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


Poem: To the New Year

Posted under: philosophy, psychology.
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New Year
At the start of each year people talk about making “new year’s resolutions”; however it seems so obligatory and somewhat banal (as are many holidays and traditions, in my opinion). We should be consistently doing self-evaluations and bettering ourselves–all year long. Not only that, but I think we value and focus on the wrong things which don’t truly make our lives richer and more fulfilling. Writing is therapeutic for me, and I enjoy writing poetry occasionally. A few months ago I wrote the following poem about making resolutions:

To the New Year

We welcome in a brand new year; it’s time to change our ways.
“Out with the old; in with the new” spurs goals for coming days.
We hear the vows and pledges made, like “I’ll commit to be
More productive, end bad habits, be a better me.

I’ll be more patient, thinner, fitter, be a better friend.
I’ll have drive and discipline,” at least to the month’s end.
Striving to be better, seeking changes and solutions
Should be constant—not reserved for “new year’s resolutions.”

Cheers to our resiliency, to conquering our fear,
To challenges we faced and overcame throughout the year.
To living life with passion, I would like to make a toast.
Invest in the relationships with those who matter most.

Seek out rich experiences, and open up your mind.
Don’t count the days, but make them count; minutia left behind.
Engage in things which cultivate your curiosity.
Life’s not a destination, but a meaningful journey.

Until death comes appreciate the time you have before you.
Strive not to be successful, but rather be of value.
Live each day to the fullest, let enrichment be your cause.
Don’t be sad because it’s over; but smile because it was.

–January 3, 2013

Comments (4) Mar 24 2013


An Expression of Gratitude

Posted under: philosophy, psychology.

Most of you who are reading this post probably know that I have had a difficult past several months due to serious health problems. Since July I have been diagnosed with diabetes insipidus, type 1 diabetes, cushings syndrome, severe osteoporosis, and neuroendocrine cancer (with known tumors on my liver, in my iliac bone, and in lymph nodes in my neck). Much of this is a result of excessive ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) production and consequently excess cortisol (stress hormone) levels. I went to the emergency room due to extreme confusion and disorientation from my high cortisol levels. During my hospital stay I had a bilateral adrenalectomy to stop the cortisol production. While I was there as a patient I fell and fractured my neck, so I also had neck surgery. It has been a long, eventful, and stressful seven months.

One of Conor's beautiful sand dollars

One of Conor’s beautiful sand dollars

I am overwhelmed with gratitude to all our friends and family who have shown their love, concern, support, encouragement, help, and generosity throughout all this. I greatly appreciate the many visits and hugs from friends, meals prepared, monetary donations, gifts, words of support and encouragement, and offers to help, especially with the girls.

One of our favorite places to hang out here in Saco is the local Starbucks. We have gotten to know most of the baristas there and made some good friends. I have recently become friends with Conor, one of the baristas. She collects sand dollars on various beaches, cleans them up, and creatively decorates them to sell. A couple months ago she gave me a sack full of them–all beautifully designed–that the girls and I could use to decorate or give to friends as gifts over the holidays. It was incredibly sweet. She texted me a few days ago to ask if I could meet her at Starbucks that afternoon.

When I walked in she treated me to my favorite drink (green tea latte). She then sat down with Brent and me to have our drinks and handed me an envelope. Inside was a card and some cash. Conor had collected, decorated, and sold as many sand dollars as she could with the help of her colleagues in order to raise money for us. Conor said that she had approached our friend Jill one day, and learned that she was distraught about my condition after visiting me in the hospital, and concerned for Brent and the immense burdens that he is carrying. When Jill expressed her desire to do something for us, Conor came up with her sand dollar idea.

The timing was opportune, as I have just lost my medical insurance after transitioning from short-term disability to long-term disability. The medical bills are continuing to pile up, and I am still not working. I was so incredibly touched by their thoughtfulness and generosity. Brent and I each gave Conor a big hug and thanks, but it seemed impossible to adequately express our feelings in words.

I appreciate the company and the hugs from the many concerned and well-meaning people who have visited me, and the many well wishes and encouraging words I’ve received through social media and phone calls. I am glad for the opportunities I’ve had to get out and meet with people, especially after feeling so isolated from the world. It it wonderful to have friends and family who reach out not only to see how I’m doing or if I need anything, but who have demonstrated their concern and support for Brent and the girls who I believe need it more than I do. Thank you, my amazing friends. :-)

Comments (0) Feb 08 2013


PopTech 2012

Posted under: education, philosophy, psychology, science, technology.

Me with my official PopTech badge.

PopTech is a great source for positive change and collaboration. It brings together a global community of innovators from many fields to share insights and work together to create lasting change. Brent has been volunteering for the audio visual crew at PopTech in Camden, Maine, for the past few years, helping presenters with their slides in the green room. I’ve always enjoyed watching the videos on the website and hearing about Brent’s interactions with the amazing speakers. I decided to volunteer this year. After I was registered, however, I ran into a plethora of medical problems which included hospitalization and rehabilitation. I told Mary, the event operations manager, that I was limited as to what I would be able to do. She expressed to me how much they love Brent there, and that he’s been so good to PopTech. She’d also read Brent’s blog about my medical condition and offered me the amazing opportunity to attend the PopTech 2012 conference this weekend. Executive Director and Chief Creative Officer of PopTech Andrew Zolli kicked off the conference with an inspiring talk about resilience and adaptation, the theme of PopTech this year. I thanked him afterward for allowing me this opportunity to attend. I will highlight the presenters which resonated the most with me. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (2) Oct 23 2012


Book Review: Incognito

Posted under: book review, education, philosophy, psychology.
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Neuroscientist David Eagleman proposes in his book Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, that most of what you do, think and believe is generated by parts of your brain to which you have no access. His writing provokes thought and understanding.

The title of this book refers to its theme that we don’t really “know” ourselves. Eagleman describes how most of our thought processes are unconscious and not accessible to us, most of the activity going on without our being aware.

Almost the entirety of what happens in your mental life is not under your conscious control, and the truth is that it’s better this way.Incognito When consciousness meddles in details it doesn’t understand, the operation runs less effectively. One does not need to be consciously aware to perform sophisticated motor acts. We are not conscious of most things until we ask ourselves questions about them. The brain generally does not need to know most things; it merely knows how to go out and retrieve the data. It computes on a need-to-know basis. We are not conscious of much of anything until we ask ourselves about it. We are unaware of most of what should be obvious to our senses; it is only after deploying our attentional resources onto small bits of the scene that we become aware of what we were missing. Before we engage our concentration, we are typically not aware that we are not aware of those details. So not only is our perception of the world a construction that does not accurately represent the outside, but we additionally have the false impression of a full, rich picture when in fact we see only what we need to know, and no more. (p. 28)

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Comments (0) Aug 06 2011


Book Review: The Upside of Irrationality

Posted under: book review, education, philosophy, psychology.
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Dan Ariely previously wrote Predictably Irrational which I read and enjoyed. In this follow-up, Ariely reveals the beneficial outcomes and pleasant surprises that often arise from irrational behavior; he examines some of the positive effects irrationality has on our lives and offers a new look on the irrational decisions that influence our personal lives and our workplace experiences.The Upside Of Irrationality

What Ariely suggests about our tendency toward hedonic adaptation is compelling:

Hedonic adaptation is the process of getting used to the places we live, our homes, our romantic partners, and almost everything else. It is an emotional leveling out–when initial positive and negative perceptions fade. When we move into a new house, we may be delighted with the gleaming hardwood floors or upset about the garish lime green kitchen cabinets. After a few weeks, those factors fade into the background. A few months later we aren’t as annoyed by the color of the cabinets, but at the same time, we don’t derive as much pleasure from the handsome floors. (p. 168)

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Comments (0) Aug 06 2011


Book Review: The Social Animal

Posted under: book review, education, philosophy, psychology.
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The Social AnimalNew York Times columnist David Brooks uses his book, The Social Animal, to assemble his evidence for the causes of success and failure in life, and to draw implications for social policy.

Brooks shares some insight in the way we learn and communicate, which I found interesting:

Automaticity is achieved through repetition, or “reach and reciprocity.” You start with the core knowledge in a field, for example, then venture out and learn something new. Then come back again and reintegrate the new morsel with what you already know. Then venture out again. Then return. Too much reciprocity and you end up in an insular rut. Too much reach and your efforts are scattershot and fruitless. Learning is not merely about accumulating facts. It is internalizing the relationships between pieces of information. (p. 87, 89)

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Comments (0) Aug 06 2011


Book Review: The Tipping Point

Posted under: book review, education, philosophy, psychology.
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The Tipping PointThe Tipping Point is about social phenomena and change, in which Gladwell presents life as a social epidemic. He explains how ideas and behaviors spread. Gladwell makes an interesting discovery about kids viewing the show Sesame Street:

After holding experiments, researchers discovered that kids were a great deal more sophisticated in the way they watched the show (or TV) than had been imagined. Kids don’t watch when the are stimulated and look away when they are bored. They watch when they understand and look away when they are confused. Psychologist Elizabeth Lorch said, “Children didn’t just sit and stare, either. They could divide their attention between a couple of different activities. And they weren’t being random. There were predictable influences on what made them look back at the screen, and these were not trivial things, not just flash and dash.” (p. 101-102)

Gladwell also discusses a study of how the frequent cleaning of graffiti from railway cars actually reduced the occurrences of vandalism. He explains it with the idea that crime is contagious. He proposes that ideas and behaviors and new products move through a population very much like a disease does.

There is an epidemic theory of crime that says crime is contagious–just as a fashion trend is contagious–that it can start with a broken window and spread to an entire community. Criminologists James Wilson and George Kelling argued that crime is the inevitable result of disorder. If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon, more windows will be broken, and the sense of anarchy will spread from the building to the street on which it faces, sending a signal that anything goes. (p. 141)

I found The Tipping Point a well-written, interesting and entertaining read.

Comments (0) Aug 06 2011


Summer Reading 2011

Posted under: education, philosophy, psychology, science.
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I had half the summer off from school, so naturally I took this opportunity to do some leisure reading. I read some interesting books, all covering my favorite subjects: Neuroscience, psychology, forensics, economics, and science in general.

For nearly every book I read, I take copious notes in Evernote so that I can refer back to the most significant and fascinating things I learn and want to remember. I’ve selected some excerpts from my notes for the books I’ve read the past couple of months, and will post them with reviews for each book.

I enjoy reading. I especially love when my reading prompts further questions and inspires me to study a subject further. I still have a stack of books to tackle before classes start. Yes, I’m a book nerd. :-)

Comments (0) Aug 06 2011