Monday, December 17, 2007

Notes from a Pharmacy

I don't know why anyone decides to be a pharmacy technician, because I think they should be paid much more than they do make, but I am so glad some people do. My first days as a new practitioner I came close to the record of prescriptions per day that this location held. The only thing that pulled me through was my joy to finally be in the driver's seat, and the wonderful trio of staff I am currently working with. They solve insurance problems more quickly than I can at this point. The crazier the environment became, the more confident I felt because of those wonderful, smart and dedicated techs. I am sure they wish I would stop singing, but that's not going to happen.
I love that the company I am with values my time as a professional and provides enough help so that I CAN counsel on new prescriptions, help people choose the appropriate OTC product and answer questions. Yesterday I worked alone for the first time due to a huge snow storm, and I could feel the difference: I filled fewer prescriptions, and it felt like more work.
I believe people don't understand how much work goes into filling a prescription and they get angry if we say it's going to be fifteen minutes. We take in the hardcopy and ask for your birthdate; are you in our computer system? (No, our computer system does NOT take your information from all the other pharmacies and magically put it in ours!) Any change in insurance? Let us see if we have this in stock (somehow people get offended when I say this- how do we know what to stock until a patient orders it?). We need your drivers license. No we cannot fill without it, it's required by law for drugs in class II like Ritalin and Percocet. The Rx goes to the tech to type- what is this drug? Does it say Zocor or Zoloft? Call the doctor for clarification. He is in with a patient, the nurse will call back. Sometimes the doctor has the nurse collect all messages and he calls back once a day; this means that we can't fill in 15 minutes, and it's NOT our fault even if you choose for us to be the ones to yell at. Yes, we know it's a pain in the butt to have to come here twice. We get the call and now we know the correct drug, so we proceed, Choose the correct drug and put a basket together. Locate you in the computer, or type in all your info. Yes it IS important for us to know your allergies. You say you are allergic to codeine but the drug you want us to fill is Vicodin, which contains a product that belongs in the codeine family. What happens when you take codeine? You get constipated. Does your throat close, or do you have trouble breathing, or do you get a rash? No. But since you have never had Vicodin before, we have to call the doctor and confirm your allergy status. It's not going to be fifteen minutes. Doc says no you are not allergic and have had other codeine products in the past according to his records. We fill the prescription, choosing the correct NDC number for the drug. We bottle and label it and it comes to me. I ensure this is correct patient, correct drug, correct amount, and verify that the drug in the bottle is the drug from the stock bottle in the basket, and the NDC, name, strength and dose form match. If new, I check all the directions off from the original hardcopy, and we file it. Then we dispense it to you. Why does it cost so much? We asked you if there was any change in insurance and you said no. It was rejected by the insurance so we put it through for cash. You have another insurance card? That's why we asked. We send it back to enter all the new information, and we run it through again. It costs more than it did last time? Maybe that's because you have new insurance and the last time you filled with the old insurance. Why is their co-pay higher? You need to talk to your HR person at work.
Most of the time these wonderful techs are dashing about handling all this craziness while I am checking, answering questions and running out to help choose a product outside the pharmacy. I'd say 95% of the customers are pleasant, but the 5% left over can go a long way in raising the energy level for keeping a pleasant environment. The toughest are people who hate to wait, and who call in their prescriptions, then never get around to picking them up. It's considered insurance fraud to keep a prescription on the shelf more than 14 days. Technically, the insurance has paid for a product that the patient they cover has NOT got possession of. So we return to stock, but then in comes the patient the very next day and now the patient is mad that it's going to take 15 minutes for us to locate, fill and dispense. The patient doesn't care that we wasted time filling it then returning it then filling it again. All he cares about is he didn't want to wait- didn't he say that in the first place?
In the middle of all this, we had a few problems, some got solved, others must wait until the manager has time to give me guidance.
I like the tasks, especially when the work is flowing nicely. I like the challenges, and solving problems. No two days are alike. I like when the situation requires creativity, and I like when I turn an unhappy person into one whose situation is resolved. I like when people stop by to say they feel better. A mom came to thank me for taking the time to show her daughter how to use and care for her new asthma inhaler. The patient who thanked me for giving her a list of prices so her doctor could choose medications she could afford. The guy who didn't know he could get better control of his cholesterol by taking his med at a different time of day until I mentioned it while ringing him out. And the man with the very sick wife came in to say she was better and to thank me for my prayers.
But best of all, I like my techs.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Anfa's "I Want Rant"

Enough thanks. I have a lot of things I want. This is independent of the list of things I need. Not in any particular order:
I want to:
1. Go back to Ireland. This time I want all my kids with me. We'll get a house and a car and use it as home base and destination. I want to see that look on Dan's face again, and Kate's smile.
2. Go see Black 47- playing in Shirley MA on Dec 14!!!
3. Go see Celtic Sojourn again. I want this to be my new Christmas tradition.
4. Take ceili dance lessons again.
5. Study language again. Enough science, I need to work another part of the brain.
6. Learn to play another instrument: maybe the violin or the Celtic harp. I think violin is more practical, I may have to go to Boston for harp lessons.
7. See more of my friends. And now I have so many more of them to stay in touch with! I have potential visits to Quebec, Colorado, California, Texas, North Carolina and DC.
8. See more of the kids. If my own kids won't give me grandchildren, then dammit, I will just appropriate my sister's.
9. Sing more. I was singing tonight and Sorcha just looked at me with adoring eyes. She loves when I sing. I love when I sing. I need to do it more often. Especially if I have something to sing about.
10. Read more and fill in some of the gaps in my library. Current reading material: a history of Ireland, a compendium of Heinlein short stories and novellas, "The Four Agreements", one of Kate's philosophy books, and "the Fates of the Princes of Dyved", a Mabinogion retelling re-published from the late 1800's. Plus a few pharmacy journals for light reading.
11. Garden more. Obviously this is waiting until spring.
12. Wake up 30 pounds lighter. OK since this one is a non-starter, I want to move more and get fit again. I like being fit and have got way out of the habit. I need to stop being a binge exerciser and make it my lifestyle again.

Anfa's Celtic Thanksgiving

I am gratified and a little startled at the reactions of friends and family over my Thanksgiving plans. Intentions: stay at home in jammies and watch movies- engrave watches if there's a burst of energy.
Thanksgiving is an EvilEx holiday; the evil ex and his family LOVE to cook and love to eat, so TGDay is an orgy as far as they are concerned. The boys would hate to miss it; Dutiful Daughter the vegetarian goes to be the dutiful child she is. ExMIL feels that since she lacks turkey joy, another dish must be provided and has been in the habit of making macaroni and cheese just for Kate (and gobbled by the testosterone-driven mutant contingent).
I am used to the lot wanting to be with the Other Side. The past few years as I was in school, I had no problem with that, and used the day for a nice walk and a nice nap. Now, getting used to working 12 hour shifts several days a week, I still have no problem with my new holiday routine. But everyone else seems to.
I have had more invitations to dine this year. I am so touched. Yet I am a little horrified that people who know me envision me sitting alone with my cats, a solitary tear dripping into my shiraz. Well, ok, I really am sitting here with my cats and shiraz, but I am so totally cool with it. I had rice and beans for dinner and am very satisfied. I love a turkey dinner, and I cook it whenever I have guests in winter. My ancestors were not pilgrims and this holiday has no great attachment for me. I am not a football fan, and the parades in tv have no hold on my attention.
I have no attention span for reading today, so I deleted files on my laptop, burnt cds of pics to share with my friends, and made a few music cds to listen to. I did some prep work for engraving, but need a sunnier day to finish the actual job.
I am watching "A Christmas Celtic Sojourn" on PBS, which I did not get to see live last year becasue Sis had influenza and was hospitalized the entire time I made my preparations for hosting our family Christmas holiday. My heart is full of Irish music and the people on this program are featured in my extensive collection; Karan Casey, Navan, Clancy Bros. My ancestors were healers, craftsmen and musicians. I am all three wrapped up in one. I am content to be myself, at home, with music and pets around me, my exams behind me and my future ahead. My belly is full and so is my wineglass. My heart is full with music and calculations and plans for the coming winter. I have much to give thanks for, and many blessings.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Vibes Roll In

I've had more congratulatory messages lately, but today took the cake. Around 2 pm my phone rang, and a voice asked "Is this Kate's Mom?" After a second, I realized, yes, I am her mom, and gave an affirmative. Then I got a singing telegram from India, courtesy of Kate, that made me laugh so hard. It was earnest and sweetly sung and very different-all about deserving a cookie, maybe two, and maybe the whole bag...
I'm still laughing, it just cracked me up so much., check it out.
Rich and Cori sent me a beautiful dracaena "lucky bamboo" plant that is twisted and trained and looks like Celtic knotwork. Daimhnhait enjoyed the box and is delightedly nesting on the styrofoam beans and then chasing them, so I haven't the heart to toss them yet.
So many people have sent such lovely sentiments. It's nice to have such a relief.
Tomorrow is MPJE and hopefully I'll be done. Bring on the cookies!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

How I Took The NAPLEX and Maintained My Sanity (Recipe Included)

I am so incredibly relieved my exam is over. I just freaked myself out to discover that the paperwork to transfer my score to my home state (I did it first in the neighboring state, meaning to have both primary licenses) had to be done BEFORE the day I took the exam and is not valid if received AFTER. Done deal. Now I have to wait a year and practice and then apply to reciprocate my license. Maybe God had a reason for inducing my brain fart. Of course, the fact that I had pneumonia when I got the paperwork and signed up had nothing to do with it...:) I'll get over it.
I felt the exam was awful! A few times, I wondered if anyone ever ran from the place screaming. You get thumbprinted, they take your picture and they tape the whole room at all times. But the staff was so nice and had soothing music in the wait room, beautiful artwork and very kind demeanors. All my friends got questions on rarer disease states and said they struggled, so I boned up on those, and health literacy and the usual top morbidities. I had many calculations, which take longer than case questions, drug names and classes. I like them and am usually very good at them, I just think I got an abnormally large amount. I finished with 10 minutes to spare. My favourite question was what is the generic name for … the drug I did my poster on.
ALL my friends from school called the night before. Nana set up a conference call with Michelle to pray with me- incredibly sweet & very appreciated. I emailed out for prayers and received many back- I could feel everyone thinking of me as I worked my way through. Thank you all, it helped me to know I wasn’t alone. Kate met me at home and took me out to dinner at a favourite Mexican restaurant, and we shopped a little for some crafts we are planning. It was a great way to wind down.
In spite of the stress, I am enjoying a beautiful fall. I love this time of year. I am burning apple-scented candles at night with my star lights on, listening to Irish music while the burner kicks in down in the cellar, and the cats find cozy places out of the draft. I have autumn leaves in the vases and they look like fire in the bay window in the pewter vases Buck gave me. I can hear the leaves hitting the windows and sounding like ice. When it rains, the mice try and burrow in and Sorcha stands guard in the cellar. I love the chill even when I have to leave a little earlier and scrape ice off the windshield. After a few days. I'll be used to it and it will be part of my routine, but right now it isn't; it makes me take stock of the fall mornings and notice everything more clearly. I am cooking a bit more, and more nutritiously because I obviously needed it. Michelle stayed with me when we went to a wedding, and we ate our way through the weekend. It's a beautiful time.
Here’s our favourite fall recipe: take a package of cranberries, and pick out all the stems and bad ones, rinse, and put in a saucepan with 2/3 cup of orange juice and two tablespoons of sugar. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium and cook 20-30 minutes until reduced to a nice sauce. Put a wedge of Brie in the oven or toaster oven to warm until it gets a little runny. Then slice up a couple of Granny Smith apples into thin wedges and arrange on a platter. Place a spoonful of Brie and a spoonful of cranberries on top and serve immediately. It’s so pretty and the textures and tastes meld so well. It’s a Kate recipe. Great stuff, and so good for you too. It takes about 30 minutes to make, and looks so impressive. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Closer & the Dropkick Murphys

OK it's common knowledge I like Irish music and punk rock, so it's no surprise that I have been a fan of Dropkick Murphys since I first saw them at the Guinness Fleadh back in the 90s. Now they are the mascots for RedSox Nation.
It's also common knowledge how I have absolutely no attention span for watching sports.
Now my Dad, Hank, wanted nothing more than one World Series win before he
died- the previous win before the curse was the year before he was born
in 1918. 2004 was a great thing, but, hey, they done it again! A fair weather
fan, I did watch the last few innings of each of the Series games.
Sunday night, I sat on the edge of my seat in absolute suspense and
screamed in joy for the Closer as he coolly struck Colorado out.
I am doing online banking before I go back to the NAPLEX studying, but how can I miss the victory parade? The Dropkick Murphys have been playing "Tessie" and Papelbon
dances in his red plaid kilt. It is a gorgeous fall day, and all hearts
are happy in Boston today. The Duck boats wend their way through
thousands of NewEnglanders as the bagpipes screel and the broom guitar wails.
GO SOX!!!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Good things and bad things

BAD things first- let's get them out of the way.
1. I had walking pneumonia last week and lost a whole week of work. Starts with a viral upper respiratory infection (that's a cold for all you non-medical types). Progresses to serious when the lower respiratory tract (that's the lungs) gets infected. If you hack up white or clear crap, it's viral. Green means bacterial, and hie thee to the ER, which I did, and saw a doc who knew me from the hospital. Got put on a nice strong antibiotic. I was so ill, I had to call Kate and ask her to come fetch me cough syrup, kleenex, and cook me chicken soup (there is data on the efficacy of chicken soup, you know). This is maybe the fourth time (in 20 years) that this has happened, and I really thought I'd get better faster. My voice was gone for a week, and I was too weak to read, even something simple like Harry Potter.
2. I lost a WHOLE week of work. My paycheck's going to suck.
3. The major side effect of antibiotics is GI upset. Right now I am lying flat because my lower GI tract is pretty pissed off. I didn't know it could swear like that.

OK time for the GOOD things:
1. Put this under EXTREMELY GOOD: my Authorization To Test letters came last Saturday, the day after the NAPLEX re-opened. I logged on and signed up to take my NAPLEX on Nov 6 and MPJE two weeks after. (I could have taken Oct 31 but debated pros and cons with Kate, who wisely suggested a coin toss with my lucky Irish penny.) I am back to studying slavishly now that I can read and retain again.
2. Vegetarians are completely capable of making really good chicken soup. Thanks, Kate, it really did help.
3. Buck took my trash to the Transfer Station (PC for dump). It's a weekly ordeal, not fun when you're sick. He made me American Chop, and it hit the spot.
4. It's raining like crazy. We needed rain badly. It justifies the want to snuggle up in my nice purple room with good music on my laptop and a big pharmacy review book.
5. My kitties haven't left my side since I got sick. It's nice to wake up as the filling in a kitty sandwich, all toasty warm. Sorcha must stretch and give me a kiss every hour or so. Her deep bass rumbly purr is a funny counterpoint to Cujo's soprano trill. And Daimhnhait keeps sneaking in and purring under the bed. They seem to have forgiven me for running out of cat food and substituting tuna.
6. OK, it's not something I really care terribly about, but it qualifies as GOOD: how bout those Sox? It would be nice to have one more series for my dad and aunt.
7. I hit paydirt at the Christmas Tree Shop yesterday. Got Hallowe'en cards (we are a card-sending family) and trinkets for the five-year olds, Trick or Treat candy and toys, and a cabinet for my downstairs bathroom, and a candle that smells deliciously like apple. I love the apple candle scent in fall.
8. I may get to visit with my boy, who is now walking, and the big girl, so now I am Hallowe'enly prepared. I don't take much time to do things I like, but whenever I have a chance to see my kiddos, I make an effort.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Career On Hold

Apparently, a professor in the state of Georgia has been paying students to reconstruct questions and answers to the NAPLEX pharmacy exam. Then he turned around and "taught" a board review class and sold study packets containing real Q&A. This prompted the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy to shut down the exam and re-write it. Anyone who had an appointment after August 25 had his/her appointment cancelled and no new appointments will be issued until early November.

What does this mean? It means the HUNDREDS of graduates who hadn't yet stood the exam, or whose states required 500 hours of graduate intern experience now are left in the limbo of grad internland. Unable to be licensed, we cannot do the actual jobs for which we were hired. Our student loans are due and Sallie Mae is knocking at our financial doors, yet we are not collecting the full salaries we would have if this suspension never happened. Some of us have relocated and floated moving expenses, anticipating the full salary tied to the completion of the licensing procedure. Some of us are being told that contracts required being licensed within a certain time period, even though that contractual obligation would have been met except for this.
Pharmacy chains are scrambling to cover positions that new hires should be working.

If I need to look at the positives, well, it gives me some more time to study. But I am definitely not a happy camper about this.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Up Time and Down Time

It's been a really busy summer- and it flew by so fast! I've been studying for my licensure exam (NAPLEX) & working at two stores as a graduate intern, and trying to squeeze in family time. I have managed to keep Farmer Hank's garden weeded weekly even though the weeds are so high at my own house that someone stole a bike and stashed it in my garden and I have no idea how long it's been there. (I did buy the push mower I wanted but the weeds are too high- need to tame 'em down before I can use it.) I've been helping out a dear friend who has been ill with rides, errands and company when I am off. I hosted my dear friend Ros from Montreal and her high school friend and ran ragged all over Boston. We squeezed in a few days at the Cape and enjoyed every minute. Visited my "grandbaby" and his sisters and celebrated birthday #1 and trips to the beach. We plan to get together and see summer out on Labour Day if all goes well.
Then it's back to work.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Expecto Finalum!

We saw the new Harry Potter movie at the IMAX the other night- the last 15 minutes were in 3-D. Nothing like a Voldemort spell heading right for your face to make you feel like you're truly living the high life. It was everything it was cracked up to be. My only disappointment; to save time, they change the plot slightly. It wasn't necessary, and could have been avoided. I dislike when they take license and change a plot point just because they can. Also- the Weasley's fireworks should have been 3-D. They were awesome!
I've been happy thinking Harry thoughts and matching up the pictures in my head with the pictures on the screen. My head is usually better, but the HP movies have done great justice.
I posted some thoughts about discussions Kate and I have had about the coming book and Kate has been very insistent that Harry is himself a Horcrux.

If you enjoy these speculations, you MUST visit this blogsite and read this excellent monologue (or rant if you will) on what will happen in Deathly Hallows. This guy is an acquaintance of Kate's from college, and he apparently majored in philosophy. He puts the hero saga dynamics into words much more glibly than my feeble keyboard (with no letters except q and z because I have typed all the rest of them off) could ever do. This guy John is an excellent writer (I have mentally corrected his grammar and wonder why "snuck" bothers me so much less than "pled" and "dived") and I look forward to reading more of his rants in future. ENJOY!!! I know I did!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Green Street Hooligans

Every once in a while, Dan brings me a movie that he prefaces with "You might find this offensive, but then again, you may like it..." Dogma was one, and it's one of my all-time favourites. Ryan A told me about Boondock Saints and he said he thought about me when he watched it (that Southie thing!)- he told me to ask Dan about it and sure enough, Dan had it. I ended up watching it twice over. Last fall, Dan brought me Green Street Hooligans, which he had got from Netflicks.
Now, you all know I am a relatively peaceful person with a karma will triumph philosophy. But I grew up in a tough place and no one messes with me or my loved ones. I tend to work through the system when there is a problem- but sometimes the system does not work and boy, do I know it.

Elijah Wood could not do a better job of leaving Frodo behind, and the lead role was perfect for him. Green St Hooligans is about a kid who has been wronged, goes to visit a family member to bide some time til he figures out what to do, and ends up part of something much bigger than himself. Football gangs in Europe seem to be a lot more violent than here (although baseball violence is pretty prevalent in my hometown, as witnessed by the riots when the Sox won, and yes, we know Dan was there). British (& European) fans take this to another notch with the formation of "firms" or gangs that basically fight whether their team wins or loses. People get hurt, and people may die, but the "reputation" of the firm stands on whether its participants stand up or back down from a fight. I watched the flick with Dan, and has dreams about it all night that disturbed me greatly. The next morning I watched it thru once more while I processed WHY it bothered me so. The violence is graphic, and repugnant, yet familiar to me in a sense as well.
Now, knowing when to stand up to conflict and when to back down has been a recurrent theme in my life. The hardest part is when it's your child who is being exposed to a conflict bigger than himself. One of my kids had a run with a series of physical assaults secondary to the tough neighborhood and public school system. I remember teaching him to how to throw a punch to make the most damage, and how to grab the assaulter's arm and flip him. He needed to be able to take care of himself when it was time to make a stand, and oddly enough, it was his mom who had the skills to impart. He certainly knows how to stand up for himself now. Watching this movie made me think a lot about him, and the fact that a lead character resembled him physically made it even scarier. I taught my child how to fight, but it disturbs me that sometimes he must. Thinking about GSH made me face the fear that by living where he does, he is in the way of trouble. And I know that I have taught my children to live peacefully, but to stand up for themselves when it's necessary, even when there is risk. But being confident, coolheaded and strong is not enough in volatile situations as many dead victims can tell us.
Now, I can't equate soccer with honour, or reputation. But I understand the need to belong to something in which the sum of all parts is equal to or greater than the power of one. I know the feeling of standing in conflict with someone at my back. I understand brotherhood. I am more apt to walk away and let things ride out; but I know how to stand, and I know how to fight. I also know when- and that is what makes me strong.

The character who disturbed my dreams looked like my child, walked like my child, and showed the same sensitivities my kid has displayed; great with children, quick with a quip, hard-drinking and passionately loyal to friends. The unfamiliar (yet not so unfamiliar to anyone from my town) parts were the thuggish brutality, the cold planning of assaults, and the violence. Yet this same character engaged in a sacrificial act that I could so imagine my kid doing, and every time I see the ending of this movie, I sob.
We all want a world where there is no unfairness and the quick and the clever and the good triumph, and our good guy team wins. The reality is a world where people cheat and lie, and loyalty is just a word, and money always wins (right, Mr Bush?).
But when your brothers stand beside you and back you all the way- for one brief moment solidarity means something.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Harry Potter and Good Vs. Evil

I am very excited to be done with school and part of the reason is that now I have a bit more time (barring studying for NAPLEX) to actually enjoy the debut of both the new Harry Potter book AND movie. The last movie I dragged Tran to see after a particularly grueling week of exams: we went at 4 pm and I think we were the only people in the theatre. I ended up going again the next week after my finals, to a 10 pm showing at the IMAX theatre with Kate, Buck and MeyDee. Nothing like great FX on an IMAX screen! I did not read the last book until my summer quarter ended and I was down the Cape: I could barely speak until I finished it- and then I read it again. Amy read it in class; she could not put it down. This time I will get right on the bandwagon!
Last weekend, Kate was particularly tired, and was watching Harry Potter movies while re-reading the series. We have a tendency to revisit particularly beloved books/movies on a regular basis. I have been thinking a lot about why I like HP so well, and a piece of it is genre. I am attracted to the saga, a series of stories in which the basic theme is good vs evil, human cowardice vs the triumph of the human spirit, unnatural (or natural) forces vs one person or one group who rise to the occasion. As Samwise remarks to Frodo "all the people in them stories had many chances to turn back, but they didn't; they kept on".
My childhood was shaped by the Once and Future King, the Song of Roland, Tales from Silver Lands and folk and fairy stories. Magic was as real to me as concrete sidewalks. When a cure for a stye on the eyelid is blessing the eye three times with a gold wedding ring (only valid if the ring is blessed), it's easy to see a role for enchantment in daily life. My adolescence and young adulthood added Narnia, Middle Earth, the Mabinogion, Yeats, Pern. While I have dropped many of my Nana's practices after scientific training, I have not lost the inclusion of magic from my life. Or maybe, magic hasn't given up on me! I live in a charmed world of serendipity and great parking spaces and free popcorn.
The central theme of any saga is good vs evil. Thus we have Harry and a group of stalwart friends vs evil unnatural Voldemort; Frodo and the Nine Walkers vs Sauron, Garion and the Orb of Aldur vs the evil god Torak and his minions, Taran vs Arawn, Lessa and F'Lar vs the devastating consequences of Thread. Other recurring themes are the Cauldron- a Celtic legendary regeneration tool. A magical sword or tool (Eilonwy's bauble, Bilbo's Sting, Aragorn's Anduril, the One Ring, the Orb) serves as a focus of power. A Quest (the Grail, the Orb, the destruction of the Ring) serves as the vehicle for the Tale. It's always a very ordinary person/hobbit/nelwyn (Willow) who has an unknown background, or a relationship to a person or place of power, and has an experience/talent/knowledge that makes the quester unique and necessary for solving the situation. Guidance is in the form of otherworldly or godly messaging and signs along the way. Sometimes a protector spirit is on hand. Sometimes the evil one is a hopeful god-wannabe. Sometimes the evil one is all pure evil, sometimes it's a rich mix of warring emotions so you know the evil one hasn't lost every last vestige of humanity, and thus MIGHT be, could be saved. In the end, the quest generally gets fulfilled, but the questor, even in survival, is too changed to sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet. "The Shire has been saved, Sam, but not for me."
Some people object to Harry because his world does not involve God or Christ (yet oddly includes Christmas). Ann McCaffery took the same heat for not including religion in Pern. CS Lewis made his Aslan an analogy for Christ. Stephen King made his The Stand a true God vs Evil epic. Whther religion is involved or not, the quest is spiritual as well as physical; Everyman steps forth out of the Comfort Zone.
I have seen pure evil in my life. I have seen first-hand a terrorist bombing, riots, attacks on individuals, children and mothers battered by domestic abuse, rape victims, incest victims. I have seen the evil of cancer and disease and their effect on the whole family group. The greatest evil I have seen is violence at the hand of loved ones. It has had a recurring theme in my life. It changes both the victim and the observer profoundly.

I have also seen persons of courage and conviction fight the fight; whether on an individual basis or as the main sources of ignorance, poverty and poor living conditions. Like Sam's heroes, they never stopped and are doing it still. I have seen incredible heroism in my life as well. In one of the most heroic acts I have ever witnessed, I saw my sister physically pull several men off a man they were beating up for no other reason than his skin colour. Her windows got smashed that night, but she never wavered from speaking up when injustice was being done. I have met people who survived incredible odds, who fought depression and came out again into the world. I have seen a few miracles.
Small wonder I like Harry. He stands sometimes alone, sometimes with friends, but in the end it will be down to the self vs the greatest trial of a soul. We all come into the world alone and exit alone. We all fight our own demons.
Escaping into a world of magic where Harry's demons are more tangible and visual is a good way to step out of our own worries and demons, and come back with renewed conviction that we can manage our own.

My friend Bonnie's favourite quote suffices here. "Courage doesn't roar. Courage is the small voice at the end of the day that says 'I will try again tomorrow."

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Party On!

OK- so the day after I graduated, I had a cookout. I joked for years that I would throw a kegger, and when people laughed, it confused me, since I am generally a woman of my word. A kegger it was.
Since I was working a new job, managing lots of stuff and dealing with the festivities and responsibilities of graduation, most of my preparation was day before and day of the party. Ditto came up by train overnite for the grad ceremony, and I took her and my four kids out for lunch. We went back to my home and everyone napped but me- I organized and cleared clutter til 9 then Dan and I cooked and chopped and prepared food. I got up around 7, had tea and went to town.
Folks began arriving just as I was putting food out. Dan did an awesome job as grillmeister. Kate made the salad and Ditto made a work of art on the crackers & cheese.
Beggan cousins came but not a single Murray. ACS friends came, as did my Worcester friends, and some pals from pharmacy school came and one professor. Buck's friends Dan and Amanda. It was cool how people mingled despite the diversity of backgrounds. I felt like all I did was hustle and very little mingling, but people all told me how much fun they had and how nice the folks were. The Worcester contingent took over the kitchen (as usual). It's always the kitchen with us.
Party highlights: my sister Sue was determined to have a cake I could eat and got a gluten-free cake from CeliaCakes in Arlington MA (highly recommended to the celiacs out there on the web!). Kegstands in the yard by Buck, Ditto and other sundry and assorted friends. Bacon, coffee and leftover sausage sandwiches for breakfast (thanks Ditto!). Many laughs and roastings of my children. Bren taking over Dan's coveted couch bed, blankie and pillow. Hugh Beggan. The Mexican patron saint of decoupage.
My guests brought presents, desserts, wine and beer. I was just glad to have the people who love me show up and be with me. I enjoyed having a house full and am thinking of ways to make my house more visitor-friendly in future, since I like company.
I did not take any pictures- I know some people did so if I get any I will post them. But thank you all for coming and sharing my celebration!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Doctor is In

Friday I received my PharmD after nearly four years of incredible grinding.
I am the first in our immediate family to get an advanced degree. I am the fifth in the big extended Murray family to get a doctorate, and the first Beggan doctor.
The week of review and events, was hectic, but I got to see all my classmates and be with them a gain. The day of graduation was one of the most emotional of my life.
Quitting my job and going to school was like jumping off a cliff and hoping an inflatable mattress was at the bottom. (Three years later, I just landed on both feet.) While I was in school, I learned that my dad had terminal cardiac dysfunction and nothing could be done for him medically except for comfort measures. I watched a cousin dear to me slip away to colon cancer and spent as much time with him as I could manage. I saw my kids get apartments, move away and start great lives of their own. A crisis brought someone dear to me back into my life with a grievance mended. My mom had surgery requiring rehab in my second year and two consecutive severe illnesses requiring hospitalization while completing externship. And I worked part-time while I went to school because I needed both the money and the experience.
Walking across that stage with my diploma was one of the highlights of my lie and I hope I never forget that feeling. When I saw my dad afterward, I just started to cry and couldn't stop.
Now I have a new job, a new car, a new life with great new friends. My graduation party was Saturday (and we did have a keg as long promised). Friends from the old neighborhood and the new, family and coworkers, friends I made in school, and friends from my rotations all mingled in and out. Kate and Ditto and I cleaned the whole house. Dan did an awesome job of cooking on the new grill. The boys fetched, carried and served. And when things died down, we hung in the yard and got eaten by mosquitoes and laughed all night.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cap, gown and hood

OK, I have had NO time to post because I have been working 40 hours a week at my new job being a graduate intern pharmacist. Last week, I was out of state at a business executive training program for my company. It was interesting. Some moments it felt like kind of a cross between cult programming and actual business practice.
This week I have a three day board review, then our awards and hooding ceremonies and finally the actual graduation. I picked up my friend from California yesterday at Logan- our experience at school was similar (read that as struggled thru and made it). We compared notes and the upshot is we can't believe the three years of hard work and worry is finally at an end.
We had our review of NAPLEX process, and a herbals review (I got all the questions right so I felt good). We had lunch with all our friends from school , which was awesome. It was so good to be together. We all have jobs. At our table, our collective salaries made us a million-dollar table. Not shabby for someone who is used to living not far over the poverty level. Definitely a good investment.
I got my cap and gown today (of course they lost hers) and we got our tickets. It's a busy week but we are there. FOUR DAYS to graduation!!!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Perfect Beach Day

Friday I had a dentist appointment, so I arranged that I would not work (I had done four longer days instead of 5 regular days). I had my apointment, did a few errands, walked 2.5 miles, then after I got home, I totally crashed and needed a nap. My sister called and my daughter answered. "Beach?" she asked me.
For the past four years, it has been August before I got to the beach. Having grown up on Carson Beach, I had to pretend it was not summer just to survive this emotionally. The entire time I was in school, one weekend at the Cape was the extent of my relationship with the sea. Now I am done. I had a lot of plans for the weekend (had to work the Monday holiday)- cleaning the house, some computer work, organizing notes for my board exam. Split second decision: "Beach". Hawaii Girl seconded the motion.
We got up at 5:30 am and made a quick lunch. Out the door at 6:09 and off to Arlington to meet my sis and hub. There by 7:10; load the car/lunch/sleepy selves with coffee into her Avalon for the ride to Parker River wildllife refuge. The piping plover is currently nesting so only two lots are open: we chose the first (a first for me) and parked. Hauled out chairs, cooler, beach bags; hiked the boardwalk to the sea. Staked out turf. Eight am tide; 78 degrees & not a cloud in the sky. We walked a long way up the island as per our early morning ritual, then back to the beach chairs to read, chat, snooze as we so desired. The water was about 55 degrees so out futile attempts at swimming died with the lack of circulation above our ankles. The sun was hot and renewing; the breeze steady and cool. I found my first sea glass of the season within ten minutes of getting there: Kate found the first sand dollar.
The entire time my kids were young, we performed this ritual many times in the course of the summer. Some of our rituals have become memories: the annual huge sandcastle and the ritual burying of Ted in the sand replete with large clamshell-adorned gynecomastia. Now my kids are in their twenties and content to sit and read the sports page or just veg. Fine by me.
This was a perfect beach day- we did all our usual activities, people-watched (the guy in the thong was interesting in an icky way, as the college kids behind us observed) and read. Sometimes we chatted and sometimes we didn't. Sometimes I lay on the towel and sometimes I sat alone with my feet in a puddle of cool sea water. All in all, it was restful and renewing, and exactly what I needed. I did not get sunburnt or bitten by sandfleas or greenhead flies. I did get good color and my hair smelled salty. I did get a sliver in my foot which Sue removed. We did sit on Sue's beautiful Victorian porch with the great breeze and crackers and cheese. And when we got home we hosed the salt off, ate well and slept so deeply.
All of this is my criteria for a perfect beach day.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Counting to thirty

Last Monday was my first day as a pharmacist. As usual in my life, a post-it note with a message "a graduate pharmacist is starting Monday" was my introduction in the new job. The computer system is one I have used before (and hated), but the float pharmacist working with me gave me a mnemonic that made the system "click" and now I am negotiating it so much better.
MT FEET HURT. Really hurt. Of all the things I could have inherited from my Dad, I got his varicose veins and crappy circulation (but thank you God for omitting the nose). Considering all the things that pharmacy entails, it's frustrating that I am so focused on my feet. But I am.
My favorite problem was a lady who wanted a refill on a prescription; we looked in her record and in the system, but no luck. "Did you have this filled somewhere else? "Canada." Apparently the psychic pharmacy crystal ball is supposed to be able to find any prescription previously filled anywhere else in the world and magically transfer it and fill it yesterday. I give it about three weeks til I get that good:)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Done Done Done Done Done

Today we wrapped up our last rotation. Our preceptor met with us in the afternoon to do grades- I am delighted to remain on the Dean's List as I conclude my graduate studies. I left the campus with kind of the same feeling I had when I was in labour: wanting to get it over, but knowing I'd never have this moment back again and wanting to savour it. (That feeling DOES exclude the push part and the medchem exam parts.)
I drove away from the tiny building that passes as campus for us and headed off to buy some shirts for work (dress code at new job is color-coded).

Friday, April 06, 2007


The Most Random Questions Ever:
1) What side of the heart do you draw first? Left
2) Can you dive without plugging your nose? I can dive without plugging it but cannot swim without plugging it.
3) What color is your razor? Blue
4) What is your blood-type? O+
5) Who would you want to be tied to for 24 hours? Nobody.
7) How do you feel about carrots? Have you ever seen a rabbit with glasses?
8) How many chairs at the dining room table? I have six at the one I keep set up but I also have a mahogany table; the chairs need refinishing/re-glueing.
9) Which is the best Spice Girl? They sucked.
10) Do you know what time it is? Apparently 1:49 EST In my world, it’s Sunday afternoon and that is good enough for me.
12) What would you do if you were stuck in an elevator? Push the button, yell and settle in to play Bejeweled on my PDA.
13) What's your favorite kind of gum? I don’t chew gum. I have too many fillings. I like Beechies tho.
14) T or F: All's fair in love and war? Nothings fair and both suck.
15) Do you have a crush on anyone? I am too old for crushes. Who made this up, some kid in 6th grade?
16) Do you use words that you don't know the meaning to? There are very few words I don’t know the meaning to. In English at any rate. I can also spell them correctly most of the time.
17) Do you like to sleep? Sleeping is my favourite hobby. I almost can’t wait til I’m dead so I can sleep a real lot.
18) Do you know which US states don't use Daylight Savings? I’m cheating because I saw this but HI and AZ. Personally I don’t understand why they don’t just leave things on DST. I hate switching.
19) Do you know the song Total Eclipse of the Heart? OK make that a sixth grader in 1985.
20) Do you want a bright yellow '06 mustang? No. I want a sturdy dependable car that goes in all kinds of weather, never breaks down and is a dull color so no one wants to steal it. And gets 100 miles to a gallon. And runs on leftovers.
21) What's something you've always wanted? To live in Ireland.
23) What does "Semper Fidelis" stand for? Always faithful. Strikes me as an odd military motto for people they call “jarheads”.
24) Would you rather swim in the ocean or a lake? Ocean. But I hate jellyfish. I love waves. And the smell. Except Fort Point Channel, especially at low tide.
25) Do you wear a lot of black? Yes. I am trying to improve that, but I feel it minimizes and goes with everything. It’s always in fashion. But I hate looking like I am perpetually going to a wake. Especially since, the older I get, the amount of wakes I go to increases yearly.
26) Describe your hair. Dark brown with a few silver streaks. Bangs I cut myself and long enough to put into a pony tail. Still gets wavy in humidity. I used to have blonde curls when I was little. I could still have blonde curls, but I don’t want to pay for them and maintain them.
27) Do you have Entomophobia? Well, not a phobia- I can kill a nasty bug if I have to. But I prefer to scream and get one of my kids to kill it for me. I do hate bugs tho, especially spiders. And mosquitoes. But fireflies and ladybugs are cool. Never did like dragonflies tho.
28) Are you an adult? When it suits my purposes.
29) Who is/are your best friend(s)? My sister first and foremost. My daughter and my niece. Ros, Melissa, Joan, Gail, Sue, Heidi, Lynne, Thelma, Bonnie, Dorry, Melissa.
30) Do you have a tan? No. Haven’t had a tan in ages. Need to rectify that.
32) Do you enjoy spending time with your mother? Not in hospital waiting rooms listening to her fart.
33) Are you a sugar freak? I am a jellybeanoholoc.
34) Do you like orange juice? Yes and I should drink it more.
35) What sign are you? Clearance, followed by 75% off, 60% off and 50% off. (I love the thrill of the hunt.) Also Virgo with Gemini rising, moon in Gemini.
36) Where do you wish you were right now? Being handed my perfect NAPLEX results on a beach in Ireland. How’s that for a fantasy?
37) Who did you copy this from? Kate- who else does these things?
38) How do you know them? I gave birth to her about 28 years ago. It was a good move on my part.
39) Have you kissed anyone in the past week? All three of my cats. Two of them seemed to enjoy it.
40) What are your plans for the weekend? Well, I had planned to file all my therapeutics notes, do my taxes, engrave some stuff and rake the garden. Basically I watched some old movies on tv and ate jellybeans and ice cream because my last school break ever ends tomorrow. *Sigh*

1. Name a movie you have seen more than 10 times. Braveheart, Princess Bride, Dogma, Rocky Horror and all the Harry Potters and LOTR.
2. Name a movie you’ve seen multiple times in the theater. Harry Potter and Chamber of Fire. Oh and ALL the Marx Brothers movies- they used to do marathon shows for five bucks and we’d watch them all day. And Rocky Horror.
3. Name an actor who would make you more inclined to see a movie. Mel Gibson. Brendan Fraser- cute and funny. Kevin Smith- clever and twisty.
4. Name an actor who would make you less likely to see a movie. John Waters- creepy nasty. Sylvester Stallone- duuuh. Jerry Stiller- whiny. Bruce Willis- macho movies with shooting and explosions- eh.
5. Name a movie you can and do quote from. Princess Bride. “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
6. Name a movie musical in which you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs. Let’s start at the very beginning…OK seriously? Sound of Music, Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy, Annie, My Fair Lady, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The list of plays is longer- Phantom, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Godspell, Les Miserables, Tommy, Cats, Hair: many more. My family worked in theatre. So did I, in college. I got to see opera for nuthin AND I got time and a half.:)
6. Name a movie you have been known to sing along with. This is a redundant question, n’est-ce pas? Sound of Music. Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy, Annie, My Fair Lady, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
7. Name a movie you would recommend everyone see. Sound of Music. Everyone can find something in it I guess. Adults- Eat, Drink, Man, Woman and Quest For Fire. Those two teach us things about how we communicate.
8. Name a movie you own. All the LOTR, Harry Potters and Quest For Fire, Young Frankenstein. And a huge cabinet of pre-DVD VCR tapes too.
9. Name an actor who launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops. LL Cool J. Toys with Robin Williams and Joan Cusack blew me away.

10. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? Oh yeah, lots- Neponset Drive-In was a big hit for huge Irish families with one car. My fave- as a teen, we saw Blazing Saddles.
11. Name a movie you keep meaning to see but you just haven’t gotten around to yet. Clerks. I went to watch Dan’s DVD of it over my spring break, and he had inadvertently put a porn DVD in the jewel case. I think Kevin Smith would have enjoyed that. (“Mom, where’s my porn?”)
12. Ever walked out of a movie? No. Then again, I didn’t pay for most of the movies I have seen (helps to have family working in theatre chains!).
13. Name a movie that made you cry in the theater. The Rose. Bette Midler rocks.
14. Popcorn? Nope. Bring my own JellyBellys.
15. How often do you go to the movies (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)? Once a year or so. Whenever a LOTR or Harry Potter comes out.
16. What's the last movie you saw in a movie theater? Well we were supposed to be seeing Prairie Home Companion but the newspaper lied and it was Devil Wears Prada.
17. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of movie? I like comedy but not too stupid. I like drama as well.
18. What’s the first movie you remember seeing in the theater? I dunno.
19. What movie do you wish you had never seen? Poltergeist. I had nightmares for weeks about the bodies popping up in the pool.
20. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed? Rocky Horror. You just can’t explain it, you have to see it. And you either love it or hate it, no in-between.
21. What is the scariest movie you’ve seen? Poltergeist. Sixth Sense scared me the first time but I found it so incredibly intriguing and poignant.
22. What is the funniest movie you’ve seen? History of the World Part 1. I adore Mel Brooks.

Monday, April 02, 2007


My dad turned 88 on Saturday. My ex bitched to me when I said how frail he is "You've been ready to bury him for the past fifteen years!" This is a guy who has survived the Great Depression, WW2, life as a state employee, a very high-stress job (YOU try running an airport!), prostate cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, congestive heart failure, multiple myocardial infarctions, chronic renal insufficiency and asshole neighbors. Last year we were basically told that there is nothing else medicine can do for him except keep him comfortable. That was not an easy thing to hear. I honestly did not think he would see me graduate from school, but he seems to be surprising us all.

I was pleased to have all of my kids (except Miss Hawaii, of course) be there to honour him on this auspicious day. He was pretty happy about it, and he enjoyed his great-grandchildren as well. His favourite present was the presence of all of us.
Happy birthday, Hank!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

One Flew Over

I am doing a rotation at a psych facility, and the intricacies of the
human mind are mesmerizing. I am in a group of students for the first
time, and I am so enjoying the different perspectives they bring. The
opportunities for learning something new have been myriad, and being
able to bounce this stuff off other students is so cool. We do a lot of
presentations, which I do enjoy, and go to a lot of meetings like
Pharmacy & Therapeutics, and Team meetings.
Today I had to lead
a group discussion and one person had to leave because the social
worker came, but I heard the patient comment to her "It's ok, that was a sucky group!" Yeah, just try to lead a bunch of people with varying cognitive function into agreement that taking your meds is a good thing- especially when the meds wreak havoc on your systems and make you fat, dopey, and sleepy (and the staff has no problem with this!).
I am pretty sure it was a sucky group, but we all really tried.

It is so cold here. I had to warm up my little buckwheat pillow and I am toasting my feet before getting back to work. More research, more writing. Eight weeks of clinicals left- the light is at the end of the tunnel!
I got a letter from the college and didn't open it right away becasue I thought it was a non-bill again. Apparently, I made the Dean's List for fall semester. I wasn't even thinking about that! Woo Hoo! Ditto pointed out that after struggling my way through all the sciences, I am getting excellent grades in the part where you have to act like a pharmacist. Add my Phi Sigma Lambda induction to that and I guess it's been a good start to the final year. If I can only keep my nose clean until NAPLEX I'll be ok, but I won't relax til the NAPLEX score is in hand.
Two solid job offers and a few good leads...What a great field pharmacy is!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Poster Presentation

It's OVER!!! Thank God.
The graduation poster is a mandatory presentation done be P3's (that's senior in the accelerated program) and is worth one whole grade point. You choose a drug, find primary literature (that's clinical trials to you non-science folk) and write up a presentation. Normally people do this drug vs that drug and illustrate one's superiority (efficacy) with studies.
Part one is search. Part two is bibliography. Part three is writing an abstract. Part four is creating a poster- you get a threefold presentation board and have one title and 12 slides.
Of course, I can't adapt to herd mentality and I chose a drug that works with rare cancers, and did my presentation on its effects on a cancer so rare it's 7 in one million. I get totally sucked in to research and spent hours reading and interpreting studies. I did a progression of efficacy, use in advanced cancer, resistance to the drug and how histological DNA tissue typing is critical for prognosis and dose selection. I was pretty happy plugging along with the written work- I do love that kind of stuff. Week of presentation, I started having huge anxiety about it- my blood pressure was up, I wasn't sleeping well. And Wednesday was P-Day.
I got into Worcester early and met some of my friends. My place was moved- I was Number One which was scary- thought I'd be first. I was in a corner in a big hall. The guy next to me, it turned out, was going to do a rotation in Manchester and was moving in with my pal Ryan- small world, eh? Bonnie, my former preceptor, decided to come scope it out and offer support. It was so encouraging to have her and another pharmacist pop in, and I ran thru my spiel no problem. Another college employee came down and asked some questions- same deal. Everyone else was being judged and done. Finally, my judges came, and they wanted to read it first and ask questions. Thrown off a bit, I began stuttering like an idiot (say Platelet-Derived Growth Factor five times fast and see how you do!). I didn't say half the things I wanted, I didn't articulate well, and the one question they asked- "How much does it cost?" I could not answer at all. ($461.99 for 30 tablets, and the dose is four or eight a day!) We won't get our grades til March, so it's nerve wracking. They have been known to flunk people on their posters.
The school and alumni association threw us a party afterward- I figured it was cru d'etes and cheese but it was a full buffet and open bar. I had oranges in my purse and had wine- wish I had asked for a GF meal! The line was funny- one of the deans and a pharmacology prof were in front of us and we had a good time hanging with them. Most of the profs were there, and nearly all my class stayed. It was so nice to see everyone- we've had a wedding and a baby since last we got together. It was the last time we'd all be together before graduation, and not all of us will be there.
It took such a huge chunk of emotional energy all told. I had another presentation the next day at my rotation- it went well. It was a lot more low-key delivering to techs than to professors.
Friday was the last day of 3rd rotation- we are more than half-done with clinical year, and we are 100 days to graduation. My preceptor let me go early, and a bunch of us got together up in Manchester for dinner and drinks. We helped Tran & Michelle move out, then headed off to party. Two of the group have already signed contracts. Several of them move to their home states today. It was bittersweet to know this was it for the group and it was hard to leave. I didn't get home til 12:30.
I slept til 1:30 this afternoon- it was so good to sleep. By 6 pm I was ready to go back to bed. I am taking this day to just ready and putter. back to the real world Monday.
Poster is Done!!!

Postscript- I got a 98! I was in the elevator en route to a meeting and bumped into one of the women who graded me, so I thanked her for the grade. "You're the one who earned it," she said as she stepped off.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Three Cats vs One Canary

I have a lot to do but I have to tell this one real quick.
Buck is on his way to India as we speak for nearly a month, business trip. He called me Saturday; the heat in his building went out and it was bitter cold with no landlord in sight. Could I mind the canary while he was gone? He was worried that if he didn't get it out fast it would get sick and die (they are really sensitive to drafts).
Enter Bandit, the little yellow guy with the black mask on his eyes like the Lone Ranger. Buck set the huge cage on the floor and Sorcha started sniffing- then Bandit moved and you should have seen the look on her face: eyes dilated, whiskers twitching, ear forward... We quickly cleared the dining room table and placed Bandit up (the leaves come out and it folds into a narrow table. We moved all the nearby furniture away. He is near sunlight, out of drafts and a heat register is right near him.
Sunday I spent the day chasing the cats from jumping on the edge of the table (there really is no room but they are determined). I am working on my poster presentation- due next week but draft due tomorrow, trying to set up organizational charts in Powerpoint so I can illustrate treatment arms and graph outcomes of studies.
I set up shop on the cushy chair where I study, near Bandit. I have candles around, had my puter playing Irish music while I type and Sorcha likes to snuggle behind my head. Well, every time a song sung by Katie McMahon of Anuna comes on (she has a really high soprano), Bandit would sing and flit around the cage like a maniac. I played several different sopranos and he goes berserk for Katie. He got so animated, Sorcha leaped from behind my head and landed on the 8 inches of table not covered by cage. Unfortunately for her, there was a lit candle there (next to the squirt bottle I kept squirting them with, apparently it isn't the deterrent I had hoped). She leaped off the table and tore up the stairs as I registered scorched fur smell. I tore after her, thinking she was on fire and ready to set the whole damn house up. She raced around, ending up on Buck's bunk- she stunk but was unhurt and not on fire, but she had big clumps of wax on her fur from the candle. I could hear her licking all night even tho I managed to cut most of them off.
After all the excitement, she left the bird be for the most part. But at 1 am I heard the unmistakable thump of a cat falling off the table again.
This morning he was waking up and cheerful and chirping.
This evening I got home and he seemed happy to see me- chirped back at me. Cats were lying around being nonchalant. When I came back in with the mail, I saw something bright glittering from the top of the cage. It was a collar- the kind that come off when a cat gets his head stuck somewhere. The big tag read "Cujo". I swear the bird was snickering.
I sat down in the cushy chair to work after supper and I noticed that on the back of Bandit's water dish (hung on the inside of the cage) is a huge chunk of cat fur- beige and fluffy (Cujo).
Bandit may be holding his own for now, but I think I am going to stop off and buy a hook and eye lock tomorrow. Bandit's moving to a safer location.
Bird 2 Kitties 0. Go Bird!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Footprints in the Snow

I woke up really early on Saturday because I had to work and it had been snowing when I went to bed. I let Sorcha out while I thawed my english muffin, and went out with her to warm my car up. I decided to clean the windows of snow and enjoy the morning.
I noticed that there were footprints in the snow. I looked at them and realized they went right up to my car's doors and did not walk past and out to the street. I looked more carefully and deduced very quickly- a car had pulled in sometime in the night. Someone got out and tried first the passenger, then the driver side doors to get into my car. Unsuccessful, he/she headed toward the back yard where my neighbors' cars are. The light on the motion sensor must have sprung to life, because the footprints stop and the car backed up, he/she got in and it drove off.
I called the local police and they investigated and pretty much concurred with my deduction.
I guess I am lucky because they didn't smash anything, they didn't try and break into my house and nobody is hurt. But it put me greatly ill at ease for the whole day, and I ended up being so jumpy. Every time my friend entered the IV room, I jumped, and I cut my fingers three times on syringes and glass ampules.
People who assault other people's belongings and violate their security suck.
I know they won't get caught, but I hope their karma catches up to them.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Pearls without wisdom

A big thing in our learning is the professors imparting what they call "Clinical Pearls". These are things that don't make it into the books but are imparted by persons with more clinical experience and are based on years of observation. Some of my experience as a mom, as a player in the public health in my community, or as a social worker gave me a boost that many of our students didn't have, but frankly, my experience didn't help me a lot in school, so hopefully it will in practice.
Anyhow, pearls were always a big thing when I was younger- few people I knew owned real pearls, but almost all the women had fake pearl necklaces. Some people had pearl earrings. A Southern belle type moved into our neighborhood and wore her pearls all the time- we got a kick out of that. Then at Christmas in '86 when my dad had his really big heart attack and we didn't think he'd make it, we kicked into high gear. He had just started painting the house's interior, so we did it all. And for Christmas, he and Mom gave all three of us pearl necklaces. I was so shocked I couldn't even talk. They were so beautiful- like they are alive. The lucre, the sheen and polish was so lovely. And it gets more beautiful the more you wear them- the oils from your skin polish the lucre on the pearl. I don't wear them as much as I should but I wear them as often as I think of it.
My friend Melissa worked at a jewelry supply company for a while and learned how to make all kinds of cool stuff (she is sooo talented, she is Martha Stewart without the attitude!) She used a lot of glass beads and pearls, and her earrings and necklaces were so nice I started buying them for presents.
When I went to Hawaii, Kate took me to this store that sells pearls that are irregular shapes and sizes; some are dyed. I liked them so much I bought a handful, then the next day I went back and bought more.
I wanted to have Melissa make me earrings for Christmas gifts, but she has a new job and was too busy. She told me what to buy for supplies and how to make them. My mom was very ill and was in the hospital for four days, so I didn't get to it before Christmas. Right after, I took out the stuff and gradually I got the knack. The other night, I talked to my sis for an hour or so, and I whipped out 8 pair of earrings while we chatted.
I liked the funky, irregular ones the best. The colors were stupendous- some were bright and some just subtle. I made several pair for me too-I didn't buy myself any souvenirs, so this is my treat.
So I have yet another new avocation-I can make some pretty nice earrings. I should be studying and doing more of my school work, but I had my fling with pearls, and now I can turn my attention to tyrosine kinase inhibitors with a fresh outlook and a clear conscience.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Information Diva

This is totally funny to me but I have a new occupation. I was messing around on Yahoo a few days ago and I saw this thing called Yahoo Answers where people can ask questions and everyone can answer. Some of them were totally smartass and some very practical. So I posed a question about stale chocolate and then surfed a bit. I answered a question I saw, and then another, and then a few more. The next day I looked on my email and was told that out of seven questions I answered, four of them were chosen as Best Answer by the asker.

So that piqued my interest some more and I went on again last night and did a few more. I had three more best answers by this evening.

My favourite was one I did today about how to throw a tea party for 12 ten-year olds. I channeled Mrs. Aloysius Smythe III, for those of you who remember my famous tea party back when I did day care for Heidi's kids. I would be proud to have the Mrs. be my next best answer. She was, after all, one of my greatest creations.

So check out the Yahoo Answers - under my skier nick- sceanaim- and say hello to the Mrs.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year Resolutions

Yeah yeah everyone makes 'em and breaks 'em. Usually I avoid them.
But I hereby declare that in '07 I shall:
  • Drink more water. I never drink enough water, and now I understand how important H2O is biologically.
  • Eat more fruit. I eat my veggies pretty often but I need to eat more fruit.
  • Take my calcium. I know that if you have osteoarthritis (and I do), you don't get osteoporosis, but I also know I don't metabolize minerals properly. Calcium is absorbed best along with food and the recommended daily requirement is 1200 milligrams and 400 International Units of Vitamin D for a woman my age (somewhere between the Age of Aquarius and the age when I can collect Social Security!). If I take one tablet in the morning and one with dinner, I can get the rest in my diet, since most of my proteins come from cheeses & legumes.
  • Take my iron at least five times a week. Normal people look at iron as a drain clogger. Me, it's the opposite- it passes through me so fast, I can barely function on it. However, my hematocrit is a struggle to keep above 25. I feel better when my crit is up; I like having energy. I need the help of the mineral to get there.
OK that's a good start. I want to add in walk more and add weight-bearing and stretches, but for the next few months I face a commute in the dark both ways and regular is a word that won't happen until graduation. So for now we start on building healthy cells and energy. And that's a good start to a starting year.

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