How To Be A Nurse, Vol. 1

As with any new job, things are overwhelming.

And I got called out on it.

Those that know me well, know that I don’t always handle stress well. I didn’t handle it so well during the simulation lab portion of my orientation to my new job. I don’t do well in sim lab; I just don’t learn that way. Despite the fact that the first day was good and exceeding all of my expectations and helped break down some of my sim lab barriers, the second day was horrible, no good, very bad. I had a bit of a breakdown.

At a staff meeting tonight, my senior manager pulled me aside and asked how things we’re going. I said that they were going well, just that I was at a point where I felt like once I gained my footing, I lost it again, and I was back to having no idea to what I was doing. She then looked at me pointedly and asked how sim lab was. I hung my head and I was honest with her. And once I relived my behavior, I realized how embarrassed and ashamed I was of my behavior and how it reflected on her, which just compounded the embarrassment and shame. I’ve made a mental note to apologize to her if she’s still in when I show up for my shift tomorrow night.

She then took the opportunity to be honest with me, she knew reading the report she received from the sim facilitators that I was overwhelmed. (A side note: I feel slightly betrayed. We were told that (not just me, but the whole group in the sim) nothing would go back to the managers.) I then cried. Clearly, I am still very overwhelmed.

The director (her boss) then asked me why I was crying. I started repeating the story to him, and he pulled out the chair next to him, patted on the seat inviting me to sit. We then sat and talked about how the first year of nursing just sucks. I’m only a month in, but yeah, I can concur.

On top of being overwhelmed, working night shift (which was my choice) is leaving me exhausted until I get a regular routine down, I feel like everything I learned in school was a lie, and I feel completely inadequate to do this job. While some of this may be irrational, it’s making it difficult for me to move on. I’m afraid that my insecurities, whether real or imagined, are going to cost me my job.

The director told me to just put on some sappy music and cry the whole way home; to just let it all out. When I did get home, I avoided going to bed because I knew once I turned off the light, I would begin crying again. I have now cried again, but I’ve also started forming an action plan. I need to be more proactive in my education now. I’m no longer learning what I need to to pass exams, I’m learning what I need to to save lives. If I don’t speak up for myself, rather than someone telling me what I need to learn, I won’t ever learn. One of the clinical managers told me this evening that she would be sure to pull me if there was anything that needed to be done skills wise regardless of whether or not it’s my patient.

I’ve also been told that more mannequins are coming (one of my biggest issues with sim lab). I’ve already started psyching myself up. It’s time to redeem myself. These mannequins are going to be the best treated mannequins ever. I am determined to change the mind of those who saw me interact with them previously. I’m going to show everyone that my senior manager and the director made a great decision when they chose to hire me. I can do this, it’s just a matter of maintaining that mentality. However, I am starting to realize that I do have a support system within my organization, even outside of my unit. Also, now’s probably not the best time to try weaning myself off the low dose SSRI…

If by any chance any other new grads are reading this, I encourage you to talk to your managers. Discover your resources. Find a seasoned nurse (or two, or three) to take you under their wings. And absolutely know that you are not treading the dark waters that is this first year of being a nurse alone.

I’m now realizing in the crazy stressful work that nurses do, I absolutely have to make time for myself. I need to have fun and relax in ways other than not putting on pants and never leaving my house. I bought a Groupon for Bikram yoga classes. I should use that. I’ve been dying to see Cinderella since they were in pre-production and I heard that Kenneth Branaugh was directing, so I should take myself to go see it. I guess, the point is, don’t wait for life to come to you, go out and live it. Even if you are working nocshift and turn into a zombie during the day. I read Becoming Nursey by Kati Kleber, and she touches on these very things. You need to have a work-life balance. I just didn’t realize that I would need one so soon into my career. It’s amazing to have that “aha!” moment when you realize that something you’ve read about is happening to you.

Tomorrow night is a new shift. It is a new chance for me to prove to myself that I made the right choice despite the director pointing out my control issues and that nursing doesn’t allow for a whole lot of control. (Yes, I like to have things they way I want them, but I think the compassionate side of me overrides that in most cases, which I why I decided to become a nurse).

I can do this, and while that sentiment hasn’t necessarily changed, I’m realizing that I don’t have to do it on my own.

Elizabeth, BSN. Now What?

Life since nursing school ended has been lazy and slow. I definitely don’t like it.

On the upside, I have acquired a pharmacy technician job that will be useful. It’s an on-call position, so I plan on keeping it even after I’m hired as a nurse. $40,000 in loans (on top of what I owe from my first degree) isn’t going to pay back itself.

NCLEX is my current obsession. I’m answering questions daily, but I’m working on convincing myself that I’m going to pass. As each day passes, and I continue to do mediocre on my practice exams, I’m convinced that I’m going to fail. However, as my classmates take the exam and pass it, my confidence swings upwards just a little bit. I’m very nervous about it. Very nervous.

(Jag-off is used in Criminal Minds dialogue at least twice. Someone is from Pittsburgh.)

Anyway. NCLEX. So far, only one classmate hasn’t passed, and I was incredibly surprised that she didn’t. It’s crept into my brain, and now I’m not sleeping. Of course, I’m also the high strung person who’s used all of her calming oils, thus making me all out. :( I would kill for some lavender and peace and calming right now. As it is, I’ve been bathing in stress away. I can do this. That’s what I have to keep telling myself. I can do it. I will pass.

To make up for the fact that he’s still paying for my bills, Dad’s been making me do things around the house, which I’m more than happy to do. However, having a job again is going to be a big plus. Hopefully working as a pharmacy tech again will reinforce some of the pharmacology parts of NCLEX. If I’m lucky, I’ll work with a super pharmacist who won’t mind if I talk their ear off about interactions, diet restrictions, and side/adverse effects. You’d be surprised how unhelpful my parents are at this occasionally.

Regardless, I’m very much looking forward to getting my first nursing job. Hopefully interviews will start popping up as soon as I’m licensed.

I’ve been thinking a lot about traveling. I’ve signed up for rewards programs through both Southwest and Delta. I’m thinking I’ll use Delta for bigger domestic and international travel, and Southwest for the smaller domestic stuff. I would really like to go to Disneyland for my birthday. Right now airfare on Southwest is $68 one way to Santa Ana and $68 back. The big expenses would be hotel and park stuff. I really want to go. Anyone is welcome to join. :)

The ultimate goal is Italy. I’m thinking, hopefully, mid-2016. I’m completely willing to go by myself, but I’m also hoping that maybe by that time there will be a nice boy in my life. Anyone have any recommendations. ;) I’m willing to travel alone (much to my father’s chagrin), but traveling would be that much sweeter with a companion.

So this high-strung girl is just waiting for the next opportunity to present itself. In the meantime, I’ll be over here, not sleeping because I’m too high-strung.

The Rainbow Bridge

As I sit her with a snoozing Rooney in my lap, I feel comfortable enough to talk about Enzo. Really, I felt comfortable last night, but I had Norco and five glasses of Merlot in my system. ;)

We got him into remission twice after two separate cancers. Once a sarcoma in his orbit then lymphoma. In November, I discovered that he had a third cancer where the previous sarcoma had been and that it was different histologically than either of the previous cancers. My poor dog had a third, separate form of cancer.

It was obvious where the tumor was when I was home in November, but he was still a happy boy. He still talked to us and would get up to greet us. Two days before Christmas, it became apparent how much pain he was in. It was obvious he wasn’t comfortable and he didn’t know where he could be the most comfortable. Mom and I began mentally preparing ourselves to put him down then. However, the vet prescribed tramadol, and Enzo’s quality of life increased again. Before returning to Tucson to begin my last terms as a nursing student, Mom told me that unless something catastrophic happened, she would schedule the appointment on the weekend so that I could be there to say good bye.

Practically catastrophic came not even two weeks later. The tumor had grown at an alarming rate. The entire right side of his face was swollen from the tumor and Mom called to tell me I should come home sooner rather than later. He wasn’t responding to her commands anymore, he wasn’t getting up to greet her at the door, and it was a struggle to make sure that he got outside to go to the bathroom. His quality of life had severely deteriorated. During the night on Friday, the tumor eroded through blood vessels and he was bleeding when we woke up. It looked a lot like what I expect compartment syndrome to look like, except this was a solid mass, not third spacing. We called the vet (who was technically not seeing patients yesterday, but did this for us anyway) and told her we were coming sooner rather than later.

Being present while putting one of my pets down is easily one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Doing it again certainly wasn’t easier, and seeing my dad cry definitely did not help. I’ve seen my dad cry two, maybe three, times in my life counting yesterday. The other time was at his dad’s funeral. As a daddy’s girl, there’s nothing more disconcerting than seeing the man you compare all other men too at his most vulnerable.

Rooney kept looking for Enzo yesterday after we came home without him, and part of me thinks that’s why she’s so snuggly now. She misses her friend.

I miss my buddy, too. He was my sweet boy. He was such a good dog. However, he’s whole, he’s happy, and he’s not in pain anymore.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together…. 

Author unknown…


Nursing School Blues

I try not to be “oh-woe-is-me” in a public forum, and this is a very public forum. However, I just really need some way to vent all of my current frustrations. My parents have their own issues, and I don’t necessarily want to bog down my friends with my negativity.

I decided to do nursing school in Tucson because I would be back in a city I loved, with people I love, and away from my brother. I left the support of my parents behind, a good job that was willing to let me be on call, and I left the behind the not worrying about things like rent, utilities, and food.

I love aspects of my life that I’ve created here in Tucson, but right now is one of those times that I really wish I’d applied to a campus in Phoenix.

I’ve been actively looking for a job since May, and nothing has taken hold. There are very few pharmacy tech jobs in Tucson, and the calls I have received have been “well, we don’t have anything available right now, but we’ll keep you in mind when something comes up.” I’ve even gone as far as applying for positions at Chili’s and Olive Garden. Anything to have some sort of income. In total, my bills come to roughly $1200 a month. Thus far, my parents have been helping me out, but they can no longer afford to do so. So, I applied for a loan through Sallie Mae. It’s been five months since I’ve applied. My university has been sitting on this loan since September. When I saw my financial advisor the beginning of October, I told him that I was really going to need the refunded money by the beginning of November. “That shouldn’t be a problem,” he said. Tomorrow is the last day of October, and my loan hasn’t even posted to the remainder of my tuition, which means that a check is no where in sight. When I emailed my advisor last week about what was going on, he told me that the financial aid office has up to four weeks to disperse the funds from when the loan was set up. My loan was set up on October 15. That means they can take until November 12 just to disperse the funds. I imagine after that it will take another two weeks for them to send me a check. For those of you keeping track at home, that means that I wouldn’t receive the $10,000 that they owe me until the last week of November.

I have no money to live. I don’t know what to do. I’ve been sick to my stomach all day trying to figure out what to do just to pay my bills. Mom did send money so that I would be able to pay my rent, but after that there’s still my gym membership (that I didn’t get to in time to skip the month), electric, cable, my cell phone, and credit cards.

I’m also going out of town next week for the NSNA Mid Year Conference in Louisville. This has been planned since at least September, and I was fool enough to think that I would have the refund check by now. The refund check was how I was going to pay for the hotel, it was how I was going to have meals for a weekend (SNA took care of the flight).

I also just feel so incredibly alone. I feel like I don’t have anyone I can just be with. I feel like I have a lot of “fake” friends right now. I wish I could say I’ve spent a majority of my time today studying, but I haven’t. School feels like such a cluster right now, that it also makes me want to shut down. An SNA meeting and Halloween Zumba have been three hours worth of distraction, but as soon as I’m away from people, the loneliness creeps back in.

I’m more than likely going to call and try not to yell at the financial aid office tomorrow, but I’m not sure if it would make the situation any different.

All I know is that I want to go home, and that my nose is incredibly stuffed up from crying and I’m running low on Kleenex.

Nursing School: Level Three: OB/Peds

Level three. Finally. The term I’ve been waiting for. OB and pediatrics.

Really, I’m more excited by peds than I am by OB, but OB involves NICU and nursery which is something else I’ve toyed around in the planning of my career.

I’m looking forward to my time in NICU, like ridiculously so. I was a NICU baby, and it’s always been my dream to give back in that way; to bring it full circle.

However, I’m more than slightly petrified of L&D. I’m excited, but petrified and incredibly anxious. The fact that I don’t have children of my own, I’ve never gone through childbirth and I’ve never witnessed it is what leading to this trepidation.

I talked to my mom, unfortunately, aside from my decels, and it looking like I had the umbilical cord wrapped in my hand, and the decision to do the emergency c-section was made after two days of trying to stabilize my heart rate. Mom said the c-section was unremarkable.

This was unhelpful in easing my trepidation.

Next week I’m in couplet care, so it’ll be a good area to get my feet wet and ease my way in to things, nothing too crazy will (hopefully) be happening.

Hopefully I’ll also get some IM vaccinations in with flu season coming up, and the initial Hep B vaccine that they give the newborns.

I think I’m just nervous also because this is so different from everything else that we’ve done. I’m looking forward to it a lot, and I can’t wait to see what the rotation has in store. :)

You Ain’t Never Coming Back From The City Of Bones

I was ridiculously excited to see The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones while on my break. I saw, and I was severely underwhelmed. I’ve definitely seen worse adaptations, but this one definitely dropped the ball more than once.

WARNING: There are spoilers ahead.

Let’s start with things I liked.



Jocelyn Fray kicking ass with a cast-iron skillet and a freaking refrigerator door. That was awesome.

The movie also focused more on her during the attack rather than leaving all the “what ifs” floating about. Having read the first four books, and already knowing what happened, I liked that. They showed her drinking the potion rather than giving up the mortal cup to Valentine. I liked that they gave Lena Headey something to do.



Jemima West. After first seeing pictures of Jemima as Isabelle Lightwood, I was unconvinced. She has very strong facial features, and I always pictured Isabelle with more delicate features. However, I wound up enjoying her immensely. Kevin Zegers is doing all kinds of press, why isn’t she? She should be. (It’s also possible that I will be Isabelle for Halloween if my schedule permits any shenanigans because 90% of that outfit is in my closet.)



Kevin Zegers. Seriously, this scene was like the most emotion out of anyone. Also, why is Alec the only Shadowhunter (past or present) without some sort of UK accent? No, Clary doesn’t count.



Magnus Bane. Basically, the world always needs more Magnus Bane without pants.

I also LOVED the score. It’s not my BFF Hans Zimmer, but it’ll do. :)

I also really enjoyed the choreography during the fight scene with JRM and JCB (why are both of their names so long? Too long, didn’t type…).

Now for the things I didn’t like (hold on to your butts).

I feel like they really dropped the ball with Hodge. Unless I missed something, they made him agoraphobic rather than cursed by the Clave. Really? Really?! That whole curse thing is kind of important, especially when Hodge shows up later on.

When Simon is taken to the Hotel Dumort in the books, he’s turned into a rat. For the sake of whatever, I can understand why filming would change that. He was obviously bit, but he doesn’t turn into a vampire until City of Ashes… so I don’t understand what they’re playing at with him no longer needing his glasses after being rescued. If the movie producers did change him into a vampire now, they just glossed over the whole thing, and it’s kind of an important plot point. He’s also not able to immediately walk around during the day either, so I have no idea where they’re going with this.



JRM’s hair. Who’s bright idea was the braids? Because no. Just, no. It looked even worse on film.

Clary and Jace. There was no chemistry here. AND THESE TWO WERE DATING IN REAL LIFE DURING FILMING. I mean, 99.9% of the time, I hate lead characters in these stories anyway, and I love the supporting characters (see above). However, this whole thing is supposed to revolve around their tragic romance, and they provided me with zilch for anything swoonworthy. I was severely disappointed. It was like they already knew they’re siblings.

They jumped ahead to Clary’s magic Mark making abilities, with no exposition, aside from Isabelle going “where the hell did you come up with that?”

The entire thing felt disjointed, like it was a bunch of stories not adequately tied together. It wasn’t seamless, it didn’t flow. It was jarring.

I think that’s it… I’ll have to either think about it some more or wait to see it again when it come to the cheap seats, which I totally wouldn’t say no to.

Living With An Addict

In the wake of Cory Monteith’s death a week ago, I’ve rolled my eyes at a majority of the melodrama that I’ve seen on the internet. Honestly, I’ve never quite understood the fans who feel such a deep, emotional connection to a celebrity that a majority of them have never even met. Cory isn’t the first I’ve seen either; Heath Ledger, Kim Manners, and Whitney Houston are just a few. It all just leaves me scratching my head.

However, that is not my point.

I’ve been living with an addict a majority of my adult life, and it’s this part of me that feels absolutely no sympathy for Cory at all. He made the choice, and it killed him.

However, the nurse in me realizes that addiction is a disease. Some people in the medical community will argue that point, but I truly believe it is. He couldn’t control his addiction anymore than someone with hypertension could control their blood pressure.

These two sides of me are warring with each other.

It wasn’t until I read an interview with Ryan Murphy by TV Line that I broke. I realized how much I wish that this person in my life would accept help, would realize that they need help. It’s been offered to them multiple times, and they refuse to take it. I’m afraid that they are going to end up dead, and that I’m going to hate them more because I’m going to be the one who’s left picking up the pieces.

Addiction is a disease that affects so many more people than the addict. Those are the people my heart goes out to. It’s a bit like suicide; my heart breaks for those who are left behind, but hardens towards those who made the choice. It’s a choice they made, no one else.

I’m not saying that being a recovering addict is a walk in the park, either, but it can be done. Eric Clapton is my shining example here. How this man did not kill himself is absolutely beyond me. Coincidentally, Clapton’s drugs of choice were also heroin and alcohol. He’s been sober for more than 25 years now. He relapsed, I believe, two or three times, if I’m remembering his autobiography correctly, before staying sober in 1987. He stayed sober after his three-year-old son fell off a high rise balcony to his death. He even established the Crossroads Centere, a 32 bed facility that provides affordable care and treatment for alcohol and other drug dependencies.

It’s a disease, it pulls you back in, but it can be beat. It’s just a matter of having the will to get there.