Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Birthdays and bedpans

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.


  1. LOLOL!! I think you birthday present was that they didn't have a realistically squirting plastic Mr. Smith for you to contend with. I think the gown was very appropriate! ;)

    Happy belated birthday!! You done good! :):)

  2. Well done I say. Just remember when someone tells you they really need to go, believe them!!

  3. You betcha! Good idea, protective clothing!