Sunday, January 26, 2014

30 Things Blog 11 -- 10 Pet Peeves

If you want to know what this is all about check out this blog post!

Blog 11 -- Describe 10 Pet Peeves you have.

I haven't done a post for my 30 Things series in awhile so I decided that I'd start it back up. I made a goal to blog a lot more this year and so I'm trying to get in at least 1 blog a week, if not more. This will certainly help!

1. Grammar mistakes. Yes I know we all make them, I make them too, and often. But I'm talking about things such as differences between their, there, and they're.

2. Toilet paper being put on the roll in the "Under" fashion. It's over. Always over!

3. Smacking of gum and food. Chew with your mouth closed. Period.

4. Light and noise when I'm trying to sleep. I'm getting so much better about this. But oftentimes I just can't sleep if I'm distracted by either light or noise.

5. When people don't finish their train of thought/what they are saying. Spencer and I had a rule, You have to finish what you start, no matter how ridiculous it may be. 

6. If my fingernails get very long. I just can't stand it! I always have to have short fingernails!

7. Other distracting noises or loud conversations when I'm trying to have a conversation with someone. I can't hear the best and so it's really frustrating and I just want to focus on that person.

8. Not washing your hands after using the bathroom. It's just gross. Take the extra minute and do it!

9. When you don't follow through with what you say. I can't begin to count the number of times I've been burned by people not following through.

10. When someone is on their phone or computer when out to eat or with a group of friends. Respect, my friends. Technology has taken over our lives. But that's a different story for a different blog ;)

Up Next -- Describe a typical day in your current life

Friday, January 24, 2014

Avenue Q & Little Shop Of Horrors

Nothing like a flash back to a wonderful memory in your life that you have long forgotten about!

Several years ago Spencer started listening to the sound track of Avenue Q and introduced me to the fun and quirky music. We often times pulled up YouTube videos and watched it. We always said that if it ever came to Salt Lake City that we were going to go. Well a couple of years ago, I believe in 2010, Spencer and I had the opportunity to go to Avenue Q as it was coming to SLC. He bought tickets as soon as he was able to and it was something we were both excited and giddy about. A real date to a musical. Spence and I were both huge broadway fans. We were both really into acting, singing, and the arts. Just another thing that really connected us!

Leading up to the musical he wasn't feeling the best, as per his normal, but there was NO way we were about to miss this opportunity as we knew it wouldn't come around again. We left the house with plenty of oxygen in tow and got to the theater with minimal time to spare. Hauling around a sick man, his oxygen tanks, and everything else isn't an easy feat ;) 

When we got parked and got ready to get out we realized that we had forgotten the wrench for his extra oxygen tank. I felt horrible about it because I had just cleaned out my car and forgot to put the extra one back in there, and didn't double check things before we left the house. It was not a good deal since Spencer was on 4 liters of oxygen and 1 tank wouldn't even get close to lasting the entirety of the musical. I offered to run back home and get one, but that would have me missing about an hour of the musical - and tickets weren't cheap. Spencer, being the incredible selfless man he was, kept insisting that he'd be fine with turning his O2 down to 2 liters while he was sitting there and making the oxygen last as long as he could. I was in tears at that point because I knew he wouldn't be fine and wasn't going to have as much of an enjoyable time as he should. 

But I let him talk me into just going through with it, but promising me that if he started to feel too sick, tired, dizzy, have a headache, or otherwise to let me know and we would leave right away. The first half of the musical he did okay, during intermission he started to feel a little bit of a headache coming on, but overall insisted that he was doing fine. I could tell otherwise but when Spence made up his mind about something, there wasn't any changing it. And he made up his mind he was staying through the entire thing no matter what. 

There isn't too much to say about the musical in itself aside from it was AMAZING! We laughed through the entire thing. Spencer had to explain a few of the innuendos to me as I was a little bit slow to catch on. But it was well worth our time and money! We really did have such an enjoyable time. It was one of the very few times we went on an actual date together with something specifically planned in advance. 

Here are a few of the songs Spence and I tended to listen to fairly often!

"The Internet is for Porn"

"Everyones a Little Bit Racist"

"It Sucks to be me"

Of course we loved ALL the songs, but these are kind of fun!

Spencer and I also went to the musical Little Shop of Horrors that my Freshman Counsel advisor was a part of. I went to a dinner theater featuring that musical when I was in high school and loved it, I was very excited to see it again! Spencer was pretty familiar with it as he'd seen the film. We also had a very good time at that and really enjoyed getting out and spending our evening together doing something we both love. 

We had decided that the next thing we wanted to do was go to a Improv Comedy Club. Spence had been once when he was in high school and I'd never been. We thought it would be something super fun to do. We also talked about going to Keys on Main together. We promised each other that we'd try to get out and do more things like that, that we really enjoyed.. but sadly we never got the chance to. Hopefully some day I can go with a friend, or perhaps even on a date - how fun! :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Living Out Loud

"I’ve got this tiny pang of regret when I think of how much I have probably missed out on in the last few years because I was too scared to take a risk, or too shy to speak up, or too worried to be bold."

After coming home from Las Vegas I really got a sense of how much life I feel like I am missing out on. And this quote really sums up how I've been feeling for the last year as I'm continuing to discover myself life post-Spencer. I'm just so tired of feeling so sheltered, not having a whole lot of friends, not normally going out and having a good time. I never have any fun stories. When I'm asked what I did over the weekend my reply is usually, "Not a whole lot". I want to have stories and memories that I am going to be able to share with others. I am so tired of living vicariously through everyone else. I want to start to make my own stories. I want to break a few rules. Live out loud.

In my 23 years of life I have hardly allowed myself to get out there and have a really good time. I'm always the one worried about it getting too late. Someone getting hurt. Rules being broken. I've always been so held back, shy, and worried about how other people will perceive me. I'm just tired of being that person all of the time. I'm always envious of those who don't have many inhibitions, because I have so many. They are the ones who have the stories. Who make memories that last a life time. I feel like I can be, and am, that girl who could have a good time -- but for some reason I just don't allow myself to. It's those inhibitions.

I'm just worried of time continuing to slip away, and before I know it these opportunities that I could be holding on to right now will be a thing of the past. I will have let them all pass by, not holding on and taking advantage of going on a trip. Exploring a new place. Spending a little money. Making a new friend. I'm afraid that before I know it all of a sudden I will be graduated from college, bound to my career, unable to take time away for myself and live my life. And to tie things in with the quote above, I'm terrified of living with regrets. I already feel like I have so many because of how much I don't do out of various kinds of fear.

I'm not saying that I don't want to be responsible. I know my limits, I know my boundaries. I'm smart and I'm a very rational person. But it would be fun to live on the edge of these limits and boundaries once in awhile. I experienced things in Vegas that I never have before because for once in my life I wasn't worried about what others were going to think of me if I chose my own path and made my own decisions. If I did my own things for once. I wasn't worried about those around me being disappointed if I decided to have a drink or two, gamble my money away, or dance a little too close. 

And you know what? I made a heck of a lot of good memories in Vegas. I may have been quiet and a little reserved for awhile, and I know that I wasn't completely myself because I didn't know the guys all that well, and I was still trying to get comfortable around them. And also take in all of this new stuff. But despite being quiet and holding back just a little bit.. I had a really, really good time. And it wasn't because I chose to have a couple of drinks, or gamble, or danced maybe a tad too promiscuously.. I know that I don't have to do any of those things to have a good time, but it was because I finally wasn't afraid of being who I wanted to be in that moment. For once I wasn't living in fear of what the world around me thought. And damn, it felt good. 

Before going and after getting back, of course I thought about the many people who are probably sitting there, shocked at my behaviors that they don't normally see, or wouldn't expect to see. The obvious veer from my religion and what I believe; who I have been. Those who hold me to a high standard and didn't expect to see this coming. I thought about all of you. And to you, I say that I'm sorry I didn't meet your expectations and that you may be looking at me with a face of disappointment. Shaking your head at my decisions. But bear with me. Let me live. Let me learn and carve a path for myself. And support me no matter what choices I make -- as long as they aren't ridiculous.

But to myself, I'm not sorry -- because I want to experience life. Good or bad. I want it all. I want to make and learn from my own mistakes. I'm so uncertain about this life that I lead right now and I'm always feeling caught in the cross fire of my own mind. Feeling guilty for wanting to experience new things... or things that I may have been taught are wrong, or frowned upon, especially in my religion. Maybe it's a little rebellion stage of my grief, or of being 20-something... I'm just tired of fighting it. 

One "resolution", for a lack of better word, I wanted to work on this year was to embrace spontaneity and enjoy the journey, because the destination isn't anything without a worthwhile journey. To live my life and take those trips I've been wanting to take. Experience new things and see new places. To not feel and be so reserved. To not hold back. To express myself and not care so much how others perceive me. 

Sometimes I wonder why I feel like I need to make this declaration... I think part of it has to do with feeling judged on my actions. Wanting acceptance from others no matter what I choose. And just the ability to be able to share my life, whether I know it has others shaking their heads or not. Maybe kind of as a heads up saying, "Hey! This is my life, I'm going to live it the way I want. Don't mind me."

But reguardless... Living out loud is just what I plan on doing. I want to make 2014 memorable in my own way. I want to experience it with good company and without so many reservations. So far it's started out better than I could have expected it to. I don't want regret to come into play for me. Regret of not doing something I wanted to do... but also regret of doing something I shouldn't have. There is a fine line there, but I'm thankful that I am able to distinguish between the two.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Fabulous Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada.

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. 

Sin City. 

The Gambling Capital.

All terms you've heard, too? It's finally no stranger to me and I can quickly say it's all true! I finally made my first trip to Vegas last weekend and it was one that I won't soon forget! A couple of months ago I started talking to a mutual friend, Corey, getting to know each other over some life experiences we had in common. Throughout our conversation we were talking about places we've been, places we want to go, and things that we've experienced. I had mentioned how I've never really done anything too exciting and long story short?

We planned a spontaneous trip to Las Vegas.

He's been multiple times and I hadn't been at all. We planned to gather up a bunch of friends and hit the city for a quick trip January 10th through 12th. A few people backed out on us, and I ended up being the only girl with 4 other men, only 1 that I knew. To say I was nervous was an understatement!

Conversations leading up to the trip were entertaining as we had a Vegas FB conversation. It's kind of lonely now that I don't have over 100 messages to come home to sort through!

I left on Friday morning for Denver to catch my flight. The closer I got to the airport the more nervous I became, but I knew that it'd be worth it. I knew it was going to be a trip to remember. My flight was 3 and a half hours long with a short layover in Salt Lake City. I was bummed to be in Utah but not able to visit friends! Got to Vegas and it all began! It was a lot to take in at first and I didn't know the guys very well so I was pretty quiet, but regardless I was loving every minute of it.

We got a big suite between the 5 of us at a 5 star - the Venetian. When we got there we went down to go grab a burger at I Love Burgers. Just walking through the hotel (actually 2 hotels were connected together making it seem gigantic!) was an experience. So much to see. I started opening up and getting a little more comfortable after sitting down to eat with the guys. Talked about how the night was going to go down and then went back up to the room to chill and get things started! 

Friday night I went to my very first club! We went to Marquee at The Cosmopolitan. It was SO much to take in. Didn't really know how to react to it at first, but it turned out to be a night I will remember forever! I had a really great time there. It was super crowded and you definitely can't be afraid to get close to anyone, but it was so fun. After my toe got stomped on and after getting shoved around multiple times we headed back to our suite. We hailed a cap which was my first experience ever getting a taxi. Kind of fun.

Saturday we slept in, as we were all beat from the previous night, and then got up and went to the Luxor to go to the Titanic exhibit. It was really awesome how they were able to save and preserve so many pieces from the Titanic in such good condition. They were also holding a Body's exhibit and I'm REALLY disappointed I didn't go ahead and go over to that one as well. If I could have a do-over, I would have went through it even by myself because i've been wanting to see it for years and years now. But that's alright. Maybe I'll get another opportunity at some point.

We were planning on eating at Ceasers Palace Buffet, but the waiting time was about 2 hours for a party of 5, and we were starving, so we ended up just eating another burger at the food court. While we were eating we watched the football game. With guys, there is always sports involved ;) While I couldn't join in on much of their conversation (as I don't follow football all that closely) I do enjoy sitting down and watching a game. So it was pretty fun.

We then went over to the Rio to play some $5 Black Jack. My first time ever gambling! I had been watching a guy in our group play black jack several times and I had asked the guys how to go about playing, so I was ready! I put down $50.00 and unfortunately lost it all. I was on a roll for quite awhile, but every time I would up my bet to $10, that's when I'd lose. It really stinks when you hit 20 but the dealer hits 21! So all of us left pretty empty handed, no one really had any luck with it! Between us all thousands of dollars were lost that weekend! But what's Vegas if you don't take a gamble? haha.

We then went back to our suite and watched some more football, listened to music, talked, and got geared up to go to the second club, Hakkasan at MGM Grand Hotel. I don't know if it was just the fact that I actually knew what to expect or what, but I had a blast at Hakkasan. The music was good, but it was far too overcrowded. Regardless, we found a spot in the corner next to the DJ and danced til our feet hurt, bodies were sweaty, and could hardly keep our eyes open! We went out on the Strip and walked a little bit, my feet were far too sore in my heels to go very far, so we got another cab and went back to the hotel for the night.

Sunday we woke up around 9, surprising considering how late we were out. Watched some football, got packed up and the guys took me to the airport. I was so sad to leave. I felt like there was just SO much more to do and explore. I was finally starting to get comfortable around all of the guys and really wanted to get to know each of them better. Sometimes I hate that I'm so shy and don't speak up a little more at first, but I can't quite help it. Once I get to know you it's sometimes hard to get me to be quiet ;)

All-in-all I had a time to remember!!! It was a good time and I'm so glad that we went. Corey has been the first friend I've ever had to follow through with plans like this. I'm used to things being talked about, but no one actually following through with it, and more often than not, things getting cancelled. He showed me a good time and I really hope to be able to do it again, if not in Vegas than somewhere else!

You will probably be disappointed to know that I didn't really get any pictures. I just lived in the moment. Not to mention my phone doesn't take the best pics and it was dying really quickly. So I will leave you with some pictures that I/we did get (click on them to make them bigger) and a "What I learned in Vegas" list!

What I Learned In Vegas:
Sleep is for the weak
Beginners luck only lasts for so long
Clubbing is actually really fun
One drink is nearly plenty, but 2 is more fun
Vegas is a blast and I definitely want to go back

Couldn't resist getting a "You're not in Kansas anymore" sign picture!

Corey and I messing around before going to Marquee. He's the man that made this trip happen!

Stole your pics, Ruben! ?uestLove at Hakkasan

 Our fancy suite at the Venetian

And I'm leavin' on a jetplane... 

Thanks for a good time, guys! Hope ya'll had as much fun as I did :)

Mr. Clark, it was a pleasure

The inevitable finally happened last week. A patient who has been coming in for blood draws who I came to just love passed away last week and for the first time, it really just breaks my heart to know that he won't be around anymore.

With the work that I do, it's common to see people come in and out of the hospital at various stages of illnesses. Acute. Chronic. Terminal. Within the 6 months that I've worked as a phlebotomist I have seen several patients come into the hospital and not leave. And when you're from a small town, you get to know everyone incredibly well -- especially those frequent flyers that need lab work on a daily to weekly basis. By far, this is certainly one of the hardest parts of my job. Having to go into their hospital room and drawing their blood as they sharply inhale and exhale a breath as their ribcage forcefully expands to accommodate what may be their last breath of air. Standing there while a patient breaths at a rate of only 3 to 4 breaths a minute, praying that that breath was not their last and anxiously anticipating them to once again fill their lungs, but knowing that the last breath will come at any moment. Knowing they can hear you, whispering to them how wonderful of a patient they've always been for you. Letting them know they are loved and cared about by many.

And then there are the experiences with patients who know that they are dying. It's such a tender moment when a patient knows that they are dying. When they confess to you, like one elderly woman did this morning, that they are "nearly dead", and as a man had to tell me 2 weeks ago that, "it's only a matter of time." You try to reassure them, comfort them, and be compassionate towards them, but what do you say? Being an outsider it's difficult to asses how they are dealing with their own mortality. With Spencer, for example, I knew where he was at and how he was processing everything. I may not have known what to say, but our intimate relationship allowed me more comfort to express my sadness and to help him through it. But as a professional, it's hard to know the right words to say.

A couple of Friday's ago I went up to the nursing home to draw a patient. I was looking forward to going up there because this was a man I had really come to enjoy seeing in the lab. He hadn't been in in a little over a month as he was recovering from a surgery that he had. I walked into his room and he was laying on his bed not looking so good. I looked over at him and smiled and told him that I had been thinking about him constantly and that it was good to see him.

I asked him how he was feeling. How his surgery went. I was genuinely interested and concerned about him. As I was palpating for a vein in his arm which had grown thinner, veins becoming harder to find, he told me that things did not go well. The look on his face and in his eyes told me that was quite a grim response. He then proceeded to tell me, "It's just now a matter of time." At that point I wasn't sure of the full extent of everything so I replied with, "Just a long road to recovery now, huh?" but he shook his head no and I suddenly understood. I'm sure my face went ghost white, my heart sank down to my stomach, hands started shaking, and as a slight tear started to form in the corner of my eye I fought it back, knowing I had a job to do and I had to get through it. I had to be strong for my patient.

After drawing his blood, I stood up and took a moment to chat with him. I had been considering coming up after work some day and visiting him, and so I decided that there was no better time like the present to ask him if he liked visitors. So I did and he told me that yes, he loves them. The moment I asked him, "Would you like me to come up here in a few days and visit you so that we can chat a little more?" his face completely lit up. It was the first time in the entire conversation where his eyes opened wide and he actually held a smile on his face. He told me he would like that very much. I knew instantly I had to do it as soon as I could. I was really looking forward to visiting with him more.

After saying my goodbyes to him I left the room and just felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. My leaned my elbows on my cart as tears welled up in my eyes. I couldn't believe it. It just wasn't fair.

I will never forget the short and sweet relationship that I built with this man in the time that I knew him. The very first time that he came into the lab he was a bit grumpy and really not feeling well. His wife accompanied him. At that time we didn't exchange too many words, but I thought that I recognized them. I knew that I had seen them somewhere before but I couldn't place who it was. The next time that he came into the lab, a few short weeks later, it finally dawned on me who he was. I asked him if he had any relation to a family whose son I used to date, and he told me, "Oh ya! I sure do" with a grin on his face. He told me that he thought he and his wife recognized me. He said that his wife asked if that's who I was but he couldn't be certain. He remembered exactly who I was and I couldn't believe that he remembered me spending time at their house one Christmas with their family. We chatted some more while I drew his blood and then he left.

He came back many, many times after that and after that conversation we had, his whole demeanor changed towards me after we found common ground. He always greeted me with a family at 6 am in the morning. Never left without the routine of telling me, "Thank you, you take care, sweetie."

We often talked about the extent of his health and how he was feeling. Some days were good for him, but most days he struggled. We bonded over doctors appointments and a doctor that we both shared out in Colorado, agreeing how amazing he is. Sometimes we would laugh together and smile when he was having a good day, and sometimes it was somber when he was having a particularly rough time.

I truly began enjoying seeing him at the lab. He was one of those people who just made my morning a little bit better. He was always so sweet, gentle, and very kind to me. I can't pinpoint exactly what I liked so much about him, but I think it was just his over all attitude towards me when he was there.

Unfortunately I was not able to go back up to the home and see him. It's a hard pill to swallow. My grandpa passed away after that and didn't get the opportunity to visit him that weekend. The day that I was planning on going up after my first day back at work he was admitted into the hospital and had passed away. It really happened quick, a lot faster than I thought it would. I'm sad that I didn't get the opportunity to visit him again, but I am beyond thankful that I spent a few extra minutes that day that I drew his blood to talk with him.

He was so sweet and I really miss seeing him around. It was a truly a pleasure Mr. Clark. Rest Easy.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Another close loss

The first week of January has been a bit of a sad one for my family and I. Yes, I have been through almost more losses than I can count in my 23 years of life, but it doesn't stop them from happening. Life doesn't see that your still trying to work through the last 5, or more. Life doesn't give you a reprieve.

January second my grandpa Johnson passed away. We knew that it was coming for awhile now. On Christmas when we went to visit him he couldn't respond to us. We were able to talk to him, take pictures with him, and he ate lunch with us, but shortly after lunch he went to his room, they gave him some morphine and he went to sleep. I knew it was just a matter of time before we lost him.

One shouldn't be able to recognize the early stages of death so personally at 23 years old. But I saw it in my husband and unfortunately I see in it patients who come into the hospital and never leave. There are also times when I almost feel sensitized to death, and that feels all but right. I hear of someone passing away, such as my grandpa, and my body tenses up and flushes, my eyes fill with tears, my heart skips a beat. But that is only for a moment.

I hate how that has become my reaction to death. But I have seen so much of it that if I got hung up on what has been lost I don't know if I would be able to function.

It seems as if I have become excellent in realizing that what is, just is, and while it is sad and I will always, always miss him and have him in my heart, there isn't anything that I, or anyone, can do to change it. It is almost like a blessing that he has passed because he fought for such a long time with his cancer, seizures, lung problems, and etc. When I saw him at Christmas I just wanted him to let go because I knew that there wasn't any reason for him to stay with the way that his health was.

I know that things haven't really hit me. I went to work on Friday and had several people asking me, "Well why are you here?" "Why are you not at home?" "What are you doing here?!". I'm here because it's my job. I'm not at home because there isn't anything for me to help with. I am just simply working and keeping my mind busy. I also had a couple people come up to me and tell me what a great man he was and some memories and stories of him. All in past tense. A couple of times it took me off guard. What do you mean "he was" and "he did" "he fought". Oh, right. He's dead. That's all in the past now. It's just proof to me that I haven't quite thought about it.

I also was not all that close with my grandpa. We didn't have that type of a relationship. I remember him teasing me a lot as a kid, especially changing the channel to the weather while I was watching Barney! As an adult he always enjoyed seeing me, I know. He loved to talk about my car, gas mileage, mechanical things and fixing things. But I just don't remember a lot.

When I let myself think about it, I think I hurt the most for my dad. It's hard to know how to communicate with my dad as we have never had the heart-to-heart hugging type of relationship, but I know, I know that he's hurting. I think of the relationship that dad and grandpa had. Before grandpa went into the home my dad went up to his house nearly every single night to visit and spend time with him. Often times he spent more than an hour down there. They would also talk every single day, sometimes multiple times a day and it would be for hours at a time. Dad would complain a lot about how he kept him on the phone, but I think dad was just as guilty!

When grandpa got really sick with cancer my dad took him to doctors appointments and took him to get the treatment that he needed. He would stay away from home days at a time to be with grandpa at his treatments. He'd drop anything to help him. I saw my dad get very emotional when he talked about it and when grandpas health would again decline. My dad doesn't cry often, but going through all of that took it's toll on him.

And then when they had to put him into the home the nightly routine of phone calls continued. It continued even after grandpa had a very difficult time remembering how to work the phone and communicating. Eventually those nightly calls moved to a few times a week, once a week, and then eventually never. But dad still went up to the home to be with grandpa as often as he could, at least once a week and usually even more.

And then my dad was at grandpas side when he took his last breath. They got the call at 2am so my dad rushed over to be with him. I learned of all of this at work and shortly after talking to my mom we got the word that he was gone.

So yes, I know that what hurts for me the most is to know what my dad lost and it truly breaks my heart. They seemed to have a really, really good relationship and I hate that it's now over.

Monday is the funeral and I know that emotions will come rushing in, they do quite often at funerals. I suppose it will be then when I finally, truly realize that he is gone. But he's in a better place and not struggling anymore, just like we say with everyone else we've lost. But it's true, and it's the one comforting thing in the whole journey.