May 31, 2013

Back down on the roller coaster

Spent all day working on one of the two assignments for this week while juggling a less-than-pleased little one #2.  I feel like I've just walked through the 7 chambers of Hell.  This Research class isn't looking so good.

It's the other assignment--the one that I'm NOT leading--that is working me up.  I turned my work in for that two days ago.  I saw the final draft...and yeah.  This one isn't going to get us a good grade.  I hope that's just anxiety speaking and I'm entirely wrong, but I am a little worried about this one.

Not that my-led assignment is top shelf though:  I'm worried about this one too.  It was a whole lot harder than I thought, even with everyone's contributions.  

Then there's the quiz next week...scuttlebutt says that it's very hard and nothing like you'd expect.  Of course, we're not getting any help from the instructors other than, "here's the question breakdown, good luck."  It's timed and once you answer a question you can't go back and change your answer (which come to think of it may not be such a bad thing).  I also have to find 30 minutes where I will have zero interruptions....which with little one #2 isn't as easy as you'd think.  He doesn't have a regular nap and if he does go down, it's not for long.  I can't risk starting it to have him melt down 5 minutes into it.  I don't want to wait until later in the evening when he goes to bed, because I'm two hours behind their time: the quiz ends at 2155 my time.  And I'm sure that during those last two hours the server will be swarmed with anxious test takers...I can't take a chance on a Blackboard outage.

I may take this quiz at 3 in the morning.


May 28, 2013

Of course, I roll straight from medical procedures into a cold...and on a holiday weekend, no less.  I spent all weekend cuddled up with Nyquil Day and Alka-Seltzer Night.  That reminds me:  have they pulled Theraflu?  I can't find it anywhere to save my life.   All I find are the generic brands from CVS, Rite Aid, Safeway...and the Alka-Seltzer version.  Which is a shame because the Theraflu Sore Throat formula would have been perfect for what I'm feeling right now.  But instead, it's Nyquil Day, the day-glo orange syrup that doesn't really do much to take the edge off...but at least it's non-drowsy.

I have no voice today...I'm glad we're not doing any collaborations over Skype/voice chat in this Research class because all they'd hear from me is croaking sounds.

I think we got our first grade back.  The gradebook has changed and yet there's no assignment I had to do a little math to figure out what the grade for the first assignment was.  And to be honest, it's pretty damn good.  We may just know what the feck we're doing!  I don't know if everyone in the group got the same grade or if they tweak it for each member based on their participation.  We're not supposed to discuss grades on the discussion board, so I don't know if my groupmates got the same grade.

Still feel like I'm learning Welsh though.  It would be nice if they returned the assignment so we can look at the feedback and see what we did right and wrong.

Off to get some much as little one #2 will let me get this morning.

May 26, 2013

I read Less than Zero, which I do not recommend reading while under the influence of diazepam as it gets even more depressing...and it's a depressing book to begin with.  I never saw the movie, but after reading the book, I don't think I want to, especially if they stayed true to the book.

No, it's not what you think.  Preoperative medication.  I needed something to read while it kicked in.

Anyhow, said procedure went well.  I recovered much more quickly than everyone anticipated.  I was pretty much out of commission that evening--more from the diazepam than the procedure--but the next day I was back to running around in circles.  I also had to pump and dump so little one #2 didn't get a hit of the meds.

We all also discovered that I turn bright red all over when taking diazepam.  Like, "I've been in the sun but forgot to apply the SPF 50" red.

"Are you allergic to Valium?" the doctor asked.

"I don't know.  I only take it every few years when they give it to me before procedures."

No other adverse reactions were present...I think.  I don't remember itching or dyspnea.  Don't remember too much, actually...except that Less Than Zero was depressing as hell.  I also don't remember what reactions, if any, I've had the other times I've taken it.  I guess we'll see what reactions I have when I have the follow-up procedure in a few months.

I don't think it's an allergy though...or if it is, it's not a severe one.  I can take alprazolam just fine when I have to fly...but come to think of it, I don't know if I turn red when taking that too.  I'm too busy being a nervous hyperventilating wreck when flying to notice.

Off to start reading for the next week in Research.

May 25, 2013

Week 1 done

Finished week 1 of Research.  I'm very up-and-down about it.  One day I feel like I'll do great at it; the next day I feel like I'm doomed to failure.  Still having a hard time grasping some of the concepts...oh well.  I'll just keep going over the course material.

Having an active group has helped tremendously.

I think I have earned the right to a nice long soak.

May 24, 2013

Come to the dark side...we have cookies!

I always get excited when I see new grads wanting to come to psych, or at least are interested enough to consider it.  It's a nice change from all of the grads going on about how they'll only work ED/ICU/L&D and that nothing else is acceptable.  I feel like the speciality is being taken more seriously, that we're not just thought of as the area for those "who can't cut it in other areas" or "are looking for something easier."

Neverminding that neither is really true:  you need specific skills to really flourish in psych, and psych is far from being a cakewalk.  What is a cakewalk anyway?  It sounds more delicious than easy.

Maybe they're teaching a better psych curriculum.  I remember when I was in school--psych class and clinicals were not enough to convince me to run for the cookies.  Although I was intrigued enough to look when a psych opportunity came my way...but as longtime readers may recall, it wasn't my first choice.  They must have improved something because the students/new grads I talk to are more enthusiastic about what they learned in school.  One of the leaders of my local APNA chapter stated that she's getting a lot more students in her class (psych, naturally) who are showing a greater interest in the specialty.

Or maybe it's because that new grads are finally realizing that not all of them are going to be starting off in a med-surg floor...AND it's OK if they don't.  Perhaps all of the med-surg and hospital horror stories got to them. Personally, I enjoy not being a slave to a call bell and instead telling patients, "the kitchen area is over there, you can get your own juice" and for them to make their own beds.

Maybe they realized that it's not where you work that makes you a real nurse, but passing that *lovely* little test and receiving those two or three letters after your name that makes you a real nurse.  Of course, there are those who continue to think their specialty is "real" nursing while all other specialties aren't.  But in this job market where people can't be too finicky, I see that elitist attitude diminishing, especially in the new grads who are desperate for any nursing job.

Or maybe it's because society is starting to take pysch problems a little more seriously.  Yes, there is still a stigma attached to both mental illness and psych nursing.  But a lot of communities are taking a more open and proactive view towards mental illness because they realize they need to.  In my areas, there are campaigns about mental illness, mental health awareness, and the availability of mental health services.

I tell you, where I live is a great place to be a psych nurse.  Lots of facilities, and quality ones at that.  Better attitudes towards mental illness.  People don't look at you like you're crazy when you tell them you're in psych.  In fact, you get recruited.

Anyhow, whatever the those new grads wanting/considering psych, welcome to the dark side.  We love fresh blood.  And the cookies are really good too!

May 23, 2013

Challenge accepted

"Almost no one gets an A in this class," the instructors told us during the open office hours.

Red flag waved.  Inserting nose ring.  Preparing to charge at cape.

At this point in the game, I'd be happy just to pass since I'm so near the end of this program.  OK, I take that back:  I'd be happy with a B because I just can't bring myself to accept a C.

In looking at this coursework, an A is going to be damned near impossible.  Not because of the group aspect, but because of the course content itself.   I'm reading the book and the notes, watching the videos, listening to the lectures and office hours...and I still feel confused.

It's like trying to learn Welsh.  And I like Welsh.

But I'll be damned if I don't accept that challenge.  If I go down, I'm going down fighting.  I just have to try for that A.

May 18, 2013

Attack of the Research Class

I've started looking through the Research course on Blackboard...and I am very glad that I opted to wait on Vulnerable Populations.  This course looks like it's going to be a lot of reading.  It's also going to be a lot of group work, which may or may not be a good thing.   In History part 1, it was a good thing.  In History part 2, it was not.  Hopefully the people in Research will not be as burnt out as those in the History classes were.

I updated my calendar with all of the tasks and due dates, and my calendar is now a sea of blue.

I'm usually pretty strict about not doing schoolwork when class isn't in session, as that's the time I use to  recharge my batteries and enjoy the peace before the insanity begins.  However, I think for this class I will make an exception and start tomorrow...especially since I have to read 6 or 7 chapters just for week 1 alone.

In other news, I'm not sure if having a comment in the top 5 comments for a Daily Mail article is a noteworthy thing...but there it is.  No, I didn't use the name Meriwhen so you will have to speculate what I said and where I said it.

May 15, 2013

I'm so proud

My former new grad just completed her BSN.  I'm very proud of her.   Like me, she's had to put the program on hold a few times as real-life interfered with the best laid academic plans.  Work and her personal life have been very tough on her...but she kept on persevering.  

Now that she's got a couple of years' experience under her belt along with that BSN, she's looking for a new job or two.  I told her that if she ever finds herself out my way to let me know, as we could always use another good psych nurse at my facility.

Meanwhile, seeing her finish the program has fired me up about getting my own BSN completed.  Research starts next week...I'm going to see if I can find a syllabus on-line, even an old one, and start reading ahead.

Of course, God having a warped sense of humor that he likes to subject me to, I have a minor outpatient procedure scheduled during the first week of class.  But I'm not rescheduling either procedure or class.  I want to get this finally finished...and besides, I should only be laid up for a day.  I'll just work around it.

May 10, 2013

Dilemma resolved

So I had my appointment with provider #2.  The director was nice.  All of my questions were answered to my satisfaction.  The facility was OK.  The infant room was kind of blah but then again, it's not as though infants do a whole lot.  The setup for the older kids looks a lot better.  Plenty of staff available there though.  And the scheduling is uber-flexible.

No bad gut feelings about the place.  Little one #2 would be taken care of.

But yet, I didn't get the warm and fuzzy feelings that I get with provider #1.   I felt more like little one #2 would be just one in a sea of babies.  I wasn't expecting 1:1 care all the time--if that's what I wanted I'd hire a nanny--but I felt like he'd be a little lost in the shuffle.

I talked to my sister to get her opinion, and then I thought about everything as I was stuck in freeway traffic.  I'm only planning to work two days a week, and I really don't need that much short-notice flexibility.   The main job will have to accept that I can't do same-day requests as much (if at all) anymore.  The agency will get a set two days a week and if they can't use me on those days they can't use me.  And if the main job has booked me that week, the agency will have to do without as I really don't want to go over two days a week.

I felt more comfortable with provider #1's environment.  Little one #2 wouldn't be lost in the shuffle here.  No, he wouldn't be 1:1 but as I said, I don't expect that.  But I feel like he'd get more attention here.  He's only one of three infants there.  He'll have a playmate who is a month older than him.  There aren't that many other kids either, and the staffing is 1:3 regardless of the kids' ages.

More importantly, I felt more comfortable with provider #1.  They remind me of the provider I had for my first little one when I was in nursing school.  I feel better with them.  Warmer, fuzzier.  Worried, but I'd be worried if I was leaving little one #2 with his grandparents.  But less worried than I would with provider #2.

So I went ahead and enrolled him with provider #1.   I'll decline provider #2 on Monday.  See, I follow my own advice:  I didn't turn down one until I signed on with the other.  In this case, it wasn't jobs but childcare providers.

In other news, the textbooks for my class arrived.  I went with Research first.  I was tempted--and still am--to double up and get Vulnerable Populations over with as well.  But overall, I think it'll be better for me to take them separately.  I don't need the stress of two classes, especially as I'll be resuming work during that time.  

May 9, 2013

In which Meriwhen has a dilemma

So I had lined up an excellent childcare provider for little one #2.  The dilemma is that there is another provider who has an opening and who may work out better for me.  Both providers are licensed and insured.

The pros of provider #2:  childcare center as opposed to in-house, hours are a better fit, more flexible regarding rotating schedules, very close to where I live, reasonable cost for two days a week, decent reviews online.

The cons:  childcare center as opposed to in-house (let's face it, each has advantages and disadvantages), don't have prior experience with them, available start date is not my desired start date (and because they are licensed they can't go over ratio), drop-in care availability questionable and if available, cost may go up drastically on weeks I need more than two days.

Meanwhile, pros of provider #1:  in-house as opposed to larger center, have used them before with the older little one and all were happy, definitely know what the cost will be each week, decent flexibility, can start anytime, drop-in care available as I'd be reserving a full-time spot with them, better half likes them.

Cons of provider #1:  may not be as flexible as I need them to be because their start hours don't coincide with my work hours (they are opening early for me for the days I need them)...and because of that, rotating schedules may not go over well.

I have an appointment this week to tour provider #2.  I plan to pepper them with many questions.

Meanwhile, I still have provider #1 so unless provider #2 can answer my questions to my satisfaction, I'll be signing with her.  I was going to do that this week, but little one #2 got sick.  I don't want to risk spreading it to any other kids, so I reschedules my date with provider #1.  This will give me a chance to talk to provider #2 as well as to my employers so I get an idea of what hours I will really be needing.

May 6, 2013

Figuring the whole milkmaid thing out

I've been practicing with the pump so when I return to work, I'll be confident and know what I'm doing.  The pump is easy to set up and break down.  It's a double-pump, so I can do it in about 10 minutes, which is good.  I'm figuring on two pumping sessions while at work:  one at lunch and one during my 15 minute break.

State law (and Federal law as well, I think) provides for me to take breaks to pump, as well as designating an area that is not a restroom for me to do it in.  Granted, the breaks may be unpaid, and the area set aside may not necessarily be the Ritz-Carlton.  An outlet present would be nice but not necessary:  the pump does have a backup battery, and I have a stack of rechargable AAs.  

I'm not worried about my main job.  The schedule is flexible enough that I can pump when I need to, there's several unofficial areas that are used for pumping, and the staff is supportive...heck, a few of them are even pumping themselves, not just nurses but doctors too.  It's also a unionized facility, so should my pumping ever be a problem, I can call the union to go all Gangbusters on them.

But to be honest, I don't ever see my pumping as becoming that bad of an issue.  It's a really awesome organization. 

It's the agency job I'm concerned about.  The site they usually send me to has a lactation room, so the "where" is not a problem.  It's the "when" at the agency job that I'm worried about.

The patient flow at the site is unpredictable, so I can't say with certainty that I can pump at 1000 and 1300 every day.  If things are slow and no one else is at lunch/break, I can take time to do these things...and to be perfectly fair, the site does make every effort for us to get our break and lunch, especially as if we miss them, they have to pay us at least time and a half under state law.  If things are hectic...well, to be honest, there are days where even with the best efforts made by the site, I've had to miss my break or lunch.  Rarely, I've had to miss both.  So there may be times when only one session is all I can get in.  If that.

I'm not sure how my pumping would be treated by both the agency and the site, but I'm not planning to ask for special favors:  I'll just use my break and lunch to do what I have to do.  Heck, I may not even tell either of them that I'm pumping, lest it be used against me and I'm suddenly not scheduled as often.  Well, I may tell a couple of people who I think could point me to dark corners that I can use in a pinch.


I guess all I can do is prepare the best that I can, and we'll see what happens.  At least these laws are an improvement over what it was like several years ago.  They're not bulletproof protection, but they do help somewhat.

May 1, 2013

The nursing students are out in full force

I'm not seeing them at work, since I haven't returned to work yet.  They're at my local coffee house, studying for finals.

There's the students of a few different schools there.  They're also all at different points in their education:  some are brand new baby nurses while others are getting ready for the NCLEX, and there's the whole spectrum in between.  Some come in clinical gear; others show up in school sweatshirts.  A few come in casual wear.

They're all hunched over textbooks and computers, endlessly quizzing themselves and their peers.  I'm there drinking coffee, knitting and answering their questions in my's kind of a refresher course.  I'm doing pretty well for a psych nurse out on leave.

I feel for these students.  I remember the days of endless studying, though I never had study groups at coffee houses.  I preferred to study alone; when I did join a study group, we were either at the library or one of our homes.

I also feel for the ones about to graduate, as the job market shows no signs of improving.

Now, the astute reader or nursing forum fan has probably figured out I'm in California, where new grad unemployment rates hover just under 50%.  It really does suck to be a new grad out there...there's too much competition.  Every day I read the forum threads and listen to the scuttlebutt at work, and I thank God that I served my new grad time on the other coast.  Especially since I'm not a BSN...yet.  I'd probably still be looking for work and I've been here going on nearly two years now.

My facility has started interviewing for its new grad programs, and I expect to see nervous students/internal employees milling the halls when I return next month.  My facility does not move fast in this process.

So this is my last month of leave.  It could be the start of my last month and a half, as I haven't decided exactly when I will start working in June.  I may do it June 1 or stick with my original plan of June 15.  We shall see.

I'll admit, it's going to be a little harder to leave little one #2 than I thought.  He's so damn cute and entertaining right now.  But leave I must, especially to stay competitive in this job market...thank God I can do part-time for right now.