Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The light at the end of the enema

Tomorrow afternoon I will be asked to administer either an enema or a tube feeding to one of the plastic mannikins in our skills lab, and that will be the last "hands on" test of the semester.  Two weeks from today I will take my final written exam, dust myself off, and leave the first semester of nursing school behind me.

Tonight after class I drove to an unfamiliar corner of Anchorage to look at a "snow bike" a man named Doug had posted for sale on craigslist.  I've been riding my bike indoors on a "trainer" since the first snow fell, but that doesn't quite cut it for me.  I'm like a dog riding in a car with the window rolled down.  I want that wind blowing in my face and bugs in my teeth.  Having found myself green with envy whenever I saw a hardy Anchorage resident pedaling through the snow and ice I started trying to figure out a way to get a bike with studded tires and join the group of lunatics who ride bicycles outdoors during Alaskan winters.

It was really dark out there tonight (and this afternoon and morning, for that matter) and few lights were lit while I searched for Doug's address.  I shuffled through snow and knocked on the garage door at the right address.  It opened and one of Doug's employees motioned in the direction of a small room off the garage. There it was.  It was sturdy and studded and powerful looking.  I rolled it outside and rode it up and down a snowpacked street.  The tires crunched through that snow, the wind was in my face and I felt the warm, syrupy flow of the only healthy addiction I've ever experienced return.

Can I afford it?  Define "afford" for me.  I'm paying for nursing school and not working, so do I have extra money lying around?  No.  That said, how can you put a price on rolling down a bike path in Alaska in the dead of winter, the hood of your coat covering your helmet, Thinsulate gloved hands gripping the handlebars, blowing by trees covered with ice and remembering that you lived in the sweltering heat of southern California for 35 years dreaming of a climate more to your liking?  How can you say no to exercise that fills you with excitement?  I can't.

So, I bought it.  I have my alarm set for sunrise (no sacrifice - that'll be about 10 am tomorrow) and I'll suit up and hop aboard my wicked snow bike and take a frosty ride to celebrate the light at the end of the enema.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Two weeks out

When I started nursing school, I counted "weeks in".  As in, "I'm three weeks in!".  Now I am "two weeks out".  This first semester is almost over.  BNS (before nursing school) I was told that I would learn a great deal about myself as I made my way through the four semesters required of any poor soul whose sights are set on an Associate's Degree in Nursing.

Here's what I've learned so far.
  1. Fairness counts to me.  Very much.   We just took our third exam yesterday and it contained numerous questions that were just plain unfair.  Either our instructors had told us that we wouldn't be tested on that information, or it was "taught" by an instructor who informed us that class would be short on that day because she wanted to get home in time to take her children trick or treating, or it just wasn't covered either in class or our book.  I got a 79.8 on that exam (which destroyed my chances of getting an A in the course) and most of my fellow students did worse than I did.  None of us are happy about that exam.  It wasn't fair.
  2. I have a massive ego.  Why was that A so important to me?  I try to justify that burning desire by explaining that the airline I use to get back and forth from home to classes gives me a 25% discount on airfare for a 4.0 GPA and only a 15% discount for a 3.8 (which is about what I'll have after this class), but as my sister pointed out, that represents approximately $6 per flight.  Who but an egomaniac whips themselves into a frenzy over $6?
  3. I was born to be a nurse.  I love staring at wounds and dead tissue and think bowel sounds are absolutely fascinating.  The smell of poop doesn't make me gag.  I can find the good in every patient with whom I interact - even the really cranky ones.  And, when I come in contact with a nurse (a real one, not a student) who doesn't put patient care first I find myself wanting to take her "out back" and show her "what for".
  4. I'm really, truly NOT a morning person.  Our clinical experience in the hospital starts bright and early (0630) every Thursday and when the alarm goes off at 5 am I've gotten maybe 4 hours of sleep.  I just can't nod off at 9 pm.  My clinical hours for next semester will be from 2:30 through 8:30 pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Ahhh.
A few more tidbits:
  • One can never have too many individually sealed alcohol wipes;
  • It is easier to learn to use a stethoscope if you don't have too much wax in your ears;
  • First semester nursing students should buy scrub pants with elastic waists (ice cream is an excellent coping mechanism) and
  • If your instructor is having a bad day, chances are that you will too.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.  What am I grateful for?  I'M TWO WEEKS OUT!