Wednesday, October 15, 2014

sometimes we laugh; sometimes we cry

This is my last week of teaching classes for the upcoming election, and I must say I've thoroughly enjoyed it. Yesterday, I walked among some of the students during an exercise. Mind you, the class is 2/3 over. A fellow coordinator leaned over her table, took me by the hand, and told me she loved my new blouse. I was baffled, but said "thanks". I asked her how she knew it was new, and she said "You're still wearing your tags."
Yes, in my haste that morning, I had grabbed a shirt from the closet I bought on clearance last year, ironed it, wore it, taught in it...and I was still wearing the tag.  We tore the tag off, and class went on.

Last night, I was disheartened to read news reports out of Houston, TX. It still bothers me so much that I don't even want to post it here.

But I will say this, America is not the same country I learned to love growing up. And it breaks my heart.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

and WHO is footing this bill?

While we were in AL for Mom's surgery a few weeks ago, my sister shared that at the age of 14, children have to sign a waiver for their parents to stay in the room with them during the exam or to see their charts or receive health information on their child from the doctor.

Yes, you read that correctly. At age FOURTEEN.

As in, they are not legally old enough to drive. Most boys do not even have facial hair. They cannot work part-time at a fast food place. They cannot drop out of school.

And yet, our country thinks they are old enough to make their own medical decisions, even though they cannot pay their own medical bills yet.

I'm still aghast.

On a slightly funnier note, my sister said on the way out of the office, my nephew wasn't slouching. His head was up high, his shoulders pulled back. And what was he so happy about? He didn't have to accept a shot if he didn't want one. To him, that's what making his own medical decisions was all about.  We all laughed about that, but it scares me that our laws place such a responsibility on children who are simply not ready for that.

I've heard from Moms who've encountered this with their daughters, and it seems that female doctors are stricter on enforcing this, sometimes going as far as asking Moms to leave the room so the daughter can give consent/rejection in private, or to ask about "personal" issues. Many Moms have simply walked out of the office with daughter in tow. I think I would have to remind the doctor as the one footing the bill, I had every right to know what was happening to my ward.

Parents can go to jail for a truant child. Parents can be charged for underage drinking, even if they weren't aware it was happening (usually in the case of a death). And yet, parents need their child's permission to be present when seeing a doctor?

I think our country has lost the vast majority of its common sense.

Monday, October 13, 2014

medical precautions

The last few years there have been several studies out about how American hospitals are not the safest places to be when you are sick. Quite a few people come out worse than when they went in to the hospital. While we've not had that happen, we have left a few times with a different problem than the one we went seeking treatment for.

One of those problems, we learned the hard way, is quite common in hospitals and nursing homes. It's a bacterial infection called C-diff. It is often an extended result of antibiotics destroying bacteria in the body, including the good kind of bacteria your intestines need. C-diff is highly contagious, and if your body is missing those good bacteria, well you get it. The craziest part of C-diff is that nurses or doctors transport it from room to room. If a patient has it, anyone visiting is supposed to don a gown and gloves (in extreme cases a mask), and trash those supplies between the curtain and door while scrubbing hands before exiting the room. I can't tell you the number of times I watched a nurse come from a different room into ours without changing gowns, saying "It's okay. I'm still in protective gear."  So because you have germs on you from one room, it's okay to walk out into the hallway, touch charts, and into our room because we have the same germs?

I've thought about those 3 CCIU days in a Raleigh hospital a lot today, as the media keeps talking about the nurse in Dallas who has the Ebola virus. Our media has slammed African nations because of their poor hygiene and religions that have tremendously impacted the spread of the virus there. But for all our education about germs, expensive gear, and proper protocols in hospital facilities, a nurse now has a potentially fatal disease because "she didn't follow procedures".  Simply having great facilities is not enough. Rules must be followed, not broken. And I think that will be the monstrous hurdle that will bring America's health situation to its knees. We are a nation that does not like rules or absolutes. Take off medical gowns here or there? What does it matter as long as they're properly trashed?  And hence we spread germs. Wear protective gloves. But what good are those gloves if they're not removed properly and a bare hand touches the germy glove on the other hand? (Yes, they do actually teach that to CNAs and nurses.)

I don't think we'll find Ebola spreading as rapidly or as severely as it's being seen in Africa, but I do think it will get worse. And despite what crazy people are saying about revoking visas or limiting flights in or out of countries, if it does spread here, it won't be from those situations, but rather from our own shortcomings in health and hygiene.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Pumpkins are EVERYWHERE. As are mums.  And I think they're beautiful. But I've not bought any. Not a one.  And I probably won't.

A few years ago I did buy pumpkins, but I didn't have the heart to throw the insides away, so I made a ton of pumpkin sauce and pumpkin pies.  Okay, maybe not truly a ton, but it seemed like we ate pumpkin pie FOR-EV-ER.  And I can't bring myself to buy a pumpkin and then throw it out. Just when I think I've reasoned with myself enough to do it, I remember two things: Buster and Little Dog. Those dogs will eat or chew on anything. If they see me touch, their mouths or tongue must go to it. Tomatoes, pecans, apples, pears - they've eaten/sampled them all. I can't imagine the dogs treating a pumpkin any different.

I've been amazed to see all the beautiful fall decorations at homes I've visited recently. Even my Mom had me pull out ceramic pumpkins for the table while I was at her house last week. I don't remember her ever decorating for fall before. If I manage to get my one set of fall flowers on the dining room table and my pilgrim people and turkey out and change the yellow flowered towel out of my utensil basket to the squirrel one with a fall background, then I will have accomplished all the decorating that will happen for this season.

But come the last weekend of November, we'll be talking decorations. :)

Thursday, October 9, 2014


I'm one of those crazy people who sometime over-think things.

Today was my first day of conducting a training session, and I went a little long (meaning we had to eliminate the last exercise) so tomorrow I need to watch time as I talk and not answer so many questions during exercise time.

Sometimes during feedback (whether after a session or during the trial one) someone will review things for 5 minutes, and one phrase will stick with me the next few days as I ponder "What did they mean by that?"  Sometimes it's something totally innocuous; but I can't help but wonder if the speaker was implying I crossed a line or talk too much or if they were politely telling me to get my act together.

Despite my self-absorption (Let's be honest - that kind of stuff is really nothing but selfishness and pride), I'm mostly enjoying this process. I was exceptionally nervous before we started today, but once we got going, it was awesome. I don't think I would want to do this all day long or lecture for a living, but I enjoy being with people who truly care about the process of voting and want to do a good job.

precinct supplies being packed for election day delivery

I will say the more I work with Wake county Board of Elections and the more I learn, the more impressed I am. Wake BOE is truly a very well-oiled machine that operates efficiently. Yes, any time humans do things there are mistakes, but overall I have been blown away with how detailed and customer-service oriented this government group is. I love how they listen to feedback from their poll workers, and how they train workers (even if it often seems like overkill) and then check up on them to make sure procedures are being followed.

Hopefully tomorrow I won't be so long-winded. I know I won't be able to hold and use both the clicker and the laser pointer at the same time, so I'm no longer stressing over that. I'm just not wired that way. But I hope my training sticks, and that this will be an election where coordinators are rubbing their necks and saying "What am I missing?" because everything seems to be so meticulously in order.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

lunar eclipse

Due to the dogs, we didn't drag out the telescope to look at the moon. Therefore my pictures are from my small camera (it has a better anti-movement/hand shake censor).

I was amazed at how red this turned out. It certainly didn't look red with the naked eye, and only had a pinkish hue with the binoculars, but the camera captured it as looking quite red.

At this point we moved over to my mother-in-law's house because the moon dropped behind the trees at our house (she's a little higher up on the hill). We could still see the moon here, even better through the binoculars, but my camera didn't capture it all. :(  And by the time the sun started coming up, it all but disappeared from view through everything.

So we can now say we've watched the moon disappear.

quickly changing!

 The scene early Monday morning:

And the scene Monday evening:

The construction of South Garner High School has begun!