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

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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

 

Letting Go: They’re Growing Up (Part 1)

Letting ‘Em Go: They’re Growing Up—Part 1

Since I’m still developing the posts I had hoped to get to this week—based on two written by Kristen Lamb at her awesome blog—I’ll allow myself to get sidetracked a bit. Hope you get something out of the next two weeks.

Really loving and relating to fellow blogger and fiction author Stacey Wilkes’ Life Lessons of a Mom posts. One of her most recent touched on her self-imposed role as overprotective mother (a.k.a. chaperone) on her 8th grade daughter’s upcoming trip to Washington, DC.

Stacey and I are both Italian mammas. My mom is off-the-boat, and her family of origin is one of the most loving crowds one could get to know. Unfortunately, anxiety—and hence the need to control their world—runs rampant. (I’m blessed enough to take after my dad’s side. Counseling in my younger days helped too—a lot.)

Not sure how much of this stuff is in-bred, lol. I consider myself a pretty laid-back parent—not to be confused with permissive. I work very hard at giving my kids their space while hovering near enough in the vicinity to be ‘hands-on’ if/when needed (or wanted).

Letting go when it comes to ‘big things’ is another story. Not saying I don’t, but that deep-seated Italian (?) anxiety, upbringing—whatever you want to call it—shows up. Every time Older Son (in particular) wants to do that next thing my mom would have NEVER allowed, I turn into a sobbing fool.

One quick example: In 7th grade, Older Son won a raffled snowboard. Of course I didn’t allow him to attend the ski club’s day trip that year! The thought of a 14-year-old on the slopes with who-knew-what-kind-of-supervision (if any) freaked me out. The next year, the moderator of the club begged me to let him go. She called, left me her cell number, etc. I finally acquiesced. (Hubby might have taken him to a local ski resort in the meantime, so we had a sense of what the kid was like up there in the fine, cold powdery stuff.)

Trip day arrived (a Saturday). Dropped the kid off at the bus in the winter-dark at 6:30 AM and waited a while. Since I was the only parent fool enough to hang out in the parking lot, I decided to go home and save Older Son the embarrassment.

Sat outside my house and sobbed like a fool. Every generation of Italian ladies that came before me channeled themselves through me that morning. Settled for texting Older Son at intervals throughout the day. Thank goodness the boy is kind enough to return his ma’s messages.

We’ll discuss the day said kid got the dreaded DL another time.

So: How do you let go? Are you naturally good at it, or is it a practiced skill? Are you an “Italian” mamma?

Have a great week, folks!

Joanna

Mothers, Jeans and Self-Esteem

Welcome to another week, folks, and a new theme. Always a pleasure to be here and share with you! Thanks so much for stopping in 🙂

mothers day flowers 2014   Mother’s Day Flowers from all my men–I’m too short to get a good image if vase is on table, lol.

Joanna n baby boys  I’m thinking my boys were one and three (?) in this image. Now the big one is the little one, and the little one is the big one. Where did the time go?

Joanna n Niconus 05-11-2014  Older son and his ma on Mother’s Day–the other guy goes camera shy. 

joanna n hubby Mothers Day 2014   Hubby and me on  Mother’s Day :). Now why didn’t I insist on a photo with both my boys????

So last week I shared about jeans, finding that elusive, “perfect-fitting” pair (I’m sure I’ll look for a loooong time, lol) and some encouraging news on that topic via Charlotte Hilton Anderson’s blog, The Great Fitness Experiment. (Among the reasons I’ve always liked Jennifer Lopez too. In many ways, she put those of us whose back ends like to uh…hang out more than others on the map. She also very kindly helped designed a line of  jeans made to fit said folks. Thanks, J-Lo! )

Rather than drag y’all through a longer-winded post than usual last time, I figured I’d pick up with a related topic today. (I promise, people, I’m working on keeping these shorter. )

Much as I love jeans, I hate shopping for them. (I’m to the point where I’m NEVER in the mood to shop for anything—eh, maybe shoes every once in a while. I always seem to gravitate toward the same colors and styles anyway. Seriously, how many red jackets or purses can one person have?)

A couple of years ago, I was killing some time on a Saturday morning. Strolled into the local TJ Maxx and wandered over to the jeans rack. I wound up trying a tan pair of skinnies just for the heck of it, in a brand that tends to fit me better than others.

Danged pair actually fit okay, even in the trouble spots. Long story short, I didn’t like them enough to buy them. I did, however, feel encouraged b/c a pair of “skinnies” almost fit well enough to be a choice.

Met up with my mom later that day. Feeling good, I told her about the jeans. Her automatic (paraphrased) response? The jeans fit because they weren’t cut right and/or had stretched.

No way on the planet—in her brain—I could have lost a pound or two, or have walked and exercised my way into that cut.  Then I wonder why shopping for clothing is more distasteful than it should be, lol.

So go figure, a few weeks ago, Mama actually complimented me in a pair of skinny jeans. I believe she phrased it something like, “I don’t know if you lost weight or it’s the pants, but those look good.”

Whaaaat???????

Mama almost knocked me out. (Feel free to go a little LL Cool J here.  What can I say? My latest TV addiction is NCIS Los Angeles.)

Joanna n mom Mothers Day 2014   Okay. We’ll let Mamma have a spot on the blog b/c she said I looked nice in my jeans. 

So, my blogger-friends, shall we go there? Shall we talk about how our self-esteem relative to clothing all comes back to Mom, lol? If that’s the case, what helped you get past it? (For me, a single book changed a lifetime of perspective. This related blog post tells that story.)

Here’s the link to the post that got me started on this blogging jag. (It’s over at Charlotte’s blog.) I also came across this assortment of seemingly simple exercises  Charlotte authored for Shape magazine. I hope to have checked them out more closely by the time this post airs.

Have a great week, everyone!

Joanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rockin’ Jeans and The Great Fitness Experiment

Welcome to the second full week of May, folks. Hope all of you are well.

Poor hubby should be in recovery by now. The anniversary/wife’s birthday/Mother’s Day annual event is over again. Every year the poor guy gets slammed.

Back to business: I subscribe to more blogs than I can keep up with, but I do try to hit on each every now and again. This one absolutely made my day. It proved I’m not out of my mind—okay, maybe just a touch less than I thought.

I always enjoy posts by Charlotte Hilton Anderson, author of The Great Fitness Experiment (book and blog that go by the same name). I’m sure she is far fitter and way more fitness-savvy than I’ll ever be, but she also tends to be very real. A post she aired about two weeks ago caught my attention big time.

She talked about jeans, about how hard it is for those who work really hard at building and sculpting their thighs to buy jeans that fit them well and comfortably. Believe it or not, those with “musciliscious” thighs (which I’ll never have), experience problems with jeans very similar to those of us blessed with “ample” body parts and the so-called-healthy pear shape. Gapping waistline, “sausage legs” when fabric hugs thighs too tightly—those of us who love jeans know how elusive that perfect-fitting pair is to find.

She also mentioned a company named Barbell Apparel that is getting ready to launch a line of jeans that fit well-muscled folks. I figure, said company can only benefit the well-endowed crowd. (Here’s a Washington Post article that shares a tad more detailed, for those who are as excited about this as I am.)

Getting back to my questionable sanity, Charlotte helped me feel a lot better. I’ve recently gotten into some barre workouts. (Some related posts, including a link to my favorite video of same, are listed below.)

In the past month, since I added the barre workout(s), I’ve been feeling really good physically. As I commented on Charlotte’s post, however, I’ve also been noticing that my never-will-be-musciliscious-thighs seem to be growing despite the exercise efforts I’m putting in.

Perhaps they are, for once, maybe for the right reasons. Who knows for sure?

My weight has held now for about five years. Yes, it’s more than I want but still a good 25 pounds better than when I started making lifestyle changes.  The evening before I wrote this post, I nervously put on a pair of pants that had been sitting in a bag for two years—one of those pairs I had hoped to “get into” after losing 5-10 pounds.

I’ll be danged if I didn’t do just that–with my weight still where it was when I bought them, I’m pretty sure.

Joanna--04-26-2014 (Of course real estate between the waist and the knees is undercover–it’s all about illusion, right? 😉 )

Anyway, this is a big thanks to Charlotte for helping me realize that I’m not totally crazy—and for inspiring me to try on those pants. BTW, a pair of black jeans that fit awesome were in that bag too. Those just got hemmed at the tailors! Yay for jeans that fit well!

Rather than drag this one out, next week I’ll talk about Italian mothers and how they influence one’s self-esteem so well, lol.

So, where do you stand on this topic? Do you like jeans? Does fitness make you feel good or frustrate you? Did you ever consider that fitness had drawbacks?

Here are the links I mentioned above:

Sometimes It’s About the Littlest Things

Can One Book Change Your Life?

Healthy Snacks? I’m Thinking Not–Part 1

Newsflash: Blog-Hopping Can Result In Inspiration!

Newsflash: Blog-Hopping Can Result in Inspiration! (Part 2)

My (current) favorite ballet barre workout 🙂

Have a great week folks! Please don’t hesitate to SHARE should you like the content or feel moved to do so in any way!

Until next time,

Joanna

 

 

Sometimes, It’s About the Littlest Things

Hi all,

I’m running a little late with posting, this week. That’s what happens when school is closed for spring break. I start cleaning and lose sight of almost everything else. (This coming from the girl who always gave her mother grief for using vacation time to clean. Help! Does this mean I’m becoming my mother???)

Here’s the latest I tried from Jessica Smith TV. What I’m liking about her routines—and the ballet barre workout I referred to in my last post—is feeling supercharged when I’m done, with a willingness to keep going. The energy seems to have translated to the tennis court, too! I ran down so many shots and didn’t feel tired at all after 90 minutes out there—double what I could do last fall.  (Oh, the hours I spent on the courts in my mid-late 20s. Still feeling that kind of joy when I’m swinging a racquet.)

A couple of days ago, online friend and fellow blogger Carrie Rubin brought up an interesting question about twinges of regret about life choices we might have made. Read her post here. (Psst! Carrie’s posts are always worth the read.)

Anyway, she got me thinking. Of course, my thoughts meandered in other directions—and I didn’t want to be a copy-cat. I landed on seemingly little things that wind up being life-changing.

Now, I’m not talking insanely dramatic life situations. For me, a YouTube video and a piece of tape wound up impacting the day-to-day.

This connects to the fitness videos I mentioned these past two posts. Around this time last year, I decided to give zumba a whirl. I’d taken a class; wasn’t thrilled with the instructor. Being someone who has a hard time following steps, I figured I could start and pause a video as needed and work at my own pace.

Long story short, I felt something not move correctly in my left hip. No pain. At least not until a month or so later, when I couldn’t tell which came first, the pain in the hip or that in the knee. I was also an avid user of rocker-bottom sneakers (i.e., Shape-Ups)—they never, ever bothered me prior. (I’ve given them up but still miss them. It’s okay.)

By June last year, I had enough of a problem to interfere with my lifestyle. That included walking. (I was afraid to attempt tennis.) Sitting certain ways and getting up off the floor after working with my school kids had become a major issue. I broke down and went to see an orthopedist. He offered a knee brace, ibuprofen and physical therapy.

Immediately called a former co-worker. She’s not only the most amazing physical therapist I know, she’s become my “sister-from-another-mother.” She told me the brace  would align my patella (a.k.a kneecap) exactly the way athletic taping would, minus the bulk. Went to her house that same night. Came home taped and taught how to do it myself. She also showed me a few key exercises, but I’d be lying if I told you those were the magic.

A piece of athletic tape applied once or twice a week since then has altered my day-to-day for the best. Within a week, most of the pain subsided. (I’d say I was 95% improved, and with minimal medicine too.) I even took my chances on the tennis court right around then, and came back happier than I’d been in months. The barre workout appears to have handled the rest of the discomfort. My hip is feeling 99% improved since TWO days after starting that. Go figure.

So, reader-friends, I turn over the blog-mike to you. What seemingly little choice or change did you make that significantly impacted your day-to-day, or your life on the bigger scale, if that’s appropriate?

Best wishes for a Happy Passover and Happy Easter to all those who celebrate!

And special thanks to Carrie for inspiring me this week.  🙂

Cheers,

Joanna