Tuesday, July 31, 2007

For Whom the Bell Tolls

I like morning labs. I don't like the getting up at 6AM to get there for 7AM, but I like having most of the afternoon off. Today was such a gorgeous day. After lab I went to the cafe to grab lunch and took it outside to enjoy the nice weather while I ate. The Quinnipiac campus is right next to Sleeping Giant State Park, named for the series of big hills/small mountains that look like, well, you get the picture. Apparently the best view of the mountains is from the QU quad. So that was where I had my lunch and it was breathtaking, peaceful, and yummy. I am hoping to take a digi cam to campus so I can take pictures to post so alla y'all can see where I spend all my waking hours.

Like most college campuses, Quinnipiac has a clock tower atop the library. It's also a nice sight, but I still think I favor the Miller Library tower over it. However, the QU tower is more talented. In addition to chimes that sound off on the hour, this tower all plays a selection of chimed songs. I am not sure what the desired effect of these songs is supposed to be, cuz really, I just think they're funny. Up until today I had only heard it play selections from The Sound of Music. I guess it is appropriate next to the backdrop of the mountains, but the first time I heard it, I have to admit I stopped dead in my tracks and said, "Is that...Edelweiss?!” But today, the tower branched out its repertoire to include some Beatles favorites including "Here Comes the Sun." It was just wrong and weird. There are some songs that should not be converted into chime music. Just like it is wrong to hear certain songs in muzak. If I ever hear it playing "My Humps" I think I might have to write to the Dean of Students.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lab Practicals

Hey all,

So we finally got our internet fixed. Yahoo! So hopefully I can start posting on a more regular schedule. Since we last spoke, I managed to complete my MedSurg Lab, and did quite well on the two skills I had to perform on the lab practical yesterday (Saturday). How evil are they to make us do a lab exam on Saturday morning?! 8:30AM. Blah. (I know for the moms reading this, that 8:30 would be sleeping in:) I just still hate mornings:)

I got a 100% on my blood draw from a central venous catheter. And I remembered to assist Chester Chest (the headless torso nailed to a board) into a supine position with his "head" slightly elevated. I like doing things with central catheters. I find them fascinating that they can stay in your body for years. The Porta-Cath is the coolest. They (i.e. surgeons) place this valve inside your chest that stays in there for up to 10 years. And then if you need to access it, you put a short needle through the skin and subQ tissue that goes through the valve and you have direct access to the veins for blood draws or meds or whatever. Very cool.

I got a 98 on the Nasal Suctioning skill. I forgot to "test the fucntioning of the suction tube with saline water" before sticking up my "patient's" nose. I got all thrown off because I couldn't get my sterile glove on all the way. I never knew this before nursing school, but apparently I have very sweaty hands. And when I am nervous, they get even sweatier. To make matters worse, the room that I was in was approximately 857 million degrees. My poor lab instructor was miserable, cuz she was stuck in there all morning. I only had to suffer for a 1/2 hour. But anyway, if there is any amount of moisture on your hands, it is nearly impossible to put on a sterile glove without contaiminating it. You see, when putting on the glove, you need to pretty much do it with one hand while NOT TOUCHING THE OUTSIDE OF THE GLOVE. Next time you see a rubber glove, try to put it on with one hand without touching the outside. Pretty tricky. So when I had trouble putting my glove on, I got all thrown off and forgot to check the functioning. But as soon I inserted the nasal tube, I remembered the missed step, so I only lost 2 points instead of 5.

Also amusing was that I had a transgendered "patient" for this skill. As soon as we enter the room, we are given a 1 paragraph health history of our patient that we need to scour for clues to figure out what steps we need to take. So my paragraph said something like "Mrs. K has a history of chronic lung disease and has been admitted to the floor for pneumonia, yada yada yada. So I look over and find one of the male dummies in the hospital bed. So I said, "My, Mrs. K has a very short haircut!" And my instructor laughed and said, "Yes, and very manly features!".

Tomorrow I start my Maternity/Child Care lab. I am very much looking forward to this week. And the best part: NO EXAM! YAHOO! I am so excited to just be able to go to class and learn for the sake of learning. No impending exam constantly lurking in the back of your mind. No constant wondering "Is that obscure fact going to be on the exam. We just get to learn. I am absolutely delighted.

So, amazingly and wonderfully, I am DONE WITH EXAMS for the rest of the Summer. . I just have to complete all the skills for maternity lab this week, and then two weeks of clinicals. (mind you this does not mean that we will not be busy. Our clinicals are scheduled from 7AM to 7PM Monday through Saturday for two weeks in a row. Poopy.) But still...NO MORE EXAM until Fall. I am so happy!!!! I am hoping to actually get more than 4 hours a sleep a night! YIPPEE!! So So So Happy!!!!!!!!!

And my mom is doing great!! Thank you for all the postive thoughts you all sent. It meant a lot! And I just have to send a big thank you to my big sister who has been absoltutely amazing to my mom this last week. She was at the hospital throughout the surgery, picked her up from the hospital and has been helping her out all week. She is awesome and I love her and my mom lots.

And other good news: Leora's dog is doing much much better. Last Thursday, she suffered what we think was a stroke. She and Jane rushed her to the animal hospital where they couldn't do a whole lot except give her steroids to reduce any swelling. At first she couldn't really use the left side of her body. When she tried to walk, she would just walk/stumble around in circles. It was so sad and terrifying. But she has been improving steadily all week. This moring I was outside with the dogs and hadn't put Diggory on her lead and one of Julia's friends stopped by. When the car pulled in the drive way, Diggory RAN down the steps to greet her. She RAN. It was amazing! But then I had to scold her for running away, but wanted to praise her for running. So I was like" DIGGORY, NO!!! but good running! that was good! BUT BAD DOG! but you did so good!!!"

So that was more happiness. And now it is late and I must get to bed. Tales from my Maternity lad will come tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Many many tales

Sorry readers, again, for another long absence. So much has happened since my last post that has prevented me from updating. I will try to catch everyone up as quickly as possible!

Most unimportantly, our stupid internet has been down again, so I am writing this from one of the library computers. The studpid comcast guy should be coming on Friday, so after that, I should be able to return to a regular posting schedule.

The most important recent development was my mom's surgery. She went in on Friday AM to get some large nodules removed from her thyroid. They had done a previous biopsy which had returned "inconclusive." So they wanted to removed them and test them to see if they were benign. And thankfully, gratefully, and with much hoping and praying, they were indeed benign. I was so concerned about the outcome that it was too much for me to process. I couldn't even think about it. Just physcially, emotionally, mentally could not. And what was worse, I had to be stuck here, taking yet another exam and sitting through hours of lecture, and could not be with my mom. It was frustrating beyond belief. But she did amazing through the surgery and has now recovered beautifully. I went up Saturday and spent the night to keep an eye on her and help make her supper and stuff. She is now doing very well, getting her energy back. She even made zucchini bread this morning.

This was immediately followed by the MOST EVIL of FINAL EXAMs ever. This one stupid test was worth 45% of our grade, and literally could make or break our nursing careers. Taking it was horrible, and the teacher tortured us by not posting our grades until very late the next day. I did very well (89%) and apparently everyone else did as well, as we thankfully did not lose anyone from the program. We all let out a collective sigh of relief.

Then of course, came Harry Potter.
NO SPOILERS, but I do talk about what I thought of the book. If you don't even want to read about that...skip to next paragraph!
Naturally I have finished the book by now and would LOVE to talk with anyone who has also read it. I absolutely loved the book beyond belief. It was more than satisfying, and lived up to my expectations. And part of me is so sad that it is over. I cried more over this book than any other...tears of joy, tears of despair, anger, sadness. You name it. I cried. (At one point I was actually sobbing. physically sobbing. Jane looked at me in disbelief of my overwhelming reaction to the book. So yes, if you are a potter fan and would love to process the story, give me a call!

And now we are back in lab. This time it is Med-Surg Lab. Which means a lot of IVs. Setting up IVs, giving meds through IVs, setting up piggy-back IVs. We also learned how to do nasal suctioning. We also learned that it is "safe practice" to suction someone's mouth AFTER you have suctioned through their nose! EWWW! we all said, including the teacher. So, even though it is gross....it is safe for your patient. weird.

Today we played with Chester, the chest. Basically a torso stuck on a board with a variety of central catheters placed in him. We learned how to flush them (Wipe before you Flush!), how to give meds through them, and even draw blood. It was pretty cool. We also learned how to install an intermittent bladder catheter. That was kinda scary. To demonstrate, our teacher pulled, as one student described it, "a giant vagina" out of a trunk. Apparently that is not one of the models/dummies they leave on the shelves when not in use. They had also shut all the shades in the room so that the many prospective student tour groups wouldn't be horrified. Actually the parents of the students would probably be horrified. And then we all had another laugh becuase the little packet of lubricant that you apply on the tubing:

And I think I will leave you with that:)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The good, the bad, and the ugly

The good is, I passed my exam! I actually did surprisingly well considering how awful I felt about it. I am very happy with my 88, considering the class average for the test was a 79.

The bad is that we have another exam tomorrow on Maternal/Child Nursing Care (not Maternal Child Care Nursing:)
We covered a boatload of material in two days and I need to find a way to get it all to stick in my head.

The ugly is that we lost another student. While I didn't know the three other students who failed/left the program, I knew this student fairly well and she was very smart and very sweet. The worst part is that you needed to get a 73 grade in the course to pass. She got a 71. Two points short. I didn't get the chance to talk to her after we got our grades, but some other students did, and they said she was handling it well. She may try and complete the two year nursing program instead. Major kudos to her. If that had been me I would have immediately set fire to all my handouts, books, and quinnipiac apparel and gone running and screaming through the woods. If I saw a duck...well...I would smile and pat its head:) It definitely left the rest of us quiet and concerned. Moral is low and we are all terrified. And angry.

The silver lining. I like our new Maternal/Child teacher. She is very clear in lecture (although a little rambly) and I think her exam is going to be much more fair.

Okay...back to the books.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Best. Thing. Ever.

You all know that I am the biggest fan ever of www.cuteoverload.com.
If you have not visited this awesome website, stop reading my ramblings and check it out. No matter how your day is going, a quick trip to cuteoverload will bring a smile to your face.

Disparaged by my recent exam (grade still pending), I went to the site for some daily cheer. And there was an entry about the best new invention IN THE WORLD. Ever wonder what the heck your cat does all day when you are at work? Well now you can find out…
Some dude McGyvered a mini digicam for his cat's collar that randomly takes pictures throughout the day. You can actually SEE where your cat goes, what he does, and secretly follow him as he goes about his kitty-business. How incredibly awesome is that? You have to check it out:



So today's exam sucked. And I spend all day and night studying for it. I did not get to see Harry, but really, for all the good the studying did me, I should have. That would have been time better spent. Cuz really, none of the info that we covered in lecture was actually in the exam. I think the teacher got confused and gave us an exam for like, next semester. It was awful. And more awful is that we still haven't got our grades yet. So I will have to spend the entire evening obsessing over my grade. And before you all say how crazy that is, I guarentee you that every other student in the program is feeling the same way. So I guess we are all crazy:)

Sunday, July 15, 2007


So a week has gone by which means we have finished the lecture portion of an ENTIRE course. The final exam is tomorrow. We then immediately start on our next course, Maternal Child Care Nursing. At this point, we are all starting to show wear around the edges. By the end of class on Friday, I actually started to wonder if my brain would be able to absorb any more information. After a particularly confusing lecture on chemotherapy, I felt like I wanted to gnaw my own arm off. Sentiments were shared by everyone in the class. Our heads are simply getting very very full. Fridays in general are very tough. Our brains have reached maximum saturation, our concentration levels have plummeted, and our butts are sore from sitting in the uncomfortable desks all day. Even the professor was pretty cooked. It was definitely time for the weekend.

Now I need to muster up the concentration and motivation to study for yet another exam. I took yesterday completely off, to give my poor noggin a break. It helped a lot. And on the upside, if I get my studying done this afternoon, Jane & I will go see the new Harry Potter movie, which I am VERY excited about.

It just gets overwhelming knowing that after tomorrow's exam, the whole process will repeat, without a long break until the end of August. It like we are running sprints to pass each midterm while simultaneously running a marathon to the end of summer.

I am still enjoying the program and the experience, don't get me wrong. And I know it will all be worth it in the end, and I would rather have this crazy schedule and have it done in 1 year, than spreading it out over two years.
Okay, I feel better. I just needed to vent. Phew. Thanks for listening to all my whining! :) Back to the books!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Another day, another test

Sorry all! I haven't been posting as much...this week has been pretty busy. We have another test tomorrow so this will be short. Yesterday was very surreal. In addition to the usual lecture, our classtime included: a game of Medical Jeopardy, a skit about brain attacks, lots of little slips of paper, our professor dressed up as Dr. McFaatipahnts, and, no joke, a dance/kickline with bedpans to the song "Bedpan Blues". An actual song called Bedpan Blues. I guess you can really find anything on the internet. Both the skit and the dance involved reluctant "volunteers" from the class. I was not in the skit, but had the pleasure of joining the kickline routine. Naturally many of the students recorded it with their camera phones. And I told them I would hunt them down if I ever found it on You Tube.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Familiar Faces

It was nice to be back in the classroom, not necessarily for the 9 hours of lecture, but to see everyone's faces again. We had been split up for two weeks in our small clinical groups, and it was nice to be back together and hear about everyone's experiences. There were some horror stories (one student told me she cried 3 times on her first day) but mostly everyone had a positive experience.

However, three students have left us for good. Two failed out and another quit the program after 1 day of clinicals. It just reminds me of how scary an experience this is, how much is at stake, and how proud I should feel for making it this far. It's good to keep things in perspective.

Okay, back to the books. We started a new semester today and Wednesday is the midterm. But I learned a fancy new big word today: endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatiography which is a test physicians use to diagnose problems with the gall bladder, pancreas and bile ducts. And we talked about two of my favorite anatomy terms: the ampulla of Vater and the sphincter of Oddi. Maybe someday I will discover a new landmark in the body. The ampulla of Gerry. I hope I discover an ampulla or duct rather than a sphincter. Cuz really...sphincter. It's kinda funny.

Back to the classroom

Tomorrow is the first day of our second semester! Which means this past weekend was our winter break. A whole two days. And I thought the Colby winter break was short:)

Sunday, July 8, 2007


I was recently introduced to the wonderful world of Fuffernutter sandwiches. I never had one growing up, but don't really remember ever having the interest to do so. My best friend Diane would eat them all the time. I remember being slightly curious about the mysterious white gooey spread, but not enough to try it on my sandwich. Diane and I did share a liking of Frosted Flakes, and I remember one breakfast at her house before school where she made me laugh so hard that I spat my flakes all over the table.

I was always a PB&J girl. White bread, welch's grade jelly and creamy peanut butter. Later on I would branch out to raspberry jam and crunchy peanut butter. I will even eat it on wheat bread. Shocking, I know. When I went away to Ecuador for a month during my junior year at Colby, we ate a lot of rice and beans. I mean, a LOT of rice and beans. And trout. There was a lot of trout. And this weird starchy root vegetable that if you mashed it and added 865 lbs of butter, it almost kinda slightly reminded you of mashed potatoes. But a lot of time it was just served to us boiled. A big boiled root served over, yep, you guessed it, rice and beans. Naturally by the end of the trip, we were all having major cravings for our favorite foods from back home. Some people were craving pizza, others steak and potatoes. French fries were also popular. Not me. Nope, given a choice of ANY dish in the whole entire world, all I wanted was a peanut butter & jelly sandwich with a BIG glass of milk. Which my awesome mom greeted me with at Logan Airport when we arrived back home.

So although I will always love a good PB& J, I have to admit, Fluffernutters rock.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Falling into place

Today was a great day at clinicals. For the first time, all the many pieces of the puzzles were falling into place. Rather than each student providing part of the care for our own individual patient, 3 of us got to shadow our clinical instructor while she provided full care for three students. So while each of us still had our own patient, we got to see how an actual nurse would go about prioritizing patients needs, delegating, making decisions etc. It was a really good experience. Plus we got to view a lot more procedures that if we would have only been caring for our own patient. We got to participate in a blood transfusion, and I even learned how to flush a central IV line. Pretty cool stuff.

The best part, by far, was getting to see the big picture. And most importantly I saw how absolutely amazing and rewarding nursing is, and how much I am absolutely going to love it.

Tomorrow is the last day of our first clinical rotation. And we all got to choose a specialty outside of medsurg that we were interested in shadowing. So tomorrow I am going to shadow in the Emergency Department. Because my current hospital is smaller, it will be a great place to get introduced to how the ER operates. For me I think it will be a bit more manageable first step into emergency medicine than at big city ER where there will be multiple major traumas coming in every second (and explosions and helicopter chopping off surgeon's arms like on the show ER:)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th of July everyone!

I am very excited because fireworks are legal in CT. You can actually get them at Stop & Shop!!! And so we did! And I am very excited to let them off tonight once it gets dark.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Clinicals in a Nutshell

So a lot has gone on these last two weeks that I had not been able to keep everyone informed of.

I am almost through my first clinical rotation! I started last Wednesday and it has been an exciting, terrifying, educational and satisfying experience. We all arrived at the hospital on Wednesday morning looking like deer stuck in the headlights. All of a sudden, all the "practice assessments" were being done on real patients, and our results becoming part of their official medical record. Scary! Mr. Injectipad suddenly had a face (and arms and legs etc that we could provide privacy for.) It was all exhilarating, nerve-wracking and intense. But I had a great first patient who was very agreeable, and didn't laugh too hard when I couldn't figure out how to operate the hospital bed (or the bedside table). It was funny, all the things that I thought we going to be challenges for me, I soared right through, while the little details I didn't even think twice about in class were much more difficult. Most difficult has been getting up at 5:15AM every morning (you all know how much I LOVE mornings:) The days have been VERY long. We have done 12 hours shifts at the hospital, followed by at least 2 hours of "homework" while we complete our daily care plans for our patients. But so far I have received good feedback from my clinical instructor, the staff nurses, and the patients. We had a mini evaluation today with our instructor, and she told me that me biggest weakness is that I need to stop being so hard on myself. Apparently I do NOT need to know absolutely everything after only 4 days in the hospital.

We thankfully have a couple days off which I plan to spend sleeping as much as possible. (And trying to get a jump start on the reading for our next course.) They (the teachers) are absolutely insane. We are in class for 10 hours a day, and then are supposed to go home and read 500 pages of textbook material. A night. So I am going to try to use the time as productively as possible. But also try to have some fun time for me so I don't go insane. A happy medium: I am going to lug my gynormous Med-Surg textbook to the beach tomorrow:)

And more kudos to Jane who has put up with a very cranky Julie, my snooze alarm starting at 5:00AM, and nightly laundering of my scrubs.

PS Niknup just climbed in my lap and said to say hello to everyone.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Punch Duck Love

For last Sunday’s exam, they asked the students to arrive at least an hour before their scheduled “appointment” because they usually run way ahead of schedule. Although we were 15 minutes to perform each skill, usually the students don’t need the full allotted time and so things move quickly.

So when I arrived at 10A for my 11A time slot, I was greeting by a gaggle of white lab coat garbed students and told they were running WAY behind schedule. At that point, none of the10a students had gone. At first I was grateful for the extra time to review my notes one last time. Periodically I would steal a look around the room to see how the other students were using this time. I think it would be an interesting sociological study to be in a room with a bunch of accelerated nursing students waiting to take an exam. We are a strange strange bunch.

Some sat in the big comfy chairs silently rocking and muttering to themselves, occasionally letting out an expletive when they realized they had forgotten a step. Others quietly paced the room making large circular gestures with their arms. Others stood in the corner silently acting out the motions of a dressing change like a crazed nurse/mime.

Frustrated that we were trapped inside on a gorgeous Sunday morning, a few of us decided to take our mutterings outside. We looked out over the expansive green lawn surrounding the health science building and were treating by the site of a momma duck walking proudly across the lawn followed by a little baby duck, waddling back and forth, his short little legs struggling to keep up. Papa duck took up the rear looking surveying the scene for signs of danger. The little family got 1/2 way across before they got a look at us and decided to return to the safety of the bushes. (They apparently had no desire to receive a dressing change. Kinda like that scene from One Crazy Summer when the boy scout troupe finds John Cusack lying in the sand dunes and they cry out “SAVE HIM” and in the next scene he is covered mummy-like with gauze and bandages and slings.)

As time wore on, our anxiety slowly turned to agitation. “I could have slept another 45 minutes!” exclaimed one student. Sleep is rare and precious item. “The more I sit here, the more I am going to psyche myself out” exclaimed another. “I am so stressed right now, I want to punch something!” said a student sprawled across a table. “I am so stressed, I could punch a baby!” said another. So I said, “let’s go get that duck!” Then we all laughed at the ridiculousness of it all. I clarified that I was indeed only joking about wanting to punch the little baby duck, and they all laughed and said, “Oh really Julie, cuz we thought you were serious.”

You all know how I did on the exam, but I wanted to add one last item about the day. So after completing the skills, the instructor, Professor Love, told me that I was going to be a great nurse. She said, “You have a great manner about you. You are very business-like and efficient and competent in your skills, but you also manage to have a very calming and pleasing manner. I don’t know how you are feeling on the inside, but on the outside you are very soothing.” She then asked if I had thought about what specialty I was interested in. I told her that I still wasn’t sure, having absolutely no and wanted to approach each field with an open mind. Then I told her that I would welcome any feedback from the staff, if they thought that based on skills they thought I was better at than others, and/or based on my personality, if they thought there was a specialty I was more suited for. I told her I was possibly thinking about OR nursing, and she said “Oh no…you need to be with patients who are awake. You will be excellent with them.” She asked if I had ever though about nursing midwifery. She said if she ever had a baby, she would want someone like me to be her midwife. That made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Technical Difficulties

BIG apologies to everyone for the lack of posts this week. We were having internet problems and did not have access all week. I have a lot of catching up to do!!