Friday, March 25, 2011

Double Friday Random Ten

Since I did my Friday Random Ten last week, but never had time to post it, I'm posting this week's and last week's.

This has been two of the busiest-- and most rewarding-- couple of weeks of my life. I mentioned before that a week ago Monday, I had my first Med-Surg exam of the two I'll have this rotation. It's generally considered to be the most difficult test of the second year. I was happy that I got a B-- especially after finding out that most of the class got C's, D's and F's on it. A lot of people are at the edge of dropping out of the program.

Last Friday, we had the HESI exam-- a practice for the NCLEX, the state nursing board I have to pass when I'm done with school in order to get my license. It was one of five I'll take this semester, but the most important one. It's comprehensive, covering everything we learned in the whole program, and counts for a percentage of the grade in one of my classes. It's probably a good thing that I didn't know, until right before the test, that it counted for 15% of the grade, not 1.5% like the other HESI's, which are in specific content areas, count.

I whipped through the 160-question test in a little under two hours, and got the score immediately. I needed to get at least an 850 to get the full 15%. I got an 1007. About a third of the class did not get the 850. The average score was in the high 800's.

I had one more test this week-- the clinical test for my Med-Surg rotation. The instructor, Ms. Beaumard, is one of the favorite teachers I've ever had. She's rigorous and demanding, but knows just when to back off when you're nervous. She inspired us to be better nurses.

Thanks to her and other instructors, I've felt different this semester. I used to walk into clinical days scared to death. Each time I was doing something new and terrifying. I'm still doing new stuff, but I approach it with a new attitude. I'm eager and excited to learn a new skill.

I passed my clinical test with flying colors. Yesterday, the last day of that rotation, Ms. Beaumard did evaluations. Mine was short and sweet. Ms. Beaumard told me that I'd done a great job this semester, and that she didn't have any concerns about my abilities as a nurse-- unlike some of the other people in the program. She praised my critical thinking skills, and that I was going to be a good nurse. Having her tell me that was like having Willie Mays tell me I was going to be a good baseball player.

I have my second and last Med-Surg test on Monday. Then I start my final rotation, Gerontology. Six more weeks to graduation.

1. Mastercharge- Albert Collins
2. I've Been Loving You Too Long- Otis Redding
3. Run Through the Jungle- Creedence Clearwater Revival
4. Gimme Shelter- The Rolling Stones
5. Hold Me Tight- The Beatles
6. Tattooed Love Boys- The Pretenders
7. Car On A Hill- Joni Mitchell
8. I'll Be Around- The Spinners
9. Bastards of Young- The Replacements
10. Roll Over Beethoven- Chuck Berry

1. I was fortunate to see Mr. Collins while he was still with us. Great performer.
2. A classic from a guy who was taken from us way too soon.
3. CCR commenting on the Vietnam War.
4. From the great "Let It Bleed" record.
5. Some older Beatles
6. "I shot my mouth off and you showed me what that hole was for..."
7. Read about this song in "Girls Like Us," which was about Ms. Mitchell, Carly Simon and Carole King.
8. Great break-up song.
9. I saw their last show nearly 20 years ago.
10. I saw Chuck Berry at a show in Grant Park in 1986. Left and discovered that Keith Richards joined him on stage shortly after I left.

And last week's...

1. Hotel Illness- The Black Crowes
2. Love Too Good- The Jefferson Starship
3. Bohemian Like You- The Dandy Warhols
4. If We Make It Through December- Merle Haggard
5. Baby, I Love Your Way- Peter Frampton
6. Rock Me On the Water- Jackson Browne
7. There's a Moon in the Sky (Called The Moon)- The B-52's
8. Your Gold Teeth, Part II- Steely Dan
9. A Girl Like You- The Rascals
10. She- The Monkees

1. This is my current favorite song.
2. Gracie Slick voicing some past relationship regret. I can relate.
3. Love, love, love this song!
4. Maybe the perfect country song.
5. I love Lisa Bonet's version of this in "High Fidelity."
6. Jackson Browne taking a spiritual turn.
7. This one was fitting for the "biggest moon" that turned out to be a bust here in Chicago-- overcast that night.
8. A lot of people missed how damned funny Steely Dan was, including this song.
9. Love the Rascals/Young Rascals!
10. For a prefab band, these guys were awesome.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The "Better Late Than Never Tuesday Friday Random Ten"

Completely missed last Friday's Random Ten, since I was busy with school and work. We had a test coming up that is generally considered to be the most difficult of the year, covering coronary problems, AIDS, tuberculosis and lung cancer.

I got together Saturday with a handful of classmates to get ready for the test. One of those people is pretty damned annoying, but worked as a paramedic and understands the coronary stuff, which includes reading EKG's, something the rest of us struggled with.

The study session must have worked; a test I would have been thrilled just to get a "C" on, I got a "B." I kept my mouth shut about it though, because I found out most of the rest of the class (including the annoying former paramedic) got C's, D's and F's.

Going in to clinical today, I had the realization that something has changed. First, knowing that I got through the toughest portion of the program yesterday, I know that I can do this. Secondly, I realized that I'm no longer terrified going into a clinical day. I look forward to learning new skills and perfecting ones I've already learned. I had a moment today when I realized how much I've learned. On clinical days, we team up; one person is the "lead" and the other is the "team member," who is basically serving as a CNA (certified nursing assistant). I was the team member, so I set about getting sets of vital signs, changing linens and witnessing while my partner gave meds.

Toward the end of the day, my "lead" was about to give a heparin shot-- something that we do a lot in the hospital (it's an anti-clotting agent-- people who are bed-ridden are more prone to blood clots). My partner asked me to do it, but I'd given a lot of heparin shots and so thought it best for her to do it, especially since she was the lead. As she started giving the shot, I realized she was doing it wrong, though it was too late to stop her. She gave the shot at a 90 degree angle, like you'd give an insulin shot. A heparin shot is "subcutaneous;" you give it just under the skin, at about a 30 degree angle.

Fortunately, where she gave the shot, on the underside of the patient's arm, was okay-- there's enough fatty tissue there so that it was okay. But I was mortified that just a few weeks before graduating, she did not know that this was how to give heparin. I found myself wishing I'd have gone ahead and given the shot.

I was not the only person mortified. A resident who was in the room took her outside and politely but firmly told her what she'd done wrong. I was glad the resident did it and I didn't have to. But I learned a couple of valuable lessons. First, if I see someone about to do something wrong, go ahead and stop them. Secondly, to have confidence in what I've learned.

On Friday, we have the comprehensive "HESI," a practice for the NCLEX, a big nursing board I take at the end of this program that I have to pass in order to officially become a nurse.

I've got a lot coming up. One of my kids starts his last year of high school this year as the other is starting it. I'll be starting a new career, and may have to move out of the place I've called home for the last nearly-13 years. Oh, yeah-- and I'm turning 50 in a few weeks. It's all good.

1. Ruby Tuesday- The Rolling Stones
2. Turn That Heartbeat Over Again- Steely Dan
3. In the Heat of the Summer- Phil Ochs
4. Fade Into Me- Mazzy Star
5. Are You Gonna Be My Girl- Jet
6. Painting By Numbers- James McMurtry
7. I Hear You Knocking- Dave Edmunds
8. Walkin' After Midnight- Patsy Cline
9. Ever Fallen In Love?- The Buzzcocks
10. She's So Modern- The Boomtown Rats

1. I've always found this to be one of the Stones' more lovely songs.
2. From "Can't Buy A Thrill," one of the greatest debut albums ever.
3. The late, great Phil Ochs, singing about the riots that racked the ghettos of America's cities in the mid to late sixties.
4. This song is haunting and achingly beautiful.
5. Love this nasty little song from a few years back.
6. The son of "Lonesome Dove" author Larry McMurtry. He just did a couple of shows at the Old Town School of Folk Music, just a few blocks from my home.
7. Dave Edmunds had a hit with this back in 1970.
8. Spent many a night in college walking home-- alone-- drunkenly singing this song.
9. A new wave classic.
10. The Boomtown Rats at their snottiest.

Friday, March 04, 2011

The "How Did I Get This Old" Friday Random Ten

Had a hell of a week at school. I'm waiting for the whole cardiac thing to fall in place in my head. SA nodes, V-Tach, Atrial Flutter, etc. I expect it to happen sometime Monday afternoon or so.

I'm enjoying this clinical rotation, despite the fact that it's causing me to be even more sleep-deprived than usual because of the combination of work and clinical schedule-- close the restaurant late, then up at 5:30 am. Have Ms. B., one of the best teachers I've ever had (I had her last semester, and was fortunate to be able to choose my schedule to get her again.) Yesterday was annoying; had to work with the most annoying classmate ever in history, and a nurse who was high-strung beyond belief. Still, it's all good. Thanks, Ms. B, and thanks to the other classmates.

In the meantime, my son's turning 17 on Monday. Trying to get my head around that, and also the fact that I'm done with nursing school in 9 weeks.

We celebrated my son's birthday by going down to a favorite restaurant down in Chinatown, then coming home and watching "Napoleon Dynamite." I was reminded of the day, nearly 17 years ago, that the most terrified guy in the world drove his girlfriend's car home from the hospital with a girlfriend he hardly knew, and a day old baby in a car seat in the back. And I'm reminded of Bill Murray's line Lost In Translation, as the character "Bob Harris," who says

"The most terrifying day of your life is the day the first one is born...Your life, as you know it... is gone. Never to return. But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk... and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life."

And they have.

1. Stratford-On-Guy-- Liz Phair
2. Mean Mr. Mustard- The Beatles
3. Wild Horses- The Rolling Stones
4. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds- The Beatles
5. The Mansion On The Hill- Bruce Springsteen
6. The Scorpion Departs But Never Returns- Phil Ochs
7. Born In Chicago- The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
8. The Stripper- David Rose
9. No Feelings- The Sex Pistols
10. That's Entertainment- The Jam

1. From "Exile On Guyville." Liz must have been in my social circle, from everything I've read about this record, but I don't remember meeting her, let alone dating her. So I can't be one of the asshole ex-boyfriends she's singing about on this album. Not that I wasn't an asshole then.
2. From the great second side of the "Abbey Road" album. Back when there were second sides, or records, for that matter.
3. One of my favorite songs to play on guitar. The Sundays, who are best known for "Where The Story Ends" did a lovely version of this one.
4. Love the story of this song; everybody thought it was about drugs because of the initials. It was just about a picture John Lennon's son drew of his friend Lucy at school.
5. From Mr. Springsteen's "Nebraska" album. If there was a more beautiful song than this one ever written, I have yet to hear it.
6. Ochs was best known for his political songs, but wrote some power songs about tragedies that moved him. This one was written from the point of view of a sailor on the Scorpion, a US nuclear sub that was lost in the Atlantic in 1968.
7. My parents used to go see the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in the mid-sixties at Big John's, in the Old Town neighborhood, where we lived. Love this song and album.
8. Anybody around my age remember the shaving cream commercial this one was used in?
9. The Sex Pistols only recorded one album. But why record another when you got the first one right?
10. Rumor has it that The Jam were who the Clash were making fun of in "White Man In Hammersmith Palais" ("They've got new suits and Burton suits....")