About Me

undergrad RN
I'm a twenty-something Canadian student. After stumbling through a few years of college, I finally managed to get into the nursing school of my dreams, where I hope to graduate in 2012 with a nursing baccalaureate degree. I want to offer an honest look into how a modern nurse is educated, both good and bad. Eventually I hope to compare my education to my day-to-day career and see how it holds up. Whatever happens, it should be somewhat entertaining. Find me on allnurses.com!
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Hey, You! Spam Guy!

I (and every other blogger I know) have been getting a lot of email requests asking me advertise or repost things I do not care about or wish to endorse. I do not make any money off this blog - any endorsements I may make are strictly because I am personally pleased with the results.

I DO NOT and WILL NOT repost anything someone emails me. If I want to link to something, I will find it myself.

If you want to spread the word about something, make your own blog!

All spam received at my blog email is deleted without reading.
Friday, May 30, 2008

Since I've got some time to kill...

Warning: If you're squeamish about menses I suggest you skip this post.

I think I'll begin reviewing a potentially fantastic purchase I made today: the DivaCup. This little device is a lot like the original Keeper; that is, it's a menstrual cup that lives in your vag for up to 12 hours at a stretch for all of the benefits of tampons without a lot of the drawbacks.

Some background: I HATE the 'feminine hygiene' industry. Is hate too strong a word? How about loathe? It offends me to the core that a multibillion dollar industry has cropped up around making 50% of the human race feel shamed and/or disgusted by a natural monthly occurrence. Sure, mysticism has surrounded menstruation for 4, 900 years (give or take), but in this modern age of cancer treatments, MRI's, and electron microscopes, I think it's high time to tell Tampax where they can put their tampons. It was explained to me by a knowledgeable person that the feminine hygiene industry uses the same hooks as Big Tobacco: get 'em while they're young, and young women are way more likely to use the same brand as their moms, and then you've got them for $15 a month for the rest of their lives. Pitch periods as the ultimate estrogenfest, where two fresh faced teens exchange knowing smiles as their friend leaves the party with her jacket around her waist, and discreetly slip her a panty liner (freeze frame, zoom in on logo!). Already tapped the entire female market in the West? How about turning our sights to Africa and playing the heartstrings of Western consumers - get extra money from our current patrons and hook a billion more!

Anyway, moving past that, menstrual cups have actually been around since the turn of the century (the last century, not this one). Then pads were invented and promoted relentlessly through the 60's when all things feminine were turned on their ears and suddenly, whoa-hey, you aren't a proper lady unless you are using glorified diapers in your underwear. I don't agree at all with the ingredients in either pads or tampons. I don't want bleaches and fibers and superabsorbent somethings coming into direct contact with my cooter. TSS, anyone?

I'm not being as eloquent as I'd like to. For further, and more sensical, reading on this perspective, check out this great post.

The DivaCup is made out of 100% medical grade silicone, made here in Canada. It stays installed for up to 12 hours before it needs to be emptied. It creates a suctioned barrier between your insides and the outside.

My review, day one: It cost me $46 from the organics store. It was easy to put in. I don't see the fuss, but ladies who are afraid of their nethers might be a bit uncomfortable getting all up in there, and you DO get all up in there. You fold it up and insert like a tampon, and rotate it a bit so it pops open. I'm not sure if it's in properly because I can kind of feel it, but it might just be because I'm thinking about it. It's certainly not causing any major discomfort. No leakage so far. Plus, I got a cool pin [picture credit here]. I'll keep reviewing it over the next week or so, mostly to help me decide whether I like it or if I'd rather give the less-flexible Keeper a try.

A great video I found on YouTube discussing the menstrual cup (no, this is not me, although I'd kill for a brogue like hers :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Big shoes to fill.

Slow day at work today so I was reading some nursing student blogs. As usual. Stumbled across a new one, where she wrote such a beautiful summary of what it means to be a nurse, that I had to shamelessly steal it and post it up here for my visitors to see:

I am a licensed healthcare professional. 

I have been trained to assess you, and I am responsible not only for providing you with basic nursing care to meet your needs, I also will be providing you with specialized care. I know how to insert a catheter into your bladder and an IV into your arm. I know how to run the IV fluids and I know the reason for using normal saline vs lactated ringers and I can tell you if you ask me. I know the side effects and uses of all of the 15 medications I am giving you and I will tell you if you ask. I can give you a shot if I have an order for it. 

I also assess your spiritual, mental, and emotional health. I can talk to the doctors about my concerns and the doctors take me seriously as a peer. (Well, most of them) The new doctors ask ME what they should do for you and I can give them ideas, all the while reminding them “Well, I’m not a doctor and can’t prescribe but I have seen drug XYZ used in this case before” or “Did you want me to do ABC for this patient?” I am responsible if the aide/tech doesn’t complete her work and I am responsible to see that you have a safe stay in the hospital and that no matter how bad a shape you were in when you got here, when you go home you will at least not be in any worse shape.

I hug you when your mother dies. I hold your hand when you are taking your last breaths. I bandage your feet. I teach you how to breastfeed. I let you cry when you need to and I hug you until you stop. I laugh with you. I cry with you. I make you do things you don’t want to do, knowing that later you will thank me, and you do. I sneak you a cookie when it’s late at night and you have the munchies and hospital jello just isn’t doing it for you. I wipe your bottom when you can’t reach it and I hold your hair while you puke. I pack your wound and I measure how deep it tunnels. I change your bandages, your dressings, your diapers and your peri-pads. I sit with you and hold your hand where there are no words to say.
I do what it takes to make you well and failing that, I make you comfortable.

I am your nurse.

Isn't that amazing? Find the original post here. Thank you, mystery blogger, for expressing what I sure cannot :)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

On the mend, I suppose

I went to see my friend today for the first time after her surgery. She looks like death. The surgeons made a large-ish incision beside her right breast and apparently one on her back, which I didn't see.

She is stoned right over the moon, although I don't know what they gave her. Being that it's Mother's Day today, I went and got her some pretty purple flowers (her favorite color) and a nice Get Well card, in which I wrote a touching passage about what she means to me. Well, I thought it was touching.

I gave her these things and she glanced over the card and said "Oh. Thanks, dear," and then launched into some irrelevant story about God knows what. I know she was completely out of it, but my pride was a little hurt by that! I guess she'll probably read it later when she's not quite so stoned, or at least I hope so.

It was interesting especially because she said a few things that she'd NEVER say in a clear state of mind, basically making comments about people (including the student nurse) while they were still in earshot! It was a little awkward! She also didn't have any trace of the depression that has been clouding her for a few years now. I got to see my old friend again, and that was special in its own way. No matter how depressed or withdrawn she gets during or after her recovery, I got to talk with her real self again today.

Regarding the student nurse that she sniped about - the nurse really wasn't the most welcoming presence in the room. I hesitate to jump to TOO many conclusions, but she gave me the impression that she was a somewhat joyless scrub-fashionista. No smiles in her direction were returned to anybody. Yikes.

Lessons learned today:

a) People on drugs tend to speak bluntly and without particular regard for who may be in earshot

b) It can't possibly be that hard to cast so much as a smile at people who just had their lives turned upside down by disease and/or major surgery

c) I love you friend, even more, now that I remember who you were when I met you
Saturday, May 10, 2008

See Left

On a separate topic, I promised I would link some of the more useful advice for nursing students that I have found thus far. See the left navigation pane for the hyperlinks. My sincere thanks go especially to Katie from Confessions of a Student Nurse!

Enjoy, and as I find more I will update the lists.

At long last, an update (Including Immunizations, pt. II)

It happened yesterday.

What is "it", you ask? It's the searing excitement in my chest - I am going to Be. A. Nurse. After so long trying to find a place for myself in the healthcare industry, this is it. I am standing at the very beginning of my chosen path and I am so incredibly ready.

This change was brought about by a newsletter I received from my school about a month ago advertising a tour of the facility and a chance to meet some of the faculty and hear them talk. My initial thought was meh but I'm really glad I went. I'll go over it in a minute. First, a little preamble:

Yesterday started with quite the bang. Remember that old friend suffering from depression? Well, she was admitted to a psych ward here in the city back at the end of March. While they were giving her an MRI (for depression? I was surprised) they discovered she has localized lung cancer. So they set her up for a lung-ectomy, of which I don't know the official name but ask me again in 4 years and I'll probably tell you. They removed the lower lobe of her right lung yesterday. So for all you universal health care skeptics who hold tight to the notion that we Canucks wait months and months for our treatments, there you go. I think less than a month for a free surgery is acceptable. Anyway, this is not a political post - back to the real story.

Yesterday morning she went in. Surgery was supposed to start at 7:45, so I rushed to the hospital to see her. Lo and behold, she was not there yet. So I sat around and waited, then went through the extensive line at Timmy's (Tim Hortons, which is the much better/cheaper/less stuffy Canadian version of Starbucks, for you non-Timmy folk) for about 10 minutes, at which point I discovered they don't take debit. Ugh. Anyway, my friend showed up about 10 minutes late and we scampered into pre-op** and got ready to go. She changed into her hospital gown, which is not the assless kind I was expecting, and sat in her bed.

**I probably don't have any of the terminology correct. Please bear with me.

There were about 4 of us to keep her company: myself, her husband, her sister, and her son. All the nurses commented on her "posse" as if they were surprised to see so much support for one person. Then again, most of the other patients had only one or two people with them. But we laughed and talked and shared stories, and kept her from sitting and thinking about her cancer. It was nice. Turned out she was due at 7:45 AM for the pre-op portion, which included writing "yes" on the side to do the surgery as a consent, signing some forms, and getting vitals. The actual surgery part wasn't for another 2 hours. So it's a good thing she had so much entertainment, cuz we sat around for quite a while!

Anyway the point of this little story was a) to further develop the story of my friend, and b) to describe how I explore the healthcare industry every chance I get. I'm always watching nurses in different settings, trying to get a feel for where I might fit in one day. My friend's pre-op nurse, Colleen, was the first Nurse Nightingale that I can remember seeing. By which I mean, she did all the things I want to be able to do. She swept in, took all the vitals while chatting with my friend, and managed to get her job done, answer a plethora of questions, offset some misinformation, comfort the patient, and reassure everyone about the surgery, all in one fell swoop. She was amazing. And, she wore one of those old-fashioned white skirts with stockings. One day, I want to be just like that... skirt included.

So after she went in for surgery, I had to go, because of the Faculty of Nursing event. I showed up to the school about 20 minutes early, with time to go to the top floor and hand in a couple of the forms I'd completed. So I sat up at the administration office while the administrator talked on the phone with a very desperate-sounding person, and a very familiar sounding situation. This person on the line was calling the school seeking information about applying for the Fall semester (a scant 4 months away!) because the deadline was that day. She was obviously being very determined to get the answers she felt she needed. It reminded me of one of the times I applied to the program, desperate because I thought This is it, this is my shot, I need to make this happen. The administrator put her on hold and heaved a sigh, and called over one of the other administrators to discuss the issue. The issue was, the program was full, but they were bound to avoid saying that. So the administrator talked around those words, implying heavily that the caller should just apply for a different intake.

I'm not sure how that ended, because I sat there for 15 minutes waiting for them to take my forms from me, and I was concerned because the tour was supposed to start soon. Thankfully someone did take my forms just in time, and I made it to the main floor where the tour began. The admissions advisor was the one doing the tour, although I don't think she recognized me. I had pestered her over New Year's to determine whether my marks were high enough for me to drop my upgrading for the semester. Maybe it's a good thing she didn't recognize me!

The tour, condensed version: We toured the "smart" labs which had simulated beds with a highly functioning dummy who had a heart beat and breathing ability. They were identical to the hospital rooms I had seen earlier that day while waiting for surgery. The instructor can monitor the student through a one-way mirror and can also watch and listen via camera and microphone. I was totally impressed. The other labs were just as accurate, including a "Home Care" lab with a simulated home environment including a bed, lifting bar, tub, sink, living area and functioning kitchen. With the experience I've had in home care already, I can vouch for it being a very intelligent addition. Plus, the bed looks like a great place to catch a nap between classes :P

So after completing the tour and being perfectly gobsmacked with the whole facility, we sat down and listened to several of the faculty discuss the program and also congratulate us on our successful applications. They said something to the tune of 1,100 applications had been processed, and there were only 70-ish accepted students sitting around me. I was sooo amazed that I was finally here, and that's when the slow burn of excitement and anticipation started in my chest.

It's only 4 months to September, and now I've really got my eyes on the prize, as it were.

And, the much-anticipated (lol) ending to Immunizations: I took my form to a lab to get some bloodwork done, to detect the presence of sufficient Hep B  antibodies. And sat in the chair while the tech hunted for a vein. Up and down one arm, up and down the other, and back. and forth. She must have stuck me 15 times, each time fishing the needle around under the skin. I've had a few piercings done, and a tattoo, but that... kinda hurt! Plus my pride was a little hurt that I was such a hard stick. Kind of like when you go to donate blood and the little drop doesn't sink to the bottom of the blue stuff. You want your blood to perform well :P

But in the end, my blood looks immunized and ready to go. Last things on my current checklist: Get a security clearance and get my First Aid certification again.