- 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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On Saturday, I jumped out of a perfectly good plane.
It was my friend Trish's 21st birthday, crazy girl that she is, she invited a bunch of us from Pharm out to her birthday activity of choice - skydiving!
Unfortunately everyone from Pharm pussied out except for me and her. A few of her other friends came along though so there were 6 of us in total.
I'm going to share this story because I want to remember it in beautiful detail.
The day dawned clear and cool. The sun was shining when I woke up to my alarm at 0645. I packed my sweater and some snacks, and jumped in my car to go pick up Trish and everyone on the north side of the city for 0715. We then drove out on the highway for about 30 minutes, tired and nervous and a little uncomfortable.
We found the place okay. As we pulled in and stepped out of the car, it felt like we were entering a trailer park! RVs were all over the place. It all came flooding back to me.
A little backstory - I grew up at a drop zone much like this one. My dad spent the better part of my childhood being REALLY INTO skydiving. He logged thousands of jumps and my family was out at the DZ during the summer pretty much every weekend. I know what skydivers are like and I'm familiar with DZ's in general. I learned how to use a keg at a boogie when I was 8 years old and my daddy thought I'd be good at pouring beer, haha :) I had planned on skydiving just like him one day, but he actually had a couple of really bad crashes where he had some serious trauma to his spine and legs. That was over 10 years ago and he will have a limp and mild mobility issues for the rest of his life. So my plan to jump at 16 was derailed.
So, when Trish asked if I'd be interested, I jumped at the chance (nyuk!).
The classroom seated about 20 and there were posters on all the walls of good and bad things that you might see while falling. Parachutes not opening, twisted lines, reserve parachute deployment. Diagrams of equipment and things to do and not do. A LOT of information.
Now I was a little nervous that I wouldn't be able to remember anything. I can learn pretty much anything given time, and I'm good at memorizing random factoids, but psychomotor skills are definitely my weakest link. I can tell you WHERE the cutaway and reserve handles are, and I can (with time) tell you what situations they need to be pulled at, but the actual motions of looking down, locating each handle, and punching them out in the proper sequence is more of a challenge for me. That was concerning because there is no redo option on that - it's life or death!
It really didn't help much when they were handing out the waivers. Double-sided legal paper FILLED with "I acknowledge that skydiving is inherently risky" and "I hereby promise to not sue the jump school if I am terribly maimed or dead even if it is due to their gross negligence". Putting pen to paper and signing that was... well, I wasn't exactly smiling at that particular moment.
Jodie was our instructor and I really liked her. She was witty and personable, and very empowering: "Yes, you CAN save your own life!"
We watched some retro cassette videos on the gearing up process and how the jump was expected to go, and Jodie talked about the importance of maintaining a good arch. We then went outside and practiced our arches about a million times, shouting our post-plane-exit mantra:
This particular mantra was to help us keep a sense of time lapse and give the parachute time to open before we started panicking. The parachute should be fully open and deflated by 6 seconds, so at the end when we said "check canopy", we were looking up at the parachute and preparing to resort to emergency alternatives if necessary.
The questions we asked ourselves, shouting out loud:
Is it RECTANGULAR?? (Denoting a properly deployed parachute - no tangled
Is it INFLATED?? (Are at least 7 of the 9 cells performing, or am I
still dropping like a rock?)
Is it CONTROLLABLE? (Can I steer this puppy away from a tree or
We were wearing some Wal-Mart Greeter-esque vests with a mock-up of the cutaway and reserve handles so that we knew where to grab in an emergency. Jodie emphasized the importance of LOOKING at the handles first instead of groping wildly, telling us of a previous student who, upon seeing his rectangular parachute emerge round in a mass of tangled lines, promptly grabbed and ripped off his red radio instead of the red cutaway handle. (He lived, but still!)
LOOK! (Make sure that red thing you're tearing off isn't your
LOCATE! (Grab ahold of each of the handles)
PUNCH RIGHT! (Forcefully drive your fist through the red cutaway handle, freeing you from a
PUNCH LEFT! (Forcefully deploying your reserve)
We practiced our arches, our counting, our emergency procedures, and our plan for two hours. I tell you, my back was sore and my throat was hoarse, but I would have spent all the time they wanted me to doing those very steps over and over again! Not a place to cut corners!
We also spent some time in a hilariously inadequate mock-up of a plane. It was basically a box frame made out of 2x4's, elevated off the ground, with a wheel stuck off the side and a pretend wing strut. We each practiced twice getting out of the "plane" and climbing out to the end of the strut where we would let go and plummet to earth. One thing entirely to do that with no relative wind. Quite another in reality :)
After lunch we had a written T/F exam (presumably to be legal evidence that we had at least absorbed the information, even if we entirely failed to put thought into action) and then we hurried up to wait for the actual jump.
Happily, the day was beautifully sunny and warm for one of the few times this summer. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the weather couldn't have been more fantastic. Trish and I and her other friends hung out sunbathing, pretending we weren't really going through with this and we weren't really nervous and this wasn't really the last time one of us might have a fully functioning central nervous system. We admired the skydiving crowd, especially the several tanned, ripped, and devastatingly sexy men walking around shirtless (!) doing skydiver things like packing parachutes.
Jodie came up to me.
"UgRN, I'm going to need you to to go up in the first load. You're friends with Trish, right? You don't mind?"
I was scheduled to go up with a bunch of strangers in the sixth load, well into the afternoon. This sped up my schedule by a solid 2 hours. And I'd get to jump with the birthday girl!
Suddenly, I heard my name called out on the intercom. E.N. Jump School, Load One, roll call - please meet at manifest to get your equipment.
Heart? Meet throat.
Trish and I walked up to manifest sporting ear to ear grins and excessive diaphoresis.
Our Jump Master, Rob, helped us get kitted out in some (very) snazzy jumpsuits. Mine was an eclectic mix of neon colors and I looked like I had beat up a 1992 Alpine ski bunny and stolen her outfit. Yeah, SunIce!
Another guy got my pack ready and strapped it on. Surprisingly heavy! It was probably at least 30 lbs. Although that hardly matters when you're falling, it makes quite a difference when you're trying to get to the plane.
While I was waiting to get an appropriately sized helmet - one that wouldn't squish my brains out, preferably - I happened to notice a lady who looked very familiar. She was engaged in hearty conversation with another lady so I waited patiently for a few minutes trying to decide if my mind was playing tricks on me. Finally I tapped her on the arm.
"'Scuse me, but you do by any chance know [father of UgRN]?"
She looked at me funny and then erupted into a full scale motherly hug. OMIGOD the last time I saw you, you were this tall and collecting bugs that you kept in jars and this was over at that old drop zone that closed down and-- hey, where IS your dad, anyway?
Sadly, my dad was out on a cross continent Harley trip and couldn't be there to witness my first jump. I told him later that I ran into some of his old buds though and that was pretty cool, actually. I was inordinately pleased that SOMEONE from those old days would be there to witness me follow in my daddy's laughably risk-taking and poor-role-model-y footprints.
For the record, I love my dad and I think he is the best person ever.
So I get my helmet finally and meet up with Trish and Rob the Jump Master. There are two other people jumping with us as well - a friend of Trish's and some old guy who was winning major Awesome Points just for being old and being gutsy.
They loaded the plane from lightest to heaviest, so Old Awesome Guy would jump first and I would jump last. (Yay for being the lightest! ...I guess).
I clambered in behind the pilot and knelt on the padded floor. Rob gave me a comical look and said, in all seriousness, um, it's Transportation Canada regulations that everyone in a plane wear a seatbelt at all times while ascending... so we'll need you to put that seatbelt across your knees.
Safety first, people, safety first.
We were all loaded into the plane and then the pilot fired it up. God, it was soooo loud in there, I couldn't hear a thing. The plane hauled ass down the dirt runway and then lifted up into the sky. I saw the ground drop away from me and with a violent lurch It Hit Me.
At some point, that door is going to open... and then I'm going to jump out of it. At 3500 feet in the sky.
I couldn't see myself but I can imagine how I looked - I could feel the blood draining out of my face and I probably had the most grim expression that I have ever wore in my lifetime. That little voice started.
If you've been following my blog for a long time, you may remember that I have issues surrendering control to other people. I just genuinely don't trust people to do right by me a lot of the time. This was, like, the ultimate in surrendering control. Rob the JM was going to tell me when to jump out of the plane and I was going to trust him that it was the right time. I was going to trust that whoever packed my parachute did it properly and that I wasn't going to plummet to my death. I had to trust that my radio was going to work and that the guy helping me land was going to remind me what to do. I had to trust all of these things, and trust that God wasn't going to call me home today because I sure as hell wasn't ready yet.
The fear was at its worst when my sense of height was screaming YOU ARE SO HIGH ABOVE THE GROUND THAT YOU MIGHT AS WELL JUST DIE NOW, WHAT THE F*** ARE YOU THINKING IN GETTING OUT OF THIS PLANE?
I had talked to my dad just before the jump and I asked him what he thought about my fear of heights, and how that was going to gimp me in trying to accomplish this. My dad reassured me that once you were high enough, the crippling fear would be replaced with a sense of wonder. Your brain wouldn't look at the ground and think OMG SO HIGH UP past a certain point. That was certainly true for me - at 2000 feet I stopped looking at the ground thinking "holy shit, ground" and started thinking "cool, carpet tiles!".
Then the door opened. 3500 feet. Wind rushed into the cabin and anything I heard the JM shouting was completely lost.
Old Awesome Guy knelt knee to knee with the JM and then, just like we practiced, stepped onto the wheel, grabbed ahold of the wing strut, climbed out, and dropped away.
I mean dropped. Like a freaking 250 lb sack of potatoes.
Trish's friend - same thing. Knee to knee with the JM, stepped out, grabbed onto the wing strut with her feet flying out behind her, and dropped away.
Time for Trish. She took a while getting out the door, which I attributed to nerves (I was definitely there with her!). She did her thing, and then dropped away.
I eagerly peered out the window and saw 2 progressively tiny colorful canopies below. Wait, only 2? Where's Old Awesome Guy?? I shouted at the JM, who replied he's on the ground already!
Then it was my turn.
I shuffled forward, knee to knee with Rob and did my best to look brave. The wind was rushing in through the open door which was only inches from my leg. Every ounce of me was screaming WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, GET BACK IN THE PLANE!!
Rob leaned toward me and shouted with a grin, "Are ya ready to skydive?"
I have never been more terrified, and specifically because of that, I knew I simply had to do it.
I gritted my teeth and tried to exit the plane like I was taught. I grabbed the door frame and stuck my foot out into the wind.
Oh my God, the wind.
Picture roaring down the highway in a minivan, opening the sliding door, and trying to climb onto a platform with no guide ropes and only your own power to make sure it happens.
I literally shoved my foot into the windstream onto the tire of the plane. I punched my right hand into the wind to grab ahold of the wing strut. It was hard and made worse by the complete and utter shutdown of my self-preservation response. I mean, how hard are you going to try to kill yourself? The whole thing was so counter-intuitive that I couldn't do it. The wind was fierce, my hands were ice cold, my stomach had a death grip on my throat, and I. Pussied. Out.
I retreated back into the cabin, momentarily defeated but even more determined to do it.
Rob smiled at me. We're just going to take it around again, and then you can give it another shot.
A few minutes passed and he gave me the nod.
I grit my teeth and summoned every ounce of courage I had. I flexed every muscle. I tried to feel as strong as I know I can be.
I shoved my foot out the door.
I punched my hand out onto the wing strut.
I forced myself to leave the plane.
In the grip of consuming terror, I let my feet fly out behind me - no going back now.
I released my grip on the plane and proceeded to freak the hell out. I fell in 5 seconds that were, simultaneously, the best and worst 5 seconds of my life. I plummeted to earth and in total panic started screaming ARCH THOUSAND, TWO THOUSAND, THREE THOUSAND, FOUR THOUSAND...
And in a moment of complete beauty and the most profound sense of relief I may ever experience, my bright yellow canopy unfurled above me. Rectangular, inflated, and, yes, controllable.
My radio crackled to life.
Hello, Jumper 4, please proceed with your flight check and enjoy the ride.
I laughed, I cried, I couldn't believe how beautiful it was - the sun glinted off of the lakes and I could damn well see everything. The world was green and fresh and full of life. The fall was gentle and incredible. The view was unimaginable.
Jumper 4, please make a 180 degree turn to your right - no, your other right - that's it, all the way around.
The soothing voice of the landing controller guided me through steering my canopy across the target area to the turning point, and back around to the target.
Work with me here, Jumper 4 - make that thing turn!
I yanked on the right toggle and the chute handled beautifully.
All of a sudden I noticed that the ground was rushing up at me and I was like, oh, shit! I flared the chute, pulling hard on both toggles to slow me down. I was going a trifle fast and tried to run out the landing, but I fell and slid on my butt across the field. It was a very pleasant slide and I was experiencing so many incredible emotions that I probably wouldn't have noticed any pain even if there was some.
I collapsed back on my open chute and laughed the most uninhibited, joyful laugh that I've had in years. A photographer out on the landing area captured it for me, for which I am eternally grateful.
I called my dad: Hey, I guess I'm a skydiver now.
There's my story. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Would I recommend the experience? If you're like me and have an insane need to conquer your fears and test the extremes of your capabilities... absolutely.
Last semester, lab was my favorite class (except for clinical), by far. And that was only an hour and a half per week! This semester I have 5 hours of lab time weekly. I am sooo pumped.
The next couple of weeks are going to be spent moving myself to a new apartment on the other side of town, and parting with as many possessions as I can. I really hate clutter and I especially hate how it creeps on me so easily! And, giving stuff to Goodwill has some kind of positive karmic implications, I'm sure.
(To the tune of the 12 days of Christmas)I check my phone, "what is this?"There is a lot from he -one hundred textsfifty lines of "please?"twenty missed callsten suicide threatsthree blocked numbersone reply from me... and a stalker in a tree
Barb Bancroft is my hero. We watched some clips from her videos in class. My favorite line was "So this took you 4 months to get through in nursing school, and now you're going to learn it in 4 minutes!" And we did. She explained the RAAS pathway in the most straightforward way possible. I feel cheated having spent hours and hours hunched over a textbook trying to analyze diagrams last semester. It makes perfect sense when she explains it. She comes on a little strong, and I was initially afraid of her, but her drrrrryyyyy humor had me in stitches for the whole clip. The following isn't the clip we watched, but it's her, and you can see what I mean:
2. Do you still talk to your FIRST love? See "Trevor" above, and yes we do still talk on FB from time to time. Mostly random comments. His mom and I are better friends than I am with him.
3. What was your FIRST alcoholic drink? A warm Club beer split 4 ways... *blech*
4. What was your FIRST job? I was a book reshelver at the library. Go Dewey Decimal System!
5. What was your FIRST car? 1992 Ford Temp AKA "The White Wind" due to an unfortunate offroading experience approximately two weeks after I got the keys
6. Who was the FIRST person to text you today? My friend Tina from school
7. Who is the FIRST person you thought of this morning? The amazing guy who helped me lead a Naxx 25 raid all last night/this morning in World of Warcraft. Thanks, Treeshield!
8. Who was your FIRST grade teacher? We call it grade one here. Mrs. Robinson. I remember she had this little moose puppet that would help us learn to spell, and I had an argument with said puppet because I said that "gonna" was a word and he said it wasn't. I wasn't gonna give up that battle.
9. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane? Ontario at 3 months old to be shown off to the appropriate relatives.
10. Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk? Ahh Melissa, my best friend from 3 houses down. We used to go exploring in the wilderness trails that our houses backed onto. It was really magical living there.
11. Where was your FIRST sleep over? My FIRST? I forget. But the earliest one I remember was at my friend Kari's in grade three for her birthday!
12. Who was the first person you talked to today? My boss :(
13. Whose wedding were you in the FIRST time? Er... I guess this means the first wedding I attended? That would be mon oncle Jacob. I was the flower girl, and I HATED it. I was 7.
14. What was the FIRST thing you did this morning? Went to bed. Late night.
15. What was the FIRST concert you ever went to? Eve 6 with Gob and Treble Charger! I still have the tshirt and I got it signed too. We drove the infamous "White Wind" there and it broke down on the highway... stupid car.
16. FIRST tattoo? A big, beautiful Friesian
17. FIRST piercing? Tongue!
18. FIRST foreign country you went to? Well the USA doesn't count. Scotland was my first real out of country experience.
19. FIRST movie you remember seeing? The Land Before Time... or The Last Unicorn
20. When was your FIRST detention? Grade 4, when my new best friend (with whom I am still best friends) was talking to me while the teacher was talking. My parents were soooo disappointed in me :)
22. Who was your FIRST roommate? See Trevor, #1. We got a cute apartment the second I turned 18. We had ferrets that pooped in all the corners. Ahh, bliss.
23. If you had one wish, what would it be? That I, too, could go to school and not have to pay rent or bills.
24. What is something you would learn if you had the chance? To figure out how to play the beautiful Seagull S6 guitar that I bought off of eBay 4 years ago. One day!
25. Did you marry the FIRST person to ask for your hand in marriage? Well, the last hateful douchebag that I loved was *supposed* to ask me, and I probably would have said yes, but he got distracted with banging other women.
26. What was the first sport that you were involved in? Horseback riding! And it will be the last!
27. What were the first lessons you ever took? Horseback riding! My favorite lesson pony was Ginger, a chestnut quarab. She was hawt stuff and when I loped her I thought my life had pinnacled. I was 10.
28. What is the first thing you do when you get home? Strip! My apartment is over 35 degrees right now.
Dear Undergrad RN,
The English 108 Committee is very pleased to inform you that you have won the $200 prize given to the student who wrote the best essay in English 108. We were impressed with your careful analysis of current right to die legislation and with your skillful integration of material from your sources. Your essay is well written and clearly organized. We enjoyed reading it.
I... am single.
For the first time in 2 years, it's finally irrefutable that the boy I fell head over heels for in December 2006 is not the man of my dreams, and will never be the man of my dreams.
All that talk of engagements and weddings and babies and small town bliss and the future - gone.
I gave it my best shot. I probably gave it more than I should have, and I probably took more emotional battery than a reasonable person would have. But I wanted to have no regrets when it was over, no thoughts that I could have done something differently or said the right thing and saved a beautiful union.
Regrets? I have none.
I know that I am a deeply caring, gracious, intelligent woman and I'm positive that some man out there will want to respect me and honor me, and fight for me if that time ever comes. Someone who doesn't value appearances and money over integrity and respect. Someone who isn't content to let the world come knocking - he goes out and seeks to expand his worldview and challenge his mindset. He examines all sides of a situation and bases his decisions on critical thought. He has a softness in his heart to allow for the unbridled worship of a God greater than he.
More than anything, he's as committed to my well-being and happiness as I am to his.
I've got a lot to offer.
I'm stronger for this, I know I am... but I'm still mourning the loss of a future that will never be.
I really do apologize for the dearth of posts in the last couple of months (wow, has it really been that long?). I was/am still dealing with some personal stuff that I'd rather not air on the interweb but school-wise everything is going very well! We finished off the second semester in mid-April and I did decently, still hopefully in the running for a second year scholarship although I lost my tenuous grip on Dean's list. But I'm okay with that - the semester was intense!
Oh wow, our last class in Physiology was very exciting! Note to future students - do not plan to have a 3 hour class on Friday from 2 to 5. It feels more like a 6 hour class. She was about 6 or 7 months pregnant and I'm sure she was as glad to be done as we were. She was a great prof, really knowledgable, but she had the most unfortunate monotone voice. I ended up being conditioned to fall asleep at the sound of her lecturing :)
The Micro test was the hardest of all the finals. I studied like I'd studied for her previous tests but unfortunately she amped the difficulty like 35% for the final. It was really hard and I came out of there feeling like I'd been punched in the gut. There were short answer questions on there that I didn't see coming and unfortunately a zillion questions on the actions of antimicrobial drugs. Luckily I "diagnosed" the short answer infection correctly as malaria and was able to answer all the related questions semi-correctly. Yup, it was a challenge. Of course, going through the class had me convinced that I either previously or currently was infected with any number of terrible organisms. Like diptheria or rubella! Scarlet fever anyone?
Psych, Communications, and Nursing 175 were just more of the same as last semester. Kind of fluffy, no real hard knowledge required. Nursing was mostly regurgitated factoids from Potter & Perry that anyone who had been awake during clinical should know - what is the proper positioning of the BP cuff? Where can you clamp the Sp02 monitor? Mrs. Brown looks like she's about to keel over, what do you do? And some of the more tricky memorized parts, such as bed positioning and the according names.
I actually enjoyed Communications more than I thought I would. I didn't really learn anything - does anyone actually have moments in those classes where they're like, ohhhh, now I understand human behaviour? The prof was a lot of fun and very spot-on in her statements. She also refused to play politically correct so we got to hear some really good stories about life as a nurse in a hospital and running a nursing home. The best part about that class was that I made some really good friends who have been pretty much awesome in helping me out with my personal life. Heart you guys! To celebrate the (almost) end of the first year, piles of nursing students went out drinking and dancing. We did a lot of fun things together in a week that will forever be known as Nursing Students Gone Wild, Parts 1, 2, and 3. I'd have to recommend that to every student as a way to end the school year! It felt so good, after a month of locked in the library studying for hours, to let go and just be 24 again. Or 19, in most cases :) One night I got a lot of free drinks for a variety of reasons - first, I got socked in the eye by a guy giving his friend a vigorous ILOVEYOUMAN hug, and all my friends ordered him to buy me a drink immediately, and thereafter mostly by guys trying to get with my beautiful, and single, friend Tina from our clinical group. Not that it worked but I appreciated the gesture! ;) We also tried out our nursing student pickup moves. These must be as old as time. We'd tell anyone who would listen that we were first year students and would subsequently impress them with our brachial-pulse-finding skills, and tell them they were experiencing tachycardia. Even if they weren't. More free drinks for Tina and I. There you go, you learned it from UgRN first :)
On May 5th we started our third and final semester of Year 1. It was a condensed Psych 105 class that was the follow up to Psych 104. 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, 3 weeks long. Actually, I just wrote the final exam a week ago.
Boy, do I have a story about this instructor. Maybe it's a requisite that psych instructors need to be batshit crazy - you tell me!
So on the first day I sat in the front because I was kind of late and the class was packed. So I sit within "saliva distance" of this very enunciative man and listened to him regale the class with tales of his residency in gynecology and how NOBODY should go into gynecology as it is clearly the worst field imaginable.
Nursing students present exchange uncomfortable glances.
So, okay. He's a physician who left medicine to pursue psychology. I could see it, and at any rate if he didn't like labia that was his own problem.
Then he proposed that we change the class time from 0900 to 0830 because, and I quote, "the lineup is shorter at Tim Hortons and I'll have a better chance at getting a parking spot." Uh, right. Well I have a problem with that because I work evenings from 2-10 and any half hour in the morning that I get, I'm going to cherish. Also hanging out downtown for yet another half hour before work isn't really appealing. Also I don't drive, I don't give a rip about your parking spot or your coffee, and this just might be the most self-centered thing I've ever heard a prof say.
"Does anyone strongly oppose this change?" (Note use of the words 'STRONGLY oppose'. Because minor opposition will just have to suck it up, princess!)
Nursing students present exchange uncomfortable glances.
Then, suddenly, a hand shoots in the air! A single, stalwart hand that, yes, strongly opposes self-serving suggestions by college professors whom we are paying to listen to!
I look up. OH MY GOD IT'S MY HAND! I turn bright pink but I keep my hand up. He looks at me with contempt and suddenly there's more hands out there. Yes, more evening shift workers who don't want to come in earlier and make their days even longer. Whew!
"Please step outside so we can discuss your excuses, uh, reasons."
We then form in a semicircle of determination while he goes through us, one by one, trying to discredit our reasons for not wanting to change the class time. Because the class time on the roster is the one we signed up for, we say, and because we work late to put ourselves through this class. Not that we should have had to defend ourselves at all. But I was still bright pink from being the Class Dissenter.
"Can't you change your shifts?"
Uh, WHAT? Change our shifts so you can get coffee? The shifts I planned around this class? Can I get a hell no?
Thus was the start to our semester.
More epic tales of Dr. Uncongeniality to follow :)
We arrived on the unit for 0700 report and I was again assigned 2 patients, both of which I've been assigned to before. You may remember my friend Mr. Willie (as in Groundskeeper Willie), of "Ach! Stop pulling me family crest!" fame. There was also Mrs. S who was about the sweetest old lady on the planet. She had arrived on the unit about 8 weeks prior, all skin and bones due to severe malnutrition. She was quite the success story as she worked her 78 year old ass off in order to get out of incontinent products and to self-transfer to the commode and wheelchair so she could get off the unit. She did a great job of building her strength up and she was going to be discharged off the unit into the nearby rehabilitation hospital. She still looked like a skeleton but you could see that she was gaining some weight. Seriously - any people with body image issues reading today? Starvation is NOT attractive. Go eat something while you still can!
So my first task was to go in and get vitals from Mr. Willie, who was sound asleep so I tried to be quick and non-annoying about it. Unfortunately he wasn't in an especially chipper mood so I attempted to be jokesy yet subdued and hooked him up to the vitals machine. I put the cuff on his arm and he yelled "Godammit woman, didja put your hands in the icebox this morning??"
Yikes. Apologies ensued. I didn't think my hands were particularly cold!
So I hooked him up and pressed 'Go' and waited for the vitals machine to do its magic. Unfortunately it couldn't find the BP so it kept inflating/deflating the cuff. Finally I just killed it and attempted a manual. Shit! Mr. Willie has Parkinson's disease complete with hand tremors. I was trying to palpate his radial pulse but I couldn't tell whether it was a pulse I was feeling or if it was just his wrist flexing. Yarg. By now I've spent 20 minutes trying to get a noninvasive set of vitals and he is thoroughly awake and not in the best mood. Finally I just estimate and inflate the cuff to 160. As it's coming back down, past 120, past 110, past 100, I'm thinking - crap. I can't get his BP manually either. Nurse FAIL.
Then I hear it and see the mercury jump around 97. Hooray! As I was charting it I realized that he has chronically low BP. I PROBABLY should have checked his baseline first! lol!
So I let my instructor know that I couldn't get Mr. Willie's pulse because of his Parkinson's tremors. She suggested I go for it and find an apical pulse for the first time. I went back into his room, ready to attempt it, and There. He. Was.
Approximately 700 feet tall with sparkling eyes, dimples, and a great smile. Then he said hello in a rich Aussie accent. I felt MY apical pulse flutter. Swoon.
I introduced myself and said I was going to attempt to find Mr. Willie's apical pulse. Nurse McDreamy had Mr. W's G-tube out and was going to aspirate it and started explaining everything he was doing to me. In that luscious accent. Double swoon. Did I mention Aussies are third on my list of automatically-doable-men? That's my list of, regardless how ugly they may be, men that I would go out with if their accents were svelte enough. Irishmen are first. I really don't know what it is about them. Maybe I'll just blame Colin Farrell on that one. So after Nurse McDreamy was done his G-tube assessment, he started helping me find Mr. Willie's apical pulse. Poor Mr. Willie, being my guinea pig all morning. Lest you think I was neglecting him in the testosterone-laden presence of McDreamy, RN, actually the opposite was true. I actually made more of an effort to involve Mr. W because I felt so embarrassed from swooning over a fellow nurse at the bedside! I started with the 5th intercostal space and I couldn't hear anything. Just Mr. W talking. I jovially told him to zip it and kept listening. He continued making small noises and I realized it was his Parkinson's, so that was really distracting. Then McDreamy started pointing to different areas to listen to. Still nothing. Nothing, nothing, and nothing. I could hear him breathing but no heart sounds. McDreamy took my scope and tried. He couldn't hear anything either. Later he showed me the chart where it said that Mr. W had some kind of cardiac pathophysiology where his S3 and S4 sounds were muffled. If the cardiac specialist couldn't hear his heart sounds either, then I felt justified.
Mr. W is not one to beat around the bush, as it were. So he was washing his face and axillae, and suddenly said - "I believe that I peed."
Okay, said I, no problem. We'll get that cleaned up as part of your bath.
"Well, good thing, because now I have to shit!"
"Uh, okay, Mr. W. Would you like me to draw the curtain for you? We'll give you some privacy." He nodded and I went to draw the curtain closed. Suddenly, McDreamy stopped me and rhetorically questioned what kind of rational human being would want to have a bowel movement in bed. Only, the language he used was slightly more crass.
So he started getting Mr. W up from the bed! Let me remind you that a few short weeks ago, Mr. W was entirely bed bound. Yes, he is technically CAPABLE of walking, but not very far, and not to the toilet, and definitely NOT while trying to maintain bowel control, you know?
I should have said something.
I SHOULD have said that Mr. W was better off just using his incontinent product in the bed because I didn't think he would be strong enough to make it to the bathroom, much less in a hurry, much less while squeezing his sphincter shut. And that sacral ulcer would make it very uncomfortable if not downright damaging to use a bedpan.
McDreamy RN was becoming a whole lot more like McAsshole RN while he insisted that Mr. W stand up and walk to the bathroom. His patient care went right out the window. His manner was short, somewhat condescending, and I was mortified for poor Mr. W who was just doing what he was told. That accent of his wasn't doing anything for me now except make me even more pissed off.
Except, he was not. With a splatter I saw that exactly what I expected had come to pass. My first Code Brown, ladies and gentlemen, and for a man on G-tube feed - well, you can imagine the scene.
Mr. Willie's Parkinsons tremors had gotten worse and worse to the point that I was afraid he was going to keel over. The nurse had him over by the bathroom so I let them go the rest of the way while I started cleaning up. He was sooo agitated, and so I was I. How awful. What a terrible loss of dignity. McA RN finally got him on the toilet and we got to work cleaning it up. He was cursing under his breath and rolling his eyes at the whole scene. I could have smoked him in the nose. Bahhh, I was so angry! Luckily one of my clinical buddies seemed to pick up on my agitation via peer ESP and came into the room bearing deodorizers. She sprayed it everywhere and that seemed to help. Unfortunately there was BM on my scrubs, on my shoes, on my arm (eww.) and just about everywhere.
So that's the first part of my, ahem, shitty day. There's more to the story but I am heading home from work now. I shall continue the story at a future time.
4) Tell me what your dream stethoscope would be
5) Does it have a name?
6) Tag all your nursing friends (Including the one that tagged you) and dont forget to leave a comment on their blog telling them that you tagged them!
Thank you for posting that review of Fireproof. I decided to rent it on iTunes and it really struck a chord with me. Yes, it appears that men really are capable of being real men all on their own and shouldn't require careful prodding from a woman to do the right thing.
I started to realize that I'm a bit of a pushover and I shouldn't have to take the B.S. that I have been, but I keep taking it hoping that everything will be smoothed over in the end. I need to put a stop to that and start demanding the respect I deserve otherwise I may never get it. Well, I don't know if it will work out or not, but I have to trust that Someone has my best interests in mind.
"A real man needs to be a hero to his wife before he can be to anybody else"
You may have started something big in me. Thanks, I think ;)
Monday we worked the PM shift on the unit from 1400 - 2200. It was probably the best one so far. We each had our own patient assignment and were responsible to handle all of their hygiene and repositioning. My clinical instructor winked at me when I was reading the assignment sheet, saying I'd 'have fun' with my new patient. I didn't know what to think!
So I sat down and read his chart, and he's basically an elderly Scottish guy who's got a case of old-age-itis and had a variety of problems catch up with him to land him on my unit. His chart was scary to me. Pressure ulcer on sacrum, fully dependent, NG tube, lived alone, no family. I had a picture in my mind of an angry, aging Groundskeeper Willie, who yelled at everyone who came to help with peri-care.
Picture my surprise when I peek around the door and I see the tiniest little man lost in a huge air bed, peeking out from beneath 3 blankets.
"Hi, my name is UgRN, and I'll be you're student nurse today, Mr. M!"
He said something very quietly.
"Sorry, Mr. M, what was that?" I leaned in.
He chuckled a little and said "I sez, 'why, halloooo, lass'! They keep sendin' me the pretty young nurses. I haven't had so much attention from the ladies since I was in uniform! Or the men, either, for that matter."
So set the tone for the entire shift.
You may remember that I spent a memorable 6 months gallivanting around Scotland with my backpack, a few pounds in change, and a job working for a coastal horse trekking outfit. So my patient and I had plenty to reminisce about. He's an Edinburgh man and I didn't spend nearly enough time there but I did remember the long ardurous hike from High Street, down to Holyrood, and then over to Princes Street. I also remember how crazy packed the streets were (I kept hitting people with my overstuffed backpack) and how I couldn't afford anything :) But I did buy a tartan Christmas ball.
It was kind of funny, really, how we all seemed to congregate at Mr. M's bed when there was nothing else to do. He kept us in stitches all night. He was a total saint, too, when we were experimenting with proper peri-care for a fully dependent man with an indwelling catheter. It turned out that out of all of us, the one person who did not have a chance to practice peri-care was the only male in our clinical group. So we voted him to be the one to do it. There were 6 of us with nothing to do so we made ourselves "useful" by fetching pillows and offering, uh, "helpful" instructions to our poor classmate who didn't know if he was coming or going. We rolled Mr. M back and forth all over creation and he swiped good naturedly at us, saying "Hey! Don't pull on my FAMILY CREST! There's not much there as it is, you know! You lady nurses are always so rough with it but this man here is ever so gentle." OMG, I was in tears, I was laughing so hard.
A little later I was reflecting that I had a completely wrong impression of him from his chart. He wasn't a scary recluse at all! And how different it must be for him to come from living indepedently with hardly any social interaction at all, to coming into the unit totally bedfast and charming everyone to where his bed was the local muster point.
Anyway. It was a great shift. We also got to watch the nurses swab for MRSA/VRE and then put the swabs in the vacuum tube and shoot it over the the lab. Fricken SWEET!
Yesterday we learned (finally) how to do blood pressures. Man, I can't find a brachial pulse to save my life. I was poking my partner's arms all over the place until our lab instructor whizzed over, touched her lightly on the inner elbow, and said "Here".
We had the coolest stethoscope ever. It's a teaching stethoscope with one chest piece and two earpieces! So she found the brachial pulse and set it all up, and I could finally hear what I was listening for. So we did about 800 BPs on each other until our fingers were tingly from lack of perfusion. My BP was, like, really low. 90/60 or somesuch when the instructor was doing it. She asked me if I was fit - not really! But I guess that explains why I see stars all the time when I stand up.
Anyway, my bus is coming soon so I will complete this when I get home from work. Tsk, blogging at work!
In Potter and Perry, it was mentioned that students can find touch stressful, but they learn to cope with intimate contact by changing their perceptions. As we were getting Mrs. E into bed, she was so tense that she was lifting her head and shoulders right off the bed. As I started the bed bath for her, it was initially very task-oriented for me: now I dip the washcloth in the basin, now I wring it out, is it too wet, oh, now is it too cold? Now I make the mitt – how does that go again? Now I touch the skin, not too firmly, not too gently. As I started getting the hang of it I realized I had run out of limbs to clean and it was time to do her abdomen. Mrs. E didn’t bat an eye when I undid her gown and she had her most private self exposed to me, but I saw a body that at one time had probably been reserved only for her parents or husband to see. And now, just about anyone wearing a uniform and an ID tag could see it.
I knew then that my perception had changed. She was much, much more than the unlucky recipient of my first bed bath. She was a person all her own and I had the privilege of helping her with her most intimate necessities. After that moment I began cleansing her abdomen knowing I was washing a unique human being. The task of washing became more of an act of caring. No longer did I concentrate so hard on the procedure. My focus was on helping Mrs. E take care of her needs. From there, I was more comfortable handling her body and the washcloth. As I relaxed, so did she! By the end of the bath she was lying flat out, completely relaxed. I could see that my touch had probably helped provide both relief from feeling unclean and, when I relaxed, my touch eased her into finding a position of comfort.
- Hand hygiene! Hand hygiene at every opportunity! No nosocomial infections on my watch!
- Taking health histories
- Giving hand massages!
- Repositioning and possibly ambulating but I haven't actually done that yet
- Making beds (woo hospital corners!)