Sunday, April 15, 2012

Maybe a Nurse

I've never really seen anybody blog about this, so I'm honestly not sure if it's just me.  But the entire month of April consistently sucks for me.  I expect the grief to be there.  I expect to have a few extra episodes of crying.  I don't expect to be in a cheerful, happy place.  Yet I never seem to anticipate the full force of the sweeping depression and anxiety that swallows me up every time. 

Oh, but it's not just that, folks.  I wonder if the month is jinxed.  Shitty things always seem to happen to me in April.  It doesn't seem to be enough that I have to cope with my son's birthday, a day that was supposed to be a happy one forever in my family and has turned out so bitterly bitterly sad, as well as the anniversary of his death fifteen days later.  No, that's not enough to take.  Life just has to suck in April. 

On Tuesday, Matthew's 6th birthday, I drug myself to class.  It was an important one to attend.  I knew the day wouldn't be a great one, but I was determined not to lock myself in my room and cry all day.  I slept really badly and got maybe 2 hours total of sleep.  Matthew was born at 4am so I think I just naturally don't sleep well that night.  Nothing out of the norm.  So, school was just this really long and excruciatingly pointless lecture that didn't even occupy a tiny corner of my mind.  You'll recall that I like to refer to my school as The Nursing School From Hell?  They're the reason I don't blog more about my NICU experiences, the reason I don't post pictures of myself or my daughter here.  Because I live in fear of them kicking me out on some tiny technicality.  One of the things I look forward to most after graduation is being able to be more open and honest about what a terrible school I attended and know that they won't be able to retaliate.  Well, in true Nursing School From Hell spirits, two instructors quit that afternoon leaving the students and faculty in full on chaos. my nursing preceptorship is a freaking disaster.  It's disorganized.  I'm unsure of my start and finish dates.  My ICU nurse is going through a divorce and being very vague and scattered.  She still seems enthusiastic about the experience--when she actually gets around to responding to my or the clinical instructors emails and calls. Several of the techs who work with her have called me and said they are "concerned" about her ability to be a decent teacher right now.  Great.   I would've been able to deal with this last month when preceptorships were still weeks away, but now there is an obvious time crunch.  And I don't have a back-up ICU preceptor.  I've had this preceptor arranged since January, and I just stopped scanning nurses for potential preceptorship possibilities after that.  And I don't get to graduate unless I meet the shift quota.  Shit.

Then there's the NICU.  I love the NICU and my clinical instructor (who, coincidentally, is one of the two instructors that quit on Tuesday) and I cooked up this intricate preceptorship plan where I spend half of my shifts in NICU making myself happy and half in ICU making myself and my school happy.  My clinical instructor really pushed for me to be able to spend all of it in NICU, but the school maintains that ICU would be more beneficial in helping me pass the licensure exam this summer.  Which I was okay with.  Until Tuesday, when I found out that I will  have to deal with a new clinical instructor as well as twice the meetings and paperwork because I have two preceptors instead of one.  

Also, my NICU nurse who's running the show is only marginally into having a student at all.  So I'm sure she's going to be really excited by the extra meetings and paperwork.  

Oh, and Jerry and I don't want to live in the Eastern Montana craphole that he is presently working in.  It's too small.  There are no big hospitals to work in.  There are no extracurricular activities for the Kiddo.  We hate it.  I don't want to move there, but I also don't want to keep doing the long-distance thing after June.  We are trying to figure out a job switch so it doesn't have to go down like this.  Stressful.

I have spent the last few days in a total state of desperation and anxiety.  Not eating well.  Not sleeping well.  Spent two evenings in a row drinking wine on my porch and crying after I put the Kiddo to bed.  Not studying because I can't focus.  Oh, and I swept through Sears like a tornado and bought a new vacuum cleaner.  And a treadmill.  Jerry was pretty excited for me about both of my purchases, especially since I did it instead of putting money into savings this week as per the Financial Clean Up Plan. Who needs a down payment for a house?  Dave Ramsey, my ass.  I just need to survive this month, this day.

All of this has led me to conclude that it is not only grief, April is also a bad month.  Bad things happen in April.  In the future, I plan to shut down all productions in April.  I'm not going to leave the house on April 10th or 25th.  I'm just not.  It's been 6 years and these days are always terrible.  I accept it.  I just want to survive it this year and graduate.  Dear God, please let me graduate.  

And...the best part?  The month is only halfway over.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dear Matthew

Happy 6th Birthday Baby Boy.  Your Mommy and Daddy miss you more than words could ever begin to describe.  We will never forget you.  Your sister misses you.  I hope you had the best birthday party a  6 year old boy could dream of in heaven.  We love you so much.  Happy Birthday, Matthew.

Katie M Berggren via Etsy

Thursday, April 5, 2012

April Strikes Again

I guess I haven't really known what to write lately.  This time of year, it's so hard for me to formulate words to match the way I feel.  It's such an odd place.  In April, everything seems to mark the time that's passed since he's been gone.  My life starts to feel like that blind spot you hit when you drive into a tunnel and the light changes.  When you can't see anything at all in front of you.  When I drive into tunnels I am afraid of that spot.  What if someone is standing there?  I would never see them until it was too late.

As I near the finish line of nursing school, I have been thinking a lot about the circumstances of my life that brought me to this place.  Why do I want to be a nurse?  What kind of nurse do I want to be?  The truth is, people are so inherently fragile.  You never know when the tiniest action can have life-long reverberations.  You never know when something you do when you aren't thinking or think you are helping can scar a person for the rest of their days.

Several days ago, I tucked one of these shots into my purse.  As a reminder of the nurse I want to be, the person I want to be.

These pictures, folks, are the first images I have of my newborn son.  For several hours, I could not see him, so some well-meaning nurse brought me these.  Blurry, chaotic polaroid shots that were meant to be comforting.  The fragmented explanations and nursing care I received in these hours and the hours preceding his birth are similar to these pictures.  I stared and stared at these pictures trying to see the details of his face and begin to process what had happened to us.  Tell me, can you see his face?  Would photos like these bring you comfort?  I'm sure that if my nearly six year old son was running around the living room with his sister today these pictures would never cross my mind and would only bring a vague and fleeting frown to my face if they did.  Maybe I would have thrown them away.  It would have been nice to throw them away.  Instead, these pictures have become a visual representation of everything that happened to us during those fifteen days in April.  Chaotic and terrifying, blurry and confusing.  In my nightmares, I am forgetting his face.  It looks just like these pictures.  Yet I can't throw them away or purge them from my memory.  There are just so few photos to look back on.

I don't want to be the kind of nurse that brings blur and chaos to patients and families.  I want to be like the nurses I had in the NICU that would stop and act like human beings, make sure we understood what was going on.  Thankfully, these days my NICU experiences are much less blurry.  I no longer have to stand by helplessly while my son has an apnea episode that turns him grey in an instant.  Now I am the one helping to right the situation.  I am the one that gets to stand by the shaking mom in the corner and make sure she understands that it's all right for right now.  For me, it can never be all right, but I am so grateful that for someone else it can be.  And I can guarantee that I will always find a moment to hold still and take a damn picture.