Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Well Now...Wasn't That Just a Day From H-E-DoubleHockeySticks?

Ever had "one of those days"? A day when nothing really goes particularly right and most everything goes particularly WRONG? I had one of those days today. I have them a lot when I work on the cardiac unit, actually. Today was no exception. Please don't get me wrong--I like working on the cardiac unit. This is mostly because I love my coworkers and I want to keep up my nursing skills in telemetry, wound care, med-surg nursing, and all things cardiac and renal. Why? Because most people have hearts, lungs, and kidneys and it's good to know a thing or two about how they work, or how to do your very best to fix them when the don't work. I meet really interesting and awesome patients on this unit. I also meet not-so-interesting-and-not-so-awesome-patients on this unit. I kind of have crap luck when it comes to nursing. I am "Nurse Black Cloud" (that's my Native American name). I have bad luck with some stuff--and on a really flipping frequent basis might I add.

Today started off as normal as every other day on the cardiac unit. I pulled into the employee parking lot at work at 0641 (that's 6:41 a.m. for those of you who aren't fond of military time like we are in health care), said a prayer to God that today would go by quickly, and that I wouldn't get my butt handed to me in a basket by the end of it. I said some other nice, unselfish, eloquent things during that prayer, too. However, they are for Him to know and you to find out.

Anyway, the day was going well until about 0730 (7:30 a.m.). That was when I walked into a patient's room and saw that a toilet hadn't been flushed after use. Being the nice, tidy (black cloud) nurse that I am, I flushed the toilet--and then it flushed me right back...in the face. Did I mention my shift "technically" started at 0700 (7:00 a.m.), so right out of the gate I was feeling a little bit screwed. Some people have wardrobe malfunctions. I have toilet malfunctions--and then I get to wear them around on my face for the next 12 hours. Don't worry--I avoided the brown trout that were swimming upstream as this Mardi Gras, toilet-splashing festival was going on. I actually got splashed with the "hopper" water that is used to "rinse" things in the toidy that shoots out of an "arm" on the back of the toilet (only usually it's pointed down INTO THE TOILET AND NOT AT MY FLIPPING FACE when it goes off). It's not really supposed to spray you in the face when you flush it--but this toilet didn't get the memo. Hopefully my hospital didn't decide to "go green" and make the hopper water out of "recycled" toidy water. If they did, I literally walked around stone-cold sober, yet totally sh*t-faced all day today. True story.

Unfortunately this is not the first time I've gotten nailed in the face with toilet contents. I ended up in the ER last year after I went to empty a urinal, and the pee-laden toilet water splashed up into my eyeball. I have rotten luck, and a hospital that has super powered flushing toilets. I'm lucky I still have green eyeballs instead of yellow or brown ones.

I don't know what it is about this unit, but every time I work on it CRAZY, WEIRD, NOT-SO-AWESOME-IN-THE-LAND-O-WHITNEY stuff happens. Also, what I mentioned in the last paragraph is not the only time my job has landed me in the ER. I've been sent there because I accidentally stabbed myself with a needle. I was sent there after I got pinned up against a wall and punched in the face (unfortunately--not so accidental!). The list goes on and on. Crap luck...I'm tellin' ya.

I was running around like a crazy person today. I was answering all sorts of call lights--mine and other people's. I was jetting off to fix beeping IV pumps, and beeping telemetry boxes. I was on the run to answer bathroom emergency lights, and screaming patients who couldn't find their call lights. By the time I sat down at the desk I was exhausted and had a ton of charting to do. But it didn't stop there. Then, because I was sitting at the nurses station, I had every single family member for every single patient coming up to me and asking me questions. But is wasn't just questions--they were genuinely pissed off at me! I didn't even know who these people were, or who the patients were that they were upset at about. I sat there as they walked up and started talking/shouting at me and I felt like a dog when it's trying to listen to a human. My head was kind of half-cocked to the side and if I had floppy ears they would've been raised up on one side in my best effort to understand WHAT THE CRAP WAS GOING ON WITH PEOPLE I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT. I just sat there and took it, too. I think I said, "I'm sorry, I'll let your family member's nurse know immediately" about 50 times today. Had they known that I had toilet water all over my face they maybe would've been more afraid of me. True, true! I should've posted a sign on my scrubs that said, "When in doubt, don't ask Nurse Toilet Face". That would've shown them. Boo-YAH baby. Don't mess with The Whitster.

This was one of those days where I'm really glad that we are required as nurses to chart and document OBjectively instead of SUBjectively. This would've been a day that it was tempting to use some of my made up expletives to keep me on the good side of God. Sayings like, "You stupid monkey fluffer!" or "Oh SUGAR!" or "What the crap you pokey-butted weirdo". I have many of them. At some point somebody had to go beyond "son of a BLEEP". Why not me? You're welcome. Use them wisely.

I clocked out at 2025 tonight (8:25 p.m.). 13 hours and 25 minutes of sheer bliss later. And a face full of goodness knows what that I promptly washed down my shower drain at approximately 2113 (9:13 p.m.--what can I say...I have a long commute!). Maybe I'll wake up and my face will look 10 years younger tomorrow and I can sell my "million dollar" beauty secret to the rest of the world about dookie-laden toidy water. Oh crud--what if someone reads this blog first and pulls the rug out from under me and steals my idea?!! It's a risk I'm willing to take...

Monday, January 23, 2012

**NEW PAINTINGS**: Paintings for Our Fetal Demise Project at the Medical Center of Aurora

I am a labor and delivery nurse. I have one of the most BLESSED jobs on the planet. I don't know if you can comprehend or imagine the amazing rush that comes from helping someone bring their family member into the world. Some families experience this first-hand when their children are born. I get to be in on it upwards of 3 days per week. It is amazing.

As amazing as my job is, there is also a more somber side to it--the issue of fetal and neonatal demise. Most people expect when they become pregnant that they will deliver a healthy, happy baby. There are numerous reasons why things can go wrong along the way. When they do, our labor and delivery staff nurses, anesthesiologists, and scrub techs are the ones who help these families through one of the most difficult times of their lives. If it is a baby that is lost at home, we recover the mom at the hospital. If a baby is lost in utero, we labor, deliver, and care for the family afterwards. It is truly an honor and a special calling to be part of such circumstances.

Nothing breaks my heart more than sending home a mother and father empty handed. I have seen people suffer great loss. There are tears that flow that cannot be stopped. I will say that I am extremely proud of my hospital for their extra efforts in the area of fetal demise. We have an entire fetal demise committee that cares for these families, acknowledges their lost children, and contributes to the healing process. They do this by providing compassionate care, support, and by caring for these babies--though they never got their chance at life.

 We provide clothing for the infant that is donated from outside organizations. The clothing can dress babies from 15-40 weeks gestation. The mothers get to choose their outfits. We provide books, teddy bears, blankets, footprints, hand prints, and photographs. These are only a few of the things that we do, but they make a huge difference in the healing process for the parents.

We labor, deliver, and recover our fetal demise families on the labor and delivery unit. We do not send them over to postpartum so that they do not have to be on a unit with crying, live babies. While they are with us, we mark their doors with little laminated hearts to indicate to our staff that we need to be more sensitive and caring when entering these rooms. This has been a great way to prepare people if they walk in and an infant who has passed is lying on the baby warmer or in a crib next to the bed. It also helps our staff to acknowledge the parents and show a more caring heart toward them.

I was recently approached by one of my coworkers on our fetal demise committee, and asked if I would make some paintings to hang outside the door of our demise patients--just something to go above and beyond to acknowledge their situation, yet still be subtle and respectful about it.

I made two paintings for such purpose. The first is seen in these initial two pictures. The families of these lost babies often refer to them as "angels". I wanted to make a painting that symbolized that the care of their child had be transferred into the arms of an angel, and, hence, titled, "In The Arms of The Angels".

I realize that not all families are Christian, or believers of God, so I wanted to make another painting that was more "celestial" in nature. It is a baby cradled in the moon resting above the earth. It is titled, "Lullaby".

These babies and families who suffer fetal demise absolutely touch my heart. Being able to have the opportunity to bathe the babies, dress them, take their footprints, acknowledge them as humans, and to help their family through the grieving process is an awesome responsibility. I have found myself rocking these babies, and praying over these babies at every opportunity. It is also an area I feel very strongly about recruiting help where I can. I know how important everything we provide for these families is. These paintings are one more way we can show them that we care.

I continue to encourage anyone who has the skills for either sewing, knitting, or professional photography to call your local hospitals and get in touch with their labor and delivery units to see how you can help with fetal/neonatal demise programs. Baby buntings, outfits, hats, and blankets are always needed, as well as the opportunity to have professional family photographs at no charge to the patients. The "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" program for professional photography is a great way to get involved. They are always in need of more volunteer professional photographers. The can be contacted at


Sunday, January 22, 2012

I Love You...But...

Valentine's Day is coming. Some of you might be like, "Yay! I love Valentine's Day!!!". Some of you may be like me with respect to the big day-O-love...I'm kind of like, "Meh...*shrug*...it's Valentine's day". I know I sound like Debbie Downer, but it's all just a bunch of fluff and junk holiday-wise for me. Don't get me wrong, if the man I love wants to give me presents, then by all means, dish them out. I'll take them on February 16th or August 2...I'm not at all particular when it comes to timing.

"So why so negative, Whitney? Why don't you like Valentine's Day?" It's not that I'm totally anti-Valentine's Day, people. Besides, it was just a segue into today's topic.

LOVE. You know?...L-O-V-E...the four letter word that you can say and your mom won't wash your mouth out with Lever 2000? Do you ever really think about it much? I went to church again today and love was all they talked about. It wasn't just about the fuzzy, cuddly love feeling that we all get from "the one" we love. It was about loving your neighbor. Some of you might say, "Again, Whitney? Didn't we just read a blog about this?" Some of you probably did. I think it was eloquently titled, "LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR?...NOW WHY THE CRAP WOULD I WANT TO DO THAT?" It was one of my finer blog posts. Oh, and PS...I think it was like a year ago that I wrote that, so you're due for another dose of me ranting about how you should love other people in your life. Notice how I excluded myself from that sentence. That was an accident.

I probably need the "love your neighbor" factor in my life more than most people. I just sat through an entire sermon on "loving my neighbor" in church, got home, and within the first hour of being home my "neighbor" brought their dogs over to my yard to do their business. I felt like going out there and saying, "I love you, neighbor. Now can you please get your damn dog out of my yard and take him over to your own yard to crap up your own lawn?" Of course I would've tried my hardest to say this in my most loving tone possible.  

It is hard for me to love people sometimes. I've concluded that it's because on some human-to-human level we are all somewhat "unlovable". As people we are kind of annoying and unpredictable. We all have frustrating habits and behaviors. We probably all think we are way cooler than we really are, and that in and of itself can be super annoying.We're quirky, and imperfect. The fact that we can ever actually fall in love with other people deep enough to marry them is actually quite stunning to me. Then again...I'm divorced! Likely related to everything I have mentioned in this paragraph!

Some of you might know that my boyfriend is gearing up to move down here to Colorado from Alaska. Although I have wanted this for quite some time, it became very apparent to me during his last visit here that there was a big change that was coming--and I kind of started flipping out a little.

I've been single for three years. Prior to this I was married for 8 years, and spent the majority of it wishing that I was single due to the fact that my ex husband and I were not a very good match. I like being by myself. I think that a big contributing factor to this is that I kind of find other people annoying. And don't get me wrong...I know I'm annoying as well. This is not a blog about me being God's gift to humanity among a sea of flawed commoners.

Back to my boyfriend, him moving here, and me flipping out. Tristan is one of the sweetest men I've ever met. He has the kindest heart. He would never hurt anyone intentionally. We've known each other for 14+ years, and it started out with us just being good friends in college. We are complete opposites. He is quiet, sweet, caring, etc. I am someone who can be all of those things, but can also not be those things. I'm very opinionated, I can be loud, I speak my mind probably more often than I should, and I have a temper. The temper part is genetically inherited from my family. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. "So what is the problem here, Whitney? Sounds like you're lucky you found such a nice guy to put up with all of your crappy behavior!" True, true. But this is where the flipping out part comes in...

The last time Tristan was here we had a great time. It was very nice to see him, and we had a great time celebrating Christmas with my family. However, it was different than any other visit that we've had. He's moving here. HE'S MOVING HERE. All of the sudden I started to panic. The conversation in my head has been a little like this:

"What if this is it? What if we end up staying together? What if I end up not being single anymore? But I like being single! Single is good! It's what I wanted for most of my 8 years of marriage, remember?! What if I have to learn how to incorporate someone else into my daily life? I don't know if I can do this! I've never had to do it because he lived 3,000 miles away in Palmer, Alaska! But I love him! But OMG OMG OMG...can I do this?"

It's been a very bipolar conflict going on in my head. It's the "I love you, but..." phenomenon.

I started noticing that something was very different during this visit with Tristan. Things I hadn't noticed before started becoming "Big Things". This went both ways. I remember standing in front of my kitchen sink one day, putting some cereal bowls in the sink, filling them with water so the leftover food wouldn't stick to them, and Tristan saying, "NOoooooo!!!! Why did you do that? That's gross!" I was like, "What do you mean it's gross?...it's water in a cereal bowl." He totally wigged. He has issues with wet, dirty dishes. He doesn't want to touch them once they're in the sink. Then it happened to me--we were doing the dishes that night and he dumped all the gross crap from the dinner plates into the trash. I was like, "Why are you doing that? Why do I have a garbage disposal if you're just going to throw that all in my trash can? Don't you know how bad my trash is going to smell if you fill it up with food?" Then to make matters worse, I backed up into the trash can (because it was out on the floor so he could scrape plates off--it's normally under my sink), and the trash fell over and all that food garbage ended up on my nice clean wood floor. I was frustrated. I didn't understand the "scraping your plate off into the trash" thing.

It didn't stop there. Things just started to compile. He would take a shower and place my bath mat perpendicular to my bath rug so it kind of made a "T" shape. I was like, "Why do you put the bath mat that way? It's a perfect fit over the top of the bath rug, but you put it the opposite direction. Why? WHY? WHY? WHY?" He told me that as the shower door swung open that it dripped, so if the rug was set perpendicular then it would catch those drips that would otherwise end up on the tile. It frustrated me. The bath mat didn't fit/look right that way. The next thing I noticed was that he brushes his teeth without getting his toothbrush wet first. HOW CAN ANYONE DO THAT? I finally sat down with him one day and my eyes seriously welled up with tears and I was like, "I know that this is all very petty stuff, but if you hate the way I fill up the cereal bowls with water and all my other quirks, and I can't handle you putting my bath mat perpendicular to my bath rug and all of your other quirks WE'RE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT!!!" He thought this was hysterical and was just laughing at me. However, I've been married before, and when all that mushy love stuff wears off you're left with perpendicular bath mats and cereal bowls filled with water and it can literally kill a relationship.

"So Whitney, what does all this have to do with love and your neighbor?" A lot actually. Technically Tristan is going to be my neighbor now. He's going to live down the road from me. There are probably going to be a thousand more quirks we discover over the coming months. Hopefully learning how to deal with them will "make" us and not "break" us. I also still obviously have a lot to learn about love--whether it be with how to love my boyfriend properly, or how to love my neighbor. I need to learn how to squelch that "little devil" that resides inside of me--that keeps me from loving others at times. You may think that "little devil" is just something to give you a visual, but those same neighbors who brought their dogs across the street to my lawn today did the same thing yesterday. Only yesterday it was 60 degrees and they had their car parked outside with their sunroof open and I wanted to scoop the dog crap up in a bag and see if I could make a three-pointer shot into the top of their car with it. See...I have some wicked in my soul. I don't know if you saw my blog on my gripe with Verizon Wireless, but I also wanted to ninja body slam the guy at Verizon counter two weeks ago. I have my moments...

Today's church topic was about how love originates and is a gift freely given from God and loving your neighbor as yourself. I am thankful that we have such an amazing example of love through God and Jesus Christ and hope that someday I'll be better at implementing it when it comes to my relationships with other people. Every day is a chance to work on refining and perfecting that love. It's hard for me to picture God launching dog poo in the top of someone's open sunroof, or wanting to strangle His creation behind the Verizon Wireless counter. It's hard for me to picture Him holding the fact that Tristan doesn't use water on his toothbrush against him, or not loving me because I fill dirty cereal bowls with water. I hope someday I can see the world through God's eyes. That will be a great day. :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

**NEW PAINTING**: Mermaid Art by Emma Graham and Whitney Madison

My children have tendencies to come up with super adorable works of art when they are doodling. This painting is from a drawing that my daughter, Emma, did a couple of weeks ago.

I had Emma trace her drawing out on tracing paper. Then we transferred it onto a canvas that I had placed one of my handcrafted frames on. It was then fully texturized, and Emma picked out all of the paint colors and embellishments.

Her mermaid has a "tie dyed" tail with a bikini top that has tie dyed starfish on it. She is surrounded by texturized bubbles. The painting is trimmed with ribbon and embellished at each corner with Swarovski crystals.

I thoroughly enjoy being an artist, but I love it more that I can now incorporate my children into my work. Emma helped me with painting as well.

Em is not sure if she would like to sell this painting or not. She will have to decide for herself! :)

To view my other artwork, please visit my online website at

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Can You Hear Me Now?...Cuz I'm a Little P.O.'d at You, Verizon.

I have been with Verizon Wireless since I lived on the East Coast, just outside the Philadelphia area. When I was on the East Coast, the service was great. Throw in a move back to Colorado, and a bunch of mountains and now I can honestly say, "NOT SO MUCH".

 My service sucks. I live on the side of a mountain and I drop every phone call I make/receive AT LEAST 3 times. It's very frustrating--especially since I'm in a long distance, phone-based relationship with a man in Alaska (of all places). It's a problem. It's also starting to affect my mental stability. To this day I'm am super stunned that I haven't actually launched my droid, in true Michael Vick/Tim Tebow (for you donkey fans), into the wall at full speed after one of these dropped calls that occur at super inopportune times. It makes me hostile and very grumpy.

Another thing that blows goats and other small barnyard animals is that I have a droid. I hate it. It constantly chokes up on me, and the touchscreen is so small that, as I said on Facebook, a flipping oompa loompa couldn't text properly on it. And don't even get me started with my autocorrect spelling feature on the stupid thing. It has made me look like a complete idiot on numerous occasions--and NO...I can't figure out how to shut it off because my Droid manual is the most ridiculous, pathetic, waste of a user manual ever. It's like Droid for Dummies--only they forgot to include any relevant information about how the phone actually works in it.

At the end of my rope, and ready to make my leap FROM Verizon TO AT&T and FROM the stupid Droid TO the brilliant iPhone 4S, I walked into the Verizon store to cancel my service last week. However, to my surprise, my contract doesn't expire until June. June? Frickin' JUNE? I will certainly be hauled off in a white coat that has arms that tie in the back by that time. Of course, the people performing customer service at Verizon wanted to help "troubleshoot" my unhappiness with Verizon Wireless, so they asked me to come up to the counter and tell them all of my troubles.

I wish they would actually set up the "gripe desk" at Verizon like a shrink's office. It would feel much better if I could go in there, stretch out on a couch, and start releasing all of my wireless frustration while my customer service agent sat in a chair next to me and took notes. Instead, they sent me this guy who looked like Geeky McGeekyPants of Dorkville to "fix" my problem. Only he didn't fix anything. He just sucked an hour out of my life and crushed my dreams of being released from my contract with Verizon Wireless.

My encounter went a little something like this--and BTW...there are three people in this conversation below, the Verizon guy (V is for Verizon Guy), me (W is for Whitney), and me with Tourettes Syndrome (this is what I wanted to say had I not been able to actually control myself and if I could actually speak my mind about what I was really thinking (TSW is for Tourettes Syndrome Whitney):

Verizon: "Let me look up on my computer why you're dropping so many calls. I show an "abnormally large" amount of dropped calls on your account.

Whitney: Yes, this is why I'm wanting to switch to AT&T. For $100/month I should actually be able to use my phone.

Verizon: "I'm showing that your home is actually located in what we call "a pocket".

Tourettes Syndrome Whitney: "A pocket? What the hell is a pocket? And why is there one on your network? The dude in the commercial on TV never said, "Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?...NO?...it's cuz I'm in a flipping pocket!!!"

V: If you'll come over here, Miss, you'll see that where your home is located is actually a "problem area" for our service. We've had a lot of complaints coming from there.

W: "Really? And nobody has done anything about it? How can you keep customers locked into their contracts if you can't provide them proper service?"

V: "Well, what I can do is try to troubleshoot specifically which tower is giving you the trouble."

W: "That would be great."

TSW: "I'm still switching to AT&T after this--BTW...your fingernails are way too long for a man."

V: "Ah ha! Here it is. So let me write this tower number down for you. Then what I need you to do is go home, and call this 1-800 number and tell them that you're dropping a bunch of calls and that you need them to troubleshoot what is wrong with tower 0005596834QRT."

TSW: "He's kidding me, right? What...The...Bleep!!!??"

W: "Is there a reason why you can't call them right now and let them know that your tower is messed up?"

V: "Yes, we cannot call them from here...you have to do it from your phone, at your home."

TSW: "So let me get this straight...YOU ARE VERIZON WIRELESS, BUT YOU CAN'T CALL VERIZON WIRELESS? What's the matter?...will your call drop, too? Is it illegal to call the higher ups? Is it like screwing with The Great and Powerful Oz or something?"

W: "So you want me to call your company and tell them what you already know--that your tower isn't working properly? You do realize I will probably drop their call 3 or 4 times and will never actually be able to fully accomplish my complaint, right?"

V: "Well, that's the best that we can do."

W: "So you won't let me out of my contract even though you have a computer that says I live in a "pocket" and I don't get proper service?"

V: "We can't cancel your contract because of that. The computer technically says that the service in that area is "fair".

TSW: "I wish I could flick this man in the forehead right now. Is he kidding me? He has a record of all my dropped calls and now he's trying to tell me that I can't get out of my contract because the same flipping computer tells him that my service in that area is technically "FAIR"!!!??? My head is about to explode. I'm going to be arrested by a mall cop on a Segway scooter because this man is about to be tackled--only I'll have to be careful cuz he'll probably scream like a little girl and put his hands up to stop my flying body as it soars through the air at him to ninja body slam him and he'll stab me with his hugely long fingernails."

W: "So even though I am "technically" unable to use my phone because I'm in a "pocket" you still won't let me out of my contract. AND you want me to contact your store and tell them that tower 0005596834QRT is all sorts of screwed up?"

V: "Yes, ma'am."

W: "Thanks for all your help."

TSW: "Gag. Hack. Splutter. LIAR!!! You don't want to thank him! You want to tell him where to shove tower #0005596834QRT!!!"


So what have we learned from all of this?

**We have learned that negotiating your way out of a wireless contract is an exercise in futility.

**We've learned that if you want Verizon to get something done, you have to do it yourself.

**We've learned that men who work at Verizon need to take a short course in how to properly manicure their fingernails.
** We've also learned that the guy on the Verizon Wireless commercial is full of crap because I CAN'T HEAR YOU NOW CUZ MY FLIPPING PHONE DOESN'T WORK IN YOUR "POCKET".

**We've learned that it's going to be another 6 months before I actually get my iPhone and am able to switch to AT&T without having to pay through the nose for it.

**We've learned that my Droid might die a very painful death as it is heaved against a wall after my next dropped phone call.

**We've also learned that I may need therapy after all of this--at the very least, some retail therapy.

On behalf of me, myself, and Tourettes Syndrome Whitney, I'd just like to say, "Verizon Wireless, YOU SUCK." And now it's on my blog for all the world to see. Ok...well for a few people to see at least. HOORUMPF!