Thirty Second Dance Parties…..

The last few weeks I’ve been talking to my squad of future RN’s about all things to do with life as being a nursing student.  We have discussed what it feels like to be on the outside of life, how much pharmacology can suck balls along with Sheila.  How ridiculous assignment writing and the way they are formatted are and how we are going to achieve success with placement.

This of course got me thinking about blog posts related to placement.  I have thought of ’10 things nursing students need to bring to placement’ or ’10 things I’ve learnt on patient centred care’.

After writing several paragraphs on each topic/blog, I sat there thinking ‘what is this shit?’ Even though I have been on placements countless times within the last three years of nursing college, I felt like I couldn’t write anything along those lines.  This stemmed from the thought that all of us have different formats, needs and expectations when it comes to placement. 

It also means that each of us have individualistic plans that we have formatted and structured over the last two or three years.  We have learnt how to reframe our ways of thinking and feeling towards patients, their family members and our stress levels.

We have learnt from our plan of attack, what works for us and don’t work for us.  How we are going to handle those mentors who are really nice and will allow us as students to fly the coop, knowing we will not fuck up.

To how we are going to handle those who make us feel inadequate and less talented in regards to our skills and confidence.  This of course made me turn around and ask my nursing squad what their thoughts and feelings were about nursing and placement.

I got told by Mrs. Hotline Bling, ‘the people with the greatest capacity for good are the ones with the greatest capacity for evil’.  This quote from our mutual love, Nurse Jackie, made her think of the buddy nurses she has been paired with over the past few years, who have been so brilliant with patients and at their job.  But yet, failed miserably and were awful with students.

So last night while I was browsing to see if Grey’s Anatomy had been updated, I couldn’t help but think….. ‘Is my life like Grey’s Anatomy?’

I originally thought when I watched the pilot show of Grey’s, it was going to be interesting show as it was medical based, it had a relatable set of characters and there was something about it that said ‘watch me’. I never actually thought it would have a part in my life as an independent woman, a woman in a fierce and sometimes harsh world of business and a woman who wants to strive for the best.  Particularly as someone who wishes to make a name for herself, which is derived from sheer hard work, long hours of sweat, tears and blood being shed.

This first lesson wasn’t McSteamy and McDreamy being McBastards’ and Meredith locking herself in the bathroom, crying over split milk.


The first lesson Grey’s Anatomy taught me was life as a nursing student and future RN was: it’s normal to ask yourself ‘
Who feels like they have no idea what they’re doing?’ before promptly raising your hand. I find this is one of the many questions I ask myself on a daily basis as I face my many hurdles, bounds and rocks during my life as a nursing student.

This questions seems to be asked even more while I am on placement, staring at a chart containing a shit ton of medications that I am going to be administering.  Although I appear cool, calm and collected on the outside as I pretend like I am a professional in this business; on the inside, I am shaking in my boots.

Because all it takes is for a simple miscalculation and I watch you literally die in front of my eyes.  So while I fill out paperwork as to the reason why you died in my care, I will be no doubt repeating that some question as to ‘who feels like they have no idea what they’re doing?’ as I mentally kick my arse.

On an average day as I stare at my crowded table containing textbooks, assignments that are needing to be started, halfway completed or nearly finished; I ask myself that question.  A minimum of 12 times as the stress, doubt and anxiety flood my system. As I wonder what my life would be like post college, post graduation and I am in the real world as a registered nurse.

Which leads to the second lesson Grey’s has taught me.


I soon learnt this lesson on my first day of college after having stepped into a pot hole filled with water and being splashed by a car driving past me.
 
As I trudged and made my way to my lecture hall with my bag containing every textbook I’d brought that day and books/pens I really didn’t need; I felt my toes squelch in my drenched socks and let out a sigh. I may have looked like a drowned rat in dirty, muddy clothes but I learnt that day, shit will eventually and will continue to hit the proverbial roof.
  
Whether I wanted it to or I didn’t want it to.
 
This realization has followed and carried me in some cases for the last three and a half years.  All the while I experience my life’s fair share of ups and downs.  I’ve learnt to walk away from various different relationships. Relationships that don’t tick off everything on my list of needs and when at the end of the day, has made me feel like there was something missing and I needed to go and find out what that something is/was.
 
Sure enough when I left those relationships, I learnt something was indeed missing and I was the thing missing.  The person I should be and not the person who I thought was appropriate for the various roles that needed to be played as if they were a character from a book.
 
I learnt while on placement and within the wards of a hospital, things don’t always go the way I want them to. Ever.  This is something I have to admit has annoyed me greatly in many large lengths but at the same time, I feel like it is a much needed lesson on my behalf.
 

It has taught me to understand and accept the fact not every shift is going to be easy, calm with a relaxed vibe to it.  Rather there are going to be times when I deal with wet socks, pants and clothes after a patient has decided I need to have a shower with them.  My socks are filled with a patient’s vomit or blood as I fight to save them from being sucked into that void of darkness or light. I’ve also been taught the lesson there’s going to be times where I am going to collapse into my seat while I am on my break and wonder, ‘why did I go into nursing? Is it really my passion?’

 

It has also taught me how to be empathetic and is return, has taught me my third lesson.


There have been more than a few times I have stared at someone, whether they are a fellow nursing student, colleague and patient and thought to myself ‘
You’re so damn stupid’.

In some cases it is because what they have said is funny and has gotten me to laugh out loud at what has come out of their mouth.  In other times, like many of us nursing students, we wonder how the person speaking, was not only allowed in college but also has managed to complete their degree. I tend to think this when I overhear a conversation and a person has stated they were diagnosed with some foreign and rare condition that has every letter but z in the name.  

When asked how they found out and what did their doctor say, I cringe at hearing: “Oh no, I googled Google and found it like that”. As a fellow citizen and soon to be RN, step the fuck away from Google!  Close that tab telling you have Hydrocephalus and go see a professional.

This is why doctors study for 10 plus years to have sufficient knowledge to be able to diagnosis and treat you with medications and surgical options.  Us nurses study for 3 years at a constant speed to make sure the doctor doesn’t kill you in the process, where we administer the medication required for your simple and average disorder.

We don’t attend college because we like to rack up student debt, we consider it ‘fun and cool’ and want dress up as some slutty nurse for Halloween. No, we attend college to gain a better education past high school and where we can put the skills we have had strummed into our heads.  We use the physical, social and psychological skills gained when trying to save your dumb arse life.  We attend college to become better nurses so when we hold your hair as your vomit, tell you everything is going to be okay and we comfort your family members, we are doing our best.

I didn’t attend college to become a nurse for the pay check at the end of the week.  Instead I attended college to become a nurse because I like people, I wish to help you and I want to have a job that fulfills my life, needs and requirements.

I didn’t attend college to deal with morons who self-diagnose themselves via Google and some cocked up bullshit written by a 14 year old, with no medical degree or knowledge.


There will be times where I pay attention to people who come from all walks of life, whether they come from a lower socioeconomic status of poverty and days of counting money.  To dealings with patients who have more money than sense in some cases and think everyone needs to bend to their wills.
 
It is in these times that I notice people, I see people and there will be people who don’t see notice people like me.
 
In some cases, I will be the nurse who blends into the background for fear of stepping out of her comfort zone.  Who goes on her job quietly, paying attention to what your body is telling me as you are stating, “No, I’m not feeling anything”.
 
Or I can be that bitch who you hate with a passion because I told you in a roundabout way, “Sit down, shut up and let me bandage you”.
 
I know from the time I went on my first placement in an elderly retirement village to dealing with my first patient, who was dying of cancer; I have grown in strength and stride.  I’ve gone from being the incompetent student who didn’t know what an 18g and 22g needle was used to administering medications after correctly calculating them.
 
Over the last few years, I have grown from being the wallflower to the bitch who wears and embraces her titanium balls. I have been known to fight and advocate for my patients, myself and have chosen to fight against doctors, who clearly no nothing about dealing with patients.
 
I have made enemies of fellow nursing students because I have allowed myself to outstep and outshine them in some circumstances.  I make sure I am prepared with all information about the ward I am doing my placement on.  I also make sure if I don’t know, I research the topic until my fingers are black and blue and I am tired of the topic.
 
As Scary Spice told me, ‘sometimes, the key to making progress is to recognize how to take that very first step.  Then you start your journey.  You hope for the best and you stick with it, day in and day out.  Even if you’re tired, even if you want to walk away.  You don’t.  Because you are a pioneer.  But nobody ever said it’d be easy.’ 

Like I soon learnt from my sodden socks and shoes, college, life and nursing is never going to be easy.  If it were going to be easy, everyone would have doctor and nurse attached at the end of their name.

 
My fifth lesson is when Cristina stated to be someone; you have to ‘have some fire.  Be unstoppable and be a force of nature’.  I’ve learnt as a result of having fire and being an unstoppable force of nature, I am going to be better than the next person but at the same time, it makes me appreciate the struggle they are going through.
 
Although I may be better than the next person, there is going to be someone out there who is better me.  At the end of the day, I shall try to be better for myself and not for them.  For I have to admit I am over the competitions, running races and words of ‘my son/daughter is better than you’.
 
Yes that may be case of where they are better than I; but do you ask yourself if they are happy with their lives and the enormous amount of pressure you and they put on their shoulders?  No, I suspect you didn’t take time out of your busy life of self-importance to take a proper look at your child/ren and realise they aren’t happy with the peer pressure.
 
Grey’s and Cristina taught me as much as nursing is supposedly a team network and everyone works in team groups, that is a load of bullshit.  There may be times were you are working beside another colleague, looking after patients in a bay on the ward. 
But there are really no teams here, no buddies because like Cristina said “You’re on your own. Be on your own”.  For as much as college and nursing placement strums into our heads ‘nursing is all about ‘team work and support’’, at the end of the day we are there for ourselves.
 

We are there to gain an education, to work as individuals with patients, a pay check and prove to ourselves this is the job for us.  In my case, I prove to myself on a daily basis I was sent into nursing for a reason and the profession I have picked for the rest of my life is going to allow me to succeed. This of course ties into lesson number six.

As I stood in that particular pot hole, feeling water drenching my socks and shoes as I wiped the mud and water from my face; I’d originally been then to prove a point.  The point I felt like I needed to prove to the people I was living with in Redneck county was I am smart like they were.

I wasn’t the dumb student who skipped most days at school, unless it had music and modern history because I was stupid and couldn’t pass high school.  It stemmed from the reason I was incredibly bored with what subjects were offered, I wasn’t into being a farm hand nor some woman who wanted to grow and harvest crops.


Also, I wanted to prove I wouldn’t be the ‘unemployed’ name under my name in the ‘where is the class of 2007’.  In my mind as I travelled between two jobs I held while studying full time at tafe as I dreamt of escaping, I don’t think I was unemployed.


Where some many years later, I have realised I no longer have to prove myself as a person and as a fellow student. 
I no longer have to prove the reasons as to why I shouldn’t be bullied or have my face pushed into toilet water, simply for the fact I was a ‘city bitch’.  A city bitch who had qualms to gain means in life, to not spread her legs for a position at work or for a formal partner.  I also certainly didn’t need to follow in other’s footsteps to have a boyfriend, just so I could prove someone found me sexually attractive or even like able.

I’ve realised I no longer have to prove to my Grandparents that I am worthy of being loved for who I am and not what I can bring into their lives.  I no longer have to prove to my cousins that I need to be some type of national service to gain money, a job and sometimes an escape route.  As much as I appreciate my blood family, my family that I’ve created is filled with wonderful and extremely talented people.  


People who do not want something I cannot provide or pull out of my arse.  For all they are interested in is who I am as a person and what I already have.  They do not expect me to go to the edge of the world, rob a bank or steal something stupid because they love me for who I am.After three years of seriously hard thinking as to what I want in life and many episodes of arsehole Karev and his words of arsehole wisdom, my sixth lesson was ‘it doesn’t matter what the rest of you think.  At the end of the day, all that matters is what I think’.


I have came to accept the fact I was the one who enrolled into college, selected my choices of college and essentially, I am the one who has to finish this journey.  It is my mistakes, doings and goings that at the end of the day, make me realise all that matters is what I think.
  

What I think about my life, college process, GPA and where I want to go in life.

This of course ties in with lesson number seven.


To my family, my amazing friends and to my nurses squad filled with incredible women; thank you for all that you have done within the last three and a half years.  To my family, I love you so much.  I am so thankful to have each and every one of you in my life and will continue to feel amazed at what you bring to the table, what you share with me and how you inspire me.

Thank you!


Lesson number eight Grey’s has taught me, along with many other student is to question as to whether or not, ‘We are gonna survive this, right?’.  I have found myself asking this question every time I step onto a ward and I see chaos.
Not your average chaos of a few things out of place and with one or two nurses looking a little frazzled around the edges.  No, I am talking about the time you have just left the safety of the nurses staffroom, you glance around the ward and you see nurses running, alarms are going off and patient’s are standing at the nurse’s station, looking stressed.

 
Not to mention, you are currently witnessing patients playing musical beds as wardies shift them from one side of the ward to the other side. It is in this very moment, your stomach drops below your toes and is now residing somewhere in the morgue and you turn to the person standing beside you.  Who equally looks like they are wanting to pivot on the ball of their foot and sprint back into the nurse’s staffroom and you say, “we’re gonna survive this, right?”
 
As the person nervously shakes their head, you know this shift is going to be a punk arse, motherfucker and you want it already to be clock off time.
 

Anything and everything your mind can think of that can go wrong on a ward, goes wrong.  You experience patients who have a faulty line which causes the pump machine to scream, beep and holler uncontrollably.  You also have the patient who asks constantly, “can I go for a smoke?” although the doctor has just told them to stop smoking.

My particularly favourite are patients who take flirting to a whole new level and within 2 minutes, you feel like you need to take a restraining order out against them.  Or you have the patient who is talking one minute and completely flat lines the next.  Where you spend the next twenty minutes performing CPR after calling a code blue and they come back, gasping.

So when it comes time to performing handover as that clock ticks away the remaining 20 minutes of your shift, you collapse into your driver’s seat and brace your hands on the steering wheel.  You, my friend, have just survived a punk arse, motherfucker shift and you can now look forward to waking up tomorrow morning and coming back for another ‘Who Dares Wins’ scenario.

 

Lesson number eight is to have a person. 
 
But not just any person you can sit there and say to someone, ‘you are my person’.  Rather you want to tell your significant other this person who trust with your whole entire life is the person, you would want there for when times are tough and not so tough.
 
Cristina once stated about her relationship with Mere that “she’s my person.  If I murdered someone, she’s the person I’d call to help me drag the corpse across the living room floor.  She’s my person“.
 
In my case for times I have spoken to Lady Blacksnot over the many years of both of us studying, I know she is the person to have my back.  My back when it comes to handling my law case against the person I have killed and stashed away for the mean time, as I pace back and forth.
 
As much as I am thankful to have Lady Blacksnot, I know the people who are ‘my person’ is my siblings.  I know they would be the people who would help me drag and remove a corpse from the closet after telling me everything is going to be alright before yelling, “why did you kill them?”
 
I know when I reflect on the type of fictional relationship between Cristina and Mere, their relationship was simply one of a kind.  Whether it was the moments they lay in bed chatting about Owen and McDreamy, work and life or dancing to relieve their stress; they had each other’s back.
 
Like my siblings, Lady Blacksnots and I’s relationships with one another, we have each other’s back and that is what family and girlfriends are supposed to do.  Instead of competing against one another, which I guess is incorrect because we are competitive in some regards; we still lend a helping hand.  
 
We have all agreed in some form or shape that if we need help, dating and sex advice or the little bit of comfort, we are there to help them personally/professionally.  Just like Cristina and Mere were there for each other.
 

Lesson number nine is… Hope.

 
The one thing that seems to make the medical world rotate on its axis is not the professionals tending to your issues.  Rather the thing that makes the medical rotate on its axis is hope.
 
That strange little sensation you get in your chest when you look at something or someone and whisper to yourself, “I hope….”
 
Izzy once said in an episode when she was told hope was childish, “it’s not childish to hold on to hope, it’s actually hard, very, very hard”.  I think in some circumstances for some people, hope stems their dreams and wants. These people I am talking about are those facing times of hardship as they undergo another surgery and chemo or radiotherapy treatment regime.  Hope seems to flood a person’s system as they think about those possibilities that may arise if they accept the surgery or treatment.
 
Hope allows for those receiving treatment for cancer to think about what possibilities the medication and treatment can bring for them, especially if they caught the cancer early.  It allows them to think while they are hooked up to a machine, pumping toxins into their system and killing everything good and bad about the day the doctor says, “your cancer has gone into remission”.
 
It also allows for their family members to hope and pray they make a quick recovery and that they aren’t affected too badly by the chemotherapy.  Hope allows for parents whose child has been in an accident, their child wakes from their coma and they don’t have any serious complications.
 
Mothers I have spoken to and have watched while on placement, they wished and hoped for a child to be delivered safely.  They didn’t care in some circumstances what the sex of the child was but rather the child was safe, breathed properly and had no neurological concerns.
 
In my case when I was told I had a form of cancer and within five years I would be in a pine box being burnt, I hoped when it came time to having surgery the doctors’ would get clear margins.  I know Lois and my family prayed and hoped I wouldn’t have to face various forms of chemotherapy as Lois sat behind me with a pair of scissors. 
 
Just in case I had to have chemotherapy to overcome my cancer and I couldn’t bring myself cutting my hair or losing it as a result of the chemo.
 
Hope allowed me to sit there, put a hand on top of Lois’ and say “why don’t we wait until we get the results from the surgery”.  As Ms. Latina told me the other night as we discussed placement, her facilitator used to say “nursing isn’t like baking cakes as it is people’s lives… Whoops, let’s just bake another batch”.  In some way, I’ve realised we can’t bake hope into cookies or cakes.
 
Hope is something that cannot be brought or baked into food because it is something we are born with.  It is also something we choose to use to our own advances, whether it is for evil or good.
 
In the medical world, hope runs through our veins beside our copious amounts of coffee.  It allows us to pray and hope you as our patient gets better and it also allows us to shed a tear or two, when we are told you have passed away after battling cancer.
 
For hope makes us human and not weak.
 
Last but not least, lesson number 10 is…..
 
Until next time,
 
Cheers xo
 

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