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navigating through nursing school
So I was all set to write about yesterday morning’s pre-first-day-of-clinical mishap (because my life is a series of anecdotes about mishaps; I’ve yet to have anything notable to say about any of my actual classes except for a couple of amusing quotes from professors) as soon as I got a chance to write anything at all when this past hour happened and dictated that I write this down first before I forget it.
Last night, it snowed. This is something of no consequence to where I live. I live in a place where serious winter weather happens as often as it doesn’t in Florida, and to about that extreme. Between December and February the average outdoor temperature is 9º Fahrenheit. It snows daily. Today when I went outside at 10:15 the large bank thermometer was reading 15º. It snowed about four inches, and to someplace where everything is always open, regardless of the ridiculous blizzard or whatever, I didn’t even think to check my student e-mail before leaving. Who closes a school when there’s only four inches of snow? This is a school that was still going for the first two days into a disastrous ice storm a few years ago that left several entire counties without power and left me fleeing to my parents’ 150 miles south for about four days. (If that identifies my school to you just from that one statement, I’m not actually surprised in the slightest.) It literally had not occurred to me at all that school might be closed. Snow hasn’t equated to “day off” in my head since high school. This college never closes. Snow meant “I have to be ready to leave earlier than usual because I have to sweep snow off my car, isn’t that a pain”. I complained about the having-to-sweep-off-the-car issue, got ready to go and went outside.
The major road I live on was, miraculously, plowed. I’ve had to go to school on days when said road had not been even slightly plowed and today it was mostly clear; this indicated the rest of the drive would be smooth sailing. And it was! Until I got to school, where in trying to turn down the road that led to the parking garage, my car slid up and down a few times in a giant slush-drift. I switched it into the lowest possible gear and rocked back and forth a little bit, discovered there was no way I was getting into the garage as it involved going up a hill that was covered in about 3 inches of dirty snow, attempted to drive around the school on roads that were also not plowed (on school property) and realized that it seemed that the parking lots were not only not plowed (they clearly had smooth, white snow in them) but that the parking lots were entirely empty.
That was when I realized perhaps not checking my e-mail before I left had been a major oversight.
It simply hadn’t occurred to me that the school that is open when no one has plowed the major interstate that 50% of students at least use to get there might have closed when all the highways and expressways were clear.
So I drove all the way around to the main parking lot, which had a few cars in it (likely all maintenance staff, I figured, and later found out I was mostly correct – a couple may have been teachers) and was still basically covered in pristine snow, found a spot I could pull close enough to the building to that I would be able to get Internet signal, pulled out my trusty 9.1″ computer, prayed I would actually get wireless signal and opened my email, propping the computer up against the steering wheel.
Where I found not one but four emails, the first of which was sent at 5:31 am, indicating that the school would be closed until noon because they didn’t have plow service before then (my reaction: what? You’re open when the roads aren’t even plowed yet because you always have plow service). My one class today was scheduled to end at noon. The clock on my car read 10:44.
Putting away the computer, I realized there was no way I was going to be able to easily get out of where I had pulled the car in. Just because that section of the lot had a clear access road didn’t mean the rest of it wasn’t, well, snow. And I had ended up about halfway in the snowdrift created by the plow that cleared the access road. Switching the car between its lowest gear and reverse about five times, slowly rocking back and forth until I could reverse the car and drive in a circle to make it back to the access road, where another car pulled in just as I was trying to pull out, so I had to reverse back into the snowdrift for a second and force my way out of it again.
While doing that, my low fuel light came on.
I literally just had the test and am in a lecture, but couldn’t possibly wait to share this question as I was afraid I would forget it. It’s one of the most cleverly written exam questions I’ve ever encountered.
#. Which procedure is correct to follow when listening to breath sounds?
A. Auscultate the anterior chest at 6 different points.
B. Use the zig-zag pattern to listen, comparing sounds from right to left.
C. Ask the patient to take a deep breath and hold it in so you can listen.
D. Instruct the patient to breathe slowly and deeply in and out through the nose.
If I didn’t know before that my instructor wrote NCLEX questions (not examples, but the actual NCLEX) I would definitely know it now. I’m very impressed by the sneakiness of this question’s wording! If not reading carefully you’d definitely be screwed on this one.
My previously comfortable, low-key schedule (meant to contain nursing classes and Anatomy & Physiology, totaling 8 credits and about a million lab hours, plus a clinical rotation) has been completely destroyed by the addition of Microbiology, attempt #3. Every single time I’ve tried to take this class I’ve ended up sick and unable to complete, and so I don’t like the omen this is creating, but it’s a co-requisite to nursing classes and I’ve got to get through it. I like the course material, mostly (there are some instances that are painfully boring) but my trouble with my left eye makes microscope work tedious and sometimes impossible. Which leads to me being terribly down on myself for otherwise being capable.
Our first skill exam was yesterday morning and I passed; there isn’t really a “doing well” or a “not as well,” so much as just “passing” and “failing.” I’m actually afraid of the next one, which is the complete bath of a patient and making an occupied bed (at once). This is a ridiculous thing for me to be afraid of; IV insertion? Administration of medications? No problem. Intubation? Easy as whichever pastry you choose, I’ve done a million of ’em. Making a bed? Get me away! I can’t even make my own bed. And as far as the entire thing goes, I’m 5″ and 80some pounds; the manikins are bigger than I am, and what may well fail me is not being able to move them in a way that is the most comfortable for a real patient. Obviously, with a real patient, I would get assistance. I can’t so much do that on a skill exam.
Most schools, as far as I’m aware, don’t do skill exams like ours do; hopefully I’m not risking identifying myself. Much.
Despite the scary bedmaking (I know, I’m pathetic) and the additional class making my schedule merry hell because it’s a night class and getting to school at 7am on Monday and leaving at 11pm is a little bit wretched … the worst part of all of it is probably the commute.
At various times, I have: experienced a drive home spending 15 minutes straight with my foot on the break in one spot, been caught at a single red light for 10 minutes, nearly gotten into two separate accidents (neither of which are my fault), forced to park across the street in a pile of rocks and mud behind the grocery store, driven through major construction in the rain at rush hour, left 45 minutes before my class began and still ended up late because of a lack of parking, and other such delightfully pleasant things to experience when I’ve only had a drivers’ license for two weeks.
I’m sure I’m actually forgetting a million (un)pleasant such driving experiences. Really, I’m only posting so I can have posted something and can have even remotely mentioned the terrors of the commute; if I felt awake, it’d be a better constructed post.
But I have homework to do.
Well, first of all, my schedule is turning into a complete disaster as I learned microbiology is actually a co-requisite of everything else I’m taking, and there are currently, yep, no seats available. I might therefore lose my entire fall schedule and be stuck in school another year! Oh, life.
I don’t want to dwell on that, though. It’s so terribly discouraging. Instead, this is me talking about my supplies – today I went and picked up my textbooks.
After experiencing the sticker shock of the email telling me that they were ready, that would be approximately $600.
WTF? I say. My parents agree (they are the ones stuck paying for my books, as I really don’t have $600 to throw around – I don’t even have $90 to throw around). Needless to say, okay, better come up with $600. Thanks to my mother, that wasn’t too hard, and so today I went to the store to pick up Prepack #52.
It looked like this: (this image is a thumbnail)
Okay, no. Admittedly, it did not include the background contents of my desk, also pictured.Not the phone, not the page-a-day calendar currently displaying the wrong date, not the snowglobe. All those books, the lab manual on the bottom, the dissection kit and the glasses, though. And my school’s manual, which while I took a lovely photo of it is not included for anonymity purposes.
In order to make it easier to see what the books are (as somewhere someone might care, or wish to compare my educational institution’s , I provide another image:
My parents agreed it was actually pretty worth the $600.
It’s official: microbiology is suddenly boring.
I find the topics completely fascinating, I love learning about microbes of all sorts and causative agents of disease and why things are the way they are. But a week and a half into the class (and okay, I missed two classes due to my current raging Mystery Illness) I am absolutely bored out of my mind. The first major exam is in two hours and I’m staring blankly at all my practice quizzes, getting everything wrong because I’m so bored all the words are swimming around.
Despite my passion for infectious disease, I can’t get into the early stuff. It used to come naturally, but now it’s a pile of dull that doesn’t stick in my memory.