Yesterday was my birthday. It was also another dreaded "skills checkoff" day in nursing lab class.
I spoke with my sister Linda via Facebook in the morning. We share the birthday and are seven years apart. I told her that I wished I could be anywhere but where I was (waiting to take a skills checkoff test) and she reminded me that last year's birthday found me wishing I could be in nursing school in Anchorage for my birthday this year. She suffers from seasonal affective disorder, as I do, and we discussed using light boxes and vitamin D as we mutually mourned the passing of summer.
I donned my ugly green scrubs and drove to class feeling as though there was a dark cloud of failure hovering around me. After all, I failed on my first checkoff last week and had to repeat it.
They don't tell you which skill they're going to test you on; there are three to four skills possible and you pick one scenario/skill by choosing an index card that is lying face down on the table. I felt relatively confident regarding my ability to perform each skill because this week I had practiced (duh!), but hoped that I would draw applying a figure 8 bandage, because I practiced that the most and actually became somewhat proficient at it.
When my name was called I entered the lab and my professor said, "Oh no, it's you." She was kidding. I think. This is the professor who suggested that I might want to call my doctor and have him increase the dosage of my depression and anxiety medications last week.
I drew a card. I was to assist "Mr. Smith" (one of the heavy plastic dummies lying on a hospital bed in the lab) with his impending bowel movement. As if that wasn't enough, he had taken a laxative the night before and had to go "right away". Where was my birthday god? My figure 8 bandage birthday god?
I sweated and heaved and donned gloves and talked to the goddamn dummy. I hated Mr. Smith with a burning passion, but I didn't let him know. My instructor watched and made appropriate comments, although she had looked at me quizzically when I had begun to put on a protective gown before approaching Mr. Smith with the bedpan. "Why do you need a gown for this, Alyx?" "Because when I take a laxative at night there is bound to be an explosive result in the morning", I replied.
I passed the skill checkoff. I was sweaty and shaking when I was done, while Mr. Smith just lay there in his plastic state. He didn't thank me, and didn't join in when my classmates sang happy birthday to me a few minutes later.
Happy birthday, indeed.