This topic came up at our house recently when my husband teased me about being directionally-challenged, and my youngest jumped in with a mnemonic he’d learned at some point in elementary school for directions. I had him repeat it, because it was rather clever, and I’d simply had to memorize them. Mnemonics are what put me in the top 1% of my high school’s graduating class, and there’s no possible way I’d have remembered the mind-numbing amount of information I had to know for my nursing degree and state boards without them. Nowadays I use them for names when I meet new people in groups, or, better yet, I just call everyone sweetheart, sweetie, chick or girlfriend (if they are female and approximately my age), or honey. This works nicely even with children, other relatives, and pets. If you’re a Southern Woman, that is. I’m not entirely sure you could get away with this in, say, Michigan. But it’s worth a shot. Anyway, I digress.

John’s directional mnemonic got me thinking about ones I remember from long ago. One that’s engraved on my brain (and probably the brain of every nurse and doctor) is the one for the cranial nerves: On Old Olympus’ Towering Tops A Finn And Greek Saw A Hawk. I can’t remember what any of it stands for now, but I know I’ll remember that sentence when I’m ninety-five and can’t remember my own name. Of course I’ve never actually used that except on written tests. If you need a patient’s cranial nerves evaluated you call in a neurologist, who knows what every O, T, and G stands for better than his or her own children’s names.

The other one I’m stuck with was much more helpful. I’ve worked with nothing but cardiac patients my entire career (except for a few terrifying pulls to other units that convinced me cardiology was the correct choice). When a patient has a cardiac catheterization, angioplasty, or stent placement there are two hollow tubes in their groin though which the cardiologist has done his/her work. Once any blood thinners given have worn off the tubes must be removed from the femoral vein and artery. When I first started working for a large group of local cardiologists, back in the early 90′s, we (the nurses) just flopped any unnecessary appendages out of the way, sterilized and numbed the area, and then pulled both sheaths at the same time, holding pressure with fingers, a bit of gauze, and a close eye on the phone and call button in case of the fairly common adverse reaction. But soon technology moved on, and cardiologists started using more blood thinners and a wider variety of devices to place in the coronary arteries of their patients to open them and keep them open. That’s when we had to stop using our hands and use a mesh belt with an inflatable balloon attached, so we could pull the venous sheath at a low pressure, then pump up to a high pressure to pull the arterial sheath. Do it in the wrong order and you’ll have blood on the ceiling, and let me tell you, the housekeeping department will not clean that. To make matters more complicated, cardiologists use either the right or the left groin depending on whether the doctor is right- or left-handed. Here’s where the mnemonic comes in: NAVY. Start at the outside of the patient’s leg: Nerve, Artery, Vein, Ying-Yang (that would be the unnecessary appendage you flopped out of the way earlier). Simple mnemonic, but it’s saved countless pints of blood, patient hysteria, and re-painting of ceilings :)

femoral artery sheath mnemonic

You’re already thinking about it – I know you are. What mnemonic will you never get out of your head?



— 1 —

I’m distracted, forgetful, and completely disorganized. I’m an airhead, ditzy, playing without a full deck. Whatever you want to call it, I’m there. This is one of those times friends and family worry about me. I can hear it in their voices and see it on their faces. The icing on the cake (so far) was writing my last name instead of my step-dad’s on his birthday card. I also filled out a lot of forms online that day. God only knows how I filled in the blanks.

— 2 —

The prize for most annoying mistake goes to my medication errors for the week. Twice I’ve accidentally taken my bedtime muscle relaxer earlier in the day, earning myself an unwanted 4-6 hours of unconsciousness. And I fill my pillbox every night before going to bed – that’s not the problem. Although one night I did go outside to put the pillbox in the mailbox. Thankfully, I realized what I was doing before I left it there. I’m going to have to get a new pillbox that will not allow me to take my meds out of order. I had one like that for a long time, but it broke after I’d dropped it from my numb fingers in the morning too many times and I replaced it with a cheaper version. Bad choice.

— 3 —

I had an appointment with my internal medicine doc this week, and I now have a handicapped placard form ready to take to the county clerk’s office. Grocery trips will still need to be accompanied for lifting, but at least they’ll be less painful. And hopefully it’ll make a difference in how I feel after watching John’s marching band shows – those that I can get to.

— 4 —

The twelve-hour days at marching band camp are wearing John out. And sitting waiting in and around the car for an hour is wearing me out. I like to get there in time to watch the last fifteen minutes or so of practice, and practices always end on time, but so many kids just pick up their instruments, grab their water jugs, and hop in the car. A majority of the parents are out of the lot by ten after. Two days this week I’ve been the last parent in the lot, leaving at 9:40 pm. Even the band director has made announcements about how important it is for the entire band to stay until all equipment is put away, but it does no good. I’m sure this is an issue for every extra-curricular activity, from Scouts to drama to field hocky to basketball to lacrosse to chorus. I just hate to see parents not encouraging their kids to pitch in. Now, mind you, if I had a small child in the car past bedtime or if I myself was already out too late to get eight hours sleep before getting up for work the next morning I’d be out of there. But I’d make sure my child put in extra effort on days when it was possible. Just sayin’.

— 5 —

In addition to his constant limp from a bad ankle sprain in June that didn’t have enough time to heal before band camp he’s also got bruises on his iliac crests from the heavy drum harness. I graciously offered him some of the fat covering my iliac crests (hip bones) and I think he would have taken it if we could have done it easily!

— 6 —

Another of my dumb moments this week was watching Netflix in bed on the iPad. Michael and John were asleep, but I couldn’t sleep because it had been one of my accidental-big-nap days. About 1am John came running in after there was a scream in a scene (Twin Peaks – do not even bother) and asked, grumpily, “Why don’t you have headphones on?” Mind you, I’m the person who got dressed in the dark for twenty years so as to not wake anyone up. I just simply forgot. And Michael swears it didn’t wake him up, but if it woke up John in the next room it must have been loud :(

— 7 —

My diet is still going well, and I plan to post some info about the products I’m using on my Facebook page this week. But dealing with CIGNA, my disability insurance company, is at a complete halt. I thought I might go on a hunger strike until they respond to my demands (simply give me for the coverage I paid for – how’s that for an easy demand to meet?) It’s a win-win situation: I get thin and my bills get paid. But I get really grumpy when I don’t get fed at all, and I don’t think CIGNA really cares if they get bad publicity (if their complete lack of response to my tweets, FB posts, and blog posts is any indication), so I think I’ll stick with the current diet plan.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


seriesThere are many series that I’ve watched and loved from beginning to end. Breaking Bad is the multi-season series by which all current series will be judged. I also loved all of House MD (although as a nurse I did get tired of the same rare diseases and treatments all the time, and the laughable notion of a doctor transporting a patient to the omnipresent MRI scanner. I don’t think anyone left that hospital without an MRI. But this is not about our one- or two-season loves (Firefly, Smash) or even the ongoing fabulous shows (Walking Dead, Sherlock, Doctor Who). It’s about those series that went on for years, but one year – usually the first or second episode of the season, a majority of the viewers began to recognize the stench of failure. I won’t discuss the reasons why. That would be like trying to explain why the slice of tomato on your hamburger at a restaurant is not a good tomato. But we can all recognize a good slice of tomato and, sadly, a bad slice of tomato instantly.


— Buffy The Vampire Slayer —

I never got to watch this when it was on (I think I was working night shift) but I fell in love with it immediately. My Buffy memories are stained, though, because I watched it too long. Stop at the end of Season 4. After things get really sad, then really stupid.

— Angel —

I know it’s tempting, if you likes Buffy, to try the spin-off. Don’t do it. It’s like watching grass grow.

— Dexter —

What a fabulous concept for a series. And I loved the actors. I had been warned ahead of time to stop watching at the end of Season 7, or possibly even Season 6, but I accidentally hit ‘play’ and watched a few minutes of the first episode of Season 8. Horrific.

— Lost —

This is one of those that was so over-hyped I refused to watch just to be different. Then once I started I loved it. I am a beach addict, and I haven’t been for many years, so just the scenery was enough to keep me watching most day. But don’t watch the final episode. Just don’t do it. It’s the most stupid ending for a series I’ve ever heard, and I was actually angry after watching it. It doesn’t answer any of your questions, so just while the whole rest of the series and make up your own ending.

— Real Housewives of New Jersey —

I’m a die-hard Real Housewives of Orange County fan – I’ve never missed an episode. I thought I’d be the sane way with RHNJ, but I could only stand one season with Melissa and Joe Gorga in the mix. Everything is so much more fake (as if it wasn’t fake enough before).

— Weeds —

There are two viable options here. You can stop at the end of Season 6 if you only want episodes with the original feel of the show. After that it goes in another direction, but I still enjoyed it and I’m glad I watched all the way through.

— Once Upon a Time —

Stop at the end of Season 2. By that time they’ve run out of new fairytale characters to introduce decide to spend a whole Season on the Island of Lose Boys, where Peter Pan is a sociopathic leader of vicious tweens. No thanks, I can go downtown and catch the live version of that any night of the week.

Here’s where you come in and this really gets to be a useful post: Let me know not just if you agree or disagree with me, but why. And tell me about other series you’ve watched and where the Stop sign should go. And if you have watched Mad Men or True Blood please let me know when you stopped! no one seems to agree on exactly when these two shows jumped the shark. I think it was when Don dropped acid on Mad Men, and when Bill declared himself a God on True Blood (but I confess I kept watching for the gratuitous male nudity until Sookie became the Fairie Princess Vampire or WTF ever.)

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