It Takes a Community

Posted under: community, health.

I recently joined the American Red Cross as a volunteer. I have been in Illinois for several months and will continue to be for an undetermined amount of time before I return home to Maine. I’ve been looking into several charity and humanitarian organizations in which to volunteer while I am here. I always felt that the Red Cross was a really great organization–particularly when it comes to aiding in disaster relief–and decided I really wanted to be a part of it. I applied online, took a couple online courses, and interviewed with a Pam, the gregarious and vivacious volunteer specialist in the South Central Illinois Chapter located in Decatur.


I was surprised to find out how many different types of volunteer opportunities there were for the Red Cross; however, I am especially interested in working in disaster services (which I was told needed the most help). Until this past week I haven’t done anything besides go to the weekly meetings. Kirk, our volunteer leader, has been helping me get familiar and acclimated to the processes. At our meeting this past Monday he invited me to go down to Kincaid on Wednesday with him and another volunteer, Bruce, to assist in day-long program helping flood victims of Kincaid gain access to various resources. I was thrilled to go help, and I rescheduled my doctor appointment I had scheduled for that day. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (1) Jan 17 2016

Skye’s CELP Adventure

Posted under: family.
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My oldest daughter Skye is an environment enthusiast. She especially loves marine biology and has done much reading and research on the subject. It disturbs her to find trash discarded carelessly, especially plastics washed up on the beach. She has been conscientious about recycling, and is often frustrated by all the plastics being used excessively and unnecessarily, or to see people not bothering to recycle.

Several months ago, Brent and Skye attended a lecture by Waynflete about plastics. There they learned about a program called Rippleffect. Its purpose is “to promote youth development and leadership through adventure, healthy communities and living sustainably.” Skye was very enthusiastic about it, and proceeded to apply for the CELP, the Cow Island Environmental Leadership Program for high school age teens. She was accepted into the program, and excitedly made preparations for her 4-week stay at Cow Island.

CELP students

CELP students

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Comments (0) Jul 24 2014

Mother’s Day: A Great Ending

Posted under: family.
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I absolutely love being a mom. Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and I spent all day at work. Brent and the girls came to visit me for lunch, however, and brought pizza from Otto’s, one of our favorite pizza joints in Portland. It was so nice to see them on my lunch break, and the pizza was a very nice change from the sub-par cafeteria food at Maine Medical Center. Brent told me that Jenna had actually ordered the pizza herself, and paid for it. This was a huge step out of her comfort zone, and I was so impressed! Hayley presented me with a very nice homemade card she’d been working on for much of the day.

The girls and me at MMC

The girls and me at MMC

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Comments (0) May 12 2014

Cambridge Science Festival

Posted under: family, science, technology, travel.
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The girls had spring break from school this past week. I planned my vacation from work the same week as the girls’ school break so we could spend that time together, and perhaps take a short trip.

Brent had sent me an email several weeks ago with information about the Cambridge Science Festival, a celebration showcasing the leading edge in science, technology, engineering and math. The weeklong festival occurs every spring, with the purpose of making science accessible, interactive and fun. Brent suggested I take the girls down to attend this. I thought it was a great idea. After looking at the calendar of events, I decided that Wednesday the 23rd of April had the most activities that we would be particularly interested in. The majority of events were held on the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) campus in Cambridge.

My awesome daughters and me on the Downeaster ride home to Maine.

My awesome daughters and me on the Downeaster ride home to Maine.

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Comments (0) Apr 26 2014

A Freeport Getaway

Posted under: family, travel.
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I like to take the opportunity when I can to get out and away from home with the family. It’s nice to get out of the house (even if it’s only a short 15 miles away), to have someone else clean up after us and prepare our meals, and to swim in a pool and soak in a hot tub.

The girls, especially Jenna, were pleased about having a couch in the hotel room.

The girls, especially Jenna, were pleased about having a couch in the hotel room.

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Comments (3) Mar 22 2014

PopTech 2013

Posted under: education, entertainment, philosophy, science.

I had the amazing opportunity to join the PopTech conference this past week. On PopTech’s “about” page, its mission is well stated: “PopTech brings together a global community of innovators from many fields to share insights and work together to create lasting change.” Health experts, technologists, designers, artists, etc. come together and present their great ideas and findings.

Last year I was signed up to volunteer, but at the time of the conference I was really sick, and had just gotten out the hospital and rehabilitation center. When I emailed volunteer coordinator Mary Alexander about my being too weak to help out, she responded by telling me that they’ve been following Brent’s blog. She said he has been so good to PopTech and so great to have, they’d like to offer me a ticket to attend the conference. Then this year when I’m 100% again, they can schedule me as a volunteer.

BK Booth set up a studio with props at the Friday night party.

BK Booth set up a studio with props at the Friday night party.

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Comments (0) Oct 28 2013

Redneck Festival

Posted under: entertainment, travel.
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I have never been attracted to the “redneck” lifestyle, but when my friend Nancy invited me to attend the Redneck “Blank” Pig Roast and Music Festival with her, I thought, why not? YOLO. It looked like fun. Three days of redneck events in the remote town of Hebron, Maine. It was previously known as the “Redneck Olympics,” but the U.S. Olympic committee challenged Brooks, the organizer, on the use of the name.

Courtesy of Redneck Maine

Courtesy of Redneck Maine

We had the pleasure of meeting Harold Brooks, a very nice laid-back man. This redneck event was covered by “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” last year, and this year the History Channel filmed the event.

Nancy and I planned on camping out for the weekend. However, our amazing and generous friend offered to pay for a motel room instead. She didn’t think it was good for me to be camping with my medical conditions. What a sweetheart!

We arrived early on Friday, but there was really nothing on the itinerary. People were there to get settled camping and drive their four-wheelers around. A beer tent and concession tent were set up, as well as various other tents selling redneck souvenirs. We had a good laugh at some of the treasures we could have purchased. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (3) Aug 05 2013

The Other Side of the Call Bell

Posted under: family, health, nursing, philosophy, psychology.
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I work as a nursing unit secretary in both the intensive care and the step-down cardiology units at the hospital. I think I’m more cynical than I used to be. It’s easy to become complacent, and even judgmental toward patients. During one of my shifts an obese patient requested donuts, cookies and pie. Even if we did stock those items in the cardiology unit, I would not have given them to him. After receiving chest compressions and a defibrillator treatment in CICU, a patient sat up and asked for a cigarette. One night we had a patient suffering from alcohol withdrawals and undergoing detoxification. He kept yelling at everyone to get out of his house, and I had to call security when he jumped out of bed and threatened the nurses. Two rooms over another patient was constantly yelling…all night. She would scream “I want to go to sleep!” and “I want my meds!” After the nurse gave her some, she screamed “That ain’t enough!” Do these patients realize why they were admitted in the first place? I would like to say to them, “You brought this on yourself. I have no sympathy.” Nurse_BettyBoop

I answer the call bell when patients ring out. Patients push a button in their room which rings a box on my desk. I pick up the receiver and ask them what they need, then respond appropriately. It is often frustrating when the same few patients ring out constantly for seemingly trivial matters, monopolizing the time and attention of the RNs and CNAs. As often as I can, I try to help the patients myself rather than to call for the CNAs or nurses. I’ve noticed that the more I interact personally with the patients, the more compassionate and empathetic I feel toward them, and the more eager I am to help them. I understand how a nurse can develop a special bond with his/her patients. When the nurse takes on the responsibility of certain patients, he/she is accountable for them, takes ownership, and forms a connection with them. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (2) May 21 2013

A Slow Decline

Posted under: health, nursing, philosophy, psychology.
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Brent has done a wonderful and thorough job recounting my health problems this past year through his blog. However, I wanted to share my experience from my own perspective, so here it is.

In early June of last year my endocrinologist diagnosed me with diabetes insipidus, in which the body doesn’t hold onto water as it should. Later that month I saw my primary care doctor for a gash on my shin that wasn’t healing.Zebra After taking my blood sugar, doing some lab tests, and consulting with my endocrinologist, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I went through the entire gamete of keeping close track of what I ate, counting my carbs, recognizing the symptoms of hyper- and hypoglycemia, checking by glucose levels, and giving myself insulin shots.

This was not the end of it. I was experiencing an onslaught of symptoms: problems with cognitive function (thought process/memory/concentration), lethargy, fatigue, muscle weakness and atrophy, abdominal fat accumulation, mood swings, anxiety, dizziness, loss of balance and coordination, easy bruising, slow healing wounds, weight loss, and increased blood pressure. Finally a state of severe confusion and disorientation in mid-August prompted my doctor to call an ambulance to take me to the emergency room. Apparently my ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) levels were excessively high, causing high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. This resulted in a diagnosis of severe cushing’s syndrome. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (17) May 14 2013

A Bit of Humor, In Song

Posted under: entertainment, poems & songs.

I enjoy writing poetry and songs, and occasionally I compose something less serious. The following songs I posted to add some comic relief to my blog.

To the tune of “Frosty the Snowman”
April 1996

Frosty the hit man
Was the most feared of his day.
He was paid to kill,
And he did it well;
So his neighbors stayed away.

Frosty the hit man
Was as sly as he could be.
His recipients
Never had the chance
To discreetly hide or flee.

There must have been a gun within
That overcoat he wore.
For every time he reached inside
There were victims on the floor.

Oh, Frosty the hit man
Wasn’t asked out much, it’s true.
Cause when he went out
With the gang, no doubt
He’d come back with one or two.

His friends would cry, “Why don’t you try
To learn a different trade?”
But he’d remark, “I love my work,
And admit that I’m well paid.”

Bangity bang bang,
Bangity bang bang.
Look at Frosty work.
Bangity bang bang,
Bangity bang—
He was more than just a jerk!

To the tune of “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”
Summer 1994

They asked me what was wrong
When I stopped my song.
Oh—singing in the shower
Gives you unknown power
In that relaxing hour.

I started out just fine;
Suddenly I’m blind.
Oh—so I rub my eyes.
Pain begins to rise—
Soap gets in my eyes!

So I fell, and then began to yell—
The pain was too much to bear.
Oh, that sting is worse than anything.
You wish you were not there.

Now, all my friends have said
That my eyes look red.
Oh—when your in the shower
Accidents may arise—
Soap gets in your eyes.

Soap gets in your eyes!

Comments (2) May 11 2013