Always carry a bikini in your purse

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Photograph of a TheBus 40' Gillig Phantom bus ...

TheBus in Honolulu near the intersection of Beretania and Bishop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, I can breathe. At least until tomorrow. I flew last night to Oahu for my second MPJE exam in a week. Last Saturday, I took the one for New Mexico, and today I took the one for Washington state. It all started out on a positive note…..

I arrived at Honolulu International Airport in the afternoon, with my purse and briefcase on wheels. I was spending the night, but I figured I didn’t need a full change of clothes….just a couple shirts and a bikini folded into my purse. Always be prepared! Walking up to the bus stop, I spotted a man I work with on a project. I use that phrase loosely, since I didn’t even remember his name. He was fiddling with his iPhone. “Aloha,” to which his reply was, “The bus comes at 5:51.” It seems he found some cool way of tracking the buses on his phone.

As luck would have it, we sat next to each other on the bus, across from two military boys who had evidently not been whooped into shape enough during boot camp. These boys were straight from the midwest, had never been on a city bus, were probably excited about the nightlife in Waikiki,

and were loud and obnoxious. Eight-year-old boys on a big field trip, but with tons of testosterone.

I reintroduced myself to the “bus keeper,” and we talked the best we could given the ruckus around us about a grant just released by CMS, and somehow about the school his son goes to. It’s for dyslexic and/or gifted children. In fact, he moved to Oahu so his son could go there, but he works all week on Maui while his wife stays on Oahu. Now, that’s Dad of the Year, in my books! He said a few times that “it’s really expensive.”

It’s called Assets, and I intend to look into it. While I want to stay on Maui, the prospect of a job is slim to none. My daughter is highly gifted and the typical underachiever.  Not only did he (his name is Tony) turn me on to a grant and Assets, he also turned me on to a website for tracking the buses on Oahu. If you Google “the bus”, you will find the website. The buses each have gps on them, so you can find out real time how far they are from you.

Next adventure, the hotel. I had no idea where I was staying, but I knew it was in the outskirts of Waikiki….Equus, boutique hotel. Hmmm.. The front desk seemed nice enough, with a waterfall audible in the background. The desk clerk gave me my key, said to head back out and around the building to the high rise in the back. He pointed to the security code for the building and told me I was on floor 26. Whoa! 26?! I have been on Maui too long. I did what he said, but was a bit confused. High rise doesn’t sound “boutique” to me.

Western Sushi found at Wegmans Supermarket

I found my room, and it was a tiny condo with kitchenette. The bed was a Murphy, and I almost tripped on it trying to walk by, given the 12 inches of clearance between it and the wall. It wasn’t beautiful, but it had a stove, so I could boil water for my Throat tea, and it had a great view of the city. Sushi sounded good for dinner, so I searched Places on my phone and decided to head toward Waikiki a block or so.

When I found the building, there wasn’t the sushi restaurant I found, but something much better! It was Aloha Sushi, with everything to go. Hot dog! I was in business! One spicy ahi and some poke nigiri, all wrapped up, and I headed back for my last study session.

I set up my computer so I could face the city lights and the ocean and got situated with notes and sushi. Suddenly, fireworks went off right in front of me!  Boom! Boom! I had my very own show for 3-5 minutes. Honestly, the timing couldn’t be better, and I took it as a good sign.

I had a hard time falling asleep that night. Spinning in my mind were all kinds of business ideas. The whole plan was laid out, and I battled whether to get up and write it down or stay in my meditative state and hope that I would both fall asleep and remember everything the next day. I decided to stay in bed, but I might as well have gotten up.

The room next to me housed some young, rowdy females up for a good time, and they traipsed in and out of their room every few minutes. They were obviously drunk by the fact they were practically yelling to each other in the linoleum hallway that was ten feet long from the elevator to both of our doors. I cracked my door and grunted “some people are trying to sleep,” which they ignored. A call to security seemed to work, or they were just too busy praying to the porcelain god or passed out. Regardless, I finally got about 4 hours of sleep.

“Yes, but how did the test go?” you ask. Well, I made it there early, was finishing my second pint of coffee and feeling the haze lift.

Regular Starbucks Coffee tumbler, as sold in 2...

Regular Starbucks Coffee tumbler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I felt okay going into it, really (that’s what they all say). Plus, I had locker #3 (my lucky number), and then I was seated at desk #3. That just had to be a good sign! Fourty questions into the 90 question exam, I realized I was almost on time (meaning I had no grace time), and that I clearly didn’t study well enough for this one OR the last one. About 1/3 of the questions warranted a WTF?! from me. I honestly don’t know how they come up with these scenarios.

I left the test center last week feeling like most people leave. “No way I passed that exam.” After today, I left feeling completely dejected, so I did what any girl would do. I went to Ala Moana Shopping Center and bought myself some perfume.

Then, I headed to the beach, plopped down my briefcase and purse, changed into my bikini, and got me the first dose of sun in two weeks. After timing myself and flipping like bacon, I rocked a few downward dogs, pigeons and headstands.

Back to the mall for some shoes on clearance (not much makes a girl happier when she is down). I managed to catch my flight on time, where I wrote down some great notes about what I needed to do this next week. Now, here I am, sitting on my lanai with twinkling lights above me, a glass of wine to my right, a soft tropical breeze, and this hacking cough I can’t get rid of.  Tomorrow is a little “me time” before I catch up on the rest of my life….

APEC-Day 2

I am writing this after the fact, so not clear on everything, but it will mean a shorter blog, which you might like! 🙂

We got to the hotel, but I wasn’t ready to lie down and thought I might get some sun, maybe some food. Well, the pool was not inviting and still in the shade. I showered up and couldn’t believe how dirty I had gotten just overnight! I opened up Maps on my kicky new Droid phone, and it said that a mall was 0.6 miles away. I could do that! So, I set out in the only clothes I had, a bikini covered with shorts and a tank top, plus slippahs of course. It was hot, and it was way longer than the map said. I ended up turning into a military community. I was staying at the Ohana Airport right next to the airport, and hence right next to the military base. Being that I had seen Thrive a couple days prior, it was weird to walk up on this “perfect” little oasis, full of fast food. Yep, there was one shop for clothes (cheap clothes), one phone store, and lots and lots of places to eat. Nearby, was a supply store, a car wash, and a golf course. Up the street, was a little military community. Yes, the sign said that. They all drove around in their nice SUVs and mustangs, filling their bellies with fried food, convincing themselves that Jamba Juice is actually healthy for them, and THEY NEVER HAD TO LEAVE. The government set it up for them so they never had to reach outside of their little oasis. God forbid.

I got some food and quickly headed back to the hotel, where I proceeded to pass out. I couldn’t remember the last time a pillow and a sheet felt so amazing….. I was woken after two hours of deep sleep by some local guy guffawing outside by the pool. He had to have been drinking, because he wouldn’t stop!! Honestly?? I couldn’t sleep anymore, so I cleaned up and headed out for coffee. I was stopped by a man in military uniform (Army?), who said I had to take an alternate route, as the road was blocked off for a good hour. Wow. That was good though, because I ended up finding a Starbucks close by that just happened to be near Ninja Sushi. They have such awesome rice!! I was craving lettuce, some type of roughage after so much time of Lara bars and pizza toppings and coffee. Not the best diet, certainly.

The shift was largely uneventful. The day shift had put up a sheet in the large med tent and watched Blackhawk Down. The guy who brought the projecter also brought a popcorn machine. The full on MASH experience! He took both back though, so we didn’t get to join in that fun. We did some training on the ultrasound, and I had my blood drawn for the demonstration of the iStat. Cool stuff!

Afterward, I went back to the pharmacy tent and put my feet up. They were swelling something awful. At midnight, my birthday started, and it seemed I would be sleeping through it, but at 4 minutes to midnight, the door opened….

APEC 2011- Day 1

Today was spent mostly getting prepped for APEC. Sad, but true. I wanted to make sure: 1) my place would be okay for two days; 2) I had taken care of stuff like my student loans that went into repayment this weekend; 3) I had things in place just in case something bad actually happened on Oahu.

Keely was with her friend, so I didn’t have to worry about her. I did make sure to go by and give her several big hugs though. She thought I was crazy, and I was thinking that it could be the last time I saw her if anything went wrong. I know it probably sounds silly, but after seeing Thrive, and thinking that just the next night, on an isolated little island in the middle of the Pacific, some of the most powerful people on the world were convened…..it was possible stuff could go wrong.

My flight left at 6pm, and I was there too early. I saw a guy in the DMAT shirt, so introduced myself. His name was Leo, and we would hit it off over the weekend. Us Maui folk have to stick together! We flew into Honolulu, took a shuttle to our hotel and checked in, then was shuttled by other DMAT folk to HQ where I got some military issue pants and an official shirt, and then off to our site. WOW! I would have gotten pics of the whole site, but it was already nighttime (our shift was 9pm to 9am). The day crew had put up a decontamination tent, a triage tent complete with cots and first aid kits, another tent for non-critical patients, and then 2 adjoined tents for the critically ill. It was amazing how much was set up. We also had the pharmacy completely separate.

There were DMAT folks from Washington (Seattle area) on deployment as well. The youngest of them had a birthday, so we started off the night with a cupcake cake, complete with candles, singing, and a Hawaiian gift of a grass skirt and coconut bra. Yes, he wore them, and I helped him get into them! Images from episodes of M.A.S.H from my childhood kept flashing through my head. All the team members were ready to be put to work, and we had 17,000 doses of doxycycline and ciprofloxacin that needed to be separated. And I was in charge. I gave one of the gals several boxes of small envelopes and the labels for the doxy. By the time I got into the tent where they were all working, one each to a cot, they had finished a large portion. I then started recruiting people to come and separate and pack the doses. Things were going so fast I could hardly keep up. I was amazed at the level of teamwork, and the POWER of so many people working together for the same goal. 

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At some point after midnight, pizza came, and most people kept on working. By 2:30am, I finally had the pharmacy to myself, and I laid my head down to sleep, but it was freezing cold and uncomfortable. I woke up around 5am to people outside talking around coffee and malasadas. I must have been dead asleep, because I was stumbling trying to walk to the bathroom….on the far end of the dark parking lot. Eyes were puffy and hair mussed… definitely not a good night’s rest. We made sure everything was clean for the next shift, then headed to our hotel at 9am….. and that’s where another day starts and this one ends….

PIP and PEEP

Today, I flew to Oahu for beginning and advanced ventilator training in preparation for APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation). As a member of DMAT, I will be deployed to Oahu for the event in case of a disaster. When you have some of the largest economies in the world on one small island, there is always a risk of something disastrous happening. I am hoping for the best, but glad to be able to do my part.

So, I spent the day with several other healthcare providers learning the ins and outs of a ventilator and all of the settings we might need in different situations. We each had our own, complete with a little 5-fingered blue lung. We had to manually adjust our PEEP, which was a bit awkward, but I feel I learned a good deal. During our break, I went through my fingerprinting, which is done with a red chemical, and when the card is heated, it sets the fingerprints. Pretty interesting, and definitely tedious. At the conclusion of the day, I finished up some final paperwork, had my mug shot taken for my badge, then was handed the list of meds they will have at APEC. I definitely have to review a lot of those meds, especially the ones used for RSI (rapid sequence intubation). Next step, OAHU.

Aimless

I drove around Oahu all day today with no real plan but to see the island. It ended up being a bit of a bust. I didn’t go skydiving, nor did I go into the ocean (my reef cut isn’t totally healed anyway). I saw all shores, and they are certainly better than Honolulu, but need to hang out with a local who can show me the sights.

You CAN take the city out of the girl

Staying in Honolulu for a couple days, and the traffic is driving me crazy. Last night, driving through Waikiki drove me to tears. Yes, this girl who used to thrive on the hustle and bustle of San Francisco and Boston is reduced to a blithering mess when confronted with the absurdity of Waikiki roads. Honolulu? I’ll pass, thank you.

Roll With It

Sometimes, life pushes you in a certain direction, and if you just go with it and do your best, even when you feel like you could drown soon, it turns out great. Example: I was invited to speak at a conference recently for the Critical Access Hospitals Quarterly Meeting. I hadn’t drawn a consensus on what to do it on, and when I realized it was on Oahu, I called to tell the guy that we didn’t have the funds. His response was to buy me a plane ticket. I was committed, and I didn’t have much time left. Somehow, it all came together, but I was burning the candle at both ends. The day of the presentation, I was supposed to catch the first flight out (6:09am). Well, I woke up at 5:50am. Boy, was I glad I had packed everything! Thanks to the corporate nature of the reservation, I was able to catch the next flight out. When I parked at the airport, there was a full rainbow in front of me, and I knew it was going to be a good day. I made it to the hotel on time, thanks to a new friend (let’s call him M&M), and the presentation went well. In fact, I was offered a job at two places and asked to speak at a national conference next year. Wow! That gave me a real boost.

I met my new friend M&M for a bit afterward, then met with a friend of mine from Oahu later. He is a photographer and wanted to check out a new underwater casing for his camera, so he asked if I wanted to be his underwater model. I have been wanting to do that for some time, and how fun is that?! It was a blast, and a great way to end a very stressful few days. We watched the sunset from a peak afterward, then caught dinner and drinks. It was a one-day event, and a very long night. I crawled out of the bed the next morning, prepping for a day of meetings. My day again started with a large rainbow. The last meeting of the day was with a possible preceptor for the residency who works with the Department of Health. I think it’s going to be an amazing experience, and I left very excited about the opportunities available to us.

Last night, I must have washed up to shore, because I slept a long 12 hours. I just didn’t seem to want to get out of bed. The stage had been set for something very exciting. I am so glad I went through with the presentation, as uncomfortable as I was, and I am so glad I pushed the meeting the next day to happen. Sometimes, you just have to roll with it, and you don’t realize the value until you are done being tossed around. You just have to trust in the process.

Random

Just random thoughts:

It’s really hot and muggy this week. Add to that the fact that I don’t want to run the AC in the car because gas is $5/gallon, and it makes for a pretty sweaty situation.

My daughter keeps interrupting me, and it’s driving me crazy.

I enjoyed talking about medications and varying bioavailability between brands with my endocrinologist today.

I am authorized to test for my New Mexico pharmacist license, and that has me tickled pink! Just have to study and find the time and money to fly to Honolulu to take the test. Next will be California and Washington, but those are just back ups in case I decide to move there next.

Only 9 days until I leave for California! That’s 10 days until I ship Keely off for a month, and 14 days until my presentation, which also means 14 days until I see my sweetheart.

I am going dairy free on top of already being gluten free. What next?

Despite this bunny not being able to run even a mile yesterday, and being really down yesterday and today, I had a decent run tonight.

I am excited about Keely and I doing a Stand Up Paddle (SUP) event this Saturday. It’s 3 miles downwind from Paia to Kanaha Beach, and then there are festivities, including a luau. I was even invited to a BBQ on the beach on Sunday! Finally making friends here.

Maui, How I Love Thee

Sheena and I spent the weekend in a truly bustling city. I couldn’t believe how crowded Waikiki and the surrounding area was! Thankfully, most of our weekend was spent in the hotel, where it was mellow. Although mellow, the ideas were flowing, and some great discussions and tentative plans took place.

When we got back to Maui, there was a calm lull all around, even in the airport. I appreciate Maui even more now, and know there will always be a special place in my heart for the island. Like they say, Maui No Ka Oi.