Fall Break

October 21, 2007

I am baking ginger snaps, because I’ve been craving some lately and although it does not feel or look like fall outside, it’s October 20th and ginger snaps are appropriate for this time of year. Also, I am baking in an attempt to pass the next couple of hours until Sophie gets here. Should be studying, but whatever. I can cram with the best of them.

It’s a beautiful day. I have a gorgeous bay window in my living room and my couch is under it. So the windows are open, and I can see the bright blue sky and a gentle breeze blowing the trees right outside my apartment. I should find the nearest park and go read outside or something.

This last week, week 8, was a hard one. Tuesday was particularly bad, what with one of my professors basically telling me I’m a bad writer (I know I’m not), I didn’t answer the question that was asked for my essay (I did), and not being able to give me any more details on how I could improve this skill called writing … and then hearing from some friends about the crazy Christians (there are a few of them here) and their homophobia. And general judgement of anyone who does something as evil as have sex outside of marriage, consider an abortion, or even desire an IUD.

Oh yes, I have learned that certain religions don’t believe in IUDs. Because they don’t stop fertilization, they stop implantation. Maybe the egg’s already fertilized, and if you stop it from implanting and growing, that’s the same as killing a baby. Obviously.

Anyway. Last weekend was fun. On Friday I went to a friend’s house for Shabbat and she made an amazing meal, and I ate way too much (but how could I not! matzah-ball soup, brisket, pumpkin risotto, kugel, eggplant, YUM!). On Saturday I went to a party where I met a girl who is very good friends with someone I went to high school. That was a strange coincidence … they went to Duke together. So we spent a while saying “Oh my God! That is so crazy!” and drank some beer and then later some of us tried to bounce around on a pogo stick (my record was 3 bounces, I think … that shit is hard).

We’ve got Monday and Tuesday off. I’ve got two (three, sort of) tests this coming week, one on Wednesday and two (written and a practical) on Friday, and 8 hours of hospital orientation on Thursday. Despite these horrors, I am determined that the next two days will be an actual fall break. I’m going to study some, but I’m also going to enjoy myself, because Sophie’s coming and we’re going to drink whisky. And possibly play some pictionary with a few other fun people. And listen to quality music while lying on the rug or the couch. It’ll be just like the good old days.

Right on target

October 17, 2007

Self-injection in stomach: check.
Painful HEHI exam #2: check.
Navy scrubs/white shoes: check.
Near mental breakdown: check.

So they told us we’d be freaking out at this time, and they were right. Everyone I know is a. stressed, b. exhausted, c. anxious and d. doubtful. I’m doubting myself and whether I can do this, I’m doubting this choice I made, I’m doubtful about my future and oh god. I am so doubting my ability to function in the clinical setting with real live patients instead of mannequins or classmates.

*I just had to look up the word “doubtful” because that is one weird-looking word and I was doubtful about my spelling. But it is indeed spelled like that. English is such a bizarre language.

Today we had a 3-hr lecture on Plans of Care. These things, these Plans of Care, are what we will be putting together every week for each patient. They include many pages of information, analysis, diagnoses, plans and interventions that hopefully will help with the problem we’re dealing with. With which we’re dealing. whatever. So at this time, if I were creating a Plan of Care for myself, I would fill out the Mental Status/Neuro section of it with a Nursing Diagnosis: Anxiety. Related to GOING INTO THE HOSPITAL NEXT WEEK. Secondary to BEING IN NURSING SCHOOL. Etc etc. It all seems very complicated and I couldn’t really take it in at once. Thankfully, they reassured us that until we prove that we have some idea what we’re doing, we won’t even be allowed to go into a patient’s room to introduce ourselves without our faculty being there. THANK YOU. I have some goals for the remainder of the semester, and I need maximum faculty supervision in order to fulfill these goals, which are, in order of priority …

1. Kill zero people of any age.
2. Harm zero people of any age. Especially poor innocent babies, but really, this applies to everyone.
3. Pass the class … convince Deb, myself, and other people I interact with that I can function in the clinical setting.
4. Make every effort to NOT be one of the 3-4 students each semester who has either a medication error or a needlestick. This means do not, do not, do not fuck up with insulin, heparin or digitoxin. DO NOT. Oh and don’t try to recap a used needle. Don’t want to get a bloodborne disease, there.
5. Make a fool of myself as little as possible.

I also have some secondary goals, which include but are not limited to:

1. Do not freak out patients by being awkward, blatantly incompetent or extremely and obviously nervous.
2. Get more than 6 hours of sleep each night (hasn’t been happening yet … can’t see why it would happen when I start going into clinic, but the goal still exists in some abstract form).
3. Stay sane.
4. Learn that Rachmaninov prelude well enough to actually play it.

Ok, now I’m going to take a nap, and then when I get up I’m going to study for my practical exam on Friday. Or should I study for my lecture exam next Wednesday? Or what about my practical a week from this Friday? I have so many options! Wow, yeah. It’s time to knock an hour or two off this sleep deficit I’ve got going.

It’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay. It will. I hope.

Procrastitivity

October 10, 2007

I have an exam at 2 and I’m pretty sure I’m very underprepared, but I’m not going to dwell on that right now.

The weather today is BEAUTIFUL. It’s 70 degrees, sunny and gorgeous … 70 feels cool and refreshing, like maybe fall is actually on its way. I’m so tired of hot and humid, and now that I don’t have to fear 6 months of freezing pain with the onset of winter, I’m looking forward to the cool weather. It’s awesome, I want to take a hike or something. What are the chances of that happening, I wonder … not too great. Most likely, I’ll take this test, come home and pass out on the couch for a few hours before turning on the tv. Damn.

This week is the week where we practice giving sub-q injections in lab. I’m not too worried about that part, at least not yet, because doing it under the skin just isn’t as scary and not nearly as dangerous as sticking a needle into a muscle. We had a lecture today in which we were informed that when giving an intramuscular injection, we better be able to put that needle into the right place (the muscle), because if we miss we might inject a medication into a nerve and paralyze someone.

What can we do to avoid the nerve? Besides finding the borders of the muscle and jabbing right into the middle of it?

Nothing. NO-THING. “If you do that, the patient will start screaming. Then they’ll say to you, ‘I can’t feel my arm,’ and you’ll say, ‘oh, let me do that neuro thing … can you feel my fingers?’ and they’ll say, ‘No.'”

So. I find this frightening, and I’m going to be way more nervous every time I have to get a shot from now on and absolutely petrified the first 100 times I give someone an IM injection, but on the other hand, I’ve never been paralyzed and I’ve had a lot of shots. So I have to believe I’ll be able to learn how to recognize where the muscle is (in the arm, ass, whatever) and do it safely … oh lord.

Ok, enough about that. How about some happy thoughts. I should try to get to my happy place before going in to take this exam, although in a minute I am going to go back to my notes/flashcards and that isn’t very happy. Ooh, I bought a digital piano off of craigslist. I like it a lot, although I am sad because my ability to play seems to have diminished severely, since it’s been such a damn long time. I can get it back, I know, but — I don’t have much time these days. I’m happy that I have it, though, because I can play whenever! And learn new music, and I have been missing it a lot. I also miss some other stuff, like my friends and my mom’s dog and certain kids who are back in St. Paul. We had a lecture on the toddler & preschool ages yesterday, and one of the descriptions of months 30-36 was, “Understands syntax, opposites and actions in pictures, 3-4 word sentences, uses “what” and “where” questions, tells stories, use of plurals.” Of course I thought of Soren and his stories (using WAY more than 3-4 words in a sentence — but he is older than 36 months, and especially verbal :P) and his questions. I miss him.

Woot, back to fluid/electrolytes, acids & bases, shock, stress, and gas exchange!!

This will be me

October 3, 2007

Yesterday we had (yet another) lecture on communication and “practicing with presence.” I think I’ll share the story our professor shared with us.

New nurse. Recent graduate. Young man (early twenties) comes in for an exam after being hit by a baseball in the genital region. Has pain and is worried something is damaged. New nurse is very nervous, awkward, reviews patient chart and sees that young man is from Rhode Island. Thinks, “I’ve never met anyone from Rhode Island before,” and goes into the room. Both new nurse and young man are embarrassed, red-faced. New nurse asks patient to lie back and prepares to examine him. New nurse lifts gown away from region to be examined and, simultaneously, out pops, “I see you’re from our smallest state.”

Young man sits up and says, “you can tell from looking??”

OMG.

(Yes, that was an experience our professor had right out of school … and she’ll obviously never forget it. would you?)