Thursday, April 30, 2009

Girl Talk: Faultless Frivolity

Lets pretend I have $50 to spend, guilt free. What to spend it on? Hmmmmm......

Fifty dollars is an amount that really makes you think, because it's not A MILLION DOLLARS where you could list your wildest dreams and most ridiculous luxuries (a new car! an island! a herd of mini ponies!). It's fifty bucks.

Enough for almost fifty song downloads (now that some of the prices have gone up) or one bra from Victoria's Secret. Two tanks of gas. Twelve and a half trips across the Bay Bridge. One of my textbooks. Twenty-five lunches at the hospital, if I only get the soup.

As a Catholic and a member of a family with sky-high expectations, I have quite a bit of guilt to my name. So I tend to buy things that I can justify that I need, even if I don't really need them. Like, "I didn't need this new sweater, but it has been cold out and I really like it and I do need to wear clothes" or "I probably shouldn't have bought this movie, but I'm saving money because I don't pay for cable or internet." But Guilt Free is interesting. It means that I could buy some totally extravagant frill!

So, with that in mind, I think I would choose either a beautiful glass unicorn, probably one of these two.

Or, an old school Nintendo system and my favorite game from childhood.

I don't care if I'm a big dork, it's MY imaginary fifty dollars. So there.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dear Patient,

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry for what you had to go through.

I'm sorry that you came to the hospital with a baby inside you and you have to leave with an empty belly and a heavy heart.

I'm sorry for the cold floor, the skinny bed, the flimsy hospital gown, and the needle we put in your back.

I'm sorry that you could hear babies crying when you walked through the hallway.

I'm sorry for being a nursing student, an extra person in the room during such a difficult time.

I'm sorry that I wasn't the nurse, who did all the right things-- holding your hand, talking to you, being present with your pain. It was important for me to see her do it, but I'm sorry it wasn't me.

I'm sorry that I had to maintain a professional distance and that I couldn't hold you in my arms and weep with you.

I'm sorry that this procedure is the best one we have. It's invasive and uncomfortable.

I'm sorry that you had to choose between giving birth to a dead baby or having the doctor take it out.

I'm sorry that we couldn't really tell you what went wrong. We don't know. And that's not fair.

I'm sorry that you are still going to look pregnant when you leave here.

I'm sorry that you've been through all of this before.

I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. No one should have to be this strong. It's too much.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

so many tears

In the past several weeks, I have seen and heard-

a woman trying to make the decision between being induced, having a procedure that might lead to an emergency C section, and waiting another week for her baby to grow more.

a baby with a hole in its heart.

a woman being told that one of the babies inside her had died.

a new mom trying to breastfeed, becoming frustrated with herself as her baby would not latch on.

a baby who had gotten its shoulders stuck during birth and broken its clavicle.

a new father trying to comfort his wife as they watched their baby struggle, hooked up to machines.

a woman who had lost five pregnancies.

a baby who cried right away after delivery.

a baby who didn't cry right away after delivery.

a laboring woman being told that she was being silly not to want an epidural.

a woman craning to see what the providers were doing as they worked on her baby.

a baby removed, piece by piece, from its heartbroken mother.

and more.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Language Police

I got to have an unexpected lovely quick lunch with my sister and her kids the other day. They were driving right by where I was and I just happened to have about an hour to spare so we met up for some big hugs and fast food. At one point during lunch I said "Oh my God!"

And my three year old nephew looked at me with a very serious expression and said "Oh my gosh."

So fucking cute.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Girl Talk: Penned Kink

When it comes to romance novels, I was a bit of a late bloomer. I believe it was my sophomore year of college during those two months-ish when I was living in an apartment far away from everyone I knew (before I moved into the TroCoHo, the most awesome house EVER) and I didn't have a TV. I spent a lot of time reading, mostly random books I had been given or bestsellers. And then one day I was at the drugstore and I came across The Calhoun Women by Nora Roberts. And I was single and replaying my own escapades in my head wasn't quite cutting it and there was no one around to judge me, so I bought it. And then I bought the second one the next day.

The great thing about these books is that they encompassed several different kinds of lady fantasies: There is the tomboyish girl, Catherine, who starts out making smart remarks and snarking at the polished businessman and they have heated arguments and are breathing all heavily with pent-up aggression and then whoops! they start making out. And there is Amanda, the professional, practical girl who gets seduced by the burly, calloused construction worker even thought she knows she couldn't possibly be attracted to him, he's far too dirty and masculine. And Lilah, the free-spirited, long-haired hippie chick who draws the bookworm guy out of his shell and into her bed after nursing him back to health. And, finally, there is Suzanna, the sad and wounded divorcee who falls for the overprotective cop even though she never thought she could love again.

Cliche? Perhaps. But titillating? Oh my, yes.

And I've also read, um, this entire series. If things like plot inconsistencies and misspelled words bother you then I don't recommend them. But if you can get past this they are quite entertaining with snappy dialogue and delightfully light and fluffy plots. Hot vampires with raw animal passion who actually get it on (as opposed to a certain other vampire series which is a gigantic tease)? Yum.

Romance novels didn't give me an unrealistic perception of sex at a young age. Movies, TV, books without graphic descriptions of sex, gossip, magazines, and my own overactive imagination game me plenty of unrealistic ideas. Romance novels just gave me bedtime (and bathtime) entertainment and an inventory of naughty-part euphemisms... my favorite of which might have to be "throbbing member." Throbbing? Um, is it infected?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Resolutions

After reading Miss Grace's post, I remembered that today is Earth Day. I do care about our lovely little planet, so here are some things I resolve to start doing:

1. Actually use my reusable shopping bags. I'll buy a couple more so I can leave them in my car, my purse, and my backpack so they will be more handy.

2. Get one of those folding cart things for shopping (hopefully one that is kind of hip and cute and not too dowdy). This, I believe, will help me accomplish goals 3 and 4.

3. Walk to the grocery store. It is embarrassingly close and yet I drive there far more often than I should because it's quicker and easier, especially if I want to buy a lot of heavyish stuff. But once I have my little cart, I'll have no excuse.

4. Use the library, not the bookstore. The bookstore is closer, but the library is right across the street from the grocery store so maybe I'll be inspired to go there while I'm out shopping.

5. Turn off excess lights. Sometimes I feel lonely in my apartment so I keep more lights on than I should. But I'll stop. Maybe I'll try to make it fun by lighting nice-smelling candles in the house instead. That's okay, right? Candles make less pollution than leaving lights on?

6. Make hippie cleaning stuff out of baking soda and vinegar and lemon juice and whatnot. I'll use up my Seventh Generation stuff and just mix the new stuff in those bottles.

7. Buy more local and organic food. I've starting doing this recently, but sometimes the prices scare me away. But I know it's better for the economy, the environment, my health, karma, etc.

I think now is a good time to mention the things that I already do, just to give myself a little pat on the back for doing them. And also to resolve to continue to do them:
  • Drink tap water
  • Use cloth napkins and cleaning rags instead of paper towels and napkins
  • Bring water in my reusable bottle
  • Bring tea in my ceramic travel cup
  • Reuse plastic bags (for kitty litter scooping, lunches, etc)
  • Reuse paper bags (to hold recyclables)
  • Bring my lunches to school a couple times a week (I can't bear to bring lunch on clinical days. It's just too much to handle) and make dinner at home most nights
  • Shop at thrift and used clothing stores
  • Use public transportation
  • Give a monthly donation to Greenpeace
  • Appreciate natural beauty
  • Think positive thoughts

One of those days.

Remember how I was just saying how good I was feeling about this quarter and how all the pieces of my life are falling smartly into place? Well yesterday was, like, the opposite of that.

I had a hard time during clinical. My clinical instructor and I just could not seem to quite see eye to eye. I know that she is a super amazing expert in her field and that she probably feels like she is teaching us and showing us the best methods of doing things. But, from my perspective, I think there is a way of teaching that invites the learners into the process instead of, say, grilling them until you get to something they don't know and then focusing solely on that.

And she bought lunch for the entire unit. Which is very VERY nice, but it was spicy food. I already have a delicate tummy and on clinical days I tend to have a rather nervous stomach, so I really didn't want to risk an afternoon of racing to the bathroom when I'm supposed to be taking care of patients. What I'm trying to say is-- yes, it was very VERY nice to buy food for the unit, but maybe don't try to make me feel guilty for wanting to leave the floor for my lunch break. I'll be back. I'm here for TWELVE FLIPPIN HOURS.

And then there was the after-clinical crankiness with my man.

And I had sore feet (trace pedal edema) because I walked around and stood in the kitchen making dinner instead of going straight home to put my feetsies up after clinical.

And I recieved an email from Kaplan saying they have mailed my NCLEX study materials to the wrong address.

And then I got an email from my TA whose comments about my paper included that she can't understand my writing and that I need to write more simply. Here's what I have to say about that, lady: I HAVE A BACHELOR'S DEGREE IN ENGLISH AND YOU ARE ESL.

I almost wrote her a snarky (YOU SPELLED THE WORD PARAGRAPH WRONG) email. But then I thought... maybe taking out my entire frustrating day on the well-intentioned TA is a bad idea.

So I drank a cold beer in the shower, ate a Hostess cupcake, and called it a night.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lucky number seven

There are seven weeks left in the quarter. Which also means there are seven weeks left in this school year. Which is, um, INSANE. Looking back, I remember just how unfamiliar everything started out, how nervous I was, how overwhelmed and exhausted I felt again and again and how I lost control and my personal life fell apart. Whew. It has been quite a year.

It has been tough. But that's not surprising-- everyone said it would be. That's pretty much ALL I was expecting from this year. What is surprising is how much I am actually enjoying this year. I remember this one night before I started my program. I was having dinner at my parents' house and my sister asked what I was most excited about. I couldn't come up with anything. I had nothing, NOTHING that I could point to as to why I was about to put myself through an intensely hard year. Nothing!

So when I am sitting in class listening to a guest lecturer who is the foremost expert in their field, or when I'm in clinical and I'm able to answer every question the nurse throws at me, or when I chat with fellow classmates and realize how great they are and how much we've been through together, or when I'm researching jobs or networking with current nurses who know graduates from my program that have gone on to do awesome stuff, I get pretty amazed to realize how good a fit my program is and how excited I am to be going into this field.

My classmates and I have come so far already. I remember back in June that clinical seemed so daunting-- and we were still only doing 8 hour shifts back then! I was so nervous about giving bed baths and changing linens. Oh my God, oh my God WHICH SHEET GOES ON TOP?? I would forget to bring in half the stuff I would need to use and I would get all flustered and red in the face and start dropping things because I was so embarassed. I was nervous about trying to help the nurses and I felt like I really wasn't that helpful. Which, looking back at the tiny pocketfull of skills I had learned, I probably wasn't.

By the end of November I was taking care of 3 patients largely on my own. Med calculations, IV bags and pumps, dressing changes, straight caths, ostomy care, feeding tubes, NG suction, sub q and intramuscular injections. We learned it all in such a brief amount of time.

And now we're in the last quarter. My half of the class is in Labor & Birth and Community Health which feels pretty, well, cush compared to Med-Surg and Peds/Psych. It feels like the year is winding down and everybody is starting to pat themselves and each other on the back for making it. It's not over yet, but we're in the home stretch.

I can see the finish line. I can also see the gigantic hurdle after it (the NCLEX) and the two long races I'll have to run (2 MORE years of Nurse Practitioner training) after that. But for now I'll focus on crossing that line and celebrating making through this crazy one-year nursing program.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tattoodle Remoodle

The title of this post is funny because it's a play on the word "removal" but "moodle" is the online network where my classmates and I have to download readings and post assignments. Get it!? Ha! Ha ... oh nevermind.

Anyhow, this morning at 6 my alarm went off and I was still on the fence about doing extra clinical hours ON A SATURDAY. But I felt awake-ish and okay-ish about it and not stressed out, so I decided to haul my tired body out of its cozy cocoon of a bed and drive out to Oakland. I would not normally behave so overachieverly, but I did it for two reasons: 1. I was actually really interested in finding out more about the program and what they did in the clinic and 2. I wanted the extra hours now so that at the end of the quarter when I'm in finals and swamped and overwhelmed or I just need a mental health day, I can be all "hey remember those extra hours I did back in April...? Bye!!"

The program is interesting. It's a monthly tattoo removal clinic that is meant to encourage kids make changes in their lives. The doctors volunteer their time and people (mostly ages 13-25) can come in and get their tattoos removed for free. I was sort of expecting to see a lot of former gang members getting their gang tattoos removed or white power dudes getting swastikas removed and whatnot, but they were mostly regular looking tattoos and many of them were not on highly visible areas. There was one guy who got his neck and face lasered, but that was really the only one that fell into the category of "what I had been expecting." The rest just seemed to be tattoos that the owners had begun to regret over time: Tattoos that had been done at home. Images that no longer held meaning for the person. Names of previous lovers.

I spent most of the morning applying lidocaine cream to people's skin before they got their tattoos lasered and then helping them tape ice packs to their bodies afterwards. I also got to observe the lasering process, which was very cool. And also, horrifying. Because you can't see the laser beam but you can see the skin change color and smell the hair burning as the person flinches in pain. Apparently the old laser they used to use had a visible beam that would actually break the skin and it would blister and bleed. YOWCH.

I had thought the point of the program was to remove tattoos that would hinder one's progress in the professional and social world. But from what I saw, the program was really about self esteem and support. While not a simple process, tattoo removal isn't overwhelming in its spectrum. That is, it's not like the people who run the program promise that they are going to find these kids jobs or anything. But the people working at the clinic provide a service for free. And they are nonjudgemental and consistent which, for some troubled kids goes a loooong way. And, in a philosophical sense a tattoo removal is a physical change, which might inspire other, less tangible changes in attitude or ambition. Apparently a lot of the kids who have participated in the program have gone on to do some pretty great stuff in their lives.

After all the tattoos had been zapped, I came home and fell into bed around noon and had what I might be so bold to describe as the BEST NAP EVER. I feel good about going to the clinic this morning. I got me some extra hours and had a fun and interesting experience. I just really hope that I'm never on the recieving end of that laser.....

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Craft for the Crafty

This past weekend was one of those rare breaks that actually felt longer than it was, probably because I got to partake in such a wide variety of activities: eating Ethiopian food, playing pool at what turned out to be a gay bar, wandering the streets of San Francisco late at night, hanging out at my parents' house, eating delicious traditional Easter meals, going to a Santa Cruz party with my fave Santa Cruz girl, holding baby chicks, going to church, driving along the coast, barbecuing in the backyard of the apartment complex, and actually being a bit productive amongst all my playing.

In honor of spring having sprung, here is a craft that I made up last year at the adult day health care center where I used to work.

Easter Bonnets

- paper plates (large)
- paper bowls
- Paint in bright, springy colors, and painting implements (we used acrylic paint, but other types will probably work, too) (I'm not too familiar with paint varieties).
- tape and glue
- scissors
- paper flowers, glitter, colored poof balls, feathers, etc.

- Paint plates and bowls any color you want (they can match or not match, whatever) and allow them to dry.
- Turn the plate upside down. Tape or glue the bowl to the center of it, also upside down.
- Cut a hole in the center of the paper plate slightly smaller than the bowl (so the edges of the bowl are still glued/taped to the plate but you can see the inside of the bowl if you hold your "hat" upside down). The plate/bowl combo will sit more hat-like on your head (since plates are flat but heads are roundish)(depending on the head).
- Glue on flowers, glitter, poof balls, feathers, or other decorative items.
- Poke holes in the sides of the "brim" of the hats (the paper plate). Tie pieces of ribbon on both sides of the hat so you can tie it around your chin so it stays on.
- Wear your bonnet to church on Easter (or to your favorite springtime activity).

I made this craft up after my budget at the center was cut essentially to nothing. So I went into the kitchen and helped myself to the paper tableware and then scrounged around the activity cabinets for the rest of the supplies. We had actually been doing things like making paper flowers so the decorative items were easy to come by. When I first announced this craft, people kind of rolled their eyes-- Painting bowls, you say? Making silly hats out of what exactly?? But once the pieces started coming together, everybody got pretty excited about how they were turning out. We had a spring party and everyone wanted to wear a hat. Fabulous.

And my parents were doing some extensive babysitting this past week, so I sent them a list of craft ideas. Apparently they had a lot of fun making the hats over a couple of days with the kiddos.

So, to sum up, this craft:
1. is easy.
2. is CHEAP.
3. can be used to fill fairly large chunks of time, depending on how creative and detailed you get.
4. is good for children and adults alike.
5. was MY idea.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Babies! They're cute!

My first Labor & Birth clinical was today. Twelve hours in the Well Baby Nursery. And, um, Oh My GOD. Newborn babies are so effing cute. Man alive are they cute. I mean, duh. Obviously babies are cute. It's part of the whole survival of the species nonsense. One individual baby is cute so that the momma is more likely to carry it with her while she's being chased by the wolves. Yes, that is the scientific explanation.

But, oh my. When there's a whole bunch of them? All snuggle buggled up in bundles? Making little grunting noises or wiggling their tiny arms and legs or FURROWING their teensy little brows? Oh man. I may or may not have had to seriously restrain myself from dropping my professional boundaries and kissing their tiny baby heads and cuddling up in bed with thee or four of them. Babies, you can thank me for discovering, are CUTE!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Creative and Talented Hobbyist Dies of Packratitis

Yesterday, I looked around my apartment and started to panic. The Mess had gotten out of hand. How, you ask? Let's take a look. On part of the kitchen counter, there was this:

The main culprit here is my soap-making materials. And actually, those don't offend me too much. I like making soap. It is relaxing, fun, easy, makes great gifties, and requires me to exercise the creative side of my brain-- the side that's been sitting on the couch eating potato chips while the problem-solving side runs this yearlong marathon I call nursing school (okay, that's not true, nursing is a multifaceted discipline that requires book smarts AND creativity but whatever, I liked the image of half my brain just chillin out watching daytime TV). It's also a hobby that inspires other people to be impressed with and complimentary of me. I tell them I make soap and they say things like "Oh WOW. That's so neat! You must be so creative and talented!" So the soap-making stuff is okay. The fact that it temporarily lives on the counter doesn't upset me too much.

Except when it's in combination with this:

and this:

and, dear God, THIS:

What you can't see here is the snowboard, boots, bin of snow clothes, and suitcase from my vacation (two weeks ago) that I still hadn't taken downstairs to the storage unit. Also, you probably can't appreciate the fact that if I stood in a spot next to the couch and bent slightly, I could reach out and touch EVERY SINGLE ONE of these surfaces. This should emphasize why The Mess was starting to make me panic. My apartment is tiny. Thus, any amount of clutter makes a significant dent in the amount of available space and it starts to look horrendously bad in a much shorter amount of time than it would if it were, for instance, spread out amongst a number of rooms. Since the only surfaces are located roughly within 4 feet of each other, the clutter they collect can definitely induce a "the walls are closing in on me" feeling within a very brief amount of time.

So, last night, I cleared off the kitchen counter (not the one with the soap-making stuff, the other one), washed the dishes, and took the vacation stuff down to the storage unit. The coffee table is still a mess, though I did pick up the magazines and things that had fallen to the floor and place them on the table. I haven't really touched the computer/kitchen table, which is where I am sitting right now, surrounded by the teeming piles of junk that will eventually bury and suffocate me. I'll leave the soap making stuff out so that the rescue team/obituary writer can note how creative and talented I am.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Chew Toy

Despite the usually riveting lectures, sometimes I need a little something or other to keep me alert during class. I'll often snack on grapes, cereal, marshmallows, or raisins. I don't drink coffee, but occasionally I will buy an Earl Grey tea (which I think smells like Froot Loops-- anyone else??) and the sipping as well as the caffeine helps keep my eyes bright. And sometimes I will reach for my emergency pack of Trident. I don't chew gum often-- the flavor loss and aftertaste tend bug me and I also think I am a pretty annoying gum chewer (I smack, I pop tiny bubbles, I chew really fast)-- but it does the trick in a pinch. So I treated myself to a brand new pack for this brand new quarter. Hm. This post was a lot more interesting in my head.