Friday, July 20, 2012

On the shooting in Aurora Colorado

I was able to catch bits and pieces throughout my hectic work day.  A lone gunman waited for a crowded movie theater to begin to empty after a showing of The Dark Knight Rises and he opened fire, killing many, injuring many more, among them children.  My heart aches for those families, especially for those that lost children.  The harm of children causes a lump to catch in my throat ever since Harrison was born; those things are hard to hear.  It is in these times that I am reminded of the story about Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs by Dave Grossman.

In Colorado a wolf showed up in those pastures and surprised the sheep as they went about their day, seemingly oblivious to the dangers that filled their world.  Unfortunately there were no sheepdogs around to protect the flock, and the wolf killed many of them.

I have long considered myself a sheepdog, knowing that wolves lurk on the edges of society and want nothing more then to hurt others, and I have steadied myself to the fact that I may have to defend myself, those I love, and those innocent among the public when the wolf does attack.  The wolf has sharp teeth, but so do I and will meet the violence of the wolf with violence of my own.

Many people become upset that I carry a gun, like the sheep that are upset that the sheepdog has sharp teeth, because my gun is a reminder that bad guys have guns as well.  I, however, will never use my gun to harm the innocent among us, but should the bad guy come around wishing to do harm I will stand up and defend you, just like the sheepdog will never bite a sheep but will use his teeth when the wolf comes looking for dinner.

It is also during these tragedies that I am starkly reminded exactly why I carry a gun; I have a flock of my own to tend to.  My son can not care for himself and it is my duty as his father to protect him when evil comes knocking.  Likewise it is my duty to my wife that I ensure that she is protected as well if evil decides to target my family and disrupt my peace.

I would be content to live out my days and die an old sheepdog, circling my flock, being vigilantly alert for every danger, never having to use my teeth, but if the wolf shows up at my door I will respond in a ferociously violent manner until the wolf either retreats or leaves this planet.

I have a family to protect.  I am  sheepdog.  It is okay if you are a little afraid because of my teeth, but just know, should the wolf show up I will be here.

Stay safe my friends,

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Letter to my son at three months

Dear Harrison,

Right now, at 6:16 pm on Thursday July 20, 2012, you are sleeping in your swing with the sound of lullabies in your ears.  You are three months old today and as I watch your stomach move in and out, you are still in that stage of breathing, I understand that you are a healthy, happy little boy.  I have so much to say to you at three months, where do I even begin?

The hours leading up to your birth were eventful to say the least.  Your heart rate was doing odd things with and without the contractions, and because I was in nursing school at the time I was running a million things through my head.  I was very calm and collected on the outside, as I should have been, because it was not about me, it was about you and your mom.  If I looked worried, mommy would worry, and mommy had enough to worry about for the time being, so I put on a brave face, exchanged glances with the midwife and other nurses, and...

...fell apart inside.

Every time the fetal heart rate monitor decelerated or accelerated when it was not supposed or when it would read skipped beats altogether, I crumbled and ached and felt desperately lost as to what to do.  My world slowed down, my vision would tunnel, and things stopped making sense.

I was scared, but more than scared; I was absolutely terrified.

There are few times that daddies are scared, but that moment was one of them.  I had not even met you yet, but I already loved you more than even I knew possible (I sometimes joke with your mom that I know what the Grinch felt like because my heart great 3 sizes that day) and  I could not possibly bear the tremendous heartache of having something go wrong.  I kept my strong dad face on, trusted in the nurses and midwife, said a few prayers and pushed on supporting mommy.

And then you arrived and we cried great big tears of happiness and joy and I can only imagine that you will not know that joy until you have a child of your own. I have never been happier than the day you were born and the days that have followed for these past 3 months.  How amazing life has been!  Sure the first few days were filled with sleep deprivation, although you slept like a baby no pun intended) as long as mommy or I were holding you, and then you became very jaundiced and life was filled with doctor appointments and heel sticks, but finally you were home, healthy, and we could enjoy you...sleep.  But you were amazingly adorable while sleeping and we could not help but stare and smile and fall in love more and more with this little human that was suddenly part of this world with us.

At this point in your life you seem to recognize mommy and I, and you give us the biggest smile when we come into your field of vision.  I live for that smile, think about that smile, and when I get home I come to you and wait for you to give me that smile; and my heart melts.

Your favorite things right now are when mommy sings to you and when I make funny noises.  Your face lights up and you give the biggest smile I have ever seen!  You also love to have tummy time with us and of course, cuddle time with mommy and I, on the rare mornings that I do not work.

You, and subsequently I, have a great life right now.  I could not imagine my life without you in it, and even on the days when I am in a bad bad, you make me laugh.  I can not wait to continue to spend these months with you and I am excited to explore what else the world has to offer you.  Soon you will begin to crawl, then walk, and heaven help us when you learn to talk, but I am so excited to be a part of them with you.

You, my little dude, have made my life awesome and I love you more than you can possibly know until you have children of your own.

Stay awesome,

Sunday, July 8, 2012

New orders in my chart: 240ml coffee p.o. q 30 mins PRN

A few weeks ago I was offered, and accepted, a second shift per diem position as a graduate nurse in a Long Term Care facility.  At the same time I have kept my day job with my current company and have been doing 3-4 double shifts a week between both jobs.


I have always loved and consumed copious amounts of caffeine, mostly in the form of coffee, but sometimes in more dubious ways (yes I am looking at you Red Bull and your party time friend vodka), but now I am understanding just how much I need coffee.  I wake up and know my day will be long and after hitting the snooze button for 5 more minutes of sleep I hit the Keurig button to brew up a strong cup o'joe.

Oh! How I love me some coffee!

After a few strong cups at home, and maybe a large Iced Coffee from Dunkin' Donuts on the way to work, I am good to go for awhile, but by the time my shift as a superhero* starts I am in desperate need of more, and in comes the coffee from the nurse's break room.  

It is strong.  It is consumed black and hurriedly.  It should come with the option to spike it and run directly into the vascular system.  It is the stuff that keeps everyone health care facility in the world running at seemingly impossible rates.

It is not a surprise how excited I was when I found some great articles on Life Hacker about coffee.

Because I am a geek I loved the article about what caffeine actually does to your brain.  It is full of science-y goodness such as adenosine, adenosine receptors, the chemical properties of caffeine, and how it all works together to give you that buzz to get you through the day.

Because I am a nurse and a multi-tasker I also found this user guide to being optimally wired from caffeine to be incredibly interesting, informative, and most of all, useful for people like me.  It suggests 20-200mg of caffeine per hour, which potentially means a cup of coffee every single hour.

Thank you science for reinforcing the validity of my habit!

The last, and perhaps my favorite coffee related article of the day is this one telling you how to brew the best possible cup of coffee without breaking the bank.  Okay, so maybe you do not need to use distilled water, but I can assure you, my coffee tastes much better when the water is from my Brita water pitcher as opposed to my tap water.  I do not necessarily think a French Press is necessary as I love the Keurig, but coffee from a French Press is certainly tasty.

So there you have it friends, fellow nurses, and those that are not nurses but need coffee flowing through their veins at all times, you are not alone, and now now you have science to help you out with it.  Drink on.


*The difference between nurses and superheros is that nurses do not need special powers to do their amazing feats.