Friday, December 4, 2009


Every day I learn, I am humbled by how much more there is to know.
Here's a sample:

I've learned that fake seizures are indeed, obnoxious.

I've learned that asking a parent, "How are you doing?" when their child is sick and in your care goes a really long way.

I've learned that more people should speak Spanish in California.

I've learned not to trust other peoples' charting and to make my own assessment.

I've learned to try for the "tough stick."

I've learned that no matter your religion, there's a special place in hell for people who hit-and-run 80 year old grandma crossing the street to go to church.

I've learned to go to the doctor, even if he's a jerk, because the time you go to him and it's really a big deal, you earn more respect than you ever imagined.

I've learned to never let it go to your head.

I've learned that I will have days where I seriously screw up, and am grateful that nobody is hurt. (Knock on wood).

I've learned that I love what I do.

I've watched other people sit on their asses and not help out when push comes to shove, and I will never be like that.

I've learned that if you tell me the exact amount of pain medication you need, where to start your IV, and that you're allergic to all meds except ativan and dilaudid, then I consider you a GOMER (Get. Out. Of. My. ER.), and I never thought I'd ever feel that way towards anyone. And if you ask me for a meal tray and then tell me you're suicidal after I refuse because I'm waiting for your lab tests? Then you have incurred my wrath and I resent paying taxes for your visit. And I especially resent you if your ring the call light 40 times while I'm in a pediatric code next door.
See this youtube video, it is so illustrative of the crap I deal with:

I've learned that you cannot, no matter what, give more than 10mEq of Potassium per hour or you will cause a dysrythmia. And I have not done so, thankfully.

I've learned that if you call a nurse "honey," s/he will cringe. And will lag at getting what you need.

I've learned that a good charge nurse is really awesome.

I've learned that even a jerk of a doc can be a really awesome diagnostician.

I've learned that when the doctor says stop CPR, you stop. And you realize that you've done all you can.

I've learned that when you start an IV on a kid, you had better damn well get it the first time, but sometimes you don't, and that's okay.

I've learned that really, everyone who is sick and in the ER is afraid, and if you honor that, then you have a way better chance of connecting and understanding what's going on with your patients.

I've learned that the little things really go a long way.

I've learned that I have a helluva lot more to learn.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hello, Backbone, "How you doin?"

Thank you ER, for giving me something that I sometimes lack: a spine.
It's been helpful in more ways than just nursing.

I've gained clarity that I've really needed.

Things that I've lost sight of.

In the ER: I am now able to stand up for myself. I know when to ignore, I am better able to figure out when to question, I'm more of an advocate for my patients.

In personal life: I have always been able to stand up for myself. I am angered when people underestimate me. Being told that I'm malleable and "easily influenced" even if someone feels that way tells me that they severely underestimate me and they seriously overestimate themselves. I am much stronger than most people know. Part of that is from reading the "Ancient Art of War," which allowed me to keep my guard up, no matter what the situation. I am quiet when confronted in interpersonal interaction, which is often mistaken for weakness.
And I am certainly strong, in ways people don't even imagine.

Will is one of the people who has never underestimated me, which is why I love him so much.
In any case, I am happy to have found my spine again. And I am deeply happy that Will is back and here with me.
This time is a special one. I am living day by day, happily reveling in rejoining and rejoicing.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Intensity, and a Labor of Love

The ER is getting better.
The above image is sunrise at Lee's Ferry on the Grand Canyon.
Being a full-time Canyon guide is on my "Bucket List," and although I've rowed it and guided it, I'm not a full-time guide with even 20 trips under my belt.
But my heart is still there.

There are certain things in your life that grab hold of your presence so intensely that you know immediately if your heart belongs there or not.
Nursing, and the experiences I have every day in my job, validates this more than anything.

It's so much a labor of love. I read my friends' blogs and I realize more and more how much our time in nursing school was dedicated to really loving people. I see it every day in my ER when I take the extra second to be kind to somebody and they thank me.
We were raised well.

Love is giving freely. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it is not proud..." one quote from the Bible that I can hang with (1st Corinthians 13 something, forgive the absent mind of the Catholic schoolgirl).

The river has my heart and soul.
I am deciding whether I can give it elsewhere. My patients get my heart every day. I am someone who loves deeply. I have to recognize this and love it in myself.
I have a capacity to love many people. I also have to recognize and embrace this fact.

Just like I embrace the sunrise over the river.
Just like I embrace my dreams and goals.
Everything we do leads us to something better and more amazing for ourselves. I truly believe this fact.
And now, I just need to live it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Climbing Behind a Waterfall (an allegorical anectdote)

This photo was taken in September of 2004, while I was on a Grand Canyon trip. This exact spot is called "Elves' Chasm," and it truly looks like a place where you might expect little people to pop out of the crevices around you. The waterfall is stunning, and you can crawl up behind it and jump into the shimmering, clear pool below you. There are seven pools you can explore, each one more dazzling and more difficult to access- in fact, I know of someone who fell to their death while trying to climb to the top pool (that's another story). There is no safety net. There is only your impetus to explore, and your awareness of your actions.

That's how I feel right now.
Acutely. Aware.
Of all of these things.

Those who know me know that I have an incredible fear of heights, to the point that even bouldering in a climbing gym terrifies me. I've made it to the base of the cables on Half Dome and couldn't bring myself to go further.

So the fact that I took this picture is actually very sacred and telling to me. Even though I was afraid to climb behind that falls, I did so, and I was rewarded with this amazing, dynamic view.
And guess what?
In the end, it wasn't that bad.
And guess what else?
I jumped.

I jumped into that clear blue pool below and laughed and cried and was given hugs and then I climbed up to the next pool, and the next pool, and the next one. I haven't been to the uppermost one because it was just too treacherous at the time and we didn't have the equipment to get there. But I pushed my boundaries, explored, and was rewarded with an awareness of a place that I will never forget, and one that I long for.

There are pieces of me that I have missed deeply, and I am reconnecting with them now. I feel like I've been neglecting aspects of myself that are central to who I am.
And I'm ready to climb a little bit.

Nursing is like that every day, and yes, I'm talking about nursing and stepping out on a limb and being afraid of what I do and the consequences that my actions have for others, but I'm also not talking about nursing.

I'm talking about life.
I'm talking about love.
I'm talking about living.

My meditation lately has been:
Meditating on the idea that courage comes from love (coeur, corazón), and fear comes from the unknown. I embrace unknowns; I choose courage.

This saying has been one of mine since the end of high school. It has every bit of the same importance right now in my life.

We must be gentle and kind to one another, and help each other explore. We must help each other reach those pools, those places that are difficult to access, but open us up to a world of beauty. It requires trust, faith, and patience.
Regardless of if it's nursing, or if it's vulnerability, or if it's acknowledging each other and ourselves for who we truly are, and loving that especially.

That's all.
Oh yeah, and here's Elves' looking up at the waterfall (different perspective is always good)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bunnies have more fun.

No, really. That's me, at Symbiosis festival, doing medical work.
It was a pleasant relief from being in the ER everyday and having my ego shattered.
A lot has happened since I last blogged.
For one, I'm engaged. Awesomeness and love.
For two, I'm taking steps towards being less afraid of other things in my life. I can't elaborate here, but wow when you are open, life hands you some cool surprises. Some of those are worth waiting a long time for, and I am incredibly struck to the core by what can happen when we manifest our intentions.
For three, I feel like I suck as an ER nurse, it's okay. I've decided my work environment is destroying my soul, but I'm learning a lot, so I gotta suck it up and go with it.
Hopefully all will be well.

That's the news for now.
Aside from pushing Epi IV, which I'm sure I'll repeat.

Stay cool California. Or wherever you are.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Unicorns and Rainbows and such.

I write a lot about nursing, and have written some about rivers, mostly because that's what my life has consisted of.

But now I'm gonna write about Unicorns.

Since I was a kid, I loved Unicorns. And now that Burning Man is coming up, we have actually created the Unicorn Ranch, which is a place for special hard-to-find people to be found. Maybe. If we like you.

It definitely will be serving pink fizzy drinks.

Watch for updates on our awesome camp. My sister and I are painting the artwork for it, so we're having fun with that. Will is getting an extra dome, and we have trampolines.
If you live in a cave, and don't know what Burning Man is, go here:

I can't explain it to you. For those of you who know, but haven't been, you need to come.
For those of you who know it was better next year... I can't wait to give you dusty hugs!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Adventures in Big Emergencies.

Yesterday was actually pretty good, sorta. I missed a cardioversion which went on just after shift change (8:00pm), but I was exhausted. The ER is either going to kill all love and sympathy I have for humanity, or make it grow, or both.

The morning was pretty mellow, basic, a few definitely emergent-but-not-life-threatening things happening, and then all of a sudden, things heated up.
Within an hour of each other, we received a stroke patient, a patient having a bigtime cardiac arrhythmia, and then someone who was pretty septic with dangerously low blood pressure, out of it, and was pretty much circling the drain.
3 patients, three real emergencies. Ready, GO!

Sigh. When starting an IV on my cardiac patient, I didn't put the best pressure on his vein, so he bled a little bit (not a lot), but a little. His BP was really REALLY high, too. And he was scared.
And I will tell you this:
If you're a new nurse or a nursing student, listen to me carefully:
ALWAYS give the patient the call button before you leave the room. Even if they don't use it, they cannot be (as) upset with you if they have a way to get in touch with you.

Someone who was doing a test told him when he asked for one of us (literally 2 minutes after he had been stabilized and when we had just finished drawing blood and left the room to send it) that he would be lucky if someone actually came. First of all, that attitude is BULLSH*T, and secondly it's not true.
So he peed in the bed instead of calling and asking for a urinal or a bedside commode.
If he had the call light, he could have called for me or another nurse. So, that's the call light issue. Oh yeah, and this patient was relatively young.
I guess later he also figured out I was newer and was upset - apparently about the blood that leaked from his vein when we were getting his IV in. On the up side, I noticed that his O2 sat had dropped when he told me he felt confused, I figured out, "Oh hey, maybe it's because your oxygen is low and you need just a little bit. Sweet." On the down side, later that day, I also watched communication breakdown happen with him (and with me! I love it when people make major decisions about a patient and don't tell the nurses). It was a recipe for disaster, but the patient is okay, and that's what counts, right? Sigh.
Part of me felt like, "Wow, I totally understand how this person is frustrated," and the other part of me felt like, "Um, we just saved your life. We have 4 other super acute patients and I'm doing my best to chase down the doctor to make sure you're ok. Couldya throw a thank you in there somewhere?"

Be good to your hearts, folks:

Our stroke patient had a whole 'nother story as well, but that one involved a good catch by me: "Wait a sec, we can't give this med- the blood pressure is sky high but the heart rate is under 60, we need a different one...." and some love towards the folks upstairs to get them to admit our patient with a super high BP.
The one circling the drain- well, when we get people that sick, our ER will drop nurses to 1:1 ratio, so that we function like a mini-ICU until people get stabilized. That works really well.

So, I still feel slow, my skills are slowly coming back to me, and for the most part, I'm getting it. It's week 4 for me in the ER, so I'd hope so. I'm glad I have another 20 to go before I'm considered a full nurse.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Some people are stronger than you think...

Every day is a new set of amazing stories. I see so many different people in a day, and I'm amazed at what I get to learn, see and do.

Today was a really good day. In fact, this week has been a lot better.
I actually have the ability to chart on patients, I know where stuff is in the Pyxis (the medication machine), and my IV start scorecard has improved drastically. Like I'm at 80% now - I'm just working on stopping the bleeding after I insert the catheter.

Tentatively, I'm starting to feel like a *real* nurse. Sorta.
I took on two patients on my own today (the standard is 3 to 4), and I'm getting the rhythm of it. The most awesome thing about the ER is that for the most part, the nurses and the docs really help each other out. The teamwork is stellar. I've learned which nurses will leave you 4 straight caths and bloodwork to do at the end of their shift, which ones spend more time freaking out than working, and which ones see that you have a new patient and will help your other ones to the bathroom or draw the blood or help with a procedure when you're swamped. There are more of the helpful than the selfish ones in the ER, and that makes me happy.

This week has also been full of good lessons.
A 90+ year old man attempted to break my thumb today. He was confused, ripping out lines, his oxygen levels were low, and we had inserted a Foley catheter. Poor guy. I think I'd try to break someone's thumb if someone came at me with a Foley, too.
In any case, of course it came at the time that 1) we were supposed to take him upstairs to his med-surge floor on a heart monitor (and he didn't want the lines on him), 2) I had 3 other things to do for a patient going to CT scan who was worried she had cancer, and 3) I had to pee really bad (number 3 being the least important).
What do you do with someone who does that?
Me: "Hey that is NOT okay. You are hurting me. Let me go NOW." I grabbed his wrist, bent it enough to loosen his grip. I am acutely aware that I cannot hurt my patient.
Him: "I don't care if I hurt you. I don't like being here."
He releases his grip.
I sigh. I don't blame him. He's a DNI/DNR, and his blood pressure is sky high, his heart is working at 30%, and half the time he doesn't know where he is, and when he does, he's frustrated because he can't move very well.
We still got an order for Ativan to calm him down. When he tried to pull out his Foley (which sits in the bladder with an inflated balloon keeping it from slipping out) and his IVs, we had to. He was hurting himself.
And my thumb still hurts. But both of us are intact.

Yesterday I had my first violent patient as well. He called me every name in the book - and I told him to stop, that he had no right to be abusive towards me, or anyone else when we're trying to help him.
He fired me as his nurse.
It all started over a lost glove. Apparently the glove was more important than anything else, including the pain he had reported on admission.
The clincher was when he called the very large, formidable African-American security guard a "stupid, fat, n****r." You could have heard a pin drop. I think the patients all gasped and stopped vomiting. All of our jaws dropped. He continued to be belligerent, and demanded to leave. The patient was escorted out by numerous security guards. He obviously had some other major psych issues, but he was threatening the nurses, threatening security, and he swore at another patient. It was nuts. And a good lesson. I tried really hard to talk him down, and so did other nurses, and so did the Doctors and you know what?
It just didn't work. He signed out AMA, cursing all of us for losing his glove. It's the first time I really felt a sense of "good riddance." I feel sorry for him, and if he came back I'd try to help him, but there's a point where you have to cut off the kindness. I reached it.
The funny thing is that I don't think he even had gloves to begin with. It was a surreal experience.

And today, I had so many different people with different issues, it was amazing. From vehicle trauma (trauma!) to heart problems to a possible aneurysm, to Lupus flare-ups, to gallbladder attacks, to insect bites to Septic Shock with some very special circumstances... holy crap.

Kind of like nursing school, except - holy shit - it's real. I'm responsible. For people.

You can bet your sweet ass I'm checking every single medication. Is Vanco compatible with NS 0.9%? Is Toradol? How about Diphenhydramine? How much Fentanyl do you want to give IVP - his pulse is only 58? Hey Doc, you wrote the order for Morphine IM. Did you want it IM or IVP like you told me? Can you change that order?
These are the questions I'm asking constantly. I'm super anal about the meds. The seasoned nurses think it's cute, and they also respect it.
The other thing I'm stoked on is the critical thinking skills we got from UCSF. I can look at labs and have some sense of what's going on with a patient. I know where to look for info on Up-To-Date. It helps me anticipate what's coming, and it really helps in the ED.
I'm really grateful for our assessment skills.

Emergency. My dream. I still can't believe I'm here.
And you know what my feeling is at the end of the day?
I *really* love my job.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

All Thumbs

First of all, I am totally lovin' the Emergency Department (yes, it's a *department* not a *Room* - so when I say ED, you know what I mean).

I have seen so much cool stuff in the past two weeks, and I feel really fortunate to be where I'm at.
I also feel completely bass-ackwards. Somehow, between the end of nursing school and now, I lost all ability to start an IV. In fact, yesterday, I was the anti-IV starter. I blew the most perfect vein I've ever seen, and I have no idea why it was one of those days. It just was.
The nurses I work with have been super nice, "Oh, don't worry, it's ok, we miss too sometimes." Oh yeah? You guys miss on the 99 year old. I missed on the healthy person with an antecubital beauty the size of the Mississippi river.

And with precepting, I kinda feel like I'm in nursing school again, except I can actually sign off on insulin, heparin, and narcotics. I *just* got my ability to chart yesterday, and I still don't have access to the Pyxis. I am about 70% able to help patients as far as logistics go. That's frustrating. And I still don't know where things are.

And I miss my MEPN friends. I am finally making some new ones here, but it's tough, you know?

Growing, growing, growing.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bites, car accidents and emboli, Oh my!

Today was wild. All information has been changed to conform to HIPAA.

I walked in to a new place, with my nurse educator on vacation, which she had told me would be the case. Not a problem. I was paired with an AWESOME nurse, also named Nicole.

Holy crap today was busy.

Pulmonary Embolus, or more specifically, R/O pulmonary embolism, fit the description of one of our first patients of the day. A 30 year old young woman, into exercising, with chest pain had a D-Dimer level of 5500. HUGE. The cutoff for a negative is <500.
Her CT scan showed some interesting stuff, but no clot, so we did what we could to keep her comfortable.

15 year old girl kicks the dog dish and gets bitten. Sucks. Maybe we don't kick things at the dog anymore?

Pneumothorax took the cake though. The Chest X Ray (CXR in medical abbreviation speak)
was amazing! I asked, "um, what's wrong with the left lung?" and the doc looked at me and said, "Wow! Yep, that's a pneumothorax." And all of a sudden a bunch of surgeons were in our ER and the patient was on a gurney, and I was helping the surgeons with the insertion, and I was silently thanking Pam for all of her lectures on chest tubes since I immediately knew how to set up the Pleur-Evac device. A pneumothorax means something is in the chest wall between the lining of the lungs and the lungs themselves: in this case, air. Usually it's caused by a hole in the lung. By placing a tube in the chest wall that keeps negative pressure on the lung and allows it to expand, you allow your patient to breathe and heal. Docs place the tubes, nurses monitor the tube and make sure the suction device (Pleur-Evac) is working. Very cool.

And then there were the psych issues. Wow.
And the pediatric patients.
And the people with heart attacks.
And the irrigation of a skin issue the size of a tomato.

Oh yeah, and there was that Stage II pressure ulcer I saw this morning on a patient when admitted.
I asked if we had checked this patient's back, and everyone shook their head. "Ok, I'll do it." So, sure enough, it stared at me like an angry eyeball, red, painful, and begging for healing. One of the nurses documented it, and then I repositioned our patient so there was no weight on that spot.
I felt like I actually did something there. I have no computer access, medication access, or ability to chart, but I *do* have the ability to care.

So that's what I did today.

When I stop caring, I stop being a nurse. And a human.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


It's official! I looked up my name on the CA BRN, and it was there, appearing like a little neon light in the morning.

I passed the NCLEX!

So, now I am DEFINITELY going hiking in Glacier.

Monday, June 29, 2009

85 degrees and 70% humidity.

Here's what the ranch looks like now. I was just caught on my bicycle in a lightning storm about two days ago in the same place I took this photo.

What did I do? I (fortunately) was on the stretch that had cell reception, and just 30 seconds before called for help from Will. I had looked up at the sky before I left- "oh, clouds, not bad - in fact, beautiful" but 30 minutes later on my ride, they were suddenly dark and had that this-looks-bad kinda edge to them. Black and thick, I decided, hmm, I might make it, but I'll call for a pickup just in case... That was the one smart decision I made.

When I saw the first bolt hit the field about a mile or so away from me, I have to tell you, it was pretty shocking (no pun intended).
There is nothing in the world like realizing you are the highest point in the field, sitting on a piece of aluminum.

I laid my bike down on the road and ran 100 feet away for the drainage ditch, where I squatted for the longest 10 minutes of my life. No, there was no water in it.
At least when it started hailing, the lightning stopped.
Will showed up with a truck like a knight on a white horse. I think I became a member of every religion for about 20 minutes that day.

So, humbled and more educated on Montana thunderstorms, not 10 minutes later it was sunny and 85 degrees again.

The saying here on the ranch is, "If you don't like our weather, wait 15 minutes."
Yeah, I guess so.

Ok, other fun pics from the trip so far.
Here's Idaho:

And here are my friends in Bozeman, during the pizza-and-champagne evening we had. It also included PBR, never fear:

So that's what I've been up to. We also went to an airshow in Helena, MT - where we watched the Air Force Thunderbirds perform, and got to check out some cool helicopters and planes. The focus on the military here in Montana isn't too surprising; it seems like a lot of folks are middle-America Apple Pie, and a lot of the kids go into the Reserves.

That's Montana for now. Off to Glacier soon.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Relaxation and a Roadtrip.

That's a photo of my ultimate destination, where my honey is, taken in March of this year (it's a lot greener and warmer now).

Since the MEPN year has finished, I've been a busy little bee.
It's almost unbelievable that the year is done.

What's also unbelievable is the fact that I'm discovering as I type just how well pepper jack cheese cures a hangover. Delicious.

I drove from Reno, NV to Bozeman, MT yesterday. Why Reno? I used to live in Truckee, CA and the night before I hung out in Reno, we had a little BBQ with friends at their house on Donner Lake. I'm on vacation, make no mistake. Truckee was fun - low-key and chill, beautiful weather. I also embarked upon my first bike ride in a year. I refused to ride my bike in SF after a few friends were hit or run off the road by cars, so that's one thing I've looked forward to in Santa Monica; however in Truckee I used to ride all the time, specifically the 35 mile round-trip from Truckee to Tahoe City on the bike trail. Beautiful.

Some of our Truckee friends, disenchanted with the smaller size of the quiet mountain town, moved to Reno, where you can still buy a house with a yard without paying half a million dollars. Yes, you can pay that much, but by and large it's much easier to be a homeowner. Not that they are, but hey, the option is there.
In any case, Reno was a fun adventure. Nope, no gambling, but we met near the Truckee River kayak play spot, then went off to my FAVORITE bar, the Roxy Bistro which is located in the El Dorado. The Roxy has over 102 martinis on the menu, and I am all about good martinis. Especially when they're made with vanilla vodka, chocolate liquor and have a rim of white chocolate on them. Yum.
From there we ventured out looking for sushi, but, alas, Reno is the red-headed stepchild of Vegas, so that was difficult to find at 11pm on a Tuesday. Instead, we went to get an Awful-Awful at the Little Nugget, which was the most awesome place EVAR because it combined a burger joint with a bar, and there was Karaoke Tuesday to boot. Perfect for a band of lost river guides in danger of being too drunk who need food and have to be functional the next morning. The burger was huge. My friend Shelley and I split it, and then I proceeded to karaoke Don't Stop Believin'.
That was awesome.
I got up early Wednesday and had a beautiful (albeit slow) drive from Reno to Bozeman, fraught with greenery, wildflowers, poofy little clouds, and people driving 10 miles under the speed limit. Sheesh.
When I arrived in Bozeman, my friend Heather greets me with, "Want a glass of champagne?"
Um, yes.
Then she looks at me, "Oh, it's Veuve. Is that okay?"
Hell yes.
Thus began the evening of drinking champagne, eating pizza, drinking more wine, and me passing out around 1 wondering if I drank enough water (I didn't).
Hence I'm still horizontal, nomming on pepper jack cheese wondering if my friend (who apparently drank more than I did) is okay, and wondering if I should go get breakfast makings for her. Hmm.

I'm gonna start driving to the ranch where Will is this afternoon, which is a short trip, but I have errands to run for him (he's in the middle of nowhere), so I gotta get movin!

I love chillin' out!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

NCLEX done!

By the way, that's a photo of Mono Lake I took in December of 2008, which has nothing to do with my blog entry. It's just pretty.

So, I took the feared NCLEX-RN, which is the National Counsel Licensing Exam for Registered Nurses, and it's in the format of a computer-adaptive test.
What does this mean?
It means that the computer senses how well you are doing and gives you more difficult questions if you answer correctly. This feature would be all well and good, except that the minimum amount it takes to determine whether you can practice at entry-level competency is:
75 questions
The max? 265.
I think I would freak if I went to 265.
So you don't know when the computer determines your competency at 90% accuracy, you just know that it *could* shut off at 75, or the computer could decide that it doesn't know if you're competent at 75 and therefore you have to answer more questions. Yikes.
And it's not about getting questions right per se, it's about what level of question you get. Ugh.
Combine that with a bunch of over-achieving A students who like getting high scores, and you have a recipe for an anxiety disorder.
Around question 20, mine became insanely difficult, and the computer shut off at 75, which I was excited about at first, but also felt a little unnerved about.
"Did I pass? Or did I fail?"
I came to the point of not caring. It's done. I'll find out soon enough.

And bonus! Our transcripts aren't in yet, which means that we can't find out results with the Board of Registered Nursing in California. Yay. They won't release results until they know we've actually finished a nursing program.
Double bonus: California's not a "quick result" state anyways.

So, to avoid obsessive-compulsive searching for my name to pop up on the BRN site (it's our unofficial way of finding our license), I'm heading out, driving, to Montana where my honey is working as a producer for a show that's going to be aired next year.

The vacation has truly begun!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Oh Santa Monica, Yay!

After my 3rd PPD test this year, and some issues with the water heater (like, it hasn't worked since Sunday), I'm finally settling in to my new place. Hopefully I'll have a hot shower by this evening. It's almost like travelling-

Pictures to be posted after my roadtrip to see my honey in Montana!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

MEPN Reflections.

Those are my hands. We're doing a small art installation at our graduation ceremony and they will be part of them.

Today I finished my final hours of clinical instruction, and it still hasn't hit home:
I'm done.

Monday there is a class, but I'm headed to a wedding, and I was okayed to go early in the quarter.
So really, I'm done.

This year has been very short, but jam-packed. We were talking about some heavy stuff at lunch, and I thought I'd post some of the stuff I've experienced this year:

Poop is just not a big deal anymore. Period. Cleaned up a lot of it this year, and there's probably more to come.
Was present with a patient who watched her husband slip away more and more neurologically as cancer took over his body. And cried with her.
Learned that yes, I *can* take care of four patients at once on a med-surge floor, but it's hard and I can't do it and be doing a good job.
Learned I have a ton more to learn.
Started an IV on someone who was scared of needles, first try.
Missed on a few people who were scared of needles, first try. Didn't go for a second.
Watched one of my favorite patients go through acute rejection of a transplanted liver.
Watched the team of doctors and nurses pull for her to get a second transplant, and I watched her go home happy and healthy from that second surgery. That was a miracle.
Sat in the ICU with a woman who was too sick to be transplanted, and had been begging us to "let her go home." I held her hand as she was dying, intubated in the ICU, and she turned her head toward me for a moment when she was supposedly "unconscious." And the next day I held her daughter's hand.
Watched the acute distress of a young man who had his last bit of hope dashed when we learned he was in acute rejection of his lungs. I don't know the last outcome, but it was not looking good.
Sat with that memory intensely when my friend, Anne, died following acute rejection of her lungs at age 33.
Helped take care of a 3 year old boy who was dying in the PICU.
Helped care for an 11 year old developmentally delayed girl on dialysis with spina bifida who was in pain and spoke only Spanish. And helped her family get in touch with translators.
Laughed with an old woman who was incontinent after being in the ED for 3 hours (I had just showed up). Her remark, "Well, if you guys had actually checked on me, you might have noticed earlier. What do you expect? I'm old!" She watched us running around like busy bees.
Listened to a 12 year old with Lupus who had been in the hospital for a month, and who told me that all she wanted to do was go home and hang out with her brother and her cat. And have a piece of pizza, for once.
Charted with a 4 month old in my arms who would cry unless he was held by one of the nurses. He'd turn blue if he cried: Tetralogy of Fallot, and he would sleep if I sang to him.
Cried from anger while taking care of a pre-teen girl who had been hit by a bullet while playing, and was decerebrate. She would make noises that seemed like frustration or pain, and the reality of that situation broke my heart. I was overwhelmed by the love of her family, and still feel sick over the way violence destroyed her life. When I saw her picture from her soccer team, taken a week earlier, I nearly vomited because I was so angry, and the change in her was that drastic. I will never, EVER forget her.
Had a frank, genuine conversation with someone who was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, who told me, "Wow, you calmed me down!"
Had a patient tell me he loved me, in a really sweet way, and I could not tell him that I loved him back, because how do you explain platonic love to someone who is in a locked inpatient psych ward? I mean, really, how?
Held the hand of a spouse who discovered her husband had been rejected for a transplant, and has a year to live....
and still haven't emailed them.
Held my tongue when a precepting nurse chided me for holding the hand of a woman in labor.
Auscultated - and played with - a girl who had two hearts. Yes, two. Heterotopic heart transplant if you want to look it up. Imagine the ECG.
Failed on numerous attempts of trying to do something good. Fortunately it didn't hurt anyone.
Made a little girl cry by not taking out her IV fast enough (don't prolong the bandaid removal).
Faced some of my own prejudices, especially in psych.
Let go of some fear of TB.
Saw a multitude of vaginal births, and a few crash C-sections. And a few scheduled C-sections.
Relied on friends. Including professors, who were really supportive in all the loss I experienced this quarter. Sheila and Lynn and Pam, thank you. Seriously- thank you all.

And I made some great friends.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Oh Yeah, I Got a JOB!

It's been official for a few months, but I wanted to wait until the New Hire paperwork, etc was done until I posted about it.

I'm an ER nurse as of July this year. Woot! I feel super SUPER lucky to even have a job, and to have an ER job? Whoa. Awesome.

People have asked what I did. I started looking in October. My resume was done in December, and I had all of my recommendations together as well. I applied everywhere, even to places I didn't think I'd live (like LA), and ended up with a job at UCLA med center. Sweet. Nobody here in the SF Bay is hiring, and had I waited for a position here, I think I would have been unemployed. A lot of new grad programs have been canceled, which means there will be a shortage again, eventually.

I never thought I'd live in LA, but being next to the beach isn't such a bummer, let me tell you. Plus, it's only for a year or two, before I finish my MSN back at UCSF after this "step-out" year. Awesome.

So, I'll be moving here:

Friday, May 29, 2009


After a year of insane studying, overzealous highlighting, crazy hours of driving and commuting, writing papers until all hours of the night, and severe lack of exercise and life:

I just turned in my last paper.

I am done. Now it's just the NCLEX, attending clinical, and actually exercising again.

San Francisco is actually pretty nice when I'm not running around like a headless chicken.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Keeping my Mouth Shut.

So, last Friday, I had an amazing moment.
Most of the nurses on the floor in the hospital I'm in for L&B, who discover the woman who wants to give birth without intervention, who wants to do "Natural Child Birth" (OMG!), she's automatically labeled as: crazy, insane, masochistic, f'ed up.
And you know what I said?

I'm a nursing student. I kept my mouth shut.

What I want to say?
When I first wrote this, I was really really angry, and I typed out what I wanted to say. But...
I was taught if I can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all. So I didn't. I want natural child birth too. I think I said that, but in a very even tone, so as not to rock the boat. And I clearly remember the shock in the voices around me, "Really? Are you kidding?"

I respect the mama who wants to scream, moan, blow out her pain with her breath.
I respect the mom who looks at the doctor with "crazy eyes" and says, "I can't do this, help me, pull this kid out of me," and the doctor says, "You're almost there, you CAN do this, I know it, breathe, focus" and then winks at me with all the love in her heart.

And I DO NOT respect the "nurse" who interferes with that beautiful, human connection that the patient and I have.

My patient:
She reached out to me, grabbed my hand while pushing, one of her most intimate moments in life that she will remember forever, she holds me, and I whisper to her, "I'm here for you, I'm right here, and I'm not gonna let you go."
And the nurse, with her degree, and her NCLEX, and her knowledge- she subtly reaches over and peels that womans' hand from mine,
and places it on a grip bar attached to the bed and says, "You might feel more comfortable here."

And the baby boy is so beautiful, and mom and baby are so happy when he is finally with us in the room, "crazy" mom and her little boy and dad who is super supportive...
and the nurse takes me aside,
"So, that birth went well, but um, DONT EVER let a LABORING woman GRAB your hand like she did, she'll break it. Protect yourself. You did really well except for that one thing. You're not aware of your safety."
And all I could do was nod.
"Okay. Thanks."

Inside, what I wanted to say, "What. The. Fuck."

I had one of the most intimate moments I could ever have with a patient- she reached for me, gently, to support her, and that nurse, so afraid of intimacy, took it from both of us.

I think that moment really topped off a very disheartening day with this particular nurse, who seemed very disconnected from her patients even though she was young and fairly new. She liked hanging out with the monitors rather than being present with the patients, and I heard the charge nurse asking, "Please, can you help and be a team player? I really need you here." And this particular nurse, sighed, rolled her eyes, and stomped off like a toddler, not even introducing herself when she came in the room with the woman she labeled as crazy for just wanting to trust her body.

Even my Clinical Instructor: "wow, what a beautiful moment..." then I continued with my story... her comment, "how sad. How sad for that nurse that she didn't feel comfortable being present with her patient at a very vulnerable moment. What a sad, reserved, afraid human that nurse must be to be so unavailable at the moment her patient needed her more than anything..."

Exactly what I thought.
How sad.
And how sad that I kept my mouth shut.
I hope that young nurse changes specialties. L&B is not for her - sheesh, maybe not even nursing. But that's not my call.

And what a blessing to be present with my patient.
What a blessing.
How beautiful.
I support a woman's right to choose, and that includes the conditions surrounding her labor and birth. What a beautiful thing.
The MD asked if I wanted a job on the floor. If emergency weren't my thing and L&B were (ok, so it is, but emergency more so), I might consider it.
More to be discussed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


People ask what my ultimate goal is within nursing.
I have a few.

I want to be a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner/Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SANE/SAFE) because we need them, and we need them to be helpful, caring, respectful, and good at what they do.
And they should work in emergency.
And in a perfect world, we would never need them.

Here's another story, besides ones from my friends that motivates me. Read at your own risk. I kid you not. If you can't stomach these things, don't read.
I cried for an hour after I read this story.

It is absolutely horrible but there are some good souls left in the world.

And having the tools to help someone in this situation is most certainly my motivation.
Let's stop this violence before it starts, people.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The day pig(s) flu...

Well, it's happened.

Now we have a pig flu. We always wanted to see pigs fly, but with the swine flu, well, it's interesting to see what will happen.

I'm actually curious if the respiratory infection I've been fighting off is possibly due to the virus. The warnings are "if you've had contact with anyone from Mexico." Oh really? So, the entire state of California is at risk? Nice.

Seriously, I'm really interested to see where this goes, what the warnings end up being, and what our actions as students are.

MEPN is done in 6 weeks. I'm going to be an RN very soon, and that really really frightens and excites me at the same time.
I thought pigs would fly before this would end.
And I guess I'm right.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Let's Talk About Organ Donation, for a moment.

I just lost a friend who was given extra years of her life due to someone's gift. She received lungs about a decade ago from a man who had the courage to donate, and recently, at the age of 33, went into an episode of acute rejection, aspergillis infection, and had also developed cancer in her abdomen.

I miss her terribly, and am in shell shock.
I can't even imagine what your family is feeling.

Please, if you haven't, register yourself as an organ donor. If nothing else, I got more years of knowing my friend. She was a beautiful soul, a real fighter, and will be missed by many.
Anne James Ferrari, you have touched the lives of so many. I am so lucky to have known you. Spread your wings my friend, and remember us here. We'll see each other again.

Please, donate life.

And for those of you still here, live every day. Carpe goddam diem.

Here's a photo of her and her beautiful sister (who is also becoming a nurse. I love you, Beth):

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Cycle Continues

I'm backdating this blog entry, mostly because I like having Anne's sunshine smile at the top of my blog.

Friday, the 10th, I spent my first rotation in Labor and Delivery. Here's a summary of the experience:

My brand-new clinical instructor is moving very quickly towards us, somewhat breathless.
"Okay, Nicole, you and (male MEPN) are in the delivery rooms, and everyone else is in Post-Partum. Go change into these scrubs. And the women in those two rooms are pushing. Hurry!"

My cohort and I look at each other, high-five, and nod. Neither of us even had time to register nervousness- I mean, I had never seen a vaginal birth, only a C-section, and we have had about three lectures on pregnancy. New scrubs on, we stepped out, ready for the day.
For about ten minutes the nurses we were working with hemmed and hawed about the number of students allowed in one room, and I told him to go ahead- as a male, I know it's more difficult for him to be accepted into a delivery room. Not today. He merged right in to the room, needed and accepted. He had only been in there two minutes, when I hear a call for, "Hey can I get another person in here?!"
So I stepped in.
"Um, I'm a student, what can I do?"

A nurse looks at me, "Grab that towel and go hold her leg so I can hand tools to the doc."

The patient is in a traditional hospital-birth supine position, her husband is at her side. They are super cool, and very calm, all things considered.
"Hi, nice to meet you. I'm Nicole." Contraction.... "Okay, breathe deep with me, ready?"
And that was it. Off and running. It's 7:15 am, and I am helping hold this woman's legs open for a difficult birth, trying to remember what I can about fetal heart rate decelerations, next to her husband (who is also totally rad), watching the doctor work, realizing that this baby is in a little bit of trouble. And I'm watching the baby's head crown.

Holy Shit.

And I thought, silly me, that the head would be way smaller than it was.
The OB was very calm, and grabs the vacuum to help get this baby out. I see the FHR (fetal heart rate) is about 70.
Not so good.
Doc, very slowly but firmly. "Get Peds in here. Now."

A team of 3 superhero nurses emerge from the ICN, ready. They're setting up oxygen support, and the warmer.
The woman pushes again.
"Call Dr. XXXX. Get him in here." I realize that she's calling for the attending.
"Okay, now push. Hard. We need him out of there."
Attending arrives, steps back close to the ICN nurses.
Our laboring mama listens. Another nurse is pouring mineral oil and olive oil on the crown of the baby and on mama's perineum.
And all of a sudden, I realize just how huge that head is, because it's coming. Fast.
And just like that, there's another person in the room.
"Floppy baby."
Not a good thing.
He's blue and floppy, and the cord was wrapped around his neck, twice. Not 2 seconds into the world, this little guy is under a warmer, being rubbed down, suctioned, and bagged with oxygen.
The trio of superheros is working, hard.

It's almost too much to absorb. I look at mama, I look over at baby, and then I look down at mama and she asks me (and the doc), "Did I tear?"
It took every ounce of my consciousness not to look incredibly shocked.
Um, yes.
The OB: "It's not that bad."

Apparently, it's not that bad, but I have never seen a vaginal birth and I could not believe what a "not-that-bad" tear looked like. And the amount of blood that was associated with this process I was NOT prepared for.

I keep myself together, "Yeah, not that bad. How are you doing?"
And then I look at dad. "How are *you* doing?"

We start bantering, like we had known each other for a while. I glance over at the busy trio and the once-blue baby. He looks pink, to my relief. It's been almost 10 minutes.
Then we hear it... He cries!
I sighed, audibly. Everyone in the room noticeably relaxes.

They bring the little guy over to mom and dad, and let them say hi, but he was on his way to the ICN to be watched for a little bit. Both mom and dad are medically savvy, and they nod. Mom looks tired. Baby looks pink, warm and dry. He looks a little mad after being suctioned, and he's probably a little dazed.
"How long were you in labor?"
She looks at me. "31 hours."
My male MEPN companion and I look at each other and our jaws drop.
"Um, can I get you some juice?"
She laughs, and nods. "Yeah, that'd be great."
The OB is busily sewing up the tear. This mama had an epidural, which she relates is what helped her make it through. It's not even 8am yet.

And that was the beginning of the day. Literally, 2 hours later, I'm watching a C-section, then an hour after that, I'm holding the legs of another woman who didn't get an epidural because her baby was on the fasttrack into life. First baby, and she only pushed about 5 times. She tore, too. And let me repeat, NO epidural. Her baby came out with a loud cry, pink, and feisty. Good sign. The doc was trying to numb her up to sew her back together. Again, not a bad tear, but on my first day, it was pretty shocking.

At that point, I thought to myself, "Is there a third option?"
If I invent anything, it's gonna be a baby transporter beam, a la Startrek.
And I had a hell of a lot more respect for all the women I know who have gone through this process.

I then spoke to my Godsister, who is a NICU (ICN) nurse, and she relayed to me that usually women with epidurals tend to tear more often because they can't feel pain, so they don't allow themselves to stretch enough. Makes sense, naturally, when it gets too painful, you stop, take a breath, relax, let yourself stretch, and then begin pushing again. Huh. I am going to ask my prof about this (not that I don't trust my godsister, I just want to ask my professor).

L&D started with a rush of emotion.

So on the same day that I was there for 3 new people coming into the world, someone I really loved transitioned to another one.

Which is a wild head trip for me.

In the past few weeks I've lost a lot of people I've known. See my prior post about one group, but I also lost Shane McConkey, who was a trick skier filming in Italy, and fell. One of his skis didn't pop off, which screwed up his balance and from what I understand, his parachute was tangled in his ski. So he fell. 400 feet. He was only 39, and he was the most bitchin' landlord I ever had- he used to come over and drink beers with us, and his wife Sherry used to come visit as well. I remember how excited she was when she told us she was pregnant. Shane was awesome- he knew I was trying to improve my skiing and offered to ski with me, which floored me. Shane was a legend- he was Squaw's guy, and he was a friend to so many, and so down to earth yet nutty and fun. Total prankster, and totally loveable. He leaves behind his wife, Sherry, and Ayla, his daughter.

Too much.

It's a cycle. I haven't confronted death in a long time, and I've never seen birth like what I saw on Friday, so I guess it's time for reflection.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Side Note:

This is just wrong. I'm not sure if I should be frightened or in awe:

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

Spring has Sprung.

So, I had an epic adventure in Montana.

Actually, it's a long story, but suffice to say, it took a lot of creativity to get home.
I'm really glad I'm in Schedule A. We had a two week Spring Break, which was much needed- as much as psych and pediatrics was a lighter schedule than med-surg, the energy involved in caring for the patients was very intense, and I'm glad to be in the community health quarter with Labor and Delivery (babies! Yes!).
I'm placed in a TB clinic which is frightening but important work, and I'm curious to see how things unfold. Our issues in nursing class is also WAY cooler than I thought it would ever be- I am really diggin' the course already. Our dean is articulate and real, and for that I am very grateful- she rocks.

And I got a job! I started looking early. REALLY early- went to career fairs in October, checked out stuff in December, and I applied by happenstance to UCLA med center. Within 4 hours of submitting my application, I had an email that invited me to interview. I called immediately, and got an ICU interview. Then I called back and begged for an ED interview... those were not public, they were reserved for people with Emergency experience.
Awesome. I thought I bombed it. The unit director was very cool, but told me that there was only one position. I cried. I felt like, "wow, I'm great, but I'm going back for my MSN in a year or two, and that's working against me."
She hired two of us.
So, not only do I have a job, but I have THE job that I've wanted! Super super happy dance wiggle excited. So, I live in LA for a few years. Right on, I've always wanted to check out a beach town, and UCLA med center is a Magnet Hospital- they are amazing- and I love the vibe. The nurses, techs, and docs are color-coded by scrubs, so you can tell who's who when you ask for help. They're all about being polite, and I find that VERY important.
Super cool.

On the down side, a large group of people that my family knows died in plane crash in Butte, MT, and I'm just reeling. It makes starting the quarter a bit odd. Three couples and their kids, 7 children in all. 14 people. Senseless. And, because one of the members of the family owns abortion clinics, the idiot anti-choice people are protesting the memorial service tomorrow. I'm sorry, but there's a time and a place, and that's NOT it. Hmm, let's advocate saving unborn inviable fetuses, but celebrate your horrible heartbreaking loss of active children- WTF?!
I'm disgusted.

And a good friend of mine who had a lung transplant 13 years ago is in the ICU with an aspergillis infection. I am very very worried about her, and I know what that means. She's also fighting some other stuff off, and it's been a struggle for her. I've been waiting for facebook updates to keep me informed.

Doesn't make the first week of the last quarter easy.
There's a lot to think about.

*Deep breath*

I went to bikram yoga today for the first time in about a year. It was absolutely heavenly to be in shivasana and be mindful of my body, to focus on moving and on breathing instead of on running around like a madwoman.

Two friends of mine are beginning MEPN this year as well, both whitewater guides. I'm super excited for both of them, and it makes me happy to know that there are more female guides heading into the world of nursing. :)

Okay, that's the report. Stay tuned..

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Psych, and changes

It's been a long time since writing.
The psych rotation has been brutal. Aside from driving to Palo Alto 3-4 times per week, it's just taxing.
We're in an acute inpatient locked ward from 7:30-12, with discussion afterwards from 12-1.
I carry the key for the three students who are on the floor.
It's tough. I almost just wrote "it's insane" but I felt if I wrote that, it's not for the reasons a reader might think they are. It's the entire situation. We were lucky enough to be plopped right into the center of Veteran's care at the VA, so not only were we dealing with psych, we were dealing with psych in a military model.
For one, the psychiatrists and the psychologists were absolutely amazing - incredibly compassionate and intelligent.
The patients were really interesting. I saw people with PTSD, schizophrenia, borderline, schizoaffective, major depressive, generalized anxiety, conversion disorder, etc. Everything under the sun. Everything. There was a patient who had a cure for everything you could imagine, who was incredibly intelligent. There were patients with criminal histories, who were amazingly sweet to us but when we read about what they had done, our hearts stopped and we wondered how they could have performed the atrocities they did.
Intense doesn't even begin to cover it.
Aside from the stress of driving so much, the psychological stress of being in this environment was definitely tangible.
Bearing witness- we were constantly bearing witness to other people's pain, whether that was wondering if the devil was putting voices in their heads, wondering if their families loved them, wondering why they had been hurt.
I met one patient who I just connected with right off the bat. He hadn't eaten in a while, and was there voluntarily, depressed. He told me I could never understand.
I just listened, and tried to help as much as possible by just being present and just being kind. Three days later, he started eating.
Two weeks later, he told me he loved me, and it caught me totally off guard. I had no idea what to say back- how do you explain that you have care and compassion for someone without saying that you love them "in that way"?
How do you do that?
I said, "Thank you. I wish the best for you."
And I felt like an asshole. But I was still present for that patient in his moment, and I felt like that was the best I could do at that time.
There is so much I'm not writing.
That's what strikes me about MEPN. I am pretty conscious of HIPAA, so I try not to write too much about patients or I change things about patients I interact with- or I just don't write about it.
There is so much you will see that you won't write about.
So much.
Psych has been an amazing experience.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mixed insanity. Controlled.

I don't know what bothers me more: the fact that I saw/touched/witnessed a dead baby in the NICU or the fact that it doesn't bug me as much as I thought it would. I felt awful, but also like I was learning, looking at and touching this poor little guy. He was so small, infinitely smaller- he didn't even seem real. He had been born 10 weeks early, which had given him a lot of disadvantages.
The nurse told me the parents didn't want to see him. I understood. That's not the memory you want. She was in process of taking a handprint and footprint and photos to put into a memory box for them.
That did get to me. I choked up at that point.
He died of NEC which affects a lot of premies, unfortunately. His head felt really boggy, and his abdomen was distended. The nurse who had been working with him was sad, but she also knew she and the team had done everything she could. She felt like it was a difficult battle for 12 hours. Once blood pressure drops and your blood stops perfusing your vital organs, it also stops perfusing things like your GI tract, and that means you have fewer defenses/less circulation going to the places that need it. Even with the heavy antibiotics he had been on, it just wasn't working. Sometimes, it just doesn't. Sometimes no matter what you do, it's just that patient's time.
The rest of my day in the NICU was much less emotional. I got to hold some of the cutest, tiniest little people I've ever seen, including one who had Down's syndrome and was the most adorable little guy. He loved following people with his eyes. I wanted to love him all morning, but he had other plans: sleep.

I also saw babies who had successful heart surgeries, who were doing well. It wasn't all gloom and doom- and the level of care I witnessed in the NICU was AMAZING. The nurses were extremely aware of hygiene and of taking care of the entire family. I was highly impressed by their abilities to work with parents, and their deft abilities to calm the newborns. The doctors that came in where communicative and kind. One apologized for waking up a sleeping little girl, and promised, "I'll get her back to sleep"... and he did, gently rocking her. The NICU was a medical place with heart. I can understand why people work there, and I'm glad I was able to experience it.

This quarter is flying by. In fact, the year is flying by. We're almost 3/4 through the MEPN year and it's hard to believe. I feel as though I learn so much every day, and it's difficult to keep up blogging about it, partially because my free time is spent sleeping or writing papers, partially because it's tough to find the words to write.

If you become a MEPN, you'll understand.
Wow it's almost over. I keep shaking my head. But now the next problem comes around, and that's the lack of jobs for new nurses...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A New Year

It's been a while since I've posted anything, partially because MEPN makes you want to take all your extra time to yourself. There's hardly anything left to share with others some days because you are so exhausted, but that made vacation super fun.

We had six weeks off, which started at the end of November and ran through the new year. What did I do? Everything. Nothing. I slept about 12 hours/night for a week. I ate turkey. I hung out with my boyfriend and my family. I danced all night. I took ACLS and PALS. We went skiing, backpacking, eating, eating some more, and skiing again. Then, we danced all night on New Years' Eve and then went skiing.

It was spectacular.

School started again, but for whatever reason, it's not as daunting. We're past the halfway point, our class has formed friendships, and we sorta know what's up.
I'm even taking an elective this quarter: Wilderness Medicine, which I love.
I became a student editor for papers (for researchers in the MS/PhD programs), using a paper which earned me a less than spectacular class grade, which is a bit frustrating - obviously it was good enough to get me an editing job using APA format, etc, but the professors took off points for random stuff last quarter, which was never really itemized. Whatever. My GPA is still high, and more importantly, I've learned the things I need to learn. And I can do them well. That's way more useful. Remember, it's about concept *and* application.

This quarter is about Pediatrics for us, with some Psych peppered in at the end. I'm loving working with children, to the point where I'm thinking about working in the PICU at Lucille Packard. Of course, eventually I'd try to move to the ED at Stanford (which has a wilderness medicine section to it), but I want to try something different for a while which could help me in my learning process and my endeavors that still encompasses what I want to do.

The job market is abysmal for us new grads. Kaiser revoked their contracts with some of their new hires, and that's pretty startling for us who have to take a year (or more) off.
In any case, the immediate happens to be enchanting me. I'm loving my pediatrics rotation. What a wonderful thing, to relate to children, to play games and to help them feel better.
I love it.

Now, the other interesting thing for me is watching the new applicants be nervous for their interviews. I've been following on, and the threads remind me of how scared I was. Many of the MEPNs wish they could be there for the incoming folks, but we weren't scheduled for lunches this year. If you're interviewing, relax, get some sleep, and know that we're all wishing you luck.