Friday, October 31, 2008

Three Toed Feet, and Bunny Eating Pumpkins

Halloween day...took a little convincing to get Amy to go along, but she ended up being a really good sport. We waited until the last minute (of course) and things were a little picked over by the time Ruby and I headed out Wednesday night to find costumes. 

There are four of us. Myself, Amy, and our staff, Eva and Ruby. Eva is about 5'10'' and an average size, Im 6', Amy is 5'2'', and little Ruby, well she is 22 years old, and 4'8''.

We wanted costumes that all four of us could be, a "theme", so we started at our local spirit store. We thought about all four ninja turtles, but Ruby could only fit in the kids version, which wasn't near as cute as the we vetoed that idea. 

When we moved on to the next store we found the PERFECT costumes. The Flintstones! Fred for Amy, Wilma for me, Betty for Eva, and PEBBLES for Ruby!!!!! We even found a plastic bone to tie in her pink wig! It was perfect, EXCEPT that they were out of "Wilmas".

So we had to make due and use a "Marilyn Monroe" white dress (that I shredded the bottom of) and two wigs. The first wig with the right bangs was an "Ariel" wig, but it was for kids, so it didnt cover all of my real hair. By the time it was all over, I had clipped the horns off an adult wig, and sewed the Ariel one on top of it. Follow that with some white spray painted wooden cabinet door handles, and Poof, Wilma Flintstone. 

All of the patients loved our costumes, and it was a really great day.

The bunnies were not NEAR as cooperative as I had hoped, but Miss Scarlett finally got too dang hot and just laid down. 

The poor baby had a pumpkin eating her unfortunate. She was not liking our little holiday

Don't you already feel sorry for my future children?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Family Tumbleweed

Every time I start to tell Amy a story, it takes five times longer than it should. Why? Because every time I begin with "my ____ family member" we then have to go through who exactly that ___ person is, and how they are indeed related to me.

I was commenting yesterday that it really couldn't even be classified as a family tree anymore, it was more like a family shrub, or bush, a hedge even, and Amy so perfectly said "dear, you have a family tumbleweed".

Let me explain:

I am adopted, and am lucky enough to have a great relationship with both my adoptive parents (Dave and Kay) and my biological parents (Tom & Teresa). I found Tom and Teresa about 6 years ago, and it couldn't be any more perfect. All of my parents get along with each other, and conspire against me on a regular basis.

Here's where it starts getting a little tricky. None of my parents stayed together. Dave and Kay divorced when I was five. Dad re-married a few times since then, creating a veritable maze of step-mothers and siblings, and is now with a great little lady named Peggy. Since they haven't yet married, I classify Peggy's as my "Not quite Step Mother". She has two sons, which are my "Not Quite Step-Brothers".

Mom (Kay) remarried Kerry. Who has two kids, Megan(girl) and Dallas (boy) (but Megan isn't technically Kerry's). So that's a pretty easy one.

Now, Tom and Teresa didn't stay together either. Teresa is married to Lynn. Who has three kids from his previous marriage. Jamie (girl), Randy(girl) and Cody(boy) my step siblings on that side. Teresa never had any more children, so I'm it...which works out really well.

Tom married Deborah and had my three half-siblings, Anabelle(girl), Sidney (boy), and Sadie (girl). They are my only blood siblings (and the very last family I found). Our mothers couldn't be more opposite, so we don't look a thing alike, but we have some very similar aspects in our personalities.

So I have four sets of parents. Eight sets of grandparents. All of my parents have siblings which makes for an array of Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Step- grandparents, Step Aunts, Step Uncles, and Step Cousins.

And then there are the Ex-Step Monsters...errr Mothers (and their Ex-Step Families). "Ex-Step Sister-In-Law" was always one of my favorites.

The primary problem is that Amy's parents and siblings are all still married to their original partners, and she quite doesn't understand the difference between "Step" and "Half", and the other difficulty is that it doesn't all fit on one dinner napkin. (we've tried on several occasions to pass the time this way at restaurants.)

I had a pretty good map of it, at one point when I was trying to help my poor therapist, but I'm due for an updated version. I'm sure Ill have to have a clear one with pictures one for my children to be able to make heads or tails of it all.

To Amy's credit, she tries really hard. It throws her that a lot of them have names that could be male or female (ex. Kerry, Lynn, Randy), but for the most part, she can at least keep all of the parents straight.

Luckily we won't have to worry about wedding photographs...(your welcome Mom('s). )

Speaking of "two mommies", talk about needing clarification! HA!

P.S. Look for a "Genetics" post in the near future...I am really quite the little science experiment when it comes to the nature vs. nurture debate.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Holding Hands with Hillary

That's right, THE Hillary. 

I wasn't always a Hillary fan, in fact, I didn't know that all Democrats weren't Satan's warriors until my sophomore year in college.  

When the Presidential Primaries began, and there was talk of Hillary throwing her pantsuit into the race, I was thrilled.  Finally a woman with the chops to be President, and a real chance to make that dream a reality.

So imagine my incredible disappointment when she fell a  perfectly highlighted hair short of the nomination. I will vote Obama, but only if they don't leave me enough room on the ballot to write in Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Hillary made a trip to our Sun City during the Primary season, and Amy and I went to the Don Haskins Arena to see her with 20,000 of our closest friends. Needless to say we didn't even get close enough to see the color of her pantsuit without binoculars.

Last week, we got word that Hillary would be coming RIGHT HERE to our tiny town to stump for Obama. She would be speaking just down the street on Saturday afternoon.

Sleep was elusive Friday night, all I could think about was getting up, putting on my "Bitch is the New Black" shirt, grabbing my "Hillary is My Homegirl" sticker, and getting my spot at the speech.

Saturday morning that's exactly what we did (but Amy would NOT let me wear my "Bitch is the New Black" shirt) and when we got to the park, we were pleased with our spot. Not right in front of her, but pretty damn close. So we waited, about 2 hours (she was an hour late), but when she took the stage, it was electrifying.

After her speech, most everyone but the ones right up front began to leave and find their cars, but Amy and I decided to hang around and see how close we could get to Ms. Clinton. 

At first I was (frustratingly) about 4 people back, just far enough away from the front line that I couldnt get her...........attention ; ) 

 However, as I further surveyed the situation, I realized that if I hopped a strategically placed bleacher, I could tuck myself in the last little corner of the handshake line. 

I slid into position just before she she got to that point, and immediately shoved my "Hillary is My Homegirl" sticker over the lady in front of me, and right into Hillary's line of vision. When she saw the sticker, I reached out with my other hand, and she shook it and said "Oh I LOVE that!". I screamed "I know, do you want it?",  she hesitated, and finally said, "No, you keep it" to which I replied (all of this taking place over the two short people in front of me) "No, I have two", and as she grabbed it from my hand she said "then YES I want it!".

At this point she realized I still had a death grip on her hand and removed it from my grasp (with a little help from the secret service) and was rushed into her green SUV (WITH MY STICKER!!!!)

It was definitely a moment I will never forget, a highlight for sure. I would have loved to have had a picture with her, and my sticker, but I am tickled pink that I got to have a mini conversation with her and that she took my sticker. She looks great for all she's been through, and she is a woman who deserves so much respect. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Feather's Challenge

Im pretending to be "tagged" by wishfulwriter and attempting the "7 random facts about yourself" post.

1. I have a really hard time saying "Well, I guess I better go" and it usually comes out "Well, I bess I getter go". Must be some weird nervous thing...or a mini-stroke..hmmm

2. Speaking of mini-strokes. I whistle completely out of the side of my mouth, like (yes, you guessed it) I have had a mini-stroke.

3. Speaking of mini-strokes (again) my mother whistles the exact same way. 

4. I have a new tattoo of Sarah Palin winking, on my ass. 

5. I have an obscene obsession with the skin on my elbows, and earlobes. I can't leave it alone. If you see me, you can pretty much bet I will have my hand on my ear or my elbow, especially if Im nervous...or bored...or happy...or sad....ok pretty much always. Might as well be sucking my thumb.

6. Speaking of sucking my thumb, I did it till I was 7. My parents tried everything from a retainer with a spike, painting my big o digit with that sour apple crap, everything. Know what finally worked? A nickel... for every half our I kept my thumb outta my trap. I wasn't stupid.

7. My all time favorite TV show is the old Get Smart. When I was a kid we didn't play tag, or hide and seek, we played Get Smart, theme music and all. I was ALWAYS 99 hello, first crush = Barbara Feldon. 

There....I'm officially tagging MixtapeJones, I'll be waiting Mister.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Literally Litterer

We encounter so many pleasant people every day at work, that it is so uncomfortable when we come across a rude one. Well let me tell you that is EXACTLY what I had the unpleasant experience of encountering today.

We were sitting at the counter working on billing, and the windows in front of us face the patio and the parking lot outside. The windows have a mirror tint so we can see out, but you cant see in from the outside. There is a pharmacy next to the clinic that is open on Saturdays so there was a fair amount of traffic this morning. 

An older hispanic woman got out of an SUV and headed into the pharmacy. As she came out, she had a paper towel in her hand, and we watched as she threw it down literally (no pun intended) three steps from our HUGE trash barrel. I could not believe my eyes! What an example for the three kids in the car. 

So as they were backing out of their parking spot I marched out right in front of them, picked up her litter, and placed it (a little harshly) in the trash can. 

Want to guess what the grandma and family did? Did they apologize? Did they hang their heads in shame? Hell no, they started CLAPPING. That's right clapping, and laughing, out loud with the window down. 

Karma dude....Karma.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I learned early how to be good at Therapy...

Four years old and at the movies with my Daddy. Days don't get any better than that. It was the brand new, uber advertised, Disney movie of the year. 101 Dalmations, opening day, and I was so excited I could hardly keep from throwing down my Rainbow Brite doll and sprinting in the theater. 

One teeny tiny problem.
 Cruella DeVille was FREAKIN scary. Not just creepy, or spooky. I was terrified to the point that we had to leave half way through the movie. I could NOT stop crying and thinking about those poor little puppies (and that hair).

Problem number two. 
Months afterward I was still appearing next to my Daddy's side of the bed in the middle of the night saying "Daddy......can we talk about Cruella?"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Birthday Wish

Ms. Martinez (name changed) had a birthday yesterday. 

I met Ms. Martinez for the first time about a year and a half ago. She was 88 lbs, and so dehydrated we couldn't find a vein to stick. All of her hair was gone, and she had an old floral scarf wrapped around her little head. Her eyes were completely sunk in, and she could barely stand to greet us when we walked in the room. (No matter WHAT we said, and how hard we tried, she ALWAYS stood to greet us when we came in). The most disturbing thing about Ms. Martinez was her color. Let me tell you, we see lots of "colors" on a daily basis, but Grey is not one of them. Her little body was so poisoned by cancer, and the chemo, that she was literally grey. 

We immediately fell in love with this little lady. No matter how sick, how nauseated, how frail and tired she was, she was always the picture of kindness, and there was always a sweet sparkle in those sick eyes. She spoke Spanish only, and mine wasn't that swift at that point as I hadn't been in El Paso very long, but she made me feel like I came straight from Mexico City. She would sit patiently while I found the right (or close to right, or flat out wrong) word, and then speak extra slowly so I could have a shot (be it a long shot) at understanding. 

Last week I came across her chart while up to my nose in paperwork, and just happened to notice that her birthday was October 6. That evening, at the grocery store, I ventured into the Spanish language card section. It was at this point that I realized that I know absolutely NO proper Spanish. It became very apparent to me that this was not going to be as easy as I thought, so I started with the pictures and narrowed it down to, oh, about twenty. I moved on to words I knew like "esposo, esposa, hermano, hermana, hija, hijo", "husband, wife, brother, sister, daughter, son, etc.... And then there were four. So I picked the two "prettiest" ones and decided to have one of the girls at the clinic "censor" it  in the morning and translate so I could pick one.

Turns out they were both sweet and appropriate (pure luck) and we chose the one that said something like "If the sun is bright,  the breeze is pleasant, and your day is perfect then my wish for you on your Birthday has come true" (definite paraphrase) and then had a little verse from Proverbs at the bottom. It was SO SUPER cute, we all signed it, and I made lots of little hearts on the envelope. 

We pulled up to Ms. Martinez little apartment, and it could not have been a more beautiful day for her. After we opened the gate (and avoided the neighbor's dog) she spotted us and was headed down the front steps to greet us. I have to say that she smile on her face when she saw the card was one of the most rewarding sights I can remember. She was THRILLED! She was full of hugs and kisses and " Gracias' " and was so surprised to see us. 

She took us on a tour of her three room apartment. Not three bedroom, three room. Her living/bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom, all full of knick-knacks, pictures, rosaries, crosses, and knitting. She was so proud to show us her sweet little "casita". 

It will be  forever a sweet memory in my mind and heart. You see it was an extra special birthday for Ms. Martinez. For the first time in four years her cancer is in remission. She is 113 lbs, has her beautiful little head of hair back, her natural tan color, and those bright eyes that never gave up. 

Friday, October 3, 2008

Compassion...(and an important lesson) #1

Forward: This post is disturbing, slightly graphic, and does not pass the breakfast test, just a warning.

Im going to call her Mary. I had never met her, which at this point, is odd in itself. I've met almost all of our patients at the clinics, and can usually tell you their first and last names, which pharmacy they use, and if its time for them to come in for their lab work.  So that day I was back in the office paying bills, and didn't see Mary come in. 

I was called to the very last exam room, Amy wanted me to meet a patient. I walked in to see Mary, a 50 something very normal looking woman in a long-sleeved corral colored shirt and grey shorts. I immediately noticed that she had both of her legs bandaged from the ankles to the knees. We see ALL KINDS of things in the clinics, so I wasn't surprised to see Amy kneeling down next to her with gloves on.

What I did NOT expect, was what I would see when she removed the bandages. Mary's legs were rotting. They were swollen with dozens of large(about the size of limes) deep, open wounds. The kind of wound where you can see the meat. They were full of puss, some bleeding, and all the skin that wasn't eaten away was completely black. Not purple, grey, or red... black. 

My first thought was that she would most certainly loose her legs, and I was prepared to immediately leave the room and begin preparing the paper work to admit her to the hospital. At this point, I hadn't really heard anything yet. The sight was so overwhelming, I hadn't bothered to use any of my other senses up to that point. The first thing I recall hearing was "So it was just a bad batch? Yes, whatever they used to cut the heroin was bad."

You see Mary has a heroin habit. Has for the last 22 years. I found this out when she looked at me quite frankly and said, "Well you're getting quite the education aren't you? See what 22 years of heroin will do? If you think this is bad, you should see my ass." She has a $50 dollar a day habit, no health insurance, a steady job, a large circle of friends, and grown children. Her ex-husband got her started after a bad back injury to "help her relax". She was hooked after the first injection. She knew how to clean and dress her own wounds, which antibiotics to get in Mexico, when to start them, and obviously, when it was bad enough she needed to come in to see Amy.

Evidently, when you have a heroin addiction for that long, eventually you run out of good juicy veins, so it is necessary to do a method called "skin popping". It involves injecting the drug just under the skin in an attempt to hit one of the millions of capillaries that lie just beneath the surface. Whatever the drug makers used to "cut" the herion and make it go farther was toxic, and everywhere she injected she got a massive, skin eating infection. She was rather calm about this fact, I guess she realized that this was just the risk of it all. 

So Amy changed the antibiotic, gave her some new supplies, and told her to follow up in a few days.  I love that our clinics are so non-judgmental, and our patients can come in, be honest about their problems, and get kind and appropriate treatment. 

Mary was absolutely pleasant, intelligent, and quite frank, all of which I appreciated. In fact, I liked her very much, and I hope she gets to keep her legs awhile longer...