Category Archives: School

False peace

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I had my last final today, which filled me with a very misleading sense of freedom. I still have to wake up at 5:30 for clinical tomorrow and Friday, despite feeling like I should be on summer vacation. I don’t have any homework though, so after my test and Transitions interview (which I think went well, though I kind of doubt I’ll get a pediatric psych rotation) I felt free to come home and plank to my heart’s content. This took the form of going to the grocery store, watching The L Word, and going to the gym for an extreme HITT class. I was the only person who showed up, but the instructor held class anyway, and gave me one heck of a workout. I feel all noodle-y, but in an accomplished, satisfied way. I need more workouts like that. I’d like to go to Spinning tomorrow, but I’m not making any plans because I’m on Baby Time- one of my moms is in labor-ish, and so I have to be ready to rush to the hospital at a moment’s notice. It hasn’t actually been that long at all, but it feels like I haven’t been at a birth in eons, and I’m excited, especially because this mom is delightful. Of course being on call means I can’t drink to celebrate the end of exams, but it’s worth it, and I have a pleasant alternative.
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Kombucha! This is my first time trying the High Country kind, and I like it. It’s actually more boozy than I’m used to- it tastes a lot like a raspberry wheat beer (it only contains less than 0.5% alcohol though, so doesn’t count as drinking). It’s also less vinegar-y than other brands that I’ve tried, and less mucus-y, which is nice. I love kombucha, but there’s always that element of anxiety that I’ll get a mouthful of cultures, which is always a shock. It looks like there are a lot of great flavors, and I’d especially like to try the chai spice one (this warm weather has me craving iced chai. They sell dirty chais at the coffee shop in the study center and it’s the best vehicle for coffee I’ve ever had), but they only carry elderberry and goji berry at the grocery store, so I’ll just have to keep any eye out.
I also treated myself to a delightful post-test Reuben for lunch, so I’m having a very delicious day.
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I’m pretty sure the 1,000 Island dressing is the best part, but the whole concept is just awesome. Reubens might be my favorite sandwich. It’s a bold statement, and there are lots of strong contenders, but there’s a real case to be made.
Walking to the gym having a mental conversation with my friend (I want to tell him he’s been making me unhappy, but I stink at expressing hurt feelings in a constructive way so instead I’m just pretending to tell him in the hopes that will help me feel better) I decided that I’m usually at a baseline of 7.5-8/10 happiness. That doesn’t seem like that much happiness, but it’s a baseline, so if something good happens (as is frequently the case) I bump up to 8.5-9.5 (and maybe an occasional 10). Right now, sitting on my bedroom floor, listening to The Civil Wars, feeling tired, and warm, and utterly at peace feels pretty terrific- 9.4, easy.

Ick

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I managed to make and ruin two breakfasts today. It was bad. I try to make nice breakfasts on Saturdays, but these were both terrible.

My first plan was a Dutch pancake. I tried to make one last week, but didn’t realize that you aren’t supposed to mix in the butter, so it didn’t rise. It was still ok, but not quite what I was picturing. I knew better this week though, and so it should have been a success, but I was stingy (which is often a recipe for disaster), and didn’t want to use all my eggs. You can substitute chia seeds for eggs in baking though, so I decided to give that a try. The batter was an unappealing gray color, but I tried to remain optimistic, and grabbed a grapefruit to eat while I waited for it to bake. Within a few minutes my smoke alarm was going off though (it didn’t look smoky to me, but it must’ve been monstrous-pancake related, because I don’t know why else it would have gone off), which was deeply annoying. My smoke alarm is approximately fifty feet up the wall, so I grabbed a broom and tried to beat it into silent submission to no avail. I ended up calling the emergency after-hours number for the leasing office, but as soon as I was connected the beeping stopped. The pancake had baked for long enough, and so I opened the oven door and gazed at the horror within.

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Because looks can be deceiving, and because I hate wasting food I decided to try it. BAD IDEA. Fortunately, living alone allows for some suspension of table manners, and so I was allowed to spit out the disgusting bite, and dump the whole mess in the garbage. Lesson learned.

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My second breakfast should’ve worked. Having been burned by my attempts to be fancy and innovative I decided to make a nice bowl of oatmeal, something I’ve done a million times before. I added some strawberries, and mixed in some crunchy peanut butter, but when I took a bite it was like wallpaper paste. I really tried to eat it, but gave up after a few spoonfuls. Some things just aren’t meant to be.

I’ve decided to make today really productive, and do several of the things I’ve been ignoring all break (clean, resume, read for class). This week has flown by, and while I’ve had a lot of fun, I don’t feel prepared for school on Monday. I’ve passed into the part of break when I start to get snappish and stressed (also known as Too Much Christmas Syndrome), and I need to settle back into a routine.

Like a Pearl

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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!

Ice and Snow

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I can’t say I didn’t have fair warning, but the predicted snow is here, and school is cancelled. I didn’t stock up on food (I was even at the grocery store yesterday, and only bought rosemary and flour), but I hopefully have what I need (I’m tragically out of milk and cocoa though, so I’ll be drinking tea today).

I only have one class on Wednesdays, so my schedule isn’t actually that changed, but because it is a Snow Day I’m going to deviate from my original plan and allow myself to watch more than one episode of Doctor Who (I’m also going to catch up on reading for OB, and finish my project about alternative locations to give birth, so I won’t be a total lump. I might even use this time to work on my resume). The other section had a Pediatrics midterm today, so they’re pretty excited for the break, but I was hoping to go to the med students a capplla show after class, and then get some real work done at school. Of course my only real concern is that contra dancing not be cancelled (people have actually said they’ll go with me this week!), but according to their Facebook page they’ll be there rain or shine, so I’m not too worried. I’ve been meaning to catch up with some chores around the apartment, so this is a perfect opportunity. First thing is first though, pancakes!

Next step

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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.

Yawn

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Today has been a long, long day. I started the morning on a series of low notes (trying to watch the new episode of Downton Abbey before my 10:00 class simply does not work- I always have to leave mid-way through, and I don’t have enough time to print my notes before the printing frenzy starts), but somehow emerged in a reasonably reasonable mood anyway. This I think was due to the fact that today was my first day of Nursing for the Childbearing Family- a.k.a. BABIES. We watched two birth videos in class, and I almost teared up both times- there’s really nothing like birth to brighten a day. I wasn’t feeling very excited about this class actually, because I sort of think being an L&D nurse would just frustrate me when what I really want to be is a midwife (and L&D nurses have to do all kinds of things I disagree with, like pushing getting drugs, and not letting moms hold their babies as soon as they come out (they’re supposed to be gooey!) My instructor is a midwife, and she feels the same way about a lot of this stuff though (she actually said that taking away a healthy baby and wrecking that first moment is a shitty thing to do, and if you do it without having a darn good reason birth work isn’t for you), and so now I feel better (she’s also a birth companions leader). I’ve been having a lot of Feelings about this class, but I’ve decided to like it. The important thing is not to compare my experience with anyone else’s (which is a good rule of thumb for life in general). It isn’t a race to see as many births as possible, it’s about helping families have their best possible births.

Right now I’m tired, and trying to work up the motivation to empty the dish drain so I have somewhere to put the dishes that need to be washed. And shower. It isn’t going too well, especially since I’ve rediscovered how great Little Mosque on the Prairie is (and the whole series is on Hulu). Man, do I love Canadian TV. And British TV- the Downton finale was so good! I don’t want to risk spoiling anything, but I thought it was a really solid episode, and I’m really starting to like Thomas. Scotland kind of stole the show though, and now I want a shaggy pony with short little legs to ride around on through fields of heather. Doesn’t that sound nice? Scottish dancing looks pretty sweet too- I think my path is clear and I should run away to Scotland.

 

So Close!

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I was having such a good, productive day, but it all unraveled in an instant. I didn’t do any work yesterday- I went to the farmer’s market, and got a haircut, and tried out a neat little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant with my friend Maria, and then went and played board games at a bar with Scott and Emily. Munchkin kind of sucks, but Ticket to Ride is super fun (it’s like Settlers of Catan, but better, because it’s all about trains), and Scrabble is always fun, even though Emily and Scott slaughtered me. They beat me in every game actually- Scott won every time, and I was always third. That’s ok though, because it was still fun, and there were lots of cute nerdy guys with beards. I didn’t talk to any of them (even though there was a really handsome gingery one), but maybe next time (I’ll be all “Want to play Bananagrams?” and it’ll be awesome)! After games we went back to Emily and Scott’s place and had soup, and then I went home and to bed because I had had a full day of fun (and was slightly drunk, so not about to do homework).

Today got off to a better start- I got up early and did some homework, and then spent the day studying for my peds final with Sam and Emily. We were actually productive (and still managed to have a nice talk about Feelings- we usually get a little sidetracked with that stuff, which is one of the reasons I love my study group so much), and then I went to Spinning. I was totally kicking butt, but then I went to the grocery store and jumped the tracks. First of all, Safeway is terrible. They didn’t have celery, or cayenne pepper, or okra, and because I was there in the evening, it was a zoo. I waited on line for a good thirty minutes, and then when it was my turn, I opened my wallet and realized I didn’t have my debit card. So that stunk. I didn’t even have that many things, but I only had $10 on me, so I just walked away. I’ll go back tomorrow, and it’ll be fine, but I was very put out by the whole thing, and ended up stopping at CVS to buy Ramen noodles and a Reeses egg for dinner (my first Reeses egg of the season. It was super great (though not enough to turn my mood around), and I immediately wanted another). Now I’m working on homework and watching TV (even though I know I shouldn’t do both at the same time). This week is going to be nuts, but I’m also kind of excited. There will be contra dancing, and Vagina Monologues (it’s my first time going- it always struck me as dreadful-looking, but Emily is in it, so I’m sucking it up and going), and my last day of pediatric clinical, and probably some kind of Mardi Gras festivities (even if it’s just me eating meuniere sauce on rice in my apartment). Busy weeks are good.

This and that

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I was supposed to go study with friends tonight, but when I got home from clinical I hopped in the shower (I do not like med/surg, and I really don’t like GI stuff. My floor smells awful, and it gets into my hair, and my scrubs, and it’s foul) and then put on yoga pants and decided to never leave my apartment again because I was too comfortable. No one has texted, so I’m assuming everyone else had the same idea, so I don’t feel guilty. I’m studying at home, so it’s not like I’m watching Switched at Birth and eating bonbons- things are still being accomplished.

Things are good, but I could use a break. I hate Tuesdays. Hate them. I dread them all Monday night, and then I wish the clock would speed up all day so I can go home and try to get past how unpleasant my clinical is. I’m not sure why it’s so much more stressful than other clinicals, but it is, and I spend the whole day on edge. It’s the only fly in the ointment though, so I’m hanging on.

I kind of like not having a microwave, but it makes reheating things really hard, and sometimes impossible. There are microwaves at school and at the hospital, but dinner can be tricky, so tonight I had popcorn, a grapefruit, and graham crackers. I need to eat more veggies, but I don’t have a lot of options (kale, or frozen broccoli), and they aren’t appealing. I should probably make kale chips or something.

I went to a group class at the gym called Women in the Weight Room, and I was a little disappointed (which isn’t to say that I’m not sore now). It wasn’t well-attended, and we didn’t get the whole weight room to ourselves, so we were competing with the burly men for equipment. The instructor was very good, and I like working out in a group, and being given direction, since I never know what to do with myself in the weight room, but it wasn’t the experience I was hoping to have. I’m going to keep going though, because I love doing weights, even though I hate being surrounded by giant college boys who are all dropping weights, and grunting, and being intimidating.

It’s almost time to start applying for licensing stuff, which is pretty terrifying. I need to fix up my resume, and start reaching out to hospitals.

This is pretty great. I’ve been in a Ben Folds-y mood all day.

Hipster Envy

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My friend’s truck got broken into today. They didn’t take anything, but the back window was totally smashed. As it happens, this friend is also my ride to and from clinical, and so we were let out early because…well, to be honest, I’m not sure why. So his car didn’t sit in the parking lot all smashed up? Because it was supposed to snow later in the evening? Because having your car broken into is upsetting, so our instructor thought he needed the day off? These are all good reasons, but I didn’t ask questions, so I don’t know how close I am to the mark. My friend didn’t actually seem that upset- he isn’t really the get-upset type. I would’ve been a basket case if it had been my truck, but he just rolls with things, which is kind of why I feel so comfortable around him. My instructor asked me multiple times if I felt safe riding home with him, and he asked me himself if I felt vulnerable riding with the back window covered by medical tape, and I honestly never did. I sort of take it for granted that I’m safe with him (which is weird, because apparently it isn’t uncommon to have the exact opposite reaction).

Earlier this evening he called me and asked if I could come and help him cover his back window, so I walked over. I had never been to his place before (technically, it’s his girlfriend’s place, but I hadn’t been there either), and it’s awesome. I’m totally jealous. It’s huge, and open, and full of interesting sights, and sounds, and smells (he’s super into herbalism- this morning while we rode into clinical he was rubbing rosemary into his beard). It actually kind of reminded me of a Smith house common room. There was a random Australian guy in the kitchen, and a saucepan of water with a mushroom floating in it on the stove, and a neat vintage juicer. It had that kind-of-falling-apart-but-still-cool feel, and it made me feel very square, which is my primary feeling when I’m with this friend (on the plus side, he’s older than I realized, so like most of my friends who make me feel like an inexperienced baby, he’s just had more time to be awesome). We taped up his window, and then went in and had some tea while he puttered around and tried to find a cure for a pretty gnarly blister/sore/boil thing on his arm. He soaked it in green tea and rosemary, he iced it (when I showed up he was about to submerge it in really hot water, but I suggested he try ice first before attempting to scald it off), he put salt, and rubbing alcohol, and cabbage juice, and some kind of tincture on it. He kept saying he should take some benedryl, and I kept agreeing with him, but he never quite got around to that part. He’s kind of easily distracted, and so he sat down with me, and we drank tea, and then he showed me his gorgeous banjo that he bought from a doctor who makes his own instruments from wood he gathers while doing relief work, and who once picked him up while hitchhiking. He played a little bit, and then went back to puttering around trying to fix his arm.

I know I say this a lot, but I don’t actually say it enough- I am utterly overwhelmed by how much I love people. Not all people (I try, but I just can’t love everyone. Some people suck), but lots, and not just people I know. I shadowed in the NICU today, and spent the entire day rocking premies, and I was filled with love for them, and I think you have to love someone to go out into the bitter cold to fix a car window without knowing specifically where you’re going (when he called he told me what street he was on, but not the address, so I just charged out into the elements and wandered around looking for his car until he called me back. What can I say- I’m eager to help). You really have to love someone in order to look at their weeping wounds through a jeweler’s loupe, which I also did, because he asked me to in order to fully appreciate how very nasty it looked (darn nasty). The thing is though, that those things aren’t any hardship simply because I do love my friends. I want to do things for them- I want to help them, and spend time with them, and if they ask for help I’m happy to give it. My instructor asked me to text her when my friend and I got home safely, and when I did she told me I was a good person, but I don’t think that was an example of me being particularly good. If it had been someone else, someone I don’t like, and I had helped them, that would be a good person thing, and I’d like to think that I would make an effort, but today wasn’t about me being good, it was about being full of love, and enjoying opportunities to express some of it.

The NICU wasn’t my cup of tea. I love holding babies, but the nurses on the floor don’t do much baby-holding. It seemed weird to me, since premies are supposed to be inside of their mothers still, so you’d think they’d never be put down since they aren’t meant to be alone yet, but they spend most of their time in cribs (the babies that have to be under lights don’t count, but there were several who were just hanging out, not being held). The nurses are incredible, and do great work, they just don’t hold the babies unless they’re feeding them, and I don’t think that’s enough. If I worked in a NICU I’d spend all of my time holding babies, and while I think that would be valuable work, it wouldn’t be very stimulating, and wouldn’t be a great use of my education (I’m not saying being a NICU nurse isn’t a good use of education- I’m saying being a professional baby-holder probably doesn’t require multiple degrees from private colleges). That’s sort of where caring about my patients could turn into a bad thing- I wouldn’t want any babies to be lonely, just like I don’t want any suicidal teenagers to be unhappy, or mothers to feel bad about their birth experiences, no matter what happens, if they get pain meds, or have C-sections, or have unmedicated vaginal births. I want to keep everyone safe, even though I know I can’t, and if I worked in the NICU I’d burn out really quickly (I can’t hug every cat).

I massively do not want to study tonight, but I have to. I have a peds test next week (it was bumped from Monday to Wednesday so we could properly celebrate the Ravens winning the Super Bowl), and I want to crush it.

Come hither

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I finally got back to contra dancing last night, and it turned my whole week around (ok, not really, but this hasn’t been a great week. It would take more than a few hours of dancing to do that). It was a great time though, and I’m going to try to get back in the habit of going. There was one dance in particular that was especially fun- the women had to lure their partners after them with come hither looks, and it was very silly, but fun at the same time. There are never very many young men at these dances, and I was dancing with my favorite partner who is probably in his late 50’s- early 60’s and married, so I didn’t feel self-conscious about my goofy over-the-top flirting. I was thinking about it last night, and I don’t know if it’s sad or not, but as much as I love the music, and the dancing, and the element of play, I think my favorite part is being in men’s arms, even if they’re old enough to be my grandfather. That’s probably sad. I don’t mean it in a creepy frotteur way- it isn’t sexual- it isn’t even romantic, I just like being held. My friends are a pretty hug-y bunch, so I’m not just starved for affection, but there’s something about being in a man’s arms that feels great, and I don’t get it enough. The solution is probably going to fewer contra dances and instead meeting young men, but I honestly don’t have the energy for that kind of thing.

On a less weird note- they had free groceries at the dance last night, so I helped myself to a loaf of bread, a jar of hot peppers, and several big onions. It’s the makings for a highly flavorful and aromatic sandwich, but the bread is kind of stale (I’m not 100% clear on where this food comes from, but I know it’s the fruits of dumpster diving), so I’m going to use it for other purposes. On the one hand, it’s a little suspect, but on the other, free onions! I go through tons of onions, and they’re perfectly good, so I don’t see the harm. It’s just an added perk to a fun night out, and makes my entrance fee feel lighter (not that $6 is terrible, but it adds up if you go on a regular basis).

This week has been a bear, and next week kicks off with a test, so my weekend isn’t going to be much fun, but I’m in a pretty good mental place anyway. I’m going to go to the farmer’s market with my (kind of) new friend on Saturday (she moved into my old room, God help her), and spend Sunday studying with Sarah and Sam, and things are ok. I turned in my care plan earlier tonight, and I have my peds clinical tomorrow, and everything bad that happened this week feels less dire now.

I watched the first episode of American Horror Story tonight, just to be masochistic, and now I’ll probably have nightmares, but it was good. It’s wicked creepy, but not so much that I can’t watch it by myself, and I like a little scare now and then. I miss Gossip Girl- I love Downton Abbey, but it doesn’t make me need to watch a whole streak of episodes in a row, and Switched At Birth is entertaining, but ABC Family shows are more fun if you watch them with someone. I’ve given up on Grey’s Anatomy, and How I Met Your Mother jumped the shark ages ago.