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Happy Month of Thanksgiving!

Happy Month of Thanksgiving!

Another year gone by…

Just a quick post to honor seven years of marriage for Lee and I!  Our anniversary was actually yesterday, I just didn’t have a chance to post.

He loves me! And I love him =)

I love this man so much!  Sometimes it actually hurts, I love him so much.  True love isn’t about sex or romance or passion, though of course those things are important!  They just aren’t, and have never been, the basis of our relationship.  True love is talking about our differences and disagreements, working through the tough times, and enjoying a love that grows sweeter and stronger with each passing year.  It is looking at each other with respect.  It is being there to back each other up.

I am so happy to feel more in love with Lee now than I did when we got married.  When I got pregnant, we expected that our relationship would change.  My body would be different, the passion would leave, the stress of raising a child would put a strain on our love.  But, thank God, none of that happened.  My body bounced back to its pre-pregnancy state (except for my boobs, those are permanently about two sizes larger) within a year.  And while I was losing the weight and breastfeeding, Lee’s attitude was so positive, I couldn’t help but respond to him.

I will never forget a day about a week after Gordon was born…my clothes (pajamas) had wet milk splotches, I still looked about six months pregnant, had a stripe of dark pigment up the middle of my floppy belly, and had dark circles beneath my eyes from exhaustion.  Lee was bringing Gordon to me in the middle of the night so I could nurse him, and sat stroking my hair while I did so.  He said to me, “You have never been so attractive to me as you are right now.”  And he really, really meant it.  I could tell by the way he treated me, like I was some kind of goddess, and he was in awe of me.  I heard other women talk about how their husbands wanted them to lose their weight fast, or were grossed out by breastfeeding, or stretch marks, or whatever.  Or, conversely, some women were completely turned off by their husbands while nursing a baby.  None of that happened to us.  In fact, it was the exact opposite.  I knew how absolutely blessed we both were to have each other!  It was a turning point in our relationship, and I feel like we are stronger than ever, now.

We have made it though so much: nursing school, a baby, some tough times in our early marriage where all we seemed to do was argue.  We will have much more to face.  Hopefully, nothing terrible.  But I know we are stronger together than we are apart.

Happy anniversary, Lee!  Looking forward to many more years of laughing and loving.

Yeah, that’s right!  I survived West Nile Fever and all I got was the better part of a week off work, and the ability to brag about it.

This actually was about a month ago.  I am just now thinking about writing about it.

I would like to start off by saying that, contrary to popular belief and the news media, West Nile virus isn’t usually that big of a deal.  It isn’t contagious from person to person, only from the bite of an infected mosquito.  Mosquitoes get infected (actually become carriers, I don’t think mosquitoes get sick from it) by biting BIRDS that are infected with West Nile.  (Did you know mosquitoes even bit birds?  I sure didn’t.)  Only a very small percentage of people who contract WNV get really sick.  Those are the deaths you hear about on the news.  Most (not all, but most) were either very young or very old, or had some other medical condition that increased their risk.

ALSO, if you live in North Texas, the odds are good that you, too, have survived a West Nile virus infection…and didn’t even know it!  That’s because most of the time the sickness caused by it is mild, and often even symptom-free.  Maybe you had some nausea or diarrhea.  Or a headache with some muscle aches.  Or a slight fever that comes and goes, accompanied by chills/hot flashes.  Maybe you thought you had a cold or just didn’t get enough sleep so you felt tired.  You probably felt better soon enough that you didn’t go to the doctor.  Yep, you may have had WNV =)  Yay, you!  Now you are immune, like me.

I, myself, avoid the doctor as much as possible.  I’m a nurse, and I see enough people wasting time and money in the emergency room for things that really don’t warrant an ER visit.  I take care of my own sickness at home, with lots of water, chicken soup, apples, and spinach.  (Spinach and kale are wonder foods, by the way.)  Even when Gordon runs a fever I don’t rush him out to the doctor!  What’s the doctor going to say?  “Give lots of fluids, tylenol for fever, cuddle as much as possible, call if the fever goes over 103 and doesn’t respond to medication.”  Okayyyyy, thanks, that was already my plan!  (Actually, I don’t even usually medicate G for fevers unless it goes over 102, or he seems uncomfortable.  Fevers are actually *usually* a good thing, helping the body fight off infections).  ANYWAYS.  Point is, I try to save my money and not go to the doctor unless I have to!

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A crappy picture of my rash, taken on the second day after it appeared, but before it got really freaky looking. When I found out the severe lack of images on a Google search of “West Nile rash” I was really sad I hadn’t taken more pictures. Sorry, fellow internet searchers. I failed you.

This time, I kind of had to.  I say kind of because Lee kind of made me, and also because I knew he was right.  I actually had ALL of the above symptoms (nausea/vomiting/diarrhea/on&off fever/headache/body aches).  Plus a freaky looking rash all over my back, chest, arms, and upper legs.  I knew I might have West Nile (mosquitoes fly in from all parts of Texas and Hell to bite me, daily, no matter how much repellent I use), but I also knew it wasn’t usually serious in young, healthy people, unless you get a stiff neck or severe headache.  Yeah, I had a headache, but it was very mild.  But then, my neck started to get stiff.  Bad sign!  So, it being about 7pm on a Monday night, I headed off for the nearest free-standing urgent care facility, which was a Care Now a couple miles away.

So I waited for a few minutes, got called back, got my vitals taken by a very sweet nurse, then saw the doctor.  Since I was able to move my neck in all directions, he decided that I wasn’t developing any sort of meningitis or whatever.  That was a relief.  However, he also thought I pretty much fit the bill for your run-of-the-mill West Nile Fever infection, so they drew some blood to test.  The blood would take a week to test.  Not very helpful, but by this point I really wanted to know if I had it or not.

The doctor also recommended taking X-ray of my belly to make sure I didn’t have some sort of bowel obstruction, haha.  They offer an X-ray practically every time I have come to a Care Now.  Even if I am there for some cough medicine, they offer to take an X-ray to rule out TB or pneumonia.  LOL.  I declined it, like I always do (except for the one time I went for chest pain, turned out I had two broken ribs).

While they were running their in-house tests on my blood, checking my white cell count and all that good stuff, I needed to go to the bathroom.  Not to pee.  All of a sudden-like.  Get it?  I ran out of my room and asked the doctor, who was standing in the hall, where the bathroom was.  He was like, “right around this corner here.” I dashed into the bathroom and let loose.  Oh. My. Gawd.  It was awful.  I was in agony for like twenty minutes, but when I felt done I tried to go back to my room.  Nope, there it was again.  Back to the bathroom.  Another thirty minutes of crying and cursing while my bowels raged.  I also vomited several times into their trash can (which I did politely tie up and replace, thanks very much).  While it was happening I was thinking, man I feel bad for the next customer who uses this bathroom.  But not too bad, because I know how awful the hospital public restrooms can get, and this was nowhere near that level.  Still, though.

When I finally came out, sweating and pale and looking waayyy sicker than when I got to the clinic, one of the techs came around the corner and said, “Miss, you are not supposed to use that bathroom.  That’s the staff bathroom.  It’s not for customers.”

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This is what West Nile Virus looks like…it was in my blood!

Oops.  Sorry!  I tried to apologize, but she clearly didn’t believe that the doctor told me to use that bathroom.  She was also clearly upset at what had occurred in there.  Not that I could blame her, but it wasn’t my fault!  I dragged myself back to my little room and laid down on the table.  Then, Dr. Bad-Directions came back in and laughingly said he hadn’t meant to get me in trouble, and should have made it clear that the customer bathroom was actually the second door around the corner.  Thanks, Doc.

Anyways, I got a prescription for some Phenergan for my abdominal upsets, and dragged myself home to bed.  I had left work that morning because of the rash and fever, and also missed the next day.  For the rest of the week I was pretty sick, and just so, so, so tired.  That was the worst part, being too tired to play with Gordon.  The other worst part was that I had zero appetite, and had to force myself to eat.  I ended up being off work for the next five days.  By Friday I was feeling much better, and by Sunday I was back to my old self.  The rash was totally gone by Sunday, too.

On Tuesday of the following week, they called me with my positive lab results.  How helpful, haha.  By then I was just like, oh, so I did have it?  Cool!

So that’s the story of how I survived of the dreaded West Nile Virus.  It’s not that exciting.  But it happened.

** I guess I should throw a disclaimer on here:  Do what your doctor tells you.  Just because WNV didn’t make me sick doesn’t mean you are safe.  Even though you probably are.  Even though you definitely shouldn’t panic.  Go see a doctor if you think you have it.  And do what they recommend. **

Life After School

So life after school carries on, and the McNeese family continues to find our stride.  We are doing pretty good, all in all, I think.  Nothing really eventful has happened since my last post, but I do have a few updates. 

Budgeting

Lee and I have reassessed our finances.  And made a budget.  And we are going to stick to it!  We realized that we waste A LOT of money on eating out and internet shopping.  So, I used my superhero Excel skills to build a budget plan, complete with formulas calculating how much we should put in savings based on the amounts deposited into our checking accounts. It’s a pretty bad ass budget document, not to brag or anything, but it is. 

The budget involves limiting our eating out, and using cash (a predetermined weekly amount, to be doled out to ourselves each Friday) to pay for our miscellaneous “expenditures,” rather than our debit cards.  We also allow ourselves two family “out to dinner” nights each week. 

We started the budget on August 1, and so far we are doing pretty good.  If we can stick to it, we are going to reward ourselves with a vacation!  Yay!  I’d way rather eat at home every night, and take a vacation with the money we saved.  Our end goal is to move into a new house, so we will be saving towards a down payment.  Also, we are hoping to get my student loans paid off by the end of the year, which would definitely save us a lot of money in interest.  So…we shall see.  Probably our A/C will go out, or one of us will break a tooth, or something else will come up, but at least we will have a plan and some money in the bank to deal with it. 

Gordon Got Bit by a Goose

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Moments before the goose attack…note the look of pure joy on this child’s face. Now, imagine it replaced by tears, sheer terror, and rage. Yeah, it was that bad.

That happened today.  Poor little guy.  A little piece of innocence was taken from him by that jerk goose, lol.  Fortunately, it barely got him…he just got a tiny bruise on his hand.  Nevertheless, the child that loves ducks was pretty much done with them for the day.  Tomorrow we are going to try again, at a different duck pond.  Hopefully one without Children of the Corn-inspired waterfowl. 

My Job

I am a nurse now, it is official!  In the emergency department at the same hospital I have been working at for several years.  Passed my NCLEX in July, got my license.  Made a new email signature (Sincerely,  Stephanie McNeese, R.N., B.S.N.) and got a new work ID with those lovely letters after my name!  It feels simply amazing. 

I love, love, love my new job.  Changing departments and starting a new position was totally scary, but all of my new co-workers are, so far, really nice and welcoming.  Everyone has been really great about answering my questions and helping me with procedures I am not familiar with.  And that is fortunate, because I ask a million questions a day!  I am mostly working independently, with a clinical coach who is available for me to ask for help, and teaches me how things work in the ED. 

It is a trip how much I have learned in my first two months on the job.  When I first started, I felt like I would never learn how the patients are moved through the ED, how we decide if it’s okay to medicate or when they need to be seen by the doctor or how to tell if we are still waiting on labs/x-rays…or anything, really!  It all just seemed like a huge mess.  But now I’m getting it, and it feels so satisfying! 

It is exhausting, though.  Twelve straight hours of needing to be absolutely on top of my game, at all times.  Every day before work, I pray for God to make me a safe nurse all day, and not to hurt anyone.  That may sound scary for you, as a potential patient, but trust me, it helps.  After work, when I get out to my car I sit and close my eyes and feel the tension drain out…another day done.  But I really do enjoy being a nurse.  Every day in the ED is different, though a lot of things stay the same:  see the doctor, IV, labs, morphine/zofran, see the doctor, IV, labs, morphine/zofran, see the doctor…that is most of my day, haha.  But really, starting an IV on the first stick and seeing that blood fill those lab tubes…yep.  Awesome.  

 

My Helpful Son

Finally!  Gordon is showing an interest in helping me with the house work.  Now I can start teaching him to really help me.  It’s an awesome time, and I know it won’t last (soon he will rebel against chores, I’m sure), but right now it is super fun for him to mimic me and pretend he is being helpful.  Sometimes he can really help.  For example, he can pick up toys and put them in his toy buckets, and put dirty laundry in the hamper.  Sometimes he can’t help, but wants to anyway, which he finds incredibly frustrating.  Like when I’m unloading the dishwasher full of knives and scissors and glass things and long-sharp-spikes (chopsticks). 

Today Gordon learned to help with the laundry.  Sort of.  While I was folding and stacking and sorting, he was pulling the unfolded clothes out of the basket and piling them on the coffee table (my workbench).  Then he would gleefully push them all back into the basket, gaze adoringly in my direction, and shout, “YAAAYYY!!!” while clapping his hands.  I, naturally, would respond with, “That’s my sweet boy!  Thank you!!!!” and clap my hands, as well. 

This was great!  We were bonding over chores!  I hate doing laundry, and this was even making it fun for me!  I went into the kitchen to make myself a ginger ale over ice to celebrate his eagerness to learn chores, and my cleverness for teaching him.

I walked back into the living room to find G had swept ALL of the clothes back into the basket – including the folded, sorted ones.  He had also tossed them into the air a few times, so they were totally unfolded.  He had just finished pushing a stack of Lee’s boxers to the floor, and joyfully picked them up and tossed them into the basket.  He looked at me, threw his arms in the air, and squealed, “YAAAYYYY!!!!!!”

What could I do, except throw my own arms up and shout, “HOORAYYYYY,” right back at him?

 

In Remembrance…

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
–Moina Michael

Isn’t that lovely?  I thought so.

We took Gordon to Houston for the weekend for Mudbugs 2012 at Wally and Emma’s home.  Wally was the best man at our wedding, an old school friend of Lee’s.  He and his lovely other half, Emma, showed us the utmost hospitality as we stayed two nights in their home with a curious, destructive (albeit dancing and entertaining) toddler.  Wonderful people with a beautiful home and even more beautiful lives.  It makes me sad that we don’t see them more often, as every time we do it ends up being a blast.  Anyways, much fun, crawfish, and liquor (beeritas, anyone?) was had by many at Mudbugs 2012.  Gordon had the time of his life, engaging in a dance-off with a curious neighbor and spending the day in the sun, being made much over…thank God for waterproof sunblock!  I’m glad he had a good time, and we enjoyed luring unsuspecting newlyweds into craving babies…but I was exhausted by the end of the weekend.  Next time, I think we’ll find a sitter!

Mudbugs 2012
Houston, TX

Happy Memorial Day weekend!!!

Rewards

So it’s Monday morning, I am off work, and spending the morning with Gordon.  Who is happily watching an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba, haha.  I love that show.  Even better that it’s on Netflix!  (Especially since we don’t have cable, so if it wasn’t on Netflix we wouldn’t get to watch it.)  Apparently, a ton of people find Yo Gabba Gabba to be annoying.  Personally, I find it soothing.  I also like the lessons it teaches.  And that it was created by dads, not by network executives.  And that those dads are from So Cal, from my “scene,” (I hate that term, but there you go.  An appropriate usage.)  AND I find it a lot less annoying than, say, The Electric Company (beat box–beat box–A-A-A-An-Noy-Noy-An-Noying–beat box–beat box–random electrical noises–beat box).  Anyways, G is watching Yo Gabba Gabba and I am blogging!

Last night while I was at work, Lee was feeding G dinner.  He decided that when he was “all done,” he would throw his whole plate to the floor.  If there is one thing that drives Lee nuts, it’s food throwing.  Another thing is the baby making spitting, “zerbert” sounds.  But we are talking about food throwing.  Instead of saying NO and ending the meal, which is our usual reaction.  Lee had a flash of inspiration.  He gave G a time-out (something G absolutely HATES), then made him pick up all the food off the floor.  And, he actually did it!  AND this morning at breakfast he didn’t throw any food.  I am aware that this may be a temporary good behavior, but I’ll still take it.

Anyways,  I think I have realized the true reward of finishing school.  I haven’t even started my job yet. but I have it figured out.  It’s a feeling of accomplishment, and relief.  Its the knowledge that I have reached my goal, and no longer have to worry about school.  No more saying, “I need to get back into school.”  No more, “I hope I get accepted to nursing school.”  No more, “I need to finish this homework assignment before I play with my baby.”  No more, “After I graduate, I’m going to….” Not needing to say any of those things is, to me, the greatest reward of obtaining that college degree.

From now on, I can focus entirely on my family and my life.  And, lets not forget, my spirituality!  I finally made it back to church last week!  On a Sunday, which is the best day to go.  I even found a new class…an academic discussion of the Bible, looking at the history and geography of the actual events that took place.  I love church.  And I love that I have time to actually get involved now.  I plan on looking for ways to fill some of the extra time I suddenly find on my hands (after I get sick of lounging around, that is), and I think getting involved more with church would be a great way to do that.

Well time to get Gordon and myself dressed…I guess I need a shower, too.  Or maybe not, yesterday’s hair is looking pretty good today =)

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