Monday, June 11, 2012

Sad, sort of

Studying the reproductive system like crazy for the last few days has made me glad that I learned as much as I did about it back when Mr. Polly and I were trying to have a baby. Most of the general hormonal phase info is familiar to me, so that makes studying more of a review and less of a giant hunk of brand-new information.

But it also makes me a little sad that it didn't work. And that we don't have any plans for parenthood now. We do want children, but don't have any real plans on when or how to make that happen.

I still want to adopt, I think. Especially since I'm not getting younger and still have several years of schooling ahead of me.

But remembering how excited we were back then makes me a little sad.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

#2 of 64

This one is pretty straightforward: The meaning behind your blog name.

Well folks, I blog about work and I used to wear scrubs and crocs to work. Hence the blog name. Now I wear scrubs and New Balance sneakers, but that's not quite as catchy plus I don't want to change my blog address.

So there you have it.

And the crocs I used to wear (due to white-only shoes rule) were hideous! Like this:

Friday, May 25, 2012

#1 of 64

Sometimes I feel at a loss for what to post here - I can't always share what's happening at work, and I rarely share what's going on in my personal life. So I bust out the blog topic challenges!

And this one's a doozy - 64 topics. I'm not trying to do a new one daily, though. That would be insane, with how work and school is going this quarter. But I do plan to get through all of them!

So, Topic #1: Introduce yourself with a recent picture and 15 interesting facts

Sorry dudes, no pictures of me on here. That might mess with my whole anonymous vibe.

And 15 interesting facts about me...

1. I love ballet and do DVD's of it at home.

2. My Mam-Maw could really turn a phrase, and said that when she was younger, she wouldn't have touched my Pap-Paw "if he'd'a been on an ice cream stick". She later changed her mind and married him.

3. I can turn a phrase too. Especially when I blurt out things without thinking first. I referred to a winter hat with ear-covers as having "Fudd Flaps" which Mr. Polly was delighted by.

4. I want to like gardening, but I suspect I secretly hate it. That's so awful of me! Maybe I'd feel differently if I had a yard?

5. If I were a character in Alice in Wonderland, I would want to be the Caterpillar, but suspect I might end up being one of the cards.

6. I'm jealous of Bill Nighy's strut and swagger.

7. I call Bill Nighy's character in Pirates of the Carribean "Tentacle Bill".

8. I'm afraid of depths (like in the ocean) and of very large aquariums, but not for the same reasons.

9. When I'm tired, I develop a southern slurred speech pattern that my friend described as sounding like Adam Sandler in "The Waterboy". I haven't seen that movie but I'm pretty sure I ought to be insulted by that.

10. I get nervous and inappropriate around religious clergy of all stripes and am pretty sure I weirded out this chaplain intern that was at my hospital this week. And I outed myself as an atheist too. And I blushed so much that he either thinks I'm in love with him or I have rosacea.

11. Sometimes I'd rather change someone's diaper than have to talk to them. This is more about whether I'm feeling chatty and less about my love of diaper changing. Sometimes I really hate talking to people.

12. I loooooooooooooove Thumbelina, the world's smallest horse! I daydream about sewing us matching pajamas.

13. I interned at a couple of juvenile detention centers back in the day, which left me with a lasting fascination with prison culture.

14. I have a never-ending crush on John Goodman.

15. Little Women is probably my favorite book of all time. Or at least right up there. You can get me to cry by talking about Beth and Marmee pretty much any time.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tweet round-up

Real bloggers do this, sometimes, don't they? I think the Bloggess does. She calls it phoning it in. Anyway, here are some of my most recent tweets for those of you who don't have the pleasure of subscribing to my brilliance there.
  • March 25th: I feel genuinely excited to be about to clean my bathroom with lemon comet while I listen to an EMT podcast. 30 isn't too different from 29.
  • March 26th: PT [physical therapy]asked me to come help push a guy's leg and then when I did it went kablooey and sprayed blood. And I didn't faint!
  • April 7th: My shift is half over and very boring, I'm watching an old man watch baseball.
  • April 8th: My confused elderly patient told me our relationship won't work if I don't stop lying to him & pretending we're at the hospital.
  • April 15th: Hospital riddle: you're working a double and get a 1:1 for a confused impulsive fall risk old man. What word do you least want to hear him say when you walk into the room? ...My real answer (and what he said) = Vietnam. Other contenders?
  • April 27th: What should I watch on VHS, crossroads or 3 men and a baby?
  • April 29th: I'm still sick. Wheen I finally get better I have a new life goal: pinup girl gator wrestling queen. Seriously, I like Louisiana, waterproof makeup, alligators and crocodiles in general and I could dust off the fisticuffs.
  • today: OMG I just got to cut off a patient's undies for the first time: today is AWESOME!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


One of my favorite, and oldest, little old ladies died recently at the GreatRep (the dementia care facility that I still work part time at).

Patience was seriously a bad-ass. She was the oldest living person I've ever met, at several years past 100. She still walked, fed herself, and talked when she died. She was chronically cranky, hated to get up early in the mornings, so we always let her sleep in and woke her up after everyone else had eaten their breakfasts. She was known for her particular style of combativeness - Patience would grab your scrub top's neckline, haul you in, and scratch the bejesus out of you while she shrieked "ouch! Owww! Hurting me!!".

But that's not all Patience was, of course. She still had a great sense of humor, and often seemed aware that her increasing deafness was a good source of entertainment. One day, in the dining room, she incited a food fight with another resident, a man. When the med tech on duty approached her to redirect her, she said "Patience, you're such a rascal!" and Patience stared at her for a beat, then said "I'm such an asshole?!?" then laughed maniacally.

Patience would constantly sing in a low, grumbling monotone, similar to her speaking voice. Very old songs, like Springtime in the Rockies, or The Battle Hymn of the Republic. She'd also talk out loud, verbalizing her thoughts, which she may or may not have been aware she was doing. If you were walking by her and stopped to say hello, give her a kiss, or wave at her, she'd often mumble "that one smiled. That one smiled. That one was happy." in her repetitive, robotic voice.

My favorite ever moment with Patience was when I was trying to put her to bed one night. She was being very resistive to standing up, not wanting to leave her comfy couch in the living room and walk down to her room. Patience had never had children of her own, but was a devoted aunt whose nieces and nephews still visited her until the end of her life. So, trying a different approach, I said "Auntie Patience, I want to go to bed but I'm scared to walk there by myself. Will you take me?". She grudgingly pulled herself up with her walker and headed to her room with me. She used the bathroom, brushed her teeth, put on her nightgown, and then, to my surprise, plopped down on her coffee table! She leaned back, pointed at the bed, and said, in her deadpan way, "Go ahead. You sleep now, I'll watch you. You go to bed. I'm here." Just thinking about that is enough to make me cry.

It's not often that the staff at a nursing home really loves and adores a combative resident, but we all loved Patience. Who else would repeatedly strip in the common area, to the point we had to go plunk her in her room where the nudity was more appropriate? And then when we checked on her later, we found her wearing only panties and a bedsheet tied around her neck like Superman's cape, singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

So, Patience, you were a delight. I miss you already. And I know you would understand that it's with great affection that I share the following photo of what you reminded me of at the breakfast table every morning, since you never mellowed out enough to get your hair combed until you'd been up for a few hours.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I still love A&P 2

My new instructor continues to rock the casbah. I love that she gives us assignments that actually relate to clinical situations! For example, our first homework assignment was about the endocrine system. We had this sequence of hormones, like gland A sends out hormone A which triggers hormone B and then hormone C and so on. Then a hypothetical example of two patients who both had elevated levels of hormone C and what happened when they were given suppressive drugs for it. Based on that, we were to diagnose whether it was a primary problem arising from the beginning of the sequence, of a secondary problem from later in the sequence. So cool!

And today, in lab, we got in groups to do a very simple EKG on one another, and got to actually interpret the waves, as part of learning the heart functions. I love it. I have a whole new respect for the people at the hospital whose job it is to watch multiple heart monitors for abnormalities.

Now off to see "The Cabin in the Woods" and try not to scream in the movie theater. Eeek!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I'm going to marry my new teacher, or at least give her an apple

Last quarter ended on an awkward note, as I stayed after my final to speak to my A&P instructor about his inappropriate comments throughout the quarter - see my last post for more info. So imagine my unpleasant shock when, the Friday before classes were due to begin on Monday, I got a letter telling my I hadn't paid my spring quarter tuition and was therefore DROPPED FROM ALL MY CLASSES. WTF. That's a horrible way to let me know that. Wouldn't logic tell you that if someone owes you money, you should give them notice of that BEFORE it becomes a problem?

Nope. That was the first I'd heard of it, because up until now my financial aid has covered all of my tuition with no problems.

So now I was faced with the possibility that once I paid the extra money financial aid didn't cover, I might have to try to get into whatever A&P 2 class is available. Which includes the one taught by my last instructor. And both he and I would probably rather eat some glass than have that happen. Awesome.

Long story short, it all worked out and I'm deleriously happy to be enrolled in my (female) teacher's A&P 2 class. Today was the first lecture, and she's organized, clear, and seems to be an excellent instructor. And hasn't mentioned her genitals once!

I love her. I'm so, so, so relieved to be taking her class! This is going to be a good quarter.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Break!

I made it through my finals and am now officially on spring break! Who would have thought that only working full-time could feel so easy?

This last week at work was extra stressful too, with a barrage of needy/cranky/drug seeking/on isolation precautions patients who made sure that at least one of them was pushing their call light every 3 minutes throughout my entire 8 hour shifts. I got home cranky after those, let me tell you.

After my final today, I stayed after class to have an uncomfortable talk with my instructor that went a little something like this:

"Hello teacher, I want to talk to you about your behavior and how you might improve it in the future. You seem like a good person who ultimately wants his students to be successful in this class, right?"


"Well then let me tell you something, when you talk during class about 'Which head do I think with' [meaning brain or penis] or about pornography, or about who might have a 'thing' for urine it is offputting to your students and makes you much less approachable. I took late points on an assignment rather than speak with you one-on-one earlier in the quarter before I'd observed you enough to decide you were actually all right."

"Oh, that's strange, no one's ever told me that before"

"Really?? No one? Not in your anonymous performance reviews, not face to face, not via email?"

"Oh only 2 or 3 students in all the years I've been doing this. I don't get performance reviews much anymore, I'm tenured you know."

"Yes,I know. Well, think about it - if you intimidate and make people uncomfortable, they're not going to come to you and tell you you're doing that. So assume that I'm speaking for any number of students when I tell you this is not appropriate workplace behavior."

"I like to joke around, it makes me approachable. Most people like it, that's good enough for me."

"It doesn't make you approachable, it makes you inappropriate. There are ways to joke around that are great, do those."

"No, I don't think so. Thanks for the chat, bye. Oh by the way how are you going to handle me next quarter?"

"I'm taking a different teacher next quarter, of course. Goodbye."

ARRRRGHHHH! I want to rip my/his hair out in frustration.

Seriously, who does that? Who in their right mind wouldn't say "Oh, I see, perhaps you have a point, I'll think about it. Or tone it down. Sorry about that."

What a jackass, right?

So then I went home for my much-anticipated post-final nap and had a nightmare that I'd been demoted from working at the hospital to working at our sister facility nursing home. Only problem is, it was full of very acute patients, including pediatric ones! In my dream, the CNA that was orienting me suddenly had a little girl start coding and casually gave her a sternum rub and then some compressions until she revived and told the CNA to stop because it hurt. Then a doc came by and said "Oh, it was probably just postural, her vitals drop when she's supine. Turn her over and carry on." I was horrified that I'd be expected to be saving children's lives one-handed and that they all took it so casually, and was tangled up in a bunch of IV tubing and suction tubing trying to get my butt out the door before I killed someone.

Stress dream, much?

Stupid tenured teacher.

Good news: quarter is over, no more teacher, and I'm NOT demoted in any way at the hospital, and I will never have to be responsible for critically ill children unless for some ungodly reason I decide I want to be, which seems very, very unlikely. Old people, sure. Kiddos, no way. Can't handle that population; the very idea makes me shake.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Little Old Ladies from Little Old Towns

I worked at the GreatRep today, where I was unsurprised to find out that one of my residents is in the process of dying. This is a woman who's lived at the GreatRep for about half of my life. When I was in high school, she moved in. She's been there longer than any other resident, longer than the current Director of Nursing, longer than anyone else who's worked there. Pretty amazing.

The entire time I've known her, she's been almost like a living doll. She doesn't speak, rarely makes noises, and doesn't initiate movement barely ever. We move her from chair, to wheelchair, to bed. We feed her with a spoon and hold a cup up to her lips to drink. We use a mechanical lift to put her on the toilet and change her briefs.

I've heard she used to be quite a spitfire back in the day, and would scream at people. There was one caregiver whose voice she just hated and this woman would have a cataclysmic reaction if that caregiver attempted to do anything for her.

Now this woman is ready to go, and she let us know that the way most of them do; by stopping to eat or drink. She'd simply hold it in her mouth or let it roll back out, whatever you put in there.

Her sister stopped by to say goodbye to her today, brought by a younger and more oriented family member. I never would have thought I'd laugh about what someone said to a loved one on their death bed, but this is the cutest and silliest little thing; you would have had to excuse yourself from the room too!

Little Miss Clara marched right up to her dying sister, telling us "I have to go see Sister! We had a violent disagreement a few days ago, and I've just got to make things right!"

Rememeber, Sister hasn't said so much as a word in years.

Miss Clara whipped out a sheet of paper where she had painstakingly written out her speech to Sister. She stepped right up, and gave Sister's arm a good shake, saying "Sister, wake up! It's me, Clara! Nurse, don't you think she oughta wake up?"

The nurse gently replied that no, sister would probably not be waking up and that Miss Clara might want to say her goodbyes.

"Oh, then. All right."

Miss Clara began to read from her paper.

"Sister, first of all, you were always prettier than me."

I wish mightily I could have known what all was on that paper, but it's hard to beat an opening like that!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Watch out for WOLFS

It's been another weird weekend over at the hospital, y'all. As I've probably mentioned on here before, weekends are the time when all my nice, normal, elective joint replacement patients are not there. So weekends are when I am either floated to another unit or I stay on my own unit but we get atypical patients there (OB-GYN issues, medical problems that don't involve bones, etc.)

Last night I got sent to another unit to do a one-on-one with a very large, schizophrenic patient with a history of methamphetamine use. I'll just let that sink in for a few minutes, shall I?

I spent 8 hours in a hospital room alone with someone who, on paper at least, I would normally sprint away from.

And boy, was it an unusual night.

As I soon discovered, my patient had quite a fascination with "wild animals". Since my patient was a little edgy, I took this person on about eighteen million walks around the floor to try to burn off some nervous energy, toting along the IV pole with us each time. On one of these jaunts, a framed poster of a baby animal that looked like some sort of canine caught my new friend's eye.

"Oh, is that a hyena? Look at him! He's so nice and symmetrical. I've never seen a hyena. One time I saw a wild animal that was like a bobcat or a wildcat or a mountain cat. I saw it walk by the window here too [note; we were NOT on a ground floor level]. One time I saw an Orca whale in a lake. They don't usually live in lakes, so I took a picture of it."

This proved to be a fruitful topic, so my patient thoughtfully provided me with more tidbits throughout the evening:
"If you were by the woods you might get picked off by a wild animal. Like some wolfs. Or mountain bobcats. You should really be careful. If a wild wolf comes out of the woods, you give it a cookie. If it takes the cookie, it'll just, like, go back into the woods. If it doesn't take the cookie, point to the lake. It'll go jump in the lake. I saw that happen but then the bobcat got eaten by an orca whale. In the lake. The whale just ate it all up. It was weird."

My patient had the flattest affect during all this, and consistently called wolves "wolfs" very clearly. I checked in with a nurse at one point to find out if perhaps this person was messing with me, and nope, the nurse said this patient was a bit of a 'frequent flyer' and advised me not to laugh at any advice or stories the patient told me.

We made it all through my shift just fine. Then tonight, in the cafeteria, I saw another CNA who works that unit. She said that my wild-animal-expert patient was pacing the floor, ranting, and attempting to get dressed in all sorts of things because the patient believed it was time to leave.

WHEW! I dodged a bullet there, didn't I? So glad I got floated last night instead of tonight!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Four Things About Me

Four Jobs I have Had
* jewelry counter at a department store
* nanny
* residential counselor
* nursing assistant

Four Places I Have Lived:
* my hometown
* the town I live in now, the best town in the world!
* Seattle, WA
* bumming around

Four Movies I Could Watch Again and Again:
* The Princess Diaries
* Center Stage
* Point Break
* Blue Crush

Four Television Shows I Love:
* Bones
* 2 Broke Girls
* Parks and Recreation
* Top Chef

Four Authors I Enjoy:
* Mary Roach
* Poppy Z. Brite
* Jen Lancaster
* Meg Cabot

Four Places I Have Travelled To:
* San Diego, CA
* Whistler, BC
* Bend, OR
* Austin, TX

Four Website I Visit Daily:

Four Blogs I Visit Weekly:
* Cake Wrecks
* The Bloggess
* Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry
* Head Nurse

Four of My Favorite Foods:
* Rice
* smoothies with fruit and vanilla soymilk
* peanut butter
* miso soup

Four Places I'd Rather Be:
* at a beach
* Los Angeles
* camping with Mr. Polly
* in nursing school for my BSN

Four People I Want to Tag:
* Zazzy
* Estelle Darling
* Annie
* Jess

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fall Risks and restraints

The culture of nursing homes and assisted living facilities has shifted far away from the use of restraints; most places are restraint-free by law these days. The hospital is one of the only places I can imagine restraints remaining in use, and that is simply because of the acuity (how sick) our patients there are. They cannot afford to be pulling out the lines that are giving them IV antibiotics and blood transfusions, because without those things, they will die.

Even at the hospital, restraints are considered a last resort. They frequently utilize one-to-one 'sitters' to watch and maintain safety of very difficult patients. I was pulled from my regular duties to act as one last night, for a confused elderly person who would not stop climbing out of bed (and was a fall risk), pulling out lines, and removing their much-needed supplementary oxygen tubing. Even with me there, the patient was very agitated, and trying to literally climb over the furniture to get out of the bed. I was willing to let her get up, but she was so damn fast she was apt to get away before I could gather up all the things that were attached to her so I could ferry them along after her to prevent them from ripping out.

Finally the MD returned the page from the nurse, and ordered a small dose of an antipsychotic. It didn't stop the patient from trying to get up, it just calmed the patient down enough to stop physically shoving me out of the way, which was good enough.

This was one of those situations where I think that chemical restraints would be so much more effective than physical. My patient has such poor short-term memory that s/he would forget what I had said literally 20 seconds before. Putting someone like that in physical restraints is going to be a huge safety risk because they're still anxious and panicky and energetic, and will focus all of that onto getting out of the restraints one way or another.

Whereas a strong sedative seems highly appropriate and could allow this person the time to absorb their antibiotics, fluids, and oxygen in order to begin healing.

Unfortunately, I don't think we have a specific policy and protocol for chemical restraints the way we do for physical ones. I understand they're risky in terms of oversedation; you don't want to accidentally kill someone! But I wonder, if I were the physician getting paged in the middle of the night, whether I'd view the sedatives I'm prescribing as restraints or 'sleep aids' or what?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Suicide watch

The other night at the hospital, I got sent to a different floor than my usual one to do a one-on-one suicide watch for a patient waiting for a transfer to our psych unit.

My patient was very pleasant, and very very sad, and rather nuts.

And that experience clinched it for me - no psych nursing for me, thanks. Geropsych, possibly (I just love old people enough to overcome my aversion to the wild behavior). But regular psych, where someone is sharing their terrible childhood and depression and I just want to cry and cry for them? No thanks.

On the plus side, I learned to play Yahtzee and it's so fun!

Also, I like that we live in a world where someone very poor with no family to speak of will get round-the-clock care to keep that individual alive and stable with a goal of recovery ahead of them. And there's no profit in doing so. We just do it because it's the right thing to do.

That's a good thought to hold on to.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Studying: it works!

I think I mentioned recently that after finding out that my employment at Father Sainty's is no longer such a gigantic helping factor in getting me into nursing school, I decided I needed to pull my grades up. I was getting a B in Anatomy and Physiology and an A- in Bio. That B in A&P was sort of tenouous, though, since I'd gotten a B- on my most recent exam.

I studied like crazy for my most recent exam on bones, and got a 90% on it! If I continue to study this hard and do that well on my remaining exams this quarter, I should be able to get my grade up to an A-, I think. So that's my plan.

Too bad I don't love muscles the way I love bones. I even had dreams regarding specific bones (I was in a butterfly garden but the butterflies were sphenoid bones that were flying around, and I was delighted!).

So while it may be tempting to put work first, I need to remember to put school first. That means if I have to sleep less to study more, that's what will happen. If it means showing up at work exhausted rather than after napping, then that's the deal. If it means eating dinner in the cafeteria instead of cooking and packing my meals, that's okay too.

After this quarter I only have to do A&P II and microbiology. I think I can technically apply to nursing school even with one class left to finish up, so maybe I can apply for admittance next Winter quarter and take microbiology in the fall before it begins?

Either way, I plan to stop working at the GreatRep once I'm in nursing school. That 10-hour workday is just too much time lost. If I can take out loans, i'll do that to compensate for the lost income. I know how incredibly lucky I am to be going to school for free right now, and I know that won't continue forever.

More and more the idea of goign for my LPN and working in a skilled nursing facility or inpatient rehab sounds appealing to me. If I'm going to work and go to school, part of me thinks that work should be the best-paying I'm able to get.

Either way, I'm back on board with school!

And here's a visual for anyone wondering about my dreams: they're a cross between this

and this

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Best of Both?

I had a rough, rough shift at work last night. Was working with a nurse that is new to our floor, and coming from a floor that's notorious for having RN/CNA conflicts up the wazzoo. So I made time to sit and catch up with NewNurse when he came on shift halfway through mine. I already had 13-14 patients of my own, and the way we have it set up, all the call lights come to the CNA's first. If we don't answer, then they are forwarded on to that patient's nurse. So you can imagine how busy I am on these nights. Of my 13-14 patients, I'm likely to have at least 5 diabetics who need their blood sugar checked before meals and at bedtime. Another 2-3 who are confused/fall risk/non-English speaking. And 4 or 5 who are fresh post-ops, which means they're in a lot of pain, bed bound, and possibly needing to be strapped in and out of devices to move or steady their joints.

NewNurse got pissed at me for two things, one of which I think was valid (although I had no way of knowing about it) and the other which was absolutely not; one of our regular floor nurses scoffed at NewNurse when she heard him getting angry at me about it in the nurses' station.

Anyway, everything turned out fine, all my patients were okay (although one did give me a terrible scare, then when it became clear that my fear had been because of one of the machines giving a wrong reading the first time, the patient asked "Are we in trouble? I'll cover for us. What should I say?" which made me laugh despite how upset I'd been).

But I'm now mentally comparing that to my shift last week when I filled in over at the inpatient rehab unit (physical rehabilitation, not drug or alcohol rehab). I had such a mellow night, I was able to cover most of the unit by myself. And if I got tied up with something, the nurses were aware of it and went and did things for their patients themselves. I even had time to help a very sweet older lady get her Kindle working again, which delighted her!

It was more like a nursing home, in that it's lower acuity and the patients are there for longer periods of time. But it's a smaller unit, so that makes teamwork easier. And it pays at the rate of the hospital, not at the rate of a nursing home.

Is inpatient rehab the best of both worlds? Less stress, more time with patients, and the same pay and benefits?

Could be...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A piano fell on my head.

I am so frustrated right now. One of the main reasons I applied at the hospital (apart from benefits and pay) is that the hospital has a relationship with the community college (where I intended to go get my RN) where a certain percentage of the seats in the RN program are reserved for hospital employees, and where in turn, the hospital will help pay your tuition at school provided you agree to work for them for one year to help 'repay' that tuition.

I just got an email that the hospital is ending that relationship, becuase they no longer have a shortage of RN's in the area. Friiiiiiiiiick.

I think the educational assistance may still be in effect but is probably harder to get. And this means that I am now competing with the general public for admission to any nursing school. So I better be hitting the books for my prereqs.

I know, not the end of the world. But not news that I'm happy about at all. Not at all.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mountain, not a molehill

Today I'm feeling like I've bitten off more than I can chew this quarter. I'm taking Anatomy and Physiology I, and an online bio course, so that's 10 credits total. I'm working full-time, 3 shifts a week at the hospital, and one at the Dementia Facility.

On a typical day, I get up at around 7:30, get ready, catch the bus to school, get home from school at around 11, and then study/eat/nap until time for work at 15:30-23:30. I try to get to sleep by 1am, then do it again the next day. And lord, am I tired. I've fallen asleep on the bus, nearly fell asleep in the bathroom at work last night (the auto flushing toilet woke me up with a start and I LEAPT to my feet!) and in general am just so tired and feel so behind on everything.

Next quarter, I'm going to only take one class because I can't afford to cut back on work and I want to really learn this stuff and do well in my classes.

There's all this weird drama in the nursing program at my Community College, where the previous director of the program just finally "stepped down" aka got fired, and a new one is taking her place. The new one is my academic advisor, and I like her quite a bit from what I know of her in that context, so hopefully she can turn this ship around. Right now the nursing program's retention rates and NCLEX pass rates are very poor. So in many ways I might be better off going to a different community college, but Father Sainty's will either help pay my tuition at my current community college or at the University. If I want to go to the University, there's a couple of extra prereqs I need to take (including Chem 131 - yikes) and it would be a long commute to take classes there all throughout nursing school.

Anyway, all of that is something I shouldn't be worrying about this early on. If I don't focus on the present my grades will suck so badly I won't be able to get into school.

Work is going pretty great though. I just (belatedly) had my 90-day evaluation at the hospital with my nurse manager, and it went quite well. I got some nice comments on my peer reviews including "Pollyanna is soft spoken and calming to patients" and one about how I'm pursuing my education and always happy to share new things I've learned. So those both make me feel really good!

I feel so, so lucky every day to be working on the floor I'm working on. Our charge nurses are awesome, the floor nurses are easy to work with and appreciative, and the majority of our patients are motivated to work hard toward their recovery goals and get back to their lives as soon as possible. I like being able to help them with that.

And this week in A&P we're going to start studying the skeletal system, which I'm very very happy about since I hear the terminology at work all the time (about fractures and where they are and what type and so on) but don't understand it. So I cannot WAIT to put cell respiration behind me and move on to something that feels more relevant to real life!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Oh, Gross! Again.

Now that I'm working in the hospital, I see waaaaaaaay more disgusting things than I did in assisted living. I won't say that hospital is definitely more disgusting than home care because sometimes people's homes are just beyond nasty. But assisted living tends to be pretty decent.

So now that I've been exposed to more things, I figured you all would be delighted to know what I find the most icky.

1. The Worst Smell Ever; when someone keeps vomiting blood and poo. It's just so, so bad. I mean it's three unpleasant things all mixed together. And it smells ungodly.

2. Trach suctioning. I know, not nice. It's necessary. Sometimes people need that tracheostomy (a hole at the base of their throat in front) to help them breathe. And sometimes that hole gets plugged up with mucous. And then that mucous must be suctioned out. And yep, it's exactly as oogy as it sounds. Especially if they're coughing and end up with puddles of phlegm pooling on their chest, which then also must be cleaned up.

3. Pulling out lines. This is more of an "I feel phantom pain imagining this" reaction on my part. The people who do this aren't with it enough to be as bothered by it as a normal, alert person would be. But the sight of someone ripping out their own IV, or (God help them) other lines or tubes just makes me shudder. Doesn't matter what the line is or what it's putting in or out of the body, the idea of them ripping out really grosses me out.

...and lastly, one that I'm surprised is not that bad to me? Wound packing and unpacking. When someone has MRSA or whatever and it eats a hole into them, that wound must then be frequently packed full of stringlike bandaging, then have that removed, and replaced with clean packing. It sounds awful, but it's actually pretty cool. It's what allows people to heal from the inside out, rather than the outside in. You wouldn't want your skin to close up over a big empty pocket in your body, because that wouldn't be structurally sound. So instead this way it heals properly. But it does look pretty weird.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Code: Disaster

Winter kicked my little town's ass this last few weeks. I know, everyone jokes about how we are such wusses about snow in the Pacific Northwest, but the thing is, we are never ever prepared for it. We don't have the infrastructure in place to handle it well. It's not just the snow, or the unplowed roads, but the fact that we have approximately 8 trees per square foot* and a lot of them fall down during storms and knock out our power.

So this last week was a special week at the hospital, as a disaster code was called. That meant all staff on premesis was not allowed to leave. People were mandated there for 30+ hours, sleeping on the floor wherever there was room for a short respite after 12-16 hours of work.


I wasn't there during this, and had no way of getting there, which suited me just fine except that I felt so badly for my coworkers who were carrying all that load understaffed. In spite of this, they made it, and did well.

The thing that I found most touching was that we all got these desperate emails begging us to come and donate blood, because obviously all the regular blood drives out in the community weren't able to happen. Much as I hate needles in me, I wanted to go and do this, but again, had no way of getting to the hospital.

The other day I got an email from some muckety-muck about how that turned out - the big hospitals from the nearest Big City had some donors (3-10), one of the local Big Companies, had around 20 donors, and our hospital had 70+!! By far the most of any facility that did the emergency blood drives. And this was all from employees that couldn't leave. The email referred to us as "the little hospital that could".

And with that, my heart grew three sizes and I vowed to donate the next time the van is on campus at my school.

*scientific and accurate. Totally.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ahhh, Winter Break.

Tomorrow I'll be back on campus, doing Anatomy & Physiology I, and also doing Bio 100 online. Winter break has been so, so nice. Just working gave me time to catch up on things like cooking, making gifts for my family members, going and helping out my Grandma with cleaning her apartment, etc. I'm almost sad to go back to school even though I know I need to. I expect this quarter to be really hard, because I'm doing 10 credits and working full-time (75% at the hospital 25% at the dementia facility).

I'm hoping to have at least one classmate from my chem class in my A&P class to study with, since most of us were on the prenursing track. But all the ones I talked to at the end of last quarter were going into a different A&P class, dang it. We'll see. It's just nice to have a familiar face around.

Yesterday we closed our store for New Year's day and I went and helped Mr. Polly clean the heck out of it, as well as rearrange some things he'd been wanting to change for a long time. The co-owner of the store is still out of town (taking care of his aging father) until the beginning of March so that means Mr. Polly has free reign to go nuts and put things where he wants them. He was so happy about moving some shelves and file cabinets! And I scrubbed the bathroom within an inch of it's life. I still want to repaint in there - it has rainbows and unicorns, courtesy of the previous owners. That could be okay I guess but it's so "LOOK WE'RE QUIRKY AND FUNNY" and also the bathroom is tiny and dark so I want to paint it off-white and put more lighting in there. I'd rather have a clean-looking bathroom than an "adorable" one any day.

Besides, everyone knows that acorns are the new unicorns.

Happy new year!