Think Outside the Spoon

I’ve been in the habit of taking yogurt to eat on the drive in to school. This is the yogurt I intended to eat today.

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But once I was en route, I realized that I had forgotten my spoon. So, I began to problem-solve. After I double-checked my bags and before I planned a special pit-stop to a convenience store or fast-food place, I tried to see what I had on hand.

After a thorough search of my glove department, I debated using one of these two items:

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Luckily, I also found this knife and decided to use the handle-end for a makeshift spoon. It worked pretty well!

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I think I will have to start keeping a stock of disposable silverware to cover my scatter-brained self.

What a Feeling

When you’ve been as epically stressed out as I have for the first 7 months of the year, the feeling of relaxation that comes with an actual, honest-to-goodness break is a little bit uncanny. Between my Spring semester of nursing school, my move in with James, my summer externship, and four online classes, I’m not sure exactly how I got through it all. Oh yeah, and add in my part time job, the 100+ miles I’ve run (every month after January), and a half dozen races, including two half-marathons. I guess I have at least been breathing between strides.

But this week has been heavenly. James and I bought a truck that will eventually replace his Mazda, which involved two trips (one to look, another to buy) to the next town over, and one failed attempt when we ran into a money transfer snafu. But we made the best of it with a day spent together.

In between times, I went into town on alternating days to run errands, visit with Audra, and meet Regan and/or Rachel at the gym. Our first body pump left my legs feeling like jello, and our second left them full of lead, but my fingers are crossed that a third class will finally feel “normal” to me, rather than “I can barely move” levels of sore. I think with any new lifting regimen (and I honestly haven’t lifted in 6+ months) it just takes time to adjust. But I will probably not continue lower body lifting in the fall given all the marathon training I need to accomplish. I actually need to buy some training guides soon so that I feel fully prepared.

What else? Picked more blueberries and traded some for delicious garden vegetables. Ran a decent amount, despite the soreness. How odd is it that I found walking to be a more challenging endeavor than running for an hour or more? Saturday, James and I did very little, but Sunday we had “together” time, sharing the cinematic story of his new game, taking the dogs kayaking, and later alternating between episodes of Parks & Rec and Scrubs.

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Today I am back in town for more errands, blueberry picking, and then headed back home to cook and clean in preparation for Carlie & family’s arrival. They’re just staying one night to help bridge the gap before their new home (so much closer!) is ready.

The End of the Insanity

I can barely even begin to describe how crazy this summer has been. In retrospect, I’m really not sure how I pulled it off. Day by day, week by week it seemed challenging…but in a big picture sense, it was absolute insanity. In the space of 8 weeks, I emptied out my condo, moved 45 mins away into my boyfriend’s house, worked 40 hours a week at my externship, and took two online classes for my BSN. I did not get enough sleep, nor did I run as much as I wanted or unpack hardly anything. But I survived. Last week was the bittersweet end of the externship, without a direct job offer but with some excellent contacts and references. This week my online classes wrap up, which is such a relief. And I am finally getting down to some productive things around the house.

What else happened this summer? James and I bought kayaks. We also celebrated one year of dating, which is another insane thought. A year ago I could never ever have predicted I would be right here right now. But I am happier than I have ever been and excited to see what the future brings to our life together.

I didn’t have much time to spend with friends given all that was going on, but did have a few people come out to visit the house, and met up with a few others in the nearby cities.

Now that the madness has ended, I am left with a sense of impending importance. I am left staring my last semester of nursing school squarely in the face, and I have so many complicated emotions about that. Not only will I be tacking the RN coursework, I will also be taking at least 1 BSN course online…in addition to my involvement in 2 weddings (but only a bridesmaid in 1) and my training for 2 half marathons and 1 marathon (October, November, and January, respectively).

So the next few weeks are really the calm before the storm. And I’m not sure whether my time is better spent just relaxing or instead preparing. I want to just kick back and do NOTHING, but I know this is the only time I’ve got to get the “back burner” things checked off.

I had another interesting thought while out on a run yesterday… I was running towards an uphill stretch and I glanced something colorful off in the distance (past the hill). When I was far off from the object (still on the flat section) I could see it was there, but not yet determine what it was. However as I got closer to the hill it completely disappeared from my line of vision. It was not until I crested the hill that I saw it again and identified it as a flowering tree. Assuming metaphorically that the tree was my “goal” I found it ironic that while I could see it from afar, there was a time as I got closer that I could not see it at all. It’s like working towards something and not being able to see the end goal as you approach it.

Life is full of uphill battles. In fact, I would argue that “coasting” in life is almost impossible because as soon as you stop, you either go nowhere or you backslide. It’s almost like the battle uphill is the only way to go to achieve your goals and avoid stagnation.

My life over the past 3 years has been one battle after another… Getting into nursing school, working through it, and the upcoming battle to pass the NCLEX. Getting moderately in shape, working through the bulk of my weight loss, and now the battle to lose the last pounds and have the physique I desire. Getting my finances in order, developing a strong romantic relationship, working through all kinds of young adult/confidence issues… None of these have been easy, but they have all been worthwhile endeavors. And I am left with the feeling that I will always be on an uphill stretch as I continue to strive for the next milestone.

Homeward Bound

Last week was spent mostly wrapped up in plans to visit home sweet home, where my high school friends and grandmother still live. Luckily it’s only about 3 hours away, but I still don’t manage to get there as often as I’d like. I had to make a lot of sacrifices to get the homework and packing done, but it was worth it!

Last week at the hospital I started in PACU. As I suspected, it has been my favorite rotation of the externship, perhaps tied with PreOp, because starting IVs is such an important skill.

The atmosphere up in PACU is so nurturing, but also thrilling because there is always the possibility for patients to be in critical condition. I got to see a whole spectrum of techniques, skills, and patient situations. Everything from combative/argumentative people to those who are barely breathing and come in with an artificial airway.

The best part by far has been the nurses I’ve worked with and how willing they were to teach me, explain their rationales, and push me to think critically about patient care decisions. I have really felt like a member of the team and I will miss working alongside such kind and talented individuals.

One of my most interesting experiences was accidentally getting to follow a CRNA after I somewhat rudely questioned one of her med orders. I thought I was in hot water for my impertinence, but she took it as an opportunity to educate me and I graciously accepted. I really got a good understanding of general anesthesia, how patients are monitored, and why they wake up like they do.

Went for some runs during the week. Wednesday we took my new kayak out for a spin. It was such a beautiful night! Thursday after my run I got my big homework assignment done while James logged some time with his new game.

And Friday, after a lovely day in the Endoscopy ER, I hopped in the car and made a b-line westward! Got there in time for some hanging out and party prep before bed.

Next morning I woke up rather lazily for a 6-mile run, then helped Teddy put the finishing touches on her baby shower prep.

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There was a lot to do, but several people stopped by to help including her mom and a few of her other friends. I did get her to pose for a quick pic before the main event!

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Then I spent the evening with my grandmother, who can only handle visitors in short increments. I used to spend whole weekends including overnights just with her, but things are a little different now. Still, she was happy to see me and it was very nice to catch up with her. We had a nice meal at the dining hall then spent the evening talking and playing games.

Sunday I got up QUITE early and went for 9 mile run through the historic part of town by the river. Then Teddy and I went big for brunch at Cracker Barrel. And after a bit of shopping, I headed back home to my anxiously awaiting boyfriend.

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Human Connections

My work experience this week encompassed the recovery phase of “ambulatory surgery” which means that my patients had procedures deemed “minor” enough to go home from the hospital that very same day. The role of the nurse in so-called “Phase 2” recovery is to assess the patient for discharge readiness, perform necessary interventions to make them comfortable and stabilize their vitals, and provide education regarding home care. I am discovering that there’s a lot of “routine” in all of these perioperative roles, but there is also the very real possibility of things going wrong, so RNs have to be prepared for anything. I helped by doing rounds to address patient needs, taking out IV’s, and pitching in on room turnover while just observing the discharge education.

What happened other than work? Well, a fair amount of homework. Lots of early morning workouts. Introduction to a new phone game – Piano Tiles – and some epic high scores. And watching Saving Mr. Banks and the first episodes of Parks & Rec with James.

Friday after work, my life exploded with awesome! Gabby came down for a spontaneous visit. And we met up with Evelyn for a Thai food/homemade ice cream adventure.

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Then we went back to the house, took an evening stroll down to the dock, and hung out swapping stories and internet memes.

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Finally my tired self had to call it a night, only to get up Saturday morning, run 6 miles, and cook bacon & eggs for breakfast, all before 8am. Gabby and I then headed to our next adventure: blueberry picking!

We met Audra and found great blueberry success for about an hour and a half before they got too hot and my bucket got too heavy. I am rarely too hot these days, which makes this summer one of the most enjoyable of my life for outdoor activities.

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After that, Gabby and Audra required deliciousness, so we got lunch downtown before meeting Regan for a quick bridesmaids dress appointment. I’m not sure if I am supposed to post it here, so I won’t, but I ordered my size and will hopefully need few alterations. Then, back home so Gabby could get her car head back to her abode – a couple hours north of here.

But the adventure continued for James & me! Our dear friend Anna had a party in honor of her first home purchase, and we decided to help her celebrate! Some of our other friends were there, and we also made new friends!

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Anna is a woman of all trades, including physics, pole dancing, and world traveling. So this party included some fascinating discussions with her work friends, hammock time, pole lessons/demonstrations, and delicious imported Russian vodka from her boyfriend. Never have I ever tasted vodka so smooth. And James got such a kick out of seeing me get tipsy (and eventually drunk) that he (and everyone else there) kept encouraging more shots. Who was I to say no? But being the responsible boyfriend that he is, he brought me home safely before things got too crazy, and received my appreciation and affection.

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Today so far, we have watched Her (really great & thought provoking), I have cooked, and am now taking a pre-lunch stroll through the neighborhood. Next up: homework, a quick few errands, probably yoga, and then more homework.

Weekly Update: Anniversary Edition

Anniversary

So this 4-day work week was pretty good. I started more IVs successfully. I assisted with nerve blocks when I was in preop holding. I had positive interactions with my coworkers. A few of the days dragged on, mostly because I was so excited about the holiday weekend!

In addition to work, I also had time to do a fun 5k with my friend Audra (on Monday) and a yoga session with Lara (on Wednesday).

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But the real excitement was the holiday weekend! The 4th started out pretty chill, and then James and I had a fight over the grooming/shaving of our dogs. It was not pretty (nor was Bonnie’s cut), but as the saying goes, all’s well that ends well. And we made up and moved on before heading into town for fireworks with friends.

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It was a great show, preceded by a nice patriotic concert. And after the last boom, we were traffic ninjas and got out of the chaos in only about 15-20 mins. To make it home around 11pm.

Then Saturday dawned sunny, cool (for summer at least), and gorgeous. I ran 8 miles and walked the 9th home as I was composing my anniversary card for James. While
I ran, James took the kayak out with Rudolph, and when he got back I gave him his gift: a hammock for two to fit on the hammock spot we discovered last month in our yard.

After I whipped up a Mexican-style brunch, we headed out to take the dogs on a 4ish mile hike, highlighted by a little extra excitement. Then we had a few hours to chill and get ready for our dinner.

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It was absolutely delicious, and so fun to be sharing that time together all fancy. When he saw me in my dress, his words were “be still my heart.” We shared the bang bang shrimp, each got a delicious fish entree, and shared a s’mores flatbread for dessert (on the house, because we told them it was our anniversary).

Then we came home to cuddle in the hammock under the stars and celebrate a fabulous year together.

It’s so hard to wrap my head around all that has changed over the past year, but having James as a constant has made all the difference. He’s the best thing that has happened to me all year.

Turnaround

This week I hit a turning point in the exhaustion and overwhelming departments and have finally started to return to normalcy.  Sunday was nice and relaxed, didn’t do too much beyond a run and a Netflix marathon to finish the second season of House of Cards. 

Monday was my first day in PAT, where I worked with the nurses and techs to get people checked in before surgery.  Usually these appointments are 1-2 weeks out from scheduled surgery, but occasionally they are sooner, sometimes the day before if the surgery is an “add-on” to the schedule.  This involves a series of questions about health history and testing such as blood work or an EKG.  If something is amiss with their history or results, a patient may not be cleared for surgery for their safety.  By the end of Tuesday, I developed a certain proficiency at drawing blood and had a pretty good handle on hooking up the EKG. 

Wednesday started my time in the PreOp department.  These ladies start early, a few getting in at 4:30 to set up, but the rest (including me) starting at 5:30.  And the mornings start off with a bang, because patients start showing up 2 hours before surgery, and surgeries are scheduled as early as 7am.  There’s a big push at first, but it doesn’t really slow down until lunch time.  They get the patients dressed and prepped for surgery, ask all the most pertinent questions again, and insert IV access catheters.  That’s what I was most interested in learning, and by Friday, I had started 20 IVs and only missed 5 that I attempted.  My time in PreOp so far has been fast-paced, and I’ve really developed my confidence in working with patients.  Monday I am going to focus more on patient assessments and charting, but also continue to start IVs.

Other than work, I’ve had a chance to get caught up on classwork, gotten some good runs in, and really enjoyed the gorgeous weather – unseasonably cool, just a little bit of rain.  I’ve been getting used to getting up early, and James and I are thinking of making 4am our new normal, during which time I will probably go for runs while he cooks himself a nice breakfast before we both head into work.

This week should be nice.  More of PreOp at work and ending my week with PreOp Holding.  Next Monday is our anniversary.  And this week he has a 4-day weekend, so we are making plans to go spend 4th of July with friends and do something special to celebrate us 🙂

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Also, with the rest of our day we took the dogs to Haven Beach. It was beautiful!

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