Friday, July 13, 2012

holy ***ing **** i'm a nurse: week two

There is something about watching an inspirational video in a drab conference room that makes me profoundly uncomfortable. Especially when said video features still pictures of nature with inspirational words running across them and a soundtrack of "Return to Innocence" by 90's one-hit wonder Enigma.* This experience was foisted upon me the other day during another corporate training and I spent most of the excruciating 4 minutes and 16 seconds picking at my cuticles and wishing my friend E had been sitting next to me so we could poke each other in the ribs and try to maintain straight faces. If you would like to recreate this magical moment for yourself (and I really think you should), just close your eyes . . . imagine you are in an old building in the inner city . . . the walls are beige . . . the chairs hurt your back . . . your business casual outfit restricts your ability to reposition yourself . . . the air conditioner is on a setting that is way too high . . . you have to pee because you've had way too much coffee today . . . the lights dim . . . 

Not the video I watched, but strikingly similar.

Here are some other highlights from Week Two!

1. Part of my training includes reading a whole bunch of hospital Policies and Procedures manuals. They are important and I'm reading them like I'm supposed to, but they are generally not so exciting. There are some hidden gems, however. According to the one for infection prevention and isolation precautions, blowing one’s nose = “managing respiratory secretions with a tissue.” I love hospital speak.

2. Desperately having to urinate/collect myself after watching the aforementioned video, I went into a public bathroom and was delighted to find that of the three stalls, one was empty. And then I realized the door was missing. I was tempted to make like the Chinese and just go, but I was wearing my lab coat and badge and didn't want to appear unprofessional/get in trouble. That's really all there is to the story, and I'm really only telling it so I can post this piss-poor illustration of one of my first public toileting experiences in China (no pun intended . . . okay maybe sort of):

3. On my unit there are many Groups, and they are mostly run by the RNs. Most start with a let's-go-around-the-room-and-share-something icebreaker. As you can probably imagine, when you're doing this multiple times a day, every day, it can be hard to come up with new icebreakers. During Substance Abuse Group this week, the nurse, presumably inspired by the foliage on the patio, spontaneously presented this one: “If you had a yard and could grow any plant in it, and it would grow in copious amounts, what would it be?” Hilarity ensued.

4. There are many reasons why I wanted to work in psych. Here is one. Typical medical/surgical nursing report: “Patient on four liters of oxygen via nasal cannula, has chest tube on the left side to suction with moderate amount of serosanguinous drainage.” Typical psychiatry nursing report: “Watch Patient A with Patient B. Overnight Patient A seen cuddling with Patient B in telephone cubby, and Patient A was really happy about it, if you know what I mean.”

5. Here is another: I had my first near tears experience because a patient’s comments during Substance Abuse Group were so insightful, moving, tragic. His head and his heart were in the right place, but due to a confluence of factors he was standing at the bottom of a very big hill. I wanted to snap my fingers and get him a job and a home and a new family and meaningful activities. But all I can really do at this point is sit there and listen. And hope it works out.

*No offense to Enigma fans out there. I loved that song when I was 12 and a part of me will always love everything I loved when I was 12. Except for Mountain Dew and a certain buck-toothed boy who I had a crush on and who later made fun of the size of my jean shorts because I'd gotten a little fat from being depressed and consuming too much Mountain Dew and low-fat Cool Ranch Pringles. Anyway.

Friday, July 06, 2012

holy ***ing **** i'm a nurse: week one

Oh hey there. It's been awhile. To pick up where we left off . . . I'm officially Nurse Gina now. I got back from China and then a whole bunch of stuff happened and then I got my RN license and an ID badge with letters after my name (and a new pair of Danksos, naturally) and now I have a job on a psychiatric unit where I'm walking around trying to look like I know what I'm doing.

Highlights from Week One:

1. I got through two days of general corporate orientation (i.e., lots and lots of PowerPoint presentations) with only minor back pain that lasted the next two days, and without doing anything unprofessional like passing a note to a friend saying "shoot me now" during a lecture on Professionalism, not that I felt any sort of impulse to do that, or anything.  

2. I ran into friends from nursing school at nursing school during lunch time, even though none of us had any legitimate reason to be at nursing school (and the food is nothing special). We are like little fledglings, not quite ready to fully leave the nest.

3. The first day on my new unit was a success, aside from the part where during morning report my cell phone alarm clock went off, TWICE (I was so mortified the first time it went off that I failed to turn it off and just hit snooze, apparently, as that is what my thumb is most used to doing), and I of course happened to be sitting next to the Nurse Educator and the attending physician.

4. I GET TO WEAR A LAB COAT. I'm sorry, but nothing makes me feel more badass than wearing a lab coat. Okay, maybe wearing OR scrubs. Or Carhartt overalls. Or a spacesuit, presumably, though I imagine you don't feel very badass when you're wearing a spacesuit and you have to pee. 

5. I sat with the patients and ate a banana and a hard-boiled egg (we are encouraged to eat the hospital food with the patients during mealtimes) and introduced myself and started conversations with several of them even though I felt totally awkward and shy. 

6. Guided group stretching time during Fresh Air Break! I love psych.

7. Things said to me today that I enjoyed:

New Coworker: You look a lot like a tech we just hired on [other unit].
Me: Yeah?
New Coworker: Yeah. But she's thicker.
Me: Oh! [nervous laughter]
Me [silently to myself]: I love you.

Patient: Where are you from?
Me: Wisconsin.
Patient: Do they have a lot of murders in Wisconsin?
Me: Oh, uh, I dunno, not that many, I don't think.*

*I do not purport to know anything about the murder statistics in Wisconsin. But something tells me Homicide: Sheboygan would be a lot less interesting than Homicide: Life on the Street, which I only recently learned takes place in good ol' B'more.

8. This newfound Career business has inspired me to live my life with a little more self-discipline. On Monday, I resolved that I would go to two yoga classes per week (at least), and write for 30 minutes a day (at least). I figured these were SMART goals, which in the world of psych nursing means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. I even created a measurement system, with timeframes. It is now Friday. 

Baby steps.