"All that I'm after is a Life full of Laughter...

As long as I'm laughing with you..."

Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's gonna be a Happy New Year...

So I guess the reason I quit blogging is because I haven't had much to blog about.

The blogs I follow are all about happy stuff...

Weddings. Babies. Jobs. Parties.
Been there. Not yet. HIPAA. Old.

In all honestly, 2011 really hasn't been a year I'll look back on with too many fond memories. I'm quite happy to see it go. Just in the last few hours I've lost most of a fingernail, sliced the same finger open with a steak knife, and broke my favorite shot glass- the one I bought in Spain while studying abroad in 2003.

Is it 2012 yet?

Not yet?


In HeathPack blog fashion, here's 2011 in pictures:

Valley Board Review in Orlando:

Me and Will turned 29 and 30, respectively:

Said goodbye to Ricki, seen at right of Smallz- loved for 14 years:

Escorted Julia to her first A-Day:

Watched tornadoes destroy my second home, as well as several other counties across the state:

Graduated from Samford's CRNA program:

Said goodbye to Boots- my first horse, loved for 19 years:

Passed Boards, becoming a CRNA:

Took a trip with my dad to check off a longtime dream for us both:

Celebrated 5 years of marriage to my best friend:

Welcomed my other best friend's twins into the world:

Started my first job as a CRNA:
(No picture, but definitely noteworthy, nonetheless)

Made the trip to Penn State:

Made the trip to UF:

Dressed up as the Phantom and Christine for Halloween:

Pepper-gated in Ttown:

Said goodbye to Will's Grandfather after a long battle with cancer:

Managed to take our least painful Christmas card picture yet:

Will graduated from UAB, finishing his Masters in Communication
(No picture since walking in the ceremony was out of the question... still awaiting the ceremonial arrival of the diploma in the mail)

And Christmas happened... between the insane amount of time I spent at the hospital due to record case numbers and lack of available vacation time, we crammed as much Christmas cheer into 3 days as possible:

If any of you are thinking that I left out something notable, I'm sorry. It's late and I'm exhausted from the last few weeks of work.

As we spend a relatively quiet New Year's Eve at home with the Pack (between Pack outbursts and breakdowns over fireworks, of course), we look forward to what 2012 has to offer. So far on the agenda is a trip to NOLA to watch our Tide fight for #14, my 30th b'day (facepalm nominee already), a trip to Boston to watch my brother-in-law Jack run in the Boston marathon, and making a roadtrip to Dallas to watch Bama play Michigan.

I'd like to say that my New Year's resolution is to get more sleep, but I'm supposed to start taking call this year, so I guess that won't really happen.

So I guess my resolution is this: to complain less and appreciate more. For all the trials and frustrations, find peace and blessing. It's vague, but it's what I need.

And I wish the same for all of you.

It's gonna be a... a happy New Year.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

#3- Boards

(This has taken forever to post because Blogger has decided it hates me...)

June 17, 2011.

AKA The Day My Life Stood Still.

At this point, on the eve of my last weekend of my last summer (ever... or at least until retirement... oh wait, yeah, ever...) it seems like that day was forever ago. But honestly, the whole experience was one of the most traumatic things I've ever been through.

Preface: My last day of anesthesia clinicals was April 27. I don't think I need to explain to anyone who happens across this blog what we went through over the next few days. I got a few weeks of hard-core studying in before graduation on May 13 (going backwards, but I'll try to post that tomorrow), and then my classmate Jessica and I were in what Will referred to as "nuclear study mode." We met in a Sunday School room at my chuch (major thanks to Liberty Crossing UMC) at 0830 and sometimes didn't leave until 1700 or after. We pretty much stayed on task with the schedule I made out earlier in April and still had a few extra days at the end, which was a pretty big deal for us.

Finally, on June 16, we took off for Marietta, GA. Yes, there are closer testing sites, but not many people take this exam so opportunities are limited. We snagged Chick-fil-a for lunch/supper (eating wasn't really a high priority that night), did a drive-by at the testing site (just to get an idea... you know, in case we were insane by morning), and holed up in the hotel room for the most intense 10 hours of studying yet.

After a few hours of "sleep," we packed up and headed for the testing site. One final pep talk at the door and we were signing in and being shown to our computers.
Reason #1 this place stunk: I've taken my share of standardized testing and know to dress in layers in order to be comfy no matter what the climate. Therefore, I had on scrub pants, a t-shirt, and merrells with a hoodie tied around my waste. Mr. Proctor Man informs me that if I want to take the hoodie in, I have to wear it. As I put it on, I'm asking, 'If I get hot, can I just take it off?' and he answers, 'not unless I come out of the room.' Why? Because their view of the room cannot be compromised. Seriously.

So Jessica and I are seated on opposite sides of the room but start the exam at roughly the same time. The actual questions are pretty much a blur... but here's the gist of the exam format. 100 questions, minimum, and computer-adaptive, meaning that I get one question at a time and the answer I choose determines the level of the next question I get (if I get TQ A correct, then I move up, etc). The goal is to stay above the figurative passing line. At the end of 100 TQs, the computer decides if A) I pass B) I fail C) I'm riding the fence and deserve more TQs- up to 70 more- before the computer makes a decesion. Oh, and 30 of the original 100 don't count for anything- they're TEST test questions... but the person taking the exam doesn't know which 30 they are. Oh and you have 3 hours in which to finish the thing. Awesome, huh?

So after 1.5 hours of thinking, "OMG I DON'T KNOW," "SERIOUSLY, WTF," and "Dear God, please get me through this" with almost every question, I reached #100. A calculation I had no idea how to do. Knowing that I might still have 70 questions to get through, I spent a moment trying to work through it before deciding to just guess (if I don't know it now, I won't know it 10 minutes from now either and then I'll have lost more time). I inhaled and hit the 'next' button.

The screen went black.

My heart stopped and I tried not to puke.

Mr. Proctor Man escorted me out to get my print-out prelim results. Mr. Desk Man slid the paper to me face down. I peeked...

And finally exhaled.


I started to sit down and wait for Jessica to finish her exam and : they don't let people who're waiting sit there. Me:"But it's raining outside and I rode with another girl who locked her car key in her locker!" Mr. Desk Man:"Want us to go get the locker key from her?" Me:"NO! She's taking the biggest test of her life- DO NOT BOTHER HER!" So I sat on the curb in the parking lot under a tree and waited. For an hour. FINALLY she came outside, I saw a slight smile as she said, "Holy Cow, how did this happen?!" We'd both managed to pass and after several ridiculously excited phone calls to friends, family and bosses, we hit up Dunkin' Donuts and headed back to our respective homes, where we promptly passed out for the rest of the day.

I can't even begin to explain the relief I felt with that paper in my hands. The whole way home, we'd pick up our prelim result pages and just start laughing. MONTHS of studying and it was finally over. We were Certified.

And of course The Paper went on the fridge:

So, number 3 on my 101 List: Become a CRNA- BIG FAT CHECK!!!

Monday, July 18, 2011



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sweet Second-Home

All the newspapers, blogs, and facebook posts in the world could not have prepared me for last Wednesday.

Just a week prior, the worst natural disaster our state has ever seen tore through Tuscaloosa before moving on to the Birmingham area, Shoal Creek Valley, and beyond. The epic tornado- and the many others that developed across Alabama- set records and no doubt gave meteorologists the set-up of a lifetime.

Will and I watched on TV as long as the live feed held... which was long enough for me to see the massive funnel stroll right by campus, down 15th Street towards McFarland and think, "This looks like a scene from Twister." Then the feed went black and we switched gears, preparing for it to hit Birmingham and wondering if Leeds was next.

I honestly don't know how it missed us.

Shoal Creek Valley just up the road from us wasn't so lucky. And neither were so many other small towns who, even today, are just getting help with supplies and volunteers.

I spent Thursday and Friday hanging on every facebook post and tweet because of the cell phone tower damage, fighting survivor guilt for only losing half of my butterfly bush and power for a few hours, and trying to wrap my brain around the extent of the damage and what I could do to help fix it.

Will and I transported supplies donated by my mom and Tim, a college friend from GA who was kind enough to split his donations with our area before moving on to Ttown. Will has spent hours in Shoal Creek Valley, gathering pictures and stories that bigger papers weren't even aware of while I brought hay and horse feel to the ASPCI.

Drops in the bucket.

That Saturday, a friend of mine from NICU posted that she needed nurses to help staff her 3 Red Cross clinics in Cullman. So Sunday morning 7 RN friends and I loaded up. When one of my classmates asked me what we were going to be doing, I realized that I didn't know either. She was concerned about being outside of her element- understandable for 8 ICU nurses used to having any and all monitoring equipment and medications at our disposal. I laughed and said, "Now's not the time to doubt yourself!"

This is some of what we found:

Cell phone tower bent like a pipe-cleaner.

What I believe is First UMC where my friend Peter used to pastor.

We didn't do much in terms of nursing- but we were there, so the clinics were open.

A few more drops in the bucket.

I was supposed to study Monday and Tuesday... boards coming up in June and all that jazz... distracted doesn't even begin to cover it.

Wednesday, after record-setting UMCOR training, we went with a group from LCUMC to Tuscaloosa to help remove debris from homes. We got our work order from First UMC downtown and headed down 15th Street toward Alberta. Everything looked completely normal until we hit McAlister's.


The other people in our van must think I'm mental because I cried.

That's right. That's DCH, plain as day, from 15th Street. That's not normal.

On our way back to get our second work order, we stopped at the 15th/McFarland intersection and had the following conversation:
W: "Huh. You really can see the Coliseum from here."
S: "Where?"
W: "Look through the Chevron."

We completed our second job in Holt- where the homeowner's only request was that we do our best to save his garden, which was under 2 huge trees- drove through this:

then went to the office of one of our volunteers, right off McFarland on 13th Street and next to this:

That's the Milo's Will and Peter, and sometimes Amanda and I, ate at every Tuesday night. (Also the site of one shopping cart liberation... no further comment...)

Proof of insane wind speed #1: a shingle stuck like a disc in the wall.

Proof of insane wind speed #2: Cars. Stacked.


I cried again when we left. As hard as it was to be there, it was harder to leave.
Tuscaloosa was the second place I ever lived.
I spent 6 years there- figured out what I really wanted to do with my life, met my future husband, started so many of the best friendships I still have, had some many stories and memories in those buildings.
That town and those people were there for me during some of the hardest times of my life.
I really grew up there.
And now... Will had a great analogy- it's like visiting a family member.

But not everyone gets that. The people in our van certainly didn't (most of them are Alabama transplants). I had a message conversation last Thursday with one friend, a current UA student, in which we both expressed frustration with people who seem to not notice or be affected by the devastation. We both understand that different people handle tragedy in different ways; that the grieving process is different for everyone. Neither one of us was to the point of "going back to normal" yet- we're probably still not. But we can donate and transport supplies, give our time to volunteer and our ears to listen, and use what strength God has given us to help clear away what's left of our neighbor's homes. And we can pray- for the families who lost loved ones and pets, for the leaders of the affected areas and the volunteers helping to recover and rebuild. And we can pray for patience. Patience with ourselves, patience with others, and patience with the process.

Because it's going to be a long one. And it's going to take a lot of drops to fill the bucket to back to the brim.

We may not live there now, but we did. And so many of the people that we love still do.

And we'll do what we can, where we can, until we're back.

Because we're Alabama.

Roll Tide.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I'll talk later about why, but I heard this song for the first time today and I thought someone else might need these words as much as I do right now.

Artist: Laura Story
Album: Blessings

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
As long as we have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Break is for wusses.

That's right. I said it.

I'll say whatever I have to in order to get through everybody else's beach pictures and "I just got up!" posts at 1000.

Wanna see what Spring Break looks like for an anesthesia student graduating in just shy of 2 months?

Yeah. That (and 26 more days of clinical at my favorite site) is my future until I take my certification exam in mid-June.

So until then, I'm in pep-talk mode. Our unofficial class motto is "MAN UP!" Our unofficial mantra is "It'll be fine."

And my official take on this week is "Spring Break is for wusses."


Friday, January 21, 2011

In case you were wondering...

... this is what the aftermath of a 12-hr anesthesia shift looks like.

I know I haven't written much lately- I've honestly been too lazy to explain anything so I let pictures do the talking for me. I'll try to muster up the energy to talk about some of the exciting things I've gotten to do lately, but in true procrastinator fashion, I'll do it later. :)