Friday, November 30, 2007

The Spirit of Christmas

Last year Trinity Western University started this amazing community event called The Spirit of Christmas, and we went tonight. It was fantastic! It is still on tomorrow night if anyone local wants to take advantage: 5-11pm at the Trinity campus. Parking and events are free and events include: a live nativity, a small petting zoo, an outdoor, walking theatre production (which we skipped on account of the boys and the cold but last year it was very cool), crafts, free snacks, live music, a theatre production in the gym, a balloon artist, a craft fair, a christmas tree decorating competition display, and beautiful decorations. Go! The kids had a blast. I did, too...except the balloon artist lineup was 1 hour long and I stood in it, so that wasn't fun, but there were crafts for the kids to do while they were waiting. I had my mother in law along, which was essential because of all the people and potty breaks and snack needs, and because of Matthew's tendency to wander. The balloons were ALMOST worth the wait: this guy made 4 foot tall palm trees with monkeys in them, with bunches of bananas, and motorcycle hats, and all kinds of animals~I've never seen a balloon artist this good!
The kids ate so many candy canes they were actually tired of them by the time we left. Just as we were leaving, it started to snow. It was magical! Matthew's favourite was the petting zoo; he held a rabbit and his face just melted with softness and joy, and he rubbed his cheek in its fur...I think I just may have to get him a rabbit of his own next summer. He really was the sweetest thing, and in blissful heaven for 4 or 5 minutes as he held that bunny.
Oh, there was also a pair of horses pulling a wagon on tours, and the horses had real sleigh bells on. It was a short tour, but it was wonderful!
It is really the best part of christmas to watch your kids be struck by awe and wonder at all our traditions: lights, candy canes, music, sleigh bells, christmas trees, and everything else christmassy. (Aside from the consumerism gone wild). It lights them up and in turn lights me up enough that I will stand in line for an hour for a contorted balloon, and smile about it.
As for my event survival (I have to rate each event due to my aversion to crowds, harried parenting, and pressure to 'make an event special' in the name of tradition) I have to say that I was VERY pleased. Except for once. I was calm, tuned in, emotionally available, excited, enthusiastic, flexible, and happy, making it a fun event for all three of us (and grandma, but she would have fun in a paper bag at the back of a cave if her grandkids were in it with her). It's funny, I often think of myself as needing to 'arrive' in life, at a place where I'm fully mature and equipped for life. Instead, I am always evolving and always will. Just because last year at this event I was harried, frustrated, cold, and, by the end of the night, snarky, doesn't mean I am "that type of parent" and will stick there forever. I've learned, I've grit my teeth and put in some effort, I've evolved (or been evolved by life, God, my children), and now I'm calmer, not harried, more self aware.
Of course, at the very end of the night I embarrassed myself in front of 4 salvation army ball guards/bell jinglers by being short with Matthew for not listening...I gave him a mini lecture and DID overreact BUT I need to learn to care less what strangers think of my parenting, and to not project my own self criticism into other peoples' minds. They MAY have more compassion than I think (though probably not), and if they don't, WHO CARES?
I'm going to just focus on all the great parenting I did tonight, and leave that one moment behind.
Matthew was asleep in under a minute once in his bed.
Ayden requested 'just one story' instead of our usual bedtime ritual of two. That's rare. You know your kid is tired when they actually ADMIT to being tired and it is not to get out of something (or into something).

PLUS~I forgot to mention that Ayden and I had a date this afternoon. I worked last night so I had arranged daycare for Matthew and preschool drop off for Ayden. I came straight home from work, set my alarm, and passed out on my bed. What felt like two minutes later, my alarm went off for me to get up and pick Ayden up from preschool (it was actually 4 hours later). Since Matthew was being taken care of and I had got some sleep, I decided Ayden and I could go for a date. The Bee Movie was playing at noon, so we had lunch at the movie theatre and went to see some Bees. It was a fabulous movie, and we had a fabulous date.
These days Matthew gets some quality time with me while Ayden is at preschool, but Ayden gets less because Matthew has now outgrown his nap (mostly~he's in the too awake for an afternoon nap, but wasted and crabby by dinnertime without it phase). Things have switched--Matthew and I used to rarely get good quality time just the two of us.
I love dates with my kids. And the Bee Movie was fantastic. Funny, clean, good plot, good satire for the parents' benefit, minimal violence (I guess there are a few scenes where the main bee almost gets smashed by magazines), and even a bit educational on the habits and place of bees in our ecosystem. All round good movie to take your kids to.

My kids are amazing. Juicy. Funny. Sweet. Worth every penny, every late night, every bum wipe. Even worth getting peed on for.


Brent called today: the RCMP has determined which province each cadet in his class will be assigned to. We got BC!!!! Hooray!!!! Which means I won't have to switch employers, and we won't have to move ridiculously far away from all family. Yippee!! Great news. We find out which exact community we will be posted to around Christmas.

I've booked painters to come next week, and have ordered new carpet and will book when we find out when it is due to arrive...all in preparation for the possibility of moving, and selling our house.

Good news!!


Thursday, November 29, 2007


Last night my friend Wyville (her name is Melissa so we do last name only) and I went to the live tour of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woohoo! Weezer: you should be jealous. I almost fainted eleventeen times.
WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!! The show was three full hours with a 10 minute intermission and my picture will be on facebook (not my profile--a really wild, funny, gay guy took my picture for his facebook page) as a very excited audience member. We were ON THE FLOOR! Not close enough to get sweat on, but close enough to be exciting. These performances were AMAZING!! This show has taken dance and catapaulted it into pop culture in a miraculous way: all of a sudden dance is not just a fringe art form , and not just dancers are interested in watching dance any longer. WOWZERS! Some of the art these amazing dancers come up with is spectacular, and the calibre of the dancers blew me away. Every performance was more powerful live, and they performed my favourite of all the dances this season, "The Hummingbird and the Flower," and I almost cried (I think I did cry when I watched it on TV the first time) because it was so beautiful. AND they performed quite a few dances that were choreographed solely for the tour, and not televised. I only wish SYTYCD was around when I was dancing. I would have auditioned FOR SURE (and been cut, but it would have been an experience to remember). Wow, was there ever some talent on that stage.
Wyville and I got back from Everett, Washington, around 1:30 a.m. and I fell asleep around 2. Ayden requested that since I would be back after he fell asleep for the night, that I wake him to say goodnight when I got back. I shook him awake, he sat up, looked at me, requested a cuddle, and we spent a good 10 minutes snuggling in his bed before I left his room. Then I passed out and prayed the boys would let me sleep until 10 to 8 (we have to leave for preschool at 8).
Directly at 7 a.m. Ayden woke the entire house (Wyville slept over) screaming that I had not remembered to wake him up when I came home the night before. He barrelled into my room and yelled at me so loudly that my ears rang. For the life of me I couldn't convince him that I HAD woken him up, and he'd simply fallen back asleep right away and forgotten. His response? "YOU ARE MAKING UP FAIRY TALES!!!" I finally took his flailing, raging little person and put him in the hallway outside my bedroom and locked my door. My ears were hurting!
After 1/2 hour (I didn't leave the door locked for 1/2 hour, just a minute or two) he calmed down, but even mid afternoon he would get purple in the face and rage at me if I tried to explain how one can be woken up and forget that it happened in the morning.
What a way to start the day.
So then, I turned around and snapped at Matthew, like the proverbial henhouse with its pecking order, and then felt aweful.
Driving home from dropping Ayden off at preschool, after only 5 hours of sleep and such an awakening, I was in a funk.
To remedy the funk, I decided to take Matthew in the jogging stroller and RUN in the SUNSHINE! Now, I have not actually exercised since I was in Regina (4 weeks ago) so I decided to start slow. Plus, the sidewalks were icy. I ran 5 minutes, walked 2, for 32 minutes. So I only ran for 20 minutes total, with breaks. Good grief, was I ever winded! A year ago I ran 2 hours 38 minutes for my half marathon in Kelowna, without a break. My goal was to run the whole 21 kilometres without walking, and I did. Now 5 minutes is killing me? Walking up the stairwell at work winds me, too, I've noticed.
It is a miracle any single parent exercises at all until their children are old enough to be left on their own. When do I go? My only viable options for exercise are to run while Ayden is at school because my jogging stroller only fits one (problematic: when it is raining this is not a fun outing for Matthew, and this time is when I also like to grocery shop, as shopping with one is infinitely more possible than shopping with two), and to work out to DVDs in my house (if the kids are awake they interrupt all the time or get in scratching/biting matches so I'm forced to pause my workout, and if they are asleep I'm too bone tired). Hence, I'm in the worst shape I have been in in years.
Well, a run was what I needed, wimpy and short or not, and I started the day fresh after that and was much easier to live with. And it was SUNNY!!!!!!!!!!!!! Halleluah!
Plus, it seemed Ayden forgave me by lunch. So nice to be forgiven for something that one did not do in the first place.

This week has been tough. I'm sad, the kids are sad, it was gloomy and wet most days, and January 28th seems so, so far away to us. Christmas seems like a tease. I know that as the mom I set the emotional tone for my family but I didn't have the energy to modify the tone from gloomy and sad.

I'm also tired of my job (!!) and wishing I could quit. It's not the patients, the calls, the hospital, or even the assholes at work: it is the politics. It is going to work and being paid $10 an hour or $2 an hour while your 'full time' coworkers get $30+. It is being criticized by union delegates for not taking our union more seriously. It is being lied to by managers (or bullied, as per last January/February). It is the endless string of hoops one is expected to jump through to 'get anywhere' in my job. As stressful and as service oriented as my profession is, I shouldn't then have to fight for the right to be paid when I'm away from my family and unable to work anywhere else, or fight for callouts, or fight for benefits, or fight for etc. We will actually drive around town in order to be "on the air" for code 3 calls just so we have a better chance of getting paid our full wage for a few hours...and it works because dispatch can send us and get us to the call faster than the 90-120 second chute time of paging out a car that is at the station with the crew upstairs...we also 'scoop' calls; start out on code 3s and say "whoops, too late; you paged the other car? We're already a few blocks down the road," or tell dispatch we're closer than another car when we're's a bloody, messy, disgusting cat fight that keeps our energy focused on dollars and survival and staying ahead of the next car, rather than on our patients. Not that we focus on anything but our patients when we have one: but I mean our energy stores are depleted when we DO have a patient because we spend so much energy on survival in between calls.
I try as hard as I can to stay clear of the politics, but even so they are burning me out. I try as hard as I can to stay honest and fair, but even so I'm getting cynical. My union doesn't care. My employer doesn't care. Most citizens of BC don't care...which is too bad, because people are actually dying in this province because smaller towns cannot recruit or retain paramedic staff because they can't pay starting paramedics enough: there are 4 to 5 hour stretches of highway in the interior that have NO staffed ambulances in the towns nearby. People die in their cars waiting for a helicopter to be dispatched to free them and give them medical care. Or they die in their houses of heart attacks, strokes, stabbings, overdoses, diabetic emergencies, and allergic reactions...If a starting paramedic can work in an urban area and get paid $20 an hour regardless of whether they are on the couch in the station or on a call, why on earth would they choose to work in a rural area and get paid $2 an hour? Yet the union is not interested in fighting for wage increases or benefits (currently one needs 6 years seniority as a part time paramedic to be eligible for any benefits) or recruitment/retention plans for part timers. If the union doesn't care, why should the employer? The union delegates' response to my letter concerning the average 70-90 hour work week logged by most of the part timers I know? "They do so by their own choice. This job was never set up to be a job someone could make a living at while doing it part time. You are supposed to have another job to support yourself and do this on your days off until you have enough seniority to go full time."
Well that's working well, now isn't it?
I believe that, especially in today's competitive job market (competitive amongst employers--it's an employees' market right now), an employer has a responsibility to examine not the way a job was meant to be utilized, but the way it is actually being utilized, and change accordingly. It is the union's job to hold the employer accountable to this responsibility. When the provincial ambulance service was first created, entry level paramedic training was rudimentry...a first aid course...and after being hired, further training was offered free of charge. Most of the rural communities staffed their ambulances with first aid attendants from the mill, the logging company, the shipping industry, the mine, etc, and those attendants worked the ambulance on their days off from their 'real job.' Well, times have changed but the ambulance service infrastructure (and union attitude) has not. Now, entry level paramedics are trained to the level that ALS attendants were 20 years ago, and they pay $6000 or more for their own training, and there are annual license maintenance requirements and patient contact requirements to keep up. This is too much for your average industrial first aid attendant~especially for $2 an hour. If a present day, rural first aid attendant wants to cross over to the ambulance service, it is going to cost him or her 4 months away from their job and community, lost wages, $6000, and in the end s/he will be offered a job that pays $2 an hour standby pay, $20 an hour when an ambulance is called (infrequently), and requires him or her to start 15 IVs per year, demonstrate utilization of most or all protocols and advanced skills to a minimum level every year, and transport a minimum of 20 critical patients per year. That's hard to do on the occasional day off. You see why it is no longer appealing to those we used to recruit?
There is also a retirement surge going on in the ambulance service, as there is in every profession, creating a vaccuum. That vaccuum, out of financial necessity, is centred in urban areas because that is where the lucrative part time jobs and the full time positions are situated.
There ARE people who prefer to live in rural areas and would be willing to live and work in smaller communities, if making a living as a paramedic there was remotely possible. I assure you, it is not.
This is a dangerous time to be travelling our roads, or getting sick, or visiting relatives in rural areas in BC. I know. I work here.
I've considered getting involved in my union in order to try and be a part of a solution, but to be honest it's a fight I don't have the spit for. Well, I do, but if I spit all my fire at the ambulance service I won't have any left for my family. See my quote on the sidebar from Jann Arden.

Wow, that was a bit of a rant. I guess I needed to get that off my chest!

I'm thinking that for my next career I'd like to be a doulla. What do you think? Midwifery appeals to me, but 5+ years of full time school does not, at this point in my life.
Not that I'm leaving tomorrow. Every time I drive code 3, yelling and swearing at the retarded drivers who turn in front of us or are oblivious to their surroundings, laughing and trying not to pee while the world rips by outside our windows; every time I diagnose a sick patient, every time I save someone or make someone feel better, or connect with a patient, I get euphorically high. That's a tough addiction to shake, and I'll miss it when I'm done. There's nothing else quite like it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Piss Poor night

Not all of today was piss poor. In fact, most of the day was GOOD! We braved the sunshine and snowy fields to take Ayden to the Dr. to get his plantar's wart medicated. On our way home we stopped by the community centre for their drop in toddler/preschool time: a gymful of gymnastics equipment and ride on toys and hyper kids=2 happy boys. I was on top of things: I even had a snack and drinks in my bag for afterwards. I EVEN packed a snack for myself! We came home, made lunch, Matthew and I had naps while Ayden watched Robots, and then we went shopping and topped the evening off with supper at Red Robin's restaurant. Things didn't get piss poor until the restaurant. We were waiting for our food when suddenly Ayden, who is four and a half, wimpered, "Mommy, I peed." Good grief! There was actually a puddle on the bench seat beneath him. So, since it is only me and I have two boys, all three of us hauled off to the bathroom where I was simply at a loss for what to do. His entire butt, pants, legs, underwear, socks: everything was involved. I decided to rinse out his clothes and put them back on. He is four. I no longer bring spare pants and underwear with me everywhere I go! So I did. And, although I showed my dismay in the booth, I handled it well, considering. He giggled about wearing wet pants and we returned to our table. Literally 2 MINUTES LATER--we are talking 120 bloody seconds, TOPS--Matthew's desperately doing the pee pee dance and crying, "MOMMY ME PEE!" He wears a pullup (long story: was 100% toilet trained until Brent went away...I can't handle cloth at the moment...he is 99% toilet trained again but rather than bring extra pants everywhere, I opt to add to the landfill for now), so I wasn't worried about the puddle but I was angry that he had not thought "Oh, I have to pee" when we were in the bathroom 2 MINUTES earlier but instead opted to walk all the way back to the table and THEN announce "Oh, I have to pee."
So I yank him off his chair and march BACK to the bathroom and put him on the toilet. See, there are two problems here: #1, there are no urinals in the girls' bathrooms, and #2 Matthew's penis sticks straight forward when he sits down. So, instead of paying attention (out of habit, I reminded him, "push it down"), he got distracted and peed on me, the stall, the toilet paper dispenser, the floor, the toilet, his pants, his pullup, his shirt, and me.
I'm afraid there was some yelling. From me. With at least 2 witnesses, possibly three as I didn't check the last stall for occupants; so there is piss EVERYWHERE, I'm mad, and Matthew's crying. How does one recover from that with dignity? I was so mad, and it was so obvious I was so mad, that the other people in the bathroom couldn't even laugh, you know the way people laugh when something goes wrong with little kids and the parents are in an obvious bind and everyone laughs consprationally and one could laugh. I was too mad. Like, "What are you doing? Pay attention! You're peeing on everything!!! You do this ALL the time! Pee in the toilet!!" It is true, this happens often. Not often enough for me to bring extra clothes, but often enough to be a 'thing' our family deals with. In fact, it happened THIS MORNING at the community centre, although there I dealt with it with grace and simply cleaned it up and told him "it's okay! We'll clean it up! It's okay!" That was probably where the "You do this all the time" comment came from. But, seriously, do you think one would learn that one's penis is too pointy and that one needs to PAY ATTENTION to where the stream is going if it happened this often? Seriously, people. You would also think that I would learn to get out of the line of fire. It's not the first time I've been peed on by Mr. Matthew.
I'm the world's worst mother and at least 3 people who were at Red Robin tonight know it.
One is supposed to be calm, neutral, and instructive with regards to toileting and young children.
{{{insert whining tone here}}}}
Yeah, I'm the adult.

Ayden rode home in the buff because his wet clothes were very cold.

We did actually have quite a great day up until the restaurant. Why, oh why did I choose to go out for dinner tonight? If we were at home likely no one would have pissed anywhere but the toilet, and if they did-oops, and we toss the clothes in the wash and get on with dinner.
Then I wouldn't have yelled at my baby in the bathroom.
Then I wouldn't feel so guilty.
Then I would be happy!
Oh, life.
Oh, kids.

November II

Well, today is less dreary; the sun has peeked out a few times and the clouds that are around seem sparser! I also took the kids to the drop in centre this a.m. to get their wiggles out--being trapped by the gloom seems more manageable when the kids have some exercise!!!
Kelley: I don't own any Bob Marley but if he's the answer to a gloomy day I better download some on itunes pronto! Cat Stevens, too, apparantly.
And rob: it must be nice to have the luxury of owning your own time, if you edit old poetry on gloomy days. :P
Those of us with children don't get gloomy hours to sit by the window and edit! I'm jealous!

What should I make for dinner? Any suggestions?

Monday, November 26, 2007


Dreary days. The weather is so gloomy at 1:30 in the afternoon that it is dark enough for all the lights in the house to be how dark it is when the sun has hit the horizon on a cloudy day.
Not loving November.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


It's funny, whenever I go through a busy or difficult time in my life, I get "too busy" to pick up a paintbrush and create. Or "too distracted," or "too something." When will I learn? When I paint, I feel more alive. I use my intuition and intelligence and feel lifted above all my roles into an active conversation with God that I never want to leave.
When I pack my paints away again I feel happy, calm, imperative.
For me the calling of mommy is often this strange mix of imperative yet invisible. Everything yet nothing. When I disappear into my creative space, I come out feeling imperative. Perhaps because I've communicated with S/he who created the universe and felt loved?
The divine smiles on me when I paint. I'm grateful.

Fun With Daddy part II

And now I'd like to crawl in a closet somewhere and cry for a few days. :(

Friday, November 23, 2007

hoLY crap

The shit hit the fan in Chilliwack today, I'm telling you. At one point we were sent code 3 to a 15 yr old who fell from the second story of a house and had a head injury. When we were almost there, dispatch turned us around to go code 3 in the other direction for status seizures and sent a different ambulance for our first code 3. Seconds later she dispatched our ALS car to Agassiz for a shooting, a stabbing, and a tazering (not by police but by a criminal), and seconds later another Chilliwack ambulance was called code 3 to the 4 year old short of breath, not alert, then 2 mintutes later the last car in the whole area went code 3 for a 12 month old with 3rd degree burns to her hand.
The shooting/stabbing/tazering involved 3 patients (it was apparantly a break and enter discovered in progress...yikes...), one of whom was airlifted from the scene to RCH directly. The guy I saw was getting blood pumped INTO him almost as fast as it was bleeding OUT of him into his abdominal cavity, and his x-ray was unreal. Anyone who popped into the trauma bay to observe (yours truly spent 20 minutes there) had to give police their name/number/address. It was like one of those ER episodes. Amazing.
Shortly thereafter Hope ambulance sent a car to the jail in Agassiz for a gentleman who eviscerated his own bowel with a homemade knife, spilling poop everywhere. Don't ask me why. Plus, the guys in Kent maximum security prison are generally not gentlemen. We sidestepped that one quite nicely, as we were in the trauma bay watching the ER staff sweat bullets trying to keep the gunshot victim alive long enough for surgery. His x-ray looked like a meteorologist report. He was shot with a shotgun with those pellet shots that kind of explode out after they get inside you. I even got to help. I taped something.
This was within the span of 30 to 45 minutes! It is amazing to me how the randomness of emergencies sometimes collide all at once.
Remember when the hot air balloon crashed in Surrey? At the same time someone drove his car into a group of wedding guests, killing 7.
Remember the 5 or 6 men who were murdered in a Surrey apartment last month? At the same time someone drove their cessna into an apartment building. AND my friend who is a dispatcher delivered a premature baby over the phone (obviously not actually delivering it, but delivering instructions to the person on the phone) AND resuscitated it afterwards.
These are notorious days in the ambulance service that get talked about for several weeks afterwards.
That one incident a year or two ago on Hwy 1 in Abbotsford where 16 farm workers in a van rolled over and a bunch of them died? That call still gets talked about. The first guy to call 9-1-1 happened to be a triage nurse from the army. He said the cars were swerving to avoid hitting the bodies on the freeway. He also walked the scene, giving dispatch an excellent idea of what they were looking at and how many ambulances would be needed. It has been noted several times in re-hashing of that scene that, had that van crashed even 30 minutes later, no one would have survived because a good portion of the area's ambulances would have been busy on calls. It just happened to be early, and 1/2 hour before shift change.
Fate? No.
God? Yes.

Addendum to Spumoni + Vagina

Another stranger question faux pas with regard to families with children adopted from asia has prompted my friend to design a t-shirt that reads:
"Is her dad Chinese?
I don't recall
-it was dark"

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sea Creatures

Ayden is really into ocean life right now, and his dad sent him a new book about sea creatures that makes him so excited he actually vibrates. This kid never stops wiggling until he's actually asleep! Tonight we were making funny fish faces and making up silly types of fish that COULD live in the sea. He invented the Kissing Fish, and demonstrated how the Kissing Fish just kisses people "WIKE DIS, MOMMY!" smooch, smooch, smooch on my cheeks and hair. "AND DE KISSING FISH JUST KISSES EVERYBODY AWW DE TIME! AND DE KISSING FISH IS AWSO CAWWED DE DOING-WHAT-GOD-SAYS FISH, BECAUSE DE KISSING FISH WOVES EVERYBODY! AND SHOWS EVERYBODY HE WOVES DEM BY KISSING DEM!" As you can see, he does everything full volume, especially when vibrating about sea creatures.
Funny, the bedtime story routine was originally intended to lull them to sleepyland...

Spumoni + Vagina

So there is this street in Chilliwack named Spadina Avenue (pronounced spa-dye-na) that always makes me think of spumoni flavoured ice cream, and the word vagina. Every time dispatch asks for our location and we're anywhere near Spadina Avenue, it throws them for a loop because when we say "Spadina" on the radio it sounds like vagina. They ALWAYS ask us to repeat it.
Don't ask me where spumoni comes from; I don't know.

On a different note, has anyone else noticed how some strangers consider it their business to evaluate your parenting to your face in the guise of safety?
"Do you really think he should be eating that hard candy? My kids always choked on hard candies like that."
"I don't feel safe having your child sit in the buggy without the child restraint fastened." (Then please ensure that the child restraints are fully functional. If your store was truly concerned they would check all the restraints in all the carts on a regular basis and FIX the broken restraints. Besides, Ayden is four. He doesn't need the restraint any more)
"Don't put your baby there because he can reach the conveyer belt." (he's three. Not a baby, and I have my eye on him thank you very much)
"Did you know that grapes are a choking hazard?"
"Is that your little boy at the top of the jungle gym? He's making me sweat!" (this one is semi legitimate because Matthew is so small he looks younger than his age, and he is a terrific climber, ahead of his developmental age in that category)
"Are you watching him?" (my eyes are looking straight at my kid)
"It's dangerous to let your kids climb trees." (??????)
"Abby, stay away from the boys. They are playing too rough." (not too rough)
"Don't let your kids run on the sidewalk because it is slippery." (you're not concerned about their safety, you are concerned about your store's liability)
"You should put him in a stroller when you go to the mall. That way he won't get lost." (this one was weird. Matthew was holding my hand in the mall, quietly walking beside me)
"Candy is no good for their teeth, you know. My husband is a dentist." (Congratulations. Go away)

Parenting advice is always welcome when I have a warm, personal relationship with you and I respect your opinion. Otherwise, keep your trap shut.
If you see my kid is in danger and I'm NOT paying attention, please stick your nose in--then I appreciate it!!

I got sick of a few repeated phrases when I was pregnant, too:
"Oh, your life is about to change FOREVER!"
"Enjoy your sleep now because you'll never sleep again afterwards!" (like any pregnant woman can sleep in the last 3 months of pregnancy)
"You're about to pop!"
"You are huge!"
"You must be due any day now!" (nope. Weeks and weeks to go.)
"Make sure you get your baby to take a bottle as soon as possible after it's born."
"Is it a boy or a girl?" (why, oh why do we want to stick kids in gender boxes at the earliest possible date?)
or, alternatively, "You're having a __________. I can tell by the way you are carrying."

Same as above; if you have a relationship with me you are allowed to say stuff. If not, buzz off.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


2 more sleeps until Brent comes to visit...only 2 more sleeps...that's 48 hours! I'm pacing. I'm counting the minutes. May the next 48 hours go quickly and the 39 hours after that last forever!

Another Quote

Nobody gets out alive.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I am SO tired but I have to debrief what happened on last night's shift before I can sleep this morning. Remember my categories, SICK and not sick? Last night shortly after shift change we got called code 3 (lights and sirens) for a headache!?!?!? We had a really far run for this address, and we kept wondering why a headache would get a code 3 ambulance. We were met at this house in the woods by a frantic man waving and hollering...hmmmm, not a good sign, but we get a fair number of frantic family members for not sick patients, so we didn't get too excited. As a matter of fact, my partner was driving and he clunked the back fender into the low rock wall surrounding the garden next to the house and we both howled with laughter for a few seconds as I teased him about it.
We followed the frantic husband upstairs and were greeted by the cutest kids, 4.5 and 3 years old. I rounded the corner at the top of the stairs and knew immediately from my first glance that this was no minor call. Our patient was a 30 year old woman and at this point unconscious and alternately flushed hot, and pale cold. When I first touched her I thought she had a fever, and a few minutes later was shocked by how cold she was. When I dug my finger into the soft part between her jaw and her earlobe (a pain stimulus that rouses all but the unrousable) she opened her eyes and moaned, but quickly returned to unconsciousness and then began to vomit copious amounts of curried bile. Yum. Of COURSE we did not have our portable suction with us, as we had not thought it necessary for a headache call! And--this is the killer--of COURSE I did not have the rolled up plastic garbage bags I ALWAYS carry in my pocket for puke and bloody clothes so it got all over the couch, floor, pulse oximeter, jump bag, myself, and my partner. It took us 3-4 minutes of intense work just to manage her airway at that point.
Our medical assessments are broken down into sections. The first 2-3 minutes is what we call our primary survey: assess level of consciousness (there are many levels, not just 'awake' or 'unconscious'), whether there was trauma involved and the need for c-spine precautions (broken neck/back), check for a clear airway, adequate breathing, adequate circulation, and do a quick, hands on once-over of the whole body. In the primary survey if you find a problem with any of the above, you fix or maintain it, and your patient is considered unstable and gets one of two things: #1 a protocol with drugs/IV/in depth assessment and then rapidly put in the ambulance, or #2 get the hell out of there and into the ambulance as fast as possible.
If, by the end of your primary survey and a set of vital signs, you as a paramedic don't know with 90% certainty what is going on, it's time to get the hell out of there. I did a primary survey and a quick set of vitals and had no idea what I was dealing with so we rolled her in a blanket to protect us from the puke, which she promptly puked on again, and hauled her out to the ambulance.
We took off to the hospital code 3--a RARE occurrence, as we often arrive code 3 and then either stabilize or realize the patient is in the not sick category, and drive with no lights or sirens to the hospital. If you ever see an ambulance going code 3 with only one paramedic in the front seat, and/or lights on in the back of the ambulance and people back there, someone is pretty close to dying in the back. Or needs major surgery: ie, amputated part, limb threatening injury, or simply involved in an accident involving pretty significant deceleration or trauma and may need surgery for internal injuries and/or bleeding. The next part of our medical assessment is the secondary survey and is more involved. On my secondary survey I took a look at the medications she was on (which we threw in a bag and brought with us), considered her recent health problems or lack thereof, and did a detailed physical exam including pupils, pain response on all 4 limbs, listen to her chest and bowels, and check for injuries, abnormalities, and clues as to why she was in her current condition. And started an IV. I had to try twice because the first one made her yank her hand away from me and it blew and bled everywhere. Blood and puke together; awesome. My second try was a success. Pretty quickly into my secondary survey I shortlisted two probable causes: drug overdose or a stroke. When I got to her feet I heavily leaned towards a stroke because she had no response to pain in one leg, and no reflexes. Plus, she was on estrogen birth control, which can cause strokes, and naproxen, a painkiller that can cause brain bleeds. The only thing still dragging me towards the possibility of a drug overdose was a history of depression and the fact that she had 4 or 5 bottles of the naproxen in various stages of emptiness...later, a toxocology screen showed some opiates in her system and realistically my protocol includes a shot of narcan but I withheld it because I saw no evidence of narcotics...anyways, narcotics were not to blame for her condition.
We called ahead to warn the ER we were bringing in a SICK one and usually when that happens the trauma bay is cleared up and the staff ready to roll as soon as you walk in the door. We came in and I started, "This is the one we called about....." and my voice petered away as I looked around the Chilliwack ER at a frieking war zone; there were at least 4 patients in there as sick as mine, and one being actively resuscitated. There was plastic tubing, discarded plastic packaging, clothing, and bloody towels all over the floor, and people were literally RUNNING from place to place...the best I could do was wait for triage and the best she could do for me was to put my patient in the pediatric bed. Where my patient promptly vomited. Again. At this point, everywhere I go all I can smell is barf! Pretty quickly we had a team of people in the pediatric bay, all talking at once and everyone's questioning glance on me for answers...her nurse looked me in the eye and asked me, "Why is she sick?" a professional triumph for me, because that means she trusts me. She's seen me work for six weeks now and trusts my judgement. Very cool. "Either a CVA or a drug overdose," and I give her the rundown of my pertinent findings.
While actively suctioning to clear her airway of yet more vomit. How much food can one stomach HOLD for pete's sake? Then she blew a pupil and we all knew it wasn't a drug overdose. Her eyes started deviating up and towards the left, which is where her headache originated, and which signals swelling of the brain on the side the eyes are looking towards.
Sick, sick, sick.
My heart howled. She's only 30. Her kids are my kids' age.
Two hours later we took her code 3 with a nurse and respiratory therapist to Royal Columbian for neurosurgery for a brain aneurism. This time I was driving and we made it from Chilliwack hospital to the Royal Columbian, door to door, in 39 minutes. Whew, I'm fast! She was intubated, catheterized, IV drug administered, and on a cardiac monitor. Ready for brain surgery. One minute she was talking to her husband, the next she was overcome by a headache, and sixteen minutes later we arrived and encountered what I described, and a couple of hours later she is having brain surgery! Crazy. Sad. Random. Hug your kids, people. Life is short.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Speaking of kids and drugs...

This weekend was a busy one at work. This weekend I loved my job. These two statements are somewhat sononymous (can something be somewhat sononymous?), as my job satisfaction is directly related to:
#1, My partner's social skills
#2, The type of calls we get
#3, How tired I am
#4, How much overtime I have had to do recently.

A repeated theme this weekend was kids and drugs. One patient was 14~his friends called 9-1-1 with his name and age, and then left him on the steps of the elementary school and took off. Way to pick your friends, Jim *name obviously changed.* He was SO drunk that his coma score was the same as a dead person's (3/15) and he felt no pain. He did not respond at ALL. He's lucky he didn't choke to death on his own vomit. The longer I do this job the less weight and meaning there is for me in the word 'lucky,' as generally luck "good fortune; advantage or success, considered as the result of chance (" seems less and less likely, and providence "a manifestation of divine care or direction (" or sheer randomness to be closer to the truth.
Anyways, after skating on his vomit and loudly swearing about it, making my partner and the police officers in attendance laugh, I wrapped his puke soaked body in a blanket and we hauled him into the ambulance for a better assessment. He weighed so little. He WAS so little-only 14! He was hypothermic, had dangerously low blood pressure, and marginally low blood sugar. He also vomited and aspirated (breathed in) his vomit, right in front of us (he was on his side to prevent this but flung his head back as he puked, poor 'luck'), requiring aggressive suctioning and likely resulting in infection. I started an IV first try (yay me!) and gave him a fluid bolus.
At the hospital he got the full meal deal: stripped naked, rectal temperature, foley catheter, arterial blood gases, all the indignities.
He's not responsible enough to vote, drive, buy alcohol, or live alone. What the hell is he doing on the stairs of the elementary school so drunk he's almost dead?

Another one of my young patients (16 this time) triggered a seizure disorder which she will live with for the rest of her life by taking some of that lovely crystal meth we all know about, and a date rape drug frequently used by ravers. Why one would voluntarily take a date rape drug is beyond me, but there you go. It's not me.

One of my friends was raped three years ago with the use of a date rape drug. She was 6 weeks pregnant at the time. Isn't it a lovely world we live in?

Actually, it is a lovely world we live in. It's us who are not always so lovely to each other.

Should I chain my kids to my house to prevent them from making stupid choices? Really, what's a little psycosis induced by whacked out parenting when compared to near death experiences brought on by substance abuse?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

p.s. to chaps my ass

Thank you rob & tonya for your thoughtful comments! I agree.
I would also like to add that, while one of my centering, perspective building, calming activities is working, I recognize that this is not universal. In fact, I simply believe that all moms need a semi-routine activity or activities that centre them, and for each person this is different. If this activity is outside the realm of their home and family (even if performed within it), it helps her maintain a sense of who she is individually, and builds her sense of worth. This is vital. We are all like cars: our gas tanks get low and we need to fill them up in order to continue driving! One mom I know loves cooking, another pottery, another exercise, another photography and writing, and etc...I have several things that fill up my tank, and work is one of them.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chaps my ass

I have this rather giant pet peeve. First I would like to disclaim, before I rant, that I think that moms whose chosen vocation is their home, children, and family are beautiful and blessed. They are underrecognized and incredibly hard working: Dr. Phil says that being a stay at home parent with two children is the equivalent to 1.5 full time jobs in the work place with regards to hours, workload, and required skills. Those who homeschool on top of that are triple amazing. So don't get the wrong idea as I rant.

My pet peeve is this social tendancy to assign resonsibility for percieved 'social deterioration' amongst children to the historical shift of women from the home to the work force. Mom at work = unstable, rude, drug and alcohol abusing, God-rejecting (if one is a christian), immoral, problem children.
There are several problems with this theory.
#1, women have actually worked throughout history, including large numbers of women in the workforce during the world wars, whose generations of children were more polite and conforming and respectful (how accurate this is, I don't know, but it seems to be a widely held belief) than the current one (how disrespectful this generatoin is I don't know but it seems to be a widely held belief that this generations' children are less respectful than the last).
#2, I heard a statistic yesterday on the radio (not guaranteed accurate, but interesting) that the average man polled in the US spends 6 minutes per week with each of his children outside of the activities of eating and sleeping in the same house.
Why is it that moms are carrying the hefty weight of guilt/responsibility regarding social deterioration amongst their children when the dads are spending so little time with their children?
Obviously not all dads fit this statistic. I'm just using it as an extreme example to point out the fact that God gave each child two parents for a reason: it is a two parent job and as such responsibility for social changes lies with both parents.
#3, Social changes amongst our children would probably be better viewed in light of certain adult social changes in the last two generations. There was a lot of emancipation going on in the seventies. Women, sexuality, emotional expressiveness, art, philosophy, and especially social constraints with regards to what or who one was 'supposed' to be. My parents' generation didn't like to be stuck in boxes or follow rules, norms, or ettiquite. This is cool. Emancipation is cool.
It also follows that a more free, emotionally sensitive, expressive generation of parents would raise more free, emotionally sensitive, expressive (and less conforming) generation of children.
Are children really more disrespectful, or are they just more free?
I guess it depends on your perspective.
#4, We have this concept that divorce rates are rising, drug use amongst children is rising, and etc. Actually, divorce rates are not rising. They are lower now than they were in the late 40s/early 50s. I wonder if drug use amongst children is actually on the rise, or if it is holding steady. Any drug use is of course a concern, but if we are going to blame ourselves for something, lets at least get the 'something' accurate. If it is holding steady we can't really blame the moms' going to work. We could look at certain aspects of their parenting for sure, and maybe mom's absence during working hours is a factor, but I don't think all the responsibility lies in her lap.

I'm an attachment parent. I believe in spending a LOT of time with one's children: focused time, plugged in, tuned in, emotionally responsive time. I believe in extended breastfeeding and cosleeping and babywearing and homeschooling and all the myriad manifestations of attachment parenting. But I also think that moms can be this type of parent and work. There are all kinds of personalities and all kinds of women out there with all kinds of gifts/skills/assets/callings, so why is there a guilt inherently associated with work and mommyhood? I know myself well enough to see and admit that I am calmer, happier, more tuned in, more energetic, and have better perspective as a parent if I work one or two days a week. I don't think ALL moms have to work one or two days a week. My point here is simply that there isn't only ONE kind of mom so there naturally wouldn't be only ONE kind of manifestation of attachment parent.
Hence, some moms will work. And it does not seem fair for these moms to carry the weight of responsibility for negative social changes amongst children. That is my rant.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Creative solution

So Ayden has always found saying goodbye tough, especially when I go to work. Matthew is more cheerful about it, for which I have several possible theories:
#1, his personality is more content. He has always been a flexible child who is pretty happy in his present circumstance and makes the best of most situations, given he is not overly tired, hungry, or afraid.
#2, he has already experienced every child's deepest fear; the loss of a primary caregiver, and survived. Some part of him seems more resiliant because of this, as though his psyche is saying, "We've survived losing a parent, so we can survive a day of separation from our present parent." By the loss of a parent I mean the loss of his foster mom when he was one year old, since his birth mom relinquished him when he was only 10 days old. I'm sure the newborn separation from primary caregiver also affects adopted childrens' psyches, but I think the loss of his foster mom was more emotionally devastating for him since children of one year of age have more awareness, reciprocal and specific attachment, and developmental capability than a newborn.
#3, he is more of a 'wait and see' guy. He'll wait to see if things are worth getting upset about before getting upset. Daycare is familiar and fun, and he knows I will return because I have always returned. That is enough for him. Ayden also knows I will return, but he mourns the short separation more than Matthew does.


Anyways, I was getting weary of pulling in with only minutes to spare before shift change because

will finish later,
got a call at work


I'm back.
So, if he was awake when I left in the morning, or if it was evening, Ayden would scream and cry and carry on for ONE MORE HUG and PLEASE, PLEASE DON"T LEAVE MOMMY, frantic and panicky. If I snuck out while he was sleeping (I know, aweful of me, and I don't believe in it, but it made leaving SOOOOO much easier and about 15 minutes faster), he would wake up in a panic. So, with much pondering on my own, and discussion with Ayden, I devised a solution. We agreed on a goodbye ritual of 3 hugs, 3 kisses, and then as I drive away I call him on the phone to talk for a few minutes to ease the transition. I wasn't sure if it would work, but we talked about the ritual a lot, and then tried it out Tuesday evening when I dropped him off at Grandma's. Success! He was sad, but didn't cry, as we did our 3 hugs and 3 kisses, and when I called him we talked for all of 30 seconds and he was ready to go.
Coincidence, or real success?
This morning when I dropped him off at daycare we did the same ritual, 3 hugs, 3 kisses, and he was sad again but no tears: I phoned him as I was driving away and we talked for all of 15 seconds and he was ready to go.
Real success!!
It is amazing how 'knowing what to expect' calms peoples' panic and fear. If we have an agreed upon ritual, Ayden knows how many hugs to expect and how many kisses, and knows he can count on me to phone him. That's all he needs.
Hooray for solutions!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ayden's latest hits

On the drive home from work/grandma's house tonight, Ayden made up a little song for us captive listeners, and it went to the tune of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm"
"Welcome to my house! My God is biiiiiiig. My family is boooooring, I have a boring family because my parents are boooooring!"
I started laughing and in all seriousness he stopped midsong and asked me,
"Mommy, what's funny?"
I explained about the humour inherent in singing about your boring family, and he got offended:
"It is NOT a funny song, mommy. It is a song about what I sing when my friends come over to play."
"So it is not supposed to be funny?"
So I had to pretend not to laugh for the rest of the drive home.
"My family is so booooooring, I have two parents, a mom and a dad, and I dooooon't like to play with them that's why I'm glad you are heeeere! My family is boring...."
I must also add that he pronounces his 'ls' as 'ws' so it sounds more like "My famwy is so booooring, I don't wike to pway with them, my famwy is boring!"

Yes, edible. So sweet and SO hilarious.

Yesterday I had 24 hours off so I was home in the daytime. It was great! We lounged around in our pyrjammies until noon, playing and whatnot, and after lunch we went to the park. It was cold, but the sun was trying its best to shine so we took advantage. Ayden rode his bike and Matthew opted to be pulled in the wagon (I was thankful he wanted to do this, as he gets tired of the roadrunner shuffle on his trike and hasn't figured out his two wheeler well enough for a long ride yet). Ayden was raunchy grouchy when we set out, screaming and throwing his snack at me, punching my legs and turning red. For some infraction. I think I refused to get him MORE of the snack I had packed because I knew he wouldn't eat more or something.
Anyways, he was also angry that we were going at all; he wanted to ride bikes in our complex. This is boring for everyone. Once we were close to the park he calmed down and stopped ramming his bike into the wagon (bless the LORD for granting me superhuman patience some days) and became cheerful and cooperative. I lay on a bench at the park and watched them out of the corner of my eye as they climbed trees, went the wrong way up the slide and down the steps, stomped in mud puddles, dragged the wagon around with Matthew's 'baby' in it (a stuffed lamb), planted branches in the garden area in hopes they would become trees, and hunted for bugs. Ah, boys. I never appreciated boys before I had them. Probably because I didn't understand them, but now I do!
I love being able to be present but not vigilant as a parent. They play together beautifully when they are not fighting.
On the way home we stopped at the corner store for a treat; all three of us picked ice cream even though it was only 6 or 7 degrees out :p
It was a fantastic afternoon and I'm very, very glad to have had it. Tomorrow's shift marks the second of SIX days in a row of 12 hour shifts, yuck, so I'm glad I had the opportunity to relax and play a bit on my ONE day off. The person who draws up the schedule every month gave me the worst schedule for November because I have the odd one day off here and there but rarely 2 in a row. I specifically asked for days off in a row. December I think I'll manipulate the days I'm available for so he's forced to give me more than 24 hours off at a time; this is too much!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A favourite quote

Life is short.
Stay awake for it.

-the inside of my coffee cup (which I use for tea)

For Tonya;

I'm praying for you too. It's never easy being the single parent, no matter how long or short! You make me howl. I think feeding them and keeping them warm is required...I lost my instruction book though, so I'm not 100% sure.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sisters, storms, and support

Thanks to my faithful friends for your comments and prayers and is good to be not entirely alone. It is awesome to hear from you!
Today marks 12 days until Brent flies home for a 39 hour visit. Argh. 12 long days. I am hoping to remember to ask him to put up the christmas lights and for us to go together to buy a tree...will a tree bought the end of November last until christmas, do you think? I'm wondering if a brown tree would bring ambiance or just be tacky? Yes, yes. I know about the fire hazards of dead trees with electrical wires wrapped around their branches, and little hot lights placed every 2 to 3 inches or so. Ha ha. I don't know that I'll really ever get around to actually putting up the christmas lights myself and what kind of aweful mother would deprive her children of the experience of having a string of lights around their front window, garage, and lower eaves? We have very pretty, rainbow coloured lights, too. Oh, christmas! Maybe that season will cheer me up, and then when it is over it will be only one month until this whole loneliness exercise is complete!
Anyways, I finally scooped up the rotten pumpkins from our front stoop today and put them in the garbage. They leaked rotten juice all over my hands, arms, tummy, legs, and feet. I'm sure the neighbours are grateful the soggy, collapsing eyesores are gone. I have a rotting kids' picnic table in my backyard too. How welfare of me. The neighbours are proud, I'm sure.
I LOVE my sister; she cleaned and cleaned and cleaned my kitchen: it is now a mess again, but that's how kitchens was better than ice cream to come home to a clean kitchen and a tidy living room, and two clean kids in pyrjammies (aydenism) who have already had stories read to them, waiting for a cuddle before bed. Oh, happy day. If only Megan could move here from Victoria and live with me always!
We drove her to the ferry today in the biggest windstorm I've seen in several years...the ferries were cancelled for most of the day...I just left her there and prayed, because she didn't want to wait at my house and I had to leave for work mid afternoon, so I don't know if she ever made it. The wind died down and the sun came out late afternoon so I'm sure she must have, but I felt for her!
I'm feeling this week like I have had enough, as you all know because I have shared that with you, but I'm noticing it manifesting itself in daydreaming. I'll be sitting in the hallway folding laundry with my mind in some other region, country, or galaxy, and suddenly one of the kids will holler for me and I'm startled out of my daydream back to the reality of a million unpaired socks and two big stacks of spiderman underwear, and two needy boys. They're like leeches. I've been bled! I don't have any more! Ahhhhhhh! Hellllllp meeeee! I'm withering away into nothing!! Kidding. They're not leeches. But I notice that every time I'm thunked out of my reverie I'm grouchy. "Mommy?" "WHAT?!" "Um, can I have a banana?"

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cool calls

Some days I'm ready to throw in the towel on my job. Not today!
Motorcross is still in town. Today one of their flaggers got hit during a race, and knocked her right out. We drove right onto the track to do our assessment, scoop, and stablization. Very cool. And layered with ALS, which I like because I love to learn and our ALS crews are (mostly) great teachers and very accomplished at their job. So we scooped and off we went, so fun. I still advise against motorcross activities. This woman had a serious concussion and possibly a broken vertibra or two, and she wasn't even racing!

Our other cool call of the night was an hour's hike up a mountain in Yarrow, in the dark, with search and rescue, to gather up a dirt biker who snapped his lower leg bone while out in the bush with his (adult) kids. Also very interesting! As we were hiking up and I was getting some inadvertant exercise, I was grinning that someone was PAYING me to do this fun stuff! Because we BLS crews have very little to offer along the lines of pain control, one of our ALS guys came with me on the hike, and my partner stayed behind as the driver for the other ALS guy. This was very fun as well; I tried to start an IV in the dark by the light of a flashlight and totally blew it, but hey, I tried. We also had a paramedic student with us so we had an awesome teaching opportunity for him and I got to impart some advice in one direction and learn some new stuff in the other direction. Very cool!!
That call took 3 1/2 hours, total. Search and rescue has some very cool toys, as well...we put him on our backboard and SAR put him in a basket stretcher and then on what they call "the wheel" which is just a large wheel with shocks on a frame that goes under the basket and carries all the weight, and minimizes the bumps a bit, and 8 guys pull the basket along on its wheel, with one (in this case) woman belaying a rope from around a tree just in case of someone slipping, tripping, or falling in the mud, leaves, and debris lying around on the trail. In the dark. We worked amazingly well as a unit, despite being two different agencies who don't see each other all that much; we got to the bottom of the trail and hiked up with the few SARs who were there, did all the medical stuff while they congregated, and let them do the extricating. It was seamless. It was a work of art. Our patient was very comfortably high on morphine so it didn't hurt him much! :)
My sister is here now, helping me look after the kids. She's wonderful! I don't want her to go home! Boo hoo!
Ayden is starting to show signs of really reaching the end of his emotional rope. I don't know if it is Brent's absence or a developmental stage, or possibly both, but he is velcro boy right now. I had to leave him BAWLING at the front door when I left this afternoon for work, holding his arms out for me and screaming "Mommy! I just want one more hug!" Which, of course, is not just one more. It is the tenth or eleventh hug since I told him I had to leave, and I'm running VERY late, and there is no comforting him. I actually had to peel him off me to get out the door. Matthew has stopped asking me, "Daddy home?" when we're returning from an outing. He just looks sad a lot. At least his nightmares have stopped. Near the end of August and the beginning of September he was waking up every night several times, and every nap several times, screaming from nightmares. Those are gone now, and I pray specifically that he won't have them every night before he goes to sleep, so I hope they stay away.
I'm done in. I sure hope the second half goes faster than the first half.
I'm also lonely. Anyone want to visit? Email? Comment on my blog? Existentially I suppose I'm no more alone than I normally am, but it sure doesn't feel like it.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Haircuts and kidneys

So my boys were beginning to look like orangutans, or scary lions, or just kids who play frequently with light sockets, so I decided it was high time I take them to the hairdresser. Matthew cried the whole time because his hairdresser nicked his ear with the electric clippers, and then denied that she had and kept telling him "It's nothing! Nothing touched you! You are not hurt!" That pissed me off. Don't tell my three year old he's lying about the fact that YOU made a mistake and chewed his ear with your ghoulish razor sharp clippers!! Just apologize and move on!!! He's not going to LIE! Guaranteed he will exaggerate, but he will NOT LIE!
Mother bear.
Ayden giggled the whole time. They both love the lollipops at the hairdressers. Ayden got blue gel spikes, and I had to get pix. The photos of Matthew and me are kind of funny; the first photo Ayden took, Matthew was accidentally closing his eyes when the camera went off so I laughed and asked him to take another picture, where Matthew promptly closed his eyes on purpose. The final product is the nice one. What a character!!

Today at work I got props because I started scrubbing the huge, six ambulance garage floor with some degreaser and hot water and a long handled brush. By example I started a mini revolution: there were four of us scrubbing and one of us exclaiming he'd never seen this in 25 years with the ambulance service by the time I was 1/3 finished. The guy who exclaimed didn't help himself to a brush {{smirk}} so I guess he was impressed but not inspired! I learned the scrubbing trick in Lions Bay; there they do it as a weekly chore. Everywhere else just hoses down the bay when it gets REALLY aweful and ignores it the rest of the time.
It's nice and sparkly now.

Motorcross was in Chilliwack this weekend. People: don't put your kids in motorcross. It is SO DANGEROUS! My patient today was 17 and he'll never walk without a limp for the rest of his life. And likely develop arthritis in his leg at an early age. Motorcross makes for some interesting calls, though! Whenever they are in town the orthopedic surgeons order extra supplies and hover around the ER when they're not in the OR. I saw a 12 year old hurt his chest so badly (this was 2 years ago, in Mission) that his lungs were filled with blood and collapsed~ we call that a hemothorax. That's some serious business for a 12 year old! Blood was sputtering out a hole in his chest the size of my thumb every time he tried to breathe. He lived, but that's too much. Don't put your kids in that sport.

Did you know that an adult's lungs can hold 3 litres of blood in them if injured and bleeding internally? The average adult has 5-6 litres of blood in their body, total. Your lungs can hold 3 litres, your abdomen can hold 3 litres, each thigh can hold 1.5 litres, and all without swelling significantly. So your blood could be POURING into one of your body cavities and you not even realize it until you feel rancid and pass out! Fascinating.

Do you want to know something else? Ulcers are gross. People live with ulcers for YEARS!
If you have diabetes, you are more likely to get ulcers. I tell you, of all the diseases out there I would want to get diabetes the least, because of the trainload of complications and associated conditions that go along with it. I'm higher risk because of my hypoglycemia, too. Not fun.
Blindness, infection, kidney failure and subsequent dialysis treatments, neuropathy, amputations, ulcers, gangrene, poor circulation, sepsis, weight gain, obesity, hypertension, 'silent' cardiovascular disease, joint degeneration: I see all of these and more as complications of diabetes every day at work. I can generally spot a diabetic just by looking at them by this point. Same with smokers; their skin gives them away. Their skin LOOKS starved for oxygen!
As an aside to this, I find dialysis an amazing invention. I watch it sometimes when we bring transfer patients in for dialysis. If your kidneys cease to function properly your doctor will put you on dialysis, which is a procedure where they hook up a machine to your body that will take blood from your veins and run it through a machine that osmotically (and I think mechanically as well) removes the toxins from it, and return it to your veins. Of course, not ALL the blood is drained at once or you would die, but blood is run through the machine for four hours until the toxins and waste products in your blood are at safe levels, and then you go home. And then come back again in a few days. Dialysis patients' lives revolve around their treatments. But this procedure is a MIRACLE to me! I watch the machines with their clear tubes transporting that miraculous, gorgeous, scarlet blood around all the wheels and through all the fluids and compartments in the dialysis machines, and I am struck by the nature of this miracle, every time. Without dialysis people in renal failure would die in a matter of weeks, or even days. This machine with its wheels and its compartments and tubes, and all the brains involved in its invention, gives life.
Plus, blood. So cool. Plus, the colour red. My favourite!

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Yesterday evening I was grouchy. I had THIS kind of a morning:
Ayden woke me up for an hour from 3 to 4 a.m.
I got up for my alarm at 5 a.m.
I left for work at 6, arrived at 20 minutes to 7, and was promptly teased for being an hour and 20 minutes early for work.
I could have slept another hour.
I went to the bathroom and clogged the toilet, which overflowed and flooded into the ambulance bay below.
I plunged said toilet for 45 minutes attempting to unclog the toilet, without success.
I had to approach MAD BOSS (see last week's post) and confess above toilet issues.
If I had any pride, it's gone now.
THEN our pager goes off and our first call of the day was a penis call.
Any call involving genitalia (except maternity calls--we like delivering babies) is generally not a call we look forward to.

Our calls yesterday were mostly uninteresting (after that penis call, which was just in a category all its own) and as I was driving home I saw the helicopter ALS crew land on the freeway for a rollover car accident that closed the highway in the other direction from that which I was travelling (thank you LORD), and I was jealous. I wanted to be there, digging through tempered glass and crumpled metal to rescue someone, instead of taxiing around penises stuck in zippers, and old ladies with the flu. Or drunk guy sleeping on the sidewalk.
This job is more boring than I suspected when I signed up 5 years ago.

I did meet a very interesting woman in her late 80s who told me a cool story:
When her mom was pregnant with her (1919) she caught the Spanish Flu so bad that she almost died. She gave birth so sick her body wouldn't make milk for her baby and they lived in too remote a place to have access to any other milk, so her sister, who had a five week old baby and who did not have the flu, took the newborn and breastfed it for her sister. The baby lived with this aunt and her family until she was old enough to get by on solids, and then went back to live with her biological family.
How fascinating!! The bio mom did not die; she went on to give birth to 4 more babies for a total of 9 (!) children. The aunt's family always considered my patient as a member of THEIR family, since she lived with them for the first months of her life. How wonderful, to have not one but TWO loving families to gather around you as you walk through life. I wished I could ask things like, "How old were you when you went back to living with your bio family? Did you have difficulty adjusting to being back with your bio family? Did you have difficulty with attachment? Did your bio mom have ambiguous or jealous feelings towards you/your aunt? How did your aunt feel when she had to let you go?".....obviously adoption related questions for me......but I thought this woman's story fascinating.
Yay for breastfeeding! Another life saved.

Today was much better. I had no grouchies. I had more patience for the old ladies with the flu. I didn't clog any toilets. When I picked the boys up, they had on spiderman party hats and wore them in the car, where they fell asleep. When I got home and looked back at them with their heads slumped over at impossible angles and party hats askew, I could have eaten them they were so delicious. So cutely delicious.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Visit to Regina

I can't post much because it is painful to think about the fact that we're apart again, but I had a wonderful weekend with my better half in Regina. We both needed the break from hectic home/hectic school, and we spent every second together. Our hotel had a fitness room so we even worked out together! We ate some awesome food, walked around Regina for hours (quite beautiful! lots of character!), watched movies, and slept in. I'm very, very grateful for this opportunity to spend time together. Here is the ONE pic we took all weekend 2 minutes before I had to drive Brent back to base on Sunday night!


Amish Oatmeal (we made it again this a.m. and I can't say enough good things about this meal...the kids help mix the ingredients so it is a family affair)

1/3 cup butter
2 lrg eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1.5 tsp baking pwd
1.5 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup and 2 tbsp milk
3 cups whole oats
1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 cup millet seed

(I don't have millet so I use 1/2 cup flax)

How to:
melt butter and set aside
beat eggs well, add brown sugar, baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
Mix well until no lumps
whisk in butter and milk, then add oats, flax, and millet.
Stir well, pour in loaf pan.

Can be refrigerated overnight if desired.

Bake uncovered at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Tastes even better as leftovers.

Serve drizzled with your favourite yogurt and fruit (I use organic vanilla yogurt and frozen blueberries--yummy!), or on its own.

Enjoy! You won't be sorry.