Saying goodbye to 2016

ny1I’ve read, or should I say noticed a few memes on Facebook recently saying something to the effect of: “Goodbye 2016, I can’t wait to see you go, you’ve been an awful year”.  I’m sure some of the people that have posted these statements have honestly had a bad year for whatever reason…. although I think that probably the vast majority are protesting political outcomes.  I’m so sick of politics I could scream. So in a way, I echo a slight relief of saying farewell to 2016 and all the crud that went along with the WAY TOO LONG AND DRAWN OUT presidential election.  Oh yes people, I would change the political process if I could. We’d have something like 3 months to get the job done – just like other civilized nations do. But I digress, this blog post is NOT about politics! It’s really my end of the year musings, my look at how I did regarding my 2016 resolutions, and plans for the future.   For me (politics aside), 2016 was a great year, with just one exception. In July we had to say goodbye to our precious kitty and RV buddy, Jinx the cat. I know I’ve talked about this in other posts so I won’t go on and on, but honestly, losing him was hard…. really hard.  We have been pet-free now for about 6 months… but folks, this is about to change!!  Hubby and I know we really want to get another furry companion, so at the end of January we’ll be going to the local shelter and waiting for a special kitty to meow to us in just the right way…. the way that tugs on your heart strings and says “take me”!  Of course I will do a post on that when it happens!! That will be big stuff! 🙂

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Last December I made a post (click here to read) about my new focus for 2016. Number one on the list was decluttering my home.  Whoa baby, did I ever do a good job of that.  I spent months going through closets and cupboards, boxes and bins, getting rid of stuff…. from books to CD’s to clothing and housewares and everything in between. It felt good. It felt really good. I reorganized cupboards, closets, shelves, and our pantry.  My “junk” drawer was in good order…..and now, oh my goodness, it’s bad again.  The junk in the junk drawer is overflowing. The pantry is in near total disarray. My closet is full of too much stuff.  So, it’s going to start all over again in this little house!  The decluttering and organizing will begin anew in January!!  After going through ALL my clothes this past year and getting rid of bags and bags of stuff I didn’t like, want, or need (and I mean big black garbage bags full!), I thought I had it narrowed down to “just the good stuff”.  Now that it’s been nearly a year, I can see with new eyes, the things that I thought I needed/wanted but that I actually never used. If they haven’t been utilized in a year, then it’s probably time to say sayonara . So the decluttering will begin anew!

Number two on my list last year was to eat healthier foods.  Sometimes I’ve been successful at this, and other times not so much.  I am still making and consuming on a regular basis, my homemade cultured Kefir.  This stuff is not only delicious (in my humble opinion) but without a doubt, super-healthy for you.  Kefir contains a greater variety of strains of probiotics and beneficial yeasts than yogurt.  Making your own is easy and SO economical!  I buy a half gallon of milk on sale at the store for 99 cents and that will make me enough kefir for about 2 weeks. Of course, the price would go up if you bought organic milk – and who knows, I may do that at some point. It’s still much cheaper than buying ready-made kefir.        I failed at one of my goals for last year – and that was making my own fermented veggies, but next year will be a success!  I got an awesome Fermentation Crock (click here for details) for Christmas! I’m so excited to finally give this a go!  One thing I want to examine more carefully in 2017 is eating way less in the way of processed foods. No, I don’t want to get all fanatical about it, after all there is NO WAY I’m giving up my Kraft macaroni and cheese every once in a while, but I do want to try and and make things from scratch more. This could even mean making my own breads!  I have a sourdough starter kit from Cultures for Health, the same people who sold me my Kefir making “grains”. I really need to buckle down and give it a try and get that sourdough starter growing!!

Number three last year was to READ MORE and compute less, and in this I was totally successful!  I set a goal of 25 books for the year, and ended up reading 37!  I love to read, so this really wasn’t a difficult or tedious task for me, but I’m still proud of actually exceeding my goal for the year.  I will have the same goal for 2017, 25 books.  I enjoy using GoodReads,com for keeping track of my reading progress.

So, this brings us to next year, 2017. As you can see, my goals from last year still apply for this year – I’ll be reading, decluttering, cleaning & organizing, fermenting, and hopefully more physically active. It’s so dang easy to sit around or just do house work during the day, but I need to get out and take walks much more often.

I’m also looking forward to several things that are upcoming!  In January, we are flying to Hawaii to attend the wedding of my oldest, Aaron. He’s 39 and two years ago he finally found his “soul mate” in Andrea (Andie). We’ll spend a week on the island of Maui with family and friends, and then after the wedding we’ll be going on our own to the Big Island for a few days. Should be fun!  When we return, it’s off to the Humane Society to find the next furry member of our family – can’t wait!  Later on in the spring, we hope to get down to our southern hang out (Palm Springs) and spend some sunny days there – hubby playing golf and me having pool time!  We have RV trips in the works with our delightful neighbors this coming summer also. I hope our new kitty is adaptable – he/she will need to enjoy being at home in the northwest, the sunshine of southern Cal, and on the road in the RV!

Here’s wishing everyone a truly wonderful 2017 ~~ and let’s not wish our years away like the folks who put up the memes I mentioned at the beginning of this post…. after all, we don’t know how many years any of us have left! People (celebrities, anyway) seem to be dropping like flies lately 😦   A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ONE AND ALL!!!!

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Post Election Thoughts

We’ve just been through a really difficult election in our country. The voting public is still very divided. I watched as so many people on Facebook felt the need to share their political convictions with others and in doing so, alienated about half of their friends. After all, don’t most of us have friends of different persuasions? I do. I live in a diverse neighborhood and I love all my neighbors. We are black, white, gay, straight, married, single, republican, democrat. We may vote for different people, but despite all that, we still care for each other. We still have hope that there is GOOD in our futures. It really bothers me that people feel the need to attack (verbally or otherwise) folks who may have voted different than they did. It also annoys me big time when people who own retail companies decide to share their thoughts about politics. One company that I have purchased from many times, flat out insulted customers who voted differently than they did – and did it in a scathing, public way. This makes absolutely NO sense to me. Do they only want revenue from customers who voted for their candidate? I am not naming the company in this diatribe, but I do know that I’ll have to think pretty hard before buying from them again. On a similar note, a person who has had a very upbeat blog about food and decorating and all things homey, turned one of her posts into a very long and unpleasant political statement that had me wondering again, why? Probably 50% of her readers voted differently than she did, and yet demeaning their choice was something that she apparently just HAD to do. I’m not sure I’ll be reading more of her blog – I loved it when it was a “happy place” but I’m not loving it now. I do hope my country can somehow be united again, because this deep, horrible division is painful. Yes, painful. The good thing? My neighbors, as different as we all are, are at peace. And that’s the way it should be.

Our cruise to Canada & New England – part two

On this post we’ll cover days four and five of our cruise. Day four finds us in Northern Nova Scotia, Sydney to be exact, on Cape Breton Island.  Because many are not familiar with this region of the world (including me), I’ll insert a map.

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Because I tend to research a thing to death, I read quite a few reviews of the port of Sydney saying that “there’s nothing to see or do here”. Hmmmmm.  One of the excursions that was actually offered by Holland America was a taste of the local music.  Scottish and Irish music, as well as Scottish dancing are common here.  Here’s what we saw upon reaching the port of Sydney…..

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There you have it folks, the world’s largest fiddle!  Just seeing this thing let me know we were in for a musical treat! This was the view from the deck of the ship, zoomed in a bit.   Looking another direction we saw what is a very pretty little harbor town.

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Here is a short, three minute video I made showing a few clips that I took from the music show. It starts with a bagpiper and then we go inside to hear the local musicians. If you are a fan of Irish or Scottish music, you’ll love this. We sure did!!!!!  I hope you’ll take a peek. Just click on the pic below and the video will start. Be sure and have your speakers turned on!

Talk about a delightful afternoon!! Not only were they talented, they were super friendly too.  Homemade Oatcakes were on every table, as well as coffee or tea to go with them.  I sat there and silently wished I’d been born on Cape Breton Island – I love when people are SO proud of their heritage!

Day five was another sunny one, and we were SO pleased!  Our port of call today was Halifax, Nova Scotia. This is the only port that was not new to us.  Back in 2009 we did a cruise that took us to Halifax.  We remember thoroughly enjoying the port, taking a tour out to Peggy’s Cove (stunningly beautiful) and around the town. This time around we decided to forego an organized tour and take a short walk down the street from the cruise port to visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.  We sure enjoyed it!   We particularly enjoyed watching the Bluenose II come in to dock after taking a group of school children out on a morning cruise. The Bluenose II is an exact replica of the Bluenose which was a celebrated racing ship and fishing vessel. Interesting facts: The Bluenose is featured on the Canadian dime and was one of the first ships involved in the now famous America’s Cup sailing race!zz5

Hubby, lover of America’s Cup and sailing ships in general was thrilled when we got to go aboard the Bluenose II and he got to grab the wheel!

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After enjoying the Maritime Museum, we meandered our way back to the ship. The walk was less than a mile and so pleasant on a sunny day.  Here’s a pic of our ship, docked in Halifax.

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On our walk back, we noticed a fishing boat come in to a small public dock. We watched in astonishment as they pulled up this MASSIVE fish!  People say that it was a blue fin tuna, probably headed to Japan or China as sushi or shasimi for BIG bucks.

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Farewell beautiful Halifax!  The view below is looking back to the city.

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Our cruise is now leaving Canadian waters and moving south towards the USA.  The third and final cruise blog will take us to Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.  I hope you’ll stay tuned!

A Tribute to Jinx, our cat

Two weeks ago we said goodbye to our precious kitty, Jinx.  It’s hard to put into words what a sad day that was for us. Jinx was our only pet and he adopted us back in July of 2005.  He started hanging around our house and lounging on our back deck for days on end that summer, till hubby finally agreed he could stay. We took him to the vet, checked to see if he’d been microchipped (he had not), and claimed him as ours. Much later on we would find out that Jinx’s first owner was a person who lived up the street. He’d come from a multi-cat home and apparently wanted to be the only feline, not part of a pack, so he found us. I was secretly thrilled to have a kitty again. All my life I’ve had cats, so at least for me he was a very welcome addition.  Here’s one of the first photos we ever took of Jinx:

July 2005

The vet estimated his age to be about 2 years when we got him. He was young, spry, and more than a little wild at times.   Hubby was somewhat reluctant to let him in the house (claiming he was allergic), but it didn’t take long before Jinx knew just which family member he needed to win over.

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In absolutely no time at all, “Daddy” became Jinx’s favorite human, and stayed that way all his life.  Yes, “Mommy” was okay, but Daddy was special to Jinx and pretty soon Jinx became special to Daddy as well.

Jinx loved to go hunting all his life. He had a lot of fun stalking birds, mice, and even an occasional squirrel. I think the word has gone around the birds in our neighborhood – “the threat is gone”.

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We live in a forest, and while we have neighbors on either side, there are nothing but trees across the street. Jinx had a very fun life as both an outside and an inside kitty.  Here he is, wandering through the woods near our house:

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On cold, wet days Jinx loved to “hug” the heat dish. We often expected his fur to singe, but it never happened.

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He grew into a big, pretty boy.  At his heaviest we weighed around 12 pounds. Here he is, having a drink of water on the bathroom counter – forget the bowl of water next to his food, nope, he preferred drinking out of his cup.

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A few years passed and Mommy & Daddy decided to buy a motor home.  It only took a couple trips for Jinx to morph into “Jinx the RV Cat”.  He adapted beautifully to RV life and wearing a harness/leash to go exploring outside:

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We took a three month long RV trip in the winter of 2014, going from Washington state to California, across the southern USA to Florida and all the way back.  The next photo shows Jinx and Daddy looking intently into the distance…

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We were in Florida, and they had spied an armadillo!!  Jinx desperately wanted to go investigate, but needless to say, that was not allowed.

Jinx was such an easily adaptable kitty!  When Mom and Dad bought a vacation place in Palm Springs, of course Jinx came along for several months a year.  This place was not “home” though, so Jinx didn’t get the run of the neighborhood. He enjoyed checking out his environment from high places and loved to walk the walls:

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The water of the pool didn’t scare Jinx. No, he never went swimming, but he constantly wanted to drink out of the pool which we couldn’t allow because it’s saltwater. Here’s a pic of Jinx and Mommy (his 2nd favorite human):

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When Jinx was about 10, he began to lose weight. It was very gradual, and for a long time we thought he was stressed over a stray male cat in the neighborhood.  But the weight loss continued even after the stray male was long gone.  His appetite really dropped off and he became an incredibly picky eater. He also did a fair amount of regurgitating, which, contrary to popular belief is not normal for cats.  You can see by this next photo that he had definitely lost some weight:  (still cute and engaging as ever, though!! 🙂

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When he lay down, all his bones poked through.  It was so sad and so hard to see him literally wasting away.

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Jinx was diagnosed with presumed Inflammatory Bowel Disease in March of this year (2016). I say  presumed because there is no definitive test to rule it in or out.  He may also have had his IBD transform into bowel Lymphoma, which is common.  There are many, many cats – and dogs also – who suffer with and eventually die from this debilitating disease.  Unfortunately, veterinarians are not certain what causes this to happen, but it’s much like an auto-immune disease. There are plenty of theories out there…. too many carbohydrates in pet food from corn and wheat….. wheat gluten in the gravy of pet foods….. some of the “gums” like carrageenan gum in pet foods….. an allergy to a certain protein such as beef, chicken, or fish.  The vet prescribed a special pet food that Jinx flatly refused to eat after a few bites. He was also on steroids, probiotics, and antibiotics at times.  On his last vet visit, he was down to 5.5 pounds – such a huge difference from his once robust 12 pounds.

I know that Jinx had a very happy life – here in Washington where he could explore the great outdoors at will, in California where he enjoyed basking in the sun, and on the RV trips where he’d go out on his leash every day.  He loved cuddling with his Dad and sitting next to Mom on the top of the couch. He loved visiting all the neighbors (and their indoor kitties) on a regular basis, and was known and loved by all.  It will be quite a while before we can think of our special boy and not be sad…. and someday, I hope we’ll be able to open our hearts to another kitty who will love us back with everything they’ve got – just like Jinx did. We miss you, precious boy.

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Jinx the Cat  2003-2016  RIP

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite YouTube Channels

About three years ago I discovered YouTube. I used to think it was just a site where a person could upload videos to keep, but quickly I learned that if you want to find out how to do something, there’s a video for that on YouTube!  One that immediately comes to mind is when hubby wanted to get one of our desk top computers going. The video suggested that you blow a hot hair dryer on the back of the CPU and it should fire up in about 5 minutes. It sounded crazy, but hey, it worked!  I discovered YouTube when I wanted to find a new way to style my hair (back when I was growing it out).  So I guess my first real discovery was–

33kateThe Small Things Blog    Kate lives in North Carolina and used to be a hairdresser, but now is a stay-at-home mom to two young boys. Her earlier videos are great for finding new and fun ideas for hair that is shoulder length of longer.

Please click on the name of each channel to view one of my favorite videos.     Here are some more of my favorites:

22freyThe Frey Life    Mary and Peter are a young (20-something) couple living in New England. Mary has Cystic Fibrosis and their daily videos document what day to day life is like, dealing with a serious chronic illness. Love these guys and their service dog “Ollie”, a standard poodle.

44emilyEmilyNoel83   If you enjoy makeup, product reviews, and tutorials, this is IMHO the best beauty channel out there. Emily gives great advice and honest reviews. She used to be in TV news, but is now a stay-at-home mom to an almost 2 year old and has another baby on the way.

55lindThe Lindquists    This is a young Canadian family, living in Ontario. Elle is a stay-at-home mom to two little boys and her husband Dan is a veterinarian. The video I linked is the vlog of the birth of their now 2 month old baby, Cohen. I was so impressed with Elle’s determination to go natural, with a midwife. Amazing video.  Oh, just so you know, there is nothing “gross” on the video. Edited beautifully.

wynnsGone With the Wynns    Niki and Jason Wynn used to be full time RVers.  About 4 months ago, they bought a catamaran sailboat and live on it full time with their two cats, while learning to sail and navigate.  I loved watching their RV videos (they did an extended RV trip to Alaska last summer that was super interesting), and wondered if I could “get into” their new sailboat life. Yup. I’m in.

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Jeremy Ng    This talented young man plays the most beautiful piano music – totally relaxing and what a pleasure to not only listen to the music, but to be able to actually watch him play.  Love it!

nomadicNomadic Fanatic    Eric and his cat Jax live in a Class “C” motorhome and travel all over the USA. Eric is from Washington State (like me!) and is currently heading east towards Maine. His videos are extremely well edited and I love the views from his quadcopter/drone!

nikkiAt Home With Nikki    If you want a beautiful, organized, and clean home, just watch Nikki for inspiration. I love her style!

11dominiqueDominique Sachse     Dominique is a news anchor in Houston and has a great YouTube channel too. She does hair tutorials, as well as beauty and fashion tips. She’s so pleasant and professional, I can’t help but like her.

adamwooThe Daily Woo    Have you ever heard of “Adam the Woo”?  Well I hadn’t either, until recently. He’s a 41 year old guy who travels around in his van and explores the world around him with his video camera and his drone. He’s different and he’s fun.

leslieLipgloss Leslie    Leslie lives with her hubby and kitty in Dallas. She loves makeup and is just the sweetest thing ever. Sometimes she chooses colors that are pretty edgy, but she always stays her sweet self. She offers fun reviews of both drugstore and high end makeup and skincare products, plus informative “Get Ready With Me” videos, too.

So, there you have it, a list of my favorite YouTubers. It’s kind of an eclectic group, and I hope you’ll enjoy checking some of them out 🙂

Mid-year update on New Year Resolutions

We’ve made it through half of 2016 already! Amazing how fast time flies by.  I made three “resolutions” this year and here’s how I’m doing so far:

Numero Uno: Decluttering my home.  Guys, I have done amazing on this!  We have donated many, many big bags of generalized stuff to charity.  I started in my kitchen and literally went through every single cupboard, cabinet, and drawer.  I’ve cleared out doubles of things I didn’t need, and oodles of items that I never used. My kitchen is now SO much better organized – and that makes me really happy. I went through the pantry from top to bottom and yes, I regretfully say I had to toss some items out.  With things better organized, I now know exactly what I have and where it is, so hopefully my days of throwing stuff out is over.  Then I moved on to the bedroom, going through my bedside table, dressers, and the closet. I parted with SO MUCH stuff that is no longer loved or useful. I cleaned out and organized under the bathroom sinks and all the cupboards and drawers in both the bathrooms.  I was UNABLE to clear out stuff belonging to my husband…. well, I could have, but that would be putting the marriage in jeopardy (I wanted to, SO badly, I’ll admit).  Hubby’s mantra continues to be: “I need everything I have”.  Obviously I strongly disagree, but… what can I do?  So, this leaves the third bedroom/office.  I am presently in the throes of working on this massive project and hope to have it in great order by the end of August.

Numero dos: Eat healthier foods.  Mixed results on this one.  I had hoped to be making my own fermentations by now, but I haven’t done it.  I AM still making my own milk kefir and not only is it delicious, it’s also full of wonderful probiotics.  When we spent two months at the Palm Springs place, I feel as though we didn’t do very well on general healthy eating.  We seem to go out to eat more down there and attend more social events.  Poor excuse, I know.  I do love this time of year when we’re getting oodles of wonderful fresh veggies which I include in our menu daily 🙂 Bottom line: I need to do better.

Numero Tres:  Compute less and read more.   Up until the past two weeks, I have done great at this I’m happy to report!  I have already read more books this year, that in all of last year (25 so far!).  Then, two weeks ago I discovered an addictive TV show (which I’m watching on the computer) called “The Great British Bake Off”.  I can’t stop watching!!  I’m on season 3 of 5 so far.  I will admit that not only is it entertaining, I honestly have learned some interesting things watching it as well.  I mean – who knew what “choux” pastry is (pronounced “shoe”)?  I didn’t, but now I do!!!  And a myriad of other interesting things too.  Hey, it’s almost like reading a “how to bake” book!  At least it’s educational. 🙂   On the book scene, I am presently in the process of reading 4 books, and loving them all.  It’s a little nutty to have four books going at once, but I guess it’s how I roll – at times. Last week I got to page 120 of a library book, thinking up to that point that it was pretty good, and then it went downhill FAST.  Some folks force themselves to finish every book they start, but not me.  That one went back to the library, pronto!  Too many good books, too little time!

So, there’s the mid-year update on my resolutions.  There is definitely still work that needs to be done and I will forge ahead!!

My Life as a Neonatal Nurse Part One

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Three years ago, I retired from my life-long career of nursing. I spent around 35 years working in various hospitals and always with infants.  Oh, there were the occasional times when I was “floated” to different areas within the hospital where I struggled to be the med nurse on the surgical ward or the “active listener” in the Psych department. I never felt comfortable with adult patients. My heart, my mind, and my expertise were always with the babies.  In later years, hospitals quit floating nurses from specialty units out to general medical floors.  I guess they realized that after so long working with only infants, we were literally “winging it” with the adults, and it just wasn’t smart or safe.

Before I actually retired, many of my co-workers would tell me, “you’re gonna miss the babies!” I’m still waiting for that to happen.  What I do miss are my nursing colleagues, and members of the ancillary staff too. Nursing in a hospital is so very much a “team sport” and I truly enjoyed getting to know everyone that was part of our team.  I don’t miss getting up at 4:15 am, the 88 mile drive in to the hospital, the long 12++ hour days, or working nights, weekends, and holidays. I DO miss the paycheck. I do miss my friends. I do miss the rare afternoon at work where I wasn’t running my tail off and could actually sit down and just hold and rock one of my tiny patients.  On those days I remember thinking, “they actually pay me to do this”. Okay, so maybe I do miss those babies, a little 🙂

My career spanned a period of time when LOTS of changes and discoveries were made in how we treated premature infants. Believe it or not, there was no oximetery back in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  We had to draw so many blood gasses to determine lung function and ventilator settings that every few days we’d need to transfuse the baby to replace what we’d taken. There were no surfactants and nobody used CPAP, either – at least at the beginning of my career. We had many ventilator dependent patients that were extremely difficult to wean off — and how many little ones ended up with severe vision problems because we couldn’t keep a super close eye on their oxygen saturation?  Seemed like we did lots more exchange transfusions (for jaundice or high bilirubin problems), and we were taught to always be attuned to a baby who began to run a low-grade fever, or suddenly was cold and couldn’t seem to warm up. Yes, this was in the days prior to all pregnant moms being tested prenatally for Group B Strep – a killer bacteria that is extremely dangerous for newborns.   All this reminds me of one of the many significant events of my nursing life.

It was about 1980. Could have been ’79 but it doesn’t matter either way. It was a LONG time ago. I worked evening shift back then, 3 – 11 pm.  My own two boys were really little – just 2 & 3, so I stayed home with them till about 2:30 pm when it was time to leave for work. Then my parents would come stay until hubby got home about 5:30 in the evening.  I was happy to work just three days a week, and on those days, I literally felt like I “worked” from morning to night. I’d be busy all day, taking care of the toddlers, doing your normal household chores, and I usually tried to have something ready for the family dinner when I wasn’t there.  Some days I’d go to work and start my shift already feeling totally exhausted.  I enjoyed my co-workers so much, even back then.  One of the other nurses was very pregnant with her third child.  “Janie” worked nearly right up to her due date, and seemed so full of energy – more than I had, that’s for sure. She was so good with parents and doctors, and of course with the babies.  Back then, in our rather small-town hospital, we had a large traditional newborn nursery and a small (3-4 bed) Special Care Nursery. We switched off working in both areas.  I loved the experience of working with normal newborns.  There was no “rooming in” in those days, so we “newborn nurses” walked literally miles every shift, carrying each baby to mommy’s room several times in an 8 hour period, and then back to pick baby up for a return trip to the nursery. Most evenings were very busy, depending of course on what the census was.  In those days, mom’s with normal vaginal births normally stayed in the hospital for 3 nights.  C-section moms were most often hospitalized for 5 nights.

My work day always began in the locker room back then. It was there that we had to change from our “dirty street clothes” into hospital provided scrubs prior to our shift. Everyone was talking about how our co-worker Janie had had her baby the day before. We were tittering on about how it was a girl and how big she was – at that time, prenatal ultrasounds were pretty much unheard of. Let me amend that.  Nobody ever got an ultrasound back then. It just wasn’t done, so we were all excited to learn it was a girl.  Janie now had a boy and two girls. Of course we were just thrilled for her. That evening, during my shift, one of the other nurses noticed that Janie’s baby had a bit of a temperature elevation. Since we were pretty cautious about that, we called the pediatrician to let him know.  Yes, nearly ALL the Peds were men back then. In an abundance of caution, the doc, who knew all of us nurses well, decided to come in and have a look at Janie’s newborn daughter. He decided just to be safe, he’d draw a CBC & blood culture (nurses were never allowed to draw blood cultures back then – at least where I worked).  None of the results were back before it was time for the evening shift to head home.  The next day upon arriving at the hospital, there was an entirely different aura.  Janie’s baby had taken a turn for the worse and was now in our small Special Care Nursery, on a ventilator with IV antibiotics going. She almost had a gray cast to her skin, she looked so unwell. It was so sad and difficult to see a baby belonging to one of our own – so sick,  and Janie, clearly very frightened as well.  Baby’s diagnosis came early in the shift. Overwhelming Group B Strep Sepsis.

Honestly, there couldn’t have been a worse diagnosis.  The neonatologist had already put little “Anna” on IV antibiotics, but it seemed like they weren’t helping.  Janie pretty much didn’t leave the Special Care Nursery at all, understandably wanting to be at her baby’s side.  Family members were in and out constantly. Still, little Anna didn’t seem to be responding to treatment.  The next day, with baby Anna getting worse instead of better, our neonatologist decided (with parental permission) to try a treatment that is normally NOT associated with Group B Strep.  Within a few hours, we were set up and doing a Double Exchange Transfusion. This entails slowly and carefully removing a few milliliters of blood from the baby, and then replacing it with new donor blood. The process can take several hours.  It was clearly and admittedly a last ditch effort to rid this baby’s body of the streptococcal bacteria.   I wish I had a wonderful, miraculous ending I could share with you, but I don’t. Janie’s baby Anna died that day. We tried everything we could to save this infant, both conventional and unconventional treatments, but nothing was effective. Words can’t describe how sad we all felt for Janie and her family.  Several months later, Janie did return to work and continued to be a wonderful, well respected nurse.

Nowadays, in the USA, all pregnant women in the care of gynecologists get a test for GBS at about 37 weeks gestation.  If it’s positive, they are treated with IV antibiotics when labor begins. This is a highly effective treatment for the prevention of transmission from mother to baby. I only wish we would have had this insight back in 1980 when Janie was expecting Anna.   On a similar note, I have very recently read online that routine prenatal GBS testing is the standard not only here in the US, but also in France, Germany, Spain, and Canada.  It is NOT available through the National Health Service in the UK. Apparently the test costs 11 pounds, and the government is choosing not to provide this as part of routine prenatal care. They are also concerned about the cost of antibiotics, should a mom test positive.  Here’s an interesting article on the subject: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/government-leave-700000-mothers-untested-6966169   I usually try to stay apolitical on my blog, but MAYBE the recent British exit from the EU will allow Great Britain to spend some “new found” revenue on their own citizens — it seems to me that GBS testing on all pregnant women would be an excellent and prudent use of tax money.

I have lots of memories about actual events that happened during my career as a neonatal nurse. I will never share real names to protect privacy.  Please be on the lookout for the next installment in “My Life as a Neonatal Nurse” in a few weeks!