Wednesday’s Weakest Link

Weak Link by Jean James

Weak Link by Jean James

Forgive me trail for I have sinned. it has been one week since my last running session.  It’s 30 days to race time, and I’m so behind schedule.  Trying to find time for a run this past week has been next to impossible, and I fear I will pay for my slacker behavior.  Damn those three kids, weekly camps, job, and P.M.S.; a perfect storm of tired and I got sucked right into the eye.  I’m not sure how a week slipped past and I only made it to the trail once.  On the bright side, I did manage to get that chocolate bar I was complaining about last week.

Along with some advice I got on my last article, I’ve also been watching all the olympic prep this week, and twice in one week Quinoa (pronounced Kin-wa)was mentioned, so I’ve decided to throw it into my diet.  It’s a grain containing amino acids, lysine, calcium, phosphorus and iron, and is closely related to the tumbleweed.  And since I’ve been feeling a bit like a tumbleweed myself lately, this might just be the perfect food for me.

This week I’ve decided to kick it up a notch and make a running schedule and more importantly, stick to it.  Maybe this way I’ll manage to run more than once a week.  And since I’ve booked my flight to Oregon, there’s really no turning back.

So wish me luck in achieving my goals this week.  Any motivational advice would always be appreciated.

Happy Running!

Friday Funnies: Calling All Nurses!

U.S. Nurses playing cards, reading, and relaxing circa 1918.  U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command Photo.

U.S. Nurses playing cards, reading, and relaxing circa 1918. U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command Photo.



Something magical happens when nurses get together to share stories so funny they make us pee in our pants, double over in stitches, and send tears streaming down our face, as we release the tension of caring for some pretty f’d-up patients.  I have experienced this kind of laughter over the years and it’s like a great orgasm: deep, rich, and leaving you wanting more.

With that said, I would like to invite my fellow nurse readers (if I have any) to submit your funniest story, or one you’ve heard and think is worthy of retelling.  Each and every Friday I would like to post these stories to the ‘Friday Funnies’.  You can publish your story under your own name, your nom de plume, or remain anonymous. I’ll fill in my own stories if I don’t have any friday guest authors.

The only thing I ask is that you abide by the HIPPA laws, and use your artistic license to change any part of your story that might identify someone.

You can send your submissions to

Happy story telling!

Wednesday’s Weakest Link

Weak Link by Jean James

Weak Link by Jean James

Attention all runners, I need help!!  I was invited to join a relay race team to run in the 31st annual Hood to Coast relay race in Oregon at the end of August.  The Hood to Coast relay race is the largest relay race in the world.  The course is 199 miles long with 1050 teams of 12 runners.  The first race started in 1982, and its popularity has grown exponentially.  I guess that’s how I’m now somehow involved.

I like to consider myself a social exerciser.  I don’t compete, and my only real challenge is getting out of bed to make it to the gym.  I’ve never run a race in my life, okay except for field day, but that really shouldn’t count.  I’m the last person to join the team, as they were down a man, and my friend interjected on my behalf.  From what I can gather, I’m sure I’m the weakest link.

I’ll be running with a lot of overachievers.  The team captain will be competing in the NYC Ironman just prior to this race, so you can imagine what I’m up against.  I only have 38 days left to race time and I have to be able to comfortably run up to seven miles.  However, I don’t find anything comfortable about the term seven miles.

So, it’s training time, and this is where I need your help.  I’m fortunate to live in a place with a great outdoor trail.  The problem is, it’s 100 degrees everyday, I have no clue what to eat before I run, and with three young kids I’m already bordering on exhaustion.

I feel like it’s me against the trail and the trail is winning.  I head out determined to run five miles without stopping, but that trail’s a siren calling me in from the shadeless pavement, with her benches and rest areas.  Just a quick break I tell myself, a few sips of water, then feet to the street.  I know there’s no stopping in the real race.  I know this, yet I’m lured in any way.

It doesn’t help that I’m both hungry and tired all the time.  I’m hoping it’s anemia, at least there’s a cure for that, but I’m still waiting on my blood results.   So I need a plan to boost my energy, improve my diet, and help me with tips on how to run farther without running out of steam.

I’m pleading to the runners, nutritionists, health nuts, and anyone else out there with advice to offer.  I don’t want to let my team down.  I don’t want to be the weakest link.

I plan on keeping this Wednesday journal from now until I finish the race, keeping you updated on my progress and hopefully having you update me on what it takes to run a successful race.

This week I cheated on my trail with the gym.  I ran three miles on the indoor track (without stopping) and did 1.6 miles on the Stairmaster (I’m sure this doesn’t count).  I’m PMS, cranky and tired this week.  It makes running extremely difficult when you can’t breathe, your boobs hurt and you really don’t give a shit about any upcoming race.  My only objective this week is to restock my fridge with extra dark Lindt chocolate bars or I might rip someone’s face off.

See, I told you I need help!

This Really Burns Me Up!

Courtesy of Jesse Michener at

Courtesy of Jesse Michener at

Two sisters from a Washington state school suffered severe sun burn during their field day festivities due to a ridiculous policy that states sunscreen cannot be applied to children at school; it is considered a “medication”.  Only California allows children to bring sunscreen to school.  The school district forbids teachers from applying sunscreen to children for obvious reasons, but refuses to allow the children to block themselves because sunscreen use requires a physician’s prescription.  What??!!

My two kids recently had field day and I got a notice home saying the exact same thing.  I could apply sunscreen to my children before leaving for school, but any reapplication would not be available for them should their initial block wear off.  So rather than protect the children from obvious dangerous exposure to the sun (one liability), they would rather cover their own assess by doing nothing (an even worse liability).

So tell me, why do we have school nurses?  I understand not wanting teachers to reapply the sunscreen and I absolutely agree with that, but if a child is burning and is in need of medical care, isn’t it the responsibility of the school nurse to intervene at that moment.  Where was this Tacoma WA. school nurse at anyway?  And even if the nurse can’t reapply sunscreen, shouldn’t her judgement come into play here and remove the children from the unsafe environment.

I can’t tell you how many notes I get home during the school year to give my permission for the most ridiculous things, you would think perhaps that on field day schools might make it a policy to have parents sign a permission slip allowing the school nurse to reapply sunscreen in the event that their child was starting to bubble up like a hot tar blister?  Call me crazy but this country is so obsessed with liability that we feel more comfortable with apathy.

Why is it that one state out of fifty has managed to find a solution to this problem, but 49 states still have their thumb up their ass?  I understand children have a lot of allergies, got it, but if the parents are sending in a labeled bottle of sunscreen that they always use on their child, then I’m not sure I see what the big deal is.

Again, doing nothing to protect children in a dangerous situation is more of a crime to me than acting in their best interest.  Field day should be a day for tears of joy and fun and laughter, not a day for tears of pain and trips to the Emergency room.  Thankfully these girls are healing from their burns, but what will their future hold?  According to it only takes one blistering sunburn to more than double their risk of melanoma later in life.

I wonder how many cumulative years of graduate degrees were on that field, yet no one was smart enough to take the children out of the sun?

Follow Your Nose

Paradise Lost by William Blake circa 1807 PD-art

Paradise Lost by William Blake circa 1807 PD-ART

I’m a Libra, and if there’s one thing I’m always sure of, it’s my sense of smell.  I have been both blessed and cursed with a heightened olfactory nerve.  I don’t buy anything I don’t smell first.  And when it comes to men, well they have to pass the sniff test too.  I once, (okay twice), stood up a man because I didn’t like his smell.  I just couldn’t bring myself to go out with him, and couldn’t quite bring myself to tell him it was him, not me.  I always attributed this to my quirky Libra traits, until awhile back when I watched a documentary explaining that our genetic match is influenced by our sense of olfaction.  Finally a legitimate excuse for breaking up with someone.

Recently, a woman from California, (of course), had decided to stick her nose into other people’s dating lives, by setting up what she calls pheromone parties. Judith Prays, who came up with the idea, did so after several failed attempts at online dating.  She arranged these pheromone parties in L.A. and recently in New York.  Singles attending were instructed to sleep in a tee-shirt for three days, then stuff it into a ziplock bag and place it in the freezer, only to be reopened at the party.  Bags would be labeled blue or pink and be given a number to help match scent to sniffer.  Each party goer would have a chance to sniff their choice of colored bags and decide which scent suited them most.  I guess it was more polite than going around sniffing each others asses right?

So was this just an eclectic bunch of fellow Librans like myself riding the latest wave in match making, or are there cold, hard facts to support this new dating sensation.  According to olfactory research, there are facts to back this up.  We have these genes called MHC genes that are important for the immune system.   Female humans, (fish and mice), are able to get a whiff of these genes when looking for a potential mate, and it’s those MHC genes, different from our own, that we prefer.

Women seem to dominate when it comes to their sense of olfaction, and this is especially true during ovulation.  Women are like transformers at this time of the month.  Our faces become prettier, our bodies become hornier, and our noses are just waiting to suck in the odor of our ideal genetic match.  It’s like the perfect baby making storm, and men don’t realize it’s their fruit we’re looking to pluck.  I can guarantee you this was the formula for how my first child was conceived.: New Years eve + ovulation+ alcohol+ fine smell’in man+ alcohol+ ovulation= holy crap, I’m having a baby!!

Once we’ve conquered our genetic match, and spawn our superior progeny, we women are also able to clearly identify our biological offspring by their body odor.  We are olfactory superhero’s.

But, even though I’m a smellers biggest fan, I’m not sure if I were single, that I would want to spend my night sniffing t-shirts in a bag.  Call me old-fashioned, but I still like the idea of meeting the man before meeting his shirt.  I like sitting together at the bar, having a drink while leaning in real close to talk into his ear over the loud music and discover for myself the chemistry that either has me sniffing around for more, or has me and my nose, running like a bad cold.

Jiffy Lube Day Spa

Day At The SpaPhoto by Jean James

Day At The Spa
Photo by Jean James

As a critical care nurse I’m always on the move; but that’s nothing compared to being a mother.  On the run and always short on time, we moms are a very impatient breed (as I’m sure any of you with children can attest to.)  We like fast service, fast food, and fast cash.  Having to wait for anything makes us irritable.  If we could conduct all of our business through dive thru windows, we would.

When it comes to car maintenance we are no different.  In New York we have this place called Jiffy Lube where you can bring your car in for an oil change (or other service issues) and be out in fifteen minutes. This got me thinking about quick service day spas for moms on the run who don’t have the time or the cash to spend whittling the day away in a bathrobe and slippers, sipping on cucumber water.

At Jiffy Lube Day Spa (JLDS), no appointment would be necessary.  You just show up, pick your service selection off the menu board, plug-in your time allotment, and get ready for the best fifteen minutes of your life.

I see the JLDS menu board looking something like this:

  1.   High Gloss Polish

Manicure/Pedicure in need of repair
Don’t fall into a deep despair
With our quick drying polish, and pressurized air
You’ll be out in a jiffy
With money to spare.

2.     Jiffy Pube

If your hair down below
looks like miracle grow
Try our lube and a wax
From your head to your toe
A fresh trimmed up bush will make you feel flirty
And we’ll have you out in just under thirty.

3.     Brow Inspection

Eyebrows a bit like old Ebenezer:
Come in for a five-minute Jiffy Lube Tweezer.

4.     Fix a flat Lip Repair

Labium looking a little deflated?
Our quick acting Botox will have you elated.
A couple of sticks with our numbing enzyme,
And your lips will be plumped and looking divine.

5.     Body Shop Special

Total body in disrepair?
Experiencing dimpling on your derriere?
A body scrub is what you need.
Our techs will do the job with speed.
With skin so soft and fresh to touch
Your satisfaction guaranteed!

6.     Face Wash

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
we can make those large pores small.
Oily skin or flaky mess?
Try our facials,
They’re the best.

7.     Realignment

Back out of whack?
Try our chiropractic crack.
Guaranteed to get straight
Any stray vertebrate.

When you walk in the door with children in tow,
fear not the receptionists sarcastic glow.
At Jiffy Lube Day Spa, some think we’re deluded,
but care for your children is always included.

Well…one can dream…

Expiration Date; The Souring Aspects of Growing Old

courtesy of Asli Kutluay

Florence Nightingale courtesy of Asli Kutluay

Did you ever think you’d get to a point in your life when what you have to say doesn’t matter to anyone, anymore?   Maybe you’re already there, or know someone who is.  It’s the sad side to aging when your opinion expires, and the person on the other end of your flapping gums finds you about as relevant as spoiled milk.

I used to think that old people held such great wisdom and knowledge from all the years spent prior on this planet.  I believed in looking up to your elders, anxiously awaiting some bone of advice to nibble on and regurgitate into my own life.

But as I get older, I’m realizing that this just isn’t true.  Not all old people impart wisdom.  But for the many that do, are we listening?

As a nurse of twenty plus years, the one piece of elderly advice I have heard time and again is, “Don’t get old!”  I used to laugh at this comment and brush it aside, but at forty-one, I’m kind of starting to fear this bit of Methuselahian advice.  The physical aspects of aging are scary enough without the thought of gradually being reduced to nothing more than an amorphous cluster of denture cream, depends, and dementia.

We need to respect our youthfully challenged population, for one day we will step into their orthopedics, and it will be our coke rimmed spectacle reflection staring back at us in the mirror.

There’s usually a lesson in a story, even if you’ve heard it a thousand times.  So instead of rolling your eyes and planning your escape route, sit down, pour a cup of coffee, and listen to that old codger, because that might just be the lesson we’re all missing.

I don’t want to expire before my time.  I want to age like fine wine and have that cork popped open, instead of jammed into my doddering old pie hole.  We’re all gonna get there someday…

Just ‘Don’t get old” along the way!

Dead Bodies

Night Nurse Warner Brothers

Night Nurse Warner Brothers

I don’t think you can ever prepare someone for the sight of a real dead body.  I say real because the kind of dead body you see at a funeral home, with all the makeup, hair, jewelry, and fancy clothing looks nothing like a freshly dead corpse.

So, when I encountered my first dead body, I realized that not even nursing school had prepared me.  All that C.P.R. (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) training on a healthy looking dummy became a foggy memory when I was called to the bedside of my first dead patient.

She was a lovely  woman who had undergone hip surgery earlier that day. Other than a little indigestion, she had no complaints.  I set her up for dinner thinking that would help soothe her stomach, then went to the nurses station to chart.  Sometime later, her grandchildren came to the desk to tell me their grandmother ‘didn’t look right’, and could I come down and check on her.

Obviously they too had never seen a real dead body.

I walked down the hall to the last room on the right, entered, and to my horror I realized indeed, she was dead!  I panicked.  I ran out of the room, and back up the hall to find the R.N. I was working with (I was an L.P.N. at the time and less senior.  I was also seventeen years old, and just out of school.)  When I finally found her, the R.N. refused to leave her patient to come and help me.

“What the fuck?!!”

I ran to the next hallway, saw another R.N. I was friends with, grabbed her by the hand and said, “Run!” Hand in hand we ran back to the room, confirmed the patient was dead and called a code blue.  Unfortunately my patient died, and I went home and cried myself to sleep that night.

Many years have passed, and I’ve since become an old hand with dead bodies; I’m more shocked looking at dolled up cadavers in caskets, than bodies of the terminally ill.  But at some point in life we will all have to come face to face with a dead body and nothing can really prepare us for that moment.

We just have to experience that for ourselves.