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07 June 2012 @ 11:10 am
This little girl with bright eyes and an excited smile pointed at me and exclaimed to her mother, "Look, Mommy. It's Cinderella! She's really a princess."

In a t-shirt and jeans, scrubbing coffee stains from a marble counter while at work, I could not have been more softened. It's rare that a child has the ability to melt my cold little soul. In retrospect, I should have given her a cookie.
04 February 2012 @ 08:44 pm
A few of my favorite things.

1. Chevrons in unlikely places.
2. Sweet pickle relish by the spoonful.
3. Perfectly steamed milk.
4. Wearing patterns that don't match.
5. Unexpected friendships.
6. Waking up to a purring kitty.
7. Drinking in the bathtub.
8. A roaring fireplace.
9. Freshly pressed pleats.
11 October 2011 @ 08:38 pm
I just sent the email of doom. You know, the one that tells my boss I can't walk for the next 6 weeks. The one that means I can't do my job for the next month and a half of my life. So much for trying to make some extra money before the holidays.

The email wouldn't have been so annoying to write had I not been told I would be in, out, and walking again within a week. With a snip snip of the torn meniscus, it's back to happy life in no time. It wasn't until I came out of anesthesia that Paul informed me that the surgeon had to do a major repair on the little monster. Apparently there wasn't enough healthy meniscus to simply cut off the injured part. When faced with the option of removing the entire meniscus (which is a fast-track to total knee replacement) or doing a repair, I guess he chose the repair. I can appreciate that decision, but I did not plan to be on crutches for 6 weeks during the middle of my semester...or out of work for that long.

In the meantime, I have had the distinct pleasure of getting acquainted with Percocet. It's pretty much been in my system non-stop since Friday afternoon. I'm having a hard time understanding why or how this is the number one prescribed pain medication that leads to addiction. Let me just tell you about my experience with Percocet.

1. There is no "high", my friends, just an intense sleepiness after about an hour of taking it. So sleepy I can barely formulate coherent sentences.
2. It requires food. Apparently the stuff can make you sick if you take it on an empty stomach. I don't see how anyone would ever manage to take it on an empty stomach, because it has made me the hungriest person alive. Seriously, I eat like 5 meals a day...ALWAYS hungry.
3. I hit one particularly rough patch during the night a couple nights ago, and I dared to take two pills instead of one (which is still within my prescribed amount). Apparently one of the side effects of taking something that contains an opiod, is that you itch ALL OVER. We're talking full body itching that does not respond to scratching. I guess the darn stuff causes your body to release histamines, so you have to take an anti-histamine to control the itching--making yourself even MORE tired than you were before.
4. The long-term consequence of taking Percocet is that it makes you majorly constipated. I thought I would be exempt from this side effect since I eat a lot of veggies. Apparently, Google wasn't kidding when it told me to work prune juice into my diet. I didn't know that I could be so hungry for so many days, eat so much food, and not feel like I have to have a bowel movement. I'm used to being like clock work. Hopefully the prune juice will help, but man, it's kind of gross.
5. Percocet = no beer. My boss's husband sent me home with a 6-pack before my surgery as a post-op present. It's been 4 days, and I've finally been without pain meds for long enough to have a drink. Seriously, though, no one should have to endure being stuck on a couch for days without having a beer.

And now I get to embark on figuring out how to reintegrate into my life again. I get crazy winded on these pain meds, so crutching very far or long is a challenge, especially if steps are included. I think I'm going to have to get myself a wheelchair for my life at the hospital. Nothing like going to visit patients and having to explain why you're in a wheelchair, right? I feel like I could get away with it if it weren't for the giant brace on my knee. People see the brace and they start asking. Then there are all of the questions about what in the heck a meniscus is in the first place. I feel like I need to print up a hand out about what happened, what didn't happen, and an FAQ page about my knee.

I guess this is probably how my patients feel when I ask them about their procedure/condition/reason for being hospitalized. At least I can read their chart.

I need hand-outs, people.

And a wheely office chair. This is another fiasco in my life. I have to move sometime in the next month (per 60 day notice from my property manager who has sold the place to new owners). I have no clue how I'm going to pack all of my belongings when I can't even carry a glass of water from one room to the next while maneuvering my crutches. I need a wheely office chair with cup holders, apparently. I just don't know how I'm going to pack otherwise. I can't squat. I can't lift anything heavy. And I can't stand up for much longer than 5 minutes at a time.

It's really quite a sad scene.
20 August 2011 @ 08:39 pm
It's 8pm. I want sleep. I want rest. Really, I just want a big cup of hot cocoa and a lap to cry in. I hate that working a 10 hour shift does this to me. No, I guess it's not every 10 hour shift, just the particularly heinous ones, like today.

Today, I put a smile on my face for HOURS while a gaggle of self-righteous suburban mothers took over the bakery with their strollers and little bundles of joy, none of whom were over the age of three, and most of whom were crying or spitting up. For the ones who were mobile on two extremities, there was twice the terror of the crying ones, for unsupervised two and three year old girls in troves are an unstoppable force. After politely serving the group their pastries and beverages, I came to realize the hell that was happening before my eyes.

One hellion was using her hands AND forearms to smear the chalkboard I had delicately written. She then used the easel as her personal tent where she ate her food and left her crumbly mess. Two of them were running up and down the hallway, screaming and cackling. One of them took off past me behind the counter and went careening into the kitchen before I threw down my steaming pitcher and snagged her by the midsection, holding her wiggling little body as far away from my own until I could safely pass her off to her mother. One of them decided to wander down the hallway past the bathrooms, through the door to the back of the kitchen, and into the stockroom, where she was found by the dishwasher, who promptly escorted her out to a mother who was suddenly grief-stricken at her child's mysterious and potentially dangerous disappearance.

Come on. That is a DAMN LONG HALLWAY, lady. If she managed to make it that far, it's because YOU WEREN'T PAYING ATTENTION. Thank you for buying cupcakes for your clearly over-sugarized children, but please don't come back, otherwise there will be tequila shots in those cups of apple juice, and instead of chasing after your daughter in a place where she is not supposed to be, I might just stick out my foot and trip the little bloody thing the next time. And trust me, we have concrete floors. She will be bloody. Or better yet, maybe I'll let her run into the kitchen where she can grab those burning hot sheet pans or where there's a slot in the deck oven that is at just her height.

Now, I realize that two year olds will be two year olds, but that also means that parents need to be PARENTS.

And after all of the stress and rage I experienced in the THREE WHOLE HOURS this brood took over the bakery, terrorizing not only me, but the other customers as well, I really just want to throw a fit and cry, because I can't actually tell these women to discipline their children. I can't actually ask them to never come back. I can't actually lose my shit on a mom who bitches to me about not having high chairs and then makes snide comments about how she thought we were a "child-friendly" establishment.

People, there is a reason that we have a sign that says, "Unattended children will be given espresso and a free puppy."

Take a hint. Park your stroller outside. Do not leave it in the aisle where other customers have to walk to get to the bathroom. Watch your children, not because we aren't child-friendly, but because it's your job. Your barista is not like your neighborhood nanny. And for real, if you have caused that much destruction by bringing in a huge party of neglectful mothers and their spoiled little children without phoning for a reservation in advance, have the decency to LEAVE A TIP. Even one measly dollar could have said "I'm sorry" if you didn't have the guts or common sense to say so in person.

I get it. Your life is hard. You're a mother who is over-worked and under-appreciated, and you're probably exhausted. But if you can't watch your child in public, then don't take little Susie out. If you can't watch your child at all, then don't procreate.
18 August 2011 @ 10:02 pm
may the bridges i burn light the way.
19 July 2011 @ 02:10 pm
I feel like I've gotten past the point of complaining about my graduate school department just because I am a tired and overworked student. Yes, it has its flaws. Yes, I think there are some real issues with some of the faculty members. Yes, I have called the program "bush league" despite it's national ranking. I came to this school because it was inexpensive, had a good reputation for students passing national exams with flying colors, and seemed like a pretty stable choice as part of the UNC system. With my undergrad at a no-name school, I figured it would at least help to have my graduate work at a place that people had actually heard of before.  Anywho...

Today I'm complaining because the department can be so damn disorganized. Maybe it's the new department chair...I don't know.  Maybe counselors aren't build to be administrators. In any event, we got an email about the comprehensive exams a couple of months ago, telling us what to expect, some suggestions for how to study, and when the application/payment was due.  I had two months to come up with the $40 for this exam that will technically let me pass grad school. Just today, I get an email about the national exam that is in October. When is the application due? Four days from now. How much does it cost? $300.  I feel like it makes no sense to give students two months to come up with a couple of Jacksons, but then only four days to come up with a few Benjamins.

We're graduate students. Most of us are poor. Really poor. We have to budget shit. Cut us a break here, and give us a heads up!
10 April 2011 @ 06:56 pm
Looks like I'll be at the hospital for another year. This is good. I don't always handle change in the most dignified of manners, and getting to continue my clinical work in a setting with which I am already familiar is quite reassuring. I like my supervisor. The hospital is only a mile away (literally...I walk). And I pretty much get to name my department, which will be helpful in dealing with my current stressors. 

However, it does mean that I have to wear that name badge for another year.  It says SARAH in great big letters beside my picture with a little bitty "Priest" underneath. Under that is the department through which I work--"Chaplaincy Services". The truly unfortunate part of this whole badge-wearing thing is that people think I'm actually a priest...like ordained and all holy. They don't get that it's my LAST NAME and that ALL OF THE COUNSELORS work out of Chaplaincy Services and that I'm not a walking confessional booth who charts your sins and atones for them with hand sanitizer.

Hand sanitizer. That's another thing I'm not going to miss about hospitals when I am done working there. I have to lather up with that stuff after every single patient I see. I understand the policy, but sometimes I fear for the lack of germs on my hands. Isn't there a reason we have a normal flora?

Anyways...back to the confessionals. People tell me stuff...as they should. After all, I do introduce myself them as a counseling intern, and I use all of my super-skills to get them to talk about their shit, even if they don't appear to want to. BUT every now and again, people see that badge of mine if it happens to surface from underneath my mounds of hair, and they start telling me every detail of everything they've ever done wrong. Then they ask me if God still loves them and if they'll go to hell. Sigh. I usually try to redirect to something we can actually work on, but people really seem to be concerned about that whole hell thing. After about five or six mentions of Jesus, I try to give my shpeal again about how I'm a counseling intern and not and chaplain and how I'd be happy to send in the guy who carries the Bible rather than the stack of community services/agencies/programs for mental health and who doesn't need to see you to fulfill her direct client contact hours for a Master's program.

Sometimes I want to level with my patients and tell them that they're practice. I mean, some of them I really like. Some of them I have cried over...lost sleep over...stopped in to see when I was off the clock and in my street clothes. But, there are those patients who are just practice for me. I try stuff out on them. Techniques. Stuff in books that I'm made to read. New ways of exploration and confrontation. Now, this is not to say I'm doing any harm. Non-maleficence is our first rule. It's the beneficence part that's tricky, and quite frankly, I'm new at this, and I might not get your mental health ball rolling. Is it okay that I just want to let you know that?

But, if I admit to being anything other than an outstanding professional who is completely qualified to walk into your room unannounced, to read the entirety of your chart...including your medical history, and to start talking to you about your experience in the hospital, then you clam up and wonder what the heck an intern is doing walking about the halls starting conversations with strangers. My job is to get to know strangers, and to start a completely one-sided relationship with them, that often has little to no resolution (I mean, people get discharged all of the time). It's kind of odd, don't you think? But if I even let on to the fact that, YES, it's ODD that I'm walking into your room knowing lots of information about you and trying to get you to talk about it...I'm suddenly out of people who are willing to let me practice. In counseling world, they call this "acting as if"--it's a technique we try to get clients to use all of the time. Essentially, it's a fake-it-till-you-make-it tool. And I'll be damned, because it works. People talk to me about their shit.

But maybe it's all in the last name.
07 April 2011 @ 11:00 am
Tomorrow is April 8th. Tomorrow will be 6 years that I've been involved in some manner or another with Paul. I don't usually think in terms of anniversaries or dates, but this one is hitting me.  I'm 24 years old. This relationship (as not constant as it may have been) has consumed a quarter of my life.

A quarter of my life.
I am not for want of entertainment. THAT is for sure. People talk about a lot of things when they talk about marriages--the gushy love, the constant fighting, the annoying habits of their spouses, and sometimes the desire for all-out baby-making. Marriage can be all of those things, but I think it gets a bad rep. in the day-to-day department. My marriage is hardly perfect or ideal. Yes, sometimes the thought of cleaning up someone else's dishes ONE MORE TIME makes me want to have a few too many drinks. (If we haven't already covered this, my go-to coping mechanisms are usually sleep and alcohol. One is usually much more entertaining than the other.) But, the day-in-day-out hilarity of living with another human being is something people don't really talk about with marriage.

Yesterday, Paul decided to make burritos for lunch. This is a typical meal in our home in that a) it can easily be vegetarian for me b) it requires little to no effort in preparation and c) the closest Chipotle is not within walking distance. After discovering that the rice didn't seem totally cooked through after a run in the ricemaker, Paul transferred it to a saucepan on the stove and returned to his usual position on the couch in front of some broadcast of a commentated Starcraft 2 game. (This is another topic altogether.)  I am startled in the middle of my researching to the sound of the smoke detector in the living room. I had already removed the one from the kitchen, so I knew it had to be bad. There was smoke billowing from the kitchen, and I watched Paul go dashing in there to save the burrito food. I started opening windows and doors (much to the delight of the kittens), and I heard Paul chime from the kitchen in a rather sing-song-y voice, "It's done!" Apparently instead of setting a timer, it's easier to wait for the smoke detector to sound. Back to our laptops, we sat and ate our burritos in a smoke-filled apartment. They were quite tasty.

There's something everyday. Today it was the moment (ten minutes before I had to leave for work) that Paul decided he had changed his mind about driving me to work. Despite having assured me of his total ability to get up and get ready before I needed to go, something about those few precious moments in the morning where he gets to sit in front of his space heater in nothing but underwear always seems to prevent him from ever being on time. He will sit there until the last possible moment when he has to spring up, throw on some mis-matched clothes (this could be a post all on its own) and fumble around for his keys and his glasses to get out the door.  Or, like today, he simply opted to stay in his skivvies. I have never known another man to be so comfortable in just underwear. I actually dread when he gets sick, because he can go for days without putting on real clothing.

My marriage isn't really gushy. It's probably not even healthy. But, it surely is entertaining. It's like becoming best friends with another person's crazy.
24 January 2011 @ 07:39 pm
This marks my second full week interning at the hospital, and while I still feel incredibly new and inadequate, I can say for sure that I have seen things.  When I think about counseling, I always prepare myself to hear things.  It's mostly a profession of listening and digesting peoples' narratives.  I never anticipated how visual and visceral a hospital setting could be.  Sure, I've seen dying people before.  Sure, I've seen amputations.  Sure I've seen people with tubes protruding from every orifice of their bodies.  In a way, I pride myself on not being shaken up by people's ailments very often.  Now, smells, on the other hand, I just can't handle.  I'm sure I will vomit more than once in the course of this semester. 

Last week, I sat with a woman and her husband on the women's post-surgery floor.  She had just experienced a miscarriage (or premature stillbirth if you want to call it that).  The baby was 19 weeks along.  Nothing could have prepared me for the sadness of seeing a 19 week old fetus.  I could barely hold myself together, let alone offer counseling to the parents.  The concept of fetal demise is tragic to ponder.  Witnessing it is an entirely new level of mindfuck.  I mean...women can still get abortions at 19 weeks, and there I sat with a family who desperately wanted their daughter.  After I left their room, I stepped into the elevator and just started crying.

The research says that you should hold the dead baby.  Adore her.  Name her.  Give her a proper send-off.  Apparently this kick-starts the grief process and allows people to cope with their loss.  Some parents choose to spend the night with their baby.  I get the rationale, but it doesn't stop the whole thing from feeling utterly morbid and disturbing.  They tell us as counseling students that we need to process the things that bother us.  I don't know that any amount of processing is going to prepare me for the next time there is a fetal demise on my floor.  Perhaps I can rest assured that I will be less shocked.  I might find myself being able to stay in the patient's room longer.  Those hardly feel like progress.