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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

teddy-242876_1280

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 Lion Died…

But his memory will linger for a long time–if not always.

Hi all. Hoping all is peaceful with each of you. I was away from Monday through Thursday, so I guess my aspirations for posting twice last week were a tad high.

The lion at the Cape May Zoo died right around Memorial Day this past year. That’s what we heard at the zoo’s entrance as my sons, Older Son’s girlfriend and I embarked on our annual walk-through. (It seems to have become a bit of a tradition during our third-year-in-a-row trek to Wildwood. Is it possible one is never too old for the zoo?)

Wildwood sunset 2014 Sunset in Wildwoodpicture doesn’t do the sky justice 🙂

Uh, that’s when I originally started this post: three years ago. Yes, it had to do with the lion. Until this past Saturday morning the original sat on the notebook laptop that lives in my beloved Camry’s trunk—in case I need to stop on a random road to work on a laptop whose battery won’t recharge anymore.

Anyway, my only problem with family vacations—you moms of boys can probably relate—is that my guys (Hubby included) want to do stuff that doesn’t generally interest me. Boardwalks, beaches, restaurants—they’re okay but none of them floats my boat. Call me a stick in the mud but if there is nothing to actively engage my mind—i.e., learn—most of the time I’ll pass. (BTW, I’m bad at relaxing too.)

Boards at Wildwood 2014

Night-time on the Wildwood boards. As busy as NYC. 

So, the first year, after a family ride on the go-carts followed by brunch on the famed Wildwood boardwalk, I started thinking about how I might like to wile away a few hours. I’d done Cold Spring Village with Hubby years ago and liked it. I also thought about taking a ride to the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, a ten-minute drive from our hotel. (The gardens behind it are ridiculously gorgeous and quietly peaceful. Follow the walkway pictured below and–surprise!–you’ve stumbled onto the inlet, where the view of the inlet and beach are stunning. BTW, double-clicking on the photos to enlarge them will provide sharper detail, as much as my lowly iPhone 4’s camera can capture.)

Hereford lighthouse front (1) Hereford Inlet Lighthouse

Hereford lighthouse back

Back of the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse

Hereford lighthouse gardens

Hereford InletLighthouse gardens

Hereford lighthouse gardens (2)

Hereford Inlet Lighthouse gardens

Hereford lighthouse inlet

Hereford Inlet Lighthouse inlet

IDKY, but I also kept toying with the notion of a trek to the Cape May Zoo. I’d never visited it, but had always heard nice things. I chose door number three and texted the kids an invitation.

My guys were a couple months shy of 16 and 14 at the time. They came simply because it was “something to do.” (Yep, even the boards and rides get old after a short while. And Older Son probably felt badly his ma was doing something alone. Nah. No such issues. Me-time rocks.)

photo_2[1]   Joanna ‘n’ her boys. Y’all can decide who is who. BTW, this photo is from first trip to zoo, in 2012. Didn’t take any group shots this year. 😦

I certainly enjoyed that afternoon, and since the kids asked to go again on both subsequent trips to the area, I assume they did too. The zoo is pretty danged big, beautifully maintained and packed with about 550 creatures, most of who are easily viewed in their exhibits. I particularly like the zebras; their markings are so stark. I also enjoyed the quiet calm surrounding the giraffes and their new baby.

Aside: the zoo is always free, with non-mandatory donations accepted. (Cash gets tossed into a ‘mailbox.’)

The lion ties into this recounting how, Joanna? Well, it involves Younger Son, who can be the best kid going on his better days. Oy. Not so much when he gets himself in a mood, thinks he’s right or (wants to be). Those are the days I offer him up for Lent, rent, or to the lowest bidder. Hubby and I are much improved reacting to him, but he’s often brought out a side of us we don’t very much like on many occasions.

photo_3[1] This boy be reachin’ the bear’s mouth by now. Bet he could get a live version to growl, too. Just sayin’… 😉

He might have been in that kind of humor that first “annual” trip to the zoo. Guess he couldn’t wait or might have wanted some space from the rest of us when he asked if he could walk ahead to see the lion. (Three years later I don’t remember such minor details.)

Gave him the okay. He was 13+ and old enough to do so.

He was just out of sight when a roar rumbled through the zoo. We surmised it was the lion.

“Figures,” I told Older Son. “Your brother probably got on the lion’s nerves already.”

We caught up with Younger Son, just outside the lion exhibit. Ironically enough, on that very hot day, Younger Son thought the lion was dead. (He wasn’t.)

We made our way through the rest of the zoo. Just before the last leg, Younger Son asked if he could go see the lion once more.

“Sure.”

I kid you not: the kid took off and the beast roared for a second—and only other—time that trip.

We were really saddened to hear that incredible creature was no longer there. But Younger Son will never shake being known as the boy who could inspire the lion to roar.

Do you do repeat vacations? If so, where do you go? Are there ‘traditions’ or go-to activities that are part of every trip, or do you devise new ways to pass the time? Do you have a “challenge child?” Were/are you your parent(s)’ “challenge child?”

Thanks for stopping in and for SHARING if you choose to do so. Have a great week!

All the best,

Joanna

Love Takes on Many Forms–Part 2

Welcome back, friends, and many thanks for stopping by twice this week.

When I left you last, I had totaled the much-despised, glow-in-the-dark-mobile minivan. Used the $$$ as a down payment on my beloved Camry and paid the rest off via use of 0% credit card.

(If you have a burning desire to be all caught up, here is the link to Part 1.)

Ten-plus years have come and gone since then. My Camry and I are quite close. It’s been very good to me—much better than I’ve been to it in terms of oil changes, fuel-injection cleaning, etc.

Not sure if other long-term Toyota owners would agree, but I’ve learned any work this vehicle needed fell under the umbrella of maintenance. Because this thing runs until it absolutely can’t (i.e., the engine started seizing when I let the oil change go for too long—oops!), I never KNEW my baby needed attention.

Camry 2002 My baby would miss me if I let it go, lol.

This brings me back to why I’m writing this post. I toyed with buying another Toyota. B/c I’m never in the mood for adding payments to my monthly bills, new or leased wasn’t a choice. (Besides, I fell in love with the new Mazda’s styling. We’ll see, in two years when Younger Son will be wanting a car.)

My self-imposed budget suggested buying an older Toyota (or VW Jetta or Passat, both of which I looked at too, since Older Son is a “V-Dub” kind of kid). I’d be buying a vehicle right around the age it would probably start needing the kind of work mine did. And I already know my baby is mechanically sound. It’s older and occasionally needs TLC in more expensive doses.

BTW, Hubby would have hit up the 401K for me to get the Mazda. New. I declined.

So, a few weeks prior to writing this I stopped at a new garage in the neighborhood. Hubby had been there a little while before and talked to the mechanic about my car. Wanted to meet the guy myself and show him my Camry. I didn’t know Jack—the mechanic—had replaced my battery this past winter. I liked him right away.

Wouldn’t you know? Chatting with him—as question-asking writers are wont to do—led to him telling me he was a certified Toyota mechanic x18 years before he went out on his own and opened the garage in my neighborhood. He stressed over and over what a good car the Camry is.

He also saved me $200+ on the repair. Picked up my car the same day I wrote this. Feels like I bought it yesterday.

And here’s another, pretty crazy coincidence.  God putting Jack-Certified-Toyota-Mechanic on my path wasn’t enough. Jack asked how I came by the car, so I told him my crashing-into-the-compressor story.

He stopped short and looked at me. “How long ago was that?”

“IDK. Younger Son was four. Maybe eleven years ago? The compressor was parked a few blocks from the school.” I mentioned looking up at the man at my passenger window.

“You mean Joe?”

“He lives in __________.”

“That’s the guy!” Jack said.

“Why? Were you there too?”

“No. My son was.” (He’s Jack’s only worker.)

And off Jack goes to confirm this story. Which his son did.

It is a seriously small world, folks, and little by little, we’re adopting Jack and his son as our go-to mechanics. They’ve serviced three family cars in two weeks and go well out of their way to keep us happy.

Tell me I met him by accident.

Have a great week,

Joanna

FIFA World Cup and Polish Boyfriends

Hi all. I’m definitely a bit behind this week. Just started the summer program in my school district and spent about four hours total trying to schedule three mornings worth of students. I suppose lots of folks hope to win the lottery, but I’d be satisfied with $500/week for life. Then I’d take the summer off—for once since my early teenage years, when I wasn’t old enough to work. (I’d still have to keep the day job, but figure $350 after taxes ain’t a bad thing…)

Anyway, y’all know tennis is my game and I’m currently following Wimbledon. Yes, I know, Rafa is out. He managed to hold his own during a trouncing by qualifier Nick Kyrgios, but I’m happy Rafa beat Rosol in the second round. The rest—it is what it is. Who knows? Federer might take Grand Slam #18. That would work too. 🙂

tennis Image courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art

I’m not a big fan of soccer—that’s my little Italian mamma’s thing. She keeps me updated on FIFA World Cup standings, but I know it’s a big deal to lots of folks (including many of my favorite tennis players).

We’ve talked about the anxiety that seems to run on my mom’s side of the family. I promise you, some of these wonderful folks can take the simplest of situations and work themselves into a ridiculous frenzy over what they conjure into horror shows in their minds. Earlier today I remembered some loony stuff that ties into the 1990 World Cup.

I was working at my first full-time job, at a hospital in one of the boroughs of NYC. My friend had gotten married right around that time. She and her new hubby lived in a neighboring borough, had a couple of cats and needed someone to apartment-sit.

I offered. My anxious Italian mamma was not happy with my decision. In fact, she was so annoyed with me, she told me I shouldn’t have bothered calling her on the Monday immediately following the wedding, my first day as cat-sitter.

So the next day, I hung out late at work. Stayed to watch the final match, West Germany vs. Argentina, the team that took out the host team, Italy. (My friend might not have had cable. This many years down the line, the details are a tad fuzzy.)

soccer player

Image courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art

Aside: I’m not sure how valid this statement is, but don’t most Italians believe Italy should always win when it comes to soccer? If I remember correctly though, there was some questionable stuff associated with Argentina’s win, so any fans of Italy rooted for West Germany just to see Argentina get its due.

BTW, I didn’t call Mamma. (She told me not to bother the day before, right? I was being a good listener 😀 .)

Went to see a private patient after the game. Rolled into my friend’s apartment around seven or so.

I might have been in five minutes when the phone started ringing. (This was in the pre-cell phone era.)

At the other end was a work friend. “Call your mother. She’s looking for you and she sounded upset.”

A second friend called a very short while later. This one lived in my state, about twenty minutes from my house. “Call your mother. She has no idea where you are. She’s really worried.”

My newly-wedded friend’s mother called. “Call your mother! My husband’s going crazy over here.”

Turns out, my mamma went through my phone book and started making calls to any name she recognized. My newlywed pal’s stepfather—let’s call him Teddy—was born in Poland. His English is broken (but very entertaining) to this day.

I learned Teddy had the misfortune of picking up the phone. His conversation with my mother had him defending himself that he had no reason to take up with a 26-year-old girl. (My friend and I still laugh about it, and Teddy has retained the honor of being “first Polish boyfriend.” The second one never worked out. Thank. God.)

Anyway, I’m sure I wound up in an argument with my mamma that evening.

But for the sake of the people in my phone book, I called her the rest of the time I apartment sat.

Any FIFA World Cup memories of your own to share? Or stuff your parents did to make you nuts stories to tell about? You’re among friends here!

On a separate note: Quickie shout-out on behalf of long-time friend and very prolific screenplay writer Ric Rodriguez. He’s recently discovered blogging and sharing about his journey and other thoughts.  Check out his website/blog and show him some love! Many thanks to those of you who take the time to do so. 🙂

American flag

Happy Independence Day to all my American buds! (Image courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art)

Here’s to a wonderful day,

Joanna

Wilson, Our Real-Life Neighbor

Hi all,

Hope you all enjoyed a less rainy and gloomy weekend than those of us on the east coast did, but in the end, it’s all good, right?

Just a little shout-out here for a couple of YouTube workouts I’ve been thoroughly enjoying as of two weeks ago. Have a friend who swears by her ballet barre workouts. Being a non-gym kind of girl, and in definite need of a shake-up to my exercise and walking routine, I looked barre workouts up.

Came across two I really liked:

Jessica Smith’s Ballet Barre Workout (no barre really necessary, unless balance is a major issue) and BarreConcept’s Ultimate 20 Minute Barre Exercise Workout. (The latter instructor has an English accent and a voice that takes a bit of getting used to, but she’s in my head now, lol. Plus, the workout is short and even a bit addictive. Besides, the second woman from the left is me, right?) I am most pleased with having been able to do most of both workouts the first time, and that none of the moves are overly complex. Yep. Even I can follow them.  PLEASE NOTE: Don’t forget to consult your physician prior to beginning any workouts, especially if you have health concerns of any kind.

Other than that—and having nothing in particular to share this week—figured I’d tell you about our family’s real-life Wilson. (This would be the friend that dramatically called across the lawn when hubby had me believing he’d bought that Harley. That story posted two weeks ago. If you like, read it here.)

Wilson’s legal name is so not Wilson. Long story short, he and his family moved in next door when I was pregnant with my younger son. We had a pool then, and a wooden stockade privacy fence.

Yep, every day, our new neighbor peeked over the fence, much like Tim-the-Tool-Man’s neighbor Wilson did in the TV family-comedy series, Home Improvement. I started calling him Wilson. The name also served us all well, as it created a distinction between hubby and the guy next door, who just happen to share the same name.

Wilson and his family moved at least ten years ago. He and hubby remain close buds.

The name stuck. Most people who meet (or have met) Wilson through us have no idea that is NOT his first or last name, lol. And my boys? To this day, they call him Mr. Wilson (not to be confused, however, with the Mr. Wilson of Dennis the Menace fame).

So y’all confused enough? Have you ever named someone in your life after a TV character? If you were to do so, who would you pick?

Okay, we be done for today. Please share if you feel inclined to do so. Anybody try his/her hand at the cookie bar recipe I posted last week? If so, how did they turn out?

Be well and have a wonderful week,

Joanna