Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mission: Accomplished

In honor of the new Mission Impossible movie (I have seen 0/4 of these movies, BTW) I would like to present the scenario that has been my life for the last three days.  Without the overly exuberant couch bouncing--although I am tempted.  

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:  two final papers.  16 and 19 pages respectively in APA format.  to be accomplished in 48 hours.  On Thanksgiving weekend.  With a four year old.  Oh yeah, and a practical skills demonstration exam immediately following the papers.  

I believe 2 papers in <2 days is a new record.  One I hope to never surpass. Why, Why! do I procrastinate until the last possible second?  All I can say is I finished them.   Grade on Paper 1:  A.  Grade on Paper 2:  jury's still out.  Practical skills demonstration exam:  Passed.  Just don't ask me if my house is clean or my hair is combed.  Or when my last shower was.  At least my Kiddo is clean and dressed appropriately.  That's right folks.  Nursing school is hardcore.  Sometimes success can only be achieved by sacrificing the simple joys--like showers.  But a benadryl night.  I've got 8 hours of sleep coming my way, baby.  Don't say I'm not a fun girl.

One final left to go until Xmas Break!!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving and an Autopsy

Thanksgiving was a little understated at my house this year.  Since Jerry and I are far apart, I spent it with my mother and her husband at their house.  Consequently, I am not plagued by Thanksgiving leftovers and am now roasting a chicken so I can make homemade soup at around 11 o'clock tonight.  Guess I didn't start early enough this morning.

Actually, I spent my morning watching an autopsy.  My stepfather is a forensic pathologist and what he lacks in social skills he (almost) makes up for in clinical knowledge.  I can't say autopsies are my first choice on the list of medical procedures to watch, but it was something I felt I needed to see at least once in my life.  One of my fellow nursing students came along and we had a pleasant morning.  So...I have no tales of sale shopping for you today, but if you ever want to hear about fatal skull fractures....

Death always seems so final to me.  I know I've talked here about my fears of getting some awful chronic disease like cancer or multiple sclerosis, but sudden deaths also terrify me.  There is no rhyme or reason to it.  Here one moment, gone the next.  Today I'm just glad to still be here.  Raising my daughter and procrastinating on writing those papers and with the knowledge that the people I know and love are safe and healthy.  There just isn't anything more than that when it comes right down to it. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Why the "Natural Childbirth" Moms Irritate Me

There isn't much that's more irritating to me in Labor and Delivery than mommies who are competitive about the way their child comes into the world.  Seriously?  If you think gritting your teeth through a labor in which you are blessed to have everything go well makes you a better mommy in the long doesn't.  And if a doctor tells you that you need a C-section, you have no business arguing with him unless you also have a high level degree in the medical profession.  Even then you should probably shut it.  If you do not know what the word "hypoxia" means and how your stalling may be contributing to this condition in your unborn fetus you should probably shut it.  His advice does not mean you should argue, refuse for the next 6 hours while your baby displays intermittent distress, and then continue to argue as you are wheeled into the operating room.  We know, we know.  You have a birth plan.  You want to do this the right way.  C-sections increase the risk of complications.  So does fetal distress, my friend.  I mean, congratulations on being tough and all, but I think your priorities might need some adjusting.  The goal here is:  baby. out. alive. with no brain damage.  Unfortunately, it's your baby and you need to be the one to see that and do the right thing. 

I have seen many mothers pull this, but I'm starting to notice a common thread.  The "natural birth" moms seem to do this more.  And some of them are also the mommies to whom it all came easily:  conception, pregnancy, baby--in exactly that order with no trouble at all.  So some of these mommies have no actual clue what it is like to walk a mile in a mommy's shoes who really had to work for it.  And as a C-section mommy (it wasn't my choice people, just wanted my kid out alive) who has been judged a few times for the way my births have gone down, I find it incredibly annoying.  Take that C-section and own it, sister.  I consider breastfeeding the true predictor of the "hardcore mommy" anyway.  Childbirth is not a competitive sport.  Now cupcake baking for that child's preschool class in four years....different story.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bad Weather Frustration

I've always insisted to Jerry and anyone else who will listen that I was made for tropical climates.  As in not Montana.  I do not enjoy winter sports.  I do not enjoy winter at all.  Not even at Christmas.  I'd really rather decorate a palm tree. One of my current fantasies involves a weekend Vegas vacation where I lay around at Mandalay Beach and only consume beverages decorated with colorful little umbrellas.  This fantasy also includes me wearing a bikini might be a tad out of my reach. 

Jerry, on the other hand, lives the Montana experience to the fullest.  Hunting, fishing, hiking, you name it.  I can fake being a nature girl during the summer months, but I've always fallen far short of his adoration for this place.  Until this weekend.  Jerry and I were planning a hotel rendezvous at a halfway point between our current towns.   The Kiddo was really excited to see Daddy.  I was really excited to see Daddy, too.  I was also really excited about the pool and room service.  This morning the Kiddo had an appointment to get her holiday pictures done.  On the way there the roads were dry.  When we left the studio it was fricking blizzarding out.  I drove home doing 35 miles an hour on the highway and feeling like I was risking our lives.  That was at 11 o'clock.  It's still blizzarding with no signs of letting up until Sunday.  Wind chill will be bringing the temperature down to a cozy -15 degrees Fahrenheit.  Since we were only going up for one night and it involved about a 5 hour drive both ways, any hazardous road conditions sort of make it difficult to spend any real time together.  So I cancelled the reservation (not before my card was charged and this particular website takes "up to two weeks" to refund.  And I conveniently have a bill due before then.  Nice.)  Jerry is so disappointed; I think he might be coming around to my way of thinking on the weather.  I may get to move to the Bahamas yet.  I wonder what NICUs are like in the Bahamas. 

We had wanted to try not to go six weeks without seeing each other again, and this really sucks.  I know, all the most eloquent writers use the word "sucks" all the time, right? The Kiddo is not taking it well either.  She misses her Daddy so much.  Every other word is "Daddy."  She gets frustrated that she has to deal with me all the time and frequently requests Daddy.  Daddy is the fun one, Mommy is the one that makes her clean her room and get dressed and go to day care.  So now she has no fun at all.  I don't blame her a bit.  I'm sick of dealing with me too.

The flip side is that the extra time gives me a better shot at my goal of finishing all three of my papers by Wednesday.   Then I have an extra 12-hour clinical rotation on Wednesday night.  And Thanksgiving weekend will be spent preparing for my practical skills test and finals.  Unless I cancel the extra rotation and decide to drive up to see Jerry.  Who will likely then have to work the whole time since we had thought we'd see each other this weekend and he signed up for overtime over Thanksgiving weekend.  Crap.

Alright.  Trying to see daylight.  I am now determined to make another weekend work.  Even if it's the weekend before finals.  I definitely didn't underestimate how hard this was going to be, but I am going to suck it up and just get through.  WE are going to get through.  We've obviously made it through worse things than this, but it was easier to get through when we were together.  Soon I will have 3 weeks or so to spend over there with him.  I will get to cook dinner and read books and do crafts with my daughter.  I will get to be waiting for him when he gets home.  Nothing that's going on in my life is that bad.  No one is sick (crazy maybe, but not sick).  No one is starving.  Things are ok. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's Not You... It's Me

After my appointment with an ear-nose-throat specialist the other day I was forced to scrutinize my place in this world.  Basically....I am officially crazy.  Well, not crazy.  I'm told that crazy people don't usually know they are crazy.  The latest doctor stuck a scope down my nose (Yes.  Fun.), saw nothing at all, and asked me how my anxiety levels were faring.  Umm...I didn't know what to say.  I honestly to tell him my life story thus far.  Essentially, I admitted to experiencing some elevation in anxiety levels "every so often" and we then moved on to discuss more of the reflux/allergies theory, which is the only remaining explanation for the lump in my throat besides anxiety.  The plan right now is to continue my current meds for awhile (Disregarding the fact that I want to get pregnant, of course.  I guess I'll just put that on hold.  Right.) and see what happens.  

Which brings me to a spot in my life where I need to reevaluate how I am coping.  I felt pretty strongly that the fact that the lump would.not.budge. no matter what my stress level was on any given day was evidence that this was a physical problem.  Now I am being forced to consider that my emotions/grief/stress levels could actually be making me physically ill.  I've always been someone that my friends and family (mostly) look at as a picture of "coping well with loss." I am.  Maybe not coping so well.  Not just with the loss of my child, but with life in general.  I feel myself slipping a little in school, and with Jerry gone it has been a little rough.  My mother is my only other family member in town....and although she is a good grandmother, she isn't capable of being a strong support system.  So I'm alone a lot.  And being the Head Problem Solver takes its toll.  And nursing school is just killing me.

My stress management techniques are not healthy ones.  I feel angry more often than I'd like.  I feel anxious more often than I'd like.   I (rightfully) make my daughter my priority, but I need to make sure I am taking care of myself too.  I've always just thought that if she's ok it doesn't matter how I am. I mostly still think this is true, but I can't make her the priority if I am falling apart at the seems.  All this "stuff" seems to be getting to a point that it's affecting my health.  I have a personal goal of living until my kid(s) are grown.  Lately I think that maybe I should try medication.  The problem is I haven't really tried very hard to make the positive lifestyle changes I need to make before I would be comfortable turning to medication. 

This means I need to actually make these positive changes.  I need to take life as it comes and deal with it the best I can.  Starting with finals.  Failing that, I'm going to need some strong medication. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Post Removals

So...anyone who visited my blog since Saturday got to see my NICU post.  I removed it today for a variety of reasons.  I am always very careful about the information that I post about patients here.  It would be illegal for me to post specific identifying characteristics about any patient (as well it should be), but it is generally acceptable (to the best of my researched knowledge) to write about a patient as long as names, dates,  locations, or over-specific descriptions of their medical conditions are not used.  I posted about my recent experience because it is so much a part of who I am and why I have a blog in the first place.  I am confident that I left out all identifying details and have kept my patients' privacy intact throughout my school experience.  I also do not have a page (I am verrry, but more on that another time), and I do not use specific names of teachers, hospitals, fellow students, my school, or even the town I live in.  None of my fellow students know of this blog.  

However.  I recently read a story about some nursing students (who shall remain unidentified here) that got booted out for posting details about their clinical patients on  I don't know how personal the details were, but it doesn't matter.  I can't be having that.  Someday (hopefully sooner rather then later), I will be done with nursing school and will be free to leave many ranting posts on here detailing the many reasons why I call my school "The Nursing School From Hell."  Seriously.  My school has booted students out for some very minor infractions and once even no infraction at all other than a perceived "attitude problem."  I often write about things here that I would never express out loud in real life.  It is a place of therapy for me.  It is a relatively new blog, and not many people even read it.  So I never really thought about what I should or shouldn't say here other than to protect the privacy of my patients and my own personal privacy (you know, so that I don't have to be afraid of the cars that drive by my house at night).  You may also notice that other than the picture of my deceased child and the side of Jerry's face while holding him, there are no pictures on my blog.  I would love to post pictures of myself and my daughter but I don't know how I feel about that yet, and I would never want to be recognized by someone stumbling upon this blog (like my sister-in-law.  or my mother for that matter.) and making an association between my face and my school.  I also don't use my real name (Gasp!)(It is my stripper name, though)(Just kidding) or my daughter's name. Matthew is safe from anything another human being can do.  And Jerry is such a common name that it could never be used as an identifying characteristic.

I still believe that my post was safely within the boundaries of what is appropriate and will likely repost it after I graduate.  If anyone is reading this and you missed it then here's the gist:  I went.  It was good and bad.  I loved it.  I made it out okay and I will go again.  Like any blogger, I love the feedback and the comments that I get here, but for now I will have to satisfy myself by writing posts in word and putting them up at a later date when it comes to my NICU experiences.

Friday, November 4, 2011

What...a Jerk

So, no ulcer.  No anything actually from the EGD.  And no resolution of the heartburn or the lump in throat.  Next up:  appointment with an ear, nose and throat specialist on the 16th.  Fun fact:  an EGD is not the best way to view the throat, just the stomach and duodenum.  I was informed of this by the doctor as he was hooking up the fentanyl/versed syringe to my IV.  I really was hoping for an ulcer/h.pylori thing.  Easy to fix.  My mom works for the doctor who did the procedure and I have spent several of my clinical days watching him do this and other GI procedures so I have an easy relationship with him.  Still, I was annoyed when he and my mom had a jokey conversation about how when they were in medical/nursing school they were sure they had every disease they read about (I will admit to occasionally being absolutely convinced that my profound fatigue is the first sign of multiple sclerosis...or cancer...or rheumatoid arthritis).  Ha Ha.  But seriously, about my throat?  Hey, what's another two (three?) thousand dollar test in the grand scheme of things?  I will not deny that whatever I am experiencing could be completely brought on by stress/anxiety, but I am not imagining the symptoms and I'm going to need an actual diagnosis.  Besides anxiety.  Which I pretend not to have in front of doctors.  I definitely think that's the way to go.  

Tuesday was a pretty bad day.  Jerry had to head back to North Dakota so I had wanted to spend the morning with him, but I had a four hour lecture on EKGs that I just couldn't miss.  I needed to leave it an hour early to make my EGD on time anyway, but I headed up in the morning to catch what I could.  Well, I cried all 68 miles to school, showed up with some seriously reddened eyes and tried to listen to the teacher talk.  An hour and a half in, two of my friends ganged up on me and sent me home.  They did kindly turn their webcams on to record the lecture for me.  Jerry stayed late to drop me off for the procedure, but I had to say goodbye to him in the waiting room.  Then I had the EGD.  But I have to say that the rest of the day passed pretty pleasantly in a mild, drug-induced haze.
Umm...the NICU.  I think I am going next week.  Stay tuned.

My daughter has.a.cavity.  I feel so badly about it.  She has an appointment to get it filled on Tuesday and I am dreading it.  They asked me to sign a consent for something called a P.ediW.rap; the hygenist tried to describe it all cute:  "It's like a blanket that we wrap around the child and it kind of hugs their arms to their chest."  Right lady.  Not only have I let my daughter get a cavity, but now I'm supposed to watch you put a straight jacket on her and fill her cavity?  I decided not to sign it before the appointment because I don't want them to automatically put her in it; I think I'd rather "hug" her.  Maybe.  Then I started questioning the lady incessantly about what meds they planned to use.  Healthcare workers love me.  Oh, and the topper on the cake?  I was basically forced to fess up that sometimes I still let my four year old have a binky.  Sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night and asks me for it.  If I am exhausted and only have 5 hours to sleep before I have to start the day again, I sometimes cave.  I know, I know.  I did also note that this conversation appeared to be the dental equivalent of a doctor telling you that something may feel "a little uncomfortable."  "Uncomfortable" is always code for "It's going to hurt.  A lot.  Try not to scream."

Even more in the "Reese is Awesome" department:  My brother has a new girlfriend and I'm fairly sure I've caused her to hate me before we've even met.  Oh, and got my brother into trouble with her as well.  Early this spring, my brother had a rather nasty break-up with his girlfriend right before they were supposed to move to Washington together.  He left, she stayed.  I have always liked Bethenny and have continued to have an easy, uncomplicated friendship with her since the break-up.  Enter new girlfriend.  On the phone, he starts telling me how the new girlfriend doesn't like him talking to the old girlfriend so he is trying not to talk to her anymore.  My immediate reaction (which I verbalized for his listening pleasure) was something like this, "Oh please.  How long have you even been dating--like a month?  Don't you think that's a little controlling for her to decide who you should be talking to in the first month of dating?"  And oh, my friends, I wish I had stopped at that.  But the actual version of this was about 15 minutes long.  I kindly pointed out that he was with Bethenny for a long time, so what if she still calls him a little too much?  And who does this new girlfriend think she is anyway?  Oh, a pharmacy tech?  Well, it turns out she was in the room with him and he wasn't sure how to put a stop to the conversation.  Yeah, not the first time my smart mouth has gotten me into trouble.  I really have a way with both tact and words sometimes.  Still...isn't it controlling to verbalize a problem with an ex at such an early stage in the relationship?  When Jerry and I had been together about ten months, I noticed that he didn't much like when a very distant ex would call every few months to say hello.  I had also noticed a particularly annoying exgirlfriend of his that I didn't enjoy.  So I proposed a trade and we just sort of eased off staying in touch with exes.  I definitely think she is within her rights to ensure that he's not still all hung up on his ex (he's not) though, and I am feeling badly about my grumpy but well-intentioned speech.  Shouldn't my brother have tried to tip me off that we were not having a private conversation?  Good Lord, I really need to learn to shut it.  I'll put it on my to-do list.  Seriously.

Finals and research papers in the next few weeks.  I would really love to kick my studying into high gear, but I am exhausted.  And I may have mentioned I have a lump in my throat that is pretty distracting.  And Jerry is out of town.  So I am feeling pretty motivated. 

I am becoming increasingly aware that TTC time is almost upon us.  And I am horribly out of shape.  Plus I don't eat all that great.  I am making it my personal mission to start going to the gym faithfully and preparing my body for potential pregnancy.  Today, in the name of motivation, I purchased several J.illian.Mich.aels DVDs.  I took the wrappers off.  Then I took a nap with the Kiddo because she is really cuddly at naptime. I really want the baby but...I abhor physical activity.  My ideal workout involves the couch and the television. We'll see what happens tomorrow.