Monday, April 23, 2007


It started happening this quarter. The comparisons between nurse training and military training. First, it was my Skills instructor. Trained in the army she runs the class like a drill sargeant: "Draw that medication faster! Hey, checking back after giving a medication is what makes you different from the janitor, maggot!" (ok, no one was actually called a maggot, but you could almost hear it in the tone of her voice). I muttered to my neighbor, at one point, "You're in the army now." Rumor has it we're not allowed to wear sweatshirts to class. Suddenly A students are getting less than A's on the skills. And, um, yep, that's me. I couldn't draw up the medication from the teeny, tiny ampule using the gigantic syringe and I touched the edge of the needle with my glove and that = didn't pass the skill.

The other military comparisons keep springing up in the dreaded History of Nursing Class (oh, come on: History of Nursing!?). The caps and uniforms, the civil war nurses, the discipline, etc. Is it summer yet?

The thing that I have been enjoying is the clinicals. My last two patients have been so grateful to me for the little help I provide them. I don't know how much of it had to do with the heavy amounts of morphine they were on (both had itsy-bitsy pupils and morphine pumps. One kept the little button in his hand at all times.) and how much of it had to do with the lavish amounts of attention I'm able to focus on them as my sole patient for the day. I'm able to wash their hair and rub their backs and chat while most of the RNs are flying in to give medications and ask for vitals and then whirling out.

OK. Recipes. Have I mentioned the banana cream pie from the NY Times magazine a couple of months back? It was the most delicious pie I've ever made and I don't even like banana cream pie. I'll get back to you on it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


So my clinical is at a busy city hospital on an acute care floor. Half the patients are telemetry patients (on heart monitors) and the other half are...just real sick. They say no one is in the hospital unless they're real (sic) sick these days, but I mean coughing up blood, gasping for air, moaning real sick. So it's...exciting and interesting and-can I admit?- a little scary. I'm always nervous when I'm driving to the hospital and then I get there and I feel oddly competent (um, not that I am) and calm for the most part.

This week, after Easter, things were not so busy and a whole group of five nursing students were told to make ourselves useful, but the nursing assistant wanted to do patients' vitals so all five of us gave a woman a bed bath. It actually took all five of us, though, and, an hour later, we still could have been working on it. The patient weighed at least 400 pounds and maybe lots more. She was so large she was barely able to move. It was hard work and many of us were sweating from moving her body parts to clean under them. And it really took all five of us to one, two, three HEAVE the patient a couple of inches back to the top of the bed. I've always kind of looked at very obese people and thought that they look kind of, um, fluffy, like, if you poked them a little you'd make a dent (and I mean no offense, I just had no idea), but this woman was substantial, solid. Each breast took all of my strength to lift and her legs were literally elephantine down to the thickened rough skin. Her feet didn't look anything like feet except that there were sort of five toes and toenails on each of them. This woman had had heart attacks by my age. Our bodies can do interesting things.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Back To School Fun

It's back to school after my very short spring break. It took a lot of energy to "relax" during my break. I had a HUGE list of things I wanted to accomplish: paint my bedroom, prepare a veggie garden for the kids, finish the kids' quilts, de-clutter the house, finish pruning the Ugly Tree in my parking strip and the baking projects, oh lord, The Baking Projects! No. Not a one. I didn't get any of them done. I did pick up the soil for the veggie garden and it is now killing a huge spot of "grass" (read: weeds that we try to mow into a grass-like height) in the backyard. I spent the whole time trying to catch up on books, movies and magazines that I'd been putting off. I stayed up late every night reading. I spent a lot of time each day not doing the things I'd planned. And then school started.

And now I'm in school or clinicals five days/week. I have to keep telling myself: It's just ten weeks, it's just ten weeks, it's just ten weeks. And on Tuesday I woke up in the middle of the night with a knife stabbing the back of my throat and with tonsils so swollen I was choking on them. I couldn't swallow. I was shaking and feverish. I suffered through skills lab (aseptic technique! PO (by mouth) meds! We got to put masks and gloves and gowns and caps and take them off again. We didn't practice giving each other PO meds, perhaps a good thing because I couldn't swallow a thing.). And then my doc said, "strep." So it's ten days of erythromicin. "Uh, can't I take Zithromax, doc?" which is twice/day (BID) for three days. And he didn't know. I go back to school and two random student nurses asked, "Zithromax?" arg.

My clinical is at a very busy hospital very close to home, thankfully. We did a grueling orientation and an equally grueling online course on fraud etc and tomorrow I tail an RN and see how they do the things they do at the place we're doing 'em.