Monday, February 26, 2007

There's no crying in Skills Lab!

I had my first tearful scene in a lab today. I was trying (and repeatedly failing) to draw normal saline into a tuberculin syringe with a vanishing needle. The needle doesn't actually vanish, it just pops into the body of the syringe when you push the stopper hard enough. Twice, I pushed it hard enough while I was only trying to push the saline back into the vial to remove a stubborn air bubble. The overall goal of this portion of the lab was to get 1mL of saline into a nice intradermal wheal on a hot dog. The voice in my head said - Jesus, you can't even pull 1mL of saline to inject a hot dog! How can you even think about being able to make it through this program?! And I dropped my second syringe on the tray and stumbled for the bathroom.
Please understand that although I grew up in the American South, I never have been graceful about crying. My nose gets bulbous and red, my sclera is bright red instantly, and within seconds, my whole face is covered in pink splotches of embarrassment/anger/fear. It makes me even more upset, because if i glance at someone and they know that I've been crying (and HOW could they NOT!) and they react with anything approaching pity, I know it's over and I'll full-out sob. I don't know why I've got such a strong denial instinct for crying, but it seems that even after thirty some years of experiences in which I cannot stop myself from crying, I still try.
Deep breaths in the bathroom stall. Positive self-talk. Frantically try to think of a song that will calm me. I try each of these interventions for about 18 milliseconds and am shocked that none of them work very well. I wash my hands, am shocked at the way my face swelled up like Hitch's after eating some shellfish, and square my shoulders to go back to lab.
After properly disposing of the last syringe, and noting that even in emotional crisis, one should always stop off at the sharps containers, I get a new syringe and keep my head down so that no one looks at my face.
Pa-pow. Another needle wasted.
This time, I do remember to properly dispose of my sharps and it's not just the facial reaction, it's the full-crying in the bathroom. I begin to suspect hormonal involvement. I allow a bit more time for the breathing, self-talk, and musical interventions this time. I splash some cold water and then head back to lab again.

epilogue: we had another TA come in to observe us for the final part of this lab, which was IM injections of each other. The TA and the woman I was working with both did the best thing in the world, which was look at me calmly, ask if she might do the injection on me first, and then ignore my tears. By that point, I was starting to be able to joke about it a bit, and recognize that being able to pull up saline into a syringe, while basic, may be something I need to do more than once in my life. I wonder if the fear of being stuck had an antagonistic affect as well, because by the time it was my turn, I was right as rain.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Shhh, that doesn't hurt!

At the park yesterday, I was trying to study Patho while the kid was playing on the big slide. I wasn't having much success. There seems to be a cloud around this particular park - I can't relax and let the kid play here. I'm always watching the other kids, sitting on my hands, and biting my tongue to keep from yelling at kids that aren't mine to stop jumping on their little brother's head. Why I brought my notebook and that ginormous textbook I can't figure out.

This dad puts his daughter up on the swing. She's less than 6. The dad already put the under 2 yo in the baby swing and she's happy and safe. The dad pushes the swing, the girl slips out and lands flat on her back on the ground. Wham. Silence, and then a gasp and crying. Now, in my head, I'm rooting for the dad. Get down, I urge, down on your knees in the dirt right this second. He complies to a certain extent, crouching, but still looking around him, not at the baby, but for witnesses. Dude, I think, it's cool, I saw it and I've done it before. Everyone who has pushed a kid in a swing has had at least one time that they weren't ready, or you pushed too hard on the first push. Get down on the dirt and pick her up in a big hug. Now.

He ignores me, and starts talking. Uh-oh, I think, he's shaking off the signs from the catcher. Bad move, skippy. He says, Shhhhh, now. Hush, honey. You're okay, it's okay. Okay, so I get the motivation to reassure. Fine. But the hushing? At approximately 3.2 seconds post-traumatic, scary thwumk on the hard ground? Get real. That is a- not going to happen, and b- ridiculous of you to suggest.
They are about 10 feet from me for this whole encounter, and I am unfortunately blatantly staring while he continued to argue with her about the severity of her injuries and hugged her too hard (which made her cry harder and yell at him to get offa her). At one point, he started saying I'm sorry that you fell and hurt yourself. I'm so so sorry that happened. Hedging, dude. Weasel-y. Bad call.
I really don't get this impulse to blow off kids. You can't win by saying to a kid yelling that it hurts, that no, it doesn't. Um. Yes, it does. No, it doesn't. You might mean that it shouldn't, or that it's inconveinent for you to be yelling about right now, or that I don't have it in me to muster the sympathy that I should be showing you, or that I think you are a big fat baby whiner. But as the person not experiencing the pain, trauma, or discomfort, you cannot say that it does not hurt.

True, this girl made some noises like she was dying. Like she was about to fucking expire. Like Scarlett OHara when Ashley left her and the Yankees came to Tara. In my opinion, she made those noises because she doesn't feel like her dad is listening. She has learned in five short years that she has to ratchet up the drama in order to get him to engage, even though he engages poorly when he finally shows up.

The girl screeches, with raggedy breaths, I want to go home. The dad says, Well, how about this, honey, why don't we - and the girl screams it again. The dad gets annoyed. Dude, you're using too many words. I know that you're thinking out loud. I do that, too, all the time, and I know that it's annoying to many around me, including my kid. There are times when you are better off shutting your mouth and thinking. Anything you say that is not, Okay, baby, let's go get our stuff and go on home - pointless, like that Far Side cartoon about what dogs hear. blah blah blah. So your thinking time needs to be devoted to any reason why we cannot go home right now, and that reason needs to be limited to they are exterminating our house with dangerous chemicals that will affect our neurologic functions.

Turns out that the reason the dad was hedging on the pack-it-up-and-roll-out idea was that he wanted her to get back on the horse. He thinks (I saw it above his head in a big balloon) that if he lets her go home crying because of this fall, that she will always be scared of swings and this will be a weakness for the rest of her life. Been there, too, man. I totally understand. But stop it. First of all, at no point in this process have you, the adult, the one who did NOT just get hurt and scared, not once yet have you shut the fuck up and just hugged the kid. Try it, please. You have demanded that she be quiet, repeatedly commanded her to take a deep breath and calm down, and told her that it's not a lot of blood and she shouldn't be scared. Stop. Take a deep breath of your own. Sit with her. Listen to what she's saying. Look at her eyes. Let her know that what she's saying, what's happening for her is important to you. Hold your own agenda for a second - of not looking like an asshole that just pushed your kid off the swing, of making sure she doesn't develop a lifelong swing phobia, whatever.

I kept wondering if she would respond to me if I went over with water for her to wash her fingers. I kept imagining that I would do all the right things, and like the Dog Whisperer, she would instantly quiet and calm. I think that I did not go over because I didn't want to know that this movie was totally fiction.

What I did do was pack up my own books and kid after the second time he came tumbling out of the slide crying. Apparently, their clog-up-the-slide-halfway-down game had gone awry and he got a foot in the ribs. Okay, I said, matter-of-fact, Time to go. Of course, I muttered 'just like I told you it would be if you kept playing that dumb-ass game with that big kid who was jumping on his brother's head'.

It really makes me wonder what other parents think of me on the playground.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


so. still awake. now, instead of blaming the quart of coffee I had today, I'm staying up to keep an ear out on the kid. (he is breathing much more regularly and quietly now. regular is good but quiet is not, since it makes it harder to know if it's regular, for fuck's sake.)

the mania i was whining about a week or so ago - thinking I was signing up for too many things, setting myself up to fail, stretching myself thin, the cliches are endless and all boring - well, it looks different to me now. Calling it mania seemed histrionic, even at the time.

there was a whiff of inauthenticity about it. even in my own head. i'm not really scared that i'm going to sign up for too many things and not be able to do them. that's possible. fine. that's even happened before. cool. i'm scared that I will say out loud in a crowd of some sort - I can do this thing! and screrch the music stops and everyone looks and waits for me to do the thing. well.

this is true of any role I have ever taken on or currently hold. mother, student, queer person, writer, smart person, sarcastic bitch, teenager, spiritual woman, aware to the immensity of the horror and the beauty of the world. i sense that there's a right way to do that, to be that, and the fear and the judgment starts immediately that i'm not doing it well.

and the moment that the music stops is the moment that i lose the connection with the present moment. you know, like literally, i'm bopping along to the music, really feeling it, and rip - gone. bereft. The Void.

So, I think that I was calling the lack of presence, the lack of attention, being in the costume but not in the moment, going along acting like my heart isn't broken open, trying to say that I can't do but so much, trying to call out of work in advance of even being scheduled the shift - calling that mania. because it feels all fast and scary, like i've done a thing that is too much, said a thing that can't be unsaid, actually articulated a desire or some shit like that.

and my last web-based expedition this evening led me to inga's site. and this excerpt from her book, which really synthesizes a lot of what i've been reading, thinking, hearing , singing and seeing lately:

An acquaintance and I were talking about this just the other day. He was telling me that he hunkers down into his daily life scheme of things because he cannot deal with all the horror in this world. I told him that I cannot live like that. He thought I was full of shit. “You can’t take in all that stuff,” he insisted. “It will drive you insane.”

But I disagreed. I hear this sentiment often, in a variety of forms.

Your average pissed-off citizen in the U.S. is willing to fight for three or four “causes,” maybe, but the line’s gotta be drawn somewhere.

When you’re present in the world you don’t just see one or the other. The horror and beauty go hand in hand. Even as this environment breaks your heart, the world fuels, protects, instructs, inspires, guides, and gently humors you.

So things balance out.

The whole excerpt is worth the read. seriously. This is deeper, bigger and wider to me than 'we're all desensitized to the horror and destruction around us and it's perfectly normal to feel hopeless' idea that i have held for many years. I have thought many times that the reason I was all of a sudden feeling so overwhelmed, tired, full of despair, was that I was taking on too much that wasn't mine. that i would go insane if I tried. that it was good self-care not to take stuff in. (and i do believe deep in my heart that is good self-care not to take in the medical emergencies on Discovery Health and the random tragedies that the folks at work want to wring their hands about for entertainment. that's self-serving melodrama.)

this is a way to re-think the idea that i can't work on all the causes I want to because i'm so busy paying the bills or going to class or raising the kid. that feels like a cop-out and it is. If I'm truly present in paying the bills, going to class and raising the kid, I may not be able to show up at a committee meeting for some non-profit. But being fully present (in the world, not the environment, is the HUGE distinction that inga is making here) IS working on the causes/issues that are important to me.
it's true that I'm interested in more things than I'm passionate about, and sometimes i latch onto the interest, and subsequent lack of follow-thru, as a nice-n-sneaky way to say i'm not good enough. Add it to the list of things I haven't done adequately or haven't done at all. oh, me. i can take in that star that was twinkling directly at me last night. the world, not the environment.

i swear, next week, i won't have a single deep thought. i'll watch wallace and grommit all weekend and expunge all of the cathartic self-examination* from my communication, web-based or verbal. no no. i can't mean that. i can't start talking about how this is all because of my impending period, or whathaveyou. it IS true for me that I'm full of this stuff lately, and it IS true that that's embarrassing to say out loud, and it IS true that I'm honored when others are willing to say shit like this. perhaps it should be a little more internal dialog and a little less internet rambling in the wee hours of the morning. shrug. if this was livejournal, i'd throw it behind the cut so noone had to scroll thru it. and this is all very rough draft, stream of consciousness. (what isn't at 2am?)

it's important to talk about love and imagination and what it feels like when your heart breaks open. look away if you're embarrassed by it; that's what I always did when my mom embarrassed me.

* from rob brezny's free will astrology
Leo Horoscope for week of February 22, 2007
Verticle Oracle card Leo (July 23-August 22)
You're strong medicine these days, Leo. You're 100-proof mojo. You might want to consider pinning a warning label to your shirt or jacket. It could say something like "Caution: Contents are hot, slippery, and under pressure. Use at your own risk." It's not that you're evil or neurotic. It's just that as you revisit and revision your deepest psychosexual questions, you have so much cathartic potency that you're likely to transform everything you touch into a more authentic version of itself. People with weak egos will be afraid of that, while those with strong constitutions will love it.

i hate nursing school.

I'm very happily in bed, staying up way too late to go to that silly walking tour of the wildlife preserve tomorrow at 8am and comforting myself by calling it silly and whining in advance about how early it starts.
I'm reading about scrotums and books and the controversy when the twain shall meet at bitch, ph.d. good stuff. reminds me that i need to actually get a hard copy of a wish list for reading started, instead of just thinking, Oo, I'd like to read that and then always feeling like I do at the video store, that there's tons of movies I've wanted to see, but not able to remember a single title.
And then the kid is all with the loud, irregular breathing. Honestly. Take last weekend's croup, a sleep study that found him to have moderate sleep apnea* last year and this week's content on Respiration in Health Assessment and I can barely fuck around on the computer anymore what with all the freaking out I'm doing mentally. Even if i muscle through and don't freak out right now, it'll just creep up on me randomly in the future when my defenses are down. Now I have to go google apnea again. Oh fuck! Was that Cheyne-Stokes!? this is not funny. it's not okay. I thought nursing student disease was when you were convinced that YOU have all the diseases you're studying, not your kid! me, fine. the kid - fuck this. i'm outta here.

* when the doc was concerned about his tonsil size and I was concerned about the number of times I hear him quit breathing before I fall asleep (nothing like your kid's desperate snort of apnea for an adrenaline rush!). His dad's sposed to be a CPAP machine himself. whee!

Friday, February 23, 2007

How Could You?!

I work as a server. I have achieved a level of proficiency that may be termed "expert" within the Dreyfus Model. I'm good at waiting tables, and most days I enjoy it. However, after 11 years of restaurant experience, I am still startled when I receive an 11% tip from a table that did not exhibit any signs of dissatisfaction during the time we spent together. It violates my sense of fairness and decency and makes me kick things. It also makes me run through a mental checklist of the meal, questioning my service, my perceived level of rapport with the people at the table and missed clues that the whole thing was going to go pear-shaped when I see the credit card line. I used to get so full of righteous indignation about bad tips that I would rant about public-access cable shows about the wages of tipped employees in the state and flyers in parking lots about how to calculate 15 and 20% easily in your head.

Today, I had a table of four adults (clearly parents and a set of grandparents) and one 9 month old child. I'm often quite interactive with the kids at my table - I like hanging out with kids a lot when I'm not responsible for them. This baby was Cute, with all the adorable characteristics of that age - fat little fingers, quiet but smiley, huge rosy cheeks, content to sit in her highchair while the adults ate, happy to be on someone's lap, making eye contact and imitating facial expressions. There are few things more entertaining to me than trying to figure out what a 6-12 month old is thinking by watching their eyebrows. I digress (which may be foreshadowing for the piss-poor tip I got on this check).

Things that I think went right (ie, things that support my assumption that I would receive a 16-20% for the bill): Greeted table promptly, kept tea glasses refilled throughout meal, remembered to bring extra chili paste for Mr. Make It As Hot as Possible, acknowledged cuteness of child, was not flustered during service (last table of the shift, no other tables that I was dashing around to, splitting checks 5 ways on 4 credit cards and boxing up leftovers), eye contact with adults, pleasant interactions, ready with check presenter when older man reached for his wallet.

Possible reasons why this man left me $7 on $68:

  • he is an asshole (again, not supported by my limited interactions with him)
  • he never tips more than 10% (possible risk factor on this one - he was over 50 yo and white, which although certainly not causally linked, has been correlated in my experience with randomly shitty tipping behavior)
  • he was angry that I was talking to the baby and wished I would have left the table so that they could dote on the kid without some stranger hanging out and showing off her impression of an octopus.
  • he was not happy/comfortable with paying for these freeloader kids and not prepared to shell out $68 pre-gratuity. he didn't want to come to this fancyass highfaluting chinese joint anyway, he wanted to go to Bojangles.
  • he thought that because we pulled two four-top tables together, they were considered a big party and gratuity is included.
  • they were actually in a much greater hurry than I suspected and my take of them as "leisurely family lunch" was totally false.
  • the fact that when I first approached the table, they had neither menus or silverware, commonly provided by the host staff when seating a table. this was a mystery to me, and I stated as much, then left to procure said items immediately. maybe there's more to this part of the story.

Part of the reason this kind of thing bothers me is that I will never never never know why this person chose to leave half the amount of money that I expected him to leave. (though, if pressed, I gotta go with the octopus imitation. come on, now. what was i thinking??) I can't ask, and oddly enough, my memory of faces is so poor that I wouldn't be able to pick him out of a crowd at Starbucks tomorrow even if I happened to have the balls to walk up and ask him why he stiffed me (which I know that I don't). I can't know if I did something akin to wiping my ass at the table and then mixing their sauce without knowing it, or if this is all about him, the way he always tips, the way his father tipped and his father before him. No, wait, his grandfather wouldn't have been eating out, unless he was a Rockefeller.

I also will never never never know if he was Non-compliant with American societal norms in restaurant tipping, or has a Knowledge Deficit related to confusion about automatic gratuity policies. What if he meant for me to have a 28% tip because he figured 18% was already in the tab? This one is good for snapping me out of Thinking Bad Thoughts about the dude, but doesn't really hold up to scrutiny, since all he had to do was look carefully at the bill and note the absence of a line that read "Gratuity Included: $15.23" or something.

Shit, maybe the guy can't do percentages in his head. Add it to the list.

The nice thing about being an expert in the field is that these tips are now the exception, not the norm and don't ruin my day the way they used to (when I was getting them all the time!). With all my gathered experience, I trotted off after cashing out and got myself a big ass cinnamon latte and forgot about it. (That Dharma and Greg episode is playing in my head right now - the one about Dharma's annual thought detox ritual when she says -Put it in a bubble. Let it float away - about 86 times in 20 minutes!)

Yep. Let it float away.

(edited to add: Move the decimal left one digit for 10%, then double that figure for 20%, or add half of that number to itself for 15%. Servers in my state earn $2.13 per hour in wages.)

(re-edited to add the link of one of old favorite blogs that i just remembered: Waiter Rant.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Oh Dorothy Orem, why doth thou vex me so?

I feel a bullet blog entry coming on!

  • My test this morning in Fundamentals was hard. More than one question about the formatting of nursing diagnoses, which I am not so clear on, and less than one question on the risk factors/outcomes/interventions for the specific nursing diagnoses covered in these chapters. I feel like my studying wasn't very effective for this test, and I'm not quite sure how to fix it. Perhaps I'll begin with an appt with the instructor, whom I love.
  • Did I mention that I got Bs on both the developmental test that I was so sure about, and the Patho exam that I strutted out of feeling all confident?! pride do cometh and alla that.
  • I'm trying to decide if I should go to the Health Action Committee meeting for PTA tonight. On one hand, it's been on my calendar for weeks to talk to one of the women on the committee who works as a school nurse about mentoring for possible ANS functions and personal mentoring type stuff. she's super cool. On the other hand, I have a thousand things to do tonight, and the meeting is sposed to run til 9pm. there's only so much I have to contribute to a conversation about peanut allergies in the elementary schools and making sure water is available in the lunch line. I can talk to the mentor lady anytime, I suppose. My main concern is that if I start skipping this meeting (only once a month) then I'll keep skipping this meeting. pish.
  • Before I go to bed tonight, I have to make a casserole for a random family I don't know because I got an email asking for folks to participate in a dinner delivery service for this woman in the nursing program ahead of me who just had a baby, blah blah. number one - she is in a two-parent household, so I'm a little snotty about her need for provided food, but I can quickly see that's selfish/irrational since I was in a two-parent household when the kid was born and I would have been thrilled beyond measure for strangers to bring me a casserole. number two - stop volunteering for things. just stop it. number three - what the hell am I going to make for her, when my child and i have been eating veggie chicken nuggets, defrosted frozen peas and mac-n-cheese with spinach this week. I have this mental picture of Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas, with a batch made up for me, too. I just don't know if that's realistic.
  • Three hours and ten minutes until my test in Disciplines. It's 40% of the grade for the course, and the only power-point presentation that the instructor has done was three slides long with a definition from Nightingale, Henderson, and the state board of nursing about how to define nursing. Do I need to get all detailed about the Henry Street Settlement? It's really interesting to me. Should I memorize who founded the ANA? Watson's ten carative factors? This is the course that sounds like a lot of words strung together to me. meaningless drivel is my first impression. True, with careful reading and synthesizing from other courses, it's getting more easy to understand and see the relevance. But distinguishing Rogerian nursing from Orem's self-care theory? The difference between a conceptual model and a theory? BLAH! bring on the sick people! Bring out the mannequins and the needles! Let's get to the good stuff. Oops, I'm exposing my occupation of Benner's novice stage of skill acquisition (person barely knows how to do something, is inflexible, and unable to apply said knowledge/skill appropriately).
  • Going to supplemental practice lab for med administration tonight - which seems smart.
  • Did not bring texts for Health Assessement (quiz at 8am tomorrow) - which does not seem smart. there's a test, a lab, and a pan of enchiladas between me and that textbook.
in other news, my lunch was not adequate. I'm off to get a latte and a scone.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Duck Rice and Croup

the kid celebrated his birthday, not with a hippy ritual in the gazebo of the rose garden walking around the sun and talking about what he's learned in his seven years on earth and hearing good things from whomsoever had gathered, but hanging out in the bedroom with me, watching movies with the humidifier running non-stop. The good news is that we only had one episode of really scary barking coughing gagging dash to the bathroom and crank up the hot shower and sit on my lap while i sit on the toilet and try to tell him that it's going to be okay and he should just relax and not worry so much about how he can't breathe. After approximately seven minutes of that hell, his coughing had stopped, and his breathing has certainly eased, and I left him in the bathroom to get my best diagnostic tool. My fancy new red Littman? Nay. My fancy new black laptop. While the screen got all foggy, and I started to wonder how long we could all spend in the bathroom without meltdown, I confirmed my diagnosis of croup (remembered from an incidence during infancy) and called the advice nurse. Because, of course, I am not the advice nurse. I am simply in the very first semester of nursing school. We haven't covered auscultating for abnormal breath sounds yet in Health Assessment. Hell, i'm just as likely to use the bell as diaphragm on that thing, or put the (very uncomfortable) ear buds in pointing to the back of my head rather than my nose. The advice nurse was quite helpful, very calm and my new best friend. She told me that no, I don't nec. need to make a Saturday appt for the kid, and that since croup is viral, the most common medication would be steroids to open the airway if the steamy bathroom (or head in the freezer, which seems rather cruel and not very infectious-control-smart) doesn't work in 15 minutes (which seems like an eternity when your kid is looking at you like 'Aren't you in nursing school? Can't you fix this shit, mommy?').

Had a very interesting conversation with the mom of one of the kids I invited to his birthday party (note to me: never invite more people than you are willing to un-invite the day before the event.) everyone followed the script: I'm so sorry he's feeling bad, please tell him that we hope he feels better soon, when will the party be rescheduled? But one mom added that her son was out with a bad bad cough several days last week. I casually asked if it got worse at night and came with a fever, which it did, and did he sound like a seal, which he did. Well, there's that mystery solved then - and I managed to not be an asshole (I hope) when I said that I knew it must have been circulating in the classroom, but that we wouldn't have the party so that it didn't go any farther. The kid's got one grandparent undergoing chemo for breast cancer that's moved to bone marrow and one recovering from outpatient biopsy of the tongue. not a good equation.

So, this weekend was a great chance to practice my study skills at home with kid. I have studying in the quiet room of the library down pretty well, but can't seem to get over the hump to reading or doing note cards at home. I whine about how I don't have a table to sit at and spread out my books - in 500 sq. ft of living space, I literally don't have a table. I whine about how the kid and I seem to always be on top of each other, how my usual distracted-ness (which I have learned will take up about the first 20 minutes of any study session) gets exacerbated by the cats or requests to play Thomas the Train on my computer or urges to get up and make a cup of tea or watch just a few minutes of whatever the kid is watching (hey, I like Wallace and Gromit!), ad infinitum. It was a little ridiculous this weekend because I have two tests and three quizzes this week - and have not spent a lot of time keeping up with the reading in either class. the tests I thought that I aced last week with minimal studying came back with good solid B's. damn this seven point grading scale!

Also got to figure out what would happen if I couldn't make it to lab - email the TA and pray the skills can somehow be made up. The kid's dad ended up taking him this morning, and then bringing him to campus after lab so the kid could see my classrooms and the library and then ride the bus back to the park and ride lot. I told the kid that we usually go to the library after class and he asked if we had to walk single-file. it took me a second to figure out what the hell he was talking about!

I'm a little sad that I missed my psych appt and my med eval to get some Wellbutrin answers. I hope that I don't chicken out on rescheduling those.

Last week at work, the chef made fried rice for the end of shift family meal. This has been a bit of a challenge since I decided to stop eating even the small amounts of meat that I used to consume at the beginning of the year. Usually fried rice is made with strips of various meat - and I can feel relatively comfortable that I can scoop around the meat and still get free food. But last week, we apparently had a couple of ducks coming up for expiration soon, and so the chef made duck fried rice. I scooped out a small bowl and started my search and avoid mission in the corner of the kitchen. Sam walked by and said, how's family meal? I shrugged and said it was a little hard to avoid the shreds of duck, but the rice was good. He was all - You're eating family meal tonight?! But you're a vegetarian now! and then his face softened and he got all calm and objective and says 'wow. you must be really hungry to eat that duck rice.' Sheesh - the guilt! I ended up eating brown rice with potsticker sauce and fried wonton noodles. I hope there will be a point that I will have cycled through all the times that I was accustomed to eating meat and worked out acceptable substitutes. Last Tuesday at Golden Corral, I realized that the brown gravy beside the mashed potatoes was probably verboten now, along with all the soups, and that delicious broccoli salad with the raisins and the bacon bits. I'm good with the meat analogues, and the overall concepts of nutrition within a vegetarian dietary pattern. I'm still a little leery of being 'difficult' to hosts - but had good practice last weekend, when i had to speak up at a conference with free lunch that consisted of a big bowl of pork barbecue, buns, apples, and bags of chips.

In other news, got to practice administering meds via NG tube today and gave a plastic butt an enema this morning. nice.

Monday, February 12, 2007

three things I love about the internets this week

One - Cut a hole in the box. (Come on, you know this isn't work safe!)

Two - Put your junk in that box. (Gay Love Rocks My Sea Goat Testes)

Three - Make her open the box. (found at Bitch, Ph.D.)

Seriously, this computer (and more importantly, the wireless connection I seem to be able to find everywhere) have been blowing my mind lately. I racked up a huge bill on my DSL account - didn't pay the bill for months to teach those bastards at Verizon a lesson - and when I finally did pay the balance to get my interweb turned back on, they said thanks for the $286 but now you'll need a credit card to reinstate your account. I don't, of course, have a credit card. So, for about a year now, I've been on dial-up. Dial-up means no big downloads (so no Youtube), and a lot of instability connection-wise (so I avoid getting on the computer when I didn't have a lot of time to devote to babysitting whatever I was trying to do). It also meant, for me, no pdf documents, because every time I'd try to open one, Adobe would jump in and try to do a lot of fancy updates, and my poor computer would freeze right the fuck up. So. It's been a whole new world for this big girl lately. blogs, youtube, time wasting games, in the recliner, in the bed, in the library! Whee!

I've been feeling a little manic lately. It's a shift from feeling like I can't do anything, I have no time and less energy. And I like coming from a place of "sure, that sounds great. let me see if i can work it in!" rather than being so eeyore about the world. But I'm scared of a crash, honestly. I'm also wondering if I'm trying to tie together too many things that are interesting to me, but not nec. related. I'm trying to yoke social justice stuff (with that US Social Forum event this summer and with a drive to finally get involved in war stuff) with health education/parity/accessibility stuff. I'm looking at my ANS chapter and the state board of ANS for opportunities to get good shit on my resume and applications, wanting to stay active in my kid's school (so bring ANS functions to that population), but also remembering that for the most part the kid's school has a lot of well-meaning rich white folks to help out already, and so looking at the city I live in and how to work there (but avoid being a well-meaning white girl trying soothe my own guilt about sending my kid to the neighboring richer, whiter, "better" school district). I'm also looking ahead to my senior year and potential Honors projects, wanting to lay the groundwork and do something I'm actually passionate about, instead of just enough to get the yellow cords at graduation. Ay. And did i tell y'all about finding about the group that trains health care providers (they have contracts for local SONs, PA schools and MD schools) to provide pelvic and breast exams!?! It sounds like the perfect action opportunity for any woman who has seen the Vagina Monologues and hooted and cheered about the cold ducklips. Wow!

had fun in skills lab this morning - we slung each other around in the lifts. It was such a weird experience to be dangling in a fabric sling from a big purple machine.

test today in LifeSpan Development, which I'm assuming will be pretty much a gimme - helping my mom through a master's in psych in eighth grade and listening to her teach as an adjunct for the years since are a major advantage.

test tomorrow in Patho, which I feel less confident about, but I've done a great job of acting nonchalant about it for the bulk of the weekend. taking a nap, dragging letters around and watching The Facts of Life, Season One.

In other news, I have a $50 gift card to target and I have no idea what I'll spend it on! Jeans? Tennis shoes? A rolling bookbag? Hell, I've spent down my fin aid nest egg for this semester to the point that I may need it for groceries!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

really here

So, I'm starting to feel like I'm in nursing school. I went to my second nursing student association meeting today, and beyond promising myself to expunge 'um' from my public speaking if I ever decide to run for an office in this organization, I was shocked to figure out that I've been here a month already!

I still have no clue what the prof in Fundamentals is talking about (nursing diagnoses all sound the same to me - and apparently there's some difference between 'as evidenced by neuromuscular weakness on left side' and 'related to inability to use left side of body', though it's certainly not obvious to me!), but the stuff she says is starting to sound familiar. I still don't get it, but I know she talks about it every class! I really feel like the first lecture in that class should be totally reworked - I didn't understand anything of what she said, and it was apparently really important, because I haven't understood her since then. Thankfully, I think I signed up to be on the advisory board for this class - maybe I can bring this up to her then. She is hands down one of my fav. profs!

My big news this week is that I passed my first skills eval - hand washing, sterile gloving, universal precautions with gown mask and gloves, and vital signs !!!! SHEW - what a relief to have that done and done well, according to the teaching assistant. There was a lot of contention among the students that didn't pass those skills the first time - they had to come back later this week and re-do specific skills - crazy stress and lots of folks felt like the variation of TA's was unfair. I don't know - it's not Scantron, and there are specific little checklists to follow... but I did see at least two instances of TA assholery that would have just done me in. Pa-Pow! Apoptosis! I felt lucky that the TA evaluating me was the TA who teaches my lab section - so easy. I think, though, that I will sign up for practice lab sections with some of the other, scarier TA's so that if I happen to get them in an eval, I won't freak out as badly.

My other big news is that I made an A a B+ on my first exam! It was more general than I was expecting, but it feels like I studied the right stuff and knew the kinds of things she asked. It was in Health Assessment, where we talk about what you expect to find in physical exams of patients, and what various findings might mean. We go from head to toe, and this class has a big evaluation at the end of the semester, where we do a head to toe assessment on someone (which apparently takes a couple hours!). We have labs to practice that examination, and this test was over the lecture portion of the class. this A makes me feel so confident that I'm doing what I should be to handle this material. I also have a little more confidence that I can handle this seven-point grading scale! A 92 is an A-, but it's still an A! (Right?!!! Isn't it!!????) oh well, maybe she'll throw out a question that I missed, like the one about what fungusy fingernails look like.

Nice to have two successes this week, since I've got two tests next week. Development, which will be nothin', and Patho, which is making more and more sense as I actually read the book.

So. my dishes are dirty, and my laundry is in mountains. But I'm happy, and feeling good. I'm eating well and remembering to bring my lunch to school most days. I went to the kid's school last week and taught his class to knit - wow! I'm still reading with a couple of kids at his school each week as a volunteer. I'm singing with a chorus led by a woman who used to teach music at the kid's preschool - she's super cool and full of quotes by Rumi and Hafiz about the present moment and releasing attachment to thought. And I'm going to a conference of officers of other Association of Student Nurses chapters this Saturday. The kid is good and super excited about his birthday next week! This birthday really seems like a departure from babyhood/toddlerhood.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

In the Beginning...

Bouncing around this afternoon, trying to gather a shitty day into a tidy package to be thrown away later tonight. belly is empty, head is full of all the stuff I should get done and thinking of N.'s advice to do something after class to de-stress before I try to study. sounds good - like get out of bed if you can't sleep within a half hour so that you won't associate the bed with tossing and turning and kvetching, but with soothing, silent sleeping. mmmm, sleeping. I worry, though (of course), that i'm giving myself an out, and that's the last thing this procrastinator needs - I used to tell myself I could read fiction while I ate lunch, and then I'd get up and do my chores, but instead, I'd keep getting up and get more food, and lunch lasted two more hours.

I started with the newsletter from my women's group, timed for Imbolc, which happens to coincide with the full moon tonight. There's a note in my WeMoon asking how I can honor this full moon in Leo (my sun sign), with the barest buds of Imbolc? To me, I think the answer is in all the stuff I've done in just the last few weeks - big changes that were tiny at the time, things that represent a lot of work in the past and microscopic shifts of perspective, and then bing, the whole knot falls apart in my hands. Finally figured out how I could shift the problem I had with arranging kid custody - I stopped ending the conversation when the kid's dad tried to sidestep. magic! Looked at this whole "Be a Good Person" thought spiral from a totally new perspective with a workshop on Byron Katie's Work - and realized that when I'm invested in how bad someone else sucks, I'm waiting for them to stop sucking to start Being a Good Person. poof!

so, anyway, newsletter, yada yada, good stuff, but I want a copy of that poem by Alice Lovelace. She performed it at the beginning of the Praises for the World concert/event in Atlanta a coupla years ago, and I can still hear her voice ringing. In hunting Alice on the web, I find Project South, which I need to know more about. These days, everything is spinning in terms of nursing school - can I work this into a project for an Honors class, can I take my Nutrition book to the elementary school and answer questions from the kids about why mama says some foods are good and some foods are bad for you, can we do some sort of Healthy Behaviors event at the school (with a much much cooler name than that). My disciplines class is really motivating me to think about why I wanted to do this, what I'd like to do as a nurse, and how many of the same reasons that I rejected nursing as a high school senior still hold true. I have this weird sense of pressure to get all those things wrapped up and eradicated before I graduate - gender roles bullshit, racial disparity in education from a myriad of causes, socioeconomic hierarchial limits. So, I'm reading this site in those terms - how can I get in with these folks and learn the stuff they're laying out, with the plans to apply it to prevention nursing, community health, equity of information kinds of ways. And, as always when I'm reading very carefully phrased mission statements and such - what is it exactly that they do?

So, on the eve of Imbolc, with the barest buds of spring, I know I've got another six weeks of winter (at least) and another three week Mercury retrograde period to get through before the action of spring really begins. I also know that the seeds I'm planting now are what will bloom then (hopefully), so I'm going to spend some time thinking about what I'm flinging out into the field.

I ended up with the last few paragraphs of this speech by Alice Lovelace, given this time last year about some stuff that's close to my heart (the role of artists for change) and something coming up this summer apparently that I want to know more more more about.
From Chaos to Clarity: The Price to Be Paid by Alice Lovelace

now, i will go do my Nutrition homework and start studying for Health Assessment.