April 19, 2014

Of Church and Sheep

I'm a Catholic sheep.  There's only one Catholic church in my town, which is surprising given my general proximity to Mexico.  I figured there'd be at least two.

There's a lot of Catholic churches in the state, though.  There's actually one right across the border in the next town, but I talked to them on the phone and I didn't get quite the warm and fuzzy vibe that the church in town gave me.

I wanted to go to Confession today before I started attending services on a regular basis, but my local church cancelled the Confession hours because of the Easter Holiday.  So I have to go next week.

Yes, I know it's now called Reconciliation.  I'm also an old-school Catholic sheep.  I can't bring myself to call it Reconciliation; it will be Confession until the day I die.  One of the reasons I'm going to this specific church is because they still offer the kneel-in-the-dark-cubicle while-behind-the-screen option for confessing.  I tried it the modern way where the priest and I sit in lounge chairs in a well-lit room and talk as though we're chatting about sports, and I wasn't comfortable.

Anyhow, it's not as though I was going to be at Easter Mass anyway as I have to work.  I'm serving God through patient care tomorrow...someone has to do it.  I know it's not going to go over well with the extended family, but they know I'm a nurse and it's part of the job.  They're still going to grouse though.

I'm the only practicing Catholic in the family--and I think the only one in my family as a whole--although I'm not practicing as well as I ought to be.  My sister doesn't practice.  My mother was involved in the parish when I was growing up, but as I got older her participation declined.  Now that there are grandchildren about she has has a sudden fit of piety...at least in that she wants them to be raised Catholic.  But as far as her practicing what she preaches...er, no.  My father isn't Catholic.

The other half is not Catholic either.  They're Protestants.  There are former Catholics in the other half's family, but they all fled the religion.

The other half's family would love for me to convert to their religion and bring the little ones over as well, or at least send the little ones to the fold.  I admit that I gave their religion a good try, but realized it wasn't happening.  I'd go to Mass...er, services, and answer everything with the Catholic responses.  I'm used to services being a specific way.  As informal as I can be, I'm used to a certain level of formality in my religion that their religion seems to lack.  There's no Confession, at least, not the way that I know it.  I'm not used to seeing priests...er, pastors married with children.

Try as I might, I just could not feel comfortable in their flock.  It's no slur upon their religion; I guess I'm just too much of a Catholic at heart.

The topic of religion is at times a point of contention with the families, especially when it comes to the little ones.  But the other half and I have decided that we're going to do what we feel is best for our family, and everyone will have to deal.

The better half supports them being raised Catholic if I want them to be.  My personal belief is they should be baptized as Catholic, but I'll hold off on the rest until when they become teenagers, so they can make up their own minds and choose their own choices in the theology department.  I'd rather they embrace a faith whole-heartedly, even if it differs from mine.

For the record, I do have some issues with the Catholic Church and their stand on a lot of things, though seeing Pope Francis in action has helped me feel better.  I've adopted his POV on a lot of those matters.

April 18, 2014

If you celebrate it, have a blessed Good Friday.  If you're Jewish, Happy Passover (albeit a few days late).  If neither fits you, Happy Friday.

No movement on the matter referred to in my annoyingly cryptic post, so no update there.

I'm going to start pulling inpatient shifts at my main facility.  I decided that while I enjoy my agency work, I'd rather be working at my main facility for a few reasons.  First, this is a probable contender for where I want to work when I decide to sign on permanently somewhere, which will probably be in the next year.  Second, the pay is a hell of a lot better than what I get from the agency.  Seriously, my current hourly rate here is the same as my time-and-a-half agency rate; if/when I sign on permanently, even with the pay drop, it'll still be more than the agency.  Third, it's resume diversification.

I'm still keeping my ties with the agency, though I'll probably drop my availability down to once or twice a month.

I've been warned to watch out for drama.  Of course, this is second-hand info, so I'll see for myself if there really is any drama present.  I'll pretty much go into it with the same mentality that I go into the agency assignments with:  I'm not permanent staff, I'm not getting involved in any politics or drama, I'm not trying to make any best-friends-forever.  I'm going in just to get the job done, then going right back out.

It's been a couple of months from when I actually oriented to when I'll be working there, so I'm understandably nervous.  Fortunately, I take great notes, have a decent memory--in this department, anyway--and pick things up fast, so I'm expecting the awkward finding-my-feet stage to last only a couple of shifts.   As I told one of my preceptors, the essentials of psych nursing are always going to be the same no matter where one works--it's just the little details and routines that need to be learned at each facility.

I am also jumping in on a weekend, away from the glare and hassles of administration.  

All this being said, I'll never turn down happy thoughts and wishes of luck.

April 7, 2014

In which Meriwhen is annoyingly cryptic

So I had an interesting bit of news come my way...let's say I was truly surprised by it.  However, as nothing is definite right now--in fact, I'll admit to being somewhat skeptical of what's happened--I won't discuss the specifics but will ask for your good thoughts and (if you are the praying type) prayers.

Once things are settled one way or another, then I will provide all of the details.

April 3, 2014

I interviewed for another job.   I didn't get it.

It wasn't as though I am unhappy where I currently am.  My current facility treats me well...for the most part.  It pays well and I get enough hours as of late.   Sometimes I feel a little under-appreciated and trapped.  I know they'd rather I stay where I am instead of working in the inpatient side.  But I'm also trying to lay down the ground work for when I take a permanent position next year.  I don't know if that will be at my current facility; sometimes I can see myself working there until retirement, while other times I feel like I should see if there are better options out there.

After talking to a friend who had been encouraging me to explore those options, I brushed up the resume and applied to where he worked.  Hey, I may as well work a network connection.

Like I said, I wasn't unhappy where I am...I think it was half to see if I could get in this facility which is notoriously hard to get into, and half to see if I still an attractive candidate to other facilities.  I guess I was attractive enough in that I got an interview.  Not attractive enough though as I got the rejection e-mail a couple of days later.

I'll admit, it wasn't my best interview:  I'm a couple of years out of practice.  There were some questions that I could have answered a lot better.  I think I was a little too honest/open about a few things which may have made them wonder if I'd be a good fit.  And the job, while interesting, wasn't quite what I thought it would be...and I think that conveyed.


So it was a nice ego boost to be considered for an interview.  And a little bit crushing to be rejected.  But the feeling is more from the rejection itself than because of not getting particular job.  But at least I know what to expect should I ever interview with them again.

Though it's not as though I'm wanting for work lately.  I've been working a lot...a little too much actually.  As in working 5-6 days a week for the last few weeks.  I think I'm starting to burn out.

March 7, 2014

Time flies...

Has it really been more than a month?  Guess it has been.
It’s been quite a month, actually.  Fell ill twice.  Little one #2 and better half fell ill once.  Little one #2 turned 1.  Nephew turned 4.  Little one #1 won a citizenship award.  Worked nearly full-time all month except for the week that I fell ill the second time (the first time I was ill, it was during my days off).  Been training for a race.  Dad was hospitalized again—briefly, thank God—and they finally figured out why he had problems breathing all the time:  too much Dilaudid prescribed by a newbie resident.  Friend died.
Februarys go fast anyway because they’re only 28 days most of the time.
So here I am.    
I decided to postpone pursuing addictions certification.  The main reason is the fact that most of my addictions experience occurred outside of the “last 3 years window.”  I was under the impression from the IntNSA website that the experience didn’t have to be within the last 3 years, but when I went to complete the paperwork, I found out that I was wrong. 
Since I moved out west I went from full-time permanent addictions spot to the feast-or-famine life of a floating two-jobbed per-diem nurse…and a lot of the time I wasn’t working in addictions-related settings.  I figure it would be too much of a hassle to try to track the hours down to see if I managed to pull 2000 hours among all of the sites I’ve been sent to, and then track each of the supervisors down to complete the paperwork…and do this all within three weeks.
I have enough stress in my life as it is.  I do not need any more…so regrettably, I’m letting this one go.  For now.  I do intend to get my CARN one day—it just may not be right now.
I was tempted to apply for a full-time position at a different facility, but opted out at the last minute.  The reason I opted not to was when I got home yesterday:  little one #2 held onto my leg and wouldn’t let go.  I’m working 5-6 days a week for the next several weeks as I’m covering for three people who have gone on leave.  So my free time with the kids has gone down.  Little one #1 is older and more resilient—he misses me but he also has other outlets that he can put his attention into.  Little one #2…well, I’m his whole world.  He is well cared for when I am at work, but it’s still not the same:  it’s not Mommy there. 
The sight of him grabbing my leg and looking up at me with the big sad brown eyes…well yeah, that pretty much shut down any thought of finding full-time permanent work.  This hurt in a small way as the position would have been ideal.  But this place has posted openings before and will do so again…now is just not my time, I guess.
Next year, it will be a different story.  The better half will be able to resume childcare, and I can work anywhere I want, when I want, without worrying about schedules and childcare and all that stress I deal with now.  Plus, little one #2 will be older:  he’ll still need me, but not as much, and he will have his dad home with him.
Whoever said parenthood and careers were difficult to reconcile wasn’t kidding.

January 31, 2014

So everything has turned out pretty well for my dad so far. It looks as though they got all of the cancer out, and there are no signs of metastasis.  They’re holding off on radiation for now and will give him another scan in 3 months.  He had to go back to the hospital a couple of times for an elevated WBC and to have some more fluid drained from his chest.  One of those visits happened to be on the same day that the city was pounded by a blizzard…considering that the hospital is 30+ blocks from the house, not fun for my mother.  He also has to follow-up with pulmonology frequently:  after all, they did jack almost a whole lobe.
But overall he’s doing pretty good.
I’ve been sending out knit items like crazy to them.  With temperatures in the single digits, they need things made from real wool.  I have to admit feeling disconnected:  the rest of the country is suffering from abnormally cold weather and here I am wearing sandals and short sleeves, with little need for wool socks and hats except in the midnight hours. 
I do miss the snow though.
Anyhow, now that the health crises are over (my sister is going to be fine too), I’ve scaled back on the working.  This will be the first weekend in a while that I’m going to be off.  Next week is 3 days, possibly 4.  I don’t think I’ll be too upset if I am cancelled on that fourth day though.
I also got around to giving HR my BSN transcript…and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my BSN differential is a lot more than I thought it’d be.  I was under the perception that it’d only be an extra 50 cents or so per hour.  It’s actually a percentage of my base rate, and works out to an extra $2.00 (almost) per hour.  Sweet.

January 16, 2014

Per Diem

One thing about working per diem is that unless you have a long-term assignment--which in the per diem world means going to the same unit more than two days in a row--you don't really get to know the patients.  You see them for a shift, maybe two.  You might do their admission, or their discharge, but rarely will you do both.  You don't get to see the patient's recovery evolve during their stay.  Instead, you step in during the middle of a play scene:  you don't get to see what happened before, nor do you see how their story ends.  You're just there for Act 2, Scene 1 and then it's exit nurse, stage left.

So you don't really get to know the patients.  You don't know their progress, their plans, their goals.  You don't know their background.  You don't know their little quirks.  You don't know how well they play with others.  You don't know exactly how they behaved yesterday so you can anticipate that sort of behavior today.

OK, through the miracle that is known as documentation, you can at least read up on the patient and learn what they were like before you got there.  But what you read on paper and what you see in the flesh can be two very different things.  And documentation doesn't always cover the little things.  You may learn from the chart that they received the HAB cocktail (Haldol, Ativan and Benadryl), but you may not know exactly what the precipitating events were, or how they felt afterwards.

On the other hand, an advantage of being per diem is that you are a fresh set of eyes.  You're not going in there with the presumptions about the patient's history or behavior, and so you're not going to be as quick to draw conclusions.  You may catch things that other nurses may miss because they're so used to the patient.  You may be more objective about things, whereas those nurses who are more familiar with the patient may be more subjective.

Per diem nurses have to be able to adapt to an ever-changing patient population.  You do not have the luxury and comfort of getting the same patient assignments each day.  Instead, you go in there never knowing what--or who--to expect each time.