"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com

"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com
Still available on Amazon for Nook and Kindle, hard copy booklett to re-print November 2013

Friday, February 25, 2011

Don't lose one child. "Where's Rebecca?"

We left before dawn with our five children packed into the back of our station wagon including the piled high luggage rack.  We closely resembled the Chevy Chase, Grizwold family from the movie, "Vacation". Since this was a trip we made several times a year we had regular places where we stopped along the way.  The rest stop the kids looked forward to the most was lunch at “Pea Soup Anderson’s”. I don’t think it was so much the soup as it was the quaint little restaurant and the area where the children could run and play.  

This particular trip, after we ate, loaded back in the car and were several miles down the freeway, Patrick our oldest son said, “Where’s Rebecca”?  Sure enough, she wasn’t in her usual spot; the rear facing seat where she could look out the back window.  (All the other kids claimed they got car sick in that seat so Becca was always the one who had to sit there.)  We missed not seeing her because blocking the view to the back seat was the cooler holding our supply of snacks.
Frantically with all sorts of horror images in mind we made a u-turn across the dirt divider in the middle of Hwy. 99.  We raced back to find her sitting near the picture spot where you could put your face into a cut out of Hap, and Pea, the cooks who are supposedly the ones who make the soup.  She had been crying, and one of the waitresses had Rebecca in her lap.  Both were expectantly watching the road.  
Never in a million years would we have thought...Oh why bother, it's fine, let’s keep going...four out of five kids is OK.  Of course not!  We went back to get her, and after hugs and tears we were on our way again.  And for the next 50 miles got a toungue lashing from a four year old.
That’s much how I felt about serving on the Hart District School Board. When I first ran for election there were a few things I wanted to accomplish, but most of all, I didn't want to leave any child along the road. Even losing one was not acceptable.  I wanted to make sure the district always made a u-turn to go back if anyone got lost or stumbled or needed extra help finding their way back to the path.  My goal was to make sure that programs, curriculum, great teachers, and each campus setting was there to help every student reach their full potential.  I wanted to make sure that parents were involved because of all people, parents know how best to help their child.  I wanted to make sure that integrity, honesty and patriotism were part of what we taught because those are the foundation values of our great nation.

Handing out graduation certificates to hundreds of students each year made it worth the criticism, the complaints and having to read nasty letters, or e-mails, or to sit at meetings and listen to the un-kind words of others.  I know most people have no clue as to the time, energy, hurt and pain it takes to make some sensitive decisions, or the hours of study and research board members put in to find the best and most economical way to do things while making sure every child is ready for their future but that's why I spent 16 years of my life serving on a school board....to help kids...and now that I think about it, that's probably why I teach Pediatrics. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"What did you Say?"

Today was the first exam for my Pharmacology class.  I graded the exams and began to think about all the things we can no longer do or say in class...teachers and students.  When I taught a second grade after school drama class, I clearly remember hugging and wiping tears from one young thespian who could not remember her lines...today...that hug could be beyond the boundaries set, by the child, her parents, or the school district.

It's a shame the way we are restricted and I must admit I sometimes go beyond the invisible line in the sand.
I find it hard to talk about the creation of another person, when I teach Maternal-Child Health and not sometimes mention...OH No...God.  Now I'm not preaching or giving a sermon but my goodness it is hard to look upon a new born baby that was created in nine months from the DNA of two different people and not think it's a miracle beyond our understanding.  And that a greater being than a mere human had a lot to do with it. 

From time to time I have a student ask ,"What do you think about abortion or pregnancy termination."  I remind them of the timeline of physical and neuro-conscious development and ask when they consider a life begins.  It is quite clear when I make that statement what I believe without putting it into words (which could come back and bite me).  But I let them figure out the answer for themselves, knowing that today the climate is very different from when I was in school.  Over 40 years ago when I first worked in Labor and Delivery, one of the things we were allowed to do as nurses was declare our feelings on the issue of pregnancy termination and we were not required to participate in the procedure.  Fancy that one happening today.

All this leads me to some interesting and very 21'st century answers on the medical abbreviation quiz.  We list medical abbreviations such as PRN (whenever necessary) or TPR (temperature, pulse, respiration) and expect the student to fill in the blank with the appropriate meaning of the abbreviation.

Since nursing and medicine in general has it's own language, knowing these abbreviated terms is a critical part of a student's knowledge and an important part of communication between professionals.

Some of the answers were creative and others gave me insight as to how much things have changed.

               medical meaning                         student answer
NPO    (nothing by mouth)                         Never pass over
SubQ   (sub cutaneous)                              Sub Courteously
SL        (Sub lingual)                                  Standing Lateral
OT       (Occupational therapy)                   Over there
SOB     (Shortness of Breath)                     Someone Obnoxious
LR        (Lactated Ringers)                         Lactating Regularly
pc         (after meals)                                  Politically Correct

HUH, what did you day

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Naked Came the Bruce

Naked Came the Bruce,
                         by P.A. Hanrion

I guess as we get older lots of things about us change
like how we look and how we think and we get mighty strange

I have noticed as my days and years quickly pass me by
Some things the elder generation does, leaves me to shrug and sigh

The eyes are most the first to go and with that a fashion sense
And if you make a small comment, you're met with impudence

"That stuff don't match!" you mention, just to help a longtime friend
"The red and orange with that pink, it kinda doesn't blend."

"You mind your manners" you are told, "I am the one who knows."
"I've been on this here earth much longer than Old Joe Blow."

The smell and taste are next to go and follows really fast
So enjoy your food while you are young, cuz it ain't gonna last

But, the ones who lose their modesty have really gone too far
Cuz naked folks ain't pretty when their teeth are in a jar!

"It shore is hot", Bruce said to me as he greeted at the door
He reminded me of the story of the foolish Emperor

"Come on in" he beckoned, just like nothing was amiss
He seemed to take no notice of his bare butt nakedness

So I came in and sat right down and kept my eyes averted
We talked about the recent news, and other things we'd read

He wiped his brow and settled in on the couch of Naugahyde
And I wondered if I could make a running break for the safety of outside

And later as I pondered life and all that it can bring
I know that for a certainty, I beg you do this thing.

GET OUT THAT GUN, AND SHOOT ME QUICK!:, if I wander in my skin
Cuz it ain't pretty...not one bit, not even if it's yur kin.

(Written after my husband went to visit his Uncle.  I wondered why Patrick never came out to invite me in once he knew his Uncle was home...but realized later why, and was grateful he left me to wait in the car.)

Last week I spoke to a 6th grade class about writing, and poetry.  After reading several of my works, one of the questions was, "Why do you continue to write now that your not in school, and don't need a grade to pass a class?"  I know lots of people never write a story or anything much once they're out of school, unless it's required by their job.  So I guess I'm one of the few who write as an outlet or to keep a record of things that have happened.  I'm often inspired by events, or people.  Through the years I've written lots of stories, poems, theater presentations, and have now completed my first novel...which may be my only novel if I can't get it published.

Putting some of my stories and poems in this blog is at least a way to get some of my works beyond my computer....and into the world...and recorded for my kids to see.

I found this written on a scrap of paper stuffed in the back of the drawer...I think I was mad!

Sometimes life is a stale piece of pie
Sometimes people only think of  "I"
Sometimes I feel like all I get is the crumbs
All I do is sit and twiddle my thumbs
I get the left-overs the remnants
I want to make you a coat of cement
I should be happy with what I got..
but I'm NOT.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Get Out of My Way So I Can Jump or Poopy Shoes!

My husband laughs at me and others are mystified.  Yes I'm afraid of heights.  And don't get Acrophobia mixed up with Agoraphobia, fear of the outdoors or open spaces.  Those are people who don't want to leave their homes.  When I had five kids constantly wrapped around my legs getting out was what I looked forward to.  In fact that's why I think for years I went running...escape! 

Anyway Agoraphobia fear of the outdoors is very different from Acrophobia, fear of high places, in fact I'm fine travelling all over the place and even on planes, don't ask me why because I can't explain why planes don't bother me but bridges and mountains do.

Whenever I'm near the edge of a drop off, building, bridge or mountain cliff, I freeze and then feel an unexplainable pull in the center of my chest yanking me to the edge of the abyss and potentially over.  The thought makes me panic so I don't go near high places.  Once I wanted to see the view so much I sent the entire family to the car then about 50 feet from the viewing point dropped to my knees and crawled to the edge...This fear can be a challenge when hiking, which I love and it's a good thing we live nearly at sea level and not many mountain cliffs are close by.  I love the beach, the waves the sun and of course the nice flat sand.  

I have an explanation of sorts for my malady, because I figured out I am more prone to the panic when my children or grandchildren are present.  And I know I changed about heights after our first child was born and the INCIDENT occurred.   We had been to visit my husband's grandmother in Utah and decided to take an extra day and go to Bryce Canyon as neither of us had been there before.

Patrick, new proud dad, was ready to try out the new baby backpack and little Pat was happily along for the ride.  We walked along the edge trail looking at the unusual formations as the setting sun transformed the red rock into a fairyland.  And then "IT" happened.  Now understand it was the 60's and no safety straps were on the pack.  As Pat leaned over the long drop down into the canyon the pack slid up to the top of his shoulders and new baby Patrick launched out into the air.  I don't know if it was an automatic reaction or wonderful reflexes from his fast pitch softball days, but the 6 month old little guy was saved from certain death when Pat, the dad, put his arms out and caught baby Pat midair.

I think I shook for the next three hours after that and know it was the beginning of my phobia.  My kids to this day complain about my little problem and what I have put them through because of my phobia...They all talk about the hike down into the Grand Canyon a few years later.  By then we had four children, and this time Megan rode in the backpack on my shoulders.  I was so scared one of them would run off the edge, I tied them all together with the end of the rope knotted around my waist.  I figured if they went over then I would be pulled over too and it wouldn't matter.  The problem was that as I walked close to the mountain side clinging closely to the trail cut in the canyon they all wanted to be near the cliff edge to look over at the winding walkway below us. 

Now, if you've ever been to the Grand Canyon you know they have mules who carry people to the bottom who don't have the energy or inclination to walk.  The mules walk in the well worn ruts in the center of the trail and of course leave fresh road apples all along the way.  Since I was afraid to have the kids near the edge of the trail, I only gave them enough rope to walk in the mule rut, and thus the results of the hike was that all three of those walking ended up with poopy shoes. 

At Yellowstone, Patrick wanted to take all five children to the lookout, Angel's Flight, where they drop fire into the valley far below.   We were on our way home from camping and up to that point I had been able to avoid the drop-offs and cliffs.  I walked along trying to overcome my fear until the trail began to get steep and I could not go any further. I had to stop as my heart was pounding and wanted all the kids to stay with me but I lost the vote as often happens.  Pat and all the kids continued along to get to the fabulous view.  Away they went while I sat on a rock petrified with fear several of the children would plunge to the valley floor below so made Pat take my red scarf and told him when he came into view again to wave the scarf if all the children were with him.

I had read  about a woman who did this during the pioneer handcart trek when her husband was to wave a shawl after all had safely made it across a wide river.  Thank goodness, my husband who is a great practical joker, this time did as I requested, and after holding my breath for 45 minutes saw the red scarf waving so knew all five had made it up the trail and back safely.

Now that all the children are grown, I only get that awful feeling when in high places with grandchildren.  As far as my fear, it is all but gone and I have no problem...or at least not much when we hike or go to high places and thankfully that sick feeling no longer takes hold.

So if you have a phobia think about when it began, and very possibly there is a reason for your fear

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rule-out Ringworm?

For those who don't know many are admitted to the hospital with no diagnosis as a rule-out status...this means "Heck, I don't know what it is, but I'll try to find out.  In my nursing career the most bizarre diagnosis was at a county hospital, "rule out ring-worm" .  It's a fungus, a rash, jock-itch.  Now mind you I realized  most of the doctors at the county hospital were very young and very new and "learning".  But to spend my tax money for rule out ring-worm was out of the question.

I could lift up the sheet give one look and say..."ring worm."  Any mom would have known that and said "Give the guy some antifungal cream and get him out of that $300 a day county bed!"  But no, they scraped the skin, sent it to the lab for a confirmed diagnosis.  Imagine that! and we wonder why it takes so long and so much money to become a doctor.  How about some common sense? Now I don't begrudge the guy the nice clean bed, his three meals a day and personal TV, like a vacation I guess.  The poor fellow must have been worried he had ebola, or the creeping crud the way he was treated.

Ya know, I've got a little rash, do you think I can have a three day vacation with someone running around to fetch things for me when I push a button, fat chance!  If I get sick enough to stay in bed my husband runs a long cord and puts the stove next to me so I don't have to go down the stairs to cook.

"I See Dead People!"

 I didn't go to a funeral until I was in my late 30's. It was a distant acquaintance and I wasn't emotionally involved but my own children, and grandchildren have attend family funerals at quite a young age.
I have learned that children have a very different attitude regarding death. I first discovered this when my oldest daughter was around 3 years old.
We attended my husband's grandmother's funeral and she wanted to look into the casket during the viewing.  She was anxious to see what was in the box everyone was looking at.  My husband picked her up and stood a way back from the casket so she wouldn't reach out and touch anything.  She began patting my husband's cheek and telling him, "Daddy, look at the sleeping lady, she has a pretty dress on."
Other children who live a farm-country life see animals born and others die and have a bit different point of view.  When Uncle Bruce died and the graveside service was over, my daughter Megan's country-farm children wanted all the talking to end so they could ride on the tractor that pushes the dirt into the grave.  They had a different understanding of death and what it means.  But I think we as adults forget to explain things to children who may be connected to the deceased or try to help them understand what is happening.

Two years ago my husband had two brothers die within two months.  My daughter Megan lives in Utah not too far from the Uncles who passed away so her children knew them both and had spent time visiting with them and listening to old stories.

The younger brother Scott passed away first and we were all gathering for the graveside service.  My husband and his brother Don, who lived nearby, decided to drive to the neighboring town to pick up Leon so he could attend Scott's funeral.  They decided to use Scott's van as it was set up for a wheel chair and would be a better transport for Leon.

While we were waiting for Patrick and Don to return with Leon, Megan's children were restless and began walking around the cemetery looking at the rows of scattered gravestones.  The two older ones, Ali and Trevor were reading the dates and names on the monuments dotting the space and had gone quite a few yards away as they looked at the headstones.
I greeted the few people I knew, explaining we were waiting for the brothers to return with Leon from the convalescent home and noticed Ali the oldest of Megan's children looking puzzled and walking over to the gathering of people, and then back to a gravestone several rows away.  Ali was about ten, a very serious thoughtful and observant young lady. I noticed she was looking at a woman very carefully, and soon went up to touch the woman's skirt and hand.  Then she went back to stare at a headstone. Finally she came over and softly said, "How come if she's dead, she's walking around."  In the emotion and bustle of the day I didn't realize until later what had happened or why she made such a strange comment.

The woman's husband had recently passed away and as was the custom she had purchased the adjoining plot with a joint grave monument which had pictures of them both.  Ali was confused and couldent' figure out why, if the lady had her picture on the stone, which meant the lady was dead, she was in the cemetery walking around.

Soon after that her young brain got another shock.  As Don and Patrick drove up in Scott's van they carried Leon from the van and placed him in the wheelchair.  It was cold and windy so Patrick reached into the van and grabbed Scott's flannel shirt and hat and put them on Leon.  He was all bundled up in Scott's clothing and did not move as they rolled him slowly toward the grave.

Ali was sure the person in the wheelchair was Scott and they were going to put him in the box and then into the grave.  Her eyes got big, she grabbed my hand and leaned into me saying, "Why didn't they get him in the box before everyone got here."  I had no idea what she was talking about or why she gave a little squeak as Leon, who she thought was her dead Uncle Scott, stood to say the opening prayer.

So pay attention to kids at funerals, the strange things they say may make perfect sense, "I see dead people", may be true when you understand their point of view.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Why does the phone ring when I'm on the ladder?

So, I'm not done painting the doors yet because the phone keeps ringing.  (see previous blog..."I kicked down the door") Now my adult kids all say I never answer the phone.  That is an exaggeration of sorts.  I do answer it...when I can.  I certainly don't run to get the phone anymore, that is true, those days are in the past...and climbing down a ladder with a paintbrush in hand...that's out of the question...In my younger days, when trapped at home with small children I was so anxious for any contact with the outer world I would run happily to the phone to hear an adult voice.  You can get a bit batty when you only hear cartoons, big bird, or a house full of little ones running about.

And as batty as you get watching children day after day, you can't ignore them when they're in action, you must have eyes on all the time, I found out the hard way.  Longing for an adult conversation, without diapers or sippy cups as the major topic I was talking to a dear friend who had abandoned me and moved away.  I was keeping an eye on the little ones...well...sort of...while I was absorbed in the phone conversation and I saw my oldest son Patrick, yes, my husband and I are Pats, and so is our oldest son.  Rather fun as he got older and we answered the phone.  We sounded like we were a new age religion or something "Do you want...Pat the father, Pat the mom, or Pat the son."

But I digress, I saw Patrick running around with a potato.  So cute, trying to be like mom, pretending to be cooking...(to this day he is a wonderful cook...)  It was cute until I saw him walking by with the squash I had under the sink for dinner the next night...I followed him to discover the toilet filled with my brand new 10 pound bag of potatoes topped off with the squash.  Luckily I was able to retrieve them before my (then) plumber husband got home, (he has now moved on to Superintendent of general construction very large projects)  Anyway, he told me if he ever had to pull a diaper out of the toilet I was in big trouble...but then again he never mentioned potatoes! or squash... That day to check I had rescued all the potatoes and the toilet was not clogged or would run over on the next flush. I used the handy bathroom scale to make sure I pulled out all of the 10 pounds, now that's the creative mom in me...just ask.

Anyway about the ladder thing, you all know it's true.  Paintbrush in hand at my age....social security age, sort of...I don't rush for many things, but old habits die hard, and a few times while during my door painting sojourn I have found myself hopping down and running to the instrument of communication.  Each time chiding myself for not putting the thing in my pocket, and frequently I found a telemarketer on the line,  the dreaded 800 number and now there is added the 799 telemarketer number, but all the same they ultimately want your money for something, some politician, phone service, Internet, or my favorite some illness or ailment. 

Now with over 40 years under my belt caring for the sick and not so sick...I have certainly given my pound of flesh, (bad feet and two back surgeries) to the ill and infirm...so feel that no matter what ailment they represent, "I've already given" so get off my phone...and don't ask me for a donation in the market either where I ran in for a gallon of milk, or any store for that matter.  Considering the number of times I've gone to the store with a family of seven If I gave just a dollar each time I entered a store, within a very short time I would be flat broke...

So my advice, "I gave at the office" is a good reply, then of course a fun follow up is to ask the person on the line if they think painting the wall blue, or pale yellow would be best with a west facing living room according to the fen shui method....and request them to come over and help paint since they wasted your time and now you're behind in your project!  I asked the person on the line to come over and help paint once...and they HUNG UP! The nerve!  path

Friday, February 4, 2011

My nose knows and so do my grandkids

I have the nose that knows...or that's what the family thinks.  Either that or I have been subjected to torture for low these many years whenever something looks "iffy", ya know on the edge of rotten.  Not green mold, or milk that resembles cottage cheese but slimy meat who's expiration date was yesterday.  My husband will come all the way up stairs when I'm snuggled down in bed, only to shove my nose into some plastic container of ready to turn foodstuff. " Ewww this is rotten, SMELL it" he says.

Now I admit I have always been good at sniffing things out for as long as I can remember and could name a perfume or aftershave, or who has not had a shower after going to the gym, or a person who has nasty tennis shoes.  One time I was even driven down to my husband's friends' office to find the source of a moldy odor. After several trips outside to clear my palate...(nose palate) I found an old sandwich under the desk. 

And believe me for a nurse, having a good nose is double edged considering the cornucopia of odors that assault one when in the hospital.   I can often smell a diagnosis when the door to the elevator opens, I can sure smell a post partum floor (after you have a baby)...well I could go further but you may be eating.  Suffice it to say it is a blessing and a curse.

Luckily I have never had a grandchild ask me to smell socks to see if they were clean or needed to go into the hamper,(my husband has) but my great nose is a blessing which has all 12 of my grand-progeny brain washed into thinking I can do anything, like wonder grandma. It's a nice compliment which can backfire from time to time.  I had one call me from Utah to help with her English homework (this one is convinced I'm famous, even if I did explain that just because I wrote a book it dosen't mean anyone will read it) and later got a tongue lashing from a 10 year old that I spelled one of the words in "her" report wrong.  Her teacher wanted to know why she was writing about the old geezer in Yellowstone Park, (instead of the geyser) old faithful.  Well nobody's perfect!   path

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What do you do with a dozen door knobs?

Oh my gosh! I could have used those knobs!

And to think 20 years ago I threw away all those door knobs.  Why didn't I save them somehow?  My husband a long while ago would bring home odd things left over from his job, things we didn't need, but they were worth something...like money.  Rather than throw stuff away it ended up in our garage.

Now that I kicked down the door and ended up with 15 new ones to paint, wait...14....he still has not put in the last one (see previous blog).  I realized I could have used those knobs.  They were display knobs, mounted on a wide hunk of wood, like the kind you see at the hardware store.  Bulky and taking up a lot of room.  Into a box they went, into the black abyss of the garage...lost until I found them one day when packing to move out of the San Fernando Valley to Santa Clarita.  Like a fool I put them in the trash, with lots of garbage on top so the hubby wouldn't see and so got rid of the heavy "when will I ever need these things", pile of metal and wood.

How could I have know that many years later I would need knobs?  They were cool knobs too...that's why he rescued them from the trash heap at the job.  I just spent $700 or so on doors, more on the molding frames...and with new doors, how could I put back the old cruddy 30 year old knobs.  So I spent more $ on knobs...oh foolish me!

I guess now he would have never brought back home the knobs...he is in purge mode...more for me than him.  "Get rid of the junk he says."  Like I'm a hoarder or something.   BUT, you may never know when you may need a dozen door knobs.  path