Tuesday, November 4, 2014

My Two Year Journey

     My fate will be decided in just 27 days. That is when I will walk, or possibly be dragged crying (probably that), into my classroom at MCC for the last time as a nursing student. I will sit down, breathe into my paper bag, and begin the second biggest test of my life. The biggest being the NCLEX-RN. My nursing final is looming on the horizon and now that it is so close I am terrified.

     When I first started this career path I never could have imagined what a roller coaster my life would become. It truthfully felt like it would never end and now that the end is here. Well. Stuff gets real. I am really going to graduate and I really am going to have the distinct privilege of writing the letters R.N. after my name. Those two little letters mean everything. I have given so much to succeed in this program. Tears, a little bit of blood, sweat, and a rather large portion of my sanity and even larger portion of my social life. Not that the kids didn't annihilate the social life anyways, but I digress. Not to mention the money, oh God the money.

     So much has changed in these two years. I remember walking out of boot camp with my nurse pack all eager to begin. We celebrated our first assessment check off with fervor and went out for drinks to celebrate passing our bed bath check offs. Oh those were the days. We had no idea what was about to hit us. Now we've said so long to those check offs, we've passed our pharmacology courses, we've renewed our prescriptions for anxiety, and we are all hanging on to our sanity by a thread. Yup.

     Nursing school does things to you. When I see first or even second semester students I think, "Oh look at them all happy, bright and eager to learn! They'll learn." You can always tell the first semester student from the fourth semester. First will have this excited look on their face, whites pressed, chomping at the bit to get on the clinical floor. Fourth will have a look something like a zombie, whites clean enough not to be sent home, and finding any excuse possible to stretch out that lunch during clinical.
     I say this in jest (no I don't) we aren't that bad but there is a certain charm of nursing school that wears off after time. I'm no expert but it probably has to do with the inhuman amounts of work we are assigned and the library's worth of information we are expected to know. Again, not an expert.

     They say it is all worth it though. The constant stress, the feelings of sheer terror during every waking moment, the crying into your pillow at night as you recite your lab values. As the days quickly pass I find myself feeling as if I am ending a chapter in my life and beginning a new one. It's a huge change for me. Going from full time student to full time nurse. I don't know what I'm going to do with all my free time. Who knows, maybe the laundry might actually make it to the dryer before the mildew starts in. I might even have time to enjoy my hobbies like crochet again, but let's not get crazy. One thing at a time.

     There are few things in life like nursing school. It's the most grueling time of your life but it's also where you are molded, forged and forcibly stuffed into the mold of an amazing nurse. You form bonds that last a lifetime. There is no stronger bond that sobbing over the last test with your classmate while simultaneously downing a bottle of wine.  Ineffective coping anybody?
      I also have to say there is no better test to see who really will be there for you when you need it most. Without my family's support there is no way on this Earth I could even think about making it in this program. My husband has been supportive, positive, and encouraging every step of the way. Even when I am having a mental breakdown in his arms he is there to tell me it will be OK. My parents and my in-laws have been angels. Seriously. They are gifts from God. They have been taking on my two little tazmanian devil's for ridiculously long hours without so much as a grumble. My friends (that haven't been alienated from my hermit lifestyle) have also been my much needed support. Especially one of my former classmates, my nursing school mom, who has always been there to tell me exactly what I need to hear to keep my chin up. So to those who have been on this insane journey with me, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and I promise when you're on the sharp end of my needle I'll make sure to be gentle. 

     It's been a hellish nightmare at times, but it's all going to be over soon. Then life will shift once again as I try to find my place as a "baby nurse" in the big world. So, goodbye nursing school, it's been fun.

This is Roxas at my Nursing Boot Camp. Can you believe that?
 The day of my 3rd Semester Finals

Lucy chewing on mommy's ID badge

 My day in surgery rotation!

After passing our 3rd semester finals!
Good ol' clinical whites!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why I want to be a nurse

Every semester...they ask..."why do you want to become a nurse?" The answers range all over the map but there are several repeated over and over. "I want to help people" "I like medicine" "The money is good and it has job security"

All of those are true for sure but the answer to that question is so important to future nurses. It's an answer we should never forget, but unfortunately it happens.

The answer to that question when I was in first semester went a little something along the lines of me always being interested in the medical field because of my mom, and the desire I had to learn and be immersed in that fascinating world.

The answer to that question when I was in second semester changed. During my clinical experience I took care of a patient that was very ill when I was caring for him. He happened to still be in the hospital when I returned the following week. He was doing much better and I stopped by to say hi. He genuinely thanked me for everything we did to help him. In my head I was thinking, gosh...we didn't do that much. Then I realized. What seemed so little to me was huge to my patient. That moment sums up why I want to be a nurse. To make those little moments improve the lives of others.

The answer to that question once again changed. In third semester I found my calling. I had always said I wanted to work in one of a few places: labor and deliver, pediatrics, or the ER. We experienced all three during this semester and I learned so much about myself. I learned that I can't handle pediatrics. I learned the ER is just as awesome as I thought. I learned that the one place I want to be forever is by the side of a laboring mom. Getting the privilege of cheering her on, offering encouragement, and sometimes a hand to squeeze. To be a part of the process of birth is the most gratifying, beautiful, wondrous thing. To watch the faces of two new parents as they lay eyes on their child for the very first time. There is no better place to be. I will never forget the first delivery I attended as a student. I will never forget that baby's name or the look shared between his parents. I want to become a nurse because I genuinely love my patients. I want to encourage, I want to be there when a hand needs holding, I want to share my passion for all things pregnancy and birth, I want to make a new mom or dad's lives a bit easier, I want to be the ears that listen to fears and the words that soothe them, I want to be the one who reassures. I want to be the pillar in a new unsteady place. When you find your passion you know it. A part of your heart seems to physically ache when you are away from it. Every day I work I have to walk past the labor and delivery unit. I feel that pull, I know where I belong, I know where I'm supposed to be without any shadow of a doubt.

I'm in my first week of fourth semester now. It's the final one. It was not in school where I had yet another momentous experience, but at work as an extern. I met a patient who was me. A young lady who needed my help. A young lady who I understood so fully when nobody else could. She was me and I was her. I firmly believe I was put in her room for a reason and this was it. She knew she wasn't alone in the world and somebody else had walked her path before. The look in her eyes will never leave my brain. The look of being understood, finally. I held her hand, gave her comfort, helped her understand what she needed to do next. I hugged her. I cried with her. I listened to her. I may not have changed her life in just one day but I became a part of it. I hope my touch started a ripple. Of course I don't know what happened after she left but I know I still think about her and pray for her every single day.

 On December 12th I will be standing on a stage while somebody (I still haven't picked who yet) places a pin on me signifying my completion of the RN program. That little pin represents every tear cried, every minute spent away from my children and husband, every pound gained, every victory dance, every breakdown, every hour spent studying, several hundred gallons of coffee, and the blood, sweat and other bodily fluids on my shoes that were not my own. That little pin represents all of the hard work I have put in because I want to be a nurse.

These experiences can't really be put into words very well. They do not fit neatly into a little box of why I want to be a nurse because there is no way to confine what it is to be a nurse. These experiences and many more like them are exactly why I chose this profession. Nursing is a science and an art. It is a profession of compassion, skill and dedication. It can only be described in human experience and emotion, not words.