Friday, September 28, 2007

Enemas, NG tubes and Tests

This was probably the hardest week so far. We had two tests this week. One was in my clinical applications class and the other one was in pharmacology. They weren't too bad, but it made it impossible to do any other homework or reading since I was studying for the tests. They don't like to waste class time for us to take our tests, so we have our tests at an additional time. That means we still have class for that week in addition to studying for our test.

For this weeks lab class we learned about the "ins" and "outs" of health care. The "ins" would be tube feeding and fluids. We learned how to insert NG tubes for the purpose of suctioning and feeding. An NG tube is a nasogastric tube. It goes in the nose and down to the stomach. It was funny to be on a different side of tube feeding. I've written hundreds of tube feeding orders, but I've never carried them out or actually administered them.

And the "outs" would be enemas and constipation. Not necessarily the most fun things to do but still an important part of the job. So if anybody is feeling a little constipated, I can help you out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Birthday Curse

It all started September 1999. It was my 20th birthday and I was a sophomore in college. I was driving home to see Chara for our birthday and I got pulled over. I was going 81 in a 70 on the interstate. I was awarded a speeding ticket on my birthday. The sad thing was the cop had to write my birth date down once and the date down twice, you would have thought he would have figured it out.

The second occurrence was September 2000. It was my 21st birthday and I was a junior in college. I was driving to a friends house (who wasn't even home) and I got pulled over. I was going too fast. I was awarded a warranted speeding ticket, on my birthday. Again the cop had to write my birth date down once and the date twice, you would have thought he would have figured it out too.

The next year I only drove 2 miles on my birthday and was quite careful. It was my senior year in college and Chara and I went to a Mexican restaurant for our birthday. She didn't have a car.

On my 23 birthday I drove over 75 miles on my birthday and nothing happened. I wouldn't say I was careful, just lucky.

Then in September of 2003, my 24th birthday I drove from Missouri to Franklin and was in a car accident. The guy in front of me slammed on his brakes on the interstate. I slammed on mine and then into him. Luckily we had the same 1988 Toyota Camry with the same rubber bumpers. The cars literally bounced off each other with no damage. The guy was a foreigner. He yelled at me and then drove away rather quickly. Luckily I did not get a ticket.

I thought the curse was over. After all, it has been 4 years with relatively no curse activity. Until last Wednesday. It wasn't my actual birthday, but when it is within 7 days it's close enough.

I developed a horrible habit in Missouri. The subdivision I lived in had yield signs instead of stop signs, so I got in the habit of rolling through intersections. Over the past few weeks I have told myself on numerous occasions to stop at the stop sign at the intersection of 25th and Children's Way, but I often rolled through.

On Wednesday morning I got to the the intersection and looked to my left and saw two cops sitting on motorcycles. The one on the right reached into his pouch and put a wad of tobacco in his mouth. This really irritated me. I thought about rolling down my window and telling him what I thought about it. I thought about pulling my car over to them and telling him what I thought about it. But I didn't, I rolled on. Yes, I rolled on through the stop sign. So I look in my rear view and Mr. Chewing Tobacco pulled me over. I thought, should I say something? He came over told me I rolled through the stop sign and wanted all my paperwork and license. So as I sat there I stared at Mr. Chewing Tobacco and was really irritated. So he came back finally and hands me a "citation". He starts to walk off, and that's when it happened.

"You know", I said, "I think it's really inappropriate for you to be chewing tobacco when you working".

"Mam", he said, "it's not tobacco. It's mint leaves."

"What are mint leaves." I said with somewhat of an attitude.

"Mam, it's what people chew when they are trying to quit." he said.

"Oh, well, that is partly why I rolled through the stop sign"

"because you thought I was chewing tobacco?"

"Yes, I really feel like it is unprofessional. But I think it's great you are trying to quit." I said

He was annoyed, embarrassed, irritated, "Have a nice day, Mam." and he waled off.

Did I deserve the ticket, most assuredly. Did I regret saying something to the cop. No. Weather it was mint leaves or not, I perceived he was chewing tobacco.

So I guess the curse is not over. I wouldn't say that I was a bad driver at all, just overly aggressive at times and occasionally non-compliant. All my tickets have been warranted. I just hate that it is always around my birthday. But, such is life.

Friday, September 21, 2007

This week's lab

This week in lab we learned to do a lot of "nursing" activities.

We learned to give bed bath's, which was very exciting. Luckily we just bathed the maniquins and not our lab partner (which is good since I am somebodies lab partner).

We also learned how to take blood pressure this week. I have been taught how to take blood pressure at least 5 times previous to being taught this past week. However we learned how to do it on a much deeper level. I've always thought that you just listen for 2 sounds, but you actually listen for five. I also learned that you don't have to pump it up as high as it goes before you let the air out and that there is a very simple way to take blood pressure so that the patient has relatively little discomfort. I'm sure that my mother will be glad for that.

We learned how to do a proper cardiac exam also and how to find the five main spots on the body to listen to cardiac sounds with our stethescope. That was interesting. I've always listened to my heart with various stethescopes that I have owned, but now when I listen to heart sounds it means so much more than it every did before.

Last but not least, we also learned how to change bed sheets with a person still in the bed. I already knew how to do this and have actually done it before at various times at work, but I learned how to do it more efficiently and more effectively.

I'm starting to feel very "nursey".

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

First Test

Today I had my first big test. It was 100 multiple choice questions. We were told that every test we take this year will be multiple choice in order to prepare us for the NCLEX (the registered nurse licensing exam). These multiple choice questions though are presented with multiple correct answers and you just have to pick the BEST answer. For an individual who is overly analytical this is truly torture. I have, in times past, known the right answer and analyzed my way right out of it. Let's hope that I did not do that today.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Citizen's Arrest

Some people may be surprised to know that my mother has a mean streak. Today as I was walking through the kitchen, minding my own business, my mother decided to turn on the sink and spray me with the hose. And for no apparent reason.

Monday, September 10, 2007


As I may have stated in an earlier post, I have a lot of reading. Tonight I read over 7 different chapters. Some of the books are interesting, some of the books are not interesting at all, but I don't mind too much. Usually I will listen to classical music when I read/study as it prevents my mind from wondering and helps me to maintain my focus (not that I don't have to redirect myself at times.)

I have thought a lot about the reading though. This is a two year program and obviously I am a first year student, there are 125 of us. I don't know how many second year students there are, but many of the first year students have asked the second year students if it is truly important to do all the reading. After all, it is somewhat excessive. And nearly all of the second year students have told all the first year students that the reading is not important, just look over your notes, go to class, pay attention and you'll be fine.

This doesn't do much for my motivation department. Why should I spend all evening reading after I have spent all day at school? The second year students say it doesn't matter anyway.

Why would an individual train for a marathon and then walk the whole race? I spent an entire year going to night classes after working all day, spent a month interviewing for my replacement and then an additional five weeks training her, went from full-time to very part-time and all so I could begin a journey. A journey that for all intense purposes has hardly started. It is much too early in this race to walk. Do I have other things I could be doing? of course. Do I have other things I'd rather be doing? yes! But I made big sacrafices to pursue a dream and I owe it to myself to do my best.

I suppose that after two weeks of hearing the first year students quote the second year students that the reading wasn't that important I just needed to rant and rave and justify that I wasn't wasting every free evening I had. Sorry for the soapbox.

Friday, September 7, 2007


I've always thought they were cute little creatures; scurrying around trying to gather nuts with their brown furry tails following behind, and their whiskers enhancing their playfullness. They are everywhere at Vanderbilt, there are literally thousands of them. Initially I was very excited by this. I would walk the four blocks from the parking garage to the nursing building and pass hundreds of scurrying squirrels every morning and afternoon. I temporarily imagined I was at Walden pond and feelings of great peace overwhelmed me.

But as the morning walks became more routine (translation: less Walden like) I noticed that the squirrels weren't so cute. In fact, squirrels are really just like rats only with cuter tails; they are very much like rodents. They scurry everywhere. You can here them rustling in the grass and scraping their teeth on nuts. They run past people to get to their favorite spots or to the lastest fallen nut. They seem wild and almost rabid.

I was following aproximately 20 feet behind a fellow nursing student one morning who kept reacting fearfully to the squirrels. I laughed inside myself thinking, "who should be afraid of a squirrel?" ha ha ha. Moments later as I continued on my walk a scurrying squirrel lunged at me. It lept off the ground into the air straight in my direction.

I screamed. Yes, I, Tara Sanders screamed in fear of a tiny "playful" squirrel. Luckily their was a tree between myself and the squirrel which intercepted it's lunge at me and the squirrel stood still on the side of the tree as though I wouldn't notice it.

The girl who I had just silently laughed at of course turned around with big eyes and witnessed the whole thing. She then slowly turned around and was silently laughing at me.

Now when I walk to class I watch the squirrels, fearing an oncoming lunge. I hear them rustling in the grass but I now know that they are really stalking me, waiting for the right moment. I wonder if there was any hunting at Walden...

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Lab #2 - some fundamentals

Today we had our second lab and we reviewed the fundamentals of nursing. We began by learning proper hand washing techniques. It was very exciting!! To be properly clean you must wash your hand for 30 seconds, so you can sing happy birthday or yankee doodle twice or twinkle twinkle little star once. Cleanliness is not about antibacterial soap, but about time and friction.

After practicing our hand washing skills, we worked on various tasks in the lab. Our instructor then wanted us to check out the cleanliness of our hands, so she gave us some special lotion to rub on, the lights were turned out and the black light was turned on. Wow - the germs were amazing. Even though we had just washed our hands, they were already covered in germs.
FYI: there are always more cells on your body that aren't you than those that are.

We then learned how to check body temperture. We actually used the mecury thermometer. We were told that no one uses them anymore, but we still needed to know how. We also "learned" how to use the digital thermometer. Luckily, we were only instructed on how to correctly check rectal temperatures.

Fundamentals are important, but learning to wash your hands and take tempertures seems somewhat silly. Knowing how to perform these simple tasks is the foundation for being a great nurse. I wouldn't call what we are learning right now exciting, but you have to learn to walk before you can run.