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Sort of a Q&A

I am doing a pretty poor job of keeping people’s names with their questions, so some of these are just gonna be general responses to topics I’ve been getting questions about! 

Dry Eyes

Some of you had asked about the eye mask I’m using for my dry eyes, wondering how it helps.

opts dry eye mask.

My dry eyes are actually a result of my skin being so greasy. (Err….self-moisturizing.)

It’s a little counter-intuitive, but it’s true. There are little glands in your eyelids (meibomian glands) that secrete oil, which is supposed to lubricate the surface of your eyes.

But my body produces so much oil, it clogs the glands, and then my eyes get dry. The dryness makes it hard to wear my contacts, which is why I often opt for my glasses.

Kristen smiling.

I usually have to go in to my eye doctor’s office once a year for a special heat treatment they do to unclog the glands, but at home, I can wear my little eye mask every night for about ten minutes to help soften the clogs and get the oils out. 

So if your dry eye issues are from the same cause as mine, the microwaveable mask can help. But if your problem is due to something like your eyes not producing enough tears, then I don’t think the mask is recommended as a treatment.

My eye doctor is able to look at my eyes through his instruments and actually see the tiny clogged ducts, so if you are wondering if you’ve got the same problem as me, I’d recommend paying your eye doctor a visit. 

(You can read more about meibomian gland dysfunction here.)

Upside-Down Days and Synesthesia

weekly plans.

aforementioned planning

When I showed my planner in a recent post, with my mornings at the bottom and my evenings at the top, Lee said, 

Kristen, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that they visualize mornings at the bottom of the page. What do you make of that? Have you always thought of it that way?

I have definitely always imagined my days this way and since I am such a visual thinker, I have a hard time working with a planner that doesn’t match what’s in my head.

I wrote a long time ago about my spatial sequence synesthesia, which is basically just a fancy way of saying that some people have a visual map in their heads for things, sometimes in shapes and orders that make no sense to other people! 

spatial sequence synesthesia drawings.

The paper on the right shows some of my visuals

I’ve read that synesthesia is considered to be a type of neurodivergence, and I recently learned that people on the autism spectrum are three times as likely to have synesthesia. 

I’ve never talked to an expert about this, because honestly, my synesthesia doesn’t really cause me issues. I can’t imagine thinking any other way, and I can’t imagine trying to remember things without all my visual maps in my head! 

The weird way my brain functions is working fine for me. 🙂 

Cooking and nursing

From yesterday’s post:

Have you thought about how your cooking/ frugality will change after you become a nurse? Your comment about not wanting to cook after being in class from 8:00 to 5:30 made me think of it. I understand not wanting to come home and cook after that, but when you’re working as a nurse won’t shifts at least that long be common?

Oh, for sure. My nursing shifts will probably be at least 12 hours long, and…I probably am not gonna feel like doing much cooking after that. 

chicken salad.

However, I know there are nursing jobs where you might work three 12-hour shifts, and then have four days off. So hopefully I can do some cooking ahead of time on the days off so that I can skip cooking on the work days. 

But I also am not opposed to planning to press the easy button sometimes, which is what I did Monday! I bought a rotisserie chicken, baked some frozen sweet potato fries, cut up some fruit, and called it good. 

A sheet pan of sweet potato fries.

I trust that I will figure it out, though. I’ve managed to be frugal and to cook at home consistently through a lot of different life situations (and a lot of challenges), so I think I’ll manage as a nurse too. 

Cooking at home is important to me for both monetary and health reasons (same goes for packing my lunch.) And when something is important to us, we usually figure out how to make it happen! 

If you want to watch me navigate all this, well, keep reading my blog. We know I’m gonna write about it. 😉 

Not being able to help

This is not a question, but I wanted to add it in. Adam Grant posted this the other day on Instagram:

“It’s not just seeing suffering that’s painful. It’s hurting for others while feeling unable to help.”

And I thought that summed up what is so hard about watching what is going on in Gaza. 

I read the news about the airstrike on the hospital yesterday, and I cried again. I was talking with my friend Kathleen, and I said, “I’m working my butt off to go to school to become one small nurse, to try to go save/improve a few people’s lives, and it almost feels pointless because at the same time, POOF, 500 lives were just snuffed out in an instant.”

Anatomy and Physiology textbook with a green cover.

I am powerless to overcome loss of this magnitude. Other than donating to organizations on the ground, I can’t do anything to help.

But after I cried about the hospital strike, I finished my enema/stoma lab homework. Because even in world where terrible violence exists, we still need nurses to take care of patients in mundane and ordinary ways. 


Got any input on these topics? I’d love to hear! 

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Michelle H

Friday 20th of October 2023

Glad that nursing school is going well - you will be an amazing nurse!

When I worked 12 hours shifts I did big batch cooking on my days off, and then used the extras for quick meals and lunches on work days. I started "filling the grill" after seeing one of your blog posts years ago, and having the protein already cooked and ready to use was a big help.

I packed lunch and snacks the night before, and always kept emergency food stashed in my work locker if something happened to my packed lunch. I only had 45 minutes for lunch, and didn't want to waste my time driving somewhere to get food. I'd much rather be able to relax!


Wednesday 18th of October 2023

I am super interested in your synesthesia! I work with people with autism, and so much of what I do is trying to figure out how their thinking/perceiving is different so that we can build a bridge from how the neurotypical world is presented and how they best understand it. Then building toolboxes to use as needed. There are so many cool ways to process things and I love helping people figure out their unique code, but I hadn’t yet thought about processing time from the bottom up like that. It totally makes sense, and now I’m not sure I can see it the “usual” way. Shall we petition apple and outlook to make a calendar option for bottom up? (Advocacy is a side effect of my day job :)

Anyway, on the nursing schedule, I think you’ll actually be fine, right now, you have the hours to do, plus the never quite finished pressure to study in all of your free moments, so I’m guessing that you’ll have more time and brain space when you’re finished with school. I AM interested in how you manage everything with an irregular schedule, since that’s one of the things I can’t change about my job either.


Wednesday 18th of October 2023

I don't think that buying Rotisserie chicken & sweet potato fries with fruit is a bad meal. Honestly, a Rotisserie chicken (from Sam's club in Michigan) is only $5 (which is less than $1/pound). and bonus it's already cooked. The important thing is to cook & eat meals at home which is cheaper than take out, mostly healthier.

I find it interesting that you said that your way of thinking/daily calendar is possibly related to the spectrum. As a former early childhood teacher we know that people learn (& remember) in different ways, sometimes a combination of ways of learning. Many people are visual learners & also put lists of importance for their day/schedule. Obviously your nursing is at the top of list/day which makes sense that you prioritize that time/afternoon & evening. The (physical) act of writing helps you mentally remember better & recall later. Glad that you know what works best for you.

As far as the events that are occurring in many places around the world, including the effects that happen here in USA the only answer that makes sense is to do what we can -- positively/help where you can & pray. I pray that for the best outcome & safety & peace.


Wednesday 18th of October 2023

Interestingly, no matter what has been going on in my life, I have always thought of days this day. I can remember as a kid thinking of my weeks this way! I really don't know why, and for a big portion of my life, I thought everyone else thought this way too. lol

Deborah Childress Desmond

Wednesday 18th of October 2023

I have to say, I love your posts. It is heartwarming to see you work so hard to accomplish your goals. I've worked as an HR leader in a hospital and now in senior living. Nurses are special and nurses who love what they do, are extra special. I watch the nurses who connect with our senior living residents and am amazed at the bonds they make with the resident and family members. I thank you for choosing this profession! So here is a recipe I tried this week that is not expensive and is good. Also, you can make swaps if you are vegetarian or like other meat. It will feed a family of 4. Add a little parmesan cheese and you are golden! Hang in there and keep that + attitude :-). Being mom, working and studying is not easy but it can be extremely rewarding. I speak from experience. Cheers!


Wednesday 18th of October 2023

Aww, thank you for your kind words!

Kim from Philadelphia

Wednesday 18th of October 2023

I’m a physician assistant in one of the poorest and most food insecure zip codes in Philadelphia. Often the issues my patients deal with (significant medical diagnoses) and their families deal with (poverty, violence, trauma, unstable housing, lack of food) is really overwhelming. It could be easy for me to say how can one person- who is trying very hard to care for them- matter? It does matter! It matters to them! It matters to me! And if sone of the things I do to help them change their lives for the better, then mission accomplished ☺️

You will make a huge difference in the lives of the patients you will care for, Kristen! They will be fortunate to have such an intelligent, competent, and caring nurse ☺️


Wednesday 18th of October 2023

Oh, I can imagine that sort of situation can be discouraging sometimes. I think your attitude is perfect, though, and that's the thought that keeps me going in the face of terrible tragedies in the world. I can't change the world, but I can change the world for one person (the patient in front of me).

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