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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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

One week

until classes start!

I'm very stoked*

However, with the expenses of renting a new apartment, I haven't actually purchased any textbooks yet...
Monday, August 24, 2009

Simultaneously, the 5 worst and best seconds of my life.

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:
Arch thousand!

Two thousand!

Three thousand!

Four Thousand!

Five Thousand!

Check canopy!

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
(Are at least 7 of the 9 cells performing, or am I
still dropping like a rock?)
(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)
(Forcefully drive your fist through the red cutaway handle, freeing you from a
malfunctioning canopy)
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.


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.
Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ah, summery bliss

17 days until I start fall classes. I have to say, I am really excited about this semester. It's like, now that first year is out of the way - with all of its theory and history and A&P, we can finally get into the nitty gritty awesomeness of what I want to do for a living.

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.
Monday, August 10, 2009


Pharmacology final grade: A

Do I feel the mark reflects my actual knowledge of pharmacology? NO!
Will the mark affect my eligibility for scholarships? Yes!

I'll take it.
Sunday, August 9, 2009

Some people have all the luck

We had a burlesque show a few weeks ago and the sound tech from the show apparently took quite a shine to me. He sent me a Facebook message inquiring if I'd like to perhaps get a drink or something.

Being newly single, and entirely susceptible to flattery, I accepted.

That one evening was most enjoyable and I looked forward to another one. No nookie whatsoever. We just hung out.


Until I invited him out to celebrate the end of Pharmacology and he turned into a crazy person. No, that's a lie, he was probably crazy all along. Actually, you tell me -

(To the tune of the 12 days of Christmas)

I check my phone, "what is this?"
There is a lot from he -
one hundred texts
fifty lines of "please?"
twenty missed calls
ten suicide threats
three blocked numbers
one reply from me
... and a stalker in a tree
Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ram a pril, any pril...

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:

Anyway, back to the point - I'm a little concerned about this Pharmacology business. I just don't feel like I'm going to remember *anything* next January for clinical. I'm going to be married to my drug guide. In the wise words of NNR, I also correlate learning this stuff to learning to drive, where I am being handed the keys to an exciting but ultimately hazard-laden responsibility.


Anyway, I've been studying a lot for this final. It might be fun to post my study guide later, once I'm actually done with it!

I hope it goes well...

Pharm final imminent

In less than 24 hours, in fact. And yes, we are *still* covering new material....
Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ah, memes.

1. Who was your FIRST prom date? We don't do "prom" in Alberta. We do grad, however, and the first time I went was with my first real boyfriend Trevor to his. Awww

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.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009


If you venture down to the bottom of this page, you will see that I am officially 20 lbs lighter than I was 6 months ago. I have a single chin now and a jawline (yay!) and I've lost I think 5 inches off my waist and have had to buy new skinny jeans twice, woo hoo!

This is a total endorsement for Weight Watchers. I *really* like the flexibility (sorry, chicken and rice day after day isn't really my style) and I thrive on the accountability. Knowing I'm going to have to get on that scale every Tuesday and be accountable for what I put in my mouth or burned off at the gym the week before is just awesome for motivation.

I am now halfway to my goal of 125 lbs.

It's not the fastest way and it does take dedication and internal motivation (no one is yelling at me to spend money on a meeting, after all), and it has taken me 6 months to get here today, but I can honestly say that the way I look at food is changed forever. Food is fun, yes, but food is also fuel. Maintain equilibrium and you'll never grow out of your fat pants like I did last fall.

Those 20 lbs are NEVER coming back... in fact they can take 20 extra lbs with 'em :)
Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I'm in my usual spot in the school right now finishing up on studying for my first Pharm midterm in about 1.5 hours from now.

I just can't get over how serene and peaceful the school is during the summer. It's utterly tomblike.

Just thought I'd share.... :)
Monday, July 20, 2009

Pharmacology + Summer = hmmmm

So pharmacology started up on July 7th. 3 hours a day in the morning on Tuesday thru Thursdays. Not bad, right?

Until I look out the window and the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and I can run across the road at break for an iced cap.

Still, it is pretty interesting stuff! The prof is an RN MEd, with no Pharm degree in sight but a bunch of experience so I guess that counts. She has a lot to say about drugs and interactions as she apparently is a chronic pain sufferer from a car accident and is hypersensitive to many drugs. So the stories she has been sharing are... well, scary.

The course is sooo condensed. We learned about drug calculations on Thursday the 10th and had the test on the following Tuesday. The passing grade was 100%! Stress, stress, stress was all I did. The test had a few sneaky questions with infusion that I had trouble with, as there was surplus information such as drip rates and the nurse changing the bag from 750 mL to 1000 mL. So I failed it but luckily I got a redo and was able to just recalculate my wrong questions.

It's not even that the med math is hard... it's not. But it was just so unfamiliar to me and looks different than all my years of algebra and chemistry. Mostly because I'm not used to working with those units or visualizing typically nebulous questions in a way that's very concrete and factual. I mean, when has math or chemistry ever applied to something you're actually going to do, right? So I still feel a little shaky but I have a workbook full of questions that I will brush up on before clinical in January.

So the other thing I've been up to is my new hobby of burlesque. A bunch of girls and I started up a new troupe here and have done a couple of shows so far this summer. I have to say - I freaking love it. At first I was a little shy, but it is just so incredibly liberating and full of verve that I'm hopelessly addicted. I'm always listening to music wondering whether I could use it for a song and envisioning new moves. We have had a total blast and I am finally remembering how much fun performing is! It's full of moves from jazz and ballet, and lots of theatrical parts too!

I'm moving in about a month to a new place as I don't want to live in this apartment after my ex and I split... so I will probably be busy with that and will be lacking internet for a bit! Hopefully I can post some more before then :)

I hope you're all enjoying your summer!
Monday, June 29, 2009

Received in the mail today

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.

OMG! The paper they are talking about is this one. I am just so amazed. English 108 is a requisite for almost every first year student. That includes nursing, arts, English, journalism, et al. faculties! And I beat out all of those other students with a freakin' research paper!


P.S. Pharmacology in 8 days! So much for my one month of glorious vacation. Except that I am working full time. Sigh...
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dear world,

I'm going to emote a little bit. This might be a little on the not-fun-to-read side, but I'm more writing it for me than for anyone else.

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.
Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hiatus: clarity ensues!

Well, sometimes.

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 :)
Friday, May 8, 2009

Dear world

I am still here. Life is insane these days. Weekend update to follow... I promise!
Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My first code. Of sorts. (part I)

Okay, I'm sorry about that teaser from yesterday. I was so beat when I got home that I was incapable of much more than becoming a bump on the couch. I pretty much vegged out with some Intervention and Project Runway Canada. And then I went to bed at 21:00. So here's a synopsis of my mind-numbing day:

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.

Nurse McDreamy.

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.

Once complete with Mr. Willie, I scampered off to giggle with my clinical group for a few minutes over McDreamy. Another RN overheard us and, sadly, informed us about Mrs. McDreamy. Bummer! Anyway, totally unbecoming nonprofessional behavior aside, I went back to Mr. W to see if he needed repositioning or anything (he has a sacral ulcer) before I went to see my other patient Mrs. S. Mr. W, still not in the best mood, insisted that I get his bed bath going ASAP as he was expecting a visit from a physician and wanted to be clean before that. So I agreed and got his basin all ready, got all the towels primed, and who shows up again but McDreamy RN. Hooray, thought I, someone to help me roll Mr. W around this big bed. 

My impression of this McDreamy fellow was about to do a complete 180.

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!"

Blink, blink.

"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.

Unfortunately, and I'm going to chalk this one up to plain old newbie-ness, I didn't stand up for Mr. W. I thought that McAsshole the registered nurse would know better than a first year student. I hadn't worked with Mr. W for a few weeks and, who knows, perhaps he really was able to walk to the bathroom....

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.

Have any of you ever been faced with this? Someone who should know better but doesn't, and who you should speak up to but are afraid to?
Monday, March 30, 2009

A difficult day

at clinical today... 

Suffice it to say, for now, that it wasn't the patients - it was the nurses.
Thursday, March 26, 2009


Well, in case you're wondering, my post from last week is still unresolved. But I am being open and honest with myself for the first time in probably a while and I can feel change in the air. To be honest I've been steering clear of blogging for a bit because I have been doing a whole lot of partying to get my mind off things. However, judging by my traffic counter, not many people are interested in my emoting, so it's back to your regularly scheduled program of UgRN!

P.S. Thanks to everyone who sent their well wishes. It was totally appreciated and I know I've got a whole lot of life left in me and a lot of experience to gain, so it helps a lot to get the experience and wisdom of other people :)

Anyway - clinical! OMG, there's only 2 weeks left of this semester. Two weeks proper, anyway. Then there's a gap while we celebrate Easter with the fam and then it's back to finals. Then after finals there's another mini semester in May. But I'm not thinking about that! I'm thinking about 2 weeks left in classes!

I'm soooo ready to be done this semester. I think I've said this before but I love nursing and nursing school. Really, I do. I just haaate the freakin' wringer they put me through! I'm sick of going to classes every day and learning a million new things, all the while thinking, 'shit, I've got to memorize all of this stuff for the final!'. It's really insane how much the human brain can store. Add to the mix my current life stressors and lack of sleep, and it makes for a pretty explosive college girl!

This week in clinical I had TWO patients! One was a stepdown from ICU (is that the right word? coming from ICU to a medical unit?) with a previous tracheotomy and a whole lot of tubing, and the other was just about the sweetest nonagenarian that I've ever met. My assignment wasn't supposed to be quite so crazy but my previous patient was discharged and replaced with the ICU patient. So I totally had my hands full. I did vitals for the first time on a real patient (with my Littmann Master Cardiology scope, which I heart!). My instructor, who seems to love me now that I wrote such a good reflection journal, watched and said that my technique was great so she wasn't even going to double check my results on a manual BP. I insisted that she did and she got the same BP as me! So that was very exciting for me.

The thing with vitals is that people are counting on you to come up with accurate numbers. It's not like a bed bath where you can just do it your way and no one complains. If the numbers are off, it could screw with someone's meds or tests, and ultimately life. So I took it as a pretty big deal. My biggest obstacle is actually finding the brachial pulse on someone. I didn't even KNOW there was a brachial pulse except on a baby arm. So a few of us spent hours on that just palpating each others arms. It's pretty funny, any nursing student can approach another nursing student and start poking their elbows for a brachial pulse, and we all instantly understand! We don't even need to ask permission any more. That's peer support for you.

So just to be sure, I checked my stepdown patient's vitals manually and then with a vitals machine, and I was totally thrilled to see they matched exactly for BP and pulse. SpO2 was at 95% on 5L (?) of oxygen which was good. The sneaky part about measuring someone's respirations is that they will change their respiratory rate when they know that's what you're counting for. So we are taught to palpate the radial pulse, count off 30 sec and take the reading x2, and then to keep our hands on their wrists for another 30 sec while we count off their respirations while ostensibly still checking the pulse. It was a lot of fun. I felt kind of sneaky in a good way. But then I got all over confident and forgot my HR count while I was counting off respirations. So clearly I have some work to do there, haha!

The sphygmomanometer that we have on the unit is really super ancient. I might have mentioned this already, but it's about 3 feet tall on casters, with for-real mercury in it, and you need to push it around the unit to get to a patient's room. Compare that to the portable cuffs we used in lab that is essentially just the cuff, a dial, and the pump part. Totally can fit in your pocket. The nurses on the unit laugh at us for taking BPs manually, but oh well! I'm so thrilled that I can do it at all! :)

Anyway, I just wanted to check in with you all. I haven't forgotten about you! <3

Meme: What does your stethoscope look like?

I've been tagged by Student RN Tiffany!

Here are the rules:

1) Post a picture of your stethoscope

2) Tell what you love about it

3) Tell what you hate about it

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!


1) I already posted a picture of it :) I love my engravings. They're so me!

2) Mostly, I love the fact that it's got the horse engraving and my name/school/grad year. It keeps me connected to the idea that some day I will graduate from this chaos! I also love how loud it is as I can sometimes be a bit hard of hearing. Probably due to my extensive telephone work and the iPod usage that I enjoy whenever possible :) I also love how heavy it is. Shocking, I know, but when things feel flimsy in my hands I just don't feel as confident with them. This guy is NOT flimsy!

3) Bah, the only thing I hate is being the only person in my whole freakin school who doesn't have a bell AND a diaphragm. Everybody's like dude, wtf is wrong with your scope?

4) LOL, I don't have enough experience with them to know what I would change. I like mine. I would REALLY like one that could magically shrink down into my back pocket when I didn't need it!

5) Not yet, but I'm sure it will. We've only had them on the unit twice now! I've called it "My Little Pony" a couple of times. Maybe that will stick. Or how about, "Damn this thing in my pocket digging into my leg!"

6) Oooh I totally tag back Tiffany, little d, Lou, Somnambulant (if you're still blogging these days!), and Wardbunny. I'll comment on your blogs tomorrow to let you know. But for now... I am off to bed!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dear Drofen

It's been a rough few days...

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 ;)
Saturday, March 14, 2009


This week was mind numbing, to say the least... to the point that I can't believe it's already been a whole week since last weekend.

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.

[Photo Credit]

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!

Monday, March 9, 2009

My stethoscope is here!

Over a month after placing the order, I finally have my 'scope in my hot little hands. It's a burgundy Littmann Master Cardiology over which I hemmed and hawed for a couple of weeks. I read all over allnurses.com and the overwhelming majority of students seemed to prefer the Master Cardio over the other ones, and if you look after it you shouldn't have to buy another one. So I splurged on it (it was just under $300 CAD - $221.82 USD because I got it engraved).

I already detailed my experience with stethoscopes.com a few weeks ago. Would I deal with them again? I don't know. They were very timely about getting my scope shipped out, but it really does just sound like some guy reselling stethoscopes out of his basement. Also - the whole Magna Fortis thing. And $100USD to ship to Canada? LOL! We share a border! It wouldn't cost that much to ship to Russia! They did, however, engrave my scope just like I wanted, with a horse on the chestpiece and my name/school/grad year on the earpiece. So I got what I was after, anyway.

I listened to my heartbeat in various locations for like half an hour already. I don't know how to do anything else. But it sounds cool :)

Yesterday I was at the University library from 1300 to 2300, and I only got through one chapter. It was urinary physiology. Although I accomplished like 1/10th of what I wanted to, I'm glad I was able to work through the chapter because I started it not understanding anything and I methodically worked through GFRs, Na+ cotransport mechanisms, leak channels, aquaporins, medullary countercurrent multipliers, aldosterone and vasopressin, and now I kind of get it. So no, didn't accomplish much in terms of quantity, but I feel pretty good about the chapter that I *did* spend 10 hours on :)

Heading to clinical today at 1300. Probably not going to class tomorrow morning so I can study Micro instead - midterm tomorrow at 1400! Scary.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Midterms, round 4

Once I'm done this set, I should be done with midterms until September. Good riddance! I actually prefer finals to midterms because even though there's more ground to cover, they usually aren't as gruesomely detailed as midterms are. And you don't have to fit studying around class time. This weekend I've got the table pulled up to the couch again, basking in my Koi scrub pants because they are just so freekin' comfy, spread end to end with Micro and Physiology.

You may remember that I bombed my first clinical reflective journal. I basically rehashed my post about my first day which I thought was adequately reflective. WRONG! I got 2/5, which is 3% off my final grade. I was so pissed about the whole thing that I wasn't open to learning what I did wrong. Actually, it ended up being a really good experience for me to get a bad mark like that. I don't usually bomb on assignments that I even put a partial effort into. Sometimes getting a slap in the face from reality is a good thing!

So I took it seriously on the second journal. The topic was to reflect on our use of therapeutic touch to provide comfort. I think the big problem I had (as did many of my classmates) was looking past the word "journal". It was not a journal so much as a researched paper that wasn't in APA. I referenced Potter & Perry many times and material from my lecture. I actually ended up putting in a couple of hours into it. Happily, the teacher marked it yesterday and I got 5/5! More so, she said it was "the perfect journal" and she wants to use it as an example for future clinical groups. I'm so thrilled. Like I said, I'm actually glad I did so badly because I was able to really focus on how to do it right the next time.

In case you're wondering, here's an excerpt of how my school wants a clinical reflective journal to look (because I couldn't find an example online when I wanted one!) P.S. Please don't plagiarize. That's just not classy.

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.

Clinical, as I've said, has been just awesome. I've pretty much had the same patient all along - that is, my friend Mrs. E with that whole catheter thing. I gotta say, she's really grown on me since that first day. I've helped her with her bed bath, cath/peri care, bed changes, transfers, ambulation, and pretty much all of the tasks that I can currently do.

My big breakthrough, though, has been with her roommate who is a large German lady with mild dementia who yells a lot and is often in wrist restraints, with high anxiety and restless legs. I wasn't technically assigned to her but I found myself really drawn to her. I went to check her brief and she locked eyes with me, pleading in perfect English - "Please take these things off me. I hate them!", gesturing to her tied wrists. Of course I couldn't, as she had a tendency of removing her IV and whatever else, but I felt really awful that she was so coherent and tied up like that. Then I peeked in her room around suppertime and I saw that her food tray was on her table, right over her lap, and her arms were still in restraints so all she could do was smell her food. That got me kind of mad, actually. How inappropriate is that?? If she can't eat yet, don't park her freakin dinner right under her nose.

Later the shift, we helped with getting the patients ready for bed. That's where the little story in my reflective paper came from. I also helped get the German lady ready for bed. The change in her was remarkable when we took the time to reposition her onto her side - her legs stopped swinging back and forth across the bed. She was so relaxed and comfortable that my clinical instructor ok'd taking off her restraints. I helped her with her mouth care and brushed her hair and she practically melted under my touch. By the time we left the room both of the ladies were totally unconscious and resting really comfortably. I felt sooooo good being able to do that for them.

Last Monday I was assigned to that room again and continued trying to figure out the German lady. We were on from 0700 to 1500 so I popped in right after report to say hi. She didn't remember me (it had been a week so that's cool). This time they were both in restraints. My friend Mrs. E had pulled out her foley catheter the night before. After hearing her moan every time anyone touched it for the last few shifts, I couldn't BELIEVE that she had done that to herself. I mean, the size of that balloon?? Yeeowch! When Mrs. E woke up and found herself in wrist restraints she really started hollering. Poor woman with dementia waking up from a dead sleep to find herself tied up. She was in quite a panic.

The nurse assigned to my room was nice enough but had a really thick accent and, I think, wasn't able to or didn't want to speak in a soothing manner to either woman. She was, IMO, really patronizing, calling them Grandma or Mama. She watched me take down the covers and said "Careful, she may punch you". All of this in front of a perfectly competent person! The nurse had to do some blood draws and told her those five awful words - 'This Won't Hurt A Bit' which it did and that really set her off! She started calling the nurse a liar: "Everything that comes out of your mouth is a lie", and in general being very vocal and upset.

The physicians came in a little while later asking her for some information to which she remained silent. They looked at me questioningly, saying "Is she refusing to speak today?" I just shrugged at that. It was clear that this woman's biggest problem was people were treating her like a problem.

I was pulled from the room for a while but I returned after lunch. She was nodding off and I asked her if she was feeling good, if she had enjoyed lunch, if she was comfortable. She said something distantly and looked away. I suddenly put my hand on her arm and asked her if she would like me to take her tray away. For me to spontaneously touch people is a huge step! She locked eyes with me and said, "Yes, thank you..." and then I asked her if she'd like some more tea. "Yes, please... could I have a cookie too? That would help me feel so much more at home. You know, my husband lives just a few blocks from here. I so wish I could just get up out of this bed and walk home!"

My heart totally went out to her and I said of course you can have some more tea and a cookie. I'll be right back!

So I came back with the tea and 3 cookies and she was totally thrilled. She started talking and talking and it was clear to me that all she wanted was someone to talk to her like she was a person and not a noisy lump in bed 8-1! I crouched down by her bed as she kept talking and she paused, saying "Thank you - thank you for staying to hear my story - no one ever does."

Yep, my big breakthrough so far. The problem in 8-1 is, in fact, a really nice lady who is someone's wife and grandma, and who just wants to be treated like a human being with thoughts and feelings. I'm so sure that one day I'm going to read this post again, when I'm a burned out fulltime nurse somewhere, and I hope I remember what it felt like for me to make such a tiny, significant, difference in someone's life.

That's about my spiel for today. Pearl Harbor's on - is it bad for me to love to watch the Army nurses giddily traipse around Hawaii and then watch them handle the triage and trauma after the attack? I also love to see them in full nursing regalia - knee length skirts, heels, tights, and caps, of course.

I'm thinking about writing a letter to the dean of my program complaining about the biased language that the profs seem to be using in all the classes. Most of the profs are MN or PhD, and yet on the midterms or in examples, the nurses are always she and the physicians are he. Usually the patients are he's, too. I feel so bad for the male students - they must feel so excluded when they see that. The annoying part is that if we ever submitted a paper with biased language like that we'd be taken out for sure. They just don't seem to realize that biased language is perpetuated by everyone who uses it! So, we'll see how that goes.

I also took a picture with the nursing union president for my scholarship. There was soooo much authority in that room I just about crapped my pants. I hate taking pictures! But I'm $1k richer so I can't complain. That is going straight into my ING account and hopefully I can pay for next year out of pocket.

Unfortunately when I saw my pictures from the photo shoot I was like, holy shit, where did all that come from? I'm definitely packing some face fat which makes me look like a whole different person. Someone I'm not especially excited to be. So I joined Weight Watchers a few weeks ago along with the rest of my female family (they've been on it for a while and had really good success), and you can see my progress at the bottom of the page if you're interested. I like it so far. I'm not one to stick with regimented diets so the choices really appeal to me. I'm hoping to drop about 30 lbs and get back to my high school body - wish me luck :) Slow and steady is my plan. Cutting out all the extra noms that I love so much. As long as the scale is going down and not up, I'm happy.
Saturday, February 28, 2009

Midst of Midterms

Oy, I am so over this semester. There, I said it. It's not that I dislike any of the courses, I'm just undergoing utter burnout from work/school stress. I just flat out don't care about my marks in Psychology. How bad is that? It's a totally easy course with a class average of 80%+ but I put zero effort into studying for the midterm and got 77%. I'm terribly ashamed but still can't summon the energy to care much one way or another. I've been engaging in a lot of self-talk lately trying to pump myself up for powering through finals. I have a Micro and Phys midterm on the week after next and I seriously need to study. I feel like I don't know anything! So that's my plan for this weekend: around the clock power hours.

I had such a great time at clinical this week! Because we had our hygiene lab the week before Reading Week, we were finally allowed to assist with patient hygiene. Well, everything except perineal care. It was our first full 8-hour shift and lucky for me my new shoes were finally delivered. They're some kind of New Balance walking shoe and because of my high arches I got some fancy inserts for them. I tell you, it was like magic. I was expecting all kinds of joint pain because I'm not really used to standing up for long periods, but I got home and my feet were a little swollen but not tired at all. And the next day I felt great! So far, so good.

I'm heading out of the house for some time well spent with my extended fam (we jokingly called it "Coffee Club" where we meet up at a Second Cup every Saturday and take over half of it for a few hours and catch up with everyone... and the name stuck) and later today I will be posting up the sordid details of my clinical experience as well as the, uh, metabolic-waste-ly fun of lab this week.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Happy belated anniversary

To me! undergradrn.blogspot.com turned one year old on February 1. One year ago I was working for a faceless corporation, facing a layoff, x'ing out the days in my calendar, longing for September and feeling like it would never come.

One year later and I am a changed person. I have a steady, well-paid job that I am grateful for and which is allowing me to work through my education. I have many new friends and I have a sense of belonging at my school. I've weathered a long-distance relationship for 6 long months (soon to be 8!).

I've learned a lot about nursing, too. I always knew it took a special kind of person, but my focus was always in the heart of a person. I never realized how tough school would be or how many (oh God how many) long and lonely hours I would spend studying in the library. A nurse is a skilled job for sure, and with each passing day part of me is less sure that I could ever be skilled enough to do it. Another part of me is sure I can and can't wait to feel capable.

So to my readers, old and new, thanks for sticking around. We've still got another 3.5 years to go, though, so stay a while!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Reading Week pt II

All right, so I left off last night describing my experience caring for the dying man. I didn't do much else except stand and watch because his family was there and did most of the work for him.

We then went into the med room and my nurse started getting all of her meds together. While I was hanging out in there it occurred to me - wait a minute, this nurse hasn't washed her hands yet. Not once. I had been using hand sanitizer like a crazy person (like I said, 5 skills, and I'm gonna do them right!) and my hands were all gunky so I went for a speed wash because really, she was leaving to pass meds whether I was following her or not.

Now, some of you might call me out for not calling her out on it. Yeah, I probably should have but it's really tough to correct someone that has 20 years experience on you and you've only known her for an hour, and you're just grateful that she let your useless ass tag along. It's not even like I'm a 3rd or 4th year student with the experience to go most of it alone. I'm just a lowly 1st year on my 4th clinical day who asks a lot of questions but can't help much! (I'm also a person who is insanely respectful of other people's autonomy. An attitude that clearly needs to have boundaries, but geez, I'm working on it, okay? :) Anyway Wardbunny and Kim helped me out for next time by suggesting I just ask for a minute to wash up before we do the next task and hopefully she'll get the hint.

So we passed meds to everyone and she asked me to hang out with Mr. F, the stroke patient in restraints. Uh... sure?

Technically, Mr. F was only in one wrist restraint because his right side was immobile. She went to untie him and said "Okay, Mr. F, I'm going to let you out of this restraint but you're not allowed to attack me, and you're not allowed to attack my friend. Okay?". He just looked at her but I really do think he understands more than he let on. She untied him and he was fine. She asked me to stay with him to make sure he didn't come out of bed. Apparently the day before he saw his breakfast but there was no one in to feed him yet, so he crawled out of bed (sort of - remember, stroke patient) and attempted to self-feed. His family wasn't too happy with that!

So I hung out by Mr. F's bed for a while, straightening this and that and basically puttering around waiting for her to come back. I could feel his eyes burning into my back and I was getting really weirded out so I started talking about nothing in particular. Mr. F had two responses he would give to a question. He would either nod slowly, staring into your eyes, or shrug his shoulders with palms upward as if to say meh, take it or leave it

I asked him if he was comfortable - nod. 
I asked him if he'd like the radio on - nod. 
I asked if it was a good volume - nod. 
I asked if he liked the station - shrug. 
I asked if he was comfortable again - nod.


So I saw there were some cards on Mr. F's table from various guests. Aha! thought I, something I can make small talk about that doesn't make me sound like I'm hearing voices.

I picked up a card and it was your generic get-well soon card. I read it to him and he nodded slowly, looking at me. Then it hit me - this card was from the Little Italy association! Mr. F is Italo-Canadian and now that shrug that he does is totally in context.

So for the rest of my 4 hour shift I hung out with Mr. F, making small talk about sweet nothing until he started asking me for something but for the life of me I couldn't figure out what it was! I don't even know if he was speaking English. He was so muffled it was hard to tell. He kept gesturing kind of wildly with his good arm and finally I was like... oh... are you thirsty, Mr. F? Nod. I wasn't sure if that was a nod yes or just an 'I'll agree with you because you're talking to me' nod, but I went with it. So I told my nurse that he seemed thirsty and she kind of gave me the so give him a drink expression but I'm not allowed to yet and aspirating a stroke pt 'because I wanted to help' is not exactly on my to-do list.

She went off on her break so I started following some other random nurses around. As I was carrying sheets for one of the nurses, a tech came running up to us and said "Are you an RN? I need an RN to take the Dr orders" and I shook my head and my nurse did too. After the tech left she muttered "I used to be an RN in the Philippines but here I am only an LPN". In case you weren't aware there is a huge hoopla because Canada took in a lot of foreign-trained nurses and told them they could be RNs here. Then we changed our minds because they couldn't pass the  CRNE and so we made them LPNs until they can pass the CRNE. So I felt super awkward, being an RN student as I am, with this woman who can't function as an RN here even though originally that's just what she was. I was trying to explain this to my boyfriend that although it sucks they were made bad promises, we can't just upgrade everyone to an RN position without them being able to meet CRNE standards. Not all countries train their nurses the same way and to give everyone the same responsibilities without having had equivalent training is just unethical. So I don't have a solution for that one. Good luck, government.

That about wrapped up my clinical day on Monday last. We had a 1-hour post conference in which we discussed our reflective journals which are periodic through the term. Yeah... about that - I failed it. I am so peeved about the whole thing. I wrote a good little paper and I thought it covered off all of the requirements but apparently a reflective journal is a whole different can of worms. Most of my group failed it actually. Most of the other groups got an easy 5/5, which is what I was expecting. My instructor said that it wasn't about passing or failing, but actually, it is. These journals are 20% of my final grade! So we're going to talk to the course developers and be like, dude, wtf.

Lab last Friday was so fun! We did a hygiene lab and we got kits with all kinds of goodies in them. There's a shower cap that comes preloaded with shampoo, and you can microwave it and wash someone's hair with it. There is also shaving cream, a razor, a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, tongue depressors, wipes, etc. My tuition dollars, hard at work. The lab was super fun though. I usually pair off with one particular girl and we have a blast roleplaying. We tend to get very animated and give each other stupid names. 

"Oh, Nurse Mindy, you're the best nurse ever!"

So we gave each other bed baths on arms and legs and that was a great experience, having it done on myself. It's easy to forget how cold even hot water becomes when it's on a washcloth. Also brushing someone else's teeth is a real challenge!

Anyway, that brings me to this week, where I'm doin' a whole lot of nothing and it's great. Semester end is in sights!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reading week!

Today's blog post is brought to you from a gritty, loud coffeehouse. It's a hoppin' place tonight and I'm here with my boyfriend (who, happily, was accepted to the second year of his BPE/BEd degree at my school! joy ensues). We're in the misnomer'd "Reading Week", which is essentially a spring break except it's not really spring at all. So I'm off for a full week which is fantastic. I'm getting a little sick of the grind. Only 2 months left of fulltime school before I can go back to work and pay off my burdened credit card!

Some of you Twitterians may recall that I ordered a Littmann Master Cardiology stethoscope from stethoscopes.com a few weeks ago. I had it shipped to my aunt in the States so that I could sidestep the $100USD shipping fee. I totally call bullshit on that cost. I had purchased a guitar on eBay and it was shipped to me from Texas for about $40USD. Then, unfortunately, after I placed my order, I started reading all of these bad reviews online about the store, particularly how the guy who owns stethoscopes.com also owns magnafortis.com and those are just crappy scopes, and there were a ton of unsatisfied customers. My distrust was heightened when I called to inquire WTF was going on with my order and I could hear the guy huffing and puffing for 10 minutes while he looked high and low for it. THEN he told me that my engraving would not fit well on the Littmann scope but - surprise! - would look amazing on a Magna Fortis and he would be happy to upgrade me for free. Lucky for me, I had already read some pretty sketchtastic reviews on the Magna Fortis and was in a good position to say Hellllll No, give me my Littmann. So he gave in really fast (he must get that response a lot) and said he'd ship it out. True to his word my aunt received it today and hopefully it will be in my hot little hands by Friday of next week because we are starting vitals (I think). 

So there you have it - I'm pretty sure I got what I wanted from him but I'm not impressed with the whole process and all of those bad reviews can't be imaginary.

So! Where did I leave off? Ah yes, clinicals of last week. It was, hands down, the best clinical I've been to so far. We showed up for morning report at 0700, which means my clinical buddy had to be at my place for 0600. It was a crazy early morning. I'm definitely an evening girl. Not good! So we arrive just in time for report and there was a ton of us all crammed into that teeny break room getting report. I'd never heard it before so I didn't know what to expect. I guess I thought that all the nurses would take turns explaining their pts but it was just the charge nurse rattling off about all of them. I think there were about 20 pts on the unit so it took a while to go through. I probably should have been taking notes on all of the pts but it's still so early in my education that I don't understand around 90% of what I hear. Most of what I do understand is what I've picked up from reading blogs! Boy, wasn't I hot stuff when I was interpreting charting slang for my clinical buddies. ETOH, SOB, Ox3, OT/PT, etc. - woo hoo!

So I got to shadow a nurse for 4 hours which was so great. I can't believe how far I've come since my first day. You may recall how I was hyperventilating over a patient asking - gasp - me for help. Or how terrified I was about going into patients' rooms and trying to get them to talk about their lives. Last Monday, man, I was charging into pt rooms like I meant business. I was looking at their charts in the rooms (okay, just the non-responsive patients) and getting stuff DONE! Oh, it was a glorious feeling. So I paired up with my (preceptor?) nurse and got ready to sponge-soak it all in.

The skills that I have to this point:
  • 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!)
These are the only skills that I'm allowed to engage in on the unit and by God I am going to do all 5 of them TO PERFECTION.

Or so I intended.

Our patients for the day were 1 independent man in for knee surgery, 1 nonverbal stroke patient in restraints (probably d/t confusion), 1 MRSA isolation, and 1 DNR middle-aged person dying a horrible (in my opinion - sorry if it's not PC enough for you) COPD death.

First order of business was to take vitals which is not something I know how to do but I watched with interest. Most of the pts we used a machine with a pulse/ox finger clip and a BP cuff. We also took temperatures with a thin disposable color-changing strip. The MRSA iso we took BP manually with the most ancient sphygmomanometer that I've ever seen. This was, fo-real, mm Hg. The dying person had a heart rate of 140 BPM. It was crazy seeing someone breathing so slowly have a heart racing like that - although I guess that makes sense. It was just so sad. He was like a little shriveled skeleton in the bed and his belly button practically touched his spine. He was gasping with every breath. It gave me chills and I am still just so honored to be in the room with him during his final days so I have to thank his family for not batting an eye when I introduced myself as UgRN, SN.

Okay, my bus is coming so I will continue this in a bit. I'll post it now, though, so look for part 2 later tonight or tomorrow morning.