Inglorious Bast-turds

16 Jul

Turd is a 4-letter word that I much prefer over test. I promise, I am not talking about wiping bums today, but I do not feel ashamed in at least mentioning it. I would far prefer to clean up after someone who passed their bowels than take a pharmacology/physiology/issues of nursing test…ANY DAY.

I am a bit worn out on exam-taking today. This week. This month.

If there was a pie chart of my life, studying for exams would be disproportionately representative. I know that I need to learn this material in order to be a safe and effective nurse, but this method of tricky multiple choice testing day-in-and-day-out really takes a toll. That’s why going to the hospital this week was such welcome relief. Patience may be a virtue, but I am sadly lacking it when it comes to waiting for competence in nursing practice. Yesterday, however, reminded me why it is worth working for.

Our preceptor placed us with telemetry/cardiac monitor patients this week. In the RICU, this may seem like a step down in terms of hands-on learning since our patients weren’t dealing with tracheostomies and ventilators, but in terms of gleaning knowledge from our patients about their present illness, it was profoundly educational and emotional. This was my first patient that could actually speak to me!  More than speaking to me, she entertained me to no end.* Breathing was difficult, her energy was low, but her wit abounded. She was a total trip. She told a doctor that she was going to kick, ahem, his little “behind” if he didn’t get her off the drug that was causing her anxiety. While she was consulting with a palliative care doctor about possible treatments, her son was telling me all about her career working for the police department and before that, traveling with the army for close to 20 years. In a break from talking with the physician, her son asked, “Hey mom, what’s your favorite gun?” Without missing a beat (quite a feat on a 50%-O2 saturation partial face mask) she responded, “M-16 and M-19,” then she turned back to the doctor and continued conversing about her treatment. I was momentarily shocked that this little tiny lady had not only handled a gun, but that the names of her personal “favorites” had tumbled from her lips as easy as 1,2,3. Previously, we had spoken about salsa dancing and I had pegged her as a dancer in her former life, but that clearly wasn’t all… She is quite a character. Unfortunately, her condition doesn’t promise a quick recovery: sigmoid colon cancer, pancreatic cancer that quickly metastasized to the liver, bones and lungs. For this reason, my day with her was quite bittersweet. I was able to talk to her about her life and illness, take my time in giving a bed bath which she and I both thoroughly enjoyed, and also meet one of her incredible children who moved here from different state barely a week ago to be with her in the hospital. I was able to understand her condition (an achievement in itself) but this also opened my eyes to the possibility (or reality) that she will most likely not be leaving the hospital with her son. This is a hard pill to swallow.

When I left the hospital yesterday, though, I wasn’t sad. Maybe my residents helped me understand death and dying a little better. There was a part of me that was sad for her and her family. But I was able to compartmentalize that sentiment and also recognize another emotion: elation. At 6am that morning, I left the house as a Negative Nelly, feeling down-in-the-dumps over another upcoming test, compounded by a serious sleep deficit. But at 3:30pm, as I left the hospital even more weary, I had a completely different outlook. Again, my patient reminded me why I am here. It made me so excited to learn more, even if it means test-anxiety, some more sleepless nights, and even the monotony of studying on a Friday night. It’s only a few more weeks until August, and then it’s three weeks OFF!

In honor of my impending cooking-fest, I will post a recipe that I found the time to make the other day and ADORED.

Eggs Nesting In Tomatoes On Toast

Adapted slightly from A Cozy Kitchen

Serves 4 (maybe…)

  • 4-5 eggs (separated, reserving 2 of the whites for another use)
  • 1/8-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • ½-1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 24-oz can of whole tomatoes (San Marzano highly recommended)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 Tbsp of chopped fresh basil (I’m growing mine on my fire escape!)
  • 4 slices bread–whatever you have on hand, toasted

In a cold medium skillet, combine the oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano.  Turn on the heat and warm over medium heat until the garlic begins to become fragrant (without browning), about 2 minutes.

Raise the heat to high, then use your hands to “crush” each tomato into the pan. (I used a fork/finger to pierce them because the squirt-factor was out of control. Beware of your cute t-shirt, it is in danger!) Season with salt and pepper.  Fry the tomatoes, continuing to break them up with a fork. Cook until they concentrate and no longer look watery (5-7 minutes).

Lower the heat to medium and stir in the egg whites.  Cook until the whites become opaque and firm, thickening the tomato sauce, about 1 minute.

Turn off the heat. Using the back of a spoon, make 4 indentations in the sauce, allowing a few inches around each.  Nestle an egg yolk into each indent.  Pull the sauce in from the edges of the pan so that it cradles each of the yolks.  Cover the skillet and leave it on the stove, heat off, until the yolks are just warmed through and beginning to set, about 3 minutes for runny yolks.

Gently spoon some sauce and a yolk onto each piece of toast and serve immediately. Use a large spoon, perhaps lightly oiled, to pick up a nestled yolk without breaking it. Enjoy for breakfast, lunch, snack, or dinner. Or another special occasion time (plucking your eyebrows??)

*information changed & withheld to protect patient identity


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One response to “Inglorious Bast-turds


    September 15, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    I looove eggs on days that I am plucking my eyebrows… I clear my calendar all day in fact 😉


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