As a girl growing up in the suburbs with a stable family and never really going without, there are certain inevitabilities in life. You expect you'll go to college, you'll get too drunk and throw up. You'll clean up after a roommate. You'll have kids and change diapers. You'll get a dog who will poop on your carpet. Maybe you'll be a bartender and have to clean up after your college lacrosse team after a "fundraiser" gone awry.
I've recently completed my first full year of nursing school (by the skin of my teeth, but nonetheless), and finally have a minute (when I'm not studying for Pharmacology) to reflect on what I've been through so far. Nursing school is hard. And it kinda sucks. I've never worked harder at anything in my life. It makes me feel stupid. But, everyone feels the same way. So, we push on through. Clinical rotations, however, are amazing. For 8 hours a week, I play nurse in bright white (increasingly tighter) scrubs.
One thing that former-marketing-major-I-want-to-wear-a-power-suit chick would never have expected to be doing at 8AM on a Sunday morning - changing the adult diaper in a nursing home of a man I've never met before.
In theory, yes, it's kinda gross. In practice, however, it's much, much worse. Poop smells. Plus, you have to figure that someone who is incontinent and cannot clean himself, may have some other physical difficulties. Like, laying on his side. It took three of us to perform a bed bath on this man. Two to hold and one to clean. He wasn't a large man, but he was very stiff. He has osteoporosis and some other issues that make it painful and difficult to remain in that position.
And, while it is a shock - physically - to have to provide such a steep level of care for someone, it's really the emotion of it that's gotten to me. I can't imagine what it must be like to see a crew of 20-somethings in scrubs swarm in to wipe my butt.... To know that my whole life has already happened.
I guess this is why they start us in a long-term care facility. We're seeing people who have contributed so much for so many years. They deserve the best care.
I have finished my nursing home rotation, but each session was a challenge. The first two times, I was paired up with total-care patients who could do very little for themselves. The first week, the man I was caring for could barely speak. He was very weak, had a rough night's sleep and was fighting a pneumonia infection. The next time, I was caring for a man in a similar physical state, who was mentally aware. That was more difficult. He was so aware of what was going on and the fact that he couldn't help. He was also the man who needed the assistance of three nursing students.
In my third shift, I was assigned to a woman. She is in her mid 90's and has been diagnosed with dimentia. Physically, she's awesome, considering her age. And, she's a little hard of hearing, but mentally, she really seemed to be totally with it. She required some assistance. I had to wash her.... only after she stripped naked in the bathroom...without warning.. Which was a shock, since I had no clothes or towels ready for her... But, she was totally lucid and able to do much of her hygiene care herself. It wasn't until she said, while adjusting her bra "help me lift 'em in there" that I snapped back into the situation...
What keeps some people bed-ridden and others stripping in the bathroom? It's an incredible learning experience. In the lab, you get the techniques down. But in practice, you're not dealing with steps, you're dealing with people. I think some of the CNAs forget that sometimes. I know I'm green here, but I hope not to forget that. And, while we're at it, I hope no one ever has to "lift 'em in there" for me... whether I'm able to ask for it or not.
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
I spent four days in the beginning of this month in Puerto Plata, Domican Republic. My sister and I took a trip to Paradise for her final Spring Break of college. I graduated years ago, but far be it from me to miss an opportunity to go to an all-inclusive beach-front resort in the beginning of March.
It was beautiful. I wouldn't say it was the best trip I've been on, as far as destinations go, but I had an amazing time with my sister. The three bottles of sunblock we went through in a day and a half made sure that we didn't burn. We enjoyed our free drinks and food. We lounged by the pool and beach, danced at the disco and night club. We spent a rainy day swimming with dolphins, sharks and sting rays.
This leads me to #20. I didn't realize that I was actually terrified of sting rays. But, it turns out that I am. Like irrationally terrified. I don't have any photos of that endeavor because the proof was just too sad. Lisa and I screamed like little girls and I swear I almost cried. The animal trainers kept screwing with us because, after all, we were scared, screaming Americans.
Yes, that's a shark on our laps.
In exactly two weeks, I will turn 28. That's almost 30. It got me thinking about all that I have done in my life, and all that I haven't. Over the next two years and two weeks, I hope to accomplish these thirty tasks. It's not that I'm not proud of where I am now - I've graduated from college, bought my own place (and a real, non-hand-me-down couch), I've been in love, I've learned to manage my crazy, I've lived in Europe, I've zip-lined and rock climbed and snow-shoed. I've been to Hawaii. I got into nursing school... But there's alot I haven't done. Thanks to my friend Rob, and his awesome 30x30 list, I've started my own. So, without further adieu, here's the list:
- Bring my credit card debt to zero
- Put "RN" after my name
- Go to Nashville, Graceland and a rodeo
- Learn to change a flat tire
- Go parasailing
- Go skydiving
- Run a 10K
- Do 100 pushups
Go to a country I've never been toMarch 4, 2010
- Go scuba diving
- Go blonde
- Keep a plant alive for six months
- Go snowboarding
- Take surfing lessons
- See AFI's top 100 movies
- Paint or draw something to hang in my place
Get a petMarch 14, 2010
- Ride 100 miles on my bike
- Play 18 holes of golf
Do something I'm terrified ofMarch 2, 2010
- Buy myself an amazing piece of jewelery
- Take a cross-country road trip
- Host a fancy-pants dinner party
- Read 10 classic novels
- Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
- Scan and organize my family's photos
- Give blood
- Spend a full day volunteering
- Learn to drive stick
- ??? Open for suggestions