My First Month as an RN

I am still playing nurse

I am still playing nurse

It is not what I thought that it would be.

It is not at all like nursing school.

But I still love it. I seem to able to become buddies with the most difficult of patients, but I have my favorites. They know who they are, because I  tell them. Everyday I have a favorite, and I tell them.

I am working in a skilled rehab. That is the place where you are not sick enough for your insurance to pay for a hospital stay. But you are not safe enough yet to be at home.

At the hospital, a nurse usually has the total care of 5 very sick patients. They may be on multiply IVs, a heart monitor and multiple therapies. They need constant care. Believe me, those nurses are busy all day long juggling the medications, charting, communicating with providers, case managers and family members. A 12 hour shift is usually a 13 hour shift plus drive time.

At this rehab, a nurse is assigned 22 patients. Though it is true that they do not need the constant care and are not as sick as a hospital patient is, I think that 22 is too much.

Put on your running shoes because I am going to take you through my 12 hour day. (ahem, I am actually there anywhere between 14 and 16 hours. Yes, I have stayed til 10:00 at times.) Oh yes, and do not forget the 30 minute drive to work and home.

Here is a sample of a “12” hour day. Arrive at 5:45 to start looking at the charting of your patient load to get to know their issues. write a list of all the IVs that you will hang today, and  bowel care patients. Make note of who is going out for appointments and dialysis because you want to make sure to assess them and get them their meds prior to pick up. Report is anywhere between 6:00 and 6:30. Reconcile the narcotic count on your cart with the hand off nurse. Receive your keys and put on your radio. The radio is like a walkie talkie that fits in your pocket. It has an earbud for your ear and a microphone that clips to your collar. This is how you communicate with everyone in the building all at the same time. You will hear a lot of chatter. Eventually you will learn to tune it out, until you hear “Donna, do you copy?” or a room number mentioned that is assigned to you.

Once you receive your keys-you are now responsible for the physical cart- all the charting,  the patients, and  the two CNAs associated with that cart.

7:00- IV’s are due at 7:00, 12:00, 2:00 and 6:00. Go hang all your 7:00 ivs.

8:00 Meds are due for 22 patients. Open up your patient’s electronic chart, find out when they got their last prn pain pill and write it on your list. This will become very import to you. When asking for their pain pill one hour early, you will know how to respond without running to your cart and checking. Prepare all medications at the cart. If the patient is on the bowel care list, be sure to add a prn bowel care medication. We want our patients to poop! Inactivity, and certain medications will block them up. I am a very vigilant bowel care nurse. Just  call me “Bowel Care Donna”.  Lock your computer, lock the cart and go to the patient’s room. Introduce yourself, do a focused assessment, give the meds and remind the patient about the call light. Ask if there is anything else that they need. If they have another need, use your radio to call a CNA, housekeeping or dietary.

Keep moving and get 22 patients done. You will get many interruptions. Your CNA’s will call you about patients that are requesting prn pain or anti-anxiety meds. If your patient falls, you need to respond and assess, notify the family and doctor. Doctors or family members will call on the phone and you need to take that too.

Time for a break, nope! If you have time, you need to try to get some charting done. If it is 11:oo, you need to get your accuchecks done. Most of your patients are diabetic and will need insulin with their lunch trays.

Can I have a break now? Nope, go to the bathroom; eat a protein bar (do not forget to drink lots of water with that, or you will need bowel care).

12:00 hang your ivs and start passing noon meds.  You will do this over and over again until 6:00. Don’t forget the 4:00 accuchecks for the insulin with dinner. There is no time for a lunch break or 15 minute breaks. Just a quick trip to the bathroom and grab a snack from your lunch bag. If you are a smoker, shame on you anyway. You know better than that.

It sounds pretty simple, but add in there that patients will be asking you  for their prn meds in between medication time. Do not forget that family members will want to ask you questions. Smile. There will be doctors rounding who need your attention. Smile. The radio earbud is squawking in your ear. Pay attention, they might be talking about room number. The patient needs your undivided attention. Darn, the night nurse forgot to order meds from the pharmacy and you just gave the last pill. Now you have to stop and call the pharmacy! There is not an enema in the whole building! The med room has no IV tubing, and we are out of flushes and caps again. How am I supposed to do my job? Adapt. That is what a nurse does.

Now, if nothing big happened to any of your patients today; you can start restocking your cart at 6:00 and give report to the night nurse. Reconcile the narcotics and hand over the keys.

Are you tired? Too bad! Now it is time to go into the nurses station. Find an open computer and do your charting for the whole day on everything that happened and what you did for your patients. Normally I get out of there by 8:00. It is not because I am new; it is common for all my co workers to work like this. I have stayed as late as 10:00 for a day that contained patient falls, or issues that I needed to notify doctors of. Do not leave without charting everything, because you will get a text and be expected to come back before 24 hour limit to update the charting system.

Wait a minute, I started out by telling you that I loved my job. I think that things should be run differently. Once I figure out how I can adapt as best I can, then I will start working on telling my employer how they can improve things.

But for now, I will just focus on what I need to do to care for my patients, keep them safe and enjoy fitting this job into my happy life.




Posted in Nursing | Tagged , | 2 Comments

What I Do With All That Garlic!

Garlic pickles

Garlic pickles

Here in the Arizona Desert; we plant garlic in October.

Though we can harvest some of the green part of the plant throughout the growing season; we do not harvest the bulbs until May of the following year. But oh what a delightful harvest!

One little clove will produce a whole nother (Donna, what kind of grammar is that?) bulb of several cloves. Because I interplant the cloves with my other plants as a companion; the garlic does not take up very much room.

So in May, when I harvest I am repeatedly surprised by the Abundance of garlic I receive from my meager planting.

Once I have selected and set aside the biggest and best garlic bulbs for planting the following year; I am amazed at all the beautiful garlic in front of me and do not  want to waste a single clove.

I know that I have to keep the garlic spread out to completely dry, or I will end up with damp garlic that molds and rots. But there are other ways to preserve this garlic.

My favorite way is to make garlic pickles. This is a mixture of 1 cup of red wine vinegar to 1 Tblsp of sea salt that I can place the peeled cloves in and store in the refrigerator all year long. I like to use a one pint wide mouth canning jar with a plastic lid.

I have been known to make my own garlic powder, by putting the cloves in the dehydrator until they dry out, and then whir the dried garlic in a coffee grinder. Please  remember to do this all outside, wear gloves and a mask. I also find that by doing this on the back porch, it seems to permeate everything and keep the mosquitoes away.

I never store my garlic in oil. I know, I know, that is how it is sold in the store. But they do something magical with that mixture to keep out botulism. I am not comfortable enough with my garlic magic, to attempt that.

I have learned to make honey fermented garlic for taking internally. Put peeled cloves in a jar, cover with honey and set on the counter. Give it a stir once a day. I am told that it takes about a month to get it just right. I chop these cloves up and use them in salads or spreads.

Garlic is a natural parasite control for both humans and animals. I have friends from other cultures that can eat raw garlic with no problem. I am not able to do that, but I can eat it fermented in honey. Steve will not do it. (So he will just have to stay worm-y.) My goats/sheep and pigs will eat the cloves whole. I chop up the dried leaves for the chickens. I sneak the cloves into peanut butter for Cody. I have been told that too many are bad for dogs. He gets one clove per day and seems to be pretty much alive.

I do freeze garlic, but I will say that once thawed; it is mushy. So this is not my favorite way to store it.

I have read many on line articles that say that garlic has properties that help our heart and liver, boost our metabolism of iron, prevent cancer, and fight against bacteria and viruses.  I have also read that eating garlic may do something magic to the chemistry of your blood; making it unappealing to those little demons that many people call mosquitoes.

So just how much  garlic do I consume? The recommendation is to eat one or two cloves per day. I am not there yet, but I am trying. I know some people who eat so much garlic, that they actually smell like it. Since I am a hugger, I do not want that to be part of my experience.

So, if you are a garlic lover-you too can grow your own while you are figuring out the balance of how much to eat without smelling like you are trying to ward off vampires.

Posted in Abundance, canning jars, Chickens, Cody, Ducks, Garlic, Goats, Pigs, Rabbits | 3 Comments

Growing Garlic in the Desert

This is only part of what I have left after eating garlic since May.

This is only part of what I have left after eating garlic since May.


I know, it is early. We do not plant garlic until October here in the Arizona desert. But I am excited and just could not wait to share.

A couple of years ago; I bartered for some beautiful, organic garlic that was grown in a girlfriend’s garden. It was the hard neck kind, which does better here in our hot and dry climate.

I found that it did not braid as well as the pliable soft neck variety, but that is ok. The flavor was very nice, and I decided to spread it out on a table in my store room to dry.

Like the good little gardener that I am, I saved back the best bulbs to grow in my own garden and used the rest in my kitchen.

Each of those lovely, fat globes break down into several cloves. Because this garlic is a heritage variety; I can plant it in my garden and the same type of garlic will grow again next year. Because it is NON GMO; farmer Donna feels very good about planting it in her garden.

So last October, I planted the lovely little cloves as  companion plants in my garden beds. I found that I could save space by planting the garlic along side my tomatoes, peppers,  eggplant, potatoes, cabbage, broccoli,  cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi and carrots. I did not plant it near any beans or peas, because I know that this will stunt their growth.

Garlic takes a long time to mature. During the long growing season, I did cut off the tips for a seasoning. The greens are not as strong as the bulb, but still gives that lovely garlic flavor to eggs, sautéed dishes or salad dressings. When I noticed that the stalks were attempting to flower, I cut the stalk down to about half. I believe that this causes the plant to give more energy to creating a nicer bulb.

Finally in May; when the leaves were yellow and falling over; I pulled up a bulb to  see how it looked. Because I was satisfied with the size and the shape of the bulbs; I pulled them all up and laid them on tables on my covered patio. May is a hot and dry month here in the Arizona desert, so I found that it only took a couple of days for these plants to dry out.

I then cut off the stocks (saving them for the chickens and for mulch) and brushed the bulbs with a soft brush to get the dirt off. Once that was done; I put them in my storage room on towels-on a table to continue to dry out.

Again, I looked through the bulbs and set aside the biggest and best for this years garden. Once that was done, I knew that I had the freedom to use the rest of bulbs in my kitchen, or as natural worming or remedies for my household, my animals or garden tonics. I will share some of those ideas in my next post.

Until next time, keep finding ways of Sharing your Life’s Abundance.

Posted in Garlic | Tagged | 2 Comments

Words of Affirmation

You’re amazing! This is a phrase that I have learned to use on a daily basis.

When my kids were little, I would say “Do you know how much I love you?” or “You are so smart!” and of course; “I am so proud of you!” It got to be such a habit that my kids today will tell you that they always felt loved and that they were smart enough to do anything. They also got hugged, kissed on the forehead, and back rubs. My son loved laying his head in my lap while we watched TV to get me to run my fingers through his hair.

Fast Forward- married Steve. Of course I tell him that I love him more than once a day, but I also say “You are so smart” when he helps me figure something out. I tell him very often “I am so glad that I married you”. But his favorite is “You’re amazing!”

I stumbled upon a secret about my husband that even he did not know about himself. His love languages are physical touch and words of affirmation.  He has spent his previous marriages and child rearing years learning the love languages of others. In his family most of the players love languages were gifts and acts of service. So he has learned to be incredibly generous with his money, his gifts and his acts of service. Those same family members are generous with their gift giving and acts of service, because they speak their own love languages.

The sad thing was that because his love language is physical touch and words of affirmation, he was not getting his love tank filled.

Then along came Donna who’s love languages were the same as his. In the beginning, when I told him that he was amazing, he just thought that I wanted him to buy me something. When I held hands, cuddled, or gave a shoulder rub-he thought that it was kind of weird; but he really liked it.

It was not long before he started saying that I treated him better than anyone has ever treated him, and that he felt like a king when he was with me.

My secret? It really isn’t a secret, it actually happened by accident. I was just speaking my own love language. My kids, my extended family and friends will tell you that I say words that build others up and touch- a lot.

So here is what I have learned and now share with you. Challenge yourself to discover the love language of your loved ones and practice the new lingo. See what changes happen in your relationships.

What are the languages? Gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch.

By the way, now when I tell Steve that he is amazing, he says “Yes I am, because of you”. Those words are music to my heart.

Posted in Steve | Tagged | 6 Comments

My first week at work as an RN

This may not have anything to do with my blog and life motto of Sharing Life’s Abundance. 

But I wanted to share this with all of my family and friends.

My first day of work was Monday (Labor Day). I got up at 3:30 to milk the goats, feed the animals and hand water the plants that needed it. I left the house at 5:15 to make sure that I would not be late to start the 6:00 am to 6:00 pm shift. It turns out that my trainer lives a block away, so we will car pool on the days that we both work. It was a very busy day; full of Nurse Donna making mistakes-apologizing for not knowing the answers and retracing my steps when I found out the answers. When I got home, Steve told me how much he missed me not being there all day. He built a new garden structure for me and watered the animals. The house was straightened and the dishes were done. He watered all my animals so all that I had to do was feed, milk and water the gardens. I was wound up, so it was hard to sleep; but I got up at 3:30 am the next  day to do it all over again. Less mistakes, more understanding of how to organize myself and more answers than the first time.

I have been saying all along that it was not my intention to work full time, I thought that 3- 12 hour days would be too rough with all that I have going on. But I know that this is where I am supposed to be. I even believe that this could be where I want to stay for the rest of my career years. I will tell you why.

I met with the administrator and he told me some very interesting things. He told me that when I came in to interview that there were “plants” to help check me out. Do you remember my post about when I interviewed? Well, it seems that I had it all wrong. He told me that when I walked in the door, that I greeted everyone from the housekeeper (plant), the receptionist (plant), and the older gentleman that I struck up a conversation with (plant). I had thought “wow, these people are all so friendly” Well it turns out that it was I who greeted them. They reported to him, and he made the decision to hire me.

“You see”, he said to me “I want to know that the people we hire will treat everyone with kindness, not just the interviewers or the bosses. In return we treat them like family. Clients are second, staff is first. We believe that if we treat the staff like family, then they will treat each other like family and in turn work as a team to give our clients the very best care. The clients will love us for that and spread the word.”

What a concept!  I have only worked for places that the clients were first, they were always right and if they made a complaint about an employee; it went into the file. The complaint could have been nothing more than waiting too long for a nurse to fetch them a cup of coffee. That only breeds bitterness for everybody.

As I share this story with people, they say to me “Donna you found the right place for you with the first shot.” I know. I had some help. As I look back at my life, everything that I have been through and where I am today; all I can say is, “There is a God and God is so good!

Now I look back at my intro and realize- this does have everything to do with my blog and my motto. My life is full of abundance, and I absolutely love sharing it.

Posted in Abundance, Nursing | Tagged | 4 Comments

Learning to Maximize My Community


I wish that I was good enough to make up my own pictures. But this will work.

I wish that I was good enough to make up my own pictures. But this will work.

Remember my post about keeping all the plates spinning? Well, I have gotten to that point where I can’t keep all the plates spinning-by myself.

Does that mean that I am going to be giving any thing up? Heck no! I love my life. I love all the wonderful things that I do.

Returning to work full time as a registered nurse will be a challenge because most RNs are expected to work 12  hour shifts with rotating schedules. But I learned a few things back in my single mom days. I worked full time back then too, I had two kids at home and kept a small farm in my backyard.

What did I learn? Well first off, I learned to organize myself. I taught my kids the importance of each one doing their share of the work and I had a group of close friends who were willing to pitch in and help each other.

Here are some examples. After my dad passed away; my mom chose to stay in Tucson. Over time, she grew lonely for the family. Most of us were in the Phoenix area, and all had very busy lives. We would visit, but never stayed as long as she would have liked. I could do no more than that at the time.

When my daughter presented me with my first grandson, I was in nursing school and could not help out when she returned to school. So I invited my mom to come and live with us while I finished school. She kept the baby here while my daughter was in her first year of a two year program and I finished up my last part of nursing school. This took care of my mom’s loneliness and gave her a “purpose” while keeping our baby out of a day care facility. Steve and I kept a close eye on mom to make sure that she was up to the challenge of a newborn. She was awesome!

Then when my son and daughter-in-law had their first born, my mom moved in with them to “nanny” and since I was done with school, I took over part of the care of the first grandson and the other gramma ( I love her, she is wonderful to my daughter) did the rest. See? My daughter is learning to use community too.

Since moving to this area, I have invited new friends over to meet once a month. We call ourselves a gardening community, but we are so much more. I have learned who the ones are that I would trust with my life and the ones who would help if they could- but are just to busy to be counted on.

In this  group there are people who could be counted on to farm sit, to baby sit and even clean house if I needed. Because I am earning a paycheck, they will be generously rewarded for their time and their care. So this will be blessing their families too. Because of my rotating schedules, I have asked them to be on call. I will only call when I need them. I love how this is all working out.

Steve says that he will take care of watering my animals, doing the dishes and making dinner on the nights that I work. For a guy who only washes dishes at Christmas time and does not know how to find the peanut butter, this is a very generous offer. We will see. Though I live expectantly, I would rather quit work than fight with him over the house work.

Working 3- 12 shifts per week will be hard: I will have to get up early to milk the goats and feed the animals and then do it again when I get home. But I did it during nursing school clinicals- while studying for finals. This should be less stressful, because there will be no tests. Thank heaven!

Besides, there will be 4 other days of the week to enjoy my family, tend my flocks and herds, call my girl friends, walk the mall with Mrs. V and go to dinner with Mr and Mrs S.

Hooray for community!

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Meet Bronco Billy

Most people here in the desert start breeding their goats in October. They dry the pregnant ladies up in January, and kids are born in March. I think that practice originated in colder climates. The kids are born when the weather is starting to warm up. There is plenty of grass for everyone to eat, plus the kids are not as cold. Then when the herdsmen start milking the mommas in April, they are not as cold either .

But I have never raised animals in country like that, so I have not adopted that way of thinking. In the desert; late February through the end of March is spring. It becomes  summer sometime in April.

My thinking is simple. I want the freedom to sleep in during the holidays. When I am working, I would rather not be out there doing my milking chores at 3:30 in the morning. The coldest months of the year in the desert are December and January. It would be nice to sleep til 4:30 am on those days.

So I am breeding my does in August, or September. They will be dry in December and January. The kids will be born in late February just in time for Spring time in the desert.

When I asked buck owners if I could pay them a stud fee now, they looked at me like I was nuts. “Don’t you know when you are supposed to breed?” they said. “Nobody does that?” they said.

So, I decided to get my own goat. (ha!)

I looked around and here is what I found. It costs about $100.00 to leave a doe at a farm for a month for breeding. During that month, I do not get to enjoy the rich goat milk. Sometimes the farmer on the stud farm is not good about milking the doe out for you every day, so when she comes home, she is close to empty. So now there is not much milk for the whole 5 months of pregnancy. I have 2 does that give me a total of .75 gallons of milk per day. Goat milk goes for around $10.00 per gallon around here.

It would cost me $200 to breed my two does. I actually have another doeling who will be old enough later to be bred. Now that is $300.00 per year to keep my 3 girls in milk. Then there are 5 months instead of only two months that we are actually out of milk. The milk loss is .75 gallon per day X 30 days per month X 3 extra months ( if they come home dry),  multiply that total by $10 per gallon and you get $665.00 per year for two does. I am not saying that I sell my milk, but that is the estimated loss per year. This equation is for Steve’s benefit. He is a business man after all and I have found that I need to do a cost analysis before I present anything to him.

When I started looking into bucks; several issues came up. I wanted a blue eyed, dark haired boy. I just love the way that looks. I found several lighter colored bucks, but nothing that really caught my eye.

Steve was really concerned too. “Bucks are mean”, he said. “Bucks are stinky”, he said. Both of us have always heard that the presence of a buck on the farm causes the girl’s milk to be full of hormones-giving it a “goaty” taste.

Well, after finally convincing him that it would be much cheaper and more convenient in the long run-I finally pulled the trigger. No- I did not shoot anything.

I bought a blue eyed, dark haired boy with an impressive pedigree. Though my current does are not registered, I can possibly earn or barter his stud fee with friends who do not want to keep a buck.

Bucks are generally not mean, but tend to be very friendly. Bronco Billy was a bottle baby; so he is very, very friendly. It is true that they stink-especially when they are dating. They have their own brand of musk, and they like to pee on their face to attract the females.

But I will get back to you on the milk thing. I have been told that if the doe is in heat and there is a buck nearby, the hormones go wild. But that is not very often. If it proves to be true, I will just keep Bronco with the pregnant does until I can keep a wether for him to be companions with. A wether is a male goat that is missing his testicles. Like a gelding horse. They are even sweeter than a buck, they do not stink and they make great companion animals. Sorry, special check keeps trying to auto correct it to weather.

I will give Bronco some time with Bambi first. She is the matron on the farm, and is most eager to teach this young man about how to romance a real woman.

Once he gets a chance to perfect his “moves” I will put him in with Elsa, she is bigger because she is a small Nubian. I bred her to a Nigerian last year, but it took some creativity on his part to make things work.

I will keep you informed about the dating games on the farm.

Posted in Breeding goats, Broncho Billy, goat milk, Goats | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments