Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just Another Day in Paradise

I am now the proud owner of an Oldsmobile.  No more embarassing day care drop offs or strange looks in the grocery store parking lot.  I bailed on my medical calculations class this morning and am spending a pleasant afternoon in a local coffee shop, downing mochas and talking with an old friend while simultaneously pretending to study.  I thought I'd try studying here since studying at home tends to provoke intense obsession with the cleanliness of my environment and I start cleaning instead of focusing on schoolwork.  

I had a skills check-off on injections yesterday at school and it was a disaster.  Air bubbles that refused to be flicked out of the syringe.  A needle that fell off the syringe while I was industriously flicking an air bubble.  I still managed to pass, but I was so nervous I couldn't have spelled my own name if asked.  It reminded me of the first time I was in nursing school in 2005--I had just found out I was pregnant and I didn't know what the hell I was going to do.  I had a check-off on catheterization and sterile technique.  Bombed it.  The problem with failing these is you are only given three tries to pass before they kick you out.  And it's way more intimidating on the second try.  Same goes for nursing school.  Way more intimidating on the second try.  I spent much of my first quarter reliving my last try at nursing school five years ago.  The unplanned pregnancy.  The premature birth and death of my son that forced a medical withdrawal.  It all ties together in such a strange way that I'll be learning the same procedures and material in a different school, 5 years later and 500 miles away, and something will prompt a memory to jerk me back to that time.  Post traumatic stress disorder.  At the hospital, the beeps and dings that the various equipment makes sounds so much like NICU noises that I have to step away sometimes.  I know my chosen career path means I will have to push past these little tics and I never let the other students or teachers know when this is happening to me because I feel it would be unprofessional.  But they do get to me and in some ways I know they always will.  When my son died, I promised him, my "husband" and myself that I wouldn't let his death turn me into something ugly.  I became even more dedicated to becoming a nurse because of the amazing things I saw in the NICU--even though there were no miracles for my little boy.  I wanted to be a NICU nurse the moment I stepped into that NICU and saw the amazing work the nurses were doing there.  Life experiences are what forms each of us into the person that we are today and I try to let Matthew's death mold me in positive ways that would never have happened without his presence in my life.  But I wonder if I will spend every day of my life asking, "Why my baby?"  And nearly five years later, I'm thinking I will.

The cold weather has eased up a bit and the sun is shining in through the window of the coffee shop.  It's a beautiful day.  A woman with an adorable baby girl is sitting a few tables away.  I want another baby so badly....I miss diapers, and bucket car seats and baby clothes.  Time for a refill and some actual studying.  Pharmacology.  Yay.

Monday, January 17, 2011

After the Earthquake

I feel like I have post traumatic stress disorder.  Like all the hard things that have happened since are horrific aftershocks that bring me screaming back to that moment in the NICU when I started to shake.  The moment I started to realize that it was over.  The first moment I ever truly thought that there might not be a God, that we might all just be on our own down here.  I was 22 years old.  22!  And not a mature-for-my-age 22.  A very young 22.  Now I feel 40.  At least.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tribute to a Little Green Car

Sigh....I have a green Ford Escort that has seen better days.  I have owned the car for 8 years and it has trooped along.  Yesterday it was clacking, I got my "husband" on the job and he replaced the spark plugs and deemed it okay to drive.  This morning on my commute the car was not behaving like its usual self.  I crossed my fingers.  On the drive home, it starts seriously malfunctioning.  I make a heartfelt prayer to God not to leave me stranded on the side of the road 70 miles from home (it's fricking cold here right now).  God listens...and the car dies just as I pull into my own driveway.  Gotta laugh about stuff like that.  Last year was my first year of commuting to school and I prayed the car would last through the school year.  On the last day of school, I took my last final, drove the 70 miles home, and went to get my hair done.  On the way home from the salon the car breaks down.  I feel great loyalty to this car, even though over the last 8 years its appearance has deteriorated from the cute used car it was when I bought it at the tender age of 19 to something of an embarassment when I roll up to my daughter's day care in it.  The Escort got broken into a year or so ago and the tiny back door window on the passenger side was broken out.  Not wanting to invest money in a car that I suspected was about to give up on me, I had Prince Charming tape first cardboard, then a more high tech piece of plywood over the hole.  The paint is peeling and its starting to rust. 

Last November, the car successfully got me profiled as a delinquent citizen (instead of a neurotic, highly motivated nursing student, of course) by a highway patrol officer when I got pulled over for speeding at 6:30am.  The road I drive to class is one of those roads that is mostly two lane but every 10 miles or so it will open up to three lanes so that traffic going one way or the other has a chance to pass the annoying drivers who insist on going 45 in a 70 mph zone.  Being an experienced commuter, I take full advantage of these opportunities knowing that if I don't I will be stuck behind these a-holes for another agonizing 10 miles.  So I get pulled over and from the way the officer is scoping out my car on the way to my window I can tell I'm in trouble.  He is immediately irritated that I can't find my registration (even though he can easily run the car or as a last resort LOOK AT MY LICENSE PLATE).  He makes several comments about my hi-tech plywood window and proceeds to make me demonstrate adequate functioning of my brake lights, tail lights, and turn signal.  He seems surprised when I am able to produce a driver's license and proof of insurance.  He wanders back to his car and takes his time writing the tickets (condescendingly informing me that he will let me off with a warning on the registration--my hero).  He ambles back to the car with the ticket and is explaining the dire consequences of the ticket to me in really. dumbed down. format--when suddenly he stops and asks if I've been drinking.  I indicate the giant bottle of Mountain Dew in the cup holder.  He doesn't think I'm funny at all.  I am forced to get out of the car and perform an excruciatingly long sobriety test on the side of the road while he hammers me with rude questions:  "Why are you so nervous?"  Um, I don't make it a habit to get sobriety tested....I haven't even had a drink since June.  When he finally decides that I am not under the influence of anything stronger than caffeine, I am allowed to leave.  Since he seemed to be looking for something as soon as he scoped out my ride, I can only assume I was profiled for not driving a shiny new car.  Poor little Escort. 

This car has broken down multiple times over the years, but the fact that it has never once left me stranded when it malfunctions endears it to me all the more.  Since I've had the car from age 19 to age 27, this car has seen me through my wild younger days when I learned that 5 people can, in fact, fit in the backseat of a Ford Escort if they want to badly enough, my 500 mile trips home to see my "husband" when he and I first met and to the hospital twice when my babies were born.  Add to that a year and a half of commuting to school (during which time the car often had to listen to me break down and cry because that was the only spare time I had to do so) and four moves to various parts of the state, and yes, the Escort and I have been through some shit together.  Alas, I fear the car will have to be replaced, and unfortunately, college doesn't exactly rake in the benjamins.  Send good thoughts my way...I need a new ride stat!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I'm Craving...Benadryl

I haven't been sleeping well the last week or so.  I go to bed feeling wound up from the day and I can't seem to get any better quality sleep than a light doze.  I promised myself some drowsiness-inducing allergy medication kind of sleep tonight, but alas, Prince Charming has gone to visit his father for the night a few hours away and the Benadryl induced sleep I am craving makes it hard to be perky for my daughter when she wakes up at her normal 7 in the morning.  So it seems that quality sleep may elude me again tonight. 

The day was very productive, with long overdue house cleaning, grocery shopping, checkbook balancing and laundry finally getting caught up on.  I am letting the kiddo have a "slumber party" in the bed with me in her father's absence and she is all tucked in yelling along with every line of Shrek 2 (which, by the way, I have also memorized as I have been forced to endure it multiple times since it was unwrapped from an innocent looking package on Christmas morning).  The circus animals are quietly dozing in the living room right now, as opposed to their usual bickering and growling over a plethora of rope and squeaky toys.  Even the leaking roof has slowed to a quiet drop every 30 seconds or so, allowing me to forget that I will have to tolerate said roof until at least March when the snow clears and the weather warms enough to make tearing the roof off a trailer house more practical.  All is well in my household, and with my "husband" gone and child almost asleep, I am enjoying the novelty of a house that is staying as clean as it was when I dumped out the mop water this afternoon.  Time to hit the books...another rocking Saturday night.

What a Week!

Wednesday started off with some intense contemplation of my family's eating habits.  Classes were starting again for me, and wanting to ease my daughter's reorientation to day care, I offered to stop at McDonald's for breakfast.  As I was pulling up to the drive-thru, my three year old child announced, "I would like a #6 please."  Aside from the fact that she didn't know what she was ordering, I realize this is not a good thing.  As a nursing student, I have sat through multiple classes on proper nutrition and should be fearful enough of the bad things that can result from poor nutrition to keep my family away from these bad choices; while I attribute my own poor eating/caffeine addicted nutrition habits to my way-to-hectic-for-one-person-to-handle schedule, I am obviously not paying enough attention to what my child eats.  Too often dinner (or breakfast) becomes a free-for-all where I come screeching through the front door at 6 pm only to realize I have no idea what's for dinner.  I always go to the freezer first to look for some sort of bagged pasta that can be cooked quickly, followed by a trip to--you guessed it--my family's personal chef, Micky D.  For the record, my "husband" is helpful with the actual cooking/entertaining the three year old dinner process as long as I have had the time and forsight to figure out what's for dinner ahead of time.  He is absolutely no help with spur of the moment cooking.  Also, by 6:30 everyone in my house is starving so dinner must appear quickly or bad things will happen.  I am definitely the grumpiest person in the house when my tank is running low, prone to yelling and occasional unprovoked bouts of crying, which always alarms my "husband" as I am not a cryer.  Note to self:  plan meals ahead of time more consistently...starting tomorrow and/or the next time I actually make it to the grocery store.

Following the McDonald's debacle, registration progressed smoothly.  I found myself absurdly happy to be returning to school--something I am usually good at no matter what else is going badly in my life.  I have a 70 mile commute each way to get to my nursing school of choice, and coming back from vacations it is always a little annoying to make the drive for a few days because it really does feel like 140 miles.  After a few days, I don't really notice it except for the days when the roads are icy and I have to commit even more time to commuting.  It's not exactly an ideal arrangement, but I have gotten used to it.  As anyone who knows me is aware, I have been working my butt off for a nursing degree for a really. long. time.  Most days I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to finally fulfill my dream.  I also didn't have to spend as much on books as I thought I would.  The smell of new textbooks always makes me happy.  I have pharmacology and pathophysiology this winter, so I'm sure I will hate those books within a matter of days.
Some extenuating circumstances left me tired and hassled on Thursday morning.  Crawled up to class for the first day on Thursday.  Sat in the very back so that I could step out quickly for phone calls.  The day wasn't great because I was exhausted, still harboring the remnants of a bad cold from last week, and I didn't pass my quarterly medical calculations exam.  Lest you think me an idiot for failing--I am a straight A student, and I studied for the test.  I had an A in medical calculations when I left for Christmas break.  Med calc is an optional class, but at the beginning of each quarter I have to take an exam and score 90% or better in order to pass.  Below 90% and I have to sign up for the medical calculations class, and I only get 2 more tries to pass before I get KICKED OUT OF THE NURSING PROGRAM!  Needless to say this is causing me some severe anxiety.  The test wasn't difficult and I got an 80%, but the problem is the teacher is a bit of a nut job (maybe I should've chosen a different description for her, in consideration of the above topics of discussion) and she has these weird criteria for the way that answers must be rounded.  Only about 4 people out of 44 nursing students passed the exam.  I haven't even gotten to talk to her because she conveniently called in sick on Friday.  Another problem this creates is that I was really hoping to be able to skip the medical calculations class because it is scheduled on Wednesday mornings from 9 to 9:50, and I was going to have Wednesdays off this quarter.  Can you believe it?  Apparently a day off in the middle of the week to study, or pat my "husband" on the head, or cook dinner (not McDonald's), or spend time with my baby girl or SLEEP is way too much to hope for in this world.  No thanks, I'd rather waste four hours out of my day, pay for an extra day of day care, and run up my gasoline tab driving to school for a 50 minute, 1 credit class instead.  Rest assured, I am not giving up the dream just yet.  I need that day off.

After the news broke of my dismal examination failure on Thursday, I got in my car to head home.  The "husband" calls and announces he just got in a fender bender and our vehicle will be needing a new front bumper.  Oh yes, and the old man that he rolled into at a stoplight was yelling that his back hurt.
And that folks, was Thursday.

Friday was much smoother compared to all this with the only blip being that my lab partner and I stayed on campus for an extra two hours in the hopes of tracking down that nut job of a teacher regarding our exams only to find out she wouldn't be showing up.  I was so thankful to walk in my front door and pick up my daughter and kiss my guy and my dog.  I danced around the living room with the kiddo singing "It's Friday!"  Now everyone is settled in for the night (except me, I get to study--lucky girl, right?)  and I am so grateful that this life is mine.  I fed my family McDonald's for dinner again.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Am I Over it Yet?

How do you start a blog?  I've been reading them for a long time, but this is a first for me.  I'm Reese.  I'm 27 years old; I have a "husband" of five years and a 3.5 year old daughter.  I live in a trailer house in Montana, and by trailer I do not mean those cute little modular homes people put over basement foundations.  I mean a 16 x 80 foot wooden structure with a metal roof.  That leaks.  Two dogs, three cats.  I am currently a first year nursing student hoping to survive my first year.  I suppose all of this sounds pretty run of the mill so here's the twist:  4 years 8 months and 10 days ago my baby boy died.  Almost five years have passed.  That might sound like a long time to you, but to me it seems like it happened a few months ago sometimes even a few weeks ago.  As time goes by I find that people have forgotten, moved on.  I haven't--how could I ever?  My daughter is the sunshine of my life (you'll be hearing much more about that later), born a mere fifteen months after my son's death.  That means I was pregnant six months after he died.  This little girl came bounding into the world and she fixed a lot of things that were wrong in our lives...but people have acted as though she fixed everything from the moment she was born.  Like we didn't have a reason to be sad anymore.  I've learned the hard way that people don't like to be reminded of how brutal life can be.