the main and just use my jib. The boat was becoming a bit harder to control. This was a lesson in strength, in negotiation, in compromise. We continued to move forward, some. I motor-sail some. I have a lot of battery left, it shouldn’t be a problem, but I’m worrying a little bit more. I really want to see my slip and tie up for the night. The water is full of waves that occasionally splash us on board. As we go through each swell, my engine loses its purchase not helping us at all. I try increasing my angle, anything and everything I can think of. I look at my landmarks again and they are too familiar. They haven’t changed in a long time.

I lower the jib, it’s time to just motor, the sails aren’t helping and might be hindering. We motor a while but my landmarks are still the same. We’re not going backwards at least. The waves, though, there just a bit more than I like. I trust my boat, though, she’s holding her own. She can handle this, it’s me who needs to learn. The sun is lower in the sky now and I stop. I turn off my engine, pick up my phone and call for a tow. We’ll be okay.

The sun continues to set as we wait.

Patience. I look around and I’m at peace. I worry about my friend because she’s getting cold. She’s at least in the cabin re-warming herself.

I notice that; without steering, without sails, without motor, without anchor; we still have not moved. We’ve moved neither forward nor backward. We’ve merely moved in circles up and down with the waves. What a weird feeling! Eventually I do turn the motor back on because we did drift a little closer to an island, but just a little. I turn it back off and wait.

Patience. This boat will teach me to rest. She will teach me to listen to my gut, to trust my instincts, and to be patient. I knew this when I got her. I knew that I would learn from her. I knew she would be strong enough to withstand my learning. She’s almost as old as I am but she knows the waters better than I. I look forward to her instruction each time I take her out.

My new friend, the tow boat captain, took this picture of us.

Two hours or so, sitting and waiting, bouncing on the waves; we find ourselves in a cold dark night. The brightest light around is that of my mast. It was so bright, the captain of the tow boat first didn’t see us because he thought we must be land. When he approaches he asks if the anchor is down. No. Didn’t need it. Didn’t go anywhere without it either.  He comes near and tosses me the rope  to tie on. Says to me, you know the drill, reminding me that he was the one who towed me last time. I laugh.

I do know the drill. I know that I have things yet to learn. And yet, I know that I am safe enough here to learn some of these lessons. I know that I can call for help and it’s not a mark against my character. I do not allow pride to prevent me from asking. I know that nature has won this round. Yet I will do it all again. I may even have to call for a tow again. Let me learn. I’ve only just begun this journey.

We arrived back at the dock after almost an hour of towing. I’m certain the waves and the wind did not make it any easier for my rescuers than it did for me. They just had stronger engines. As I held on and attempted to steer behind them, the occasional wave would splash me. The wind was cold but I was grateful for the tow, for not spending the night on the hook, for the weather not being freezing, for having no rain. I was much too grateful to be bothered by being upset.

Lessons sometimes need to be learned multiple times before you figure it out. That’s the way it is with life. I’m certain I am in the process of learning something. Patience is but part of it. perseverance may be another. My body ached for three days from trying to control my boat in that wind and then being towed. I definitely got my work out for the day!

thank you for reading,

me

Ramblings from the Psych Ward

I’m finishing up my second week working on a psych ward. Before I began I had spoken with my therapist and asked him if he had any recommendations. He asked me only to do one thing, “look at them as if they are real people with real issues. Remember that how they act makes sense, at least to them..” I’ve tried to do just that and in the process I’ve learned a few things about myself.

I’ve learned that it’s a very thin line between ‘normal’ and ‘crazy’. I’ve met people who still have dreams but life has thrown a bunch of garbage at them.

I’ve met a young man who, for no fault of his own, cannot stop moving his mouth. He has tardive dyskenesia along with some catelepsy. It’s not fair that he can’t use one of the drugs we’d like him to have because he’d have no way to pay for it out of the hospital.

There’s a lady who rather than embracing her upcoming retirement has decided that life just isn’t worth living, or at least bothering with. She barely eats, barely sleeps, and just lies in bed all day, despite being on several medicines that should be helping her by now. We keep hoping she’ll try ECT but so far she refuses. She doesn’t believe she is depressed, just that she’s a realist.

Another lady, who is so similar to myself that it scares me, is manic. She doesn’t remember the difficulty the police had bringing her in, nor the way she behaved in the ED. She doesn’t understand why she’s still being held ‘hostage’. When asked about it she has changed the story so much that it makes me wonder why she’s still there. The reality, though, is quite a bit different when you talk to those who met her that first day. Still, some of her story is true. She really has lived several places, really has suffered tragedy, really has had life turn upside down on her. I look at her and I see just how close I came to being there as a patient with her. Instead, though, I discovered ways to handle my stress, ways to grow my way out, and continue to grow. I have to remind myself that she is not me and does not have the skills I’ve learned, despite our similar circumstances.

The truth is all of these people could be you, or me, or someone we walk by. They are no different than we are, not special, not broken. They have just become overwhelmed and need someone to help guide them out of their own caves. Today, I nearly broke down in tears listening to a man who had to move back in with his mother because of an unexplained seizure that then turned his life upside down. He’s my age. I think how my parents would be if I lost my ability to take care of myself, and I think of how I would be if my own children found themselves in a similar place. I feel for them all.

And then, there is a man, who if he could only control his anger could provide such beauty to the world. He’s an artist who has covered his walls with drawings he’s done while waiting. He is also a gifted musician and can provide so much more to this world. Smart, well-kept, handsome, young, and strong… all the qualities a man his age would love to have. He’s there trying to explain to us that his problem is that he can’t sleep, that is the reason, he says, that he sees so many strange things. Visions when he closes his eyes, radio waves in the air, dots on our bodies… He believes there are aliens and he is worried there will be war because of them. He may be right, he might not; it’s not my place to say. There’s a lot of perfectly ‘normal’ people walking around who believe in aliens so that isn’t something worth arguing about.

So what do I say to myself? What do I think? I think it’d be best if when we talk to those who are in the ward that despite how crazy they sound, despite how far-fetched their stories may be, that we should give them the benefit of the doubt. So, yes, I choose to believe my patient when she says she swallowed a bunch of flexeril as well as oxycodone, mobic, and citalopram with vodka. I believe her when she says she doesn’t know why she started feeling suicidal, that it doesn’t make sense to her. I believe her when she says she really wants to live, despite being alive only because someone else found her. I believe her. And? If my patient says he believes in telepathy, why not? Who are we to say what another has experienced? We aren’t them. If they say they lived in Europe, or DC, or wherever, then who are we to say they didn’t?

These are good people, not liars, nor embellishers. They are telling us exactly what they think to be true. They are only being honest with no filters…. if everyone was as honest as these, we’d all be in the psych ward…

thank you for reading,

me

Geriatrics Rotation… A much better fit

I have to say, being in Pharmacy school is hard. Doing the studying, the exams, the science, the math… all of that is part of it. But the hardest part? All of the exams, math, and science are useless during rotations. When you see a new drug that came out you think it’s great! You’re like, it’s about time, let’s get some people well. And then, then you realize that your guy wouldn’t have qualified for the trial. He’s too old, too fat, too young, too sick… they only use mostly healthy individuals for trials… people who only have the one disease they are trying to fix, or no disease because they’re trying to prevent it.  This is true for all of the trials and has an effect on all patients differently.

Geriatrics… I’ve been working with a population of men (because they’re veterans) who are between the ages of 74 and 95. 95?! Wow. Do you expect to be able to live to 95? What a ride that will be! But, back to my patients. When they aren’t in their youthful ages anymore, when they are just trying to stay alive another day but still loving their lives… then the rules of the medicines doesn’t really apply. There are almost no trials in elderly people. No one has any idea how the medicines will act in their bodies. AND! every single one of them act differently. In one man, if he takes a statin he won’t be able to walk. In another, it has no effect on him. Another can’t take anything like aspirin or ibuprofen, but can take Tylenol. Another only needs 15 micrograms per week of warfarin and the one next to him uses 30 micrograms per week…

For these, and really for all of us, age is just a number and has no bearing on the amount of medicine a person needs. The most important factor on whether you live to 95 or 102 is how old you feel, not how old you are. Over the last few months I’ve met people who are older than me but technically a lesser age. And I’ve met those who are 95 and look, act and feel, like they’re just in their 50s and 60s.

I ask them what they do? What they did to get to where they are? One man told me, age 95, that I had to go to war. He said it doesn’t work unless I go to WWII and then Korea, and learn to jump out of airplanes for 30 years. I could have listened to him for hours. I had to ask him if his birthday was right, I just couldn’t believe he was 95.

So, yeah, I love geriatrics. Here I deal with people who have lived full lives, who have had their chance already to make mistakes and to make dreams come true, or not. I love listening to them and getting to know them. They are a treasure trove of information and advice. This community is growing exponentially and needs people who specialize in their medicines. The wrong drug could destroy an otherwise healthy individual, but the right one can help. I look forward to being done with school… only three more months!

thanks for reading,

me