Name Your Poison!

Happy last days of October, friends! Halloween is upon us. Scary how fast a year goes–yes?

Nic 1st Halloween (Elvis) 1997 Older Son as Elvis (first Halloween 1996)

Nic n Kevin Halloween 2000 “Da boys” (Halloween 2000)

Addictions.

Some are not the kind one makes public knowledge.

Some are illegal and, in the long haul, can impact quality of life or worse, life itself.

That’s serious stuff. (If you believe yourself to have that kind, please, seek help.)

BTW, we all have them. (Does blogging count? This is my 361st post! :D)

Disclaimer: By choosing this topic, I am by no means making light of the types of addictions that need true attention, twelve-step program(s) or other type of intervention(s).

Truth is, we’re all hooked on something. Try wrestling my cup of coffee—half-caffed as it may be—from my eager li’l hands every morning. My brew-baby is set to go on timer; happiness is hearing the triple-beep that tells me java is ready before I make my way down the stairs daily. Then there is tennis. Makes me crazy. I always lose—and frequently wind up MAD and FRUSTRATED on the court, yet I keep going back. I can’t not watch, and I can’t not play.

(Check out my favorite tennis image of the week.  Diehard fans know what preceded this, too. ;) Please try to remember to come back, lol.)

Back to addictions. Years ago I attended a New Year’s Eve party and stayed overnight. Until that night, I had heard the term, but never internalized ‘chain smoking.’ I watched a guy pull a cigarette out of the pack just in time to light it with the end of the one hanging from his mouth. He spent the next five hours doing that over and over, to the tune of five packs or more. (At some point, I went to sleep. Chances are, he lit the next cigarette.)

That’s how I feel when I’m watching my go-to channel, USA. (Come on, ‘Characters Welcome’ is the ultimate writer’s by-line! ;) ) At least twice a week, Law & Order SVU and NCIS run marathon-style, often until the late hours. (That’s when Modern Family kicks in, 2-4-episode line-ups.)

TV powers-that-be did away with commercials between the end of one show and the beginning of the next for a reason, people. That’s one way they get your eyeballs on the show that’s new to the scene. And for an SVU/NCIS junkie like me, that’s all it takes to get roped into that next episode—even if I have watched it twelve times. As soon as those credits roll, you’ll hear me begging hubby for the remote. “Quick! Go to black before I’m sucked into the next one!”

So what’s your poison?

Here’s to a happy and safe Halloween to all who celebrate. Residents of the USA, don’t forget to turn back your clocks.

Have a great weekend,

Joanna

How Far Will You Go To Impose Order–On Others?

It’s been a busy past two weeks, folks. Between being down with a nasty cold and (good) family stuff going on, last week got away from me. Hope all is well with all of you!

I love when my blogger-pals’ posts spur me toward a post of my own. (I’ve been having a run of that lately. Thanks, friends!) Last week, Stacey Wilk zapped me into action with one of her most delightful write-ups yet. Those who crave order, check it out. You might find a kindred spirit at Stacey’s stop!

Sounds like order makes Stacey’s heart sing. I commented that in my day-gig, we call that one form of self-regulation. That’s a term from ‘sensory integration’, defined as a “calm-alert state that is optimal for learning.” Order makes my heart sing; it helps me self-regulate. Did I mention orderly spaces tend to look good in a calming and soothing sort of way? A friend who is into organizing gave me a term that makes complete sense to me: visual peace.

I totally get that lining things up a certain way in a cabinet creates order and ease of finding things, as well as making it easier to put things away. In my kitchen, most things have a place, but very few items have to be exactly in one spot for the big picture to work. A few things work best lined up a particular way. (My bowls and my pots have to be nested or they won’t fit). My kitchen was remodeled about 5 years ago. Almost everything is still in pretty much the same place I assigned it b/c it works. And unless someone else (Ahem!) doesn’t put things in the designated spot, I never have a problem finding things.

Nabby n Kitty under the counter 10-2014 My girls, just hanging under the kitchen counter. 

So, the question was, how far will you go to impose your need for order on others—outside your house?

Y’all know I work in a school setting. At the school where I work most days, I’m lucky enough to have two large metal closets in the back of auditorium to keep games, papers, etc. (In other schools I have to drag the Barney bag and be grateful to use the lunchroom, a table in the library or a small office space.)

Anyhow, every year these closets wind up a tad messy by the end of the school year. B/c of issues the year before, I never got to put them back in order when the summer program ended (in 2013). That meant the closets started out pretty messy for 2013-14 and only got worse. By the end of the 2014 summer program, those closets were a disaster, especially after SIX people spent three weeks pulling stuff out and stuffing it back. (Two of those folks don’t put foot in my school during the school year, so they had no sense of how things fit together in there.)

One work friend and I spent over FIVE hours cleaning those war zones at the end of this year’s summer program. I decided (threatened, promised—whatever–at the possible cost of my job-buds still liking me) that I’d take pictures of the finished product, blow them up, laminate and hang them in the closets, shelf by shelf. (For once I followed through.)

school closet top shelf (See the chaos under the top shelf? That’s just a hint of what the other NINE shelves had become. Just sayin’.)

One of my co-workers teased me for being so uptight about my desire for order. It was all in good fun, and she’s been very respectful with putting stuff away as per the photos. And there IS a practical reason for order: Putting stuff away at the end of the day goes a whole lot faster when there is “a place for everything and everything in its place.”

school closet (2) Say what you want, but at least there is some kind of reference for insuring all this stuff fits at the end of the day. I have to load up a cart at least twice weekly b/c I don’t have a real ‘home’ at school.  

BTW, we’re six weeks into the school year, and the closets are still looking good.

So…I now pose this question to you:

What will YOU do to insure order either in or outside your home?

Enjoy your day, folks,

Joanna

The Cigarette Trick

Hi all! One more fun story—not a patient/work-related one, I promise. Ironically enough, though, the person involved was studying to be a nurse at the time.

Tess at How the Cookie Crumbles* gets credit for reminding me of this one. After so kindly reading my September 14 post about memorable (good) moments between me and my former patients, she left a hysterical comment, shared with her by her doctor:

“A lady had an ear infection so the doctor prescribed ‘whatever’ (pills). On her return visit he asked how her infection was. Not good. Seems instead of taking the pills by mouth, she stuck them in her ear.”

Many years ago, one of my cousins—then 24 years old—attended a party with Hubby and me.

She and Hubby both smoked. Hubby decided to be his goofball self and showed her a trick I’d witnessed many times: he took a puff on the sly, pretend to draw on the lit cigarette stuck in his ear then blow the smoke out of his mouth.

About an hour later, I spotted her sitting in alone in the yard, cigarette sticking out of her ear and doing her damndest to replicate Hubby’s trick. Who woulda thunk that a nursing student—who should have passed an anatomy course or two, lol—would have taken him seriously? To this day I haven’t figured that one out.

Oh the memories…the golden years, the good ol’ days. We’re living them folks.

*If you get a chance, check out Tess’s blog. She turned a recent visit to China into an awesome virtual visit to the Orient for her readers and followers!

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Joanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even I Lose It Here and There

Happy Monday all! Here’s to hoping you’re feeling refreshed after the weekend. With any luck, yours was extended, as was mine due to Rosh Hashanah.

Last week, fellow author and blogger-friend Carrie Rubin inspired me to share a few of the memorable moments from my days working with grown-up inpatient physical rehabilitation crowd. That spurred recall of my least shining moment—IMHO anyway. Just for fun, I figured I’d throw that one up too.

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License: CC0 Public Domain / FAQ. Free for commercial use / No attribution required.

My hospital-based career started in inpatient rehab. About three years in I took a position in a facility nearby, where I worked with outpatients and those requiring acute care. Both places brought me a fair share of absolutely wonderful folks. I’m sure many of them are long gone, but they remain a part of me, as each truly touched my heart with his/her spirit and ability to face the rough challenges life dealt. I was—and am—blessed to have been a part of their journey. It’s quite humbling to think about.

Humbled: That’s what I was—and remain—to this day about this episode. Let’s toss in chagrined, as I’m probably turning red-faced as I write this.

We’ll refer to this gentleman as Joe Doe. I originally met Joe as a patient at my first facility; he too had lost part of his leg to diabetes. On the surface he was nice enough, but over time his passive-aggressive tendencies came through. (Please be assured I’m not judging him, nor have I ever lived his health situation. He was a repeat-patient, too, which gave us a history with him. In the long haul, he didn’t make it easy to work with him, nor was did he do all that much to help himself.)

Joe wound up an inpatient at my second hospital. During one of our sessions he asked to use the bathroom. Part of occupational therapy involves helping folks learn to transfer from one surface to another, so this presented a perfect opportunity to incorporate that part of his treatment.

I wheeled him to the accessible patient bathroom in our department and prepped the wheelchair and him for the transfer. Joe was definitely weaker than the last time we’d worked together. He didn’t have his prosthetic leg on either. That meant I had to bear the bulk of his weight while he stood on his remaining leg.

We had a decent enough rapport, so I felt comfortable enough chatting with him the way I always had. I also had him just about up and onto the toilet when he stopped short and gave up helping me with the transfer. (That probably meant I almost dropped him, and I’m not 100% sure he didn’t start yelling at me.)

I was frustrated, knowing the history we had with him. “Joe! You were almost there! Why did you stop like that?” (I wasn’t berating him. Guess I was venting my frustration at him not trusting me enough to help him, especially since I’d transferred him before.)

His smile dropped and his face darkened. “Boy, you’re nasty.”

I’m pretty sure I answered him when I shouldn’t have. We ended up in an argument over me trying to help him and him not doing his part. He most likely got under my skin, which is what the passive-aggressive crowd is wont to do. My last words during that exchange: “It’s a shame how much insurance money is being wasted!”

Joe didn’t have time to answer. Guess it got loud in that bathroom and our voices carried. The door flew open. My good friend/coworker grabbed me by the arm and hauled me out of there fast.

Good thing she took over from there.

Have you ever totally lost it at the worksite? If so, what happened? Don’t worry, no one on the World Wide Web will tell!

Enjoy the week, folks.

Be well,

Joanna

 

 

 

 

 

The Darndest Things…

that patients say!

Happy Rosh Hashanah to those who celebrate. I realize I’m a bit behind my typical posting schedule, but am blessed with this rainy day to catch up. Seems appropo, too, as I am feeling a tad under the weather. (Go figure: Younger Son, who at times appears to have inspired the refrain lyric to Magic’s hit song RUDE apologized–sincerely–for infecting me with his cold.)

Give credit where credit is due: Thanks to author, fellow blogger and online friend Carrie Rubin for inspiring today’s post. :) Her next-to-last write-up cited some real-life, colorful moments from her alter-ego’s medical moments. She got me thinking about a few of mine.

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License: CC0 Public Domain / FAQFree for commercial use / No attribution required.

Y’all know I’m an occupational therapist by day. These days, I work strictly with elementary-aged children in a school setting. Some of the situations I’ve come across—and a lot of what the kids say—could double up as fodder for post after post. I’ll spare you though, and stick to two short interchanges from my days back when I worked with the adult crowd in an inpatient rehab setting. (I’m sure my back has no problem with it, but sometimes I miss my grown ups.)

One of my first patients was a very quiet gentleman I’ll refer to as George. (Not his real name.) George’s leg had been amputated below the knee. He was also visually impaired, most likely from the long-term effects of diabetes.

I’m not sure if it was his nature or his situation that kept our verbal exchanges very simple. He usually appeared reserved, somber and/or sad, so I’d try to bring a little humor into our half-hour. No matter what I said, though, George’s responses were typically single word utterances.

One afternoon, George and I were doing our PM session exercises and/or activities. True to form, he answered my chatter with his uni-word responses. “Yep”  and “Nope” made up most of the conversation at his end.

“You know, George, that’s some vocabulary you have there.”

Bet he was wishing I’d zip it or subject some other poor soul to my yap. Serious as all get-out he strung together this—probably his first full sentence since his admission.“I don’t waste words.”

Now there was an answer. “I guess not,” was my best rejoinder.

The session continued—even more quietly than before—and I started thinking about what George said. I went from giggling at how seriously he said it to outright laughing, harder and harder the more his words played in my head.

He asked me what was so funny, and even seemed a bit miffed. I must have said something back, because he wound up laughing too.

That moment changed the dynamic of all our subsequent sessions. I’d cover his eyes whenever the transporters brought him. He’d say my name every time, always with a smile and a laugh. That carried over even when they brought him to our prosthetic clinic as an outpatient.

teddy-242851_1280

License: CC0 Public Domain / FAQ. Free for commercial use / No attribution required.

The most off-beat comment/compliment I received on duty came from a British man in his late 60s or early 70s. He had sustained a stroke that impacted the left side of his body. (Note: As a form of head trauma a stroke can often leave the patient with lessened inhibitions. Something tells me this man might have been a touch disinhibited all along.)

Anyway, this lovely gentleman and I were doing the therapy thing in the rehab gym. Propped against a wall nearby was a woman’s full above-the-knee prosthetic leg—not to be confused with the temporary pylon amputees use when they’re first learning to walk.

Having been blessed with legs that serve function far more than aesthetics, I commented on how shapely the female prosthetic was.

Without a second’s hesitation, my patient answered in his charming accent. “I’m sure your leg is far more lovely, especially with a high heel on it.”

Aside: I suppose this particular man’s charms were far reaching. I learned the lady for whom the leg was made wound up in a romantic alliance with my patient. So how is that for a happy ending?

Your turn! Please take a moment and share a workplace story or two of yours—or any other memorable moment that still makes you smile.

Stay tuned. Next week I’ll share about the absolute worst—and only time—I lost my cool and decorum with a patient. (Good thing the only person within earshot was a coworker and good friend.)

As always, thank you for your time, likes and comments—always greatly appreciated!

Have a great week,

Joanna

 

 

 

 

Tis the Season! (For a Jersey Tomato Recipe ;)

Happy Monday, friends. I know, it’s the first day of the work week for many of us—me too—and it’s just easier to grumble. Given the current horror and/or terror show going on in too many parts of the world, I choose to be grateful for my ‘ordinary world’. (That would be ‘writer talk’ for a character’s starting place in any story: his/her normal, every day status quo, before something big happens to rock the boat and change that world forever.)

Looking forward to watching the final match of the US Open Tennis Championships later today. Sorry to not be seeing Roger Federer or Novak Djokavic there, but the tennis guards appear to be changing, one emerging champion at a time. We shall see.

School is underway. Spent this past weekend scrambling to get some cleaning done, school supplies purchased for kids, etc. I’m also working hard at keeping bigger projects manageable by working on them a little at a time.

Somehow, those smaller efforts do add up. I tend to make lists that are far too long anyway. They often end up missing, but (usually) I find them buried in a paper pile. More often than not, a lot of the items can be crossed off b/c I’ve gotten them done, frequently in bits and pieces. (It all counts, right?)

Anyway, four paragraphs later, here’s a super-easy salad recipe for those of us who LOVE summer fare. Tis the season for tomatoes—Hubby always grows a slew of them—so here’s a way to use them up.

20140827_083711(0) Just a sampling of Hubby’s garden fare. There are many more tomatoes coming, and the brussels are about to sprout.

You’ll need: tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, hummus, pesto, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and sea salt. (BTW, the latter two ingredients are optional, but they really bring the flavors together.

Cut tomatoes and cucumbers into chunks, any size you like, and put in serving bowl. (You can remove seeds. I am too lazy to do so.)

Sprinkle feta cheese on. I use about a tablespoon or two for two medium tomatoes and one medium-sized (?) cucumber.

Add a tablespoon or so of hummus and/or pesto.

Stir.

(Optional) Drizzle with EVOO.

(Optional) Salt to taste with freshly ground sea salt.

tomato and cucumber salad The feta, pesto and hummus kind of blend together into a creamy dressing. (The EVOO and sea salt just bring it all together and make it decadent.) This fast, fresh, vegetarian combo is pretty danged healthy. It functions easily as a side or a main meal. If you need protein, like I do, add grilled chicken or tuna. (It’s also a ‘go-to’ dish almost daily until the tomatoes slow down. Trust me, we can only give away so many ‘Jersey tomatoes.’ Lots of folks in our areas grow them. 

So what is your go-to, summer veggie dish? Do you have a veggie garden? Have you been blessed fare made with Jersey tomatoes?

Have a wonderful day and week everyone!

Joanna

 

The Comeback Kid: Asbury Park, NJ

Yep, summer has wound down to its unofficial close. (Feeling sad.) It’s been a really nice one, weather-wise for sure, and in other ways). BTW, it’s not just the back-to-school part that impacts me—it’s the readjusting to the schedule, bringing work home again and shorter days. (And I hate Eastern Standard Time. Just sayin’.)

Since it’s Labor Day, I figured a post about the beach would be appropriate. (And Tess’ posts about her recent visit to China might have inspired me a bit too. Hi Tess!)

Finally made it to recently refurbished Asbury Park last week. The revitalization process of this one-time East Coast resort is still in progress. Revitalization on many levels got underway in 2002.

Quick fact: At the onset of the previous century, Asbury Park’s only competitor in the beach resort department was Atlantic City.

From Wikipedia:

Quick fact: ~600,000 folks vacationed there during the annual “summer session.”

Quick fact: Musicians Bruce Springsteen and actor Danny DeVito hail from Asbury Park.

Quick fact: The very cool Stone Pony venue is opposite the boards on Ocean Avenue. Bruce Springsteen—with his E-Street band, featuring the awesome (but late) saxophonist Clarence Clemons—rocked that watering hole on many an occasion.

Find more detailed history on the origins and development of Asbury Park here. (It’s pretty cool.) The opening of the Garden State Parkway led to fewer folks needing to take a train to the beach. Legalization of gambling in Atlantic City took a lot of the traffic too—at least, that’s what Hubby says—and the addition of Sixx Flags Great Adventure Theme Park didn’t help the Asbury Park cause either.

My history with Asbury Park:

I’ve supposedly been there as a kid. I’d be lying if I said I remembered.

When my stepsons were little boys, Hubby and I did a day trip there. Honestly and sadly, it was already a ‘welfare’ and ‘ghost’ town. The Casino walkway  linked Asbury Park to Ocean Grove (“God’s square mile at the Jersey shore” and still-dry town). The cleanliness of Ocean Grove and the nice maintenance of its many Victorian mansion/beds-and-breakfast structures contrasted starkly with the littered beach and abandoned boardwalk on the other side. In the Casino, however, at least one shop remained open, but one had to wonder how long that lingering business could last. (I’m sure it didn’t.)

Asbury Park Casino

The Casino–or its skeleton–with some kind of construction work evident inside. The walkway links Asbury Park with Ocean Grove, which borders AP on its south side. The man in the center was playing a guitar and singing. The acoustics were okay.  (Photo by Hubby.)

The other day Hubby and I were looking for a day trip. I wanted to go to the  shore, but wasn’t looking to spend a day on the beach. Due to riptides and a death at nearby Sandy Hook, bathing was highly restricted anyway. (Not that the ocean has seen me in it during the past 20 years or so, but Hubby likes to dive in here and there.)

Inside the Casino walkway

Inside the Casino walkway –photo by Hubby. 

Hubby suggested Asbury Park. Since I hadn’t been near it since my fifth wedding anniversary (that would have been April 29, 2000), I jumped at the idea. I love a place that offers something new I can learn. Yes, I’m nerdy like that.

Asbury Park Casino Mural

How awesome is this mural lining the Casino walkway? The lady might have been painted 5-6 years ago. A I found it quite impressive.

The entire scene—including the ride—changes flavor frequently. One goes from the parkway to the state highway to the main drag, which isn’t necessarily the prettiest of places.

Ocean Avenue, however, has been cleaned up. (So has the beach, beautifully so, compared to how it looked the last time I went.) Several of the original buildings and hotels have been restored, or restoration is in progress.

Asbury Park beachfront

I took this photo from the north side of the restaurant overlooking the beach. Nothing relaxes me more than sitting on or near the beach when the PM breezes come in off the ocean.

There’s a retro-feel to the place, with a few typical beach-style shops and places to eat on the boards, as well as a mini-mall of sorts at the restored convention center.  (It reminded me of the North Wildwood boardwalk, which is much calmer and far less attraction-oriented than the Wildwood boards.)

Restaurants that are open to the water—with sheltered dining available should the weather dictate—are on opposite outside walls of the mall. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting on the north end, at a wooden table made from an industrial electrical wire spool, sipping from Hubby’s drink while overlooking the Atlantic.

View the convention center and theater and its outdoor seating area.

View the inside the convention center, aka, the arcade.

View Tillie, the (creepy) face (IMHO) of the Jersey Shore. Not sure if Tillie is a he or a she, but that face was painted on opposite sides of the demolished Palace Amusements building. (Tillie has been repainted onto the Wonder Bar, as a tribute to Palace Amusements. )

Asbury Park wasn’t terribly crowded. Granted, it was a Thursday. Hubby made some good points about why the area isn’t the best for the comeback the city hopes to make.

Asbury Park boardwalk

The boardwalk, taken from the Casino, which faces the north side. Think the guy on the bike–with the six-pack–posed?

(1) There are no amusements (i.e., rides or stands)—on the boards or in the immediate area—at present. (BTW, the original carousel was sold and currently resides somewhere in Myrtle Beach.) A sprinkler park, mini-golf and a store that offers crafts-for-a-cost (i.e., sand art, pottery, etc) seem to be the most entertainment for parents with younger children.

(2) Asbury Park is right on the coast. It is not a peninsula. No bay. (No striking sunset over the water, either.) No inlet. No boat traffic. No marina. That also limits chartered boating and fishing activities, I’m sure. (Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights, Long Beach Island, the Wildwoods, Cape May and other more frequented shore areas are peninsulas.)

Asbury Park carousel housing

Carousel’s housing. Although empty, it has been refurbished and occasionally used by theater group(s). Note: When Hubby and I brought my stepsons here, this structure had been turned into an indoor skateboarding park. Planks everywhere and a kid charging $8/person to use it. Innovative, but  creepy to hear a thunder-like sound coming from inside there in a relative ghost town.

On the plus side, Asbury Park is RIFE with history and nostalgia invoked  because of the preservation of its many original structures and images. One can easily imagine what it was. With a little effort and some amusements, I believe it can prosper, especially with local traffic. (I heard its downtown district is getting a shot in the arm too. That can only help.) It’s a place where I enjoyed a few hours. I definitely might not mind spending a day, or even a weekend at one of the restored hotels. Chances are, I’d wind up writing about it some more.

Asbury Park heating plant

The heating plant, designed to provide heat for winter activities at the resort’s Casino and Carousel, assuming I read the articles correctly. These were designed by the same team who designed NYC’s Grand Central Station.

Sorry I got a little long-winded, but thank you for indulging me. As someone who has some trouble letting go, I love the preservation of times past.

Have a great week,

Joanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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