Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Catching Up

It's been a long while since I've posted. I had to pack up and leave New York. Moving is always such an ordeal. Thankfully, my Mom came up and gave me a hand. Some of my friends came out to send me off in style.

We indulged in a serious chocolate fix at Max Brenner. Let's just say they have an *extensive* chocolate menu.

When I got to Miami I spent a couple of weeks at my Mom's while my room at Daddy's (formerly my brother's room) was cleaned out and repainted. I stayed busy with, if memory serves, 4 trips to IKEA in the space of about a week and a half. The room is looking pretty good but I still haven't taken pictures. Electricians have been re-wiring the entire building since I arrived. Joy of joys, the breaker panel is in my bedroom. Let's just say that electricians are now my least favorite group of people on earth. They really know how to leave a mess in their wake. Supposedly, their work is done. Now we can go about patching up the holes in the walls and bring in the paintings to really complete the room. While the electricians were busy making dust and leaving wire-pulling grease on my brand new white furniture, I acquired the true Miami necessity: an automobile! She's a 2007 Honda Accord and I got her with barely 8,000 miles on her.

The last time I had a car - a green Saturn station wagon - I called her Iolanthe. This car has a more, um, subtle personality. A name has not immediately suggested itself. I welcome your input.

A while back, I enjoyed a ride on Daddy's boat with him and Carmen.

Here I am pretending I know how to drive the thing.

Chocolate was again the theme when we celebrated my grandfather's 89th birthday. Don't be fooled by the size of the cake - that stuff is potent.

The real treat was just continuing to enjoy my grandfather's company. He is in remarkably good health for his age. We should all be so lucky.

It hasn't all been fun and games. Even if I'm not paying rent, I have to pay for the car somehow. Just when I had given up on the idea of getting a travel nursing assignment here in Miami, I got a call from my agency asking me if I was available for an assignment at my first choice hospital in the Mother/Baby unit. Um, yes, please. It took what seemed like an inordinate amount of paperwork, yet another TB test, and two drug screens but I got the job over nine other candidates. I grumble about what a hassle it was, but considering the regulatory requirements involved it went very smoothly and my agency has been great. It's not often you can get a job essentially over the phone. I am now in the last three weeks of my assignment at South Miami Hospital, part of the Baptist Health South Florida system. Everyone I spoke to said it was the best hospital for Mother/Baby and has the added distinction of Magnet status.

When I was at my old job, one of the travelers there assured me that Mother/Baby nursing is essentially the same everywhere. But I found that although the basics are the same, many things are just different enough to be very noticeable. The biggest difference is that NYP Cornell is a teaching hospital while South Miami is completely private. At Cornell, there were always residents around if a patient had an emerging problem or if you just needed an order. At South Miami, if my patient is spiking a fever, for example, I would conceivably have to call their private doctor in the middle of the night. (Yes, still working 12-hour nights). Thankfully the latest I have had to call a physician so far was 10:30. The other very noticeable difference is the c-section rate. At Cornell, I thought it was appalling at nearly 40%. South Miami's is *over 60%*. A normal delivery is something of a rarity here. The other night, by chance, all five of my patients had had normal deliveries. None of the other nurses could remember the last time a nurse had that kind of assignment.

I'm a little amused by the nurses' idea of "busy" here. Since working here, I've never had to care for more than 5 moms and 6 babies. a At my old job that was a pretty good night. But the difference is that here there is a lot of help. There is at least one Patient Care Technician (PCT) at all times, sometimes two or three, to help with Mommy vital signs and baby baths.

Another big difference is in the patients themselves. I am speaking Spanish with them at least half the time. Incidentally, the deficiencies in my Spanish have made themselves abundantly clear. They also take a lot less pain medication, I think. The c-section patients switch from Percocet to Motrin pretty quickly, and many never take Percocet at all. They also go home after only 3 days. It's a good thing, too, or else there would never be an empty bed.

Everyone at South Miami has been very nice and welcoming. It's been good to get a different perspective and see how each unit and hospital has its own institutional culture. I'm not crazy about their computer charting system, which went live just as I finished orientation. Much of the staff is still struggling to adapt to the move away from paper. I'm still not quite comfortable with the elements that are still paper-based (mostly physician orders). Yuck.

Enough of work. There have been some highlights in the form of out of town visitors. My brother was here for a week and half for his spring break and I got to spend time with him on my days off. We filled our time by making skateboards. Yes, skateboards. I learned the difference between a trick board and a long board (what we made) and between a deck (the top wooden part) and the trucks (the wheely bits). Off to Home Despot we went, in search of 3/4" plywood. We borrowed a jigsaw and a sander. I helped him design the overall shape of the decks and then we got on to the graphic design for each one (4 in all). The first board on the left is my brother's.

Going down hills on a long board is called "bombing," hence the bomber.

We used decoupage to apply the newspaper and the bomber image. The second board is for a friend of his who is a fan of the Red Sox and Papelbon in particular. He's also into Ultimate Frisbee. So we created a stencil of "Paps" and had him catch a giant decoupaged frisbee. Another friend of his has been likened by his own girlfriend to a little bird, but feels strongly that Isiah Thomas is not doing the Knickerbockers any favors. Sadly, we learned about the innovative spelling of "Isiah" after the fact. The last is my favorite. We made it for my brother's girlfriend, Helen. The natural grain of the wood reminded us of sand dunes. Online we found a picture of a camel caravan and created a stencil that I applied with black sharpie. Although we liked the efffect, we felt it lacked something. When I went to the living room to adjust the AC, I noticed some ancient Ecuadorian seals that my father has displayed on a bookshelf. I made a rubbing on one of them, created a stencil, and sharpied that onto Helen's deck as well.

We liked it so much that it became the "signature" for all four decks. Here's a closeup of it on my brother's deck, "Baby D":

I had such a great time spending time with my brother doing something creative. It will be great to have him here at home this summer even though I'll be busy with school and he'll be working. I have to take advantage of his company before he goes off to Barcelona for a year of study abroad.

Speaking of Spain, one of our favorite Spaniards, Igancio (Nacho) Espla and his wife Nancy Calvo came for a visit from Panama, where they live and where we met them when I was a little girl. I had not seen Nacho for 19 years, and Nancy for maybe, 23. They were in town to sign a limited edition of silkscreens at the Americas Collection. There's Nacho, signing. Coincidentally, the work of another family friend Jorge Cavelier, is visible behind him.

Here's a family portrait that Nacho made for me when I was a little girl.

I happened to be off work much of the time Nacho and Nancy were here. I had a great time playing tour guide and all-round shopping problem solver.

It was during their visit that I went ahead and sprung for my brand new MacBook. Yay! I'm loving the new OS. It runs like a dream. I'm still figuring out what I'm going to do with the old computer, which my father affectionately calls the "coral reef." Here he is pretending to be a gangsta:

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posted by Adriana at 10:36 AM


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Adriatic Bear by Adriana Arcia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.