Splitting my face with a plastic sword

A sappy post dedicated to my brother

Caleb and Beka/Beka and Caleb.

We are the “babies” of the family. You see, I am the youngest of four children. (1) Katie and (2) Anna are only 3 years apart, but Anna and (3) Caleb are 5 years apart. Caleb and (4) Beka–well, we’re only 19 months apart. So, you can see that there is A) Katie and Anna. & B) Caleb and Beka. I am lucky–I was born into a really great family, and I am close to every single one of my siblings. But Caleb is different. We grew up together and are bonded in a way that only siblings one school-grade apart can understand. We knew all of the same people, were in the same Sunday school classes, and hit major milestones together. He was ahead of me by one year, so there were always those times that he briefly left me behind. Like while I was still in Jr. High as a freshman, and he was a sophomore. Or, when I was finally a senior, but he left for his freshman year of college. But we *get* each other. He’s the only person in the world as funny as I am, and I can tell what he’s thinking. I can feel it when he’s sad even if he’s far away. He shares all of my childhood memories even if he remembers them “differently.” 🙄

As I am feeling sentimental today, I’ll share a few of them with y’all.

One of my earliest memories involves Caleb killing a snake. It was the summer I turned 4 and I remember a small snake was caught in one of our pool gutters. We always loved emptying the pool gutters because of all the bugs and frogs in them, but on this day there was a small pissed off snake wrapped around the handle of the basket. Using a stick, Caleb bludgeoned and killed it. I remember thinking he was so brave. I don’t know that he even remembers…

When we were kids, we both played together and fought together often simultaneously. Once, while we were actually playing, he split my face open with a plastic sword. It was a Wednesday afternoon, we were playing outside, and we were told to come inside, so we could load up and go to church. I told him that we needed to go inside, but he insisted on his stupid, “Duck!” game. He said, “I’m going to tell you to “duck,” as he swung his sword at me. He told me to “Duck!” and I did. “This time, I’m not going to tell you to duck.” I wasn’t quick enough. BLAM! The sword cracked against my left cheek, just below my eye–hard. It hurt, but when I put my hand up to my cheek and pulled it back down, my hand was absolutely covered in blood. I screamed. Supposedly, you could see my cheek bone. I had to go to Memphis, and have a pediatric plastic surgeon suture it back together, so I wouldn’t have a massive scar. I’d probably be a lot hotter without my disfiguring injury, you big jerk. 🙄 Honestly, if you’ve ever seen it, you probably thought it was just a dimple, but it was a Caleb-made dimple. Injuries aside, we spent our childhood playing outside all day everyday; going fishing, catching crawdads, and playing in the hayloft of the barn, threatening to throw each other in the horse troughs. He was my built-in playmate.

In college, our relationship changed Surprisingly, it was the time we were most distant even though we were in college at the same small university. A lot of that probably had to do with who we were each dating at the time (we were constantly going in different directions), but also because I was pretty unforgiving and felt it was my duty to use separation to punish Caleb for whatever I deemed offensive. Now we are not twins, but we are far closer than your average siblings, and the pain that comes with separation (physical distance or emotional) is real. Even so, when I needed him, or when he needed me, we jumped to each others’ aid. When he broke his ankle by being an idiot, I helped him to and from the bathroom and to and from Algebra class at DSU. When I was at death’s door and some awful nurse at the DSU infirmary accused me of being drunk, he came to my dorm to rescue me. I had a sinus infection, bilateral ear infections, bronchitis, and a 103 fever by the way, you hateful shrew of a nurse. So even though we were mad at each other, we still helped one another.

Luckily, the rockier part of our relationship began to smooth out when he met his amazing wife, Lakon. Ugh, I love her. She’s the best, man. I mean, I can make fun of her for days–she makes it SO easy–and she’ll just throw it right back at me. We can laugh at Caleb’s expense, play cards for hours, and lay on “$150 rugs” at 1 am. She’s the best, and has become a real friend to me. I just can’t tell you how much I love having another sister. So, when I first started dating Ben, I really wanted Caleb to like him. Caleb, although kind to just about everyone, does NOT let many close to him. If he doesn’t like you or feels like you are “uppity,” he will hold you at arm’s length and avoid you. I did not want that for Ben and by association, me. Luckily, I didn’t have anything to worry about. He and Ben got along well at first, and are now basically best friends. Caleb calls Ben just to chat, and he DOES NOT DO THAT. They have major bro love, and I couldn’t be happier.

As we’ve gotten older and adultier, we’ve just become closer. When Darcy was diagnosed with craniosynostosis, Caleb loaded up his family and came to Baton Rouge within 3 days. When my 20-week ultrasound with Clark showed abnormalities, Caleb immediately called and told me he would be there that weekend if I needed him. When he graduated from Chiropractic school, I drove across 3 states for a total of 8 hours to see him. That night after I arrived, I was sharing a hotel room with my parents and my father started snoring. It was the worst. I called Caleb at midnight, and he drove to my hotel to bring me to his house to let me stay on their couch. Less than 24 hours after arrival, I loaded up and drove the 8 hours back. On my first official Mother’s Day, I was neck-deep in postpartum depression. I was exhausted, tired, and lonely. Ben arranged for Caleb’s crew to join us at his parent’s lake house as a surprise. It was the best surprise ever.

And now, Caleb is headed off to a new adventure in Florida. It’s stupid because I don’t get to see him much, but I feel the distance. He feels farther away because he is. And knowing that he won’t meet us at the house when I go home to Tobie stings. It’s hard. I’m so, so happy for him and his family, but I am also selfish, and I want him to stay close. I don’t want him to move on and make this fabulous life without me, filled with people I don’t know. It was hard enough lending him to St. Louis for school! Either way, he knows that if he ever needs me, I will drive forever and ever to be there. I would hitchhike across America for that boy because he’s the one I love best. I love you, Bubby!

Opinions are like butts…

Everyone has one and they all stink

The picture is of Darcy choosing her potty she has yet to use 🙄. Whatever. Anyway, this is a different kind of blog post for me, but lately I have realized that I really just don’t agree with a lot of things, and I decided to have an unpopular opinion post! Maybe it’s that I’m getting closer to being a real adult (i.e. almost thirty) and really knowing what I do and don’t believe in, enjoy, or even condone. Or maybe it’s just that most people are stupid and have stupid opinions. Me, obviously excluded. Hey, what’s the point of having your own blog if you aren’t the queen of it? Be gone, naysayers!

Unpopular opinions that I, Rebekah Rayner, have and hold dear to my heart.

1. Chipotle is not great. Yep. I know, as a millenial I’m supposed to be all, “OMG! Chipotle, let’s get extra guac!” But, I just don’t get the fascination. Their meat is kinda gross, and overall I think it’s overpriced and under-flavored.

2. I hate the over usage of ALL CAPS when promoting your AWESOME multi-level marketing product. While I realize it may be an AMAZING OPPORTUNITY, I just think the caps and multiple emojis look stupid. Stop it.

3. This here is a biggie and I am sure people will hate me forever–I don’t like publicized adoption fundraisers. There. I said it. Maybe it’s because I feel like there are go-fund-me pages for everything today. Maybe I’m bitter because I’ve paid for both of my children to have neurosurgery, multiple scans, and therapy without asking for other people to pay my bills. Maybe it’s because I am a self-professed cynic and question people’s motives. Probably a combination of all of that and other specific reasons I won’t go into right this moment. Anyway, a lot of things about it just turns me off.

*Edited to add that I LOVE adoption itself. Seriously I do. Just not fundraisers❤️❤️

4. Putting any sauce other than Polynesian or Chik-fil-a sauce on your Chik-fil-a nuggets is a straight-up abomination. You know who you are, and you are wrong, and you are ruining the Lord’s chicken.

5. While I enjoy my friends who are mamas, I’m not into mama groups. They tend to freak out over Every. Little. Thing. Oh mylanta. Your baby has a runny nose? It’s fine. Wipe it off occasionally. Your baby is only saying 6 words and they should be saying 8?! He fell down and cried?! Agh. If you are a laid back mom, we can probably be friends. If you run to the doctor’s office every time your kid sneezes or has a fever, we will never be friends. Most of this comes from being a nurse, but also I have worked with kids who are dying of cancer. Get your perspective straight, mama. He has a cold. He’s gonna get approximately 25641321568 more in his lifetime. It’s small stuff.

6. People who constantly talk about their special diets suck. I mean I would have never guessed you ate “clean” foods when every post has #cleaneating #wholefoods #healthy. Hashtag: Get over yourself. No one cares. That’s right, no one. They really don’t. They also don’t want to see your food pictures #chefstatus. Look, I’m a nurse. I totally get healthy living. Just try not to make it your God because while eating well can and will totally improve your overall health, it will not eliminate your chance of death. You will still die. So quit trying to say your kale brownies are just as good as my butter filled ones are. You’re lying to yourself.

7. I have not cried once watching “This is Us.” It’s a really great show, but I don’t understand everyone’s constant tear-filled status updates about it. I came closer to crying watching Glenn’s garbage can scene in Walking Dead. Also Kate is really mean to her mom, and it gets annoying. Be nice, girl.

8. I don’t agree with the whole “Mama needs wine” thing. If you’ve been living under a rock, it’s really this whole social movement now, filled with memes, t-shirts, and yes, even wine glasses touting the misery of motherhood and the MUST have daily “wine to put up with your kids’ whine.” Maybe I’m just more sensitive to those who may struggle with drinking, but I find the constant promotion of needing “mommy’s juice” distasteful.

*Sidenote–I am not against drinking. I really enjoy an occasional cocktail, mug of beer, or glass of wine. Nothing wrong with that. What I’m talking about is the greater culture’s attitude associated with motherhood and needing alcohol. It’s offensive.*

10. I don’t care that McDreamy died. I’ll explain. In the beginning, he had a wife and never told Meredith until said wife showed up looking like Cruella. Then he chooses wife over Meredith. They work that mess out, but he was a total jerk his last 2 seasons of Greys. He was hateful and unforgiving and punished Meredith forever for the clinical trial/chief webber’s wife thing. He was a total jerk when he was chief. Finally, he totally strayed even if he didn’t actually sleep with that lab assistant. Suddenly he has this “I actually love Meredith” revelation, they’re happy for one episode and he dies. Big. Deal. He was a tool, good riddance.

So, there. Now you can say what a negative person I am. But in the spirit of comradeship, I will give you some examples to show that I probably love or do several things that you kind of hate. Unpopular opinions, UNITE!

1. Starbucks. I’m probably supposed to hate the overpriced drinks and stupid naming of their sizes, but I feel sassy when I get a drink there. I also love lattes, and you will not take that away from me no matter what evil Starbucks perpetuates in our world.

2. I am very ambitious. See, I totally want to be the mom in the SUV who wears yoga pants, drinks her latte, drops her kids off at daycare, and then goes to the gym before meeting her friends for lunch. I would love to be *that* mom because *that* mom has it going on and is living life right. #lifegoals #divaaspirations

3. I love “Walking Dead.” Just like the rest of the world, but maybe you don’t.

4. I think politics is the worst part of our world. I also don’t feel the need to be involved. And yes, I’m aware that people will say that is my “privilege talking,” but I don’t really care. I hate discussing politics, and if you continually espouse your hard-right or hard-left leanings, I have probably already blocked you on social media. Not sorry.

5 I’m a touchy-feely person. I tell people how I feel, and I hug ‘em hard. Some people absolutely hate affection. I’m not one of those, and if you’re my friend, I’ll tell you I love you everytime we talk. I’ll mean it, too.

6. I double dip my chips. I’m courteous enough to get my own bowl of dip, but I’m a double-dipper because the dip is the best part. By dip, I mean salsa. Obviously.

7. I zone out on social media or playing on my phone all the time, just like baby-boomers accuse the evil millenials of doing. I’ve ignored my husband talking to me and allowed Darcy to clobber Clark while doing this. I’m working on it, but yep. I’m a distracted millennial.

8. I’m not into the hella long beard thing. A little scruff is okay, but the super long beards are gross. Like don’t come near me with that. Something living might fall out of it. Just ew. Also manbuns=🤢

9. I’m not wild about avocados. I mean they’re fine on or in stuff, but I’m not trying to make an entire dish featuring avocados. I get that they are a *hot* food, but I’d rather not have avocado deviled eggs or avocado toast. Ain’t my thang, y’all.

10. I totally overshare on my blog. Not much is off limits to me, so I have a hard time understanding super mysterious people. Like what’s your deal? Why are you standoffish. Are you hiding something? Why won’t you tell me things? Why don’t you love me?! See # 5.

11. I’m a Rodan & Fields convert. Can’t argue with results, y’all.

So there you have it! What unpopular opinions do you have??

Throwing all that ish away

I’m cringing just thinking about it. SOS, y’all.

Clothing capsule. Have you ever heard of it? It’s a phrase that was super trendy a few years ago. Basically it is when you purge your closet completely, keeping only a few items that you LOVE, and then buying several quality pieces that will make up the entirety of your closet. We’re talking 25-30 items including shoes and accessories. It essentially keeps you well-dressed in clothing that makes you look awesome, put together, and minimalistic in a “I don’t need much to look good”-kind of way. I want to be that kind of person. So, I’m taking the plunge because there has got to be a change in this closet. I have a ton of clothes. I do. I hate almost all of them, but when it comes time to donate or trash the clothing, I end up keeping things I have not and will not wear in this lifetime. WHY??? What is wrong with me? I’m so sick of “stuff,” yall. Why do I have so much? I’m definitely not a hoarder, but I really want to clean out and get rid of all the crap that has moved with us from one state to another with–at best–minimal usage. I wear scrubs on the daily, so I should really love what I wear on the weekends/days off, right? I’m just feeling all itchy when I think about the junk we’ve accumulated in our four years of marriage, so I’ve decided it’s about to go DOWN in the Rayner house.

This weekend, I started with my closet, and I’ve begun the purge. By “started with,” I mean that my room is littered with garbage bags full of stuff, and my closet looks worse than before I ever even started as does my room. Le sigh. Once I finish my closet (this upcoming weekend, hopefully) I will tackle at least one room a weekend, and I am throwing the crap away. I feel the need to make things simpler. To clean out the multiple “junk” drawers and throw away papers, broken pencils, receipts, used gift cards, chargers that don’t work, and strange job-fair trinkets, etc. I mean, get out of my house, random highlighter. You are not my problem anymore.

It’s going to take time, but because our lives can just NOT ever just calm the hell down, I have decided to at least live our chaotic life in a less-cluttered, less-chaotic house. I think the greater population refers to this as “spring cleaning,” but being a self-aware individual, I don’t want to set unrealistic expectations by labeling it as such. This thing might be accomplished by fall, and I have to account for my procrastinating and ever-fading determination while setting realistic goals, y’all.

Ugh. Okay. Back to “The Capsule.” It sounds so important when I refer to it as “The Capsule.” My voice gets deeper and more authoritative in my head…”The Capsule!” Ack, I digress. Anyway, there are a lot of blogs and articles detailing the process of creating, “The Capsule,” (I’m done, I promise), but I can totally envision how this thing could go:

  • Waking up Saturday morning at 6:00 a.m. because Clark is starving, and Darcy is kicking the walls ready to get up. 😑
  • Stumble into the kitchen to make coffee while Darcy attempts to smother Clark with a blanket because, “baby code” (cold).
  • Abandon coffee-making whilst saving poor Clark from suffocation via blanket.
  • Let Ben handle making the coffee.
  • Drink said coffee and think about how I need to start the closet purging.
  • Decide I need more caffeine first.
  • Make another pot of coffee.
  • Go back and forth with Ben, “What should we do today?” “I don’t know” at least 4 times in 5 minutes, never really coming up with a plan.
  • Continue to stare at our phones instead of being productive and/or carrying through with vague aforementioned plans.
  • Deal with the inevitable meltdown over our refusal to honor Darcy’s request to watch Moana for the zillionth time this week. Not today, Darcy.
  • Finally agree to watch “Trush” (Trolls) for the zillionth time with week. Is this even a victory? 🙄
  • Feed Darcy a lunch she will largely refuse and throw to Libby.
  • Put the kids down to nap.
  • Realize I should finish the purge, but also realize that I am exhausted and should relax because I deserve it.
  • Take a bath.
  • Leave bathroom and step in dog puke because  Darcy fed Libby her entire lunch.
  • Hear the tell-tale foot beating, and know that Darcy is kicking the walls, concluding her 45 minute nap.
  • Diaper change, feed, and ward off meltdowns until 7ish when they go to sleep.
  • Start purging, but decide I can’t get rid of anything.
  • Keep my crappy closet and accomplish nothing.

I really have high hopes that this will not be how this thing goes. I really do, but because of who I am as a person, I will likely finish cleaning out my closet at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday evening. By then I will be so frustrated, I will throw everything away and have no clothes for a while because I only buy clothes for Darcy. Maybe I can hold it together and do better, but it’s questionable at best. I’ll update on my progress later. Have any of you created a clothing capsule? Any tips or must-have items? Throw your suggestions my way! Love to all! ❤

Scooter-racing and egg-hunting all while I’m helmet-hating

The past few weeks have been  busy y’all. I’m currently on Spring Break, so like a child, I am out of school! It’s awesome! I’m not even gonna try to lie to make you feel better about your crappy non-spring breaky job. Be a school nurse, yo. Or spend spring break at work. It’s your choice, people.

This past weekend, we were grateful to go to my hometown and celebrate Easter with most of my family. My brother Caleb, his wife Lakon, and their 3 rambunctious sons joined Ben, Darcy, Clark and I at our parents house. My sister Anna and her three children already live in my hometown, so it was a full and fun weekend. On Good Friday, my niece Mary Mac had her birthday party at a skating rink that I’ve been going to since the early 90s. It was awesome because nothing has changed. Seriously. Not the paint colors, not the sound system, not even the smell. All of the kids had these walkers to help them skate. It was hysterical! They looked like tiny uncoordinated old people skating around with walkers. Even the babies like Darcy had fun. There were these little foot-propelled riding scooters, and the 2-year olds loved them. They actually made it look like too much fun, so naturally I had to try one out. I sat down on the scooter. My butt was approximately 2 inches off the ground which placed my knees right next to my ears–that’s how low to the ground the scooter was. I immediately decided I needed to race Lakon. Around the rink we went as fast as our little scrunched up legs could putter. Oh Mylanta. My calves! My loins! How they burned! I totally killed her though, I was so fast. So then Caleb decides he also wants to race, and Lakon told him to hurry up because I was tired, and he could beat me. She was right, man. My legs were done, and he absolutely destroyed me. Keep in mind this was happening all while Darcy was chasing after me, weeping,”It MY!” because I had stolen “her” scooter. Whatever, kid. 🙄 You own exactly nothing in this world.

That night we played 13-sol (a family card game) and drank wine and whiskey drinks. We made stupid jokes at each others’ expense and laughed a lot because we are hilarious. My brother is leaving soon, and it breaks my heart to have him far from me. Caleb is my best friend even though he cheats at cards, screams like a girl, and uses unfair advantages in baby-scooter racing. I love his guts, that jerk.

We were able to go to my hometown church’s Easter egg hunt on Saturday. It was fun, and Darcy was a beast at hunting eggs. My siblings and I always kinda sucked, but apparently my Jewish husband would do very well at his neighborhood egg hunt as a child 🤔 So, I guess she gets it from her dad!  We went to my church on Easter Sunday, and it was good for my heart to see so many faithful members who have prayed for my family and my precious baby. My family took up an entire pew!

Clark Elliott has gotten his helmet. If you follow me on the Facebook or Instagram, you have already seen that the helmet has only enhanced his devilishly handsome looks. He wears the helmet 23 hours a day and will likely wear it for the better part of a year. In the spirit of complete honesty, I hate that helmet with the fire of a thousand suns. I know, I just said it was cute, but I actually hate it. I want to press my face against his sweet cheeks and I only get to do that for one hour each day. The other 23 hours, my cheek rests against hard plastic. I know, I know. I should be grateful, but I think it sucks, and I hate the helmet. So there. Moving on…

Clark is just so, so sweet, and he has made SO much progress with physical therapy! His doctor said that he can’t believe that Clark is even the same baby as when he was born. I’d like to say it’s because I work so hard with him, but it’s all God. He has been working miracles y’all…and yet, I still doubt. For the first time ever, I really understand the Israelites. They saw Moses part the Red Sea, and they were delivered from Pharaoh! Even after that miracle, they doubted the Lord and built and worshipped idols shortly after leaving Egypt. The apostles saw Jesus raise the dead, heal the blind and lame, and yet they still doubted that he would return as he promised. I always scoffed at their disbelief. Now? I get it, man. You see, this past week, Clark’s awesome physical therapist noticed Clark was making some odd eye movements and notified our neurologist. Our neurologist wanted to see us, and she ordered an EEG to determine if Clark could be suffering from seizures. His EEG was normal 🙌🏼 which doesn’t completely rule out seizures, but it does make them less likely especially as no other symptoms have been noticed. Y’all I got so upset when his PT initially told me her concerns. I just felt so defeated. Like, “What is this NOW?!! Could I get a damn break, please? I mean, throw me a freaking bone” My beautiful husband was like, “Chill. We’ve been here before, he’s gonna be fine.” But I? I struggled. I, who have seen my son healed so much, still doubt that God plans goodness for baby Clark. One little setback–hell, potential setback and that negative thought manages to grow an entire forest of doubt in my mind. This total Eeyore-attitude then effectively wipes away my appreciation for all the good things that have happened and in turn magnifies my fears of what’s to come. It’s ridiculous and ugly and sinful. I’m working on it. Still could use a break from scary stuff, though.

Darcy goes to a Jewish daycare, and now she covers her eyes when she sees candles because she thinks they are Shabbat candles. It’s pretty cute. She covered her eyes for her birthday cake She also sings a song called “God is everywhere,” at daycare. So now she points to the sky and says, “God…is over there!” She’s listening and putting things together, y’all. Which makes the whole interfaith thing complicated. Not in a bad way…just a complicated way. She is both Jewish and not. And I’m thankful for it. She is special and our family is pretty damn cool. One of the greatest things about it is that it keeps Ben and I on our toes praying for guidance and reading. It’s interesting, but I’d rather it be our way than any other.

It is no coincidence that all of these happenings coincide with a renewed sense of purpose for me. God is leading me to explore the Scriptures in new ways. I’m not sure where it will lead, but I am hopeful and excited in a way I cannot remember having been before. I’ll keep you updated on that.

So that pretty much concludes this session of word vomit where you learn entirely too much about my family and our going-ons. If you’re still hanging in there, I’m glad you are along for the ride. Love to all ❤

The 2nd anniversary of my motherhood

Or, Darcy’s birthday letter

Bittersweet. According to Merriam-Webster, bittersweet is defined as, “pleasure accompanied by suffering or regret.” I know for a fact (okay, not really) that this word was invented by parents to describe the landmark occasion of their child’s birthdays. Today, Darcy is two years old. That two years represents so much to me. Such as:

1. The death of my beloved sleeping patterns. RIP late weekend sleep-ins.

2. The death of my intense selfishness–thank you God for working some of that out of me!

3. The birth of my motherhood. I’m a mom, which has been my greatest blessing in this life.

Darcy-bird, you are it, man. You are the most precious little 2-year old on this planet. You love to play outside. You pronounce “outside” as “a-die” by the way. Your daddy and I had no freaking clue what you were saying for like 2 weeks. Mattie finally figured it out–yay Mattie! You stall like a pro when it comes to bedtime. You have to say goodnight to EVERYTHING. Including the “tash” on the floor which means “trash,” which reminds me of another thing you brought into my life:

4. The death of my clean house. I used to be able to walk barefoot (LOL) without that special *grit* you manage to spread all over.

I know all parents think that their children are beautiful, but you ARE. You have huge brown eyes with long, perfect eyelashes. You have a luxurious mane of hair. You can’t even see that big scar from your surgery. In fact, it’s very hard to get all that hair wet during your bath. It repels water like a dog…in a good way, though. Girl, you make me so proud with your “I do it!” attitude, even if it stings a little sometimes. By that I mean that while I am so glad that you are self-assured and brave and independent, sometimes I want to shrink you tiny again so I can just hold you. That’s the bittersweet part, love. I never despair the passing of time. Really. I don’t want time to slow down or stop. Watching you grow is beautiful and special, and each birthday we’re given is an absolute gift from God. ABBA–who prominently stars in our dance parties–wrote a song called, “Slipping through my fingers,” and it describes your growing up best:

Slipping through my fingers all the time,

I try to capture every minute,

The feeling in it

Slipping through my fingers all the time.

Do I really see what’s in her mind?

Each time I think I’m close to knowing,

She keeps on growing

Slipping through my fingers all the time.

Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture,

And save it from the funny tricks of time,

Slipping through my fingers all the time.

I want so many things for you, baby. I want you to always look in the mirror and smile, just like you do right now. I want you to continue to drop it like it’s hot in the middle of the aisle in the grocery store when one of your jamz comes on. People may laugh, but you’ll get to groove to some awesome music, and dance parties have always made us feel better. I want you to always walk into a room, belly-first, knowing that you sparkle, and that you are an important person. The world will try to smash that out of you, but I’m going to do my best to fill up your love-tank. Your daddy will, too. I cherish these times with you, Darcela. I really do, even when you’re unreasonable, which is a lot because you are two years old.

You are the answer to so many prayers, and I know you are going to do so many big things. I just pray I get to see you accomplish all that God plans for you. I’m so proud of you little girl.

A heart attack is NOT an emergency, people!

Or at least one hospital doesn’t seem to think so

My father is one of the most loyal men in the world–to a fault. He is moral, he is humble, and he wants to be cooperative, especially in medical situations. These characteristics I admire so much about him–except when he is a patient. You see my father has heart disease. He has had multiple heart caths, one heart attack, and multiple issues with the stents in his coronary arteries. My dad modifies his diet, works out daily, takes so many cardiac medications, yet his genetics are just crappy. It’s sad really. But worse than that, he trusts incompetent physicians. He is loyal, remember? And he doesn’t want to rock the boat, so when he goes to the emergency room at a particularly *awesome* hospital in Southaven, Mississippi, and they fail to provide even minimal care, he goes back, again and again. So, it’s partially his fault. The fact that the care is absolutely abysmal is not his fault.

I won’t go into past experiences at that hospital too much except to say that on one admission, the one in which he had his heart attack,  they made him wait 4 hours to get his heart cath because they are *so* awesome. WTF.

Well, tonight my dad experienced chest pain and shortness of breath. He feels like his stents must be failing and is probably right (he is very attune to his body) and returned to this craptastic hospital against my wishes because they clearly want to kill him. He arrived a little after 4pm.  They triaged him immediately, got an EKG, and asked if he’d had a dose of aspirin. He said he’d had his scheduled 81mg the previous evening. Then nothing. NOTHING.  A doctor came by, explained that they were very “backed up”, and that they would get to him eventually.  Two hours later, my dad had not seen anyone, and was experiencing increased chest pain and shortness of breath.  A nurse could not be found.  Finally, a nurse arrived and attempted to try and give my dad Aspirin–the first medication offered since his arrival–but the order had still not been put in by the doctor.  At this point my mother gave my father the aspirin from his home meds.  When the nurse finally returned, she was relieved because the aspirin order had still not been put in.  His EKG was now showing arrhythmias, but no worries, there was zero alarm on the parts of the medical staff.  Eventually, the MD arrived to review my father’s medical history and examine him.  When my mother started explaining that the details of a past admission had been documented incorrectly because my father had not been seen in an appropriate time frame similarly to this admission, the physician then said, “You know what, you are being very hostile,” said “I’m going to leave, and when I come back we can try this again,” and left the room without examining my father, who was still having chest tightness and shortness of breath.

At this point, I could no longer accept the incompetence of these medical “professionals” and called the hospital to speak to the house supervisor. I informed her that the “hostile” conversation had been recorded, and that I was concerned that the hospital had not come close to meeting core standards for chest pain. For those of you who do not understand what core measures are, they are national healthcare standards. They are not optional. They are are across the board standards and procedures you MUST follow to be in compliance with national standards. The supervisor stated that she would immediately look into it and called me back and informed me that the nurse had documented that the physician had seen them within 12 minutes of arrival (lie) and that he had been offered aspirin within 20 minutes of arrival but my mother had already given it…

Wut?

I informed the supervisor that it was truly unfortunate that the nurse had chosen to document fraudulent information as my family also had documentation as to the actual sequence of events as well as recordings of my mother being “hostile.” Yeah, Mavis is super hostile when she never raised her voice. While I was on the phone, the doctor threatened to call security. I almost wish they would have. You see, we aren’t crazy. My father is a dentist–an excellent dentist. He’s in line to be the president of the Mississippi Dental Association, and he’s the past president of the Mississippi Board of Dentistry. Not too shabby. My mother is an RN. My sister is an MD, I am an RN. We are not redneck, ignorant, or white trash. We are educated and fluent in hospital protocol, core measures, correct documentation as well as the responsibility of healthcare providers.

The physician returned to the room and said snidely, “Let’s try this again, huh?” And then proceeded to examine my father. This is four hours after his arrival for chest pain. FOUR FREAKING HOURS on a patient with a significant cardiac history and this physician begins his initial assessment of my father. And had the nerve to give a sarcastic, “Thank you,  ladies,” to my mother and sister when he glided out of the room.

So what if my family were not persistent? What if my family were uneducated? Would he have simply been ignored until he died? I bet, and I honestly bet that’s what happens to so many patients who walk into this ER and deal with this MD. So, here’s my advice to the people of North Mississippi:

  1. Do not go to a hospital in North Mississippi when you can jet up to Memphis and meet a competent ER physician.
  2.  Do not allow your family member to be ignored when they are having chest pain.
  3. Do not be afraid to rock the boat. People die when they are compliant to just get along. You MUST fight for your loved ones. Check out this statistic:
    • According to an NPR article, “Now comes a study in the current issue of the Journal of Patient Safety that says the numbers may be much higher — between 210,000 and 440,000 patients each year who go to the hospital for care suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death.”
  4. Realize that not all physicians and nurses are created the same. Some barely scraped by in school and are actually not that smart. Even more are egomaniacs and will try to threaten you into submission.
  5. Document, document, document. Sure, it makes the healthcare team nervous, but you need to keep notes of what is going on and what your loved one is being given
  6. If all else fails, go and loiter at/around the nurses’ station. Nurses hate that and will literally do anything to make you go away #realtalk

People die when nurses and physicians do not do their job. Ask questions. Record interactions, demand answers. Doing so could save lives. Failure to do so, could lead to death. A nurse manager who has now seen my mother said that once a patient says they’ve had aspirin in the past 24 hours that you don’t give anymore. When my mom questioned that, she admitted that, “Well the nurse probably just didn’t know cardiac protocol and should have given aspirin immediately. We can use this as a learning opportunity!” Umm, no. Just…no.

My father is kind, compliant, and loyal to a fault. And tonight he was treated with scorn and derision by an egomaniac who is incompetent to care for even a beetle. And unfortunately for him and that particular establishment, I am a determined individual and choose to blast them on my blog. Which I never do, but as a nurse, it is my responsibility to protect patients. This MD has not heard the last from my family. I feel certain he will regret his cavalier, unprofessional, and ultimately neglectful attitude.

My blog is usually so uplifting (I hope), but tonight, I feel like I need to tell people a hard truth: If you go to the hospital, you are increasing your chance of death. If you don’t question the actions of healthcare providers, you are further increasing your chances. This is coming from a nurse. Love to all. ❤

Broken for a purpose

Welcome back, Beka

Tomorrow’s the big day—back to work. Surprisingly, I’m not dreading it. The last three months have been so wonderful and also SO hard. I counted up all the appointments as well as I could remember–

OB/GYN: 3

Pediatrician: 8

CT scan: 1

Craniofacial surgeon: 2

Neurosurgeon: 1

Neurologist: 1

Cardiologist: 1

Orthopedic surgeon: 2

ENT: 1

Pre-op anesthesia: 1

Additional labwork: 4

Hearing screen: 1

ABR testing: 1

Helmet fitting: 1

Yeah…that’s roughly 28 appointments that I’ve been to on this maternity leave. And I’m not even including the 3 separate evaluations and 1 physical therapy appointment we’ve had so far because those were done in our home. I am tired, y’all. I am also thankful. I’m thankful that I was able to go to these appointments to rule out and/or monitor this baby. I’m glad we’ve been able to take the best care of him. But I will also throat-punch anyone who suggests that maternity leave has been vacation just because I haven’t been working at my job. Because my job is WAY easier and less stressful than taking my newborn to sit around in shady waiting rooms for 30ish appointments during the worst flu season in years. Appointments with potentially scary diagnoses. Neurosurgery and a PICU stay.  So, it has not been a walk in the park.

Even so, I feel really strong now. I’ve been lifting emotional weights for months, so I’m basically Channing Tatum now. My anxiety is completely under control, I’m back to running again (slowly), have lost all baby weight plus some (here’s looking at you, stress), I’m killing it in grad school, and I’m about to return to a job I love. While I am head over heels in love with little Clark, this maternity leave has been mind-bendingly hard. I have been the empty, crushed paper cup littering ball fields after the big game; discarded and swept aside. But…I have also been superwoman. The one with a clean house, fed kids, going on a run before showering AND shaving 💁🏼‍♀️, with dinner on the table when her husband gets home.

I’m thankful to my Jesus. No, He did not remove my suffering, and He did not remove my anxiety. He did; however, JOIN me in my suffering and anxiety. He healed my son, and surrounded me with people who ferociously love me and come to my aid on a moment’s notice. These people–my parents, sisters and brother, are like a pair of Spanx. They make me feel good, like I have my shit more together than I do and make me feel more confident without actually changing anything—just by staying very close. Also, Spanx aren’t easy to peel yourself out of, and my family is kinda like that, too. You can’t escape the Alfords. Thank God for that, too.

So, as I head back out into this world, I can say that I was broken for the better, and I feel stronger than I ever was.  This life is hard. Sometimes, it’s really hard, but there is always something bright to look toward, even if it’s just clinging to the smallest fleck of hope. Trust in Jesus, fiercely love others, and your rainbow will shine through, if you’ll just take the time to notice it. Love to all ❤