Archive for category Nursing

Continuing Ed

I’m supposed to be on a break from nursing school but I think I’m spending as much time as my former classmates in hospitals, in doctors’ offices, and researching online. It’s a lot of work trying to diagnose oneself!

I got a good kick in the butt recently to do as much as I can on my “down days,” research-wise, to ensure that I’m prepared for my final doctor’s appointment here and all the new appointments I’ll have in California. Right now my condition seems to be a mystery to everyone so I’m trying to find all the conditions that could possibly be causing/contributing to my pain. Additionally I’m researching all the doctors and/or pain clinics I might want to visit in California. I found this one that looks pretty comprehensive and promising. It’ll be a bit of a drive for me, but totally worth it as long as my insurance will cover it.

Also, I spent a good bit of time today going through the pain books I brought to the hotel with me, looking up the websites they recommended. It was time well spent as I was able to bookmark some great websites like these:

The American Chronic Pain Association

Chronic Babe

Healing Well

How to Cope with Chronic Pain

In other news I’ve got a big weekend ahead of me – I’m going to attempt to go to a women’s retreat. It will be a beautiful, rich time with some of my best friends and tons of lovely ladies. I’m very excited but also a little concerned about how much I will/won’t be able to do or how uncomfortable I will be. I know, I know… go with the flow and all that. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll do my best.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend.

more to come…

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Living with Chronic Pain or The View from My Sofa

There’s not much to see from here, but when I’m experiencing severe endometriosis pain, this is where my life takes place. I’ve been here the last couple days and I’m starting to get pretty familiar with my surroundings.

My world exists in concentric circles surrounding the sofa… In the first circle (the one closest to me) is everything I might need, immediately within reach: various pain meds and balms, tissues, my phone, water, pencil and paper (to chart how I feel and when I take medicine), a good book (collection of Sherlock Holmes stories at present), and the TV remote. The second circle contains items I can reach with minimal effort: the computer, the TV, and a book shelf full of books and movies. Everything in the third circle and beyond requires thought and a plan: the refrigerator/kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, the laundry room. Do I really need to go to the bathroom yet? Can it wait? I really want a sandwich, but that means I have to get up to make it… Yep, I’m hungry enough.

This may all sound pretty dismal, but it’s really not that bad. Yes, it gets a little boring and I get tired of laying around, but it is what it is. I actually have a really nice view of my backyard and the sky from here. I love it when there’s bad weather going on because I like watching the clouds change and especially the rain. I can see the birds flitting around out there too which is pretty amusing. You get used to appreciating these little things.

When the pain subsides I jump up and go to the bathroom/kitchen/etc, or sometimes out to the garden to pull some weeds and see how my plants are growing. This is the highlight of my day.

I pet my cat and try to keep my area picked up.

It is what it is. Sometimes it’s frustrating (especially because I’m on a treatment that is supposed to be preventing pain). Mostly I’m OK though. There’s nothing I can do about it besides ride it out. So I spend a lot of time on facebook to feel like I’m connected to a social life. I read books. I order more books, some about dealing with chronic pain, some about far-off exciting places. I try to make myself look as pretty as I can, even in my stretchy pants and t-shirts.

I’m really thankful that I’m not in school or working right now and that I am so blessed to have a husband who can provide for us so I don’t have to. I honestly can’t imagine what it would be like to have to even think about working or studying in a state like this. I am so lucky.

I wonder if I’ll ever be able to fulfill my dream of being a nurse. Sometimes I feel pretty good and can be out and about, but a lot of times, I don’t. Will I be able to finish my degree? Help people like me to feel better? Maybe work in a mental health wardย  or substance abuse center like I dream about? Can I physically do it? I sure hope so. But I know worrying about it doesn’t get me anywhere, so I’ll just keep dreaming.

I’ll keep lying here on the sofa, watching the clouds float by, and the flowers grow. I’ll keep trying to make the most out of these days and feel like I am still contributing to life and society. I will read, draw, study, and write. And I will pray.

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On Being: an old soul, a woman, an advocate, a runner, and a learner

I am a whole comprised of many parts. Here are some of them that I feel especially define me at this time in my life:

Old Soul: I’ve always felt older than I am… I used to drive an old lady car, I have old lady aches and pains, I get tired a lot faster than other people, I MUST get enough sleep to function, and while I enjoy the occasional night out, or house party, I often prefer a quite night in with movies and beer. I used to hate that I felt older than my age. Now I realize it’s who I am and it’s better to just embrace it, accept it, and enjoy it, rather than try to be someone else. Accepting ourselves for who we are makes for a much happier life.

Woman: March is Women’s History Month. There have been so many fascinating, successful women throughout history who have defied opposition and judgment to shape the liberated life I’m free to enjoy. Despite all these wonderful female examples (and my old soul self) I still struggle with what it means to be woman. The massive amount of stereotypical images and information about what women are/should be makes actual womanhood even more confusing. I’m gradually developing an image in my mind of the complex, delightful meaning of who I am and what I am capable of as a female, and embracing all of my womanly potential. It looks a lot like this description written by my good pal Krista (a fabulous and fearless woman herself): “Women are also strong, and talented, and wise, and meek. They can be confident or careful, sexy or shy. Women are athletic and creative and beautiful and fun.” She is currently writing a series about influential women in history on her blog, Reviving Identity. I’d encourage you to check it out.

Advocate: I have endometriosis. You all know this. And I will continue to tell my story to increase awareness. I’ve said this so many times and will continue to do so: “Without awareness, there is no cure!” The world’s most brilliant scientists still don’t know what causes endo (although they have several uncomfirmed theories). They still don’t have a cure. And millions of women continue to suffer (often silently) in pain. This is not OK! I am passionate about this issue (particularly since it’s personal) and I will fight for the rest of my life to increase awareness, funds, and research. March is national endometriosis awareness month and by this time next year I hope to have planned an Endometriosis 5K. It will be hard and challenging and I’m still not entirely sure if I can do it, but I’m going to do all I can to make this happen in an effort to raise awareness, and of course money, to donate to the Endometriosis Association.

Runner: As I mentioned above, I’d like to increase awareness through a race. Running is my anti-endo. The one thing that can really make me feel powerful when I’ve had so many times I’ve been laid up on the couch, curled up in a ball. Despite the pain, if I can get out and take one step, just one jog around the block, I’m releasing powerful endorphins (body’s natural pain killers). Often, after just 30 minutes of pounding pavement I feel some relief and, if nothing else, I feel mentally and emotionally stronger and empowered. Running brings me joy and clarity and a break from the hectic-ness that is my life. It is part of me.

Learner: I am officially immersed in the depths of nursing school and I will be until Dec 2012. I am brain-deep in books, education, theory, tests, clinicals, homework, etc… It is GREAT. and HARD. For the first time in my life I actually really have to try. School has always come quite easily for me and this is the first time I’ve ever felt challenged. This is AWESOME. and HARD. But I love it all the same. Through my education (as well as running), I continue to learn self-discipline and perseverance. Valuable life lessons, eh?

Well, that’s just a summary of what I’ve been thinking about lately and some of the different aspects of my life that I feel define me. What defines you? What makes you who you are? How do you learn and grow from these things?

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How to Not Kill Someone

What you don’t know will kill someone,”stated my Assessment teacher as a response to my class’s somewhat-less-than-par performance on our last test. Basically what I heard coming from her mouth was: “Know everything or someone will DIE.ย  …and it will be because of YOU.”

Eh. I’m being a bit melodramatic. It wasn’t that bad, but the essence of what she said is true. As a nurse I will be responsible for doing my part to save/maintain lives on a daily basis. There’s a lot of gravity to that. I mean it’s cool, but… heavy.

Anyway, my life continues to be owned by the nursing department, thus, the lack of posts of late. On that note, my Pathophysiology text is calling my name… more to come…

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Eat, Sleep, Nurse

My life right now consists of:

Nursing school.

I attend nursing class or clinicals all day, study nursing each night, study nursing all weekend, think about nursing while I’m “relaxing” and trying NOT to think about the nursing homework I should probably be doing. Oh, and I dream about nursing all night. Seriously, I’m not even a nurse yet and I’m literally having these crazy nursing dreams every night. Last night I dreamed I was performing clinicals at a hospital, taking care of some really sick people, one of whom was one of my instructors (no pressure, right?). I went to ambulate her and then she got up on this chair (no idea why, or why I let her) and FELL. I DROPPED one of my sick instructors! I almost died, and then woke-up. Phew! A few nights ago I dreamed my instructor was expecting me to do things beyond my level as a student and I stood up in the middle of class and screamed “I’m not READY to save a life!!!!!” ๐Ÿ™‚

Seriously, despite the crazy dreams and the fact that my mind and body are owned by the nursing program right now, I’m really enjoying it! I mean, three tests and a clinical in one week isn’t exactly easy or fun, but I’m doing really well **insert happy dance here** and I’m really amazed by all the knowledge that I’m gaining. I feel like I didn’t learn ANYthing in my first degree (Graphic Design). I didn’t care about any of my gen-eds and all my major-specific courses were art. I feel like I just did really cool arts-and-crafts for four years. I’m not saying it wasn’t interesting or fun, but it was all self-taught and I don’t think it furthered me as a person. Now I’m actually gaining essential information that will form the foundation of my professional career (not to mention the fact that this info will help me in my daily life).

Pretty cool, huh?

Well, that’s all I got for now, guess I’ll go do some homework and try not to kill anyone in my dreams tonight. ๐Ÿ™‚

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About that…

Yeah, so remember that “D word” that I wrote about yesterday? Death? Well, it claimed yet another yesterday.

My hospice patient.

Today I grieve a beautiful person and soul – a mother, friend, grandmother and nurse.

I knew it was going to happen soon, I just never expected it to be THIS soon. Ah, this has sparked so many thoughts and emotions. I’ve read book after book on death and dying, thought about how it applies to my own life and how I live it, but I never really thought about how it would affect me when one of my patient’s passed on. It’s difficult to write a narrative about something like this when I’m only thinking in bits and pieces. While this is fresh on my mind I thought I’d share of few of my mental fragments with you, I’m sure many of you can relate. So here we go…

I drove over to visit her today and it was when I was checking in with the nurses that I found out she had passed away yesterday – on the 2nd just before one in the afternoon. This was exactly the time I was trying to leave my house to go see her (but couldn’t because of my un-plowed street). If only I could’ve made it…

Just after I found out… denial: “Wow, I’m dealing with this really well… Well, I knew this was bound to happen… Just move on I guess…”

A little later: “Wow, I’m actually kind of sad about this… I really felt connected to this woman and loved every minute of caring for her. I just wish I would’ve been able to spend more time with her…”

Later yet: “She seemed to respond so well to me and she remembered me and was much more coherent on Monday… I mean she really seemed better and was so responsive! … I wonder if I would’ve been able to have more time with her if she would’ve still died…”

Anger sets in: “Dang you Son-in-Law for telling her it was OK for her to go, for telling her that you would take care of her babies, for reassuring her and comforting her with your love, and thanking her for giving you your wife! At the time you said it I celebrated your act of compassion and kindness but how could you do that? She would’ve hung on if you hadn’t…”

Transitioning to sadness: “Gosh, when she asked for water and I held up the sponge for her to drink from, I thought she was feeling stronger… remember when I was sitting there just talking to her, to let her know that I was there and that she was safe? Remember when I was just sitting there talking, hoping to comfort her and then she starting responding? Wasn’t that funny when she said…. And how cute was she when she was holding and stroking her stuffed plush puppy?”

“Oh how I enjoyed being with her and serving her, it felt so good to be there for her and for her daughter, who was clearly so appreciative…”

And then the tears came.

I grieve the loss of this beautiful woman who touched my heart in a matter of two long afternoons/evenings together. I celebrate the life of a woman who, as a nurse, touched countless lives. I grieve the loss of a mother, a grandmother, whose family will now be missing such a loved piece. I celebrate how much she meant to her loved ones, I celebrate that she could be near them when she passed…

but still, I grieve.

And I will for a few days. I will let myself grieve and remember the sweet, funny, difficult, and moving moments I was able to share with this precious soul. I’m thankful to the bottom of my heart that no matter how difficult this is, I was able to serve her while I could. I’m so thankful I made serving her a priority, even over my studies, because this is a lesson I will never forget.

So I will grieve. I will mourn. And I will celebrate. And then I will move on and carry this experience with me for the rest of my life as I care for more and more patients, and I will never forget the painful beauty of becoming attached to someone and letting them into your heart.

Sleep sweet, Miss P.

…more to come…

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