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.

October 7, 2014

Did you know...

That in the state of California, breastfeeding a child is a valid reason to request a jury duty exemption for up to 12 months, and that you can keep requesting the exemption for as long as you are breastfeeding?

See you next year, courthouse...maybe.  

October 4, 2014

I have to find a way to let the regular readers (all 6 of you) be able to have your comments go through without their being moderated...I had comments from 9/14 that I just now noticed and published.

It's been a busy month.

I haven't seen Job 2 in over a month, and they're calling me weekly to ask for hours.  That's because it's been all Jobs 1 and 3.   I had to cover for two vacations, one sick nurse, a convention, the Jewish New Year (Happy New Year if you're Jewish), and odd vacation days here and there.  Most work weeks were 5 days; a couple were 6.  I had to start turning requests down.

It's come to the point that I had to revamp my Google calendar to create a sub-calendar just for my work schedule.

Fortunately that's eased up for a bit.  Last week was relatively light:  only a 4 day work week.  This week should be 3 or 4 days depending on if I get cancelled one of those days.  No more than that though:  I have a couple of days set aside for plans with the little ones and I will not break those plans.  Plus I want one day just to myself.

I can't deny the financial aspect of my working like crazy is very nice.  I'm getting paid some serious bank.  I'm shoving most of it into savings; the rest is going towards fixing things around the house.

I do admit that I'm starting to tire of this per-diem lifestyle though.  I'm looking fondly at the prospect of being on one unit, with set and fairly guaranteed hours, a schedule I know in advance, and the same coworkers and routine.  I'm looking to firmly establish myself in one environment, instead of just floating.  It'd be a pay cut, but I'm getting more and more attracted to that stability.

At least Job 1 now lets me get around to more of the units and start of those units may end up being where I settle.  And Job 3 does have lots of opportunities they are constantly posting, including ones outside of psych that I might just be able to qualify for with a little training.  

So in all of this, I went back to my psychiatrist.   I was restarted on some non-controlled medication to manage my general anxiety.  Medication 1 worked great but left me exhausted.  Medication 2 doesn't leave me exhausted, but is still under patent so I have to pay the brand-name co-pay...and that co-pay has doubled since 2012.


I Googled the cost of it without's near $300.   It won't be available in generic until sometime in the 2020s.

I don't know if I'll be on this one because of the cost, though I've found out that my insurance company offers mail-order prescription services that will be cheaper than going to my local drugstore.  I'll need a 90-day script though...but that's OK.  I'll see how I'm feeling over the next week and if I still feel good, I'll get the script and give the mail order a go.

September 6, 2014

I'm temporarily deaf...

In one ear, anyway.  Ear infection.

I tried riding it out as most of the time, you can't do anything for an ear infection other than comfort care.  But after 2+ weeks, it was time to pack up and go to the doctor.   Which of course, did not have any appointments on Friday--in fact, they close early on Fridays.  So I headed for the nearest Minute Clinic.  This was not an ED-worthy illness.  I also figured my CVS would be faster than going to urgent care.  I figured it'd also be cheaper too:  should my insurance end up denying my claim even after I explain that it's not my fault my doctor's office closed at noon, I'd only be out $100.

So I leave work early on Friday and go right to the clinic.  There's a few people waiting there and they are very happy to see me.  I'm wondering why considering they're all complete strangers to me...until one finally asks me if I'm going to be seeing them next.

I had come straight from the hospital, so I had my scrubs and ID badge on.  I realized that they saw the "RN" placard and got excited--they thought I was another nurse coming to man the clinic.  I had to explain that I was the patient today.   I declined the offer to read someone's TB test for them.

It's not a long wait:  I'm seen in 30 minutes.   Nurse practitioners run the clinic, which is nice because I can speak Nurse to them and they don't think I'm crazy.  It's a quick visit:  she looks in the ear, declares it's not a very happy ear, gives me ear drop antibiotics and instructions to keep taking Motrin 800mg, forwards my script to my own pharmacy for pick up by the time I get there, and says she's always happy to help a fellow nurse.

The problem is that antibiotics take a few days to work, so until then it's Motrin, warm compresses and closed captioning on the television.

September 4, 2014


The transfer was an interesting process.  They talked to my supervisor first, had me fill out paperwork next, then gave me an interview.  After I signed the transfer paperwork.  The whole process really did go in reverse.


So I'm transferred to the float pool at job #1.  And to be honest, absolutely nothing has changed.  Same old stuff, different job title with better pay.  Mind you, I did already screw up with staffing...twice.  Both times were unintentional and in all innocence, but still, not the way I would have preferred to start my new position.

Meanwhile, job #2 has some drama going on...I'm not involved, thank heavens, and I'll leave it at that.  I do have to throw them some days soon, though.  Maybe later in the month.

Meanwhile, job #3 is wondering if I would be interested in orienting to their chemical dependency unit.  It was all I could to to not throw myself at them screaming "God, yes!"  I need to call their program manager tomorrow to try to set something up.   If this parlayed into something full-time down the road, I could die happy.  Working in addictions...*sigh*

No word on the psych ER position.  I've pretty much written it off.  This is just not my time...perhaps down the road.

In other news, all week my patients were pleasant psychotics.  They're my favorite.  They're seeing the floating mushrooms and hearing the squirrels talk about baseball, but they're all so mellow about times even chipper.  One has a party going on in his head 24/7, but he's not bothered by it.  In fact, he told me, "it's all part of the schizophrenia."  I had to respect his attitude.

August 16, 2014

Mouth, God, Ear

It's been a long week.  Job #3 was quite the trial-by-fire because it was the first time I worked solo.  The first two days were very rough and I felt overwhelmed, but I persevered and pushed forward.  By the last day of the assignment, I felt like an old hand...or at least comfortable enough to go back and do it again.  It was enjoyable work though...I didn't think I would enjoy it as much as I did.  But it's a great work environment with wonderful people who are positive and supportive.


Monday, I check my e-mail and see a notice about the psych ED job that I applied for.  My application has passed the first round and is now being forwarded to the hiring manager.   OK, I'm pleasantly surprised.  And got very excited when I received a phone call later in the day.  Alas, it turned out to be a utility company asking me a question, and I'm sure I sounded very disappointed.  But hey, I'm in the running.

Then Thursday, I check my e-mail again...and received this from the person at Job #1 who is apparently going to be my new supervisor:

"Hi Meriwhen, this is XYZ.   Your transfer was approved, what scheduling track would you like, what date should this be effective and when can you come and sign the paperwork?"


I've gone from hearing crickets chirping for nearly two months to signing paperwork, all in the space of the 2 minutes it took to read the e-mail.  I figured I'd be called in for interviews (I had the last time I tried to apply for a transfer), or at least have someone talk to me on the phone.  Guess they found out whatever they wanted to from my resume and from people at Job #1.

I wrote back accepting the transfer and providing all the details requested.  I then spent all of Thursday and Friday dealing with a flurry of e-mails, more than enough to make up for those two months of crickets.  I go in on Monday to sign the paperwork, and my transfer takes place next month after I finish up a couple of vacation coverage assignments.

It's still a little surreal.

August 10, 2014

Job vs Money

Still nothing on either the transfer for new application front.  I am reading this as "Sorry but No" and moving on.  Should I get a call or e-mail down the road, I'll be pleasantly surprised.  But I can't invest any more emotional energy into it.

At the forum, I along with many others advised a new grad not to try and negotiate for a higher salary but to accept what they were being offered and save the haggling for when they are an experienced nurse.  And that's pretty much what a new grad needs to do because the first job shouldn't really be about making the most bank, as it should be about getting through the first year of nursing and laying down the foundation of one's nursing career.

I know that not everyone is in an ideal position to just take whatever salary they are offered.  Creditors and bills don't care that you're doing the job more for the experience:  they just want payment when due.   So some people do have to angle for a certain salary level.  I have been fortunate in that when I started as a new grad, I had the freedom to accept a job offer regardless of the salary that was offered.   Ironically, the offer I accepted as a new grad in psych paid a few dollars more than the new grad positions at the major medical hospitals.  Point being, getting the most dollars per hour was the least of my concerns.

But that will soon be changing.

As the other half will be going to a guaranteed but considerably reduced income, I will become the primary breadwinner.   I worked out the budget and expenses to the nth degree, and have determine what take-home salary I will need to make in order for us to stay afloat.  By "stay afloat" I mean for us to maintain a comparable lifestyle--though with some corners cut and fat trimmed--and still put away a good amount in savings and retirement.

Then I did the math to determine what hourly salary (based on a 5 day/40-hour work week) that I need to achieve in order to meet this.  I keep this number in mind as I look at permanent positions.   I don't need to make as high of a salary as possible:  I just need to meet or exceed this number.   I would prefer not to exceed 5 days/40 hours a week, though in a pinch I can always pick up an extra day every now and then.

This is a shame because this means a lot of potential job opportunities are out of the running because the hourly rate won't cut it.  For example, for all the headaches that Job #2 can give me, I do enjoy the site that they send me to, as well as the people who work there.  It's a wealth of acute care psych experience that I wouldn't find at a lot of other places.  But I asked one of their nurses what she was making per hour, and she told me what it was, what the diffs were, and what the max hourly salary was.  And that number is too low.  If--IF--I got the max hourly rate and worked nights, it would just be possible.  And being that I'd already be getting the max salary, there may not be a lot of room for income growth.

I could stay as I am--the three per-diem jobs--and try to make it work that way.   It does seem like it could work.  I mean, I'm working 4, 5, sometimes 6 days a week.  In fact, provided I don't get cancelled anywhere, tomorrow I will be starting a stretch of 12 days in a row.  I know, I'm masochistic.

But I don't always work a full 8 hour day, and where I usually get the full 8 hour days is either at Job #2 with the lowest hourly rate, or Job #3 with the highest hourly rate but the least frequent offerings.   Plus being per-diem/agency, none of those hours at any of the three jobs are guaranteed--I'd be a fool to base my livelihood on it.  Though I may take a couple of months to see if I could scrounge up 40 hours each week and what the income would be.

It's probable that I could eventually transition into an full-time outpatient position at Job #1.  There's at least two nurses on the verge of retirement and one that I know is looking at other options, so it wouldn't be very long.  And I know that they'd love to have me, as I've been told my management.  The hourly rate I would get based on my experience would be just at that magic number so it would work.

To be honest, I'd rather work inpatient because that's what I enjoy the most.  I haven't finished learning and growing from there.  But as I said before, creditors and bills don't care about my interests--they only care that payment is remitted to them in a timely manner.   And soon that will have to be my priority, at least for a few years.

August 4, 2014

It's Monday and I'm checking the mailbox to see if there's anything yet from either the new application or the transfer.  Of course, there's nothing yet. 

August 1, 2014

Taking charge

Vacation was nice.  A week for going to the East Coast is not long enough...after we got adjusted to the time zone, weather and family routines, we had to turn around and come back to the West Coast and readjust.  I learned that toddlers do not handle time zone changes very well:  little one #2 kept going to bed too late while out East, and then when we got back home was waking up at 0300.

Things are back to normal now.  I think the rule is that for each time zone crossed, it takes one day to recover.

Taking a break from all things work helped immensely.  I did check work e-mail a couple of times, but didn't respond to anything, nor did I dwell on any work issues.  I came back to the job somewhat refreshed and ready to return to work...and tackle the transfer application matter.

In an earlier post, I had learned that I have been contacting the wrong nurse recruiter about my transfer application.  So I sent an e-mail to the correct recruiter asking for feedback to improve myself for the next job posting.  This recruiter got back to me within an hour to tell me that she's not the one handling recruitment for this position, but it's actually my original recruiter...who also wrote me in the next hour (she was copied on the e-mail) to apologize for not getting back to me sooner.  She said that the manager hiring for this position has been out of the office frequently but that my information has been forwarded to her.

Nice to finally get a response...any response.

Then I applied for a job at another facility.  Spur-of-the-moment application, but the job posting came out today and I saw that it's perfect for me.  Psychiatric ED.   Part-time.  I qualify for the position and then some.  My friend works at facility #4 and loves it there--he's been hounding me to come join him.  He was happy that I was applying for it.  And what do I have to lose?  Nothing but a few hours of working on it.

So I spent those few hours--thank goodness it was a slow day--working on my application, career testing and competency testing.  I just finished the competency test...I'm nervous about that.  The questions weren't psych-based but dealt with areas such as ED, ICU, I applied everything I learned in nursing school and tempered it with what I've learned that facilities want to hear, and did my best.  I'll guess I'll know soon enough.

I do realize that should I get this job, I will have to cut one or two of the other jobs loose.  It will probably be job #2...and job #1.  I'm a little disenchanted with job #1 as of late.  They're the ones with the transfer issues and lack of timely responses from staffing.  I think it may be time for me to move on, though I would wait until the end of the year so my retirement account is fully vested.

Time to go relax with a good book.

July 20, 2014

As though I didn't have enough anxiety-provoking things to deal with

I found out that my father is having surgery.  Again.  He had a procedure done two weeks ago to stop some errant bleeding.  Now they're doing a cardiac procedure on him because between the atrial fibrillation and a ventricular rate of 200, it's any wonder his heart hasn't picked up its cards.

The procedure will be done the day we arrive.  But we won't be going to see him right away:  my mom's going to at the hospital all day, and the kids can't go up to visit him.  So we'll be going to see the the other half's parents first for a few days, and then come into the city on the weekend.  Though I'm going to be prepared to grab little one #2 and head into the city on no notice if--God forbid--they tell me I need to come see him.


My father has had cardiac problems for all of his life, so even though it can be anxiety-provoking at times, I'm used to dealing with him being sick or in the hospital or having some sort of surgery or procedure done.  I'm also aware that given his health and his age, he really is living on borrowed time.  While I would rather he have many more years on this earth, I know that the odds aren't in favor of that.  Then again, he sees his doctors so frequently, he may end up making it to 100.

After talking to my mother, I ended up taking one of my anxiety PRNs.  It's helped considerably.   Despite all of my anxiety issues, I am a proponent of not relying on medications unless they are truly necessary...well, given the last few days, it was finally truly necessary.

July 19, 2014

I had anxiety attacks for most of the day

It started at work and pretty much went downhill from there.  I was able to keep it together without taking one of my anxiety medications and do everything I needed to at work, but once I got home I sat in front of the computer and brooded for several hours.


I'm anxious about when the other half retires and we rely on me to be the financial breadwinner.  I'm anxious about finding a permanent job that will pay enough for us to get by, based on my calculations.  I'm anxious that if I can't find a job at a good enough rate that we'll have to decrease what we're going to save and so we won't be saving enough money.  I'm anxious over working evenings (which I love) or nights (which is doable) because of the kids.  I'm anxious over finding a permanent job period.  I'm anxious about whether we can survive the cost of living here.  I'm anxious if we just shouldn't use that final military move to head straight to Texas, which is probably where we'd end up settling for good anyway.   I think.  The thing is, we pretty much want wherever we move next to be our final move and while Texas is the front runner, it's not the guaranteed #1.  And if we were to take that final military move, I'd be anxious over finding a job in Texas, finding a house in Texas, coordinating a move in Texas, not knowing enough Spanish in time to survive working in a hospital in Texas

I know, catastrophize much?

I spent from 2000 to 2300 pretty much in an anxiety warp.  Then I dragged myself away from the computer, opened up a bottle of wine, and made myself do my usual Friday night spa routine.  I was too anxious to process my feelings, so I figured I'd go straight for the bath and facial peel.  I didn't finish until well after midnight.  But it did help me relax...and my skin is very soft and smooth now.  That is, until the peeling kicks in by Sunday. 


I think that's part of the reason I need a break from all things work and career.  I'm catastrophizing more and more, and the difficulties in both my transfer application as well as them getting to schedule me more isn't helping. 

I'm going to start back up with therapy--I already got the referral process going and I'll return to my old psychiatrist.  Different therapist though.  The last one was nice but she kept bringing it back to herself, whereas I'm the patient and as narcissistic as this sounds, the sessions should be all about me.

July 18, 2014

I found out that I had been talking to the wrong nurse recruiter for the transfer that I applied to.  Apparently it's not my usual recruiter handling that position, but another one who I don't think I've ever spoken to before.  That would explain the lack of feedback about my transfer application.  Then again, my usual recruiter could have dropped me a note to say, "sorry, I don't handle this, but I'll forward it to the person who does."  It'd only take a minute or two to send it.

When I get back from vacation, I'll drop this new recruiter a note..but not about the position I applied for because I've pretty much written that one off.  I plan to write and ask her how I can improve myself as a candidate for the next transfer opportunity.

Though for the next two weeks, I'm planning to write off work period.  It's my vacation, and I intend to cut out the extra stress...and stressing over anything work is an extra stress I can do without.

July 17, 2014

One of the doctors that I dealt with at work the other day was a older man who is actually of the school of being polite and talking to--but not down to--you as a coherent adult, whether you were a patient or staff.   Even if you were a psychotic patient who was missing a few bulbs from the marquee, he spoke to you with kindness and intelligence.  For him, I was willing to play tech support and get his computer to talk to our printer.

The other was around my age and couldn't be bothered to interact civilly with anyone.  While I'm not expecting hearts and flowers every time from my doctors, I do expect at least coherent sentences.  As it was clear I wasn't going to get one out of him that day, I swapped roles with another nurse and let them deal directly with him.  He fared no better than I did, declaring the doctor more irritable than usual.

"More irritable than usual..."  I hope my personality never deteriorates to the point that someone says that about me. 


While being an internal candidate is no longer a lock for getting another position in the facility, it does have the advantage of letting one get first crack at the job listings.  That's because at both jobs #1 and #3, the position has to be posted internally first for a period--like a week or so.  Job #1 fulfills this by posting the job on a piece of paper somewhere in the facility.  Job #3 sends them to your e-mail. 

The last time I saw an internal posting for job #1 was about three months ago, in one of the smaller units where few dare to tread.  Job #3 sends me 8-10 internal postings EVERY DAY. 

A lot of these jobs at Job #3 are for ER/urgent care nurses, and from the looks of it, they are willing to consider those on the less-experienced side as long as they have completed approved training.  So I'm seriously considering that ED nursing course being offered at the local university.  It would start this fall, and between classes and preceptorship, it would take about 6 months total.  Perhaps after taking it, I'll be able to transition over to one of these positions and diversify my skill set.
Or I can ask the nurse recruiter at job #3 what training programs there are for a psychiatric nurse who wants to cross-train.  Mind you, I can't apply for an internal transfer at job #3 until I'm there for six months, so I look at these listings and then hit delete, as I'm not eligible to transfer anyway.  I'm not even going to ask about training opportunities until I hit the 6 month mark, which would be this winter.  But it's nice to see what they have to offer.

Two more work days until my vacation...whee. 

July 14, 2014

All of my admissions had substance abuse issues.  I always feel comfortable handling such patients.  I think chemical dependency really is my niche.   I should really pursue that CARN certification...except that I'm not consistently working in a CD/dual program so I don't have the required 2,000 recent hours. Bah.

So I didn't hear anything from the nurse recruiter about my transfer application.  As the job listing is still up, I'm guessing that the answer is "Sorry, but no" and they just don't have the courtesy to drop an internal applicant a note.  It's a shame...I mean, not responding back to any applicant to tell them "No" is sad.  It's really tragic to not even send a rejection note to an internal applicant.  Especially since all they need to do to reach me is look my name up in the employee directory and click Send Mail.  How much easier can that get?

It's also surprising that I haven't heard back from this nurse recruiter who happens to usually be quick to get back to me even if she has no good news.

Oh well.  Upward and onward.  If and when a new posting for the job appears, I'll try again.  I'll resume the holding pattern for now.

Meanwhile, the manager at the program I was working at today was asking me questions out of the blue about whether I liked working per-diem, was I working anyplace else, what my plans were...I think they were trying to feel me out for something.  Who knows?  It really was random...then again, it was before my first cup of coffee so maybe I'm reading something into it that isn't there.


I'm getting ready for a long-overdue vacation.  I'm going East for a week.  It's not going to be a stress-free trip--it's more like we're going back to the motherland because it's fulfilling family obligations--but it'll still be nice.  Then when we return here, I have the next week off (though I did commit to one day of work).  Then if I want, another week off unless I schedule myself...which is my choice, as then I'm booked at jobs #1 and #3 from mid-August through mid-September.

July 5, 2014


I applied for an internal transfer at job #1.   I'd still be working in a lot of the same units that I'm working in right now.  The pay is slightly higher, but I also have to meet a minimum number of hours including a weekend commitment that they're very firm about.  I figured that I had nothing to lose:  I wasn't resigning from my current position so if I didn't get the transfer, I'd still have a job at facility #1.

That was last Friday.  I haven't heard anything yet, not even a "hey, got your resume, will let you know" from the recruiter that I've dealt with several times in the past.

I realize that I'm suffering from some impatience.  E-mail and the instant gratification of the Internet can spoil a person:  one gets so used to being able to get feedback/responses via the Web in a very short time.

At the same time, I also realized that the position I applied for had been--still is--posted for more than two months now.  So I'm wondering if I've applied to a dead listing that they neglected to take down, or if they're just mining for applicants.


I'm also looking at taking a certificate course in emergency nursing at the local university.  I'm not sure if I do want to take the plunge in the ED, but I figure the experience would be nice...especially since a friend is trying to recruit me to join him at his facility where he just got hired as a psych liaison in the ED.  As it stands, I don't have enough experience for the job posting as is...maybe in a couple of years.

June 30, 2014

So I'm liking job #3.  It's mostly triaging and handling refills and appointments, with the occasional in-person chat or VS/weight check.  This is going to nicely refine my assessment skills.  It's also going to push me to relearn Spanish, as about half of my patients don't speak English.  I'm getting really good at dealing with interpreters, though.

I don't know how often I will get to work there though, as they have a very strict seniority system.  I'm pretty low on the per-diem pecking order, and it's after they call everyone else--and everyone else turns them down--that they will call me.  I did manage to score a week in August though.

The secret is also out at my main facility.  I knew it wasn't going to remain a secret when I saw faces in my orientation that I already knew--they left my main facility to come and work for this one.   And I was surprised at who at job #3 knew who else at jobs #1 and #2.  Nursing REALLY is a very small world.

I guess there's no real reason for job #3 to remain a secret.  It's not as though I'm doing anything illegal or immoral, or violating any agreement between myself and either job #1 or job #2.


Speaking of job #2, I was back there after more than a month away.  Of course, there's been significant changes in that month, but I'm used to it with this place.  I'm actually more surprised if there HASN'T been any changes since the last time I was there.   It was a smooth day on my unit, which was appreciated as we were short-staffed...whereas the other two units were adequately staffed, yet their acuities were off the chain.  Though as the agency person, I was recruited to fill some LVN duties in addition to my RN ones.   No worries...if anything, it helped the day go by faster (that's how mellow the unit I was on was).

June 14, 2014

I always feel bad canceling myself with my even borders on guilt.

This is despite my having food poisoning.  I don't know if I'll be better by the morning, but I can't take that chance.

June 6, 2014


Despite the fact that more than 70% of my wardrobe--including scrubs--is black, I like color.   I just don't often wear it.

I went to a NAMI walk not too long ago and they had something unique there: a tie-dye-your-own-shirt station.  For a donation, they gave you a wet white shirt, dyes, gloves and instructions, and let you go to town.  The premise of the tie-dye shirt at a NAMI walk is because tie-dye shirts--just like those who have mental illness--are each unique.

I thought this was brilliant, and made one for myself as well as for each of the little ones.   Mine was predominantly red and purple, little one #1 had a red and blue one, and little one #2 had a multicolor theme going.  But alas, my tie-dye technique leaved a lot to be desired.  My shirt and little one #1's shirt turned out predominantly a faded pink with red/blue accents, while little one #2's was a faded muddled mess.   I don't think I used enough of each color.  I also think that the tie-dye stand had also left their dyes out too long, as some of the colors were rather watery and weak in color.

Still, it made a great bedtime shirt for me.   Little one #1 happens to love red and wore his until the other half--who isn't quite comfy with the ideas of boys wearing pink and red--gently suggested that little one #1 make his a bedtime shirt too.


I'm grocery-shopping.  They have tie-dye kits on clearance.  I'm intrigued...well, all right.  Let me try this again and do a better job.  I bought three and a bunch of white shirts for the three of us.  Not all four of us, as the other half is as likely to wear tie-dye as he is to wear a man-bag.  I don't even try to convince him otherwise.

I got out of the new job early today (more details to follow soon), got my errands done early, and decided to get my dye on.  I opened up one of the kits and went back to town.   It was messy, but I have bleach to clean up with, and a basket full of rubber gloves to wear while dyeing.  One of the side effects of being a's not as though I nick them on purpose.  Sometimes I forget to empty my pockets before leaving work, and so the odd glove or two finds it way home.  But despite the gloves, I have blue and green dye on my fingers.

So right now I have the following tie-dye items fermenting:  a purple tank top and a rainbow tank top for myself, a blue shirt for little one #1, and green and yellow-green shirts for little one #2.  They have to sit for about 8 hours.  This evening, they'll get brought in from the backyard,  dipped in a vinegar/water mixture to set the dyes, then rinsed in the washing machine.

Messy work.  Not hard work.  More mess than difficulty.  I think I could have done my rainbow shirt better, as some of the green bled up into the yellow and orange area.  We'll see how it looks after the rinsing.  Cheap project too:  dyes were $20 total, shirts were about $7 for each of us...and that's multiple shirts as well:  I bought three singles for me, and the boys' shirts came in 5-packs so they each have leftover white tees.

But I'm happy.   It was a great way to end a great week.

For the record, the remaining 30% of my wardrobe appears to be red, blue and purple.  Can you tell what color family I gravitate to?

May 30, 2014

Getting from offer to orientation

So I got the official job offer, all three of them.  But we know that it''s never as simple as, "you got the job, you start on Monday."  Especially not in nursing.  There's a whole lot of stuff to be done between accepting the offer and starting the job.

They wanted to start me into the next upcoming orientation, but I already had prior work commitments.  So we moved to the orientation following that...which I also already had prior work commitments for but decided to cancel them for this.  Because as luck would have it, I already had prior work commitments for the third orientation date as well.

I felt bad about canceling on those prior work commitments, but I didn't really have a choice.  Well, I did have a choice:  I could have not chosen to cancel and in doing that, likely lost this new opportunity. I guess it's more correct to say that I didn't like the choice I had to make.

Now, before we go any further in the hiring process, I am required to take a urine drug test.  It's the "drop everything because you have 48 hours to get the drug test done" type.  Well...I don't do any form of street drugs, I don't abuse prescription medications, I'm actually only on one regular prescription medication, I have one PRN for anxiety/sleep whose layer of dust on the cap indicates how often I use it (last opened 2012...I really should toss it), and the last time I took any controlled substance was prior to a minor outpatient procedure in summer 2013.  I fear nothing from this test!

Then she tells me to be careful about how much fluid I'm drinking on test day, because it's also the "dilute urine is considered a positive result" type.  And it doesn't sound like the "you'd get a second chance if it is dilute" type of test.  NOW I'm worried.  You know I get paranoid at times.  I like my caffeine in the morning:  I need at least two to three cups of coffee to be functional.  I need fluid throughout the day.  And I want to make sure that when the time comes to provide the sample, that I'm able to.

So irrational me that I am, I'm not worried at all about my prescription med popping a false positive as it's been known to do; I'm worried that specific gravity is going to be 1.000 because I had coffee that morning.

Side note:  try looking up "dilute urine" in Google.   Someone came into the room and I had to tell them, "this is not what it looks like!"

I have to find a testing center.  They gave me a list of locations, and I was to choose a location and make an appointment to get the test done within 48 hours...well, 96 hours because of the weekend:  I got the notification about the drug test on Thursday afternoon and 48 hours later would have been Saturday afternoon.  So I get until Monday afternoon to take the test.  Oh yes, failure to test in 48 (96) hours is considered the same as if I popped positive.

Now, problem A:  I'm working Friday...and Monday.  I'm also working Saturday as well.

Problem B:  almost all the test centers only conduct drug screens at specific times.  Almost all of these times are when I'm at work.

I found one center that could fit me in before I went to work on Friday.  It's 35 miles away.  It's not first thing in the AM, but less than an hour before my shift.  And that's the only appointment I could make unless I didn't go to work. 

OK.  The next morning, I don't take my prescribed medicine (may as well wait until lunch), limit the coffee in the morning, get a bottle of Dr. Pepper 10 to sip on, and decide I am not urinating until I take this test.  I head out two hours early, partially in the hopes that I can be seen early and partially because I know traffic on that highway at that hour is horrific.  Turns out that traffic is non-existent on that day, and I have no luck on the being seen early.  I end up burning about an hour in the waiting room of the lab, taking tiny sips of my soda and hoping my bladder doesn't blow out.

The sample definitely didn't look dilute.  Afterwards, I was able to snarf down some Subway and make it to work with three minutes to spare.

After I pass the drug screen, I begin completing a ton of forms and move forward in the process.  

I had to send in several W2s because they had a hard time verifying my employment in a couple of places, including at my current facility.  I wonder a bit about that.  Meanwhile, thank God I've saved all my tax forms and had W2s to spare, though I had to order one employment statement from the IRS.  Did you know you can do that?  I didn't.  It's very handy to know.

Background check comes back.  They asked for my addresses for the last 10 years.  The report--which I requested a copy of--goes back 20 years into my history.  I'm amazed at how in-depth this book is.  But the important thing is that it comes back clear, which is what I expected.  There's not even a mention of my speeding maybe it's not as in-depth as I thought.

I have to make a road trip to HR to prove my eligibility to work in the US.  I grab my little-used passport (unless you count outings to Canada) and go.  But there is no parking at the facility.  I go down the block and park in the lot of a business complex.  I walk to the side of the building as though I'm going to go to one of the businesses there, then sneak around the side, throw on my hat and dart to the facility.  I spend the next hour praying I don't get towed while two new graduate nurses are arguing with HR about when they get their pay raise.  They only started in working there in April.

When I'm done--and I spent an hour waiting to do something that would only take 3 minutes, I sneak back to my truck.  Fortunately, my prayers were answered. 

I have to set up the training schedule.  Or more accurately, I'm told when I will be training.  I learn that there's a lot more training than I thought I'd be getting.  A LOT.  I figured the whole shebang of orientation and training would take a week, tops.  Now it's a fortnight plus.  I have to cancel more work and personal commitments.  

I have to go to occupational health before the end of the month for a physical, immunization records review and PPD.  Unfortunately, the only appointment I can get is Friday before the holiday weekend.  And since they're not going to be open on weekends or on the holiday, I can't get the PPD done with them.  And there's no other appointment open before HR's deadline.  

I trued calling my own doctor's office for a PPD, but they need to order the tuberculin.  I can't go to my current facility's occupational health and get one done since I'm not due until the end of the year.  So off I go to Minute Clinic for a PPD.  Another handy "did you know?' tidbit that I learned.  Fortunately, they are open 7 days a week.  Unfortunately, it's not free.  I didn't like having to pay $60 out-of-pocket ($30 to place it, $30 to have it read), but I didn't really have a choice.  I will write it off on next year's taxes.

PPD done, I go to occupational health for my physical.  More waiting.  BP is the best it's ever been.  But the LVN is very concerned that my temperature is 99.0.  I tell her I had some coffee an hour ago.  But she's still worried and wants to retake it.  While we wait, she gives me the color-blindness test...I'm failing until she realizes the plates are out of order.  Once she gets the plates resorted sorted, I pass.

Side note 2:  I'm not color-blind, but I am a carrier for color-blindness.  Little one #1 didn't get it.  Little one #2, it's too early to tell.

I'm told that my vaccination history appears to be incomplete.  I will need titers drawn for measles, mumps and rubella, and they'll be very happy to do that for me.  So I go down to the lab.  There's only one other person in the waiting area, yet when I check in I'm told it'll be at least a half-hour's wait.  And she wasn't kidding.

The phlebotomist was nice.  She welcomed me to the organization and told me she hopes to see me around.  I told her that would be great as long as I wasn't on this side of the needle again.

Blood drawn, I go home.  Fast-forward to yesterday:  the nurse calls to tell me that I'm immune and that she will clear me for work. Within the hour, I get an update message from HR with some last minute info for orientation, along with a note stating that they are waiting on my medical clearance.   I call HR and occupational health back to make sure all is well.  

Today, I get the official word from HR that--no surprise--I am immune to measles, mumps and rubella.  I am cleared to start...and oh yes, they want to schedule one additional day of training.  I look at my calendar and realize that my first free day will be June 21.

And so the new adventure begins.

My current facility (who AFAIK doesn't know about the new job) is wondering why I'm not available for most of the month.  I had booked some days in advance but after I got the job offer, I told them that I wasn't taking any more shifts in outpatient for the next two months, but have yet to give anyone a reason.  I did submit a schedule for a couple of weekend days in inpatient but haven't heard anything back from them, despite my request to let me know so I can let my agency know.

So they don't want me there on a Saturday...I'm wondering who's unhappy with me.

Meanwhile, my agency (who does know about the job) is getting worried that I haven't scheduled anything for May or June.  I tell them I will call once things are settled and I know what my schedule will be.  Given that my current facility is being difficult right now, my agency may get those Saturdays instead.

May 23, 2014

So, remember that thing that I didn't want to talk about just yet....

To refresh your memory:

Well, it has to do this with post:

Short version:  I got the job after all.

Long version:  I received a rejection e-mail a couple of days after the interview.  I was bummed but shrugged it off...after all, their loss, right?  Two days later I get a call from the department manager--she was originally going to be at the interview but was out sick.  After she introduces herself, I tell her, "I already got the rejection e-mail but thank you for considering me, I was just happy I got the chance to interview with Facility X in the first place."  All bummed-ness aside, I did mean it.

She's confused...and then immediately apologetic.  She was calling to offer me the job.

Apparently the requisition I applied under had already been filled by someone else, and she didn't realize that my application was in that pool.  So she told me that if I was still interested she would create a new requisition (read:  job!) for me but it would take some time for it to be created.  I told her I'd be delighted to work for Facility X and to keep me posted as to what happens next.

Now I know firsthand that what the interviewer says and what HR actually does are two different things, so I was cautiously optimistic.  That's great they're doing this for me, but let's see if I actually get the offer in writing.

Fast forward several weeks.  I never quit either of my other jobs, of course (nor do I plan to at this time), so I'd been busy working and not really thinking too much about this job offer.  Maybe a passing thought of "I wonder if anything is ever going to happen," immediately followed by "Quesadillas for lunch sounds good"  But I wasn't expecting anything.

So one Thursday afternoon, the manager calls to tell me that the job has been created and do I still want it.

"Why yes, yes I do." I reply.

She's thrilled and tells me that HR will be in touch shortly.  And sure enough, before the week is out, I receive first a call from HR, then an offer letter.  Several letters, actually, thanks to a glitch.  I formally accept.  A preliminary start date is set, pending...

Now the fun begins:  pre-employment qualifications.  But that's a story for the next post.

May 20, 2014

What a day

I was working on one of the inpatient units codes were called, so I guess that technically, it was a good day.  But I didn't feel like I was at my best.  No serious issues, no major screw-ups, all of my patients were pleased with me.  I just felt like the day was more of a struggle than anything else.

Not sure why I had a rough time:  it's not as though I've never worked there before.   I had a decent amount of sleep.  Good coworkers.  Had a solid breakfast to start the day...I even got to take a lunch.


May 5, 2014

From feast to famine

So I went from having too much work to being cancelled a lot more often than usual.   Censuses are down so I'm not needed.  Oh well.  Patient censuses perk up near the end of the month--they always do.  Except that I have family visiting during the end of the month so I'm trying not to pick up anything else.  Oh well again.

April 30, 2014

I have a couple of bad habits

When think of a book that I might want to read, I check my local library's website to see if they have it in their catalog.  If they have it, I place a hold on it.  Sounds reasonably normal, right?

The problem is that a lot of the time, I don't remember doing this.  It could be that a lot of this occurs late at night.  Technology makes it so darn easy to access the Internet and thus the library's website, all without leaving the comfort of my bed.

I picked up five books from the library today.  I could recall why I wanted one specific book and placing the hold.  Three of them, I could remember placing the holds but not why I wanted to read these books.  

The last one is a complete mystery.  I'm holding a copy of "Where Death Delights," on loan from the University of Nevada (!) that I apparently requested.   I don't remember requesting this book, but there it is, with my name on the card.  I also can't recall why I wanted this book...apparently I must have had forensic medicine on my mind at the time.

I'm actually impressed my little shack of a library crossed a state line to get me the book in the first place.

Which leads me to bad habit #2:  actually getting around to reading these books, as well as all of the other unread books that I have around the house.  I blame the children in part:  by the end of the day, when they're both wrangled into bed and I have some time to myself, I'm too darn tired and fall asleep two pages in.  

I also blame the Internet as well, because when I am awake enough after the kids are asleep to actually read, I'm online checking e-mail, exercising my forum duties, and getting lost on Wikipedia adventures.  And technology makes it so easy to do that, all without leaving the comfort of my bed.


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 least in that she wants them to be raised Catholic.  But as far as her practicing what she, 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, 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, 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.

January 12, 2014

In which Meriwhen wins one and loses one

The good thing about the six day work week was that it did its job:  I was too busy to dwell on things in the daytime, and too tired to dwell on things at night.

So things worked out very well for my father.  The surgery went well.  They removed the tumor though I'm not sure if they got a good margin too.  It didn't spread to the lymph nodes, so that's something.  He lost a chunk of lobe and they had to rewire the bronchi.

He spent Thursday pretty much lying there, all full of tubes.

On Friday, most of the tubes were out and he started eating a liquid diet.

On Saturday, he was eating more though not quite the full diet yet, and talking on the phone with us.  And I'll be damned:  he sounded better yesterday than he had in a LONG time.  Even my better half agreed.

Today, he is home.  He's resting a lot but he's in very good spirits.

Right now, they're waiting for more pathology reports to come back before they decide what to do next.  Radiation may be the next step if they weren't able to remove everything.

So yay!  Life is good and things are looking much brighter.   I'm well aware that my father won't live forever, but at least he'll be around a little longer.

Then my sister called.

She's been having vision, vertigo and numbness problems, and so she went to her doctor.  She's got a whole battery of tests next week, but the doctor's preliminary guess is that this could be MS.  Or a brain tumor...which given that she's already had a pituitary tumor that has for the most part been benign, it's not that far-fetched of a possibility.

Well, damn.

I was on for four days this week, and truth be told:  if the agency cancelled me, I wasn't going to pick up hours at my main job.  But instead of trying to lose myself in work, I'll try to help her out however she needs me to.  At least with her, I don't have to fly to the East Coast to be there.

January 7, 2014


I talked to my parents on Skype today.  Dad still looks pretty good considering.  Mom, not as much...but she is stressed beyond belief right now.  Dad's surgery is tomorrow at 0730.  0430 my time.  At least we'll know what happens fairly early.

I'm working tomorrow so I'm attempting to go to sleep right now.  I don't think it'll be easy to sleep tonight.  I don't think tomorrow is going to be easy in any way...but I'm going to have to deal with it.

January 4, 2014

It's annual training renewal time for me.  Almost all of my annual courses, training and certs are due in January.  The exceptions are ACLS, BLS and How to Tango with Angry Patients, a.k.a. CPI.  That's my summer fun.

So I just completed a stack of courses:  privacy, infection control, waste management, disaster management, risk management, personal safety, workplace safety, medication safety, radiation safety and MRI safety.

I work in psych.  We don't use IV pumps or multiple lines.  The only MRI I've ever taken part in was the one I had for my foot while I was in nursing school.  The last radioactive exposure I had was a chest X-ray at my last annual physical.  Yet every year, I take courses regarding what to do with patients receiving infusions, radiation and/or MRIs.

I do pretty well on these tests too.  I must be the only psych person getting 100s on the radiation course.

Anyhow, I don't argue or complain. I figure if it's in my "Assigned Training" folder, then someone somewhere in my facility feels that I need to complete this.   Though when or even why they expect me to be performing MRIs on patients, I have no idea.