Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My Grandpa, the Cardinal.

Who's your hero? It's a question posed to people from kindergarten on up. The answers vary, and I admit when I hear an athlete say it's "his mom" I am immediately enamoured with him. That's the kind of stuff we strive for, us moms.

My hero, always and forever has been my maternal grandfather. My Gramps. Without delving too far into my past I can say that he was the first man in my life, the father figure I had before my dad adopted me, and the one who was center stage in my heart before he moved over a bit for my husband and kids. That's my gramps, always willing to step over a bit to share the limelight.

It's not just me that thinks so highly of him. Everybody loved Gramps. But everybody was not his special girl. That was me. I got flowers on Sweetest Day, (a made up Hallmark Holiday that has since fallen by the wayside in 17 years of marriage). He sent Valentines when I had received no others, pushed cash into my hand when I was leaving for a trip, or was just short on funds. He thought I was beautiful when everyone else thought I was a boy, he told me that someday the braces would pay off and I would knock the boys dead with my smile. He drove me 200 miles to retrieve my purse after I left it (for the millionth time) in an Arby's in Bay City. He called me every day to read me my horoscope. He sat at my baseball games when I was 8 and watched while I played into my 20's, pregnant with my firstborn, fretting the whole time. You get the picture. A Hero. My Hero.

I lost my Gramps to lung cancer in February, 1994. He lived long enough to dance with me at my wedding, watch me begin nursing school, and hold his first great grandchild. Those, he told me, were his goals. My goal was to survive without him, and somehow try to make him proud without having him to guide me, at least in an Earthly way.

Enter the Cardinal.

My Gramps liked birds. Not in a crazy, Audobon way, just liked them in general. He liked the Cardinals a lot. They always reminded me of him, too. Regal, strong, intelligent looking. A beautiful bird. I don't know anything more about them, if they're mean or steal all the food, like I said, he just liked them, so let's just run with this, OK?

After he died, I was sitting in my family room on a cold winter day, rocking my 8 month old son and wondering how he would ever know this great person whom I loved so dearly. It was shortly after he died, that time when you feel so raw and wounded and lost. It just plain hurt inside my heart.
Onto the tired little bird feeder we had outside the window landed a Cardinal. He looked in at me, and I at him. We stared at each other intently for what seemed like a long time. I knew. I just knew. My Gramps was that Cardinal. He was checking on me. He wanted me to know it was all good over there. I began to cry, and the Cardinal cocked his head. "Hey", I said, "I know it's you" . The Cardinal nodded. I said "I'll be OK". "Just come around every now and then, you know, when I need you most"? Another cock of the head. I tried "I love you" but my voice just cracked. The Cardinal puffed out his chest, and flew away. He flew to the fencepost, turned and looked at me again, and then flew high into the sky.

I wasn't sad then. I was peaceful, for the first time in a long time. I would have taken that one moment if that was all I had, but it wasn't. When I feel bad inside, when I am lonely or feeling like no one appreciates me, when I hate how I look or am racking up all the qualities I lack, I can guarantee you that at some point, the Cardinal shows up in my yard. I know it's him. I know that he is still there; my Hero. It's been a while since I have seen him, maybe even half a year, But this morning, as I was trying to breathe through the whole parking lot thing, worried about my child and struggling to get my attitude straight, I looked outside to see my Cardinal. He sat in the rain, on my gate, and looked at me. He always knows. My Hero.

The Parking Lot

My blood is boiling in a sea of rage. And all I did is something that millions of parents did, and will do for years to come. I dropped my 7 year old off at her elementary school. I dealt with the Parking Lot Freaks. I came out of it alive, and so did she so it was a red letter day.

My daughter's elementary is called a "school of choice" (that's a whole 'nother blog entry). Kids from other communities get to come to our school while their parents pay cheaper taxes and not send them to the crap school in the city they chose to live in. I get to pay high taxes and deal with it. Sounds very Bush administration, doesn't it? When you add those School of Choice Parents to the Parents With No Choices and blend thoroughly with a too-small parking lot it yields the Perfect Storm.

Don't park in the fire lane. Basic request? Against the law? Certainly. But hey, why not do it anyway and just act like you don't know. Don't double park in the bus apron, so children don't get hit by cars. They ignore this too, which only proves the "I love my Honor Student" sticker on your car came from a child who had a different, smarter set of parents.

Every month the brightly colored memo will get sent home reminding "the Lessenger Family" that we all need to work together to keep our children safe. This usually follows an event such as someone getting hit by a car, hand to hand combat by moms who wear Tweety Bird sweatshirts, or most recently, a pedestrian getting hit on his bike as he tried to continue traveling on the sidewalk. The one way traffic is also an apparent nusiance to many, as they have the nerve to flip me off when I refuse to let them out when they are going the wrong way. Yeah, that's me, the angry white woman in the egg shaped car.

My solution so far has been a wimpy, pathetic one. Throw some money at the problem. I send my daughter to hot breakfast more days than I ever want to simply to avoid the parking lot. Most days it is worth a paltry $1.25 to keep my blood pressure within high normal range. But this morning, in the rain, I succumbed to calling people names I haven't used in at least 3 days since I last worked. Why does this happen, day after day? Why is the principal not out there in her 4 inch heels and sprayed coiffed hair making people listen? Who is going to get killed before they figure it out? Who will clean up when my head finally explodes off my spinal cord from dealing with these morons?

I don't care for my Lessenger Family. They are the cousins that I choose to deny having. The ones in the Metallica shirts at the family wedding.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thump Stump

I am a nurse at a Trauma Center that I will not name, thanks to HIPPA laws. I really do what a lot of people claim to do when they meet a guy at a bar. I love my job, I hate my job, and I really, really love some of my coworkers. Where else can you find the perfect balance of compassion and sarcasm in the same person? My undiagnosed childhood ADHD is satiated by the never ending throes of humanity begging for either real help or their drug of choice. This is the first of many stories, now released from the Frontal Lobe to make room for more freak shows.

One night we had a young guy in our unit. I was working with my friend Amy, whom I found hanging her head in her hands. "Why so glum"? I asked. She said, "Do you remember all the screaming that guy in bed 1 did from the foley?" (Putting a catheter through one's penis is never pleasant, but this guy could be heard from the next county when she did it.) "Of course" said I. "Well, now I have to put a NG down him" said Amy. (A nasogastric tube goes down into your stomach via your nostril and is equally uncomfortable as a tube through the penis). Being a good friend, I offered to help. Hard enough to put one down on a patient who was cooperative, let alone  a drunk strapped to the stretcher in leather restraints, except for his amputated leg, which we call a stump. The stump had not healed correctly, so there was this freakish flap of skin that hung off it like a little tongue. I opted for focusing on the task at hand instead of the scary appendage.

So there are 3 of us holding this guy. I am holding him down on the bed by his chest, Kristin is holding his head so Amy can put the tube down, and Mahdi is at his good leg, since he would thrash so hard the bed would rock. Amy goes to put the tube in his nostril, and he is spitting and screaming. Charming. Slowly, like a bad dream, in my peripheral vision I watch as his stump leg goes up and backward at an unGodly angle, literally kicking like a hyperextended Rockette. Over and over again the stump hits me, landing firmly in my boob each time. The little flap of tongue/skin at the end of the stump is hitting me in the ear and I am thisclose to throwing up because stumps in general freak me out. I finally let go of his chest and say in my best mom voice: "put that damn stump down right now!" (Which he does not), so then I say "I will not tolerate you thumping me with that stump" which sends my already giggling pals into full blown hysterics. I honestly don't remember much else, other than offers to stump thump me still crop up on any given night.

In the spirit of fondling, I offer another take from work.

We had a middle aged man drop dead at home. CPR was done for almost an hour trying to save him, but he was gone when he hit our door. It was incredibly tragic and sad and predictably, family was in the viewing room for hours before they left. It was time for us to wrap him for the morgue, and we had 3 people in the room to do this. We are very respectful when we do this (seriously). It's always so sad that you end up naked in a plastic bag after all you have done in your life. We should find something a little more dignified, but then there is that whole hazmat thing. So we have to get this guy into the bag, which involves turning him on his side and sliding the bag under him, then turning him on his other side, pulling the bag through and zipping it up. We turn once, no problem, then we turn toward me. I am holding the bag in place as my friends turn, and as the man comes my way his semi-rigor arm flops through the air and his hand gets caught in my stethescope, coming to rest on my right breast and resting there. (Cupping it quite lovingly, I might add). I have my hands on the bag, and am sort of stuck because if I let go, groping dead guy might fall off the stretcher. Did I mention my coworkers were both male? Did I mention they refused to move his hand, screaming for everyone to come look at Kim taking one for the team as the guy makes his way to the Great Beyond? Sick, sick mofo's, that's what they are.  And I love them.

I take comfort in the fact that I have these stories.   It means that the decision to walk out of  Business 101 class at OCC in the middle of lecture was a good one.  If I worked in a cubicle I would surely die of boredom or ADHD.  Thank you, my patients.  You complete me.


I love being nosy. I love reading things that clever, intelligent, cynical and sarcastic people write. I have a very limited filter that my friends and husband find endearing and frustrating at the same time. I suppose this will be my outlet.

Why is a blog intimidating? I am not really writing to please anyone, right? But if I can make you laugh, then I have accomplished my task. If I can make me laugh, all the better. Mostly I want something to help me remember. I am still emotionally impaired from a mother who would read my diary and go through my things, so this seems a little safer.

Drive on, writer girl...