Always carry a bikini in your purse


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….


Forever Friends

Today, I got to reconnect with a very special friend of mine Shane, someone I tell most friends about when relationships come up. I met him back in 2001 in Albuquerque, and we really hit it off, but I ended up putting my energy into the man who I eventually married. Meanwhile, Shane moved to Oahu with his partner in business and life. They lived there until just this year, and during those years, Shane and I kept in touch here and there. Usually, I connected when I had a crisis of some sort and needed some guidance. He has always been so balanced and truthful. In fact, the truth and honesty of what he says and does has been one of the most influential aspects of our relationship and has shaped how I deal with others in my life.

This year, he and his partner moved to Maui, just 3 miles from me. We haven’t had the opportunity to really hang out for the several months he has been here, but tonight we were able to catch up a bit. It was so nice, and almost like 10 years hadn’t passed. He looks much the same, but I think I have aged more. It’s interesting to see his dog Lexi, who is getting older. She was a puppy when I met him. I remember her bounding out of his pickup truck when I first met him. Now, she takes it easier, but she still has that playful energy and absolute devotion to Shane.

Shane is one of those special friends who knows all too much about me and loves me anyway. He will forever be in my life, and our relationship will continue to shape other relationships. Shane is a Forever Friend. The honesty and integrity we share is something I always strive to have in my intimate relationships. I am not sure how or why we ended up on the same island, in the middle of the Pacific, but I feel there is a reason. I hope that I can return some of the guidance and support he has given me over the years.

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… 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. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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….


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.

Disaster Time!

Disaster Medical Assistance System


Today was long and exhausting, but a total blast! I am a member of the Hawaii DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team), a federal group that responds to disaster situations, or stands by in case of a possible disaster (less often the case).  We had training on Oahu all day Sunday, and I learned so much! I met several of the Maui members at the airport waiting for the 6:20 am flight. Yes, that’s early! We arrived pretty early at Schoffield Barracks, so waited around until the other DMAT members arrived.

Everyone had on their khakis, black boots and blue DMAT shirts. I had on khaki pants, but a grey shirt. Thankfully, I remembered I have the MCHV (Maui County Health Volunteers) scrub shirt, so I looked somewhat official.  Still, it was obvious I was the newbie. Everyone was comfortable and joking, and many of them had known each other for some time, while several of us had only been to one training,….or none in my case.

Once assembled, we trekked on down a dirt road for about 10 minutes to an area with abandoned cinder block buildings that looked like they had been bombed. Strewn around were a couple blown up cars. This was a simulation of a small town that had been bombed or burned…something. The military used it for exercises, so our first directive was to NOT pick up anything to take home. There was a possibility of something ‘live’, and we didn’t want anyone blowing holes in their pockets. No souvenirs for us!

Our first task was to set up our BOO (Base of Operations), which was the med tent. It took all 30 of us coordinating, and it was very cool to see come together. If it were a real exercise, we even would have put in air conditioning. We then split up into three groups for different training sessions. The first one, I gowned up in PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for a possible chemical spill/warfare. We wore the full-on tyvek suit, rubber booties, double gloves, all taped shut, and then our PAPPR (the mask w/3 filters that would keep us alive). Definitely can’t imagine accomplishing much in those, let alone moving sick people down flights of stairs in an evacuation! BUT, that might be something we would have to do. Next station, we learned about some proper bandaging, but mainly about SALT triage. This begins to teach us to think about things in context of a disaster, vs a special trauma case. When you have very few resources, but hundreds of injured, triage is MUCH different. The last station, we went through some clinical scenarios, where we learned how to build an impromptu team of people with roles that hopefully matched with their qualifications. We had a couple ICU nurses, a physician, a pharmacist (me), a firefighter, and an EMT. Another group had a psychologist, which can be very helpful for the family that is worried about those sicker than them.

For lunch, we had Heater Meals. These are little boxed lunches with a special bag that heats up VERY HOT when salt water is added. You bundle it up, wait ten minutes, and you have a hot lunch! It’s bland, but it was novel and free. After lunch, we participated in a mock evacuation of a building. We didn’t know the situation going in, and we had to designate a team leader to coordinate all efforts. Glad I didn’t get that job! Everyone was very helpful, but there are a lot of things to keep in mind, and unless you have been a part of a real disaster exercise, you may not be ready. We had Rescue Randys that weigh 150 pounds each, as well as several volunteers to help us figure out how to best triage and manage an efficient and complete evacuation. After that, we took down the BOO and headed back to the airport, where I promptly grabbed a huge plate of nachos, some buffalo wings, and a beer with a couple of our Maui crew. What a great day!


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.

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.

Priority numero uno

So many things I wanted to do … I wanted to go to the State Board of Pharmacy meeting next Thursday and then stay the weekend. I was excited to meet up with one or two of the new residents, go skydiving, hang out with a new friend on Oahu, go hiking, etc. Then, I found out the meeting had been moved up one week. That’s this Thursday. I looked at going this weekend, and it was just too soon, too expensive. PLUS, my daughter has State Championships for swimming from Thursday to Sunday. That’s kind of important.

So, I got this reminder email about this TriLanai Three Hills road ride that is this Saturday. I have been wanting to do it for a couple months now, as I haven’t been to Lanai, it would be fun and different, and it would be good training for Cycle to the Sun. But, alas, Keely has State Championships, and her actual scheduled event is on Saturday night.

So, despite everything, I will end up staying here on the island, cheering on my little girl. When it comes down to it, she always takes precedence. There will be more opportunities to go to Lanai, numerous opportunities to go to Oahu, but this might be the only time she will compete in a State Championship. I want to be there for all of it.

280/333- Peering

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.