Yikes

I don’t even want to look at the date of my last post. Thankfully, Orthogals is still going strong, and strong enough that Ancient Faith Blogs picked us up! Woohoo!

Where have I been instead of online self-publishing? Well, you know about this:

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Which lead to this:

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And during that time I worked nights:

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Around the time I got to switch to days, we found out this was coming:

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Props to my 6-year-old niece for thinking of this all by herself!

And in late October, she came!

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Sigh. I hadn’t even finished changing my legal name on my accounts…

For the time being, I plan on keeping up TRS. I’m blogging about different things now, but then again, this wasn’t supposed to be a one subject blog. It’s my thoughts and ponderings on life, and those have changed a lot too.

Passport Headache

What I learned the past two weeks regarding passports:

1. If you get a passport and need to change your name within a year of the issue date, there will be no fee charged by the USA. I really wish I had known this last October.

2. When renewing or changing your name on your passport, you can not use the same photo as before. This will cause delays.

3. All mail-in renewals for US passports are processed in New Hampshire. Due to the post-9/11 mandate that any travel outside US borders requires a passport, many people are renewing their passports and doing so rather early. This, along with understaffing in New Hampshire, has created processing times of 8-12 weeks, not the standard 4-6 weeks.

4. The US has not updated the previously stated delay on the Department of State website.

5. Expect at least a 20 minute wait to talk to a human when you call the 800 number.

6. Be thankful if you are within 100 miles of a Regional Passport Office.

7. It’s okay to press the phone agent for options, the first time you’re on the phone. Know exactly what you are to bring to the office, what forms you are to fill out when you get there, and BRING IT ALL.

8. Passports can be expensive. You can also avoid a bunch of fees if your window agent knows the rules. If you are caught in a bind, don’t hesitate to ask what actual fees are due. Thankfully, in my case, no expediting fee was charged and they applied my previous fee to the new passport.

In the end, I thankfully got my new name on a passport and was able to cross the border into Canada. For all the trouble this passport caused, I better get to use it!!!

One Day at a Time

I’m a new nurse.

I have to keep reminding myself of this. I’m new. I’m going to make mistakes.

Thankfully, none of my mistakes have resulted in adverse patient reactions. I haven’t overdosed anyone on their narcotic pain medication. If my assessment found an abnormality or something new, I reported it.

But I’ve been late on timed lab draws. I didn’t get a “Keep Vein Open” order with a patient controlled analgesia (PCA). I charted something on a patient, only to realize after signing that it was the wrong patient. And I’ve certainly handled a few interactions with less grace and clinical judgment than I would like.

I hate making mistakes; I hate knowing that I’ve failed or been under par. I worry that I will never get this nursing thing figured out. It’s these days that I cry.

But after a day or two off, I pull myself back together. Double check my care plan, make my list, and set out to improve one patient at a time.

And then I come home. And I’m new to marriage as well. We’re both new spouses. We’re going to make mistakes.

Some days, he’s helpful and a wonderful shoulder to cry on when work goes horribly wrong. Other days, he doesn’t see that I’m tired and asks for my help with tasks that, in my opinion, he should be able to figure out by himself so that I can sleep. There have been times where we are both oblivious to the ways we hurt each other. And then when the courage is mustered up to say, “____ really hurt,” it isn’t met with the response wanted but with more fuel for the fire.

Then the time comes where we say, “I’m sorry. Forgive me,” and keep working on this one day at a time.

What I learned in nursing school

In the aftermath of graduating from nursing school, I had a little bit of time to think about all that I’d learned. I would like to emphasize “little bit.”

In my prerequisites, I learned a few more parts of the body (or at least the scientific names for them), the intricacies of how our bodies work, and the microorganisms that both help and wreak havoc on our world.

In nursing school itself, I was presented with the basic tasks of nursing care, the most common diseases and the nursing role in treatment and management of that disease or condition.

In finishing nursing school, after everything I’d learned medically, I really could say one thing:

Nursing school taught me how hard it is to see and love people the way Christ sees and loves them.

I can’t look on the multitudes of patients and have compassion on them the way Jesus did. In fact, most of my patients, their social and family situations, and the diseases they have anger me. They are lost in a world that most have created for themselves and think that modern medicine will wave its magic cure-all wand. Most of my patients see a problem and drink their livers to oblivion before middle age or claim horrible pain in order to get heavy-duty pain meds.

The videos healthcare organizations produce that show CLEAN and HAPPY patients in a well-lit, freshly constructed hospital room are lies. I’m sure there are some fantastically happy patients. Mine tend to have odor and hygiene problems, emotional disturbances coupled with medical issues, and placed in rooms that are showing their age.

So, if you’re going into nursing, know from this new nurse and the vast amounts of seasoned veterans – it is a worthy profession. You see “the stuff of life” as Call the Midwife says. And it’s not all brow sponging and baby kissing. It’s hard emotionally and physically. And you learn more about yourself and your limitations than you ever thought possible.

Moms

I am not a mother.

Yet, last night at a baby shower, I had a wonderful time chatting with mothers of all sorts. I still feel new to my church community, even though I’ve been attending faithfully since moving about two years ago. I love how the community is adjusting to the changes – they celebrate births, baptisms, marriages, chrismations. And they mourn together and help when someone of the community has a physical or spiritual need.

I am so thankful for the opportunity last night to talk with those moms and women of my community.

I started the evening talking with a mom adjusting to her high school freshman daughter. She’s asking herself, “How do I help her find her way, but let her do it?” She recognizes the talents, brains, and abilities and is excited to see how her daughter will use them. But is also wondering how to let go and give her daughter room.

Mom B is lively with three college-age and beyond kids. One is planning a wedding, one seriously dating, and one still trying to figure out life.

Mom C has 3 children under the age of 8. Her baby has multiple food allergies, and since she’s nursing, she has to cut those foods out. Her other two are a lively handful and she’s homeschooling. She was so vulnerable in sharing that some of the negative behaviors she sees in her children, she knows they got from her. Thus, to have her children change and nurture their spirit, she has to change.

Mom D was the guest of honor and will be a new mom after only one year of marriage. I’ve loved getting to know her these months; she’s so chill and relaxed with the perfect amount of sarcasm.

In this period of my life where I’m engaged and preparing for marriage and the possibility of motherhood, I am always struck with how open these and other women have been with their lives. I’m honored that they want to know me and my struggles in this time as well.  Some have shared the worst parts of their engagements and marriages with me. They shared their children’s delights and joy; they shared their struggles, fears, and what is at the heart of their prayers. This is not as a “WARNING: RUN NOW!” but rather an encouragement to build the good foundation and habits in my marriage and (eventual) parenting.

I guess this is a “fluffy” post where I can pinpoint the exact “meaning” of my experience. It’s amazing how going through drastic changes in my life allows people to feel confident in sharing their joyful and difficult experiences. And maybe that is the “glue” of a community.

…And I’m DONE

On Mother’s Day, I graduated from nursing school.

It was my mom’s 40th anniversary of her nursing school graduation as well. As you can see, student nurse uniform styles changed…

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And on June 11, the final step occurred. NCLEX. I am prevented from publishing any information about the test, so you won’t get what type of questions, the topics, or any tips here. I will say one thing about nursing school and NCLEX: it taught me a lot about myself. How do I approach difficulty? What do I see as life priorities? What patient care priorities am I best at identifying?

And so next – moving and getting married. Because if life is changing in one aspect, let’s just be efficient and change some others!

 

Emergency

First, a little terminology. In a hospital, you do not go to the Emergency Room, you go to the ED – Emergency Department. Also, what the public knows as “intensive care” or “ICU” is now referred to as “critical care.”

During my critical care rotation, my classmates and I got to experience several days of emergency simulations with medical students and residents. And we also experienced a day in a Level 1 Trauma ED.

I loved it.

I saw one major trauma patient, one stroke patient, but mostly confused older adults. Confused older adults get an ambulance called on them because they fell and now have altered mental status or they had a UTI that went undiagnosed and now they are septic. Again, big symptom is altered mental status.

The ED didn’t impress me with their amounts of drama and excitement. I liked the pace. I liked that after 4-6 hours, patients were discharged or sent elsewhere. I know nurses are thought of as compassionate, but sometimes, it’s nice to not deal with your patients for very long. The priorities of an ED nurse are to assess the patient, keep them safe, and if they are admitted, call a complete report to the receiving unit. They keep up to date charting (as in, every hour at the minimum) and need to know their stuff in order to tell the new interns and residents what is really going on with patients.

In my last semester of nursing school, I spent my management clinical in a slower paced ED. While there was no blood, the patients were exciting in their own ways. Some were still fall risks that were trying to climb out of bed; others had code browns or code emesis. And some just had pain or uncontrolled diabetes flare ups. Still safety, quality assessment, and critical judgement were needed.

I doubt I’ll start in the ED – those positions go fast and tend to be limited in my geographic area. It’s nothing like the show, so don’t get your hopes up, but for those people whose personalities like lots of action with some downtime – it’s all you, baby.

Why I’ve been absent…

One semester left.

That’s what I keep telling myself.

One semester. 16 weeks. Just keep going.

Part of being absent has been not figuring out how to process my patients’ and my story for blogging. You know, HIPPA and all that. I find there is meaning in their lives, and I want to say more than “wow, I worked in a hospital with patients today” but some people will make you believe THAT is too much.

Anyway, there’s another reason I’ve been more absent. Blogging was a way for me to process, and lately, someone else has gotten my verbal processing.

Someone who took me here, after we attended a family wedding over the weekend:DSCF2370

And did this, next to Bridal Veil Falls:DSCF2372

Although, I was so excited/shocked/”Is this really happening??” that I didn’t even give him time to ask. I just said “Yes!” several times, until I realized that I completely stole his thunder. To which I said, “Um, I assume you were going to ask me to marry you?” Then he showed me the ring, and because everyone asks for a close-up:DSCF2375The only down-side of getting proposed to at Niagara Falls is that you are right on the line between US and Canadian cell service. I had to wait until we were off Goat Island and 5 miles on US soil before I could call my own parents!

 

Floating

Lately, several people have heard my lame joke, “I’m floating so much, I should be a duck!”

I started my student nursing adventures on a urology floor. I really wasn’t that picky when it came to this first job – I had heard from multiple advisers that getting on “a good med-surg floor” was the best introduction you could have to the world of nursing. Medical-Surgical floors (i.e. med-surg) is the basic care a patient needs in a hospital – they have some condition which needs attention through drugs (medical) or surgery. If anything else goes wrong, they can be transferred to a Progressive Care or Critical/Intensive Care unit.

So, I my first steps as a student nurse were spent tracking down a patient’s vital signs, making sure they get out of bed post-surgery, measuring urine and other fluid output (if you only knew how many forms this took other than pee and blood…), and my favorite – trying to keep track of how much they put in.

After 3 months on my home unit, I was eligible to float to others when my unit’s tech staff was overpopulated and/or the patient census was down. Thank goodness, I have been able to keep some of my working hours! At first, I heard from most techs and nurses “Ugh, I have to float!” Honestly, I don’t mind it.

Rather than being in the world of kidneys and bladders, I’m getting to see other medical-surgical and progressive care floors. I’ve been on liver, orthopedic, or digestive disorder units. One of my favorites to work at is the Organ Transplant unit. I’ve also been to an Oncology unit – that’s a post all on it’s own.

And it can not be said enough, ALL nursing is psych nursing. Some of my more interesting floats this summer were patients with alcohol withdraw or other substance withdraw issues. Definitely kept me awake on those 3 AM sitting/supervising shifts!!

My most memorable experience in floating happened in late June. I had settled in to a sitting shift with a patient, when my charge nurse appeared. She explained that one tech coming on could only float to sit and another unit needed a tech to work the floor. So, I pack my things and head to the new unit. I step off the elevator, introduce myself to the charge nurse, and am greeted with these words: “Do you speak Spanish?” Oh, dear.

Apparently, it was a sitting shift; my charge nurse was misinformed. The patient did not like the current sitter whom I was replacing, however, some quick thinking on my part got the patient to trust me. My two years of high school Spanish, one year of Latin, random study of words from my singing past, plus Google Translate helped me communicate to this freaked out patient. He/she went from unwilling to sleep, have vital signs taken, and allow blood glucose checks to resting comfortably in an non-paranoid state. All because I looked up, “Go to sleep. Everything is good. The nurses are taking good care of you.”

Floating has allowed me to see what sort of nurse I might want to be and the sort I do not want to be. I have met patients, families, support staff, chaplains, and a host of others in the system. I have found units that I would consider working on as a nurse and those from which I will run far, far away. It can be frustrating, but as I’ve found out, also rewarding. Both in circumstances and the fact that I am getting paid.

Quack.

My New Favorite

Not my original today, folks. This is for my fellow nurses and nursing students.

My new favorite blog: Nurse Eye Roll

If you don’t get the humor, might I just say, nursing school isn’t for you.

Nurse Eye Roll is my therapy. Thank you.

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