Monday, November 19, 2012

The Ninja

     Now that I've gotten the first week out of the way, I'm thinking about my fears. With this being a Pediatric floor, the one thing that I was afraid to deal with was being around a terminal child. In my world, death belongs to the elderly AND infirm; not those who've barely gotten the chance to live. I was unsure of how I'd handle the dying child because I have a tough time with death. We're not on good terms.

      My first day, there was a child who had been recently diagnosed with ALL but he looked relatively healthy so I wasn't that bothered. Sad but not really bothered. But my third day, I came face to face with a young boy with Neuroblastoma on his adrenal gland that had metastasized to his liver, brain, and bones. I'll call him P.S. The sight of him broke my heart. He was bald, he was pale as a sheet, and he was three. His parents only had him and his older brother. I remember thinking that this was so unfair.

      He was admitted for chemotherapy that Monday because he had to begin a regimen of prehydration and labwork first. It was explained that chemotherapy chemicals are highly nephrotoxic and the body needs to be hydrated to ensure that cytotoxins will be flushed from the body. Because he was a chemo patient, I mostly got to observe which was okay with me because I was so full of questions. How long has he had it? How did the parents find it? More importantly, what was his prognosis? Well...he was Stage IV and his chemo was in still in the research phase. I'm in tears as I write this because his outlook is pretty poor but his disposition was amazing. He laughed with me and showed me his Spider-Man pajamas. Spider Man was his hero and all the Nurses knew it. He wanted to make sure that I knew it, too. Early on, I'd noticed that he was highly intelligent after having been through so much and charming. He could charm the scales off a snake. Of course, I wanted to cry but as always, I'm careful to save the tears for my car where nobody's looking. Brenda, my Preceptor, explained the how's and whys of his labs and orders. For some reason, I thought that all this would be confusing but not so. I hung on to every word.

When I came in on Wednesday, I was under a Nurse named Candace and my little chemo patient was hers that day. The first thing that I saw when I reached the unit was a little Ninja come up to me and give me some karate chops. Sure enough, it was P.S. His parents were clever; he wouldn't wear a mask but he would wear a costume so that day, he let Spider-Man rest. A Ninja it was. It was kind of funny because, although, he'd had chemo the day before, he was in wonderful spirits. He was on his way to the playroom at 6:45 in the morning and felt like playing. Mom, realizing that his every moment is precious, gave in. She was so tired but like me, she was not one to spoil a kid's fun. Of course, I acted like I didn't know who he was and there was a Ninja attacking me. He laughed and I swear it sounded like Heaven. His mom looked tired but grateful that her boy was in good hands.

     It was in that moment, I forgot the bad and only remembered the good. There's nothing to really be afraid of because this is life. It happens. To everybody. The only thing that we need to do is remember: To everything, there is a silver lining if only we look for it. Oh...and one more thing: try to make the best out of every moment. They are not guaranteed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

That First Day

     Sunday morning, bright and early, I started my Preceptorship. It's a 120 hours of externing under a Nurse so that you get exposed to working with many patients. Previously, I'd asked to work in Medical-Surgical and Pediatrics was my third choice. I didn't foresee that our instructor would have such a hard time finding spots for us and I figured that I'd be in the local hospital on the floor where I'd done my clinicals. It's funny how you make plans and God laughs at them. 

     My mind was made up at the beginning of all this that I didn't want to work with kids because I've mostly worked in Pediatrics as a Medical Assistant and, although I liked it, I wanted a change. I love kiddos but the day in day out cold, strep throat, 'I don't want a shot!" tends to grow old. I wanted surgeries. I wanted complex diseases. I wanted something that was 18 and over. That had been my plan all along and I was sticking to it. So, when our Precept instructor told me that all she had available for the shift I wanted was Peds, I was crestfallen but, begrudgingly, I decided to take it.

      Well...imagine my surprise when I fell in love the first day on the floor. I saw those babies and in one full swoop, I was head over heels. I looked up because God knew all along what He was doing. That first day, I hit the floor running. Giving meds, assessing patients, looking over labs, you name it, I did it. I had a tonsillectomy, sickle cell anemia, feverish newborn, and the one who stole my heart, the leukemia kid. The tonsillectomy was a discharge so he was out the door in the first few hours and the sickle cell kid had a doting mom. She took care of everything because he was her precious cargo. They were easy. The newborn had a Mom who was there but she wasn't there. For some reason, she didn't really have a good bond with her baby. I don't know if it was because of her economic and psychosocial situation but she seemed to look at him like he was an accessory. She picked him up, tucked him in the crook of her arm, and nodded off to sleep. No smiles, no coos, no eye contact. I just shook my head and prayed that I wouldn't see him on the news in about fifteen years. Real parents know that you have to nurture those babies with love and affection so that they won't turn out like weeds.
     Now, the leukemia kid was another story. His "parents" are his much older Aunt and Uncle because Mom and Dad couldn't or wouldn't get their life straight. Somehow, people tend to forget that you have to have it together before you make a baby, but that's a story for another day. Anyway, the one thing that struck me about this kid was his smile. He looked like sunshine. He's only two and he was only recently diagnosed but he acted like there wasn't a thing wrong with him. He grinned and laughed and played. One of the Nurses brought him a toy and the first thing he said was, "Jesus'. Oh my heart. They said that he prayed over his special toys. When other family members came to visit him, they treated him like gold. I was confident that they made up for what Mama and Daddy weren't giving him. I remember one of his visitors saying what a shame it was that his Mom wouldn't take the time to come in from out of state just to see him. That made me burn inside but it came to me that He always puts us where should be at the right time and with the right people. Everything happens for a reason. I conveyed that and the family agreed 100%.

     The rest of my day passed by so quickly. When I left the floor, I was thankful for three things. One, my babies are healthy and they have me to love them like there is no tomorrow. I would turn over heaven and earth for my kids. Two, I'm not as desensitized as I thought I would be by the end of this Nursing School journey. I had some teary moments that day but I was careful not to let my patients or their families see it. Yes...I have a heart and it burns for Nursing. And last, I'm glad I was wrong. I'm stronger than I thought and I have only Him to thank for that. I didn't think that I would make it to Preceptorship. I planned on giving it my best shot but in the back of my mind, I had a nagging feeling that I wouldn't get this far. I'm a mama of a dozen; life is hard just day to day. But...God knows best. Before I left, these Nurses had on these T-Shirts that said, "Pray for Mitchell" on the front in bold orange letters. A family needed all they prayers they could get for their loved one. That wasn't what struck me. It was the verse on the back that made me smile. He was giving me a little reminder:

Jeremiah 29:11 - 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'


Friday, November 2, 2012

The Test

     Yesterday, was a make it or break it kind of day for me. Our class had our last test before preceptorship and final exam. The way our program works is that you have to have a 75 test average just to pass that class and for anyone who is a Nurse or Nursing student, you know that this is feat in and of itself. Studying for Nursing isn't just memorization-- it's critical thinking. Our tests consists of two right answers, the best answer, and a wrong answer. There's hours and hours and hours of studying, stressing, etc. We put our blood, sweat, and tears into this. So much so that it takes over your life. Families, spouses, friends, love ones take a seat on the back burner.

     For me, being a Nurse means that I'll have enough money that I won't always have to say no because I don't have something. It's means that I'll be able to shop in the store and not in the circular magazine. I won't lose sleep worrying about how I'm going to cover that bill. I won't have to run out of gas or run on fumes and a prayer. More than that, I get to take care of people which is my passion. I don't want to do anything else. Nursing is my love.

     While I'm considered to be one of the best in my class (as I've been told by my instructors), I struggle with testing. I don't do well with select all that apply and Pharmacology. It's just not my bag. So, with this being said, my testing average was a 75.33% and I've been stressing out something terrible. The days before this test were filled with hours of studying. Tears. Bunches of tears. Prayers. Lots of prayers. Sleepless nights. A ton of those. I had a marathon study session the day before that lasted from 7:30 a.m to 5p.m. and 8:30 p.m. to 3:20a.m. I took a two hour nap and back at it 7:30-8:50 a.m the day of. I was EXHAUSTED. The test was to start at 9 am and I did the only thing that I knew how. Pray. Hard.

     I told God that I knew He wanted nothing but success for me. I told him that ultimately, His will would be done but that I placed my future and that of my family in His hands. I know that He wouldn't let me come this far and just let me fall. He knows me better than anyone else, myself included. I need Him like I need water, food, and air. I prayed this in my shower. I prayed in the car on the way to school. I prayed in the parking deck. I even did a quick prayer in front of the computer. Tensions were high and my heart was racing. I just knew a panic attack was coming on. Then, it was time to get started.

     The test was timed for 75 minutes. Fifty questions. Once you answer, you can't go back because it only lets you answer one at a time. As I answered each question, I just knew that they were wrong. About halfway through, I'd decided that I would go home, tell my kids that I'd failed, and we'd be struggling and sacrificing another six months (if I even went back at all). I had this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach and just knew that I was going to vomit. Right there in front of half my class. After 28 minutes (for some reason, I test really quickly), I hit the submit button. Before I checked my score, I said, "God, please let this say 74 because that's what I need to pass on." As a matter of fact, I wasn't even going to look at my score. I was just going to leave. Then...

     I looked at my score. I expected to see a 50 or 60 but it was WAY higher than what I needed. The class was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop so people were surprised to hear me exclaim, "Thank you, Jesus!" In that moment, I had to give Him the praises because I just knew that there was dreadful knews waiting on me and He proved me wrong. I walked out of that class with tears in my eyes and the biggest smile ever. Right now, I'm still thanking Him.

     Now, I know that I have a final exam to go but in this moment, I'm just so grateful. God is so good. Even when my faith was waning, He still held me up. I'm just so thankful. Glory and praises, Father.