Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It was so foggy this morning as I drove to school. It was really pretty and peaceful, which was somewhat calming as I drove the 20+ miles of parking lot (i.e. Interstate 65) into Nashville. I found myself feeling somewhat reflective. I thought about the past 10 years. Ten years ago today, October 30, 1997 I was a senior in high school. I also attended a friends funeral. He was 15 and died after a year long battle with cancer. It's amazing to realize how much time and life has passed since that day and yet how the lessons learned from that time still reside so closely to me. I learned so much about family and friends and the importance of communication with those around you and with you. I learned about the importance of hope, the power of prayer, the feeling of loss. I learned over time that life goes on and yet as the days grow more and more since that person was on the earth, you always carry a part of them, a part of your time and experience with them. I can't say that he and I were very close. We had really just become friends when he was diagnosed. The truth is I learned more about him after he died than I had when he lived.

That was my first real experience with loss, with the finality of death. Since that time I have become more aware of it. Recent years have taken the lives of those I was close to, of those who I now carry in my heart. That has allowed me to develop a deeper understanding for true loss. At times I wonder if I have become indifferent to death. I remember a period of three work weeks in which 19 patienst died, some of which I was quite close to. Death can change you.

But those changes aren't always bad. Especially when you are a person of faith and the finality of death is not so ugly or infinite or empty. Knowing that there is hope is a blessing. But it does change you.

I suppose that when your work is centered on life it must encompass death as death is a part of life.

I have always had a desire to be involved in health care. To study the truly amazing human body that God has granted each of us. To help bear and share in the burden of injury and illness. It's a funny calling I suppose.

The fog was quite beautiful this morning.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The past few weeks have been very eventful and restful all at the same time. I have had very full days and very restful ones. I had fall break last week and in the process I have somewhat slacked off of school. That, however, does not mean that school has slacked off of me. I have had papers due, projects, five tests, and the ever present reading. Overall I've done okay.

Last week we had our final lab test in which I had to perform various skills in order to validate my professional safety in the hospital. I had to place a foley catheter in the mannequin as well as a nasogastric tube. I hate practical tests, they make me nervous and I don't do well. I think I would actually do better if the person was real and I wasn't getting graded. The good thing is that I passed and so I am allowed to begin clinicals this week.

Begining clinicals means that my schedule will change. Since school started I have had every Friday off and went half a day on Wednesday while going all day Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Now I will go all day Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday with Wednesday off to do work that is due on Thursday.

My clinicals will be at Vanderbilt University MC on 9 South. It is a gastrointerological post operative unit. So we will have a lot of pt just out of stomach surgeries. I'm excited about this. Ready to get my feet wet. I'm sure that it will be an evenful 5 weeks with a lot of new experiences.

I suppose this week I am having some trouble feeling motivated. Not sure why that is. I'm sure it will turn around soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

on the other side of life

There are some opportunities in life that cannot be refused. Chances that cannot be dismissed. Experiences that cannot be repeated. Today was one such day.

I'm not sure what I was expecting or what I had pictured in my mind. Even now I have trouble acknowledging the reality of the events that occurred earlier. I feel joyously numb, emotionally drained, and at a total loss for words.

It was beautiful. It was amazing. It was all very simple and natural. Yet it's an everyday occurrence, a routine, a regular practice.

I've been waiting for the call. She told me way back that she wanted me there. I can't describe the honor that gave me. Yet I wondered what in the world was I going to do? I know a lot about a lot of things, but one thing I really don't know very much about is birth. So I've been anxiously waiting. I've feared for weeks that he would come on a day that I had big tests or mandatory class lectures or during the wedding I was in recently. But none of that happened. Today was a beautiful day. We spent the afternoon celebrating Haydn's 4th birthday and playing outside. It was a great time of communion and fellowship. All the while her body was pulsating with joyous eruptions announcing the arrival of her son. I waited with anxious anticipation as I made balloon animals for Haydn and her little friends. They left the party and I soon followed them home.

When I arrived she was quietly acknowledging her contractions. Calls were made to the midwife and she found solace in a warm bath. She resided there for an hour or more meeting each contraction with courage and fear, knowing their intensity would grow and bring forth her son. I helped when needed, but mostly I stayed out of the way and occupied myself by watching portions of a movie. He stayed right by her, encouraging her, monitoring her progress, taking notes of times and changes. A final call to the midwife and we left for the hospital.

I drove, He sat in the back holding her body and supporting her all the way there, cheering her on. She held on to him tightly, cringing, feeling the pain. We finally got to the hospital. I believe I hit every pot hole and dip in the road (she later told me she didn't even notice). They went in the ER, a mistake, and I parked the car. I got up to delivery with the rest of the stuff he couldn't carry and waited and waited and waited. The anxiety within me was mounting. Where were they? After an irritating ordeal in the ER they finally made it up and off we all went.

We got to the room and the team came in. It all happened so fast. I can see it in my mind - the events, but there are too many words to tell and yet not enough to truly express. We flanked her, he and I. We each held a hand and a leg and gave words and looks and held our breath. The team was nice and respectful and couldn't have been any better. I had the best view in the room. I stroked her hair and held her hand and watched. When it happened I found myself with tears running down my face. I don't even remember feeling them come. But there he was. Her hand was gone from mine and wrapped around his little wet squirmy body. He did not cry out but bayed soft blissful whimpers that were truly mesmerizing.

Other things happened and the midwife, knowing I was a nursing student, explained everything to me in detail simply for the joy of it. And it was. The time came for him to cut the cord and he didn't really want to. So they offered. And of course I accepted. So I cut the cord. That was my small part.

It's funny being a twin. I suppose that since I had shared in one birth with her that I might as well share in another.

So, may I announce the birth of Josh and Chara Watson's first born son, Jonah Andrew Watson. Born at Vanderbilt University Medical Center on October 20th at 4:19 pm weighing 6# and 15 oz and 20" long. Mother did great. Baby is healthy. All are truly truly blessed.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Head to Toe

Today I had my physical assessment test. I had 30 minutes to review 9 body systems on my lab partner: mental, HEENT, respiratory, cardiac, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, musculoskeletal, neurological, and integumentary. It was pass/fail. I was very nervous. I had planned on reviewing for about thirty minutes before we started, but ran into some nursing students who wanted to chat. Needless to say I didn't look over anything. I am a pretty confident person in regard to most things. I don't usually get too nervous. But, of course, right before it started I got nervous. I was so nervous I was shaking, which is unfortunate when you are trying to monitor someones pulse rate (luckily, I wasn't giving a shot). I then got going on my assessment and got really out of order. But I finally settled down and recovered quite well. I only ended up forgetting about 2 things. Needless to say I passed.

Then I had to do the written aspect of the physical assessment. Unfortunately it was not pass/fail but graded. I had two hours to write up an exhaustive note on my findings from the physical assessment. I didn't think I would need two hours, but it ended up that I did. It came to 5 pages. In reality, I'll probably never write up a 5 page physical assessment as a nurse. But I'm glad to know how to do it and how to do it right.

One component of our physical assessment skills test was professionalism. So, we had to wear our Vandy scrubs today, complete with a Vandy patch on the left shoulder. It was fun, made me feel like the real thing.

Oh yeah, I cut my hair this week.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

things we value

My Foundations of Nursing class is very unpredictable. We are never sure who will be speaking about what. We talk about a plethra of things in there ranging from the nursing shortage to communication to philospophy to E.R. and Grey's Anatomy. It is sometimes a fun class and other times, well not as fun. Last week, one of my favorite Vanderbilt professor's, Dr. Krau spoke about Evidenced Based Practice. His discussion was very interesting and I appreciated what he had to say a great deal. During the course of his lecture we talked about perception and values.

He posed a question: of the following, which three would you give up forever?

career, family, love, money, self-esteem, peace, friends, spirituality, happiness, freedom, health

It was an interesting question. A hard question. I chose my three. This of course led to a discussion. He posed many questions about our values. He asked how many people chose family? One guy in the back of the room raised his hand. The class laughed at him and he defensively said, hey, you don't know my family. He asked how many people chose money? Probably 30% of the room raised their hand. The he said, okay now how many people really meant it? and probably 1/2 the hands went down. We all laughed. Then he asked how many people chose spirituality? About 25% of the class raised their hands. This really disturbed me. How can 25% of the class not value spirituality and yet want to take care of the sick?

I have thought about this a great deal. I had a long and very interesting discussion with Dr. Krau after class. I greatly appreciated his thoughts and comments. He brought a great deal of insight to the subject. Still makes you think.

So what would you choose to let go of for the rest of your life?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What A Week

Wow, this has been one intense week. Papers and group projects due. The reading. Being awake enough to be attentive in lectures. A very intense test on Wednesday that lasted almost 2 hours long. I have no idea how I did. Half way through my eyes were truly crossed and I had trouble concentrating. It was one of the hardest tests I have ever taken, and I still have 5 more semesters to go.

And if that wasn't enough, I had to give myself a shot today. In truth it was the tiniest possible needle and it really didn't hurt. Needles don't bother me too much, but it is somewhat difficult to stab yourself, no matter how small the weapon. I would have to say that I did a pretty good job overall, though there was some minor bleeding. I didn't really even think about it till later on when I was running and noticed my abdominal muscles were somewhat sore on my right side.

So even though Thursday starts my weekends I have done nothing all evening but work on a paper that is due on Monday that I don't feel good about at all (sometimes you just can't get it out) and I turned in two homework assignments via e-mail that are due tomorrow and Monday.

Crazy how it never stops. I find myself looking forward to Christmas break. Not so much because it is Christmas, but because I won't have anything due or looming above me that needs to be done. I am only 7 weeks in and already I can't quite remember what it was like to be completely free of external obligations. They said during orientation that week 6-8 would be when we really feel overwhelmed and would begin to question ourselves. Not me, I thought. Yes me, I say.

I have to work tomorrow at my former full time and now extremely part time job. I'm glad for this. On one hand I would love, beyond true description, to sleep in tomorrow and relax. But on the other hand, working helps me refocus, redirect, and remember why I'm doing all this. Seeing coworkers who are still in the trenches everyday, seeing patients who are fighting for their quality of life everyday, and seeing the sights, smelling the smells, all this grounds me - wakes me up. This is a positive thing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Laptop Girl

It is absolutely amazing to me that someone would pay an extreme amount of money to sit in a classroom all day long and read about celebrities on her laptop.

The girl in front of me is driving me crazy. We pondered throwing water on her but haven't. Nearly everyone has moved away from her so they don't have to know what Perez Hilton or Pop Sugar says for the day. It truly is a sad situation. It is also incredibly annoying. I guess that's what happens when your dad is a rich doctor.

But hey, if anyone wants to know anything about Brittney Spears I'm your girl.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

this weeks lab....

Last week in lab we learned how to give an enema, so it was only fitting that we learned about catheter's this week. Fortunately we did this skill on our mannequin's. Urine is sterile and the whole procedure must be completed in a sterile fashion so as to prevent UTI's (urinary tract infections), so we had to preform this skill very carefully so as not to cross contaminate. It really wasn't as hard as I was expecting it to be, but then again the mannequin never reacted to me in any way - I suppose that is one of their downfalls.

We also learned all about restraints this week. When it is appropriate to use them, the different kinds there are, and how to apply them. This is something that I was already familiar with from working. We have often had to use the mittens for patients who wouldn't stop picking at things or eating certain things - but I won't go into that.

I also got to use my hammer this week to check for DTR's (deep tendon reflexes). There are five that you check for. My lab partner this week has had a lot of knee surgeries and her lower extremities are practically non-responsive. I did her first and got nothing. Then she did me and I was highly responsive. The whole thing was quite humorous.

Amazingly, today was our last official lab day. We will be tested on a complete head to toe assessment in two weeks. Little nervous about that, but I'm sure it will be fine.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

It started in high school. They called me T, not for Tara, for Texaco. They called me that because they said I was a gas station.

In college I lived in a community dorm and they said that I would clear the bathroom when I went in. At least that's what my roommate said. Surely it wasn't that bad, was it?

So last night I got in from school and was making myself some dinner. I, for whatever reason, had a big craving for beans. My dietitian self said hey it'll be fine. If you eat them now you'll digest them in ~12 hours and that'll be around 6 am in the morning and you won't bother anyone. So I ate beans. I ate a whole can of beans.

So when I when I got up this morning I thought hey I haven't really gotten to those beans yet? When I was driving to school at 7:30 I got to those beans.

When I was working having gas wasn't a big deal. You just keep moving from one senile patient to the next one and no one is the wiser. Or you go find a patient with Clostridium Difficile and stand outside their room and no one even notices.

Unfortunately in school I sit in the same chair in the same room for 6 hours. There are no senile patients to blame, no Clostiridum Difficile to hide behind, no air currents to walk through. This was not something I had thought about when making my carreer move.

I pondered my delimma as I made my way to my chair. I decided on going with the truth. So I turned to the girl in the seat next to me and said hey, uh, sorry but I ate a lot of beans last night. No problem she laughed. A feeling of relief washed over me.

Later she said she didn't feel good and missed the 2nd 2 hour session.

Texaco strikes again.