Saturday, May 21, 2011

emphasis on the "maybe"

Ok, so I'm going to try to write about this nursing business. Since, you know, "write what you know", and right now I know nursing school. And cats. But there's enough of that on the internet.

I'm on break between school and a summer job, and because I didn't have much time in between and mostly because I am broke, I stayed in Baltimore. And because most of my friends have fled our funny little city, I've had to get creative with my time. A few nights ago I took my most recent clinical instructor up on her offer to let students shadow her at her, night job in the ER (which is now called the ED, "D" for Department, I guess because it's not really just a room? I learned this about halfway into the first semester. Anyway.) I should also probably backtrack at this point and explain what a "clinical instructor" is. Nursing has its own language and when almost everyone you hang out with is in nursing, it's hard to remember that the rest of the world doesn't know the lingo. So a large part of our curriculum involves clinical rotations aka "clinicals", which is basically just time spent learning in the hospital. We're divided into groups of 6-8, and, along with an instructor, we invade a particular type of hospital unit once or twice a week and try really hard not to kill anyone.

We don't do Emergency or Urgent Care or Shock/Trauma in school, so I didn't want to pass up the chance to hang out in the ED, because it really is just so fucking cool. (And yes the doctors--male and female--are as hot as they are on TV. Something about those teal scrubs and saving lives and stuff.) Anyway, I was only slated to be there from 7-11 pm, and my instructor paired me the with the trauma nurse with the hope that I'd get to see some action. By the time 8 o'clock rolled around, pretty much all I'd seen aside from the requisite drunk man tied to a bed in the hallway was a gangrenous foot. Now, if you've never seen a gangrenous foot, I highly recommend you not do a Google Image Search for "gangrenous foot". I wanted my instructor to feel like I was learning something, so I joined her in triage to describe the soon-to-no-longer-be appendage. "Well," she said, rearranging her face after expressing a combo of joy and disgust, "I don't want to say it's a slow night, because that'll jinx it and make it the opposite, but it really IS quite a slow night." And then, of course, the ambulance dispatch phone rang to report that three people who appeared over the age of 16 were currently being extracted from a car wrapped around a tree, and they would probably be arriving shortly.

I can't even really begin to describe the intensity of what happened next, and I probably shouldn't since the accident made the news and, you know, privacy laws and stuff. Suffice it to say, CPR, unlike the doctors, looks absolutely nothing like it does on TV. And, I have a ridiculous amount of respect for everyone who works in emergency care. Twenty people can be in the same tiny trauma room working on one patient, and somehow everyone fills their roles without getting in the way of anyone else. (My role, in this case, was plastering myself against the wall, trying to keep my jaw off the floor, and occasionally handing someone a roll of tape.) When my mini-shift was over, my instructor asked if this was something I could see myself doing in the future. I gave her an enthusiastic, "Yeah, maybe!" and then went outside, cried, and called my mom.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

an overachiever's guide to overcoming anxiety

I can get competitive about pretty much anything. Except for sports involving a ball, in which case, take the really you can have the ball...I do not want the ball please get it away from me. (This does not include bowling. I love bowling.) Anyway, there often does not even need to be another person involved for me to get my game face on. Since I've started riding a bike I can't help but race my school's shuttle bus to school. I usually win. Granted, the bus doesn't know it's in a race, but still. Last night was the night before our last day of final exams here in nursing school, and I was befelled by a pretty serious bout of anxiety. I really, really don't like anxiety (depression suits me much better), and by god if I wasn't going to kick that anxiety's ass. Here's a list of my plays, in chronological order, to the best of my ability to recall:

* some yoga poses (I like downward dog, child's pose, and a supported fish, if you were wondering. No? Fine then.)
* one can of delicious Resurrection Ale
* petting of cats
* 3/4 of a cigarette
* making of a to-do list and detailed schedule of tomorrow's tasks
* a lot of mint tea
* impulsive ordering of Tina Fey's book (including downloading of the Kindle app so I could read it RIGHT THEN)
* 1/2 a Klonopin
* hugging of cats
* staying up past my bedtime reading 1/4 of Tina Fey's book

Note that nice balance between healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms! And now here it is, 7 a.m., I'm bright-eyed and rested and enjoying hearty breakfast, ready to get in some last minute cramming for the exams I'm no longer worried about (probably because I never really had a good reason to be worried about them in the first place). Most importantly, I WIN.