Catching Hope

Looking for the grace of God that surrounds us

According to my pathophysiology book….

We are all going to die.

Of something.

Odds are totally stacked against us.

This may seem common sense, however, as I have read further into my pathophysiology textbook (which tells me all about the inner workings of what makes us die), I am finding that to avoid this rather unfortunate phenomena, we must live in a bubble and eat nothing.  Except perhaps the occasional carrot stick and sip of purified water.  [note: NOT celery, despite it’s reputation as the Ultimate Health Nut’s Food.  Apparently even celery can have negative effects, between the high probability of pesticide residue, the relatively high sodium content (if you have high blood pressure, that is), and I might personally add the annoying little strings that get caught in your teeth.]

Here’s the partial running list of odd things I have discovered that contribute to disease.  While occasionally overstated : ), these are documented risk factors for disease, when consumed/experienced in large amounts:

*Animal fat.  Causes disease of the gut, including cancer if eaten in large amounts.  (toss out the lard, folks! guess the Chick-Fil-A cows are right after all….Eat Mor Chikn.  the LEAN kind of chicken.)

*Being tall.  Height and leg length, to be exact.  Long legs have a documented association with cancer.  (Not sure what you can do about this one–unless someone has figured out how to alter the gene pool….)

*Hot tea: in excess it apparently strains your gut too much and can give you anemia.  Pernicous anemia, to be exact, which to me sounds like a cross between a persnickity old woman and some variety of a garden cabbage. (It’s better not to ask where that thought came from, because quite frankly I have no idea either.)

*Steak or other charbroiled foods.  The old saying holds true, if it’s black and tastes terrible, don’t eat it.  (OK, maybe that’s not an old saying.  But now it is.)

*Long-term exposure to cold (we Minnesotans have known this for quite some time.  Then again, perhaps those that move to Florida for the winter have a better practical understanding of this one…) or repeated exposure to vibrating machinery in the workplace.  Both of these can cause spasms in your hands that turn your fingers blue.

*”Chinese-style salted fish”.  (Not even sure what this is). But apparently if it is fed to infants, it correlates with disease of the nose and throat.

*A cold or flu virus.  Those little guys can stick in your system and pop back out to to say hello in new and updated forms such as shingles or mononucleosis.  (Hence, I would remind you of the aforementioned “bubble” living idea…)

*Too much sunshine.  Can cause skin cancer. (I should have added in the introduction to this post that when in the aforementioned protective bubble, sipping organic water and munching on the occasional pesticide-free carrot stick, one should protect exposed skin as well…)

*Not enough sunshine.  Lowers the Vitamin D level.  (Note: to rectify this with the previous post, I guess there is a very delicate balance between not enough sunshine and too much.  Ask Aristotle, the master of the “Golden Mean” of the middle ground…)

And speaking of the middle ground, at least on this point, I think perhaps Aristotle had a good idea–that is of living in moderation.  Some sunshine but not too much.  Some steak but don’t petrify it black.  That sort of thing–common sense living.  Which, incidentally, after all, does not consist of living in a bubble and subsisting on carrot sticks (in my humble opinion, anyway!).  : )

Also, there are some things you can do something about (such as smoking, weight control, avoiding Chinese-style salted fish, etc.).  Common sense living dictates that you modify what can be modified in your lifestyle.  Other things you can’t help, when all is said and done (being tall, for one!).  So, I guess the conclusion is to do what you can to preserve your health (protect your body as the “temple”–1 Corinthians 6:19-20) but understand that we are all fallen creatures under the curse of sin.

This is why, ultimately, we are all going to get sick and eventually die.  It’s really not the excess of celery sticks, the hot tea, or the animal fat.  It’s our sin nature, given to us by Adam when he and his wife ate the forbidden fruit.

But we can rejoice, and not only rejoice but rejoice with HOPE, because the Second Adam has come and redeemed His children–both soul and body.

Romans 5:17:  For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Praise our Father that He has given us hope!

(All medical facts come from the book, “Understanding Pathophysiology”, 4th Edition, by McCance and Huether, copyright 2008.  Except for the part about celery, which I found after a little bit of internet research on various sites.  Exaggeration and hyperbole directly from The Mind of Kristina Michael, RN, October 2010.)


You know you’re a nurse when….(part one)

…you find both an N-95 respirator mask and a thermometer in your purse.  When you never take your purse with you while working.


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Another Day in the Life….

…of a home nursing visit with a little girl I’ll call Ella.

Ella is two.  She is totally non-verbal, because of some special connections in her brain that just don’t work quite right.

But Ella can say more than most two year olds can–without using a single word.

Ella is one of those little girls with a mischievous twinkle in her eye.  She loves nothing better than hearing stories about herself.  She laughs uproariously when she is happy, and claps her hands over her ears and furrows her little brow deep when she is mad.  She runs around the house with abandon, not looking where she is going.  I’ll never know how she has ever avoided a serious head injury.  Some days when I come, she is smiling and lifts up her hands, wanting me to pick her up and cuddle her.  Other days, she scoots behind her toys and looks at me with a totally fake shyness.  Our favorite thing is for her to sit on my lap and play with my hands–move the fingers, clap them together, and repeat.

Recently, I went to see Ella:

9:35 am:  Kristi picks up Ella from off the floor and holds her, so that she can listen to Ella’s heart and lungs.  Ella scoots off Kristi’s lap and giggles.

9:36 am: Kristi talks with Ella’s mom while she tries to capture the squiggling Ella.

9:38 am: Kristi has had success in getting Ella back in to “listening” range.  She tells Ella that she is going to listen to her breathing.

9:39 am: Ella is not breathing loud enough for Kristi to hear through her shirt.  Kristi tells Ella to take a deep breath.  Kristi demonstrates this skill.  Ella’s mom demonstrates this skill.  Kristi and Ella’s mom nearly hyperventilate trying to get the point across.  Ella gets a twinkle in her eye….

9:41 (and 15 seconds) am:  After multiple, repeated, probably-look-ridiculous-to-anyone-watching attempts to communicate that Ella is to take a deep breath, Kristi attempts listening again.  Ella giggles.  Then–silence.

9:41 (and thirty seconds) am: At this point Ella has abandoned all thoughts of compliance…and continues to hold her breath.  As a result, Kristi cannot hear a thing can just about hear Ella laughing on the inside…and mom can see the mischievous trouble in Ella’s eyes.

9:42: Ella can no longer hold her breath…or her laughter.  Kristi is able to obtain all needed information while Ella inhales to laugh.

On another occasion, I visited Ella’s house because she wasn’t feeling well.  I picked her up off the floor….

6:15 pm: Kristi picks up Ella.  Ella’s mom tells Kristi all about how Ella has been vomiting and not eating much today.  Kristi and Ella’s mom joke yet again about how Kristi has, as of yet, avoided the product of Ella’s rather impromptu, frequent, and unexpected bouts of throwing up.

6:24 pm: Ella’s mom continues to tell Kristi about how Ella is doing. Ella is playing with Kristi’s hands, smiling and nodding with big, sweeping head movements–as she always does when she hears stories about herself.

6:25 pm:  Ella hiccoughs.  And promptly vomits all over Kristi’s jeans and sweater.

6:26 pm:  Ella, glitter in her eye, laughs.  Not just a little, under-her-breath giggle, here, friends.  We are talking laughter.

Coincidence?  I think not.  And, of course, as a nurse who would never condone such acting out of behavior, I promptly burst into fits of laughing along with Ella’s mom solomnly cleaned up Ella and myself.

Oh, the joy that children bring…and how we underestimate them.  May we always have the eyes to see them as Jesus does–and may we be touched by their ever-abundant joy!

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Things Nurses Say, part 3

What on earth does a nurse say to a family who just took their baby home to die?

Words fail. And no matter what you say, it never feels like the right thing. You are reminded once again of your need for grace, as you try not to let anyone see that your hands are trembling.

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What Makes A Good Day

I had a good day today.

Not just one, but two of my hospice kids smiled at me–two different visits, two different children.  Neither of them has ever smiled at me before, as both of these children are severely developmentally delayed.  But, there they were–sudden, genuine smiles that went all the way to their eyes.

They don’t know how serious both of their individual situations are.  One, in fact, waits for a very serious, life-threatening surgery.  And yet, they smiled.  And they chose to smile at me.

This is why I love my job.

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Dumb Things Nurses Say, Part 2

OK, well, I’ve done it again.

This time it was a kid who is in a wheelchair about half of the time.

She was telling me that she was going to be 12 in exactly 3 months.

I said, “Oh, you’re getting old!”

She giggled.

Then I said, joking, “You’ll need a cane and a walker soon!”

Then I realized what a dumb thing to say that was, to a kid that’s already in a WHEELCHAIR half of the time….

she wasn’t disturbed. but i was.  : )

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Dumb Things Nurses Say, version 1

This time, it was a pre-teen girl with cancer.

I went to the house, gave her her medicine, and then as she pulled out and put on her bright green fake vampire teeth and bright orange pumpkin wig (complete with pumpkin stem!) she wanted to know if I’d play Tic Tac Toe with her on her new Halloween-themed tic tac toe board.  (She was the pumpkins, I was the ghosts).  I lost.  Not even on purpose.  She thought that was just great.

Then I went to leave.  She begged me to stay, begged me to call and visit her, giggling the whole time.

In jest, and totally in response to her complete, put-on overreaction to my leaving, I said, “Are you going to live?”

Like a bucket of ice water, mid-sentence I realized what I was saying and quickly followed that with “live…..uh, through my leaving?!”

As she dramatically replied, “No!!!!!” and cast herself, Ophelia-like, on the couch in fake death, I had to laugh at least a little……and then proceed to kick myself for the rest of the night over saying something so dumb to a kid with cancer.  She didn’t seem to mind so much, though–and I was glad that at least for one fleeting moment she was able to be just a kid.

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The Eagle Has Landed

Sometimes people ask me why I chose to do pediatric nursing.  Somehow I get the feeling that they are expecting a great, philanthropic, heartwarming answer.

Not so, my friends, not so.  I do indeed love pediatrics, really I do.  Kids are great.  However, my decision to pursue little people occurred one day when I was in nursing school.

It was a hectic morning for the nursing students.  We all filed in to the general med-surg floor of our local hospital, properly attired completely in white and looking something like a gang of Storm Troopers with ponytails.  But that’s another issue for another day.

Anyhow we got there, frantically swept through our paperwork, and had just started on prepping our meds for the day when the call came through on the intercom system.  Nurse so-and-so answers.


*”Yes, Mr. Jones?”

*The Eagle Has Landed.


*The Eagle Has LANDED.


*(the meaning dawns on the nurse answering the intercom) Oohhhhhh, I see……

At this point the nursing students (plus one floor nurse) were sent down to assist in Mr. Jones’ room.  When we got there–well–you see….

Let me summarize and spare you the details.  Mr. Jones was a large man.  In fact, 700 lbs large.  He was quite cheerful–jovial even.  However, some kind night nurse had just given Mr. Jones a rather potent laxative before she left for the night.

This was quite strategic on her part.  Not only did she not have to deal with the after-effects, but there were 7 nursing students available for–shall we say–damage control.

It was in this moment that I decided pediatrics was the way to go.  Sorry, everyone, who assumed I chose pediatrics only because I was being kind and having happy thoughts about children.  Simply put, I decided to do pediatrics because of a 700 lb man and a laxative.

Granted, in the end, my decision to work in pediatrics was more than just this experience.  However it was I got here, though, I’ve been loving each moment.  : )

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Hello, my name is H1N1…what’s yours?

Your Friendly Home Care Nurse Reminder:

If your home care nurse is coming, please warn her of your possible H1N1 virus, so that she can properly prepare herself with Personal Protective Equipment.  Even if you think she looks ridiculous in it.  Because chances are she thinks that too, but would rather look like the Smurf with Goggles than have to go home and sanitize everything she brought, as well as herself, in the middle of her day.

So far I’m 3 for 3 in the ILI (influenza-like illness) daily count.  : )  Everyone please, please wash your hands.  : )

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The lasting impression…

I have a slightly sore stomach today….

The small child I visited yesterday was none too happy about the new dressing I had to put on her central IV site.  She had recently had a very bad experience at the doctor’s office, so when I walked in with my stethoscope and Tegaderm in hand, life (from her 2 year old perspective) took a distinct turn for the worse.  What I was doing was not at all painful–in fact, most kids don’t mind it at all.  What made it so bad for her was the fear that had been created in her from a past experience.

It made me think about how what we do and say to others has a lasting impact.  I heard once that every interaction we have with a person, even if it is just a smile to a stranger on the street, impacts and changes them–and you–forever.

In the case of my little girl, her past experience of pain and fear has now colored her perspective of nurses and doctors.  She is now afraid–so afraid, in fact, that she screams, cries, and kicks (hence my sore stomach!) to protect herself from what she sees as frightful.  And I don’t blame her at all.

In my case, however, I hope that the interactions that I have with others are positive, joyful interactions that point to Christ.  If my actions and words are going to have a lasting impact, I hope and pray that the lasting impression is one of the face of Jesus.  I fail so often at this–with my grumbling, complaining, overreacting…but by His grace, there is hope that He will make Himself known through me, despite my lingering depravity.

: )

love kristi

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