Thursday, April 27, 2006
this is good
I went for a "run" last night after I got home from school. The quote marks are there because I can only actually run for 3 or 4 blocks before I have to take a walking break. And today I'm very sore in my thighs and especially my hips. But I feel good that I actually got off my ass and did it, especially because I'm really uncomfortable running.
Actually, that's been a theme since the first day I started nursing school - there are a lot of things that make me uncomfortable and I think that's good. I'm uncomfortable getting up at 5:00 to get to clinical on time. I'm uncomfortable speaking in front of a group of people. I'm uncomfortable introducing myself over and over and over to strangers. I'm uncomfortable touching people I don't know. But this is precisely why going into nursing is so good for me - I will grow and stretch and it will be good for me, and I will be proud of myself. And, you know, save lives and stuff.
Labels: nursing school
Monday, April 24, 2006
first day of clinical
Tomorrow I have another exam. We're really not wasting any time in this program. I need another weekend in the middle of the week just to catch up!
Labels: nursing school
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
letting go of the four point oh
But it is awfully nice to have yourself geared up to take your first nursing school exam with the intention of passing, not aceing, and then discovering that you got a 90% on it in spite of your laid-back, gonna-pass-this-test attitude. I certainly don't think I'm going to get an A on every test in nursing school, but I do think that I'm catching on and that feels good.
Labels: nursing school
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Neato! I would love to see this in action!
two weeks down
I am really enjoying it, though. I can feel my brain waking up and stretching, which is a very good feeling. And I am still loving the vast majority of my classmates. My biggest concern is just keeping up with all the coursework, and still getting enough sleep and not eating every piece of junk food in sight! It's going to be a really good thing to have the summer off to do non-school stuff for a while.
Labels: nursing school
Friday, April 14, 2006
book report: Nurse; Nightingales
by Peggy Anderson
I read this book while in a frenzy of nurse-book-reading last year. This was a tough read for me - while it was published in 1990, the author reminisces about her beginning years as a nurse in the early 1970s. Man, things were different then. Not only did she have to wear a ridiculous uniform, the (all male) doctors treated nurses like crap, and there weren't as many technological advancement to treat severely ill patients as there are today. The procedures and techniques she writes about are mostly obsolete today (like when she makes fun of other nurses for putting gloves on to do peri-care [that's butt-wiping for those of you not in the health care field]) - but the emotional experience of being a nurse has not changed. It's still tough to see your patients lose their battles with cancer or heart disease, it's still hard to get chewed out by a family members, and it's still rewarding when you realize that you've made a difference in someone's life.
I was chatting with the director of the nursing program yesterday about my reading habits, and she was pleased to hear that I'd read some of these not-so-recent nurse stories. She made the excellent point that some of the nurses who were trained in the 1960s or 1970s are still working in the field today, and knowing what their experiences were like may help me see things from their point of view.
Nightingales: The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Miss Florence Nightingale
by Gillian Gill
No nurse's historical background is complete without reading about Florence Nightingale. I personally didn't know much about her, just that she was considered the founder of nursing, and that she was known as the Lady with the Lamp.
The book begins with a detailed genealogy of Flo's parents and their families... which seemed boring to me but does have relevance later in Flo's life. One of the major familial themes has to do with the inheritance law in Great Britain at the time - since women could not own property in their own right, the ladies in the families were desparate to produce sons in order to preserve their own lifestyles. This sets the stage for Florence's mother's complete outrage when Florence refuses to marry. Florence had a sister, but no brothers, and so after the death of her father, her mother was out on her ear. Okay, not literally, but one of Flo's cousins inherited the family estate because Florence's mother could not legally inherit her husband's property.
Anyway, about the nursing stuff - it seems that Flo was always a very religious and very sensitive, guilt-ridden child. She decided quite early in childhood that she wanted to care for needy creatures, and took in countless pets. She also cared for her sister and her cousins (she was very close with many of her cousins) when they were ill, and seemed to take great pleasure in the act of caring. One theme that cropped up over and over in Flo's private writing was of her overwhelming guilt about some unnamed bad thing that she felt compelled to do over and over. I crassly interpreted that as masturbation, but the author believes that Florence had a deep tendency to daydream or fantasize, which took her away from the concerns of the material world, which caused her tremendous guilt.
Oh, right, the nursing stuff. Florence insisted on taking nurse's training, which caused her upperclass family no end of grief. At that time, nurses were either nuns (and the Nightingales were Protestant) or else they were "working girls" who were alleged to be drunken prostitutes and lousy patient advocates. Florence refused to back down and eventually her family gave in, reluctantly. After training, Florence immediately took on an activism role, advocating for sanitation, a healthy diet, and peaceful surrounding to help patients heal. During the Crimean War, British soldiers in Turkey were dying hand-over-fist, and with the help of her family's connection, Florence managed to get herself appointed to the hospital treating the wounded at Scutari. She loaded a ship with medical supplies that she convinced wealthy friends to donate, recruited a staff of women to train as nurses, and took off for Turkey. The Army's medical director was not impressed with Florence's demand that he give over operations of the hospital to her, but eventually changed his mind after she sad, mule-like, out on her boat in the harbor and refused to hand over the medical supplies.
Once she got inside the hospital, Florence insituted all kinds of changes. She insisted that each soldier needed his own bed with clean linens. She demanded that the dressings on the soldiers' wounds be changed regularly, and the wounds washed with soap and water and redressed with clean bandages. She insisted that the kitchen be sanitized, and that all the soldiers required a healthy diet to be able to heal. And most of all, she showed the wounded men that she cared, personally visiting each one of them. She got the name "The Lady of the Lamp" because she carried around a small lamp as she walked the wards at night visiting soldiers who couldn't sleep or needed comfort.
There's a lot more that Florence did to advance the profession of nursing. But since I'm not writing my own book on her, I'm going to stop there.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
book report: Madhouse; The Lobotomist
by Andrew Scull
This book is about a horrifying chapter in American medical history. Psychiatrist Henry Cotton practiced in the early 1900s and became convinced that mental illness was caused by infection in other parts of the body, such as the teeth, the colon, the tonsils, and the uterus, and therefore recommended removing some or all of these organs in order to reverse the mental illness. He believed this so strongly that he had all of his childrens' teeth pulled out to prevent them from going nuts later in life. It's quite shocking, especially when it becomes evident that many other doctors and administrators knew that Cotton's data (that supposedly showed that his technique was successful) was hopelessly flawed. It's a terrific argument for the vital importance of truth-telling and accountability in health care.
The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness
by Jack El-Hai
This book is a biography of Dr. Walter Freeman, the psychiatrist turned "psychosurgeon" who popularized the use in the US of the lobotomy as a treatment of last resort for patients with severe mental illness. It's a disturbing tale. While Freeman seemed to genuinely believe that he was helping people, even following up on his patients decades later, his own accounts said that fewer than half of the surgery subjects were improved. Many suffered negative side effects such as seizures and loss of cognitive ability, in addition to the (desired) personality changes. It is amazing to me that this surgery was still being done less than a generation ago - there are still plenty of lobotomy patients alive in our communities today. Can you imagine going to the doctor for severe depression and being told, "I want to jam an icepick through your eye socket into your brain, and then you'll feel much better"??
Thursday, April 06, 2006
I've made it through week 1.
I'm starting to feel a little bit better - I'm not caught up yet, but I'm not completely behind, either. And I seem to be grasping everything on about the same level as my classmates, which is reassuring. I was especially pleased to discover while studying last night that the math stuff we will be tested on is coming easily to me. It was a LONG time ago that I studied decimal fractions and all that kind of stuff... but apparently it's been hanging out somewhere inside my brain for all these years. My mom and dad are coming to visit us this weekend, which will be a nice mental break.
I normally try to answer comments people leave in a more personal fashion, but you might have gotten the idea that I'm a little short on time right now, so I'm just gonna throw my answers out here in public.
Rosebuttons: Thanks for stopping by! It is nice to get proof that people live through all six quarters of the program, and then go on to have jobs and lives and pets and hobbies and stuff. :) As for my tootsies, I wear size 36 Danskos - if you also have teeny feet, we can make a deal! P.S. - any general hints you have for correlating the readings to the outcomes for a given unit would be much appreciated. I'm still in that "huh? outcomes?" stage, which you may not even remember!
Doug: Believe it or not, the elliptical+textbook=exercise option works remarkably well. As for parking, it is a crapshoot every day how far I will have to walk to class. :) It's not too far to bike from home, but my bike has no basket and I honestly don't think I could carry all my books in a backpack and still be able to pedal uphill. Especially since it's a 1-speed. I probably look like the Wicked Witch of the West riding it.
May and Marj: Thank you for your continuing enthusiastic support! It may not seem like much, but I really feel good knowing that there are nurses out there thinking postive thoughts on my behalf.
Labels: nursing school
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
nursing school day 2
Man, there is a lot to do just to stay up to speed! My program has 5 required classes (Foundations, Communications, Skills Lab, Communications Lab, and Clinical Practicum) plus an optional class for Success Strategies. I'm taking the optional class too, because why not?
There is sooooo much reading and so many handouts and so forth. I've got two 2" binders and lots of dividers, and I still don't feel totally organized. Oh, and I dropped about $550 on textbooks this quarter - ouch! Fortunately, we'll reuse many of them for other classes in the future.
The worst part about coming in as an alternate is that I'm already behind. I hate that feeling. If I hadn't had to register and buy books so late, I would have already done about 200 pages of reading. I'm going to try to go back and catch up on that over the weekend, because if I try to do it in order, I will be behind all week. Keep moving is an important skill!
My classmates are awesome. Even only two days in, a sense of camraderie is developing. It's good to know that we don't have to be competitive anymore and the more we help each other out, the better the entire group will do. I'm also impressed at how smart/experienced/well-educated/confident many of my classmates are. And it was really heartwarming that so many of them warmly welcomed me when they recognized me as an alternate from orientation. :)
The only way I'm going to get any exercise this quarter is going to be reading on the elliptical. And I'm afraid the only way we're going to get anything to eat is frozen food from Trader Joe's. Which would definitely be healthier and cheaper than ordering pizza every night.
Labels: nursing school
Monday, April 03, 2006
I'm still super stressed out because I registered so late (today after class) that I can't get into the online part of the course, which tells me what my assignments are... argh! But I can go buy binders and organize all the stuff I've collected (syllabi and handouts and whatnot). And I'll catch up... right?
Labels: nursing school