Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Firsts, Escapes, and Anniversaries.

First of all, if any of you readers are applying to MEPN right now, congratulations on finishing. Tonight at midnight is the deadline, and I remember all to well scrambling to get it all in.
In fact, the GRE made sure that I was late by a week, but somehow it all worked out. Have faith that yes, indeed, it will work out for you.

Non-MEPN stuff: I went to my first same-sex wedding in the beautiful Genessee Valley area of California. My friends Julie and Abigail tied the knot in the best ceremony I've ever been to, out in the middle of nowhere on their property past the North Fork Feather river.

Almost all of my river friends were attending, and I had a weekend of margaritas, sleeping bags and dust boogers that made my fall happy. This weekend, I'm volunteering in the med tent at the LOVEfest, hosting a few women at my house who are going to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and just unwinding. The Gourds are playing, and they play the best version of Gin and Juice (which, incidentally, Will plays on his banjo). So will Emmylou, Iron and Wine, and Poor Man's Whiskey. Sweet.

I miss Will. He's in Houston, doing hurricane relief, still. Probably there until December.

MEPN stuff:
Last week we had rapid response on our floor 4 times, once for someone with 10/10 chest pain and shortness of breath with a low O2 sat- ended up that patient didn't have an MI (heart attack- or "myocardial infarction," an "infarct" being an area of dead tissue due to lack of oxygen). And then another patient had Atrial Fibrulation alternating with Sinus Tachycardia. It was a chance for me to be the EMT on the floor; when the docs said, "get oxygen tubing" I already had it and the christmas tree (the attachment that allows us to connect tubing to oxygen). I also ended up printing out the ECGs for them. Yay! That was exciting.

Also firsts, some not so good: first long-term patient death. Sigh. Remember, yes, my info is changed due to HIPAA, so I don't always get to tell you everything that's happened. I will say this, the patient's room always smelled wonderful, due to aromatherapy, and I loved being in that room, regardless of how good or bad the day was for him. I took care of this patient about 3 days. He was waiting for a miracle, was young, needed more than one organ. He died waiting in the ICU from a massive internal bleed. His platelets were always low, and the clotting factors were always at critical values. And there were reasons for that, but it doesn't make it any less sad.
I haven't cried yet. I need to share this info with another MEPN who cared for him even more intensively than I did. The info I'm giving you, public, is different than what really happened, but it affects me nonetheless. I spent last Friday thinking about this person and remembering interacting with his family.
My heart felt heavy.
It's different, you know, when it's someone you've met briefly, than when it's someone you've helped out with on a day-to-day basis. Someone you've advocated for, watched the doctors go in and talk to, watched the discussion by the teams as to whether they're going to get what they need or not.

I started my first IV, a 20G on someone who's a "hard stick" and I nailed it. Proud? No: Glowing. I hate needles, and I faint when people come near me with them, so I'm uber aware of how I treat people with them, and I'm all about being a phlebotomy pro. I always used to get the hard sticks at Planned Parenthood, and now I feel like I did well with someone in the acute care setting, and I'm willing to go further.

A MEPN saved someone's life last week. She noticed a fever, and essentially caught early sepsis on someone. It wasn't someone who had had a ton of patient care experience; she was just very observant and very dedicated. And she's smart.
One small light, a small flickering flame that glows just enough for one person to see can change the world.
I hope that if I ever get sick I'm lucky enough to have this person as my nurse. She's awesome.

It's that time of year when we're getting sick, sore throats, tired - even though our schedule has eased up. Our first test is tomorrow.
MEPN is tough. Many of us have gained weight, lost partners, lost sleep.
There's a lot I'm editing, but more will come to light later, when I'm done with this program.

For now, it's all about the basics, the day to day stuff, the hopeful living and breathing and learning that we all do together.

For you applicants, think about nursing, and imagine yourself with someone at they're most vulnerable moments. Yeah, you'll hear a lot of jokes about "wiping ass," - which incidentally I do a lot- but think about being with someone when they're vulnerable and need that help. What an honor it is.
If you can't see it as an honor to be with someone when they're so sick they can barely take care of themselves, then this pathway is not for you.
If you feel that you have enough love for the entire world, with a little left over for yourself at the end of the day, then by all means, walk through the fire and do it, because it's worth it.
What a fucking honor. Every day.
The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste.
Whatever your reason is, let is shine forth in your essay, and best of luck.


Anonymous said...

Amen, sister. What an honor.

But it sure is tough....

Angela said...

You stumbled across my blog, now I wander around yours. I remember those days and still have those days. The hard sticks that YOU manage to get, the rough patients that perk up a bit when they recognise your face because YOU care. Don't lose that caring aspect of who you are in nursing. If you find that hAppening, time to move on to a different area. Go ahead and cry when a patient dies, it shows you're human and that you CARE. We are CARE givers, not automatons who perform tasks. Love your patients as you would your family and friends and you will always have great job satisfaction and your patients will feel better, not because you do things better or have more knowledge than another nurse, but because you CARE. I love your blog. I think you and I should do coffee... if it weren't for several thousand miles I'd strongly suggest it. Rock on, Sister friend!

The Millionizer said...

thanks for the MEPN application shout out. i started reading your blog when i was searching for advice on the application. it's been great to read all your insights. i graduated from ucsc in '05, wish me luck. go slugs!

The Millionizer said...

oh yeah and any advice? i speak spanish (not fluently) did they interview you in spanish? i am all nerves.

Al_Pal said...

Agreed that it is an honor to be with a dying person.
Woot for getting 'the hard stick'.
Hurrah for an awesome same-sex wedding. Hopefully we'll be making those legal again soon!