Category Archives: Nursing



I’m done with school. Done with clinical, done with classes, my last assignment is turned in- it’s hard to believe. This year has felt like a lifetime. I’m a little too shell-shocked to fully process what being done means, but it’s big. So much has happened in the past 13 months.

The responsible part of my brain is telling me that I should start packing up my apartment, but I don’t want to. I don’t feel terribly attached to the place (even though it was my first solo apartment), but I don’t feel ready for things to be over. I don’t want to live in that weird, half-packed limbo just yet. It’ll come soon enough. Instead, I spend half the afternoon cleaning to get ready for my inspection- I want that security deposit back!

I had the most incredible biscuit for breakfast this morning. I was late getting to the market today, and when I got there it seemed like everywhere I turned people were eating them, and they smelled incredible, so I had to get one too. They were out of the chicken sandwiches by then, so I just got a plain biscuit, but it was still fabulous. It had to contain lard- there’s no other explanation for all the deliciousness.

I spent the night at my friend Judy’s house last night because we were up until the wee hours of the morning playing games and watching Wreck-It Ralph (which was actually really good. I thought it looked dumb, but was pleasantly surprised). It’s weird to think that these evenings are going to come to an end soon. I know there will still be game nights in Alaska, but it won’t be the same without my Baltimore friends.


It’s official!


I have a job! In Alaska! Come September I’ll be working as a pediatric psych nurse at North Star Behavioral Health in Anchorage. It’s very exciting. Right now I need to do homework and get to the farmer’s market, but there will be more later!



How do real nurses have any kind of life after 12-hour shifts? I’m only working 8’s, and I’m exhausted by the end of the day. It’s all I can do to flop on my bed and I eat strawberries for dinner because I’m too tired to cook (except not tonight- tonight I was a grown-up and had vegetables for dinner- I cooked them and everything). I need to get it together- the gym just reopened this week, and I need to start going again.

Things are still awesome in Psych-Land. I’m legitimately sorry I won’t be back on the floor until Monday. I’d much rather spend the day in the hospital than go to my seminar on Fridays, but attendance is mandatory. It’s a good seminar, but I just want to interact with patients.

I have a meeting tonight, so I’m at the library, and the sky is looking ominous. I’m wearing my workout stuff, but I’m going to head home as soon as I can log off- I don’t want to get caught in a storm.

I hate to say it, because it’s the biggest possible jinx, but I’m super excited for this weekend. It’s Pride, and unlike last year, this year I have friends, and plans, and it should be a lot of fun. I’m also starting a cat-sitting job, which means I get to mix it up and stay in my friends’ apartment for a week, which is always fun. I like an occasional change of scenery.



I’m in love. It’s pretty serious- I would totally commit if they popped the question and asked me to stay in Baltimore. Granted, the object of my affection is a psych ward, but there are all kinds of love.

I started my final practicum on Saturday, and it’s brilliant. I want to be there all the time (which works, since I pretty much am). I spring from my bed in the morning, eager to start the day and help my patients. When I asked for a psych floor I didn’t think I would actually want to be a psych nurse, but I could totally see it now. It’s incredibly satisfying. I could literally do this work every day and be happy.

Mission Accomplished?


My internet has been truly terrible for the past couple of weeks, but there’s nothing I can do about it. As a result though, I’ve been trying to watch a two-hour movie all evening, and I’m only halfway through.
I’m watching Into the Wild. I read the book the summer before my freshman year of college as part of my orientation, and I hated it. I hated Chris McCandless, and I hated how John Krakauer admired him for being brave and independent when he was actually just selfish and stupid. I’ve read it a couple of times since then, and never liked it, but this is my first time watching the movie, and it’s pretty good. It’s startling how much Chris reminds me of someone (not really a friend, but someone I care about)- he even looks like Emile Hirsch, which gives me Feelings. Watching someone starve to death isn’t like reading about it, and when they look like someone you know…I felt weird watching while I ate my dinner (and I spilled salad all over my bed. I can’t wait until I have a place that’s big enough for a bed and table).
I’ve spent three hours on hold with my dream hospital this week, and never even got through to leave a voicemail. It’s making me crazy- it’s the only place I want to work, which is a dangerous way to feel (I was devastated in high school when I didn’t get into Vassar, so I should know better than to get emotionally invested in that kind of thing, but it’s hard not to sometimes). It isn’t the hospital though- I want to be in Anchorage. I’ve been trying to think of places that might be acceptable Plan B’s, and while it’s a big wide world out there, nothing else feels right. Into the Wild is reminding me why I want to go- I want to live at the edge of the world.

In which I use an idea I found on Pintrest


Spaghetti squashes last a long time. I once kept a spaghetti squash for months, (months!) before using it, and to my surprise and delight, when I cut it open it wasn’t a black, rotted mess. This is useful, because while I love spaghetti squash, I never want to cook it, especially because cutting into gourds always feels like a game of chance, and one day I’ll wind up cutting my hand right off. They’re good to have around though, especially for nights like last, when I forgot to take chicken out of the freezer before leaving for school, and then got held up, so didn’t have time to wait around for things to thaw before needing to eat. More often than I would care to admit, this would be cause for the dinner of ramen noodles, but yesterday I did myself one better, and broke into my trusty squash (this one was less than months old, but it had been sitting for a pretty long time, making me feel guilty).

I’ve been watching a lot of Doctor Who lately, and then going onto Pintrest and looking at fan art of David Tennent being adorable (Pintrest is so full of Doctor Who stuff- it’s a little overwhelming, and I want to pin it all (except Matt Smith stuff, because I’m not there yet)).

Last night however, I was looking at food, and I came across this:

and thought it looked delicious. I had the squash, I had lots of cheese (thanks to my parents, and Costco), and I had the inclination to try something a little different. It was very easy to make- I roasted the squash, and melted the cheese with some milk and flour, mixed them together with some frozen peas, and then baked the whole thing for twenty minutes. It didn’t even take me that long, but I had a (kind of) healthy dinner, and enough left over for today’s lunch. So yay.


004(I topped it with bacon, because…why not?)

I had two patients today at clinical, and now I’m overwhelmed at the idea of ever having more than that. How do nurses juggle four patients? I thought I was doing a total kickass job, and giving awesome patient-centered care, but it’s hard keeping all those plates spinning, and so I ended the day feeling stressed about my performance. It’s hard enough doing everything that needs to be done, but documenting it (twice, since my personal notes don’t count) makes it nearly impossible. I don’t think my patients saw me sweat though, which is what matters, but the thought of doing that with twice the patient load for a twelve-hour shift is intimidating.

Like a Pearl


I saw a uterus today. I don’t think I had ever seen one in real life (I don’t know when I would have), and it was beautiful, and not just because it contained a baby (even though that is just short of miraculous- I could see into a woman’s body, and there was a baby inside, just growing, and living, and doing it’s baby thing). Pictures don’t do it justice, and illustrations certainly don’t, because it really does look like a huge pink pearl. C-sections are a tricky business, and seeing one for the first time reenforced how serious they are, and how they shouldn’t be done willy-nilly. All births are special, and this one was fascinating- I was especially interested in the way that the room seemed to forget about the mother the moment the baby was out. The surgeons kept working of course, but the focus had shifted, and it made me feel sorry. There she was, open on the table, with her baby across the room- it made me sad, and I was frustrated that my instructor tried to pull me away to fuss over the newborn. Babies are great, I’ll never knock getting to poke at a newborn, but the mom was still a patient too, and she still needed support. This mom had a family member in with her, so at least there was someone to hold her hand, but it made me worry about mothers who go in by themselves, and wish that doulas were allowed in more ORs.

I don’t do a great job of distancing myself. Today during post-conference we had a guest lecturer talk to us about families whose babies die, and I was a mess. It was ok at first, but then she brought out a bunch of donated handmade baby clothes, and I started to cry because they were so tiny. They were much too tiny for human babies- no person could be that small and live, which I suppose is the point. I just want to seal all of my patients up in bubble wrap, and I can’t, and it’s frustrating. My sister and I were talking the other night and I told her that I want to make sure everyone has what they need- it sounds so simple. If someone is in pain help them deal with it (giving pain medication is insanely gratifying- it can almost immediately vastly improve the quality of someone’s life. There are other ways to help manage pain though- my friend Kimberly is always giving her patients massages, which I think is lovely). If they’re lonely spend time with them, if they’re hungry give them food. It isn’t that easy all of the time, but sometimes it is, and yet people don’t always take those steps. I compared it to throwing a ball for a dog- you do something tiny, but it makes a huge difference to whoever you’re helping, and even if you weren’t that into it at first, seeing how good it made them feel makes you feel good too. I really hope this makes me a good nurse, and doesn’t cause me to burn out from not being able to save everyone, or completely break down when I eventually lose a patient.

On a lighter note: I’m on Spring Break!



I saw my first circumcision today (on the first boy I ever saw being born- this kid has provided me with several firsts). I have conflictions about circumcision- I’m kind of for them, but I don’t like my reasons (I think it looks better), and I abhor the idea of doing elective cosmetic surgery on a newborn’s genitals. I wanted to keep an open mind, but now that I’ve seen it I know that I don’t like it. I don’t know what I’ll do if I ever have sons, but the whole thing made me feel sad and uncomfortable (the baby didn’t even seem to care that much, but I was upset on his behalf). I have several top-notch baby boy names that I really like, but I almost hope that I never have a son so I won’t have to deal with this issue.

My group was on the postpartum floor today, while the other clinical team got a crack at labor and delivery. Postpartum is pretty slow, but I had a nice day visiting with yesterday’s mom, and learning how to do an assessment on a new mother (it’s a lot like a regular assessment, but with more breast-palpating). It’s a little strange-sounding, but one of the real highlights of my day was hearing that my friend A. got to witness a birth. I didn’t see him at lunch, but when he came downstairs at the end of the day he was practically skipping, and now he wants to become a Birth Companion. He didn’t get to give me the whole story (we were in the lobby, and we aren’t really supposed to talk about patients in public, and my ride was eager to hit the road), but it sounds like it was great, and I’m super happy and excited for him. I get such a kick out of him- I was honestly happier that he got to see a great birth and realized how terrific it is than I would’ve been if I got to see a birth myself. (I sometimes think I should tone down the love-my-friends talk on the blog, just in case any of them ever find it, because I wouldn’t want them to feel weird, but I can’t help it- they’re just great). I love that the guys in my class like doing L&D- I used to have all kinds of Views about men wearing babies, but now I realize that two great things (like men and babies) are even better together.

In other, very exciting news, the Pied Piper is back in town, and sporting a dashing mustache (for now). He’s been back for a couple of days now, but I just got to see him tonight (and we’re going contra dancing next week). He just swung by to say hi, but I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat the whole time- I’ve missed him. We stood out by his truck, and talked, and shared a grapefruit, and he showed me pictures from his recent adventure driving across the country. I just love being around him- he’s so incredibly special, and I feel like I hit the lottery by getting to be in his clinical group, since so many people in our class totally missed out and never even met him. It’s hard to explain what it is, but it’s the same kind of feeling that I got when A. bounced around after his birth, or when Jen and I would go running last semester (we haven’t been hanging out as much this semester, but I just texted her because writing about glow-y feelings made me miss her), or when I’m hanging out with Scott and Emily. I’m so in love with all of them.

(I kid you not, this is what my friend looked like. He was even wearing the hat.)



I’ve been to a few births in my day, but up until now they’ve all been baby girls. Today though, I got to see my first boy birth (and my first vacuum extraction, which was much less horrifying than I expected. I was picturing a brain-drain situation).

It isn’t actually like that.

For the sake of privacy, I won’t go into details, but even though I wouldn’t describe it as a gentle birth, it was still beautiful and special and made me cry. And then there was a baby boy! The biggest difference that I noticed with a boy versus a girl was that the baby immediately sent an arc of pee into the air (girls don’t usually do that), but otherwise it was pretty much the same. Sugar and spice or puppy dog tails, newborns look pretty gender-neutral.

While I love birth (oh man, I totally do), I don’t think I love Labor & Delivery nursing. I like being around laboring women, and I love the sound of babies’ first cries as they come out, and the kind of musky smell of birth (too much? Maybe too much. Nursing is very full of smells though, so it’s something I think about), but I don’t really look forward to going to clinical the way I did when I was in peds. I didn’t have a patient for the first half of the day today, and I actually wished I could go downstairs and do peds for the day, like old times. I’ll talk birth all day, and I was happy to stay late and listen to a lactation expert talk to us about breastfeeding, but L&D…just doesn’t quite speak to me. I feel like I’m on the outside- I prefer being a doula, and getting to connect with the mom, and not feel like a big buttinski when I tell her that she’s strong, and capable of pushing her baby out, no matter how hard it is (I do it anyway, but it isn’t the same). I’m not changing paths- I didn’t come this far to decide to pass on the whole nursing thing, but I want to be the boss. I want to catch the babies. This isn’t really news, but I’m pretty sure I would rather do another kind of nursing until I’m a midwife (with some doula-ing thrown in on the side. I’m a little sorry now that I’m not going for my DONA certification, but not sorry enough to shell out).

I actually made myself dinner tonight! I’ve gotten into the unfortunate habit of not doing that, but tonight I had meat, starch, and veggies, just like a real person (well, eaten standing up in the kitchen, but closer to real-person status than I’ve been lately)! It was actually nice- I should do it more often. I also baked, because today was one of my clinical groupmates’ birthday, but she didn’t mention it until post-conference, so I didn’t know to make anything before. All in all, I’d say today was pretty solid- I was mature in the face of disappointment (well…mature-ish. I didn’t love not having a patient for the first half of clinical- I’m there to work with patients), I saw a crazy birth, I got to play with a placenta (!), and I played around in the kitchen. What more can a girl ask for?


Next step


My class had our Transitions meeting today, and it gave me a lot to think about. If I stay in Baltimore it’s highly unlikely that I’ll get the kind of placement I want (L&D, pediatrics, ED, or psych (I might get psych actually, but it’s my fourth choice)). If I apply to do Transitions in St. Louis I’ll be at a pediatric hospital, but it’ll be in Missouri over the summer (Baltimore summers are bad, but Missouri is a whole other level), and I won’t know anyone, and will have to find a place to live for seven weeks, and someone to take over my place in Baltimore (I can’t afford to pay rent on two places at once). My sister and brother are in Missouri and so I might get to see them, but they’d be two hours away, and I won’t have a car. There’s also a site in Cape Cod, but that doesn’t feel like a realistic option because it’ll be ruinously expensive to find a place during the height of tourist season (as much as I’d love to be on the beach, it just doesn’t feel like a responsible choice). So it’s down to Baltimore or St. Louis. Fortunately, I have a couple of weeks to think it over and weigh the pros and cons.

I’m utterly beat. It’s only Monday, and I have a big couple of weeks, so there isn’t any time for tiredness, but Mondays are long days, and I have a headache. My clinical instructor didn’t post our assignments until almost 5:00 today, so I missed my weight-lifting class, and by the time I got back to Charles Village it was prime gym time, and I didn’t see the point in going all the way up to campus to stand around hoping a treadmill eventually opens up. I’ll go tomorrow though- I have a new system, with stickers and a calendar on the fridge, so hopefully that will be motivating. It’s so tempting to ignore my work and read, or watch Little Mosque on the Prairie, but I need to be more responsible than that. Instead, I’m going to take a shower, and then finish my diabetes powerpoint, and then go to bed. My clinical is doing a simulation with the med school tomorrow, so I need to be well-rested (that doesn’t make a ton of sense, since I’ll just be pretending to work with a patient, instead of actually helping real sick people, but I’ll be representing my clinical group, so I want to do a good job).

I didn’t get to see the Oscars last night, but I watched a few highlights, and now I really really want to see some movies. I can’t believe I didn’t see Les Mis when it was in theaters.