Saturday, May 19, 2007


boom! I'm ready to collapse or explode from the stress this quarter. Only three more weeks -I have to say it again - only three more weeks. The only thing I'm enjoying this quarter is the clinicals and actually working with patients. The class that used to be fun -Skills Lab - is a grim combo plate of petrified students, confusing military instructor who doesn't like me (No, I'm not paranoid. People have been asking me, "So, why doesn't MilitaryNurseTeacher like you?"), and check off after check off. Wound dressing, IM injections, cleansing enemas, giving meds. It's all blending together. Oh, yeah. I like my yoga class.

And then there's the group paper. I am in the group best described as The Island og Misfit Toys. There are a few borderline personality disorders in there and maybe I'm one of 'em. Every time I give my opinion I'm accused of "insulting" everyone in the group. And there's that sinking feeling that my group members don't care about each other (um, there was the email from one member that actually said, after I relayed my personal struggles with having minimal time to get things done, "We don't care about your personal business."), and don't care about getting a good grade. Zeep. Who was it that said it's the BS that justifies the BS (N).

The patients..I think the hardest ones are the confused ones. There's just something deeply sad and often frustrating about people who are not in their right mind. Watching my last patient struggle to make a phone call to his family - to operate the phone, to try to remember and fail to remember the number, to look at the phone like it was a foreign device - was hard. I did what I could to organize his things. I did what I could to tidy him up. I parted his hair on the side when I combed it. I wondered- has he always been slightly confused? Is some of it the drugs? When I came back someone has cut his hair badly. Someone had attempted to remove his hospital-grown facial hair. He seemed to recognize me, but maybe he just recognized the theme of me: person there to help. I don't know.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Talkin' 'Bout Stomas

So, I got to follow the wound ostomy nurse this week and had my first real moment of queasiness as an SN (student nurse). The wound care nurse taught two patients about taking care of their ostomies. The first stoma we saw was for draining urine. The patient had a bladder cystectomy and the stoma was little and-despite its neighbor on the abdomen being a long surgical scar-was kind of cute. It looked like a small pink scrunchy. The patient asked, "Do people name their stomas?" I was the only one who laughed. The next stoma was for a transverse colostomy. It was of a size somewhere between baseball and infant's head. It mushroomed out from a smaller base. It was (despite all my book larnin' on the issue) not pink, but a veritable rainbow of, sorry, icky colors: bleeding red, necrotic gray, black and a brown that wouldn't have been unpleasant were it not surrounded by the other colors. This stoma needed a name. It took a trek all over the hospital to find a flange that would fit around The Stoma.

It's been a tough week. My strep throat came back and now I'm on scary antibiotics. The kind that says on the warning label "Take only in case of SERIOUS infection." with implied skull and crossbones peppering the container. Crud.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


I wonder how many other professions have to take a class about that profession's history...Is it just a funny nursing thing? I already did history and women's studies in my first go-round through school twenty years back. I thought I was done with it, but now I'm stuck with in this class with a lazy instructor who just spews random viewpoint for two hours (Oh, it's History and Trends in Nursing, and, well, trends... Trends could be anything, right? But nowadays most classes are taken up with students doing presentations about trends in nursing and reading in monotone from Powerpoint slides in a cavernous and bowl-shaped room that is decorated like a 70's-era rumpus room (brick walls w/ odd carpet-y panels hanging on 'em in regular intervals). I'm not actually going to stab my eye out w/ a fork, but it's almost as bad as the first quarter's theory class in terms of This Is A Waste Of My Time. And, don't get me wrong, I love history. And, um, I'm all for empowering future nurses with the story of nurses, but this class is so random, unfocused, dreary, and insulting to anyone who loves history. I'm worried less history-knowing students will think history is dreary, unfocused...flake-y. We had our midterm in the class today and we were allowed to have two pages (both sides) covered in notes to help us. Mine looked like an insane person's manifesto: no paragraphs, tiny writing. At some point I got tired and taped some random scraps of paper to one side. I couldn't even read the things it was such a mess.

OK. Here it is. Make this pie now. It is so fabulous! I don't even like pie and am only just ok with bananas (they have their place, I'll give 'em that), but this is REALLY GOOD. If you make this for someone you love they will know, upon first bite, that you, indeed, do love them. It's from the New York Times magazine of a couple of months back. I stole it almost word for word.

AMAZING Banana Cream Pie

For the crust:

1 ¼ cup graham-cracker crumbs, about 10 or 11 whole crackers

1 tsp sugar

4 Tbs butter, melted

For the interior:

1 2/3 cups milk

¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped out and reserved

3 Tbsp cornstarch

1 egg

2 egg yolks

1 ½ Tbsp butter

For topping:

1 ½ cups heavy cream

¼ cup crème fraîche

3 ½ medium bananas, sliced into 3/8-inch-thick rounds, ripe but not too ripe

1. Crust: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a bowl, combine the crumbs and sugar. Add the butter and mix, first with a fork, then with your fingers, until the crumbs are moistened. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan, using a flat-bottomed cup to press the crumbs evenly. The edges of the shell will be crumbly. Bake until lightly browned, 9 or 10 minutes. Cool completely.

2. Prepare the interior: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the vanilla bean and seeds and bring to a simmer. Over a small bowl, sift the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar with the cornstarch. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg and yolks.

3. When the milk comes to a simmer, discard the vanilla bean. Add the cornstarch mixture to the eggs and whisk until well combined.

While whisking the egg mixture, slowly pour in about 1/4 of the milk. Transfer this mixture into the saucepan, set over low heat and simmer, whisking constantly, until it reaches the consistency of thick pudding. (Be careful not to curdle the eggs.) Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until incorporated. Pour into a shallow bowl, place plastic wrap directly on the surface and chill.

4. To assemble: Using an electric mixer or a whisk, whip the heavy cream and crème fraîche into peaks. Transfer the interior pudding to a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Fold in 1/2 cup of the whipped cream. Line the bottom of the cooled pie shell with a layer of bananas. Fold the remaining bananas into the interior, then spoon it evenly into the shell. Mound the remaining whipped cream on top, swirling it decoratively. Chill and serve within 24 hours. Serves 8.