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.