Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dialysis Nurse: The Final Chapter.

I've been a dialysis nurse since 1977. When you do the same thing every day for 34 years, you can get pretty good at it. But you can also get somewhat weary of it, as I consider it to be a job for young people. There's very little-to-no sit down work there. On your feet 10 to 14 hours. Often routine, but still life-and-death stuff going on. When I first started in dialysis, the staff to patient ratio was 1:1. Now clinics have one nurse for up to 14 patients at a time, with one patient care tech for every four patients. It can get hopping. They can crash, cramp, vomit, or get diarrhea in the blink of an eye. Cardiac events are quite possible. And none of those things are written into the charge nurse's task list for the day: the mounds of paperwork sometimes have to get completed after the door's locked at night.
Occasionally they all get cramps at the same time...

This summer will be my last as a dialysis nurse, and it's shaping up to be something completely different.

 I officially retired in 2005 when we sold everything and became fulltime RVers. But within a year, we bought this property in Mexico, planning for me to work part-time 4 summers to pay it off. So I returned every April to the dialysis clinic in Minnesota that I retired from, and it's been fairly easy to tolerate. Same job, same co-workers, some of the same patients. Same = good at my age. Plus the grandbabies are nearby.

However, this summer they can't use me there, as they finally got staffed adequately and competently. (It took them a little while to replace me, mostly because it's in the middle of nowhere.) Another clinic in the cities was good enough to say they could use me some, plus I could "float" to other clinics. I hate floating: patients and other staff also prefer sameness, and The New Nurse never gets any respect.

Now add in this: diesel fuel approaching $5/gallon, Bahia Kino Mexico to Minneapolis Minnesota is 4000 miles round trip, towing our fifth wheel nets a maximum 10 miles per gallon, comes to about $2000. Just for diesel. Plus the RV park there is $500/month. Plus the floating thing...

This wasn't looking very favorable. We do OK on my husband's SS and disability, but there's never much extra. And it's fine in Mexico, we do not have a very expensive lifestyle here. But to contemplate $3500 right off the top when I only need to make $5000 to satisfy our mortgage balloon seemed wrong somehow. I began to look at other options.


I always knew about Travel Nursing, but never considered it for me because of that sameness lure. Learning new skills is no longer a thirstful quest in my life, if you get my drift. Now it looks like the answer for us. For a similar salary, plus an apartment and daily stipend, I can work a 13 week contract in Arizona. It's within a long day's drive from here, so trips "home" are possible. There should even be a small amount of sameness to mitigate, as the same company I retired from owns 3/4 of the dialysis clinics everywhere, same machines, same procedures.

Pros and cons? Sure. Ron would stay here. Good and bad, no further comment there. I'm not licensed to practice in Arizona yet, but it only takes two days to do that. We wouldn't see the grandbabies. Bad. But I'd make enough money to afford to fly us to Minnesota for a visit after the contract's over.  Plus I want to buy one of these this summer, which would be much harder after losing $3500 driving to Minnesota.
Can't you just see me in this? Cruising up the beach, over the dunes, to Ladies Who Lunch?

So this travel thing will get nailed down this week, or shelved entirely. If I'm going to take that float job in Minnesota, I need to be there by May 6th. Stay tuned.



Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Great Dinner!

As an atheist, I don't buy the whole heaven concept. I do believe most strongly that after death, our soul/spirit/essence continues in a parallel plane of existence, sort of vibrating-but-just-out-of-reach. I also believe these souls sometimes drift across and contact us, often in that just falling asleep or just waking up moment of loosened consciousness. You know when you suddenly think of someone that's been gone many years, out of the blue? I believe it's because that soul just touched you.

I often think of people I've lost, wish I could get answers to unresolved questions, wonder if they have any current awareness of my thoughts and deeds. Make sure they know how much they're missed.

Anyway, last week while I was watching The Price Is Right (my husband rarely misses it, and would be apoplectic to know I just wrote that, but he never reads my blog), they had a Showcase that seemed like I had chosen it personally, including a bass boat. This made me ponder what else I'd select to win in a perfect made-for-me Showcase. Soon I was thinking:

What if there was a Showcase where you could win a dinner anywhere you want with any 10 people in history you want? (I know, my mind goes to strange places sometimes.)

So I made my list. It wasn't easy, because there are some people I'd like to ask questions of, but certainly wouldn't want at my dinner table. Attila. The Donner Party...

Picture this group being seated at Gordon Ramsay's Restaurant in Chelsea, UK:

1.   My Dad. My Hero.
2.   Ella Fitzgerald, for sheer delight and entertainment.
3.   John Muir, the naturalist with true vision and a path.
4.   Lucy, the Australopithecan.
5.   D.B. Cooper. I just want to know.
6.   J.R.R. Tolkien, just to see how his mind works.
7.   John Belushi, funniest man who ever lived.
8.   Robin Hood, the real one, another hero.
8a. Geronimo,  a backup in case Robin Hood is fictional.
9.   Helen Keller. I understand she was a hoot!
10. Amelia Earhart. Another "I just want to know".

And here's what it would look like, with apologies to da Vinci and Christians everywhere. Click on it to enlarge:
L to R: Muir, Keller, Hood, Lucy, Tolkien, Fitzgerald, Dad, Me, Earhart, Geronimo, Belushi, Carey and Barker.

Who would you want, and where would you eat?