I wasn't looking forward to it.
My hearing has just now returned to normal. It has been five days since I last heard the screamers at the grief camp. Furthermore, I have come down with a mild head cold. I'm sure that one of the screamers somehow deposited a clump of viruses on my hand, and that somehow those viruses made it to my mouth. I ate way too much last weekend - it isn't hard to figure out how my hand transported the little pathogens to a nice warm environment where they could set up camp. I think I ate a dozen cookies on Saturday alone. Hand to mouth, hand to mouth...
I had arranged to volunteer at a high school. My ego is still bruised by the lack of connection I made to the little girls last weekend. I was envious of a couple of my fellow volunteers - they had supernatural powers as "Kid Whisperers" and those little girls loved them. Me, I was like a third wheel. I thought I might be able to better relate to teenagers. Our text says that teenagers are rebellious, defiant, "finding out who they are", and can dress themselves. I read that by high school the screaming usually stopped. Sounded good to me.
The nurse with whom I was supposed to work today had called in sick, but warned the substitute nurse that a student would be there. The nurse who greeted me when I arrived was perfectly delightful. She apologized profusely, saying that the nurse who was sick was legendary, and she hoped that I could "make do" with her.
The day was wonderful. I had planned to bolt at 4 hours and ended up staying nearly six. Here is some of what I learned.
- Teenagers develop headaches, stomachaches, and dizziness when they don't want to attend a particular class. They visit the nurse's office and concoct fascinating stories about questionable ailments, lie down for exactly 45 minutes (the length of that class period) and suddenly feel much better when the bell rings for lunch.
- Teenagers will come into the nurse's office and complain of exhaustion. When the school nurse questions them as to potential causes for said exhaustion and they reply that they stayed up late last night playing video games, visiting a significant other, or joyriding, it is the nurse's responsibility to send them right back to class.
- Some teenagers are hypochondriacs - these are my very favorite because I am an Olympic contender in the sport of Extreme Hypochondria. I can actually help treat these teenagers because all I have to do is repeat to them what my sister or husband says to me when I am in the throes of an imagined terminal illness state: "You are going to be all right. Go eat a cookie."
- Teenagers do not suffer from stranger anxiety. If you are wearing a student nurse badge, they will reveal intimate details of their lives to you 10 seconds after you've met. Because you have never really grown up, you can understand exactly what they're talking about and relate to them.
- When you're a student nurse volunteering at a high school, NEVER ask the school nurse if there are ever emergencies to which she must respond. Within 30 minutes there will be an emergency, a really scary serious one, and the paramedics will be called. This does give you practice in emergency nursing, but your heart rate will not return to normal until long after the person having the medical emergency's does. The excitement is even greater if the teenager's parent gets there before the paramedics and seeing her child in distress causes HER to nearly have a medical emergency herself. After the child and mother have been whisked away in an ambulance, the school nurse will tell you that an emergency of that nature happens maybe once per year in a school. (Please note that this adolescent suffered an emergency that was after all not life-threatening, but it sure looked like it might be at first.)
- School nurses get to sit down some of the time they're at work, thus they don't develop the agonizing foot, calf and back cramps that nurses who race up and down the floor in hospitals during 12 hour shifts do. In addition, school nurses have time to go to the bathroom during a shift, which is a nice thing.