Nursing Voices

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The White House Cook Book

This belonged to my great-grandmother, my great-aunt, my grandmother, and then it was passed down to me. The White House Cook Book, A Comprehensive Cyclopedia of Information For the Home, was first published in 1887. This edition was published in 1912.

Before there were HMOs, PPOs, and primary care physicians, there was the White House Cook Book, A Comprehensive Cyclopedia of Information For the Home.

Housewives used this cookbook, as well as others published at the turn of the century, as a health care resource book. My favorite chapter in the White House Cook Book is “For the Sick.” In the beginning of this chapter, the authors write, “Dishes for invalids should be served in the daintiest and most attractive way; never send more than a supply for one meal; the same dish too frequently set before an invalid often causes distaste, when perhaps a change would tempt the appetite.” Here are some of my favorite recipes from that chapter. Nurses, take notes. You’ll be tested over this material the next time someone you know gets the vapors.

Beef Tea:

One Pound of lean beef, cut into small pieces. Put into a glass-canning jar, without a drop of water, cover tightly and set in a pot of cold water. Heat gradually to a boil and continue this steadily for three or four hours, until the meat is like white rags and the juice is drawn out. Season with salt to taste and, when cold, skim.

Arrowroot Milk Porridge:

One large cupful of fresh milk, new if you can get it, one cupful of boiling water, one teaspoonful of arrowroot, wet to a paste with cold water, two teaspoonfuls of white sugar, a pinch of salt. Put the sugar into the milk, the salt into the boiling water, which should be poured into a farina kettle. Add the wet arrowroot and boil, stirring constantly until it is clear; put in the milk and cook ten minutes, stirring often. Give while warm, adding hot milk should it be thicker than gruel.

Doesn’t this sound good. But wait, there’s more!

Toast Water, or Crust Coffee:

Take stale pieces of crust of bread, the end pieces of the loaf, toast them a nice, dark brown, care to be taken that they do not burn in the least, as that affects the flavor. Put the browned crusts into a large milk pitcher, and pour enough boiling water over to cover them; cover the pitcher closely, and let steep until cold. Strain, and sweeten to taste; put a piece of ice in each glass. This is also good, drank warm with cream and sugar, similar to coffee.

We all may be using these home remedies if drug cost keep going up, and HMO’s continue to block patients from getting the care they need. Anyone hungry for a nice hot bowl of gruel?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Boy Freud

Print by Andy Warhol

John Mark Karr, the man claiming to be the murderer of JonBenet Ramsey, has been the topic of conversation on our unit for the last couple of weeks. Everyone has something to say, and as I listen to the news, I wonder what Sigmund Freud would think about this guy. My boy Freud, the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology, is best known for his studies of sexual desire, repression, and the unconscious mind. If Freud were alive today, I imagine he would be discussing the case a guest commentator for Fox News. Karr is the embodiment of the Id, the part of the psyche that contains primitive desired such as hunger, rage, and sex. And as we all know, shows about primitive desires boost television ratings.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Make Mine a Rum and Coke

After a long weekend at work, I like to kick back and relax. When I was young, kicking back included a few Rum and Cokes. Look at those dinky little glasses. No thank you, I prefer my Coke in a Seven Eleven Super Big Gulp cup. These days when I want to relax, I drink my Coke without the rum, and kick back in front of my computer. I love the simple life. Blogging goes better with Coke!

I Want My Silver Wings

Did you know that the first flight attendances were nurses? Yep, it’s true, the women in these pictures are nurses. Nurses use to pour coffee from sterling silver coffeepots and serve sandwiches, as airline customers sat back and gazed at the clouds drifting by. We were the queens of good customer service. The American public viewed nurses as sweet and kind, as well as great little handmaidens.

Fast forward to 2006. My boss pulls me into her office to tell me that a family member of one of my patients registered a complaint against me. The individual was upset because I told them that if they didn’t stop threatening to meet me in the parking lot after my shift to beat me up, I was going to call the police. The incident revolved around my refusal to disclose confidential psychiatric information to this individual. My boss told me that my comments were an example of “poor customer service,” and I needed to be more like an “airline stewardess.” I was politely asked not to “incite” my patients or their family members anymore and to please remember that customer service is my first priority. I sat in boss’s office in shock and disbelief, and then I started laughing. I thanked my boss for her feedback, told her I thought she was nuts, and left her office.

If bedside nurses are airline stewardesses, someone forgot to give us our silver wings. I’m all for customer service, but the day I’m required to take a beating in the parking lot for sake of good customer service is the day I tear up my nursing license and get a job at Borders Books.

I’m a nurse, not punching bag.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sleeping Like a Baby

I just got home after completing another 16-hour shift. I'm so tired, but even though I'm drifting off in front of my computer screen, I'm compelled to visit my favor websites and get in my daily dose of blogging. Could I be addicted to the Internet?

This kid has the right idea about getting a good night’s sleep, it’s all about finding the perfect place to crash. Look at the cute baby, all sweet and innocent. Just wait until the kid hits adolescence. Poor mommy and daddy will be wondering what happened to their sweet child.

Nite nite.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Hospital Nocturne

Today’s book report is about “Hospital Nocturne” by Alice Eleanor Lambert. This oldie but goodie was first published in 1932, and is described by the author as an enchanting behind-the-scenes account of the excitement and drama of the little world within a hospital.

Love and Tragedy in a Hospital.....

“Strange, isn’t it?” Carol Maitland, grave, sweet-faced student nurse, says slowly. “I just love every bit of it. The patients, the babies, the excitement of the surgeries—fighting with interns and having sort of half-flirtations with the doctors—there’s something going on in this place every minute.”

To lovely, gracious Carol, who had been robbed suddenly of her parents, the big hospital has become home, safety, and friends. Sharing gay adventures with her beautiful roommate, Enid Ashland, and the madcap, Sheila Lane; helping genial old Father Time, the institution’s favorite patient, sneak they young nurses in through his open window after-hours; bullying rich young Rodney Herrick into forgetting that he came to the hospital to die; going out on a blind date with Sheila and meeting Jean, a strangely exciting naval officer—all that is part of the fascinating life of the young student nurse.

Then suddenly everything begins to go wrong. Jean goes away and doesn’t come back, and Carol begins to doubt her own code of ethics. Shelia forgets her Heck and falls in love with Dr. Lait, who is too grand ever to marry a nurse. Enid begins drifting toward the rocks and Carol feels powerless to help her. The Canfield case comes in and the whole hospital boils with the futility of the affair. And there is the heart-breaking night when Carol and Rodney hear Enid’s agonized cry and find her wandering half-crazed about the garden.

Has anyone seen this hospital before? Here’s a map. Wherever it is, I’m staying away. There’s too much drama going on in that place.

I don’t remember any of this stuff happening when I went to nursing school. Granted, I went to school many years ago, but my memory isn’t totally gone. I remember staying up long hours with my nose in nursing books, and not going out because I was too busy keeping up with my schoolwork. I remember living in a three story nursing dormitory. It was old and rundown, and there was no air conditioning during the hot summer and little heat during the winter. We had three housemothers, one for each shift that made sure we returned to the dorm safe and sound. They were tough customers that made sure we didn’t sneak men into the dormitory. I remember the girls who lived with me. We were like family. There was one payphone on each floor, and we would ease drop on each other’s phone calls. We didn’t flirt with doctors and we got along with interns. We were all kind of crazy, but I don’t remember any of my friends wandering half-crazed about the garden.

What do you remember about being a nursing student?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Rotten Apple

The honeymoon is over! I love my computer, but I very unhappy with Apple customer service. In 2004, shortly after I bought my computer, my screen saver went haywire, so I took my computer back to the store to have it checked out. It takes me about an hour and a half to drive to the Apple Store. They said the computer was fine, and after pushing a few buttons, they sent me home. A few weeks later, my computer overheated. I went back to the Apple store, and again, everything “checked out,” and I was sent back home. The appearance of the screen saver never improved, but it was something I could live with. Fast forward to yesterday when my computer’s DVD player died. The Genius Bar guy said I need a new video card installed, which will cost $325. When I told the Genius Bar guy about my past problems, he said those problems were due to a faulty video card. “Why didn’t someone tell me that when the computer was under warranty?,” I asked. He couldn’t answer the question, but did admonish me for not buying an extended warranty on the computer. Of course, when he checked the store’s computer, he couldn’t find any record of me talking to anyone in the store, so I’m screwed. Needless to say, I told the young man that I wasn’t spending any more money at their store, and took my computer home. I’m writing the iPod Father a letter about what happened, and I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse. I hope Apple decides to do the right thing, and fixes my computer free of charge.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Good, the Bad, and My Daughter’s New Boyfriend

First the good news; Pictures! I want to thank Chris from “Trading Faces” for teaching me about Foxfire. After following the directions he e-mailed me,my blogger world became a happier place.

Now the bad news, my life support system (my Mac G4 laptop) is sick and I’m taking it in tomorrow for a check up. Every time I play a DVD, green, square, pixels dance across the screen, making it impossible to see what’s playing. I called the Apple Store and talked to a clerk, and he told me to make an appointment at the Genius Bar. I’m nervous about leaving my computer for repairs, but thank God we’re a two Mac family.

I hereby award my daughter’s new boyfriend the Picky Mom’s Seal of Approval. A couple of nights ago while on their first date, they returned to my daughter’s apartment to find her cat dying on the kitchen floor. My daughter told me she started screaming and crying hysterically. My daughter’s new boyfriend sat up with her all night at the vet emergency room, and took her back home after her cat died. My daughter told me she thought her new boyfriend would never call her again. Wrong! He called her, and sent her flowers. She asked me what I thought of him. I think he's a keeper.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Wrath of the Blog-Gods

I know why we can’t post pictures on, and it is such a simple reason, I don’t know why no one has thought of this before. Google did something to infuriate the blog-gods. I suspect Google stole information from the blog-gods, and that they used the information to setup’s new beta format.

Gods can be a wrathful bunch. I remember hearing about a guy named Prometheus. He is credited for stealing fire from the gods and giving it to mortals for our use. When the gods found out about Prometheus’s shenanigans, they chained him to Mount Caucasus, and let an eagle picked at his liver everyday. The punishment was supposed to last 30,000 years, but Prometheus worked out a plea bargain with Zeus, and was released on his own recognizance.

Maybe Google can strike a deal with the blog-gods. Does anyone know where we can find a sacrificial virgin?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Martha's List

Off with their heads! I’m still waiting for to get their act together. Every time I try to post a picture, my browser crashes. I use Safari OSX. This makes me a very unhappy princess-nurse. (Since I can’t upload pictures, visualize a picture of a pouting princess- nurse, wearing her crown, standing by a guillotine).

Speaking of royalty, the queen of domestic perfection, Martha Stewart, published another “to do” list in this month’s edition of Martha Stewart Living magazine. Sorry Martha, I don’t have time to dust my ceilings, walls, and baseboards this month, or any other month this century. I’ll never forget when Martha, the poster child for OCD, instructed readers to rotate their lampshades. Martha explained that this would allow their lampshades to fade more evenly as sunlight came through their windows. Maybe next month Martha’s personal “to do” list can include getting a prescription for Paxil. It’s an effective medication for OCD. (Visualize a picture of a happy, relaxed Martha Stewart, standing in a messy house surrounded by dusty ceilings, walls, and baseboards). Paxil, it’s a good thing!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

This is NOT a Kodak moment.

Blogging without pictures is like a day without shopping. It sucks! For some reason, I can't upload pictures to my blog. I hate this. If I could upload pictures, I'd show you one of me pulling my hair out.

I worked another 16 hour shift yesterday, and as usual, it wasn't any fun. My boss called to let me know that, if I needed her, I could reach her on her cell phone. She said she was going to a dinner party with her family. She sounded happy and stress-free. I was stressed out when she called, and ready to start looking for a new job. Oh well, at least she called.

I work an 8 hour shift today, and then I can get back to non-stop blogging until next weekend.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Hospital Doctor

Holy cow, what’s going on here? Liveright Publishing Corporation first published this book in 1938. Pyramid Books republished it in 1952.


“A doctor and a nurse embraced in the dusky shadows of the gray walled room, their bodies entwined, their lips pressed together. Suddenly there were footsteps in the corridor….somebody opened the door and turned on the light….

Hospital Doctor takes you into the private world of doctors and mistresses, nurses and lovers—an amazing world of heroes and heels who are tempted by pretty faces and a craving for cash.

From the incisive pen of a surgeon himself comes the shocking truth behind many of the operations performed annually which lead to mayhem and manslaughter; the startling expose of underpaid interns and ruthless physicians who resort to shameless practices and character assassination in their ambitious quests for fame and money.”

I got halfway through the first chapter of Hospital Doctor and couldn’t stop laughing. Nurses don’t have time to go to the bathroom, let alone time to play "doctor" with a doctor. See the nurse in the doorway. She’s telling her coworker that she better get back to the unit because all of her patients are on their call light, wanting pain medication. I wonder how she keeps her cap from flying off her head while she's making out with her boyfriend.

In chapter one, the main character, a doctor, is portrayed as a god, while the supporting characters, the nurses, are portrayed as brainless tramps. And of course, all the brainless-tramp nurses want to marry an oversexed doctor. Now why would anyone want to marry a guy that chases skirts around a nurse’s station? Maybe these nurses are brainless. I love how the author, a surgeon, claimed that his porno book was an exposé about the health care system. Too bad the guy isn’t around today, blogging on the Internet. I’m sure he would make us all blush.

The only thing I find appealing about this book is the cover. I love trashy artwork on book covers from the 1950s.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

My Yoga Class

I signed up for my yoga class today. Too bad I can’t get this guy as my teacher. He’s cute, and he's holding his class on a beach. Lord, I think I’ve enrolled in the wrong school.

I started back to school three years ago to earn my journalism degree. The day I signed up for my first classes, my college guidance counselor told me I had to take a gym class. I informed him I was too old to wear gym shorts and play dodge ball with a bunch of kids. My counselor assured me that they had classes designed for the “mature student.” That’s code for old geezer. And that’s me, an old nurse who wants to keep learning.

Oh yeah, my boss is paying for my class. It’s tuition reimbursement great. Score one for the geezer!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Home Life of a Princess-Nurse

Some days I feel like Snow White. I live with prince charming in the woods, and woodland creatures, including my three dogs and two cats, surround me. However, that’s where the similarities end. I don’t live with seven dwarfs, and I’d be telling you a fairytale if I said I was a domestic diva like Snow White. She liked cleaning and cooking all day, while I like reading my books and blogging. It’s a good thing my prince charming cooks, or else we’d starve.

Unfortunately, I have to leave Nurse-Princess Land today and report to my nursing unit. I’m picking up extra time at work so my family and I can keep the lifestyle we’ve become accustomed to, you know, like being able to eat and put gas in the royal carriages. I’ll be OK tonight as long as I don’t bite into any poison apples.

Note to self: Do not accept fruit from strangers.

A princess-nurse’s work in never done.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Daisy Downer Day

I hate starting off by being a Daisy Downer, but so far my day sucks! I started my day with a trip to the dentist’s office. I now have a temporary crown, and 1,200 fewer dollars in my bank account. Oh yeah, that’s after my pathetic dental insurance pays its part of the bill. But wait, there’s more. I get to go back in ten days for an encore performance when I will receive my permanent crown. Oh Lord, my mouth hurts. Well, at least it gives me an excuse to dive into an ice cream sundae minus the nuts. I’ll just be eating soft food today.

Yesterday, I received some books I won on e-Bay. I’ll be sharing them with you soon. They are offbeat romance novels about, what else—horny, lecherous doctors, and hot, oversexed nurse.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The War Against Nurses

  • The War Against Nurses by Diana Reiss-Koncar

  • In 2001, published "The War Against Nurses" by Diana Reiss-Koncar. According to the article, assaults on R.N.s are at an all-time high, and nurses who complain or seek help risk loosing their jobs. Since its publication, and the publication of countless other articles on the subject, little has been done to protect nurses from assault in health care facilities, and hospitals continue to blame the victims of assault.

    I’ve been attacked many times over the years at work, and each time my employer would ask, “What could you have done differently to prevent the attack?” The last time I was attacked, I became angry when my boss asked me that moronic question, but instead of sulking, I took action. I filed charges against my patient. Eventually, the person was found guilty of second-degree assault, and sentenced to ten years in jail and was fined $25,000. During the process, I educated a judge about workplace violence at my hospital, and since then, several local nurses have taken abusive patients to court.

    Have you ever been assaulted at work? How did your employer respond to the attack?

    Sunday, August 13, 2006

    Bedtime Story

    "Bedtime Story" by Jim Daly

    Once upon a time, there was a princess-nurse who worked a 16-hour shift every Saturday. She would leave her castle at 7:00 a.m. and wouldn’t return home until 1:00 a.m. the next morning. Needless to say, when she returned to her castle, she was a tired and cranky princess-nurse. Unlike her friend, the princess who couldn’t sleep with a pea under her mattress, the princess-nurse, who was exhausted when she returned home from work, could fall asleep on a bed of nails.

    The princess-nurse hopes that fairytales really do come true, and that one day she won't have to work ridiculous hours anymore.


    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    I love stuff.

    "Fiesta Pig" by Andy Warhol

    If you haven’t already figured it out, I love collecting stuff. I haunt thrift stores, garage sales, and I’m an accomplished dumpster driver. It’s amazing what unsuspecting people throw out. I once found a first edition book in someone’s trash worth A LOT of money. My favorite stuff includes books, art, and Fiesta dinnerware. So it only makes sense that my all time favorite Andy Warhol screenprint is “Fiesta Pig,” created in 1979. If I ever find this screenprint in someone’s trash, they’ll never be able to revive me.

    Shopping for stuff relaxes me. I get lost in my thoughts and enjoy the day. Many times, I go shopping with my husband, who also loves stuff. He and I make a dynamic shopping team. However, there is a downside to going out in public, and that is running into former patients. Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing my patients, but it’s awkward, especially with all the privacy rules nurses have to deal with at work. I never go up to a former patient, I wait for them to talk to me. I let the other person decide how they want to handle the situation.

    How do you handle seeing a former patient out in public, and who else likes to collect stuff?

    Wednesday, August 09, 2006

    M.D. Most Wanted

    M.D. Most Wanted. The title reminds me of Doctor A when he was missing in action last weekend. But this M.D. is a hot little stud puppy—with broad shoulders—that falls for a superstar who comes into his life via the hospital’s emergency room.

    “From the moment she was rushed into Blair Memorial’s emergency room, Dr. Reese Bendenetti’s famous new patient turned his solitary life upside down. For the first time, this dedicated surgeon was beginning to wonder if healing others might not be fulfillment enough.

    London Merriweather’s world of wealth and privilege could not have been more foreign to him. Yet, as he came to know the vulnerable woman behind the glittering façade, he longed to bring her into his world.

    But a crazed killer was stalking her—and before Reese dared to dream of a future with her, he had to make sure she lived to see tomorrow.

    Born to heal, destined to fall in love!”

    Good grief. I must be working at a very dull hospital. The most drama I ever see is when two visitors fight over the last space in the hospital’s parking lot. Surely Dr. Stud Puppy’s office manager is having a fit because he’s out tracking down a stalker instead of tackling the mountain of paperwork he left on his desk. So much for the doctor's professional boundaries.

    Kt has tagged me, so here we go with today’s answers to the pressing questions regarding my reading habits.

    1) One book that changed your life: 9 ½ Mystics, The Kabbala Today by Herbert Weiner.

    2) One book you have read more than once: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

    3) One book you would want to read on a desert island: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque.

    4) One book that made you laugh: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

    5) One book that made you cry: There are two books that always make me cry. They are Night by Elie Wiesel and The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski.

    6) One book you wish had been written: That elusive “how to raise your kid” instruction manual, the book that should come with every newborn baby.

    7) One book you wish you had written: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

    8) One book you wish had never been written: I agree with Kt, The Atkin’s Diet Book.

    9) One book you are currently reading: Blogging for Dummies by Brad Hill. I refer to it anytime I have a technical question about blogging. I am a BIG dummie when it comes to computer stuff. Thank God for Mac tech support.

    10) One book you have been meaning to read. Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom.

    Thanks for tagging me, it was fun. How does this game work? If everyone has been tagged, do I make up a new list of questions and tag someone else?

    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    Nurse Twiggy

    Do you remember Twiggy? For those who don’t, she was the 1960s supermodel who made anorexia chic.

    I got a phone call from one of my nursing colleagues today. She said that one of my patients, who couldn’t remember my name, said I had ruined her life. While caring for this patient last weekend, I set boundaries, put limits on my patient’s self-destructive behavior, and wouldn’t put up with her temper tantrums on the unit. Wow, how awful of me. My friend told me that while my patient was decrying my “deplorable behavior” to the other nurses this morning, she kept referring to me as “the skinny nurse.” After a bad weekkend, the phone call made my day.

    I’m old, my hair is turning gray, and I am in desperate need of Jenny Craig therapy, but for today, I am the skinny nurse. Call me Nurse Twiggy. Sometimes, life is good.

    Monday, August 07, 2006

    Dr. Peter Gleason

    Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

  • The New York Times

  • Imagine my surprise when one of my coworkers told me that a doctor we know was arrested by the FBI. She learned about the arrest in The New York Times. (See the link above).

    The author discusses the murky relationships between some doctors and drug companies. I’ve known many doctors who speak on behalf of drug companies. Personally, I’ve always wondered why doctors were allowed to help circumvent laws that prohibit drugs companies from promoting their products for uses not approved by the FDA. It’s one thing for a doctor to speak at a medical conference, or to publish evidenced based research in a medical journal about a new ways of using old medications, however it’s quite another thing to act as a pitchman for a pharmaceutical company. I’m not surprised that Dr. Gleason is in trouble, he was acting as a well paid sales rep for a pharmaceutical company, not as someone involved in serious medical researcher. However, I am surprised by the timing of his arrest. Why now, and why him? Gleason and others have been doing this kind of stuff for a long time.

    As I mentioned, I know Dr. Gleason. I feel sorry for his family. They are going through a lot right now, and I wish them well.

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    Thank God Another 16 Hour Shift is Over

    I just got done with another 16 hour shift. My friends are going to happy hour, but I'm going home. My bed is calling my name. Can you hear my bed, too? It's saying, "Mother Jones, Mother Jones, time to come home. It's time for bed." Wait a minute, maybe the fatigue is affecting my mind. Hmmmmmmmm.

    Oh yes, and to my coworkers who are going to happy hour, don't be stupid like Mel Gibson. Don't drink and drive.

    Nite-nite. Mother Jones RN

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    Shut Up, Mel

    (Warning: I’m hot, tired, and extremely opinionated today)

    I think Mel Gibson is a chip off the old block. His father has made hateful statements in the press about Jews, and Mel was quoted as saying that his father has never lied to him about anything in his life.

    As a psychiatric nurse, I’m very supportive of people who are working to make changes in their lives. I also understand that people can make serious mistakes. We all can do stupid things we later regret. But I don’t understand how Mel Gibson can make anti-Semitic remarks and then say that he doesn’t hate Jews. That’s like Richard Nixon saying, “I am not a crook.” If you’re old enough to remember that infamous quote, then you get my point.

    People are saying that Mel was drunk and that he didn’t know what he was saying. It's true he may not have known what words were coming out of his mouth, but when someone is drunk, they become disinhibited, and blurt out what they really think.

    Now in the light of day, and with his PR people working overtime, Mel says he sorry. Well, maybe I'm jaded, but I don't buy it. I'm offended by his comments, and I think he's a jerk.

    Mel, just shut up!

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Help Me Say Goodbye

    Everything happens for a reason. There are days when I wonder, “Why on earth did I ever go into nursing.” Then one day I found the answer. It started coming to me the day I met Jon.

    Generally, when people find out I’m a psychiatric nurse, they open up and tell me all their problems or run away and hide. Jon was different. He took great pleasure in teasing me about my occupation. We met each other while I was doing research for a book project. He was a gentle man in his early 50s with a bawdy sense of humor and a gentle, kind demeanor.

    After arriving from my long trip to his hometown in Ohio, he allowed me to invade his office, disrupt his routine, and pour over his files in my endless quest for information. A private man by nature, he didn’t talk much about his personal life except when it came to his teenage son, Parker. When Jon talked about Parker, his dark brown eyes shimmered with a father’s pride.

    Jon shared he was a single parent and that Parker had Asperger’s Disorder, a developmental disorder considered to be a higher functioning level of autism. Even though raising his son without a mother was a challenge, it was clear that Parker was the center of Jon’s life. One day he combed his fingers though his thick, wavy red hair and pointing out his gray hairs said, “See these? Parker put them there.” Leaning back in his chair he laughed adding, “and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” When his laughter subsided, his gaze dropped down to his desk and he sighed, “If only to be young again. There’s so much more I would have done.” Back then, I didn’t understand the sudden change in his mood. When I returned home from my trip, a mutual friend told me that thoughts of Parker weren’t the only thing on his mind. Jon had a secret—he had cancer and he was dying.

    After our initial meeting, Jon and I continued to work on the project over the Internet. I sent daily e-mails with more questions and Jon would write back everyday with the answers. I knew Parker screened all the e-mails sent to their home so one day I sent a letter with the heading: PARKER, THIS ONE’S FOR YOU. It was a quick note just to say hi. I added that his dad told me many admirable things about him so I was sure he must be a nice young man. That night when I returned home from work I found his response. He said his dad told him I was a nurse and a nice lady, too. We quickly became pen pals and every night when I came home from work I looked forward to finding two letters from their household, one from Jon and the other from Parker.

    Time passed and while Jon’s health faded, Parker’s letters became more distraught. One night at work, I checked in with my husband at home during my break. He said Parker had just called, in tears, looking for me. Jon had been taken from work by ambulance to their local hospital. Parker said his dad was in a coma and that he wanted to talk to me right away. I wondered how he had gotten my unlisted phone number. Though we had become fast friends through our letters, we had never met face-to-face, and I knew that children with Asperger’s Disorder generally have difficulty reaching out to others. Excusing myself from the unit, I took a deep breath and called Parker at home. The phone rang just once before a frantic voice answered, “Hello, please help me!”

    Parker had found my phone number in his father’s address book. Crying, Parker said, “Nurses are good people to talk to. Have you seen anyone die before? They want me to be there when my dad dies and I’m scared.” We talked about death being a part of life and what a beautiful thing it can be when someone is suffering as much as his father was. “What should I talk about,” he asked. “Will he be able to hear me?” I shared that hearing was the last sense we lose before death. I advised him to say what was in his heart. Whether he wanted to talk about school or how scared he was, I knew how much his father loved him and I said, “There isn’t anything you can’t tell your dad.”

    Several days later, Parker called me at home and told me his father had died. He said that some of his father’s family had stepped out of the hospital room to get a cup of coffee and that he had been alone with his dad when he passed away. Parker said, “I remembered what you said. I held his hand and told him it was okay to die, and I said goodbye. It wasn’t scary. I really miss him.” Jon had been there the day Parker was born and took his first breath. Now Parker had been there the day Jon took his last. The circle of life was complete.

    Parker and I still write to each other and we talk to each other on the phone every week. We may not understand why at the time, but everything does happen for a reason. Jon and Parker showed me why I became a nurse.

    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    Doctor, Darling

    Today's book report is about this gem I picked up at a library book sale. Apparently the woman on the cover needed a court order to get a date. She looks normal. Oh my God, maybe she's an axe murderer!

    To his dismay, Houston pediatrician Connor Malloy was about to find out. Stranded in a little Texas town, arrested on ridiculous charges, the broad-shouldered bachelor was “sentenced” by a courtroom full of Cupids to date no-men-no-matter- what Gillian Bates, and keep his “community service” a secret!

    Trouble was, commitment-fearing Connor fell hard for the pretty, guy-shy single mom and her adorable son. He even fantasized about fatherhood and forever. But, drowning in deception and desire, how could Connor ever confess to Gillian that a jury of matchmakers had manipulated this miracle!

    I bet Connor caught hell from the nursing staff when he got back to the hospital. “Oh yeah, we believe you were stranded in a little town by a bunch of crazy people that forced you to date some hot chick before they would let you go. Next time, call us back when we page you!”

    I guess the only way to become a doctor in the “Land of Harlequin” is to be a sexy hunk with a masculine name. Have you noticed that all Harlequin doctors have broad shoulders? I guess no one wants to write a book about a scrawny doctor named Milton Harvey.

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Mac Lemonade

    Yesterday was traumatic. I thought either my new Apple Airport Extreme, or my Mac Power Book G4, was a lemon. My sweet husband talked to a Mac specialist over the phone for nearly two hours, but regardless of what we tried, I kept loosing my Internet connection while I was blogging. That’s right, while I was blogging! I became so upset, I drove my poor spouse into hiding. After slamming doors and cussing like a sailor, I decided it was time to make a 100 mile round trip pilgrimage to the nearest Apple Store to get some help. Before I went to bed, I made an appointment to see a “Mac Genius” in the morning. When life hands me lemons, I make lemonade.

    We left for the Apple Store this morning, just after rush hour. I felt happy and joyful. Yes, we were going there for help, but we were also going to have some fun. The Apple Store is our favorite toy store. I became ecstatic as we entered the mall parking lot. When I walked into the Apple Store, I felt myself being transported into a computer paradise. All the guys working in the store were hip and cool, and the gals were tekkie chic. There were computers as far as the eye could see, displayed as fine art. My husband sighed as he gazed into the 17-inch screen of a Mac G5. I ran amok in the digital camera department. A clerk asked me, “What-up?” I guess that's the hip-cool way of asking, "May I help you?" I told him I was waiting to see a genius.

    The guy at the genius counter was amazing. I was dazzled by how he ran through a list of menu options while asking me questions about my computer. He figured out what happened yesterday in about 30 seconds. I wasn’t sitting close enough to the Airport base station when I was signing onto the Internet. That news could have been distressing, but I wasn’t upset. I was too busy enjoying my Mac lemonade.