November 14, 2014

In which Meriwhen realizes she needs to learn about unions

Received a message recently...long story short:  "Meriwhen, wanted to let you know that we're going on strike, so please don't take any work during that time."

Oh.  Good to know.

The only previous experience I've had with unions was that my father was in one.  Every few years, they would go on strike...the only effect that we experienced from it was that strikes meant our dad could spend more time with us during the summer instead of having to go back to work after just two weeks.  I'm sure the financial ramifications of not working were there too--my sister and I just never heard about them.

So now, here I am in a union...two of them, actually.  Membership in one was automatic; joining the second was voluntary.  I waited a while before joining the latter...not because it was a union, but because I didn't know a lot.  It wasn't until after going to a couple of the union meetings as well as spending several months working on the same unit as one of the stewards that I decided to plunge in. 

So now here I am, faced with a strike.

I have no desire to be a scab.  At the same time, I don't know exactly what or why or even when this is happening.  So I better find out before this strike hits and before my next day at work there.

November 6, 2014

Last shift I worked, we had a new grad orienting on the unit.  Very enthusiastic, friendly, and happy to be there yet appropriately wary enough (rule of thumb in psych nursing:  it's better to always be a little wary than get complacent in your surroundings).  She also had an actual interest in seeing her in practice during the day, she wasn't one of those "I just want to get my year's experience and then go to a glamor specialty" types--it appeared she had a bona-fide interest.

Of course, she made me feel old, as my new grad days were a few years ago.   Her age range was quite a while ago for me as well.   I feel my age more at some times than at others.

Still, it's heartening to see new grads who actually want to enter the specialty.  

It was a good day.  Good coworkers, a new grad who was more an asset than a liability, good patient population, and no major issues.  A couple of minor ones:  I was Pyxis-challenged at one point in the shift, and later on I had to literally chase down a doctor to get a PRN order.  Fortunately, I was able to corner him, also literally.  That's the nice thing about both small units and my wearing running shoes to work.

I also got approached by the unit manager.  Apparently my reputation has preceded me, and it's a good one.  She (and some other staff as well) was feeling out whether I'd want to work on the unit permanently.  And I actually like the unit I was on, so such as offer would not be unwelcome...just not now.  Hopefully she'll feel the same way about me next year when I can do it.

I worked on a paper for my class today...I whacked out a rough draft and hope to have it turned in by Sunday.  Originally, I set the deadline for this assignment a couple of weeks prior.  I figure if I can do the paper and two more assignments this month, this leaves me nearly two weeks in December to do the final exam.  Though this means I still have to get through all of the remaining video lectures and readings in this month as well.  Fortunately my schedule did fill up but not to the critical mass point of the last few months.  Though part of that was due to having to block out several days for dental, medical and psychiatric appointments, as it was due to fluctuating census and staffing needs.

November 1, 2014


I met my therapist, and my therapist met me.  I like her and want to give her a try, and she's willing to work with me.  So we set up the next few appointments and she had me order an anxiety workbook that she likes to use with her anxiety patients.  Our sessions will be a combo of talk therapy and assignments/homework.  It's promising. 

In the meantime, I downloaded CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) for Anxiety for Dummies to my Kindle.  I figure I need to learn to change my thinking, so I've been flipping through that.

So I've been cancelled three days in a row.  I got a lot of reading done...I'll be careful not to give away any spoilers.  I read Gone Girl.  Eh.  Somewhat predictable though with a few unexpected twists.  I've no desire to see the movie though.

The Stepford Wives.  Spooky.  Do you think that's what men are looking for in their partners?  Do you think women would want the same thing?

Children of the Corn.  Ends differently than the movie does.  And after reading the story, I was let down in the movie.

Carrie.  I'm glad I had two boys.

If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name.  The joys of living in a very small town in Alaska.  I'm not wild about very small towns, where the population is a couple of thousand and close-knit.  I like my small town, where it's small enough to have a sense of cohesiveness but not so small that everyone knows you and your business.

Escape From Camp 14.  Beneath the PR facade, North Korea is not a very nice place.

Nothing to Envy:  Ordinary Lives in North Korea.  Tales from the escapees.

West of the West:  Witnesses to the California Experience.  I'm currently in this one.  I figured since I live here I may as well learn its history.

October 26, 2014

Cancelled on a anyone who is a nurse or CNA in a hospital knows, this is as rare of an occurrence as pigs flying.  

Part of me is happy to now have a three-day weekend (I am off tomorrow).   Also, I'm working next weekend--those hours are guaranteed--and it's nice to not have to work two weekends in a row.  And I do have to keep catching up on my class:  I'm still a couple of weeks behind my schedule.

And part of me is insecure about my ability to get future hours, even though I know very well that this is how the float pool works.  You put in hours and you're not guaranteed any of them.  And you're competing against other float pool nurses for whatever hours they do have.  Plus the float pool increased by one--a nurse who was out on extended leave is back in the rotation.  And from what I've heard, she's making a lot of noise about how she should be getting hours for herself. 

Though things usually work out for me--at least somewhat work out.  I was worried about November being a famine month, until I looked at my calendar and realized that since I wrote that post, I have picked up enough odd assignments here and there to fill up most of my schedule.  Plus I could always call job #2--they'd NEVER cancel me on a weekend.  I know the facility is short-staffed because my agency has been advertising for nurses.

I'm so looking forward to meeting my therapist tomorrow.  I feel like every other post in here is about my anxiety in some way.  Though it's better for me to hash out with my insecurities here than to hash them out at work or with my family.  I don't think work would be very understanding or sympathetic...they'd see me more as a liability than anything.  And my family doesn't need that stress.

October 19, 2014

I'm a little disappointed in myself...OK, a lot

One of my hobbies is participating in half-marathons.  I don't run them.  I started out strictly walking them, and can walk one in about 4 hours.  This spring, I trained to walk/run one, and completed one in March in 3h 20m.  I signed up for one in November which should have been a delight:  completely flat course, cool weather, along the ocean.

The problem is that I haven't trained for it.  Not at all.  The weather this summer made being outdoors to walk/run long distances nearly impossible.  I haven't had a lot of free time because of work and the kids, and the free days I had...well, I was too busy being a comatose vegetable on my days off.

I logged a total of 4 miles since my training start date 2 months ago.

Over morning coffee, I thought about what I was going to do.  There are 4-week half-marathon training programs out there, but with my work schedule and the kids (plus that ED class!) over those next four weeks, I don't have a lot of free time to run them.  Plus I'm no spring chicken.  This body isn't 20 anymore and I can't push it from 0 to 60 as well as I used to. I don't want an injury.   I can't afford to be injured. 

I could just walk the race:  after all, I know I've done it several times before...but that thought was for some reason rather depressing to me.  I think it's because I did so well walk/running in the spring race, that to just walk this one seems like a big step back.  Also, I still need to train somewhat for walking 13.1 miles.  It's physically as well as mentally taxing--seriously, trying being your own company for 4 hours of activity--and both endurance and mind need conditioning.

I can't transfer my registration to the following year.  Bah.  So I'm out the fee no matter what.

So I decided to offer the registration to my brother-in-law.  He's always talked about doing a half-marathon, and I'd rather see someone use my registration than for it to be a total loss.  If he doesn't want it, I'll offer it to my sorority running group and see if anyone takes it.

I feel like a failure for doing this.  I know I'm not a failure.  I can't always control what happens in life, and with work and kids keeping me busy.  The fact that I was aware of and acknowledged I can't do it says something.  I'm aware of my limitations.  I'm choosing the option that I feel overall is the best for me.  There's always the March half-marathon (which I am already registered for). 

Yet at the same time, I feel like I could have made more of an effort to train.  I could have went to the Y and walked part of the way on the treadmill, or cross-trained, or done something to be active.  I could have dropped some weight.  I could have taken the kids to the park with me as I walked.  I could have postponed the ED course until next year, since I had signed up for the half-marathon before I registered for the course.

Ah well.   Something--in addition to my anxiety--to talk about with my therapist when I finally meet her at the end of the month. 

October 18, 2014

I'm taking a certificate course online through my local state college to help bolster the resume and diversify.  Yes, it's the ED course.  I figured this was as good of as time as any to do it.  It's online, all self-driven:  the instructor gave us all the lectures and the assignments, told us we were adults so it was up to us to turn things in as we finish them, and to please not turn in everything during the last week.

Now, I decided to try something a little different.  We all know how grade driven I can get...well, this course I intentionally signed up for as pass/fail.  I had two reasons for doing this.  First, I want to try to ease up on being grade-driven.  Let's face it:  an A looks good on paper but a lot of employers couldn't care less, especially now that I'm an experienced nurse.  So let's focus more on the material itself than on the GPA I can get.  Second, I have a lot of stuff going on in life and I want to ease the stress in whatever areas I can.

And I have learned that while I am grade-driven, it also motivates me to get stuff done.

I divvied up the assignments and set arbitrary due dates for each one.  I'm already behind schedule on the first assignment.  I still haven't finished the first lecture, and I haven't even touched the textbook, and we're going on what, 3 weeks now?


I'm going to try to regain some lost ground this weekend and get the assignment turned in on Monday.  I'll push back my next assignment's due date a week, and then over the following assignments try to regain the ground I lost.

Next part of this course...I think I should take with the letter-grade option, and learn to live with not getting an A.

October 16, 2014

Feast is turning into famine...

I've been getting cancelled a little more often than usual lately.  And I looked at my calendar and realized that I have very little guaranteed shifts scheduled for November.  Four, in fact.  Of course, I'm going to submit availability for a lot more days than that, and see if I'm cancelled the morning of them.  And I know that any weekend shift I put in to pick up is pretty much guaranteed.  But as of right now, I can only bank on four days.

There are two causes behind this.  First, finances.  Now that I've moved from per-diem to the float pool, I'm costing them a little more...this is because I'm getting paid a little more.  And because per-diems are cheaper than float pool, the preference is to staff with per-diems first, then add on float staff as--or more like if--needed.  I knew this before I signed on, so I'm not entirely surprised.  I've been getting the same level of work since switching over from per-diem to staff though...because they don't have a lot of per-diems around.  But rumor has it that they've hired one and plan to get another one.  

Second is that the new grad residents have started.  Even though it's early in the residency and they're feeling their way, they are taking on a patient load...a small one, but a load nonetheless.  Yes, a staff member is tied up precepting/shepherding the new student, but given that the preceptor isn't ever going to have more than 6 patients anyway, it's not a horrible handicap to care for patients and precept in this state, IMO.   At my last job, I managed my own new grad AND carried a patient load averaging 8-10. 

Plus compared to float staff...and per-diems...heck, even to a regular staff nurse at my experience level, the new grad is ridiculously cheap.

Job #3 doesn't have anything for me right now...then again, they offer shifts by seniority and I'm still one of the lowest on the totem pole.  I offered them practically the whole month of November and never heard a peep from them, so I'm taking that as they've got nothing for me.  Still, they could have dropped me a note.

Ah well.  Guess I will call job #2 and make myself a little more available to them.

It's nice to see new grads entering psych though.