Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Kidneys, Don't Fail Me Now!

So That Class. Today the hum of the fluorescent lights combined w/ the whine from the instructor's microphone in a way that made me feel like I was going to throw up. I don't know if anyone would have noticed. We're all hypnotized by the overly wordy Powerpoint (I'll make it one word this time) slides and the information which made no sense. People tried to ask questions, but they were deflected by Confuso-instructor as she motored on and on at a pace that was too slow to render her speech into a soothing drone. That Class is Contemporary Nursing and I enjoy *not* doing the reading because it makes the mixed bag o' lectures a little more exciting. What'll it be this time: Piaget's cognitive theories? Anxiety? Or The Adaptive Exchange Model? The latter is something made up by someone at Nursing School U and is the flow chart/model that will help us to better help our patients. Arrows are pointing here and there and it's water in/ water out (or, wait, that's the fluid intake/ output we were supposed to track that led to my belief that I have impending kidney failure and, no, it's not because we're looking at diseases of the kidneys in pathophysiology right now and, all right, you don't want to hear about pee anymore) and when I asked, "What are you talking about?" to the Other Instructor Who Teaches the Class (the one who talks so fast it has become a whole new language, because, yes, the class is taught by *two* instructors on alternating days because it's not insane enough otherwise) she said, "Oh, you should have seen the other guy's theories! You'll be thanking us for our lovely theory. At least it fits on ONE PAGE." Except the other guy is not a guy she's a nun. And now that this is all clear to you (just as clear as it is to me!) I have a great muffin recipe for you. This one is soooo easy and sooo tasty! I stole it from a random web site and modified it to make it less healthy and more tasty.

Mini Apple Nut Muffins

2 grated apples
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of butter
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

1/4 cup of milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups of AP or cake flour
1 TBsp non-aluminum baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Spray mini muffin tin w/ oil or butter lightly.

Preheat oven to 425.

Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Set aside.

Put first 6 ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to simmer. Cover w/ lid, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the milk. Add the eggs.

Mix wet and dry ingredients.

Stir in walnuts.

Fill muffin tins w/ batter. It wont quite make 24 so put a 1/4 inch of water into empty tins. Bake for 10 minutes or until toothpick comes back almost clean.

I don't have a picture of them. They were eaten too quickly. Those are pumpkin guts.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Cups O' Pee

Nice title. Now you wont try my corn muffins, will you?

So, every nursing student blog has the gratuitous photo of the required books stacked to the heavens and, heck, who am I to go against the genre? So there it is. The quarter in the lower left is to give the behemoth some scale. And, I'll add here, I did not fluff this stack up with any extraneous textbooks from, say, Anatomy or Microbiology, though I have them around and I use them all of the time. And, I must say here, most of these books have tissue thin pages and fonts of a size I thought unreadable for their microscopity a few months ago. Um, maybe I still think they're unreadable, but the flow charts in some of these books! Oh, the flow charts. They are...baffling/beautiful. And, for your information, the book buying is not done. That's just this quarter (not the one for scale, the one that is a breakdown of the academic year).

I had my first clinical last Friday. We went to an elder care facility and took blood pressure and glucose readings on some folks. And then we interviewed them. A good time was had by all and I only had to re-do two out of the three "client's" glucose tests. And two out of my three "clients" had high readings which made me feel a little sad about the festive and out-sized donuts sitting there gleaming w/ sugary coatings. They were brought by my instructor. Whoops. The quarter for scale would have been itsy bitsy next to those monster-donuts. They would have eaten the quarter.

My favorite class is Skills Lab. We get to do fun stuff like: blood pressure readings until you're blue at the fingertips! Make an unoccupied bed! Make an occupied bed (oooooh!)! Poke your lab partner's fingers for glucose tests! Do it again because you were too chicken to press hard enough and they were whining when you tried to "milk" the blood out of the first stabbing! The real fun was perineal care on the mannikins. They have interchangeable genitals so you can practice washing the man and then - switcherooneee - washing the woman. It's a Code Brown! And then there was peeing in cups. We had to practice dipstick readings w/ our urine. And the bathroom is a quarter mile down the hall. On the way from the bathroom w/ full cups we could just pretend we had small drinks, but on the way back down the hallway to empty the cups o' pee we were wearing our gloves and it was pretty obvious that the cups did not contain beverage.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Corn Muffins: Mini!

I've been making a lot of mini muffins 'round here of late. It's nice to have something to give to the kids first thing in the morning and a mini muffin makes a perfect kid-sized snack. Sometimes the kids help make the muffins. We've done blueberry (not the best for mini-mizing - something about the big blueberries does ungood things to the texture), pecan, lemon poppyseed, banana nut (I process the nuts in the food processor for the fussy eater. The fussy eaters always have a thing about texture), and Cleanin' Out the Cupboard muffins (coconut, oatmeal, walnut - good, but half of 'em fell apart coming out of the tin).

The corn muffins have been the biggest hit. I adapted them from a Bobby Flay recipe that I found on the Food Network website. That recipe used blue corn and jalapenos (Fussy is not going to eat blue food or spicy food. nope. not happening). These things are almost a meal.

Best Mini Corn Muffins

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup mild cheddar, grated
3 ounces cream cheese (I just used some grated mozarella instead, but the ones I did w/ cream cheese were great, too)
1 cup All Purpose flour
1 cup corn meal (I used whole grain corn meal)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (I used aluminum-free baking powder. Perhaps healthier, but it eliminates that odd bitter baking powder flavor you can get when using such a large amount)
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs poppy seeds (optional)

preheat oven to 375.
Spray muffin tins w/ oil or butter them generously (that cheese makes the muffins clingy). Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Add milk. Mix well. Add cheeses and mix well. Sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Add to batter a cupfull at a time and mix after each addition just until barely combined. Stir in poppyseeds if you're using 'em.

Fill mini muffin tins a little more than half full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick in the center comes out clean. Color is not an indication of doneness. Do not overbake.

These made about 30 mini muffins. You could also make it into a cornbread in a 9X9 pan or do full sized muffins.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006


There are a LOT of things that can go wrong with the heart. And I'm going to be tested on that tomorrow. I've already filled half a notebook (5 subject even) w/ notes in my pathofizz class.

So, I'm crammed into overheated, windowless rooms (4 out of 5 of my classes are in windowless classrooms - you do the math) with the same goup of 64 people. Sometimes we're broken up into smaller groups, but it's still the same people. And their quirks and annoying qualities are starting to show. I found myself being really grumpy about some of them ("man, she's annoying!" "shaddup already!" "Quit jabbing my finger w/ a needle!"). Maybe it's the lack of sleep. Maybe it's that I am dying (Right Now. As I Type This.) of several different and, possibly, unrelated heart ailments, but some folks in Nursing School are a little pesky. There's Hat Woman. She ALWAYS has something to say. And it's ALWAYS self-referential. There's Woman With Ill Boyfriend. She ALWAYS has something to say and it's ALWAYS about her boyfriend and his health ailments. There's Drunken Party Gal. Ok, she's not ACTUALLY drunk during class (um, I hope), but she ALWAYS has something to say and it's ALWAYS a question about drinking LOTS and LOTS of alcohol. Aside: she also went on and on, at one point, in a conversation I participated in with her, about the directions she ABSOLUTELY refuses to drive in. I only remember that she wont go south. (I don't really want to go south, either, but I will, at least, DRIVE south.) And then there's Odd Eating Habits Woman. She - IN PUBLIC - ate an apple and spit out the peel into a plastic baggy because -get this- she is worried about the pesticides on the skin. Um. Ick. Then there's Insensitive Guy (one of the rare fellas in the program) who always has some sort of comment that offends at least one person, but, more often, the whole class. Example: "I mean, come on, the guy's 41. He shouldn't be playing BASKETBALL! He should be creaking around in a golf cart." I've missed some people. But, here's the deal. I've started looking for good things about the people who annoy me the most. Hat Woman? She's really friendly and, even though it's the same hat every day, it suits her. She of Ill Boyfriend? She's got some nice tattoos. Drunken? She's got an infectious liveliness to her (there's a there there). And, heck, we've all gotta have boundaries. ApplePeel? She's lovely, smart and elegant. Maybe it's not all bad. But next time my lab partner pumps up the blood pressure cuff past 190 (I think my finger tips popped) and gives me high blood pressure ("uh, 120 over 90?") I think more than my fingers might pop!

That's a picture of popcorn the kids picked at The Harvest Festival this weekend. We'll pop it for Thanksgiving. It has to dry first. Ask me about my failed pretzels!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

That Class and Tomato Sauce

My Contemporary Nursing Class is this amorphous blob of a class taught by two very different instructors. Neither instructor ever talks to the other instructor or that's how it seems. It gets worse (remember, this is the class where they gave everyone $20? I asked, "How bad could it be?"..): it's held in a room with no windows. The room is painted stark white and the starkness is interupted by smudges on the wall. I don't clean my floors very often, but I got some sort of good housekeeping diploma (suitable for framing) when my floors were compared to the floor in this classrooom. I think the coffee cup lids are actually permanently imbedded in floor-scum. I'm afraid to put my backpack down. It may never come up again, but the room is so crowded, well, I have no choice. There is a constant hum from the cheap-ass flourescent lights above and there's an almost imperceptable machine-whine from the computer monitor that assists The World's Dullest Teacher in displaying her Power Point (is that one word?) slides w/ perky old-fashioned traingle-hat wearing nurse images tucked into corners and what may (or may not) be an outline of what WDT is blahblahblahhing about up there. Oh, right. It's either about Florence Nightengale, Don't Date Your Patients, or The Nursing Process, but it all blends into the hum and the whine and the scum and the windlowlessness so she could be reading from the phonebook and I'd be equally engaged. The woman next to me writes on her notebook, "Kill Me Now" and angles it my way.

And then there's the tomato sauce. Those are san marzano tomatoes from the farmers market. And This Is The Best Sauce Ever:

8 to 12 tomatoes or so
Small onion: chopped real fine
2 cloves o' garlic: smashed or pressed
2 Tablespoons of fresh basil
splash of olive oil
salt and pepper
dash of red pepper flakes

Saute onion and garlic in splash of olive oil until softened (I dunno, five minutes)
Peel tomatoes by immersing them in boiling water for 10 seconds and then peeeling skin off with your fingers. Ouch to you if you have any cuts on your fingers, but it makes the sauce better to not have curls of tomato skin in it. Seed the tomatoes by cutting them in half and scooping out the seeds w/ your finger. Whir the seedless, skinless tomatoes in your blender or food processor until smooth (or chop it in chunks if you want a chucky sauce). Add the tomatoes to the onion. Add the basil, salt, pepper and red pepper and let this simmer over low heat for 20 minutes or so until thickened and tasty. This is so good over pasta w/ scraping of parmesan and it's fabulous in calzones if allowed to thicken appropriately. Even better, let the sauce sit in the fridge overnight and re-heat it. Now you're talking!

These tomatoes came from Tip Top Produce. The farmer who grew them just killed herself at age 38 and this will probably be the last sauce I make w/ her enormously delicious tomatoes. So very sad.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Asepsis!: A Review

Movie Review: Aspepsis! +

One of my textbooks (aside: I spent more on textbooks this quarter than on tuition! Don't try this at home, kids!) is actually a set of DVDs about nursing skills. My favorite so far is the one entitled Asepsis!+

The scenario is that three nursing students are learning how to keep things clean. We learn how to remove soiled gloves, how to keep a sterile field (DO NOT let your hands drop below waist level!) and Proper Handwashing Technique. I give the "film" three stars (out of a possible five). The action never ceases, the actors are perky and semi-believable (though the actors playing patients are a little too bit tidy and overly-friendly to be real patients) and the cast is diverse to a fault. There's the funny Asian American Guy Nursing Student! There's the amicable African American Gal Nursing Student! There's the patient Older White Gal Nursing Student (hey, I thought, that could be me...if I was tall and thin and had an assymetrical bob-do)! The conflict in the film comes about when a slovenly nurse is leaving the room of a patient who has an antibiotic resitant infection and she's NOT WEARING PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (which is up to and including a full on plastic mask) when confronted by the Amicable African American Nursing Student she (just about ) pops her gum and (actually) says, "What..ever." Next we find Amicable talking to her nursing instructor about it. I don't want to spoil the ending for you. Suffice it to say, you'll have to see it in the theater.

Next: I review the American Psychological Association's writing format.

+ The exclamation point was added by me, Student Nurse, for extra drama