Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fanastic News!!!!

We are bouncing off the walls around here!

It is news we have been hoping for, waiting for, and praying for.

Our daughter LauraRN will soon be having new letters and a title with her name!

All of us need to rejoice!

This will effect hundreds, nay, THOUSANDS of people's lives!

It could even effect YOU personally!

While we are cheering for other young people right now who are putting their lives into learning how to best slide down mountains and dance on ice...

While we pay millions to see other people play act in movies, and to read all about their lives in magazines...

While we set aside time and money to pursue and participate in traveling, ceremonies, and pleasures...

This young woman, my daughter, is choosing to put years of her life into learning all that she can about things that will matter to all of us who expect to grow old.

While the world celebrates the baby, the child and the beautiful young adults with adorable pictures and stories, the elderly life phase is being quietly re-examined and re-considered by geriatric experts.

There are questions that they are asking that we all should be asking ourselves:

How shall it be to be old?

How shall it be to be old and frail?

How shall it be to be old and needing care?

What will be done for (or about!) you and for me when we become old.

If we as women live to be 90...should we still have our yearly mammograms?

And what if cancer is found....would it be best for us to undergo chemo, radiation, or surgery?

What if we are experiencing age related dementia...will we be OK with the procedures that are needed for a mammogram?

If we are 90, and have a stroke, and are unable to speak or eat, and our heart stops, will administrating CPR still make sense to us?

(Not CPR as portrayed on television...CPR as it is in real life; with the smell of burning electrocuted flesh, the sound of ribs being broken, and needles being punched into a naked and exposed body surrounded by a host of people? And if the heart begins to beat again, each breath will be taken with the hideous pain from the expansion of ribs that will take take months to heal).

Would we rather be pain free and unaware of family that flies in for a final farewell, or awake, and in agony?

When we are old, will our goals be honored? Will we be allowed to die at home if we wish, instead of undergoing another round of treatment in a hospital?

What is "old" anyway? Is it a number, or a state of being? Can you be old at 50? Can you not be old at 85?

Will decisions by us concerning quality of life and quanity of life be honored?

Will our decisions be trumped by the decisions made by others who do not know us?

Who will we be able to trust to help guide us and our families in making decisions concerning final days?

What of those who have no family who cares about them? What of those who gradually lost kin to due to time or distance or family dysfunctions?

I listen to the health care debate, and shudder at the mention of "death panels".

I also shudder at the mention of treatments given to terminally sick elderly who wish to die gracefully, yet endure last ditch efforts to sooth the conscience of family members who want "everything done" when they themselves couldn't be bothered to even call or write or visit in the prior years.

These situations play out all around us. We want to look away...we want to hope that all will be just fine...and we don't really want to think about all this...until the moment that we have to.

As I said at the beginning of this post: Rejoice.

There are people, not many, but a few, who are willing to take up the task of gaining knowledge about these matters, and who will gain wisdom to share, who are willing to pray and hug and listen, and more importantly, are willing to spend time and money to get some letters and a title added to their name that will grant them the right and priviledge to speak out.

Laura will be one of those people.

She has been accepted into a Master's Degree program at Pt. Loma Nazarean University. She will be studying for her Master of Science in Nursing, concentrating on Geriatrics and Pallative Care.

She has worked in America's finest hospitals in ICU units, Oncology wards, and Bone Marrow transplant units. She has participated in delivering the most cutting edge life saving measures.

Now she works in Hospice, seeking to provide what is most important when the life saving measures will not save, when "treatment" can not deliver the "outcome" of cure or relief.

She has always been there for me when I needed a nurse. I am in awe that she will know what I will need as I and those I love age.

There will be at least two years of schooling ahead for her, done while working full time as a Hospice intake nurse, paying her own way, hopefully with scholarships easing the financial burden. (If only she was able to ski or dance well on ice...then she would be getting paid by some corporate sponsor as she learns, instead of paying for her studies herself. Ah well...society's values often defy reason).

Right now she is the person getting paid to be with patients and family as they confront an inevitable truth: Death is certain, yet life remains; goals can be set and comfort can be achieved.

She is paid to be in the room with those adjusting to their new reality.

Those in the room with her are lucky to have her there. For them the moment will pass, but for her there is always another such moment to come. She is ready each time, for each family, for each person.

And because she cares, she is willing to spend some of her life to prepare to know how nurses can care better for all of us in the future.

That's my idea of fantastic news.

That's my idea of cause for rejoicing.

Further reading:

Mammogram/elderly demetia blog post-love this one!

Mammograms and frail elderly/dementia.

More on Mammograms and elderly

Last years of life needs. of the oldest of the old.

Quote about Geriatric Advance Practice Needs:

The need for geriatric advanced practice nurses (APN) is growing as our nation's older adult population continues to expand with baby boomers nearing retirement age. Geriatric APNs are expert nurses prepared at the master's degree level who provide, direct, and influence the care of older adults and their families in a variety of settings. These nurses are uniquely prepared to improve outcomes of care, promote quality of life, and provide comprehensive care for older adults.

Though the need for geriatric nurses has been identified, the number of students pursuing this field of expertise has not expanded sufficiently, nor been distributed appropriately to various geographic regions and health care settings. The reasons behind the lack of student interest include a limited number of master's programs in this area, few scholarship opportunities, and the lack of visible leadership to attract new students to this career path. If we are not successful in recruiting new students into geriatric nursing, we will limit the access to and quality of care available to our aging population.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Steaming Lava Hot Valentine Weekend

I had never heard of the place...but seriously, if you want a hot Valentine's weekend, wouldn't a place called Lava Hot Springs be just the place to go?
(Frankly, I am surprised Lewis and Clark didn't just put down their gear and stay right here back in 1812. I would have waved them on, and never gone another mile exploring if it had been up to me!)

Today Lava Springs is a small town in Idaho, about 150 miles north of SLC.
We stayed at the Aladdin Inn; the building was from the 1920's. Nothing fancy...but we weren't there for luxury rooms.

We were in town for the hot springs!

Aladdin Inn was part of the Mineral Hot Springs Inn, and our rooms were just a block away from the pools.

We actually were being lodged in the "luxury" suite that had three bedrooms on two floors and three queen size beds! The reservations people seemed rather surprised to learn that it was just the two of us staying in the room.

Too bad we didn't know anyone nearby that we could have called to join us!

Now this is what I call steamy! There were three hot pools in the front of the building and two in the back of the building.

The back of the hotel overlooked a medium sized river fed by both snow melt and hot spring waters.

The pools have been in use since the 1920's. No sulfur in the water though, which was a nice change from other mineral spas that we have enjoyed over the years.

All around us couples soaked and chatted with one another, comparing their reasons for coming to the place, where they lived and so on.

One young couple were on a first "getaway" since their second child was born. It brought back memories of a similar getaway to a hot springs in the San Diego desert area when our second child was still very new.

Such a good times... both then and now.

We've stayed at very elegant hotels over the years; this one was more what we call "hippy-dippy"--a very hang loose, come to breakfast in sweats or pajama bottoms, and serve yourself kind of place.

When I looked up from my eggs and waffles I was quite amazed to see a poster from my hometown. Ah...a touch of the seaside village way up here in snow covered Idaho.

Who woulda thunk?

A young couple glanced over at us, and asked if we would like to have our picture taken.

I thought that was really sweet! Didn't even quibble that I hadn't bothered to "pretty up" before breakfast as I knew I'd be in the hot pools as soon as I finished my meal.

Yes it was cold outside....

The steam rising from the pools froze on every possible surface, here creating frost rings inside a plastic chair seat's grid work

Here a decorative light is made even more decorative with the frost...

As did the frozen crystals trimming iron patio chairs.

In the hot spring fed pools the water's minerals had built up over time, just as they do inside of caverns, leaving deposits in fanciful sculptural shapes.

Some deposits were smooth...

While others had formed bumpy coral like structures.
I had to wonder a bit about myself: I have always carefully used a lime fighting cleaning product to remove any traces of minerals that tried to form around household faucets.
Maybe I should have just gone with the flow and let nature create a similar look to be enjoyed in my own home.
That would have been an interesting tact to avoid housework!
Even the edges of the pool had unique mineral formations.

The whole scene was slightly surreal: snow was piled about, yet people wandered through the scene wearing only wet swim suits and damp towels.

I kept thinking of National Geographic pictures of the old Soviet Union, of people enjoying hot springs while staying in pre-WWI ancient spas along the Baltic sea.

The pools ranged from 107 way too hot down to a just right for slow swimming 94 degrees.
We dunked and soaked in all but the too hot pool, then went for a couples massage.
After that we were both pretty much worthless.
Eventually we got out of our swim suits and back in to cold weather gear....
...scraped the frost off the car windshield and took a drive to see the surrounding areas.
The river will be visited again in another season when fishing will be added to the getaway fun.

For now it was what I call "calendar pictures" viewing time.

Scenes that make me call out "Stop the car!" to Bernie while I lower the window and start shooting.

Out one side of the car was blanket fields of white, while on the other side afforded views of rugged lava formations.
Gorgeous streams meandered through the valley.

The water was slowly flowing, yet showed no signs of freeze at all.

I can't wait to see this scene in summer!

Several geese were enjoying a soak as well. I would have loved to have known how warm the river was...

That evening we enjoyed scenes from another place: The Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics. We nibbled chocolate covered strawberries in bed, marveled at the technology that allowed us to see Orca whales swimming inside an arena miles away, see prarie grasses instantly grow at the touch of an air dancer's feet, and hear the fiddle and tap of dancers from places where we had never been.

What amazing times we live in!

We were in Lava Springs from Friday night until Sunday morning. Celebrations of Valentine's stretched over the time, with long soaks, naps, and then hours of Olympic event viewing from our bed.

Lazy people: that would be us!

Heading back to SLC we tried to decide what to do for dinner. Dim Sum sounded good...we had not known it was also Chinese New Years as well as Valentine's Day!

It was a bit too bad that we hadn't wanted to wait three more hours for a Dragon Dance and fire crackers at the restaurant. Our tummies were more demanding than our need for another cultural experience.

If you have never had Dim Sum before, let me explain how it works. A trolley full of hot metal pots is rolled up to your table, and the server opens each lid, explains what is in the pot (in Korean or Chinese, depending on the restaurant) and sometimes you know what you are getting and sometimes you don't.

In this restaurant there was a "cheat sheet" on the table. That was a nice change from Dim Sum restaurants in the SF Bay area, where we were the only non-Asian people in the restaurant and no one was speaking English or explaining anything at all!

If you don't know what the waiter is saying in Korean or Chinese, you can be in for a bit of a surprise.

Yum...Dim Sum!
Asia families were gathered about, with their children dressed for the upcoming celebrations.
We have seen Dragon Dances before and they are quite impressive.
But in our case...we threw our lot in with the Olympic Events.
We'll catch the Dragon Dance next year...when there are not Olympic Games to enjoy.
Sixteen days of televised events ahead.
Glad we took a weekend to practice being lazy.
We are going to need to be in shape for the next two weeks of sitting around and doing nothing but cheering the Olympic teams on.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Hints and Sightings

The house got a few decorative touches to remind us that Valentine's Day was coming...

A wooden heart was added to the frame of our Christmas anniversary picture...

Woven paper hearts...

Topped our window view to outside...
Where a Valentine flag made for a bright spot in our wintry garden.
For days now the lamp post has been festooned with clinking beads and hearts that blow merrily in the breezes.
Inside, at last, an African violet that traveled with up from Houston has bloomed beside the candle bearing cherub.

Just little hints of romance here and there.

So sweet...but we weren't there enjoying them on Valentine's Day.

We left for a more steamy means of celebration!

Oh yeah...the Valentine's Weekend Tryst was ON! was a Valentine's Day, on Chinese New Years, during President's Day Weekend, which happened to also be taking place during the Winter Olympics.
"Sweet" alone just wasn't going to cut it for us this year.

With all that going on, how could we not be inspired to turn up the heat this year?

Come by tomorrow to see Bernie and Jill's Valentine's Tryst 2010.

(Don't worry...the pictures may be steamy, but in a totally G-rated way)

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Happy Chinese New Years!

Happy President's Day Weekend!


Go Team USA!