Thursday, September 25, 2008

Morning thoughts

Life has been super busy for me lately.  Balancing class, clinical, studying, family, and work have been keeping me pretty occupied.  I've come to the conclusion that I really dislike Med/Surg.  While the content is interesting --- the whole cleaning up poo, wiping butts, catheterizing people, looking at drains and tubes, measuring what comes out of them, and in general being around sick people and their accompanying smells really is not what I want to do.  Plus I have an overarching fear of "old" people which has not been assuaged by dealing with them each week.  I try to "grin and bear it" but yesterday I reached my limit -- teary-eyed -- in a failed attempt to straight cath my pt.  Thankfully this limit was met at the end of my 12 hour shift and at the completion of my 1st four-week Med/Surg. rotation.  I will get 4 weeks "off" in my Psych. rotation but then will be back with a vengeance for the last 4 weeks of this semester. 

In political news, I've got this financial crisis on my mind mainly because I've been hearing all about it for the past couple of days.  (Blame NPR.)  Also, there's craziness surrounding gas down here.  Every time we pass a gas station,  there are at least 5-8 cars in line for gas at all hours.  Gas stations are out of gas -- it's really weird.  I've never seen this type of thing in VA when I was there.  So I guess we're really in a crisis.  Thank goddess I purchased a bike in March.  I haven't driven my car in awhile.   Should I need an automobile, I just take Beloved's car.  

I took this morning off -- I'm supposed to be in class, but decided that I needed a stimulus-free morning home with the dogs.  After clinical, I find that I'm quite over-stimulated.  There's smells (generally unpleasant), constant sounds of various sorts -- people talking, beeps, buzzers, machines, phones, beepers, and harsh light.  When I get home, silence is golden.  I think I'm not meant to work during the day.  After doing both days and nights, I much prefer the relatively semi-quiet night shift.  Although we're busy at night, it's easier to work rather than spend *all* day in the hospital.  But I recently learned in my Professional Development class that night shift workers live shorter lives.  Fantastic!  

I'm so far enjoying my Birth & Global Health class.  It's wonderful to see other people learn about birth and want to create change.  I feel like it was me a few years ago.  I love to be able to help others along their journey.  Plus I'm learning too.  It's not an academically-rigorous course so I have time to enjoy the content and discussion.  Well I suppose my stimulus free morning must come to an end because I have a test tomorrow that I need to study for.  

Monday, September 8, 2008

Orgasmic Birth

School is back in full swing.  We started back the last week of August.  I am entertaining a pretty busy schedule including Med/Surg. and Psych. clinical rotations.  We started our first IVs on each other last week -- all of us succeeding!  I decided to take an elective class called Birth & Global Health taught by one of my favorite midwives at the school.  Its syllabus includes some great authors such as Robbie Davis-Floyd, Jennifer Block, Marsden Wagner, Brigitte Jordan, etc.  I'm enjoying the content very much so far.  

Before school resumed, I stole a little bit of time away from work and went home for a much-needed visit/vacation.  I miss my family terribly and enjoyed catching up with them.  We spent a lot of time just hanging out at the house, even went to the beach as a family!  I saw a lot of good friends as well.  Overall, it was a wonderful visit and exactly what I needed to start school off on the right foot.  

Working at the very busy hospital in Mother-Baby is going well also.  I took care of my first lesbian couple this past weekend.  I'm not out at work, so it's interesting to hear what co-workers had to say in reference to this family.  I wanted to chat them up but decided against it.  Also interesting this weekend was very anti-choice snippets overheard in the nursery.  I simply cannot understand this point of view at all.  I've cut down to only working 2 nights/week, but can occasionally pick up shifts if needed.  I feel like working has helped me a lot in feeling comfortable in a clinical setting, effectively managing my time with several patients, and working on interpersonal skills.  Also, I've gotten pretty excellent at breastfeeding instruction.  They call me the "breastfeeding guru" on our floor.  I will help anyone at anytime breastfeed.  I'm a breastfeeding-initiator and have helped a lot of my patients get off to the right start.  

I have been cycling pretty regularly throughout the summer.  Combined with the 15,000 steps walked each shift at work, I've lost a substantial amount of weight (circa 20 lbs.) without even really trying.  I had my first official fall from my bike last week which resulted in a huge bruise on my calf and a turned ankle.  I will survive, but am certain I will be purchasing a pannier to center my weight lower on my bike.  Right now I've got a rack with a milk crate.  While it works amazingly, when loaded, it carries weight much higher on the bike and can result in instability.  So I think I may bite the bullet and purchase a bonafide pannier to install.  

Yesterday I got up earlier than normal to attend a screening of Orgasmic Birth.  It's pretty much in line with Business of Being Born but it focuses more on the sensuality of birth.  A few orgasmic births are documented but not as many as it would seem since that is the title of the movie.  The main message was that birth can be pleasurable.  It was nicely done and I'd recommend it.  After the movie, there was a small panel of people to do a Q & A session.  It included two local midwives (CPM and a CNM) and two women who wanted to share their birth stories.  

Afterward, myself and two fellow classmates waited to speak with the midwives.  Many of the midwifery students in my program whole-heartedly support homebirth; however when trying to make contacts and connections within the birth community, CNM students face resistance with the CPMs.  This questioning of "Why do you want to be a CNM?" spurred a conversation among our group.  I really wish there was more of a collegial relationship between CNMs and CPMs.  Both have valuable knowledge and resources.  I feel that if midwives (in general) show a united front, we would perhaps have a stronger voice.  For me, the education I'm receiving provides me with important skills and knowledge that I feel are invaluable.  Additionally, working within a system in order to create change is my ideal.  A spirit of collaboration instead of divisiveness is what needs to happen.  Nurse-midwives aren't all "just as bad as doctors" -- there are a lot of midwives agitating for change and working just as hard as CPMs to see it happen.  Just because CNMs work within the system doesn't necessarily mean they agree with it.  This is an issue that continuously reoccurs within our circle.  

I have some awesome pictures that I will post later.  Sorry for the silence -- I have been keeping up with all of you even though I haven't written much myself.  

Monday, June 30, 2008

Busy month

So I've resorted to becoming a once-a-month blogger. I am resolved to blog more than that but sometimes my life doesn't seem interesting enough to write about. My two weeks in South Georgia were amazing. We provided care to both the migrant farm workers and their children. Overall I think we ended up seeing 500-600 people which is no small feat. Our mornings consisted of screenings for the children at school -- ages from 3-15. We got them ready for school (GA requires certain paperwork in order for kids to be able to start school.) I helped to screen hearing, vision, blood glucose, height & weight, and hemoglobin. I can't imagine how scary it must be for the littlest of the group -- the 3 & 4 year olds -- who speak Spanish, go to a strange place (school) with teachers who speak English. It was actually quite cute though because we got a system down by the end of our time there. I had kids who remembered my name and waved hello to me after they had finished up with us. It was cute. The kids were by far my favorite part.

In the evenings, we setup camp at different farm sites each night. The farm workers came in from the fields around dusk and we began seeing patients. It was hot and muggy, lots of gnats and other bugs, but they waited patiently to be seen. I worked a lot with intake -- doing intake independently in Spanish. My Spanish has improved exponentially and I had a long conversation with a young farm worker about his life. One patient in particular had a badly infected finger that was swollen grotesquely to mid-forearm and streaked up way past the elbow. He was beyond our capacity and our clinic liaison drove him to the ER. Although we got to him in time before he went septic, they weren't able to save the finger. We are able to provide care and also refer patients to the local clinic that could handle things beyond our scope. The local clinic is awesome. We worked as an extension of them and really enable them to reach a large number of people. They also provide continuity of care by following up with those who need it. They will pick up migrant workers to bring them to the clinic, take them to the hospital if necessary, help find funding for care (like in the situation of the man who had to have his finger amputated), provide other services and are source for community referrals, etc.
While in South GA, we also had the opportunity to pick in the fields. Pictured above is a zucchini squash field where I picked.

Once I back in the ATL, I immediately began my new job. It's at a non-Em0ry hospital (imagine that!) and I'm very excited about working there. Last week was mainly hospital orientation, boring HR/administrative stuff, computer class, and unit orientation. Today will be my first night shift on the unit. Although I'm still in orientation, we'll actually be providing patient care! I'm working as a tech on a postpartum floor in one of the busiest hospitals in the area. So far my experience has been positive. My orienter introduced me to everyone we met. I will be in orientation for the next 3 weeks. After that, I go to my home floor and work my shift independently. After a two month job search, I'm happily settled in at my new job. I will stay on even into the school year and perhaps even work as an RN after I pass my NCLEX.

Also coming up -- ATL Pride is this weekend. Not sure what I'm going to do but I know I want to check some of it out. I've never been to pride (here or anywhere) and everyone says it's so much fun. I have to work this weekend so I'm not sure what I will be up for. That's all I've got so far. Wish me luck on my first night shift.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chaotically Connected

Today in class, we were talking about different frameworks within which you can look at families. In discussing the meaning of families, it brought my own to my mind. In one such framework, you could classify your family by looking at certain characteristics. I did the assessment for my family in particular and it was determined that my family is "chaotically connected." This phrase completely describes my family. And I've never been able to describe my family in so few words. This does it perfectly.

Upon further examination of my job search efforts, I have realized why my ego has taken such a blow this past month. To preface my analogy, I will say that I am a complete serial monogamist. I rarely am single for longer than a few months. And then I tend to get in long, serious, and committed relationships (what lesbians don't? Just kidding.) The search for employment is very similar to looking for a partner -- a mate -- a boyfriend, or girlfriend. First of all, it is generally a goal or expectation for a person to have a relationship. The same holds true for a job. When one begins the search for a job, you must look in several different places, change your resume slightly to fit the job description, and then anxiously wait for a phone call. The phone call. The one that sets up the "big date." You pick out a nice outfit, shave your legs, leave your hair down and go over what you should or should not say on your date. You show up on time, smile, laugh at their jokes, and tell them about yourself. After the interview, you're feeling like it went great, but now the waiting begins again. And in my particular case, I would have these amazing interviews, but no return phone call. I would even do the cordial thing by sending an email or leaving a message thanking the person for their time. Still nothing. All in all, this experience has taught me that searching for a job is like dating but without any of the fun stuff (like making out.) And when you least expect it, dressed like you always are, hair messed up, you meet someone amazing, conversation is effortless, and you get your second call. Looking for a job is totally like dating and I'm glad I've decided to go steady with a hospital that offered me a position today!

Monday, May 19, 2008

This is summer?

I meant to write a post last week after the fury of final exams had subsided. But I completed almost all my other to-dos. However I've had a few other things on my mind. My second semester of nursing school was successfully completed while maintaining my sparkling 4.0 GPA. (I figure I better enjoy it while it lasts or doesn't...) Grades and exams went off without a hitch. The devil of a research paper was finished and turned in. In fact, our group submitted the abstract for presentation at a conference. Everything turned out just fine. Now I'm back to school with a vengeance (Mon-Fri) complete with 4 chapters of reading per night.

Unfortunately, my hunt for employment hasn't been nearly as successful at all. I have been searching for a job for almost a month now and nothing has concretely panned out. In the past, I have found employment within a few days or a week. Never a month. Never this long. And it's not like I'm some crazy person off the street without any solid work history, prior references, a criminal record, or a high-school drop-out (not making any judgment calls about the employability of others with these characteristics.) I have gone on several interviews -- wonderfully professional and cordial interviews -- witty jokes and smiles were exchanged, hands were shaken, but no jobs were offered, no returned phone calls. At this point, I'm getting really discouraged. It has been weighing heavily on my mind and heart. Perhaps a contributing factor is my participation in the farmworker program. Many employers don't look favorably on 2 weeks of vacation ( what if I'm helping a vulnerable population...) --- I guess. So now I'm wandering in the abyss of self-doubt about whether or not I made the right decision to be in the program -- to pass up externship programs and money. Ultimately, I do believe I made the right decision but I just have to weather this rough patch before it gets better. (That's assuming that it *will* get better soon!) As my clinical instructor says, "If it can be fixed with money, it's not really a problem..."

A former doula client of mine is going back to work at the end of the summer and has been strongly hinting that she'd like me to nanny for her. While the job sounds easy enough -- I love the family and the baby -- I'm not sure it will work with my schedule. She has called me several times and even had her husband call me to convince me to come. While they are quite adamant about having me with them, the job wouldn't start until Aug -- and I need money as of yesterday. So that doesn't really help me out much. I may resort to hitting the pavement, passing out flyers for some quick cash. Tomorrow is an interview for a paid internship with PP which sounds promising. There may be another interview in the works for this week as well. I'm tired of interviewing, applying, resume-ing...I just want a job. Is that so difficult? From what I've heard from my friends who relocated as well -- the job market here is very interesting and it does take a long time to get a job.

Completely unrelated is my new fascination with Pandora --- I'm listening to it as I write. I've been looking for internet radio but managed to not find out about it until today. When I'm working, I like to listen to classical music. I tried purchasing classical CDs but I get tired of the same songs playing over and over. I hate most of the radio stations here -- that part of my regional identity refuses to budge. I still listen to my old NPR station online. It's a small piece of home down here in GA. One time, I even heard the traffic report and made a mental note that I'd need to leave earlier because of the traffic. Then I realized that I was in GA and wouldn't need the VA traffic report. It's the small things that make me homesick.

Speaking of home, I miss my family terribly. It's been almost 6 months since I saw them last. I haven't been away from them for this long since I used to live with my mother before high school. This particular time is especially hard because it's "the season" of a birthday each week. Some sort of family gathering, celebration, or party. It goes steady all the way up until my birthday. Hopefully either they can come down here or I can scrounge up some change and drive up there. I do miss them so.

Biking has been going very well. Although the hills of GA are challenging, I shorten my commute each time I ride to school. I also find it refreshing to get on my bike in the early morning and ride to school. I even motivated a classmate of mine to purchase a bike as well. I won't be riding tomorrow due to the interview, but Wednesday I will be back in the saddle. I need to purchase some crotch-protecting bike shorts soon, but am unsure of what to buy. Anyone with experience, tips...please let me know what you found helpful!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Halfway there!

I am almost halfway to my RN license! I am so proud and excited about my personal and professional growth throughout this year. I can't believe how much things have changed since I first started this blog -- about to move to Atlanta. It was really hard to uproot my entire life and change scenery. But I've slowly adjusted to my new life, added new friends, and really enjoy living in Atlanta.

On the school front, we're in our spring semester until the first week of May. Then I have a week off. Then I start back for three weeks for my community health class. I applied to participate in our Migrant Farmworkers Family Health project and was accepted. We then travel to South GA and provide care to their migrant farm worker population. It's a really awesome project! I'm glad I was chosen to participate. We will be in South GA for 2 weeks, then return home. After that, we have a take home final or something of the sort, then I'm finished! (Probably sometime around the end of June...) I know it sounds time-consuming, but doing it this way, I will get 4 weeks off at the end of next year's spring semester. So I think it's a fair exchange. Plus some of us may rent a condo in FL during the weekend between our two weeks in South GA. And that would be fun! Also, all of my good friends in the program are going.

My pediatric rotation has been surprisingly easier (emotionally) than I had thought. In general, I really enjoy working with children and their families. Of all of the places I have been thus far, I feel that pediatric nurses really advocate for their patients. Also, the nurses on my clinical rotation are amazingly bright and wonderful. I had a really awesome patient this week -- Spanish-speaking only -- so I really worked hard to communicate effectively with her. I even called Beloved's mother to learn a nursery rhyme in Spanish. (Beloved's entire family is Puerto Rican -- her mother has been delighted I'm learning Spanish and will answer any questions I have.) So I learned "Que Linda Manito" to sing to this little baby I had this week. It goes like this:

Que linda manito (what a cute little hand)
Que tiene el bebé (that the baby has)
Que linda, que bella (how cute, how beautiful)
Que bonita es (how pretty it is)
Pequeños deditos (small little fingers)
Rayitos de sol (little rays of sunshine)
Que gire, que gire (that go around and around)
Como un girasol (like a sunflower)

My patient really enjoyed it. Her mother was very patient with my Spanish. At then end of my shift, she asked if I was coming back tomorrow because she liked me a lot. Clinically, I did a lot of patient advocacy for this patient. Because of the difficulty communicating, there had been some miscommunication about the patients immunization status. So I was going to talk to the mom about the importance of vaccinations, but lo and behold, my patient was totally up to date on her vaccines. It was just poor communication! She also was breastfeeding and had no standard tray of food. So I had that changed immediately. A breastfeeding mom *has* to eat! Because she was unable to ask for things (again, communication) and no one offered assistance. So I helped out a lot with that as well. I showed her how to order, gave her a menu in Spanish, and hassled her until she ordered some food.

In other news, I just purchased a bicycle from a local bike shop. We get a pretty good deal from the school. If you purchase a bike, they throw in a lock, helmet, lights, and water bottle in for free. They also put it together for you. So I've been riding 9-10 miles/day back and forth from school. The weather has been beautiful (save the horrific, awful pollen) and I've been enjoying learning new appropriate "bike routes" to school. On my first trial run, I thought I would follow the main roads I would use to get to school. Very. Bad. Idea. It was awful. I like to arbitrarily decide to take an alternate street contrary to my previously outlined meticulous directions. Getting lost on a bicycle is a totally different story than getting lost in a car. So I've now found a very specific route consisting of cut-thrus, residential streets, roads for alternatively fueled vehicles (that's me, right?), and a nice path through our Lullwater Park. Overall it takes about 40-45 minutes. Not bad, eh? For the rest of the school year, I will ride about 3 times a week to/from school. After that, I expect I will ride every day during my 3 weeks of class prior to our going to South GA.

Since I was accepted into the summer class, I wasn't able to get an externship so I've been thinking a lot about money. I haven't worked -- really -- since I left VA in July. And I do need to work. As a result, I've been maniacally searching for and applying to jobs. I think I'd like to work as a tech in one of the very close hospitals. I could ride my bike and would get some additional clinical, direct patient-care experience. I'd really like to work at the children's hospital I'm at right now (just because kids are so much fun) but I heard they wouldn't be too keen to hire me because I'm not growing up to be a pediatric nurse. ((Sigh)) But the floor where I had my very very first clinical (general surgery) is hiring a new PM/weekend tech. I think I'd love to do that as well. I already know the floor, where everything is, am approved to work in that hospital (with their immunization, background screen, HIPPA, and OSHA requirements) so I asked my former clinical instructor (who still works on that floor PRN) if she'd put in a good word for me. It seems as if with these clinical jobs, you've got to know someone directly. But she did recommend me and I am to call the floor director.

And finally, Happy Birthday to my baby, Emmie Monroe! She's one year old today. Pictured above is her very first car ride with us when we brought her home. And next to it is how big she's gotten. In that picture, she's giving Graisen doxie kisses. To celebrate we're going to FL for a few days to spend some time in the sun by the pool at Beloved's parents' house. I'm excited!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Intersection of Identities

During my undergraduate education in Women's Studies, we always dicussed the intersection of identities such as race, class, sexual orientation, gender, etc. Last night I went to a discussion a book signing for the new Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth book. I haven't read the new book yet but I am excited to hear feminists begin to talk about this women's health issue. We always hear about reproductive choice -- as in the choice about deciding when/how/if a woman wants to get pregnant -- but no one has been discussing the poor state of choices available to women who are pregnant. Or the sub-par care this health care system is currently delivering to most pregnant women. So last night I found myself among a group of women where several of my identities intersected -- lesbian, feminist, and aspiring midwife. Also of interesting note, the Feminist Women's Health Clinic has a donor insemination program that works with lesbian couples (and I'm sure others as well.) But I would totally love to get involved with that aspect of women's health. For me, it's inspiring to see lesbians who are starting families, etc. I never got that sort of exposure before. And since having a family is very important to me, I would like to help others also achieve that.

My first "official" day of my pediatric clinical rotation was yesterday. I think I did pretty well despite having the clinical instructor who is "known" for trying to fail people. Hopefully I will remain on her good side. I did not do too much clinically but I did spend most of my day holding a baby who doesn't get held much. Which brings up my next ethical question...what quality of life do borderline viable preemies have? I took care of an ex-25 week preemie whose prognosis is quite poor. It brings a different perspective to just seeing the little babies in the NICU or PICU. A lot of the children are ex-preemies who have severe health problems stemming from their prematurity.

Monday, March 10, 2008

It's a two post kind of day

Ani DiFranco -- one of my most favorite artists ever -- had this to say about her reasoning behind giving birth at home:

"I would definitely choose a homebirth again despite the fear mongering of this patriarchal society, which convinces women that they are incapable of having babies without the intervention of men and their machines. I look at societies where women are marginalized and oppressed their whole lives (even covered head to toe in tarps!) but are still in control of birthing practice, in a whole new way now. I mean, who is really more advanced? To take birthing out of women’s hands and deny us the continuum of eons of wisdom and experience is to eject us from the very seat of our power. I believe that women in hospitals are prevented from being able to have normal, healthy birthing experiences because of the intimidation of being on the clock, being pressured to take drugs to make it quicker, being inhibited in their movement and activities, and alienated by a sterile, fluorescent lit, feet-in-the-air type environment. You know the classic 'performance anxiety' of not being able to pee or poo because somebody’s watching you? Multiply that by a million! A cervix is a sphincter after all! Then to add tragic insult to injury women are numbed through their great moment of revelation. I believe the act of giving birth to be the single most miraculous thing a human being can do and it is surely the moment when a lot of women finally understand the depth of their power and connection to all of nature. You think it can’t possibly be done, you think you can’t possibly take the pain, and then you do — and afterward you look at yourself in a whole new way. If you can do that, you can do anything. Check out the books on this subject by Ina May Gaskin. She’s one of my great heroes. P.S. I was in labor for 43 hours. Pushed for five hours. It was brutal and scary and prolonged, and if I was in a hospital, they would have definitely cut the baby out of me. I thank the goddesses that I was at home with patient midwives who knew how to go the distance. The memory of pain always recedes. The memory of triumph does not."

You can read more of her interview here.

TENS during Labor

I have a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator) that I use for my back pain. I recently thought it would be a good addition to my doula bag. I have a ton of extra (unused) TENS electrode pads. (The company sends me new ones like once a week!) Anyways -- I wanted to be able to offer this to my doula clients but I wasn't quite sure about how/where to put the electrodes. Does anyone know? Have prior experience with a TENS unit? Know where I can find some information?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Placenta anyone?

My maternity clinical rotation has officially ended. We got to examine a placenta which is really interesting. I had seen them before but never been able to get hands-on. It's a lot more sturdy than I had originally thought. Plus it's really cool to see where the baby grew, how it attached to the mom, etc.

I also realized that I've never had that much blood on my (gloved) hands before. Blood can be taboo -- indicating sickness, or disease -- but in the case of birth, (some) blood loss is normal. It somehow feels very wrong to have someone else's blood on your hands. I suppose since I will be catching babies for a living, I must get used to this new phenomenon. But not too much blood.

This week is packed full of exams before Spring Break. Tomorrow is ATI (a practice NCLEX) for maternity. Thursday is my pharmacology test. Friday is the maternity midterm. This week couldn't have come at a worse time. Today is mine & Beloved's 3 year anniversary and I'm stuck studying instead of enjoying a romantic day off with my beautiful girlfriend. It's alright though, she's fast asleep anyways.

I've committed myself to doing a birth this month so I'm not traveling during the break. It will be my first birth attended by midwives. I'm excited. I'm still processing my last doula birth. The parents were committed to a natural labor and birth. They did everything right and despite all we was born by emergency c-section. It was the first time I have seen birth just not work. Although it was disappointing that it ended in a c-section, it really did affirm to me the benefit this surgery can be when used appropriately. And please take my word that I have seen (in my short time in my maternity rotation), very unnecessary, poorly justified, almost malpractice c-sections. Contracted pelvis determined by clinical "pelvimetry" without a trial of labor. Sigh. That's another post entirely.

Another experience has really been bothering me. A classmate of mine was helping a woman who was getting ready to push. My classmate was holding her leg. The OB was quite temperamental and did not particularly like the way the classmate was holding the leg. So he swatted at the student. Repeatedly. In other words, this OB slapped the student, my classmate. Upon recounting the situation, my classmate was in tears. She has been so upset by the situation. I know it's not my battle to fight but I would think there would be greater recourse on a physician for assaulting a student but there hasn't been. I don't think it's ever acceptable for physical violence. But this situation has been continuing to bother me. I had never thought I could potentially be assaulted by a coworker and it would be shrugged off so simply. If the situation had been reversed...a student slapping/swatting an OB -- there would be hell to pay, perhaps even an expulsion. It also bothers me because it's a man hitting a woman. It was an unfortunate manifestation of an intersection of several power discrepancies.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

It's a boy!

I will preface this post by saying that since I was probably 18, I have had the unrelenting desire to have children. I frequently dream about being pregnant, giving birth, or breastfeeding. It's quite odd -- I don't know anyone else who has dreams like this. I have had girls, boys, twins. Well anyways, last night I dreamt I had a baby boy. And he had red hair. What's more is that I had the baby in the car. On my way to the hospital. But there is no way in hell I would have my child at the hospital, unless there was a major emergency. I've never had a dream about my fantasy birth. So it's clear that I've thought about -- if I have an ideal birth situation. It was so strange because neither I or Beloved have anything near red hair. I told her about it this morning and she jokingly said that baby wasn't hers. So what would be your ideal birth?

My test last week went well. I should have studied more but I did get an A without too much of a problem. Last week's clinical rotation was hard -- teenagers having babies! I have a little sister who will be 16 in just a couple of days. It's interesting when you're caring for someone the same age as your sibling because I relate her care to the kind of care I'd want my sister to get. However, I did get to do some really great breastfeeding teaching. My first patient actually had a doula who helped her during labor and delivery as part of an organization that targets teen mothers. It was great to see her so well-supported. This week I will be doing my mother-baby rotation which I'm looking forward to. I want to have more clinical, hands-on time with the moms and babies. There's not a whole lot we're allowed to do in labor and delivery. The breastfeeding thing just came by as a fluke and I seized the opportunity.

I'm serving as backup for a fellow student who is in the doula co-op. She's a pretty new doula and has been asking for advice. I kind of like getting asked for help because it shows me that I know more than I think I do. I loaned her my doula bag of tricks too. I will be doing another birth in March. I have decided I want to get an externship this summer. There are two that I want to apply for -- so we'll see which one I get. I desperately need to get back to the workforce. I've never been unemployed before. Anyways -- I have to get back to class to see how I did on my test I took this morning. Wish me luck.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Off to a Great Start

I know I haven't updated in awhile. A lot has been on my plate as well as on my mind. I need to mull over my thoughts about a recent birth I attended as a doula. I still haven't quite made peace with that birth, but I'm working on it.

So yesterday was my first official day on labor and delivery. Although clinical started last week, I was on antepartum (high risk pregnancy) and then spent a little time in the intermediate nursery. No labor and delivery. It was kind of boring. But this week I got to be in the action. When I arrived on the floor, my clinical instructor told me they were about to have a twin vaginal birth, if I wanted to see it. I then hurried to the birth. When I got there, the doctor was telling mom that she could push if she wanted to. The first baby came out head first in about 2 pushes. A few minutes later, it looked as though her vagina had blown up a water balloon. It was the second baby's bag of waters, still intact. Inside the bag, you could see these little feet floating in the amniotic fluid. Doc broke the bag, then you saw the little feet in detail. About a push and a half later, the baby emerged. Everyone was fine. Who knew I would see a vaginal twin birth on my first day in L&D, let alone a double footling breech? My clinical instructor has never seen that. I took the birth as a sign that I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

I'm still debating on whether or not I want to get an externship this summer. I think I will get one -- just for the extra experience and the money doesn't hurt either. We'll see what ends up happening. Anyways -- I have a huge test in Patho/Pharmacology so I need to get to studying.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Updated: And so it begins

So I am officially back in the swing of things with school. I haven't had my first real clinical day yet but I'm looking forward to it this weekend. I chose to have clinical all day on Saturday (7a-7p) rather than during the week. For the first half of the semester I will be doing maternity; pediatrics during the second half of the semester. While I'm excited about working with pregnant moms, I'm not sure how I feel working with sick in-patient children at the children's hospital. We rotate sites on the L&D floor and I will be doing the high-risk antepartum floor as well as the special care nursery on Saturday. So no actual labor and delivery for me on Saturday.

In preparation for clinical, we went to the School of Medicine's brand-new simulation lab. They have a woman who's in labor that talks, breathes, bleeds, etc. It was pretty interesting. The instructor can control what happens with the simulation. But this lady actually gives birth. Her cervix dilates and she pushes out the baby. It's really interesting. Since it is a model, it's not totally realistic and in her case, her labia are pretty far apart so you can just peer past them to see her cervix. A classmate of mine kept looking past the labia to see the cervix, rather than just feeling for the cervix. It was hilarious. We kept telling her she couldn't do that in clinical because she wouldn't see anything. I also learned that in this new rotation we will need to quantify post-partum bleeding by direct observation of used pads. Never thought this would be part of my patient care. Just when I think nursing can't surprise me more...

The ear infection/mastoiditis drama has cleared up mostly. I can hear out of that ear now. It's still a little tender, but I would be too if I had gone through all of that crap. It was such an interesting life experience. I've never had anything like that happen to me ever. And I do not wish to repeat it. But by far the most annoying thing to come from the entire ordeal is now when I shower, I have to gob on a huge goop of vaseline on a cotton ball and shove it in my ear. (Apparently this keeps the ear from getting wet...) It's totally disgusting and I equate it to a wet willy. Gross. It has completely made shower time less enjoyable.

My other class this semester is a LGBT & Public Health class which is cross-listed with Women's Studies. I'm excited to be able to take it and it hasn't disappointed me so far. One of our first readings for class quoted my undergrad department head (she's also my mentor -- a huge source of inspiration and encouragement!) Plus I'm just happy to be back in my element, as well as meeting people outside of the nursing school. There's one particular girl in this class who I want to know more about. She reminds me of a younger version of my twin girls' mother.

Monday, January 14, 2008

An update from EUH

So, the infection in my ear turns out to be worse than originally thought. I had to come to the ER again on Saturday. They did a head CT and diagnosed mastoiditis along with a middle and external ear infection that had spread to local tissue. They admitted me for IV antibiotics that evening and I've been here since then. I'm not doing awesome, but at least they know what's going on. I'm supposed to get my ear cleaned out today at the Ear, Nose & Throat clinic. From there, they will decide what goes on. The crazy swelling still hasn't gone down much, I'm still not able to eat without great discomfort. They just changed my antibiotics so hopefully we will see some sort of improvement.

It's weird being on the other side of the patient-nurse relationship. I have an awesome nurse today. Keep me in your thoughts :)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Exactly 1 Week Left

So we have only one week remaining on our winter break, then the new semester begins. I'm excited to get started on my new classes, clinicals, and skills. And Women's Studies/Public Health graduate course.

Unfortunately, the cold I had congratulated myself on not catching turned into a nasty ear infection over the past two days. I must say kids deserve credit -- this thing hurts! I can't hear anything out of my ear. My whole face is swollen -- what a great exercise to locate my swollen lymph nodes -- pre/post-auricular, occipital, posterior cervical -- all swollen. My ear is so swollen that it's sticking out more than my other ear. The pain radiates from the ear to my jaw, all along my jawline. I haven't been able to sleep at all. This morning I dragged myself to the student health, begging them to please give me an appointment because I was in such pain. They (thankfully) fit me in to the schedule and I left with Rx for antibiotics and ear drops. I also cried big fat elephant tears when he looked into my ear. As a nursing student, I'm wondering...could I have MRSA in my ear? I know it's not rational but we're around MRSA all the time. And they say it colonizes in your nose. Who knows?

Anyways...I think I'm going to try and rest.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Nipple Help!

So I'm putting it out there. It has been really cold these past few days in Atlanta. We're talking low teens. I've been staying in mostly, but it's still chilly. And my nipples are chapped and sore. Nothing seems to help them. What do you suggest BF mommas? Any thoughts?

Friday, January 4, 2008

"That's why that no work"

(Quote from My Big Fat Greek Wedding --- one of my all time favorites that just so happens to be on TV)

Four days into 2008 and I haven't done much of anything. I'm enjoying my time away from school. We only have thirteen (almost twelve) days left until the spring semester starts. Does it sound like I'm counting down? I'm eager to get started especially with the maternity rotation. I might also take on a birth during March so I'm excited about that as well.

I had a great visit with my family right after Christmas. I was there for just long enough that I didn't get tired of my family and they didn't get tired of me. It was humorous though that my dad hugged me like I was leaving every night. Upon reminding him that I wasn't leaving until Monday, he said he was simply making up for lost hugs. Sweet...I know. They do love and miss me. I also had a chance to be considerably social with lots of people.

Everyone liked their Christmas gifts. My parents got Beloved and I a 32" LCD flat screen television. Just in time for NCAA Women's basketball. It looks great in our apartment and has led to me watching more television than normal. Ah well. I'm not in school, so I can indulge myself a little. We also got a gift card to IKEA with which we bought a new awesome TV stand and some other useful things.

I came home on New Year's Eve. Beloved and I laid low and spent the evening at home. We went to bed early, but she set the alarm so we could watch the ball drop. I was so exhausted. I think I'm coming down (or already have) the cold/plague my little brother so kindly passed along to me. I prematurely congratulated myself on not catching his cold -- he was sniffly, coughing, congested, and feverish for most of my trip. But now I do believe I have it. Gr.

In other news, some crazy business happened yesterday. I was sitting with the dogs, enjoying my morning coffee at noon, when the smoke alarm went off. I went around looking to see if anything in the apartment was on fire. Nothing was. So I meandered outside of the apartment and saw that the central alarm for the apartment building was going off. The central alarm control on the bottom floor had been beeping some sort of warning for the past couple of days (which we told management about) so I assumed they were working on that and somehow set off the alarm. I continue to investigate and see an apartment on the top floor (opposite of my apartment) that is pouring water from the balcony, down flooding water into the apartments below. We have sprinkler systems in our apartments, so upon seeing the sprinkler on -- I'm now convinced *something* must be on fire. I rush back into my apartment, put on shoes, gather the pups, my bag/phone/car keys, and run outside. No one else has come around, management or fire department, so I'm just sort of sitting around wondering what's going on. After about 15 minutes of going off, another resident comes out to tell me the management is "testing" the alarm system. But then, all of these residents start coming out, pissed off that their apartments were flooded with water from the sprinkler system. I didn't get anything done yesterday because I was too busy worrying that if I left my dogs alone in the apartment that the idiot management would set off the alarms again and kill my dogs. I spoke with management later on and they said the incident was caused by pipes freezing. I think they're lying. Pipes bursting wouldn't cause the smoke alarm to go off. Needless to say, I heard they had flooded/ruined about 20 apartments in my building. I subsequently signed us up for renter's insurance pronto. I can't believe how quickly they could ruin almost everything you own. Is it crazy if I put my laptop in a drawer so if the sprinklers come on, the drawer will somehow protect my precious MacBook?

Another exciting thing that happened was me and a classmate went to HRC's The L Word season 5 premiere party. They aired the new episode of the season and two actors (Rachel Shelley & Rose Rollins who play Helena and Tasha, respectively) from the show were also there. I got Rachel Shelley to sign my Season 4 DVD. My classmate shook hands with both actors. Rachel Shelley is completely gorgeous, especially the British accent. Unfortunately my pictures didn't turn out really nice. Oh well. I had a good time. But I still feel weird about being out in a social, lesbian and/or gay setting without knowing anyone. We also ran into a teacher. More specifically a teacher who will be my clinical preceptor next semester. How funny is that?