Almost week 6

September 29, 2007

I officially now know how to give someone an enema. I also, in theory, know how to stick a tube through someone’s nose and down their pharynx into their stomach.

I’m thinking maybe doing this to a mannequin is just, oh, SLIGHTLY different from doing it to a real person.


Oh BEETHOVEN. I love itunes shuffle. I think I might buy a keyboard with my security deposit from former landlord. I guess it wouldn’t be the most responsible thing to do with that money, but I miss playing the piano kind of a damn lot. It’s been a long time, and I have a guitar, but it’s just not the same (because I can’t play the guitar, mostly. Or sing. It’s fun when Sophie is here and we can harmonize while I strum badly, but it’s not the same alone. Although I do plan to keep working on it bit by bit).

I want a piano. And a keyboard would be sweet for this apartment – I don’t think trying to find an actual real piano to rent would be feasible, because I have various neighbors. With a keyboard, one that comes with speakers, I could turn it on really soft or use headphones. My fingers feel itchy and restless, and even though I probably won’t play every day, it really would kind of be like scratching an itch. I have the piano itch.

E went to see Bob Dylan (and Elvis, and Amos Lee) last night in MD. I got a phone call around 9:30 my time and listened for a minute to a breaking-up, staticky noise with the occasional guitar-sounding sound and some vague growly ones that I knew must be Dylan singing, and after I hung up I got a text message that said, “I held the phone up during Blowin’ in the Wind! Could you hear?” Even though I really couldn’t hear, it made me happy.

I wish I could just transfer everyone I love to the city where I now live. I miss my family. I would never move back in with them, but there are times when I just want them to be here really badly — and I miss my friends. And here are some other people who I’d maybe like to live near:

-Sovigne, Grace & Soren … & co
-Bob Dylan (surprise)
-Paul & Ringo, Eric Clapton

ok, I have to pause because Blue Moon by Ritchie Valens just came on, and omg, he has quite the voice!! I think he was 16 or 17 when he did this. Because he died when he was 17 in that small plane crash (damn the small planes!) … also, my dad went to high school with him.

that is all for now.


Week 5 begins

September 24, 2007

This weekend was, to use an 90s throwback word, totally rad. On Friday Sophie came, and we had a very fun evening consisting of some other cool people, beer, pictionary and a fair amount of hysterics. On Saturday I was a bad, bad Jew and I drove to Atlanta instead of going to a service, and then we went to the Dylan concert! (After a brief confusion about the time zone change … we were almost an hour late. I was all, “No, no, the hotel clock is wrong, it’s only 5:15.” And then Sophie was all, “Wait, are we in the Eastern time zone now?” And indeed … which makes sense, considering Georgia is, in fact, on the east coast. Good catch, Soph).

Dylan was totally weird and TOTALLY wonderful. It was really amazing, even though we were pretty far back and the asshole giant in front of us wouldn’t let Sophie switch seats with him (literally, he was at least 6’7″ and her head came up to his elbow). But still. It rocked out. He was wearing a cool hat (Dylan, not the asshole giant), I think maybe in part to help people in their attempts to keep their eyes focused on him – it was a huge stadium of 15,000 or so. Actually, the whole band had cool hats, and they were all sweet musicians. Excellent music, even if the old songs were so growly and hoarse they were barely recognizable. We got to sing along. We sang along with Bob Dylan!

Anyway, so next time I will shell out the (even) bigger bucks and get a better seat up close. We managed to get up there for about 20 seconds before we were promptly escorted back to our seats … so we did get a good glimpse. Bobby!

Yesterday we drove back here, and sadly there was a fair amount of let-down after the concert and fun times. So I attempted to study, and that effort continued into today, but now I am taking a break. I’m having trouble concentrating. I’ve got a test tomorrow and one on Wednesday, and I’ve learned a lot of flashcards, but I’m afraid the fact that I kicked the first test’s ass (it was not very hard) has possibly given me the feeling that I don’t need to bust my ass? I don’t think that’s correct, though. It’s hard to study for two tests at once, and it’s hard to study for tests where a whole lot of memorization isn’t necessarily required – it’s more synthesizing concepts and applying them, in multiple-choice format.

Yuck. Today I was telling M about some of the things I’ll be doing as a nurse, also yuck. I guess I won’t go into them right now. I need to focus on the positive. I just hope I don’t kill anyone the first day of clinicals. Last year, apparently, some students were giving a guy a bath on their first day and he died. I don’t think they did anything wrong, and he must have been in bad shape to have been killed by a bath, but … I do not want to be that student. Yikes.

The other midwives, in general, seem very cool. The good thing is that I’m not the only one who occasionally freaks out. I’ve heard some of my labmates talk about how they have been in tears, thinking about dropping out, thinking WHAT AM I DOING, how can I do this? I’m not the only one. And that is reassuring.

You know what I wish? I wish Bob Dylan would walk into this coffeeshop right now and sit down across from me. That would pretty much make my day. We could talk about opioid agonists and other various pharmaceuticals. I’m sure he has some personal experience with those … I could learn a lot.

Week 3 ends

September 17, 2007

On Friday evening I had a blind date. We went to the symphony, which was nice, but he was basically lame, not cute and actually fairly annoying. I was glad we were in a place where we were required to be silent the majority of the time. The first piece we heard was by Claude Baker, who I hadn’t heard of before, and it was a pretty sweet modern thing … based on some Schubert? I don’t remember exactly. But it totally had a direct quote from something that I recognized, and it is with some amount of music-nerd pride that am able to say that it only took me a minute or two to pick it out as part of the first movement of Beethoven’s opus 111, his last piano sonata. That is one sweet piece, and so was this one. I don’t think the date appreciated it. I said something after about how “it had some Beethoven in it,” which was a bit ambiguous and not very well-expressed, granted, but he said “that’s true,” which to me was the equivalent of saying “I know,” and I just thought … you so do not know. Because honestly, you have to have studied that piece of music in some capacity to be able to recognize it, and that is just not something he had done.

Ok, I’m a music snob. But he also said something about not liking the Beatles “rock” music because it “wasn’t their forte.” I kept my mouth shut, but come on! LAME.

I spent the rest of the weekend in an attempt to cram a whole bunch of stuff into my head so that hopefully I can enjoy this Bob Dylan concert (YES! Little umbrella and I are going to see Dylan!!) next weekend without then failing two exams. I have one this Wednesday and two more on Monday and Tuesday of the week after this one … major yuck. I feel like I did not very much work for the first two weeks, but then BAM, I was suddenly totally behind and stressed out and really quite anxious. It’s also sort of a double-stressor that these are our first tests and I really don’t know what to expect. There are moments when I feel prepared for this one (on Weds), and then there are other moments when I suddenly go into freak-out mode and think, holy shit! I know nothing.

I’m afraid of failure, but I also don’t know quite how to keep that fear at bay. There are just so many things to remember! How can I become a nurse in a year??


September 13, 2007

I am very excited about becoming a nurse. I’ve been in class for 3 weeks and although I am overwhelmed and freaked out, I am so excited! One of my classes, Foundations of Professional Nursing (designed to “socialize you all into this profession”) is a lot of history, theory, current trends/issues/challenges, etc. I just wanted to share something that I find remarkable.

When Florence Nightingale took a group of uneducated women to the barracks on the Crimean War front to serve as nurses, the mortality rate for the sick and wounded soldiers was 40-70%. After six months, it had dropped to 2%. Boo-yah! Not only did she clean up the place and institute some organization, she also used to walk around at night and talk to the soldiers. She helped them write letters. She opened up the windows so they would have light. She saw that the ones who ate fruit got better quickly – before any research had been done on the healing effects of vitamin C. She even wrote about how visits from small pets could be beneficial!

Evidence-based practice. Talk about being ahead of her time.

And then yesterday we learned about taking care of wounds, which is something I will have to do, and I started to feel a bit dizzy as I looked at photos of a foot with a few toes torn off, a very large abdominal wound, a diabetic foot with a tack stuck in the bottom that had been there for 5 days, etc. Did you know that they sometimes put maggots on large, open, infected wounds? Yeah, I didn’t either. The maggots eat the dead tissue and also produce an anticoagulant that prevents blood clots from forming.

::shudder:: I’m imagining a time when I go to change a dressing on someone and discover several maggots on their wound. Well … I guess it’s better that they told us now, so if that happens in the hospital we won’t freak out quite as much …? Yikes.

On another note, this morning I’m going to a service at a synagogue about 7 miles away (never been there before), so I guess I need to go make myself presentable. Adios.

Oh, heavens, it’s 72 degrees outside right now! At 4:40 in the afternoon! Do you know what this means? It means my walk home from class was pleasantly cool and refreshing for the first time ever. This is definitely the coolest day we’ve had since I’ve been here, and it’s damn nice. Of course I was inside between 8 and 3:30, so the total amount of time I’ll spend outside today is next to null, but whatevs. It’s nice.

Um. Damn, this is why I’ve never really successfully had a blog before. I can’t think of anything interesting to say, and when I do think of something interesting I’m too lazy to write it all down. I guess maybe I’ll be back later.

I love mail

September 7, 2007

I made myself a schedule, and I’m making a valiant attempt to stay on top of it, but I have to take a little break before I try to finish the rest of what I was supposed to do today. I would also like to share this wonderful piece of mail I received. Actually … I got two postcards and a letter. All three were delightful, but the letter made me laugh out loud. It’s such an awesome example of the “egocentric, magical thinking” of a preschooler. It also includes many of his interests, such as fairies, dresses, necklaces & crowns, dinosaurs. All good things.

From my 3-yo friend, as dictated to his mother:

Dear Chloe,

I want to tell you a story. It’s going to be about a fairy. We go outside and have a walk. We go upstairs and play. And the fairy did something that was different. She picked me out of the hole. I was wrestling in the hole. I got stuck. The fairy got me out. I was teared up, and then I was all better. The fairy kissed me and hugged me. And then a gorilla came. A dinosaur came. A big one. A bad red one. The bad dinosaur spanked the gorilla and throwed a rock at him and ate him and killed him. The fairy did something that was different. She was playing upstairs with me and Chloe. I was playing toys. And then something happened. The fairy picked me out of the hole. Then some kind of bad … another gorilla came. A bad dinosaur came. Then two gorillas came marching down the street. It was a parade, because I was so happy to be with the fairy and Chloe, we were watching the parade. They throwed candy. There was a dinosaur — two dinosaurs — crunching down the street. Do you know what I did? They were throwing dresses and necklaces and crowns. Lots of things were coming down from the sky. And then something came. It was a little tiny dinosaur. It was going to be here. I was going to give it to Chloe, and I did, and I did write letters.


Attached was a drawing, which included me, the fairy, Soren, the gorilla, and the tiny dinosaur. (Labeled by mom). Imagine this story told in a theatrical preschool voice, with many dramatic pauses: “AND DEN. Something came.”

I love love love it.


September 5, 2007

Time to buckle down. I have to do some major studying in the next few days. This is going to be slightly weird, because I haven’t really studied in advance of tests – like weeks in advance – for … ever? A long time. This is different, because I have to have a certain GPA to stay in the program (3.0) and therefore I can’t procrastinate my ass off the way I have historically, because it’s just not a risk I want to take.

So, break out the index cards and the time management skills and turn off the computer … that’s what I need to do. Luckily, a lot of it is interesting. In fact, most of it is – but I wonder why it is that as soon as I know I really have to learn something I suddenly lose most of my energy and enthusiasm. Habits must be changed. The fact that I will actually be responsible for other people’s wellbeing in approximately 8 weeks adds quite a bit of motivation (surprise surprise). Last night I was doing a clinical orientation thing online and it told me, “As a student, you may be the only person in the room when a patient goes into cardiac arrest. What do you do?” It was a bit of a shocker – I know this abstractly, but omg!! I’m totally incompetent! I had one day of CPR training! I guess I just have to put my trust in this system that claims to be able to train me sufficiently before I go into the hospital at the beginning of November. And I have to study.

(incidentally, the answer to that question – call for help! — no shit — and start CPR).

Also, I haven’t quite gotten into the whole “get up at 6:30, go to sleep at 11” thing yet. I hope that sometime soon my body makes the switch over from adolescent-who-is-tired-all-day-and-wide-awake-at-midnight to adult-who-needs-less-sleep, but we’ll see.

There’s a cute guy who lives on the floor above me. Actually, I don’t know if I could really pick him out of a line-up at this point, since we met for like one minute, but still. I think he just moved in. Maybe I should bring him some muffins (and not ask for the basket back).


September 4, 2007

Some things I have experienced in my (almost) 1 month of living in the Bible belt:

1. Sweet tea. I like sweet tea, and I’ve always liked it, so this is basically a good thing, except yesterday I drank too much and felt a little sick. Because I was at a restaurant and she just kept refilling my HUGE cup, and it was hot, so I was thirsty. I get really thirsty … I need to be careful.

2. “American” food. There’s a lot of “homestyle” cooking around here, which means huge portions of turkey-and-gravy, fried fish, fried anything, basically, and bbq. Mmmm … bbq. Yum. This has been okay so far, although it might get old pretty fast. I have yet to experience collard greens, grits or okra.

3. Y’all! And the plural, “all y’all.” I don’t know … it may naturally come out of my mouth at some point before I leave this place.

4. Drunken redneck homeless veterans, who regaled us last night about their experiences at war and tried to tell jokes. They were harmless, but hard to follow on occasion and so incredibly fucking drunk that they could barely speak. Well — one of them seemed actually fairly well educated and was somewhat interesting, but that was only for the first 20 minutes or so, and his friends were a bit long-winded. Of course the one with laryngitis was easier to understand once he took his teeth out of his pocket and put them in.

5. Southern friendliness … this I like. There are strangers here (people who sell me coffee, ask to borrow a pen, strike up a conversation at a bar) who seem genuinely sincere when they tell me to have a nice day. The friend I’ve made called me the first day we met to ask if I wanted to go get a cup of coffee (beer). Although I occasionally feel a bit out of my depth, I know that’s mostly because this is a completely new place and I don’t know many people. I can’t rely on her for my entire social scene, but she continually calls to invite me to hang out and introduces me to her friends. It’s really nice. Of course, last night I was shedding a few tears of boredom and loneliness before she called and I went to hang out at her friend’s house – where the yard next door had been taken over by the trio of alcoholic vets – but … well, I guess I have my ups and downs.

6. Abusive relationships? There was that woman last weekend who was obviously in a bad situation, and then today I met Michele’s coworker who was recently roughed up by her boyfriend and is in the process of trying to leave him. It was mostly disturbing because she seemed so incredibly fucking beaten down by him. Bad news.

7. Fireworks! I could see them out of my window last night.

Things I miss:

1. My peeps! I miss my roommate dude. And just being around people who know me so well. And not living alone. Although — there are certain things that are good about living alone, such as when it’s hot and I can walk around naked. That’s pretty much it, though.

2. The kiddos. I had a sad dream the other night that I was saying goodbye to them and crying hard. And Soren was hugging me tight. Boohoo.

3. What else? Knowing my way around and not spending half an hour to get some place a few miles away because I make a wrong turn … but that’s just something that’ll come in time …

Ok, I just ran out of steam. blah.

September 1

September 1, 2007

Yesterday I spent four hours in the assessment and skills labs, where I did a respiratory exam on an real, live person (one of my labmates) and then practiced a few things on the mannequins. The mannequins live in the skills lab, which looks like a hospital ward, complete with hospital beds and curtains and alcohol-based handwash. Then there’s Sim Man, who is completely programmable and has changing heart, lung and GI sounds. He also talks, apparently, although he didn’t say anything yesterday (even when he was experiencing low oxygen levels), so we didn’t hear some voice going, “Help me, I can’t breathe! It hurts! I don’t feel good.”

The location of my apartment is fairly excellent. I’m enjoying it. I can walk to school, to a tasty Indian restaurant, a good pizza place, and a variety of other restaurants/stores. And some bars. Yesterday I hung out with my one friend, whose parents were coming in from Huntsville, Alabama (where she is from) for the weekend. Huntsvull. She said, “I can’t wait for you to meet my parents, they’ll shit Southern all over you … you won’t know what to do!” So we had dinner with them, and maybe they didn’t exactly “shit Southern” but it was pretty close. They were nice. And totally repulsed by the sushi that we ate (from a seafood restaurant that also served massive amounts of fried fish). I think they were just repulsed by the entire idea and appearance of the sushi – it didn’t have any raw fish in it. Some shrimp tempura, I think.

I guess I can imagine thinking sushi is gross … but it’s pretty hard.

I think I’ll go take a ride on my pretty yellow bike.