I have lost three days of my life due to illness. This horrible sinus thing that lays you out cold for days hit me Thursday, right after my first clinical was over. My nose was a bit runny in the morning during my exam and then my throat was sore at the hospital but the air was so dry I didn't think much of it. Then the chills and headache hit Thursday night.
Let's rewind a bit back to the beginning of this week. . . (this is sort of like one of those dramas on TV where they show you a scene and then say "three days earlier..." and they start the story) Get your coffee or tea or whatever it is you drink and get comfortable. . . this is gonna take a while.
Wednesday was just lecture in 224, we learned all about the heart, which actually fascinates me. The way it beats and stays in rhythm is amazing. We got to learn all the different locations to listen to the heart to hear all the valves and major vessels -- there are 5 locations for listening -- who knew? I was a guinea pig once again because of my mitral valve prolapse -- lots of people wanted to listen to my murmur. This would not normally be a big deal, but being nursing students we were also required to find landmarks along the sternum and rib cage to be sure we were listening in the right places. After so many fellow students feeling for my 'angle of Louis' (the spot where your manubrium meets your sternum) and my 'second intercostal space' I was actually in pain!!!! We also had a funny moment with the only guy in our class -- Alex. He is extremely muscular so we all wanted to look for the landmarks on him, figuring if we could find them on him we could find them on anyone! Well the poor guy laid on an exam table surrounded by women feeling for his intercostal spaces and angle of Louis! What a good sport! By the way, this all sounds very provocative but the bones we were feeling are all part of the rib cage -- so get your minds out of the gutter! :)
Thursday was, as my neice Keira would say, "The best day ever!" Well maybe one of the best days ever -- getting married and giving birth to my two kids probably take the lead. Anyway, it started with my Fundamentals Final Exam. A final exam mid semester you say??? Yes, because this class is split into 7 weeks of lecture and 7 weeks of clinical we are officially done with the lecture portion and now move onto clinical. So Thursday morning I took my final exam, which I felt was extremely fair and relatively easy. 100 questions, 1 point each, taken in 2 hours. After the exam we met with our clinical instructors for our midterm reviews. My professor (who is so sweet and I like very much) gave me a glowing review. Said my technical skills are excellent, that I am confident (was she talking about me?) and other than that she can't say a whole lot because she hasn't seen me in a clinical setting, but what she did say was very positive and I left the room feeling really good about myself! My grade for the class at that point was a 95. Then we headed off for lunch and to clinical! After some yummy Panera for lunch we began the caravan of 6 cars up to Zambarano in Burrilleville. OK, I had no idea that you could drive that much and still be in Rhode Island! Holy cow was it a long ride! The drive was beautiful though, very scenic and the fall foliage was beautiful. We finally got to the hospital. It is on Wallum Lake in Burrilleville and the grounds are gorgeous. The hospital is old, 100 years old to be exact. It was built in the early 1900s for Tuberculosis patients, to get them out of the city and into the country with the fresh air. The buildings may be old but the hospital staff is amazing! We met a lot of the staff, everyone was so glad to see us and was so willing to help. Professor Servello said the reason she goes there is because the staff is amazing. We got a tour of the hospital (except for the lockdown on First Floor North which is where the aggressive male patients are kept) and got to meet many of the patients. Then we got to meet our patients. I admit this is where I became really nervous. It was like I was meeting a child that I was adopting. It was a very emotional moment. I am limited in what I can share because of confidentiality but I can tell you that my patient, who I shall refer to as X (who is really called a resident based on the fact that this is a long term care facility) is quadriplegic, with a tracheostomy tube. In case you didn't figure it out, this resident has a lot of needs! X's Awareness is limited and X is unable to speak but I am told that X gets the point across loud and clear despite that! Our professor told us she matched us with patients based on what she knows about us as students, so obviously she has a lot of confidence in me -- I wish I had the same confidence in myself! Eeek! I only spent a few minutes with X but I am anxious to go back and spend more time caring for X and getting to know X. I was excited, terrified, energized, nervous, questioning and ready to go all at the same time. I must admit the thought "Do I really want to do this?" ran through my head several times while I was there but at the end of the day when I left I was sure that I want to be a nurse.
I also had the opportunity to speak with another resident while we were there. We had to do a 5 minute interview to analyze our therapeutic communication skills and since my resident does not talk I had to choose another one. I wound up speaking with a resident with MS who was happy and eager to talk to me but very difficult to understand due to his disease. I left the room feeling defeated and frustrated because I had such a hard time overcoming the communication barrier between us. The purpose of this exercise was to give us the opportunity to reflect on what we did well and what we didn't do well. I felt like I didn't do many things well but definitely learned something from the experience. I am eager to go back and speak to this resident again and perhaps tackle, or at least partially tackle, the communication barrier.
At the end of the day we gathered as a group (8 students, including me, and our professor) to recap the afternoon and talk about everything. We also got our final exam grades!!!! I didn't expect them until the weekend so I was thrilled. I got a 94 on the final!!!!!! That was the icing on the proverbial cake. It was a great day! Then the looooong ride home -- almost an hour exactly. Then the sickness hit around 6:00pm and I spent all day Friday and half of Saturday in bed. ICK! Apparently everyone has this same "sinus thing". I am very thankful for Vicks Sinex, it is getting me through the days and nights (it is one of those that has a daytime and a nighttime pill), in fact it is time for me to take another one now -- I can tell because my nose is running again.
So, I apologize for making you all wait so long for this novella of an update. Hopefully it was worth the wait. Mommies should not get sick -- losing 3 days to sickness is just not on my agenda.
In other recent news, I registered for my spring classes today. I will be taking Maternal and Newborn Nursing and Adult Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. I am VERY excited for maternity since that is what I think I might like to do when I graduate. Women and Infants Hospital here I come!!!! The Psych part I am not thrilled about. People whose brains don't function within the normal realm are very frightening to me. If I ever become a Psych nurse, please print out this blog entry and shove it in my face!
I hope this catches everyone up to the present day. Thank you all for your support and prayers - I could never do this without you! :)