The 1st week of Early.

Last week began the time where I get the pleasure of opening the pharmacy 3 out of the next 4 weeks! One of the other pharmacists will be there with me, and this past week I played the role of our technician that was out on vacay. We would arrive and turn the lights on and the alarm off (which is a bit strange to have the power to do p.s.), then start heating water for making kits, get the messages off the machine, and start eluting the generators. The goal is to have all this finished within the first 30-60 minutes so that we are getting down to business around 0200 (yeah, that's two A.M.!)

I spent the week starting off the morning doing a little quality control on all the dose calibrators to make sure they are consistently reading the amount of radioactivity we're throwing down the hole and then I would draw doses for about 2 hours. Moving on to quality control for all the kits we made (to make sure they'll give nice pretty pictures for everyone) and then snack time! Around 0600 we'd do it all again, repeat, repeat, repeat.

As for sleeping, I did really well (almost, I'll get to that)! I stayed up all day and night Sunday and then slept all day after work. Surprisingly, I managed to get about 6-ish hours of sleep everyday, during the day, without even making the bedroom a cave. Then I'd get up in the afternoon/evening, go workout, and stay up all night. They only I really had trouble with is food -- still need to figure out when to eat, and what -- oh, and Thursday. So the big boss man (read owner of the company) called the beginning of the week and told us one pharmacist from CLT would need to go to Asheville Friday to cover. Since there are only three of us, and a minimum of two are needed to work a day, I got bumped to the day shift for Friday. T had Thursday off so I thought we could spend a day together doing whatever we wanted. Note to self, a 3 hour nap in one 24 hour period ≠ fun, happy Zan. Needless to say I was sent to my room multiple times to take more naps and will be planning a "sleep day" at the end of my early weeks.

Now to work the weekend and then the early shift again next week! Still loving it, still need LOTS of improvement, still grateful for a very understanding Thomas!


Put your lead-lined big girl panties on!

-my mother

A little over two weeks ago, on a Friday, there was a big change in my life. I turned my employee badge in to my supervisor and left the hospital for the last time as an employee. I'd worked there for almost 7 years; it was strange. I took the weekend to relax by myself while Thomas worked his first weekend in over 2 years. The next Monday, I got up an hour earlier than usual, and drove to my new job as a nuclear pharmacist!

I've wanted to be a nuclear pharmacist since high school, since I was 16, and there I was, walking in to the place that was my new home. Ten minutes later, the boss wanted me to get in the hood and draw doses. It had been about 18 months since I had drawn a dose and I just bumbled around with the syringe shield and tongs trying to get things straight. He could tell I was nervous and said, "Here's some saline, you can play with it later."

The first day I hit generators (washing off the radioactivity so we could use it), reviewed how to make kits and ship out packages. We talked about the schedule and being on-call and learning to judge how much time you'll need to send out a dose. And we talked about some of the new responsibilities I'll have in this job. I'll be in charge (really, really in charge, not like at the hospital where there were a couple levels of management and 15 other pharmacists that had been there longer than me to be in charge), and I'll get the opportunity (have to) precept some of the students we have (p.s. we have 11 coming between now and next April, not including the one here already! and the summer intern), and I'll also have the opportunity to conduct radiation safety audits at a series of heart clinics in town (they pay us to be their radiation safety officers). Wow.

The second day, we all learned how to set up and run the emergency power generator! There had been a bad storm (though not as bad as the one this weekend resulting in tornados) and it knocked out the power at the lab. I walked in and everything was dark in the front offices. The lab in the back was running, so we got all of our doses out on time, but it was a bit of a mess. Presby had definitely taught me to roll with the punches and find the gap where help is needed and fill it. I helped package a few doses to be sent out, but mostly stayed out of the way until things were caught up. Yay adventures in your first week!

Two weeks have gone by and I'm starting to feel more comfortable. I'm not dropping things (everyday) anymore and I'm learning to multi-task in a whole new way. I'm sleeping (so far) and I'm still pumped about this! It feels really good to be excited about my job again.


The Holidays

This year was the first year Thomas and I celebrated The Holidays together. It was a great and exhausting whirlwind of family and friends, parties and presents, and overall happiness with a little bit of awkwardness thrown in.

Thanksgiving was fairly simple. My dad's step-sister put everyoneon notice last March or April that she wanted to do a big Thanksgiving at her house and all were invited. There were about 16 of us, grandparents, parents, siblings, cousins, roommates, fiances, and friends. It was a great dinner with turkey and the usuals plus some scrumptious appetizers (my favs were the stuffed mushrooms and Mom's pumpkin dip).We came, we ate, we saw the beautiful house, and we all wanted a nap! Thomas and I went over to his parents' house for a little bit afterwards. His mom picked a girl movie to watch (Pretty Woman, I think) and since Thomas had no desire to watch it, he baked cookies instead! Best way to end a lovely holiday!

The Christmas holidays were a lot more hectic. We had about seven (or 8 depending on how you count) parties/family gatherings to attend in three days. Whew! It started off with the Dumpling Party. A high school friend of Thomas's brother and his family throw
a dumpling making party every year. We all come over, spend an hour or so making dumplings and then eat them! We made a ton, but they do not last long at all! Thomas and I had to leave early to go to Mark's small family party and start the gift giving off right! My brother got 2 out of three parts of a three piece suit,my aunt got a new Kindle, Mark got a new pot, Thomas and I got dance lessons, and we all laughed harder than we had in a long time!

Christmas Eve Day we went out to Tryon, NC for Mark's big Leatherman family Christmas party. This was the first time Thomas met by extend family on that side and finally got to join in one of our largest holiday traditions. He was in introduced to Aunt Frances's cookies and
had a few chats with the cousins before gifts were given out and names drawn for next year. Adding a new name to the hat is always a big deal, and proves there's no turning back now! We hopped back in the car and back on the road to the big Choiniere Christmas party. There were friends and food all over (and a few dumplings from the night before, though they were quickly snatched up!). The guys decided to play a practical joke on one of the family friends by dressing like him in sweater vests and bow ties. The joke was on them, however, when the guest strayed from his typical party attire and just wore a button down shirt this year! They had fun with it though!

Once the night wound down, Thomas and I headed home and to bed so Santa could come. We got up early and opened our stockings full of chocolates, Star Wars pancake molds, concert tickets, and a travel BattleShip game set (I know, I'm an awesome Santa). We had wonderful gifts from my father's side of the family to open as well, including an Xbox Kinect! We headed to my family's Christmas morning to open more stockings and gifts with my parents, brother, and grandmother; and to have my favorite breakfast of the year: Moravian Sugarloaf! Then it was off to Winston-Salem for the big Choiniere family gathering. Cousins, aunts, uncles, and desserts were present in massive amounts all of which made for a lovely afternoon (oh and the snow that was falling looked pretty but made the driving more of a pain). They have a white elephant gift exchange at the party which made for some pretty funny moments, some gifts were great, others - anyone would try to get rid of! As we headed off back to Charlotte, Thomas's grandmother gave me a special gift from herself and Thomas's grandfather. It made me feel so welcomed into there family! Once back in Charlotte, we had Thomas's immediate family Christmas (along with our favorite Chinese food for dinner) and watched a movie or two.

And after all that: we celebrated my mom's birthday!! We had a great lobster dinner and more family time before Thomas and I had to return to the adult working world for about a week! For New Year's Eve, Thomas and I had some friends over to celebrate (and show off the townhouse few have ever seen). We booted up the Xbox Kinect and it was a HUGE hit. We were hang-gliding, boxing, going on adventures, and dancing up a storm! People came and went to ours and other parties and at the end of the night we had a nice prosecco toast to ring in the new year! Here's to 2011 and all the great parties to come!!

Happy Holidays 2010 from the future Choinieres


Wallpaper vs. Desks

According to my parents, and some of the ladies at work, the ultimate "couple/team building" experience is wallpapering together. If you two can communicate and survive hanging wallpaper in a room in your house, you're set for life.

Thomas and I don't have a house yet. Even if we did, wallpaper is not my favorite decorating medium; and since I hate painting, I doubt wallpaper would fall in any category remotely close to fun. Thomas and I build furniture. Since moving in to our townhouse apartment, we have built 1 book shelf, 1 DVD cabinet, 1 desk, 1 credenza, 2 hutches, and an office chair. We are no longer shy of items listed as "some assembly required" that really translates to "all assembly required."

We started off with many boxes that looked like this:

And now we have things that look like this:

That is at least our combined DVD collection. And we still have room to add more!!

The best thing about the office, and Thomas, is I left for work with it looking like the above photos. Only the desks in the room. When I came back, it looked like this:

I'd like to thank the delivery guys for bringing in all those boxes, the drill and extra battery for the ability to screw screws faster, Thomas for filling up two bookshelves with his books, and my 8th grade Shop Trophy for making this room possible!


Way overdue for an update!!

I'll do the updates in categories so you can easily skip to the part you're most interested in!!

Work: pretty ho-hum at this point. I've gotten better at order entry, but still don't feel entirely comfortable. And talking to doctors freaks me out, I don't know why I'm such a wuss. Drug shortages and low staff are the two major cons at work right now. We always seem behind and struggling to keep up with the work to be done because we don't have enough people. They're trying to hire more, but in the meantime the powers that be are making changes to weekends and "on call" responsibilities that has everyone griping a little more. One a positive note, due to a drug shortage for one of the TPN (IV nutrition) products, they have picked only a few pharmacists to make TPNs throughout the shortage. Yours truly has been picked as one of the lucky ones to deal with the increasingly complicated order set! I'm sure there will be times I will get frustrated with the new process, but it was a HUGE confidence builder during a week that I really needed one and I am thankful for that.

Housing: Thomas and I have MOVED! We are now living together (hey, I have a ring on my finger!) in a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse apartment about 10 minutes away from both hospitals (and 5 minutes from one set of parents, 15 to the other). We LOVE it!! We've been here about 3 weeks now and many rooms are put together. Every time we set a new piece of furniture I get excited about the life we're putting together for ourselves. Our biggest challenge left: the office, and hanging all the artwork.

Life: I've had the opportunity to visit with different friends every weekend for the last three weeks and it has been awesome! Kappa Delta started a new chapter at NC State and I was there for bid day when about 130-ish women put on new KD letters. It was a sight to see!! My friend Megan from Georgia came this past weekend. We hit the movies and Discovery Place, a hands-on science museum I've loved since I was a kid. Thomas and I also took her to Yama, our favorite sushi place! T and I are looking forward to getting settled in and trying to find some new neighborhood friends soon (and kids trick-or-treating this year!)

and Wedding: Its less than 300 days away! We've made so much progress since I last posted about this. We have our date (July 30, 2011) and venue/caterer, our florist, invitations, dj, photographer, dresses, ceremony music ideas, and themes worked out! We'll be pulling a lot of inspiration from Paris and I want lots of bright colors! Flowers will include lilies (the first flower Thomas ever gave me), white roses (for KD), snap dragons, calla lilies, hydrangeas, belles of ireland, jasmine, hypericum berries, and probably more things I can't remember. We've also set up a wedding website with details about the day. We'll be updating it with information about hotels and things to do in town as we get closer!

Happy October everyone!


Another first day

Today was my first day as an order entry pharmacist on my own. It was a pretty good day. We still haven't finished our clinical training, so other pharmacists took care of my renal (kidney function) monitoring sheets for me. I would have liked to try to do them on my own because I've watched pharmacists do them quite a bit, and because I'm going to have to learn to do them on my own soon anyways, but it was nice to not have to do them today.

The day started off a little slow, and I didn't get too many phone calls interrupting my train of thought. I did still have lots of questions though. By lunch time, however, as the trend has been, my little world exploded with phone calls and difficult orders. Order sets for IV heparin (an anticoagulant that can be very dangerous if given as an overdose) almost always have something missing that I have to call a nurse and/or doctor about and then are just confusing to enter. I seem to get those a lot just before lunch.

Last week was also a good week. On the days I was training on order entry, I was able to actually enter orders all day instead of having to let my trainer do it because we were so busy. I'm starting to recognize things I've done before, and to recognize problem orders sooner.

In other fun, non-work related news, Thomas, Mom and I went to a bridal showcase this weekend and got lots of cards and flyers. Mom and I have Friday off before I work the weekend and have set up appointments with florists for this week and next. Also, Thomas bought his very first BRAND NEW CAR!!! He got a 2011 Toyota Camry XLE in a beautiful blue color. It looks really nice and he's happy to have a car he's not worried about falling apart anymore. He took me for a spin around the block and now I'm ready for a road trip!


Some wedding things...

As I wait for my room to cool off so I can workout, I'll share some wedding plans with you. We've picked a date: July 30, 2010 and a venue: the Charlotte Country Club. I've picked a dress for me and my 'maids! Even Mom has found a dress already! We're making little decisions here and there, but each one makes me feel accomplised (that is until I look at the planning manual and realize all the other decisions to be made!)

Thomas and I think we have the wedding party set and our friends and families are very excited to be a part of our day. Last weekend we went out to the Club to meet with our event planner and to see how they were setting up for another wedding. It was super helpful to see the rooms set and to start thinking about where we want tables, and how many, and what kinds. And to do the math to make sure we can fit enough chairs in the room for the ceremony and that sort of thing. Our event planner also gave us their Preferred Vendor List. We don't have to use those folks necessarily, but they do have more experience working with them so it narrows the field a bit.

So, decisions made: venue (and caterer), clothes for the girls, photographer, and shape of the wedding cake (and possibly another dessert surprise)!
Decisions left to make: officiant, boys clothes, baker, flowers, music, menu.....lots! Good thing we're going to a Bridal Showcase in a couple of weeks!