Ben Carson – Please stop talking


Today was a sad day.  Nothing happened, exactly. The coffee maker didn’t die, My jeans fit when I put them on. It was a relatively pain-free day (for me, anyway). The sun came up, the air conditioner was working, and my dog greeted me after work with a sloppy wet kiss.

No, nothing bad happened.  It’s just that I had to do something that makes me sad…and a little angry. Teachers at my school were instructed to prepare our classrooms and our students for a “Code Red” lockdown drill.  You know, lockdown – when a deranged shooter carrying a dozen or so guns or maybe a few bombs made in their basement storms the school, and school employees secure their classrooms and shelter the youngsters entrusted in their care.

My job, once a lockdown is announced is to step out into the hallway and grab any and all students, staff, or visitors near my classroom.  I lock the door, cover the window, and herd my students to a corner where I am to instruct them to remain silent and to turn off their electronic devices. I turn off the lights. I e-mail administration to let them know if any students are missing or if I have picked up other students from the hallway.  Everyone must be accounted for.  I need to keep them calm.  I wait for the all clear.  I open the door for no one. I know what to do.

It’s a drill (this time).  I get the need to be prepared.  As I am instructing my students today I kept thinking about what an incredible responsibility that is.  And how politicians haven’t a clue.

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Tuesday (Oct 6) said he would have confronted the shooter at Umpqua Community College, had he been present at the time of the attack.

“Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him! He may shoot me but he can’t get us all,’ ” the retired neurosurgeon said on “Fox and Friends.”

Really?  With what should I attack?  I teach nursing.  Throw a bedpan at them?  Stab them with an insulin syringe? Blind  them with my laser pointer?  Wrap Ace bandages all around them?  Threaten him with a catheter or an enema? Charge him and get killed so that my students will be left unprotected?  They are my responsibility.  As I scanned their faces today realized that every one of them would look to me for protection, for guidance, for safety – as much as it is possible for me to provide.  I wouldn’t be able to face a parent if I didn’t do everything in my power to protect their child.  And I don’t protect them by charging an armed killer.  I have about the same chance of stopping someone intent on murder as I would have mastering that new math crap.

I’ve worked with neurosurgeons and every last one of them thought they were God.  Maybe being up to your wrists in a person’s skull does give you superpowers, I don’t know.  But don’t try to make school administrators, teachers, janitors – even the lunch lady – feel guilty for not charging the shooter.

Just stop talking.


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Pineapple “1” – k8edid “0”


Pineapple Wins!!!  Pineapple Wins!!!

Pineapple Wins!!! Pineapple Wins!!! (photo credit k8edid)

Nearly a year ago, I wrote a post about how 2013 had kicked my ass.  It was one of maybe 6 0r 7 posts I have written in the past 18 months.  You see, 2013 was a bitch – but 2014 has conspired to make its predecessor feel like an old, fondly-remembered friend.  I will tell a tale about an altercation I had with a tropical fruit this week that illustrates what I mean.

In this year of our Lord – 2014- I have been diagnosed with not one, but two painful, chronic and potentially debilitating maladies.  One affects my joints; the other affects my muscles.  Both involve fatigue and weakness. Depression is an “interesting” common denominator.  Neither is curable but, I am told, are manageable by utilizing an amazing array of poisonous chemicals, copious amounts of rest balanced with exercise, and a good attitude.  Some days only my joints are affected – other days my muscles ache.  On “perfect storm” days everything, including my eyelashes and fingernails hurt. Some days I cannot even turn over in bed.  Many mornings I cannot walk when I get out of bed which makes that first trip to the bathroom rather entertaining.  Usually after 10 – 15 minutes of stretching and range of motion exercises, I can maneuver around with only moderate pain.  Good insurance being what it is, I have amassed an incredible schedule of specialists’ appointments.

I have been referred to the pain clinic where I am treated like a wild-eyed drug-seeking addict…I must bring my prescription bottle with me to have my remaining pills counted; I must submit a urine sample at every visit to be tested for illegal substances; and I must make an appearance every 30 days.  Heaven forbid that I have a prescription for more than 30 days worth of relief.  I am fairly certain I could get heroin more easily (and more cheaply).

Give me the good stuff and I’ll leave you alone for 30 days. Wait, wait…I gotta pee.

On the worst days, my left arm is virtually useless.  I am right handed, so that is a small blessing.  If you have ever had a bum wing, though, you know how difficult it is to maneuver through your day using only one hand.  Your less-dominant hand is important for such tasks as pulling up your underwear, holding the cookie jar so you can pull the top off, or flipping off passing vehicles.  I cannot hold anything for any length of time in that hand, including a wine glass.  A cup of coffee is too heavy for my weakened arm and attempts to lift one are likely to result in a spill, a burn, or both.

I am recovering from yet another abdominal surgery this week (Merry Christmas to ME), so I am even weaker than usual.  My beloved Sweet Cheeks, who has had to assume most of the tasks of running this crazy train we call home, purchased a beautiful, perfectly ripe pineapple at my request.  So on Christmas Eve morning, I zig-zag staggered to the bathroom, managed a quick shower concentrating on the parts I could reach with my right hand.  I shaved my right leg and the right side of my left leg plus my left underarm.  I dressed slowly, pulling up my underwear on the right side and managed one-handedly to get both my 38L boobs (that’s L for long) tucked into a brassiere.  I styled the right side of my hair with the blow-dryer and ran a comb through the left.  I staggered to the kitchen and prepared to wage war on the splendid tropical bromeliad.

pineapple slicer

I chose my weapons carefully: my best knife and a new-fangled pineapple corer/slicer/peeler purported to make  quick work of the task at hand.  I selected a cutting board and prepared the pineapple as if offering up a tropical sacrifice.  I laid the fragrant golden fruit on its side to make the first cut to remove the spiky top.  With my stronger right hand I grasped the knife and…nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Zero.  I pressed harder and the stubborn fruit squirted off the cutting board and onto the counter.  I laid my useless left hand on top of the fruit and leveraging my weight onto the knife blade, managed to just cut into the firm flesh.  Juice ran onto the cutting board, somehow making the surface both slick and sticky.  The fruit slipped again with the blade stuck about an inch into the side.

By practically laying on the pineapple, utilizing an exaggerated sawing motion, and employing a multitude of standard and newly minted curse words, I was able to separate the top of the fruit from the body.  Feeling victorious, I stood the pineapple up and attempted to use the new-fangled device.  So simple – just press and twist the device into the pineapple and when you are finished, the fruit is sliced, cored and peeled.  I managed to twist the apparatus about an inch into the dripping yellow flesh.  I could not make further progress.  I gathered the fruit into my useless left arm and held the dripping fruit next to my body. Grunting and sweating, I somehow managed to twist another half-inch.  I was covered with juice, sweaty with effort and frustrated as hell.  My blood sugar was falling and my blood pressure was, undoubtedly, on the rise!

Finally, in an uncharacteristic fit of common sense, I decided juice and toast sounded like a much better breakfast choice.  I waited for my beloved to wake up and complete the job I couldn’t do.  Which he did, rather easily.

I threw the pineapple out yesterday.  It was perfectly ripe, beautifully sliced and cored, and very juicy. I just couldn’t bring myself to eat it.

I guess I’m just a sore loser.  In more ways than one…


Filed under General Mumblings, humor, Uncategorized

On Teachers, Nurses and Mothers – My Week of Celebrations

This has been a great week of celebrations – and reflection for me. Teacher Appreciation Week. Nurses’ Week. Mother’s Day. Three jobs I have held. Three jobs I have loved.

I have to admit I wasn’t always on the Teacher Appreciation bandwagon. I thought having summers off should make up for any minor annoyances a teacher might have to endure during the course of the school year. Then I became a teacher – first at the college level, then at the public school level. My eyes were opened.

If I calculated all the unpaid hours I put in grading papers, designing websites, trying to create interesting lesson plans, looking for free resources…I would probably be making minimum wage. There is not enough funds to buy all the things my classroom needs – I buy things out of my pocket. I have students who are fixated by social media, drama and the myriad of daily minor/major catastrophes that make up high school. My analogies are that it is like herding cats or nailing jello to a tree.

I have students who don’t have food in their homes, but their parents have nice cars, fancy phones, tattoos, and fake nails. I have a student who has taken her mother to the emergency room 6 times this year because she (the mother) got drunk, fell and hurt herself. I have students who are somehow honor students who can’t do simple math. I have students who don’t want to be in the nursing program who were pushed into it by their parents and I have to get them through the year without having them puke during patient care or pass out during a blood draw…

But I have students who have a tremendous desire to not only succeed, but to excel. My heart is alternately filled with joy, and burdened with sadness for these beautiful young people. Sometimes when I am trying to corral them all at the hospital or keep them awake during a lecture by a guest speaker, I think – yes, this is hard work. Yes, this can be thankless work. But yes, this is MY work.


I haven’t always been a nurse, either. The profession has changed profoundly over the last few decades. Unsafe staffing ratios, long shifts and endless paperwork take time away from deserving patients. Your patients are not always at their best – scared, hurting, alone – and there is a fair amount of abuse toward caregivers. I personally have been called fat, old and stupid by a patient because I did not put enough ice in his soft drink. I have been choked, swung at, and even had an elderly gentlemen get me in a headlock with his legs when I tried to put a catheter in. But I have also had patients who came back to see me after their discharge and thank me personally for caring for them, and caring about them. As a nurse you can make a real difference, if only for one shift. You can calm, reassure, comfort and educate. You can encourage, support, and relieve pain. At the end of the day, I still think nursing is a good way to spend a work day.

And Mother’s Day. Being a mom – The. Best. Job. Ever. The pay may not be great – but the benefits (including grandkids) make up for that. I was lucky. My kids were good kids for the most part, and there weren’t health issues of any consequence. I made a fair number of mistakes, and had some near misses, as well. But we all got through it. My kids are grown, but my work continues to pay off.  I continue to drink wine…

So to my fellow teachers, nurses, and Moms – I hope you enjoy the celebrations. If you aren’t a teacher, nurse or mother…at least this past week you could have celebrated Cinco de Mayo (Monday) National Shrimp Day (Friday) and Liver and Onions Day (Saturday). Somehow, I think my celebrations were better.


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2013 Kicked my Ass

I've had a bad year - leave me alone

I’ve had a bad year – leave me alone

2013 was a very bad year for  me.  I started with a concussion, went through a wee bit of depression (sort of like being a wee bit pregnant) and spent nearly 2 weeks in the hospital where I could easily have died.  I slept most of the rest of the year, in a pathetically weakened state, due to side effects of medications.  I was passed over for a promotion I really wanted (and deserved) by an employer that was pretty content to have me effectively doing two jobs for one paycheck, while driving 80 miles a day to do so.  I had homesickness of epic proportions and spent more than a few days wondering “What is the point, exactly?”

Now that it only has a few hours left to kick my ass, I just want 2013 to know…

I learned to appreciate some things this year.  Like my devoted spouse who spent countless hours worrying over me, suffering when I suffered, nagging me when needed, giving space when needed as well.  I learned that I am much loved by many – kids, sisters, grandkids, friends, cousins, in-laws, outlaws and others –  I am truly blessed.

I learned that a few wonderful friends are all you really need.  Friends who just knew what I needed and when, who cared for me, cared for my dog, and supported by husband through all the crap.  Who texted, caught up with me on Facebook, or e-mailed – and understood my aversion to phone calls.

I learned that being appreciated by your employer for your contributions is better than having the “princess office”,  newer technology or deeper pockets.  I learned to go after what I wanted because no one was going to give it to me.  And I found a job that fits me (and is much closer to home with summers off).

I learned that all of the medical knowledge in the world won’t help you if you are nearly unconscious or too sick to advocate for yourself.   Appoint someone who can.  I learned that health care coverage is not to be taken for granted as my bills would have totalled nearly a$300,000 for all the care and services I received.  I also learned which hospital to avoid if I should ever need medical care again.

I learned that life can change in an instant and although my crises were really minor in comparison to those of many others – my life did not feel like mine at all.  I learned that by putting one foot in front of the other – no matter how tired or weak I felt – no matter how overwhelmed I became, I could just keep going just as I always have – just as I always will.  I learned that I am strong, capable, and unstoppable.

I learned that my body will not take neglect or abuse forever without rebellion.  I will listen.  I will appreciate the gift – a strong body – that I have been given.

So 2013 – I am not sad to see you go.  Sayonara, 2013.  Suck It.


Filed under General Mumblings, humor, Uncategorized

BlogFestivus 2013: A Christmas Carol – Ghost of Christmas Present

Scrooge struggled to open his eyes and shook his head to clear the fog. A woman clad in a tight body suit with a bear on the front was gyrating wildly with her tongue hanging grotesquely from the side of her mouth. Scrooge yelled for the medics who had mysteriously disasppeared, leaving only a sickly sweet aroma.

“Guys, she’s having a seizure!” Scrooge yelled. “Hurry.”

“Nah, I’m good” the strange young woman said, straightening up. “Come with me.”

“Who the hell are you?”

“THe Ghost of Christmas Present” she said. “Follow me.”

They stood in front of a homeless shelter. A woman struggled up the stair with arms full of packages. Scrooge recognized his secretary.

“Patty, get me out of here.”

“She can’t hear you, old man,” the young woman said. “Or see you.”

They followed Patty up the stairs and into the shelter. She handed the gifts over to the receptionist, then dug in her purse and withdrew an envelope.

“It’s all I can spare this week. My boss didn’t come through with a bonus, as usual. I wish I could do more.”

“The children appreciate it, Patty.”

“I know, I spent a Christmas or two here with my Mom. I’ll be back Christmas morning to help prepare the dinner.”

They followed Patty back outside and down the street to a dingy apartment bulding. Patty pulled a key from her pocket, unlocked the door, and disappeared inside.

“She lives here?” Scrooge asked incredulously. “I pay her a decent salary, she can afford better than this dump.”

The strange young woman was gone, leaving Scrooge holding a large styrafoam hand with a finger extended. He threw the foam oddity to the ground and drifted off again.


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