Saturday, January 12, 2008

Nurse Barbie

I finished my first official week of nursing school, and was it ever tiring. I have Art and Science of Nursing I and II, which includes two days of clinical, two days of skills labs, and a lecture, and a health assessment class that takes a big chunk of Friday but only goes for 7 weeks. That's enough for me, but most others are also taking Pharmacology. I sagely took that already, last year.

I'm not used to this kind of schedule. I've been spoiled. This program is moving in double-time. At the beginning of the week, some of the other students were saying how the instructors keep commenting on how intensive the program is, and how it seemed fine. By the end of the week we were all wiped out.

It'll be fine, I just have to get organized and I didn't have the time during the week to do it. It was if a baseball throwing machine was loaded with my books and syllabi and checklists and instructional videos and all this other paperwork and then it started chucking it all at me. I also thought I was done buying supplies but I still need a penlight, white shoes (Danskos, I'm getting the best), and a nursing diagnosis book. This is a way expensive program.

I like it. So far, so good. The instructors and students are nice but kind of badass, too.

I got to dress up in my new hunter green scrubs and report to the hospital on Wednesday and Thursday. I felt like Nurse Barbie putting on my uniform at some ridiculous morning hour, marching through the hospital doors with my official identification badges with absolutely no idea of what I was doing. Fortunately, they ease you into any real responsibility but I did get to shadow a nurse around one day and we were running! There wasn't time to adopt any pieta poses like the one above. You will not see us in flowing robes, gazing out picturesquely as we clutch unidentifiable bundles.

In other news, I got to see Whitey Morgan last night for the first time in a few months, which has already been reported on Visions of Ypsi. It was a late night last night, and I won't be able to do that for awhile. It was good to get my Whitey fix. I chatted with the sitter for a bit when I got back. She's just a couple months away from finishing nursing school and is working as an aide at UM Hospital. She told me some of her stories, like working with the mentally ill prisoner who had swallowed a toothbrush, razor blade, and light bulb to get out of prison. It is going to be interesting out there.

Then I found out today that my grandfather has been hospitalized again, this time with pneumonia. He has been in and out of the hospital with so many problems within the last few years. I was trying to figure out if I could spare the time to visit him tomorrow when my aunt called back and told me she found out that he has MRSA in his bloodstream. WTF. The nurse told her that it wasn't a big deal because it's not in a wound, but I read up on it and bloodstream infections can cause septicemia. My aunt didn't know if his pneumonia was caused by the staph. So...I guess I'm not going there. I feel bad about it, too, but I just can't take my kids there. My kids that will take any opportunity to smear their faces across the closest disgusting surface.

My grandfather's sister, my great aunt Treva, is also doing poorly. It makes me think a lot about death and how all of our technological and pharmaceutical advances have extended life for many people, but not necessarily a good quality of life. It seems that most people fear death and will make that trade-off, but maybe I'm wrong. If someone dies suddenly without any chance to treat an underlying illness, then it is seen as tragic. I see the real tragedy as those that continually suffer the effects of somewhat-mediated illness with false hopes of recovery.

Yes, it is going to be very interesting.


Daye said...

I share your concerns for modern science elongating a life that is at best bio degradable. If a major organ or system gives it up that should rightfully indicate system shut down. Don't get me wrong, Modern science is a good thing esp in situations like accidents to young and (relatively) healthy individuals--but dude if my 98 year old uncle geezer gets a heart transplant?? that is fundamentally wrong.

YPR said...

You raise some real issues pertaining to health care for people who are constantly suffering from one ailment or another, particularly as they get older. On the one hand, you can see how any health care professional would see it as their responsibility to do their best by the patient, meaning to keep them alive and to try to mitigate their suffering. On the other hand, it's got to be hard as a family member to see people you love and care about suffer year after year with no apparent end to their pain in sight apart from their inevitable demise.

Repeated hospitalizations can take a huge toll on families emotionally, mentally and financially. But at what point do we deem the struggle to survive no longer worth fighting? At what point is hope for recovery a false hope? And what is the role of the health care professional in helping patients and their families make the decision to discontinue treatment if there's no real chance for improvement?

A friend of mine whose mother is in her nineties recently told me how her mother had said that she wakes up in the morning lately and thinks "Damn, I'm still here. I'm ready to go." This is not a woman who fears death. I think maybe you're right, though, in saying that that kind of fearlessness and acceptance of death is exceptional, and that most people, even those in poor health, are willing to put their faith in doctors if it means there's a chance they can once more enjoy life as they once did. Even if that chance is remote, the lure of that potential has got to be pretty strong for some people to soldier on the way they do. For others, a life of suffering must just seem to be an unbearable burden. Trying to determine how best to serve these patients and their families has got to be one of the most difficult issues for a health care professional to deal with.

To change the subject to something much more superficial, I had heard some time ago that Crocs had become the footwear of choice for nurses. Is that no longer the case?

From the profound to the trivial, you manage to cover a lot of ground with one blog entry.

Stacey said...

Covering a lot of ground from the trivial to the profound is the way the nurse usually rolls, both literally and figuratively.

We have to wear white shoes. I thought crocs were the thing, too, but I haven't seen any at St. Joes. I've seen them at U-M.

You sure sound professory. Why don't you try to get a teaching job?

MrNurse said...

Danskos and scrubs can get expensive, but its worth it with all the time you will spend on your feet.

I get my
Dansko Shoes
online - and for fun, try some
Winnie the Pooh Scrubs

Cadee said...

Great work.