Posted in Fixing your credit, goals, homebuyers

A House That is a Home

Love stories are sometimes just that, stories. Most of which, when they are written as fiction, have a fixed outline to them. Person meets person, person dates person, they move in together, they get engaged, they marry, they buy a house, they sometimes have kids or just have pets…but there is always an order to how things are “supposed” to go. I feel like these forced road-maps of how your life is going to play out was very overdone in the romance novels I read and the romantic comedies I watched as an impressionable if not yet slightly naive, teenage girl in the early 90’s. I feel like the authors and screenplay writers were still under the impression of the 50’s & 60’s outlook on how the woman should stay at home and raise the kids while the man went to work all day. Even as that young teenager, even with my naivety, I always felt like the “order” of that was all wrong. Of course, trying to argue with my Mexican-Catholic grandmother about having children out of wedlock, got you a very long and rapid lecture in Spanish and had lots of bible quoting in there as well. Let’s just say that even though the woman was an inch shorter than me, there was no way I was going to argue with her.

So being her first grandchild of 20+, I did things the way she wanted them done. I got married first, to a half-Mexican man (I am also half), much to her delight, and then proceeded to give her brown haired, brown eyed, great grandkids after the marriage. Her happiness meant the world to me. The fact that I married a man who loved me more than anything AND was Mexican-Catholic to boot, well that was just the icing on the proverbial cake. She was happy when I was happy. That was all that mattered to her.

But that is where the outline to the preferred order of life events ended. Our marriage from there on out, was anything but conventional. We didn’t go and buy a home right away, in fact we couldn’t. We had both made such poor choices in our credit history before we met, that together our credit score was negative. LOL! No seriously though, it was bad. No one had ever taught us that a credit score was important, much less educate us about how to get a credit score. We found this out the hard way.

Fast forward 18 years, several rental homes (moving due to upsizing due to more babies), we finally began working on our credit. It took 4 years. Four years of me applying for high interest credit cards and adding my husband as an authorized user. His credit score went up, mine stayed low. But I didn’t mind. I continued to work on the whole credit thing because I just knew that it was going to pay off eventually, well at least I hoped it did.

Cue the pandemic. Rent moratorium was established, now everyone has opinions on this and I am not here to discuss politics, I’m just saying, some people needed this, some people took advantage of this. We however continued to pay rent. We were fortunate enough to both have our jobs despite the layoffs that the rest of the country was facing, so it seemed like the right thing to do was to continue to pay rent even though we didn’t have to. Six months into the pandemic and times were hard, our rent was raised by $200/month! Come on! But we continued to pay. Fast forward to the day the moratorium ended, we were served with eviction papers. Really? REALLY?!

Unbeknownst to me, my husband had been working with a mortgage lender to get approved for his VA Home Loan, I didn’t know because we had been down this road of approval before only for it to end in heartache several times, so he did it without me knowing in case it ended poorly again to spare me the pain. But this was the time. We were approved and it couldn’t have come at more needed moment. We had one month to find a house to purchase, go through the lending process and close on the house, easy right?

But we did it. We closed on our house 2 days shy of one month. How is that for a freaking miracle. But here we are 21 years into our marriage and we were finally home owners. We bought a 4 bedroom house to accommodate all of our grown kids as none of them are going to leave us anytime soon.

So this was where we will spend forever. We have been here only 6 months, and its still very surreal. We didn’t want to do anything to the house in the first few months because we both felt weird making any changes to the house. But at the same time we were making all these plans to change wall colors, update small things around the house and such. We have worked hard our entire marriage to get us to this point. Wow. We went and bought new living room furniture the other day. Now to some that might sound trivial and mundane, but to us, it was a huge deal. New furniture for our house that WE OWN. I’m sure it will feel even stranger when it’s delivered. But still super cool nonetheless.

When I wake up in the morning to get ready to go to work, I still walk around the house, still in disbelief that it is ours, that my husband I are finally able to see how much our hard work has paid off. When I leave out the back door and get to the car, I stop to take a look at our large fenced in backyard only to marvel at our dream come true. I’m not sure this feeling will ever go away and I really hope it doesn’t.

To all of you that are working towards this goal, don’t give up. Fixing our credit took time, and it was hard and seemed like it was never going to be fixed, but we did it. You can too. Just keep going. Don’t get too discouraged at setbacks as there will be some if not many. Keep going. Get your dream. And there is no set way to do things. Do them in whatever order you want. Reach your goals, even when everyone is telling you that you can’t. You can. And then you get to turn your house into a home like we are now.

Posted in healing, nursing, work day

Imposter Syndrome

Yes, that is a real thing. I didn’t know that there was an actual syndrome to define all the feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt I had all the years of my life I have spent as a medical professional thus far, not to mention the years of college I took to become the medical professional I am today. I first heard about this syndrome when I was a newer nurse from an advance nurse practitioner whom I highly admired. She alluded to having this syndrome, as she was in an in-between place or being a nurse and being a doctor. I was floored that someone with her education and skill level could feel this way, let alone admit it. But in that moment of her admitting that to me, it’s like everything in my brain was crying at the fact that we just learned what all of our years of self-doubt, self-deprecation, was all about. And it was a huge, if not validating, realization. Validation in the sense that I was not as crazy as I thought I was. And from then on, it was easier to quiet that loud voice in my head telling me that I didn’t belong where I was, that someone like me didn’t deserve to be where I was at. It was freeing.

Now let me preface that nursing, in general, is not an easy profession. In fact, some of the best advice I received while still in nursing college was that the degree I was going to receive didn’t make me a nurse, it was just giving me the tools I needed to go out and get a job, and then, with the training I would receive at said job, only then would I become a nurse. Mind blown moment. But I still tell that same advice to new nurses and nursing students. It was advice given to me by one of the best nursing instructors I was fortunate to have and one of the best nurses I know. Such a small sentence with such a profound impact. And let me continue with nursing is a field that when you choose to become part of it, you will forever be learning. In fact, every time a nurse renews her license to practice, which can be every 2-4 years, you have to show hours of continuing education. Like close to 30 hours. I just spent my whole Saturday sitting through a webinar about cardiac implantable devices (pacemakers, defibrillators, cardiac resynchronization therapy devices, loop recorders) and how to program and troubleshoot them, and this is one that I don’t even get any credit for. I spent 8 hours of my own time to further my knowledge on how to do what I do.

So now lets talk about my aforementioned imposter syndrome. I can’t even sugar coat it…..I do hard shit for a living. I’ve always challenged myself to be the best at what I do when I choose to do something. Now, I don’t mean that I need to be the best student in the class, or the smartest person in the room, those are completely unrealistic goals. There will always be someone smarter than you, someone better at something than you and the sooner you realize that the easier life becomes. But I always wanted to be the best I could be at what I was choosing. The goal and the race was with myself and myself only. So when I decided to become a nurse, I wanted to be the best version of a nurse that I could be. Then I chose to go straight into ICU. Intensive Care nursing is not the same as other floors, it’s always intense, hence the name. You are constantly doing something. There are some days I would be in one of my patients rooms for half of my shift, that’s six hours. Six hours in one room, with one patient, helping them survive whatever had them in my unit to begin with. Those 12 hours when I was on the floor, I became a different person. I became a nurse. It didn’t matter that I had a husband and kids at home, it didn’t matter that one of my kids may be at home sick, it didn’t matter if I was needing to make upcoming appointments for any of my kids at any of their given specialists, it didn’t matter if I had a kidney infection and needed to take antibiotics every 8 hours, none of that mattered. What mattered is the person in the bed in front of me and how I was going to care and treat them in the next few hours. Basically, my life stopped when I hit the floor and the patient became the center of my being for that time. But that’s the way everyone wants their caregivers to be right? No one wants a distracted doctor or nurse taking care of them. So that is how my life was when I was at work, it was all work. Then, after the realization that I did some pretty cool, hard and advanced stuff, and then when I became proficient at it, that’s when the doubt reared its ugly head and bellowed within the confines of my brain that I didn’t belong where I was and there was no way that someone like me could do what I do. So when someone gave a name to what and how I was feeling it was like that screaming in my head settled into a whisper.

So even now, when I attend education aimed at Electrophysiology Fellows, who have gone to medical school, had three years of medicine residency, plus three years of clinical cardiology fellowship, plus one to two years of clinical cardiac electrophysiology, well you could probably see why my head is telling me that I don’t belong in these webinars. These doctors have been training for this for over a decade…..and then there’s me. The most mind blowing thing about all of this, is when one of the EP’s giving the talk asks a question, and I know the answer! How is that even possible? Now, in no way shape or form am I saying I’m as smart or smarter than these physicians. NO! They know so much more than I do, and I completely bow down to all that they do know! I’m only saying that the thimble full of knowledge I have of what they do gets a smidgen bigger with every year I continue to embark on this professional path. In comparison, my thimble of knowledge is compared to the vast ocean that makes up what they know! They amaze me though. Physicians and nurse practitioners have always amazed me at how much they know about any given system of the body. Smart isn’t even the word I would use to describe them. Genius is more along the lines of what they are.

And here’s me….a girl who grew up on the border of Texas and Mexico, who saw poverty and lived through it, who saw addiction grasp and hold family members at a young age and really never let them go, who was always the odd person out in any situation, too Mexican for the white people in high school and not Mexican enough for the Mexicans, who was homeless at 18, made some very questionable decisions about groups of people I surrounded myself with at that time, only to see some very questionable things and seriously think that some of the situations I was living in really were straight out of movies. At 21, I met my husband, and it was literally love at first sight because here we are together after 22 years. At 23 I was a wife, at 24 I was a mother and that is when life kicked me in the ass to be better and to do better. But the little girl inside me, who never had the love and affection she needed from her parents was always there. She’s still in there, doubting everything and everyone, but she feels better now and has for years. She’s been shown what unconditional love is, she’s seen how not to live life. I can still see her in the mirror, and I can still hear her doubt, but I now know that I’ve worked hard for my accomplishments. I’ve studied, I’ve worked hard, I’ve been selfless when it would have been easier to be selfish. I’ve earned my place.

And now that whisper is still a whisper. It has it’s moments still when it roars with the need to be heard. But I face it head on and remember that it’s just me and no one else doubting me. And then I go on with my day in the silence of the roar. And that scared little girl within me is happier, she knows its not her fault for how life turned out, she’s proud of who we’ve become. In fact instead of her howling at me at how we don’t belong here, sometimes I hear her saying that she’s proud of me and she quiets down and basks in the well deserved happiness we have achieved.

Posted in work day

The Wednesday That Tried Really Hard to be a Monday…..

It’s the middle of the week for crying out loud, and this day decided to try it’s upmost best to be Monday all over again but to the 100th power. Does Wednesday feel some sort of way towards Monday that it really strives to be like it? Does Wednesday have feelings of inadequacy due to the fact that it comes and forever will come in the middle of the week, compared to Monday which is always and sometimes regrettably, first? There is just simply no need for this nonsense. Each day is special in it’s own right and shouldn’t strive to be like any other day of which it is not.

So my byline states that I’m a geek right? I’m pretty sure it also states that I’m a nurse. I have been a nurse for 11 years, I’m pretty sure I’ve been a nurse all my life but only in the last 11 years have I had the degree to prove it. So in the last 11 years not only have I worked in an actual capacity as a registered nurse, I now also have a salary to match. And let me tell you, being a nurse and working as one has taken my geekiness to a whole new level. It has shown me things that I never even thought to think about. I worked in an ICU unit in 3 different hospitals in the first 6 years of my career, 2 of which I worked simultaneously, and that unit fed my need to learn new and super cool things in extraordinary ways. The body does some really cool stuff and when you mix medicine and technology with that, well……..mind blown all the time.

But the Mecca for geeks like me, nurses who LOVE cardiology, is the clinic within the large cardiology office I work in now. I work in a sub-specialty of cardiology that is electrophysiology, which is the electricity of the heart. But then I take it one step further and work in a clinic that deals with the management of cardiac implantable devices, such as pacemakers, implanted defibrillators, heart monitors, cardiac resynchronization therapy devices…….lots of devices from several different industry’s, and I have been educated on how to program and reprogram the algorithms that run those devices. I know it probably doesn’t sound like much, but trust me it’s so much and it’s so unbelievably cool. There are about 3million people worldwide with a pacemaker and each year 600,000 more pacemakers are implanted. An estimated 1,5 million Americans have a pacemaker. But to be sure, I’m sure you dear reader, weren’t even aware that this is a thing. Most people really don’t think about pacemakers unless they or someone the know and love, has needed one. They are not common things to dwell on, but they are cool to learn about and work with on a daily basis. I am never bored at my job, that’s for sure.

So I work in a large clinic, monitoring thousands of patients, which means my team and me are always doing something. Answering phone calls, filling out forms for procedures and MRI’s, checking a patients pacemaker either in office or remotely, assessing wounds post implant and troubleshooting devices to make sure all the algorithms are working the way they should. So when the phone rings more than it should, and you have one MRI place not only calling my clinic but the clinical nurse belonging to the physician and same MRI place also calling our sister clinic in our other office, well…….you lady are wasting a lot of resources on one form, that you should have sent me a couple of days prior to the MRI, not 2 hours before you needed it. It’s not any of our faults that you waited until the last minute, but now you managed to rope 5 different people into one form. One form, that I can fill out and fax back to you in less than 5 minutes. You wasted hours of man power. Hours. Time that could have been spent on so many other patients, but you chose to dominate our time with you. I had 4 other staff members from other areas of the office that are not the one I work in, coming to me and asking me about this form as you had left messages on 4 other peoples phones. The amount of time and energy that was put into this one form beyond baffled me today. Just seriously made me stop and think about how much energy it took to make all those calls and leave all those messages. You, my friend, are apparently not as busy as we are, and it shows. But you should never assume that just because you aren’t busy that others aren’t busy as well. It just still astounds me as I sit here and type these thoughts. And this is just paraphrasing it!

And this type of thing set the tone for the day…..it just kept coming in waves and didn’t let up until the end of the day. It was Monday all over again, but it’s like it brought all it’s bad-Monday friends and decided to have a party, but not the type of party you can attend, the kind you can only see from the outside. Then, finally when it seemed like it was never going to end, the Wednesday that wanted to be Monday, was over. The workday ended. We all said our goodbyes to each other, abandoned the office and all told each other we would see each other tomorrow as we all got into our cars and drove away. It was over. Until tomorrow.

Well, tomorrow is tomorrow people, it will be dealt with when it gets here and not a moment sooner. I, however, am going to continue to live my best-geeky-life and watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them tonight with my grown freeloaders kids, while their dad does his daily paperwork for his business in his man cave. (I’m fairly certain there is sports on the tv along with the imbibing of some beer in said man cave, but meh, he deserves it) They still like hanging out with their momma, despite them being 21, 19, and 15, and I’m going to take all that for as long as I can. Hopefully they will want to hang out with me forever as I am the parent that gave them their love of all things geeky, so with that love of all things geeky they help me forget the trials of the Wednesday that tried to be a Monday.

Posted in COVID, nursing, Pandemic, work day

Just a typical day

How does anyone even describe a typical day anymore….is it even really a thing? Or has typical been redefined now that we are 2 years into a pandemic? Me being the type of person that adapts to change well, I will go with the latter. But still…….what is typical anymore?

Typical now, is social distancing when you are standing in line for your morning coffee, and making sure your mask is on correctly. Typical is washing and sanitizing your hands more than you did pre-pandemic as to not carry the virus. Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed how much you don’t touch your face anymore? Speaking of face, typical for me is to try to smile with your eyes, which is hard for me because I come from a long line of women with resting bitch face, which apparently is even evident in my eyes. But typical is still going to work M-F, 0730-1700. Yes, now we do it with a mask constantly on, even when we are at our desks, but at least we are still down to one mask and not doubling up with a face shield on top, like to proverbial cherry on the cake.

But can’t the days, despite their new type of typical, still be typical? Can’t the work days still suck? Can’t your coworkers still make you laugh and others annoy the hell out of you all the same? I mean, come on. As of right now the whole world is understaffed! Okay, maybe not the whole world, but most of America is and it’s been understaffed for awhile now. ESPECIALLY the medical field. Sure, the restaurants, bars, grocery stores, etc., you name it, it’s understaffed. But the hospitals and doctors offices are literally the LAST place you want working on a skeleton crew. I mean, have you ever been in the middle of hemorrhaging from a routine procedure and attempt to call your doctor only to be put on hold and wait for an operator to answer your call, only then will they transfer it somewhere else…..do you know how long 2 minutes actually is? It will feel like an eternity in the span of 2 minutes. How do I know? Because it happened to me.

But I digress…….I’m talking about typical days. I remember when we all used to complain about the mundaneness of it all. And now here we are. But is here really different then 2 years ago? Or 5 years ago for that matter? I mean, yes, things have changed dramatically, but can we really NOT change in society? Things happen, life changes, things are different, and as human beings we adapt. We adapt. Such a small word, adapt, but it has such big meaning. As a species we are not made to be stagnant. We have gotten where we are today by overcoming adversities and adapting to be able to continue or lives in the best ways we can. So am I inconvenienced by all the new rules, mask mandates, etc., yes. But I do them anyway because I’m capable of doing them and it seriously isn’t a hardship to help protect my family and others just by wearing a mask.

But again, I digress……..see this is what it’s like to be my friend and listen to me tell a story sometimes. All I really wanted to talk about was how Monday was like the Monday-est, Monday ever, and how even though we are 2 years into the pandemic and things have changed drastically since, that something’s are still constant. Even though I attempt to wake every Monday and convey into the world that this Monday is not going to suck just because all Mondays seem to suck…..well the constant or the typical, is that they do

So yes, typical Monday…….it sucked.

Posted in Awesome Friends, Parenting Medically Fragile Kiddos, Uncategorized

A Five Star Hotel and a Rock Star

So I should preface this entry by disclaiming that this was written in 2010. It was a very stressful day, with a stressful trip to a neurosurgeon for my youngest son. It was a trip that would either land us in major surgery (on his spine) or would take us down the road to a series of follow up appointments to monitor his health and progress. Lastly, it’s a post about a great friend. But it seriously explains how everyone should see and treat denial in their lives. Enjoy.

 

So you go about your day, your normal routine. Getting up, getting coffee made, breakfast for the kids, kids off to school….and so on and so forth. And not to mention the constant mental lists running through your head about milk, dog food, is it dance or karate day, do I have any homework? And oh…….at some point in time your youngest child may or may not need major surgery on his vertebrae, near his spinal cord!

No biggie!

Denial is generally where that last thought goes. Or as I like to call it, the Five Star Hotel file. You see I have this whole, personal theory on denial. I equate it to a five star hotel. It’s great there. Great atmosphere, great service, wonderful fluffy towels, but SUPER expensive! So you can only really stay there for short periods of time and must always check out! Hence…head back in reality!

So that is where that little tidbit resides for some weeks of my life.

But then it comes crashing back into the forefront of my brain like a hungover rock star that has been kicked out of said five star hotel, for trashing it!

Today was the day I had to deal with the PR wave of that rock star. I had to brave a seemingly harmless University of Iowa, Neurosurgery Clinic routine follow up. With one of the most renowned neurosurgeons in the country, who usually gives me bad news!

Again….no biggie!

Okay, so do I brave up and put my big girl panties on and face it like a woman?

Hell no!! I, like the coward I am, enlist my good friend to come with me for moral support and comic relief! And of course she came, like the good friend that she is, and provided the aforementioned services!

So as we pack up the kids and start our long drawn out journey(we had to make other stops before the appointment that had nothing to do with the appointment, I just like cramming as much stuff to do to keep my mind off the appointment, in one day that I can) a feeling of uneasy was beginning to set in.

Quickly this was remedied by the conversation of two women, with a whole lot of nothing, but importantly funny, stuff to talk about! I’m still laughing about the story about 5 different remotes! And everytime I would turn the conversation to this feeling of unease and the fact that I just knew I was going to get bad news today, my good friend would tell me to shut-up!

This was a good thing! She wouldn’t allow me to feel sorry for myself or start to worry about things I had no control over. So then we would continue on with our trivial, entertaining conversation and the moment of unease would pass.

But then we arrive at the beautiful University of Iowa Hospital. And I point out Kinnick Stadium to the boys, as is our usual habit. And the unease is back, like water or waves getting ready to break the levee! Again I am shushed and pulled back into the present.

I can do this, I can walk into this gy-normus hospital, meet with this famous doctor and take what he has to say about my boys and be strong for them!

No biggie…..but really I just want to run to my mommy and have her make it all better!!!

So off I go, holding a small hand in each of my hands and walk with one foot in front of the other to see what our future holds.

After x-rays are taken and we are shown into our small room to await the doctor and his entourage (okay not entourage, his residents. It is a teaching hospital) the levee breaks. But my friend is there to not shush me this time, but to hold my hand and talk me through my moment of sheer and utter helplessness. I can’t fix this for my boys. I have no control over what the doctor is going to say and if and how he is going to fix anything that needs fixing. I am not in control. I can’t trade places with them and there is absolutely nothing I can do to remedy this. It’s all in His hands.

She continues to be my life line to sanity as the doctor walks in with a smile on his face! Good news is delivered! And we all breathe a sigh of relief!

It was great that she was there to hear the good news. I’m grateful for that. Because she too experiences some of the lows with my boys. Why shouldn’t she be there to witness some of the highs as well.

And I don’t know if she wants me to say who she is or not, hence why she has been referred to as ‘she’ this whole time. But I do have this to say to her. Thank you for being my friend. I am thankful for you, I am thankful for all my friends, but today is yours!

And as for the five star hotel I mentioned earlier….I’m sure I will still make an occasional getaway to it. But that’s when I have my friends and family to bring me home. I have a great support system in all the women and few men around me, and am thankful for all of you. Because without you, I would be lost in an eternal rock star binge!

But……..they have really great towels!!!!! 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized

The Talking Heads Have Sage Advice.

So where do you start a blog? ”I was born…”;”It was the best of times…” Charles Dickens sure did have some catchy beginnings huh? Do I start with our courtship, our marriage, the baby, his diagnosis?! Then more babies that followed, the trials and tribulations that came with those years?! Where?

For me, today and this new journey starts with a song. Once in a Lifetime by The Talking Heads. It starts out asking, “…how did I get here?” That seems to be the 64 million dollar question. How did I get here? This isn’t where I planned on being now or what I dreamed I would be in 4th period study hall when I was 16. But it’s where I am. And I am soooooooo okay with that! I couldn’t imagine it any other way and when I do imagine the what if…..my chest starts to hurt and I can’t breathe so well, so I just don’t do that.

Do I have all the answers? Well, I like to think I do, but I just BS real well.

Would I like to have all the answers…….wouldn’t we all! But it’s so much more fun making it up as you go along!

The only expertise I have is being married for 18 years (to the same man,) raising 3 kids (2 of which have special needs,) being a full time nurse and trying my best to be a good friend and a decent human being.

So why the song? Why not?!

Life is a song. And you only get once in a lifetime!