Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pumpkin decorating

Pumpkin decorating 2014 was fun. The boys were very clear on what they wanted to do for each of their pumpkins.

Caleb is in a hard core Pokémon phase, so his plan was to cover his pumpkin in hand made drawings of his favorite characters.

Jansen wanted a Sonic the Hedgehog profile and just HAD to cut it out.


I couldn't decide if I wanted to do an Aggie one or a Texans one. Since I am an Aggie fan on Saturdays and a Texans fan on Sunday, I made two

And in true Amber fashion, they had to be blingy.

We are definitely getting ready for Halloween in this house. Even though it is still pretty hot here in South Texas, I am feeling the Fall. Oh yes, I am feeling the Fall.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The 4th Grade Living Museum

The 4th graders at Jansen's school put on a program this week that was super cute. They were each assigned a historical figure, had to find a book about that person, and create a mini biography to be recited through a cut-out in a poster board.

Jansen got Davey Crockett and he was adorable.

He didn't have his bio memorized, so he taped in on the back of the poster board and just read it anytime someone came up to his station. It works!

Nursing school rant

Sorry in advance that this is not going to be a super positive post, but this is my journal of sorts, and I am putting it out there.

I am 34 years old. I have two kids, and a husband, so that really makes 3 kids. My husband works shift work (graveyards and days, rotating) and works a lot of over time. I am super blessed to have my parents living within a mile of me, who take care of my kids after school for me to be in nursing school. They are completely self-less and will do anything to help!

I am super driven, a definitely over achiever, very organized, and a bit fanatical about my school work. I never like to show vulnerability or weakness, and always try to keep a happy face and encourage my other classmate. This said, I am super easy to anger and get overwhelmed, and I need a lot of time to myself to feel happy. Really, I need a lot of time to myself. I am easy to pop off at those that I love the most.

That all said....I hit a wall this week. Hard. Head first. Then my fat body. I hit the whole thing.

Everything in life in a learning experience, and nursing school has provided me with an experience I will never forget. I am working on managing my stress, and I have made leaps and bounds. I can handle a couple of rough days, and use my family as a chance to regroup and recharge.

This did not happen this week. Now I know it was only a week, and that is like chump change in the wallet of life, but holy cow.

I pride myself on over achieving and being composed. Well, I'm not. Folks, I'm not. I like to give the idea that I am on point and can handle anything. I can't. I literally texted my husband to come home early last night because I needed to run away. Like pack my stuff and run away, like a 5 year old. Instead I took a nap. WHAT? Yes, I forced myself to take a nap.

This week was like a midterm of weeks. Monday was awesome because we were starting IV's on each other. We had our professors looking over our shoulders, talking us through it, guiding us, giving us tips, and correcting us when we made the wrong choices. It was amazing. I thrive on that kind of instruction. I have really struggled with the "hands off" nature of school thus far in that we are often told to watch a video, print a check off sheet, and start practicing. The time that we actually sit in front of a professor, alone, to perform the skill is nerve wracking because I always feel unprepared and I hate to look incompetent. Check offs, for me, are like the practice time that I wanted before that. Time to ask questions, make mistakes, correct them, and practice the RIGHT way. Anyway....

But Monday was also the beginning of the most difficult week of the entire semester. We had a ton of work and dosage exam the next day. Dosage has been self driven as well. We are teaching ourselves the material...which for the most part is fine. I have been doing pretty well making mostly 100's. The final stomach was a bit in knots, but I felt confident turning in my paper. I missed 1 and got a 90. My heart sank. Even though a 90 is an A, the thing about dosage is that you have to have 100's. You are tested before clinicals each semester, and for obvious reasons, you have to get 100. And you have three times to take the test to get 100, and if you don' are out! Like out of the program. My error was a calculator error. I had the right formula, and my work was correct, but I must have punched in 100 instead of 1000 in the calculator giving me 16.6 instead of the correct answer of 166.

That was mentally frustrating for me, knowing that is a huge mistake in dosage calculations. That would have MAJOR implications for my patient. Granted, I will not make that mistake again, but it threw me off a little. I was ok though, and moved on to the Health Assessment quiz, which I got 100 on. I moved through the day with the feeling of not having enough time for what I needed to do for the rest of the week....Wednesday having a major exam in Skills and having 4 check offs, which I didn't feel confident about. Tuesday night, we also had a program at Jansen's school...which I will post pictures from because he was so dang cute.

Tuesday was also the day that I got a phone call from Caleb's school psychologist saying that she had been getting reports from his teachers saying that he was having anger issues at school. This is something I hadn't seen, even though he is Autistic and I know that he can have these issues from time to time. My problem is that I missed her call, tried to call back, and was unable to leave a message...then realized that I couldn't ever do anything about it since I am in school until after she goes home for the evening. My stress level was rising. Homework with the kids, hours of studying for me, and I was struggling.

Wednesday morning was the day I was dreading. I wasn't prepared enough. At 6:30am, Caleb told me, over breakfast, that he had a book report due that morning. He hadn't done anything. My heart sunk, and I told him this was his one freebie. I would help him throw together something but from now on, it was his responsibility or he gets a zero. So at 7 am, we were writing a report on Tuna. He sat in the living room writing while I was getting dressed.

I got to school frazzeled, but did much better than I thought on the exam. 93...I'll definitely take it. But then came check offs. Stations were set up. She told us to bring certain materials. When I got to that station, she asked where my materials were...evidently I needed different materials than what she said at first, so I looked unprepared. Ugh...strike one.

I started to prime my IV tubing, getting ready to hang my bags and I asked if I could do something that she had showed us in class, and she was like..."No. If I were your patient I wouldn't like that." Of course I wouldn't do that in front of a patient, but whatever. Keep going through the tummy rumbling. I got the piggy back going, and went to the machine, and then couldn't get the thing started. She told me to problem solve, and I was thinking that I just needed to take a breather, but still couldn't get it so she told me what to do. As I was labeling everything, I missed the most important part....the patient's name. Good grief, get it together! But I moved on to the next station.

The next station was a mixing two types of insulin in one vial. I did that, and the professor at that table gave me some very helpful information, gave me lots of feedback, and a few good tips. My stomach was settling.

The next station was a professor that I always check off with. She gives the most information. She is difficult but super thorough, and I love that. I wasn't nervous at all. But 15 minutes at this station of injections and I was wearing thin. She asked every question under the sun, talked me through things, gave me some tips, I demonstrated everything I knew, and gave her more information than she probably needed. I did a couple of injections, and then it happened. She asked about a Sub Q injection. I told her the gauge and length needle I needed and then with all the needles out on the table, I couldn't find what I just told her I needed. My face flushed, I got dizzy, my stomach began the Olympic gymnastics competition, and it was over. It was a complete spiral. I picked up each one, telling her right gauge and wrong length, right length but wrong gauge, etc. I just couldn't find it in the mix. She then started asking me questions and I couldn't even tell her my name. I was babbling and I felt the tears start to well up. I pushed them back down and realized that I was giving her the completely incorrect answers for the most basic of stuff....stuff that we had already covered. She looked at me with a totally blank but annoyed look and told me I needed a great review of needles.

No, no I don't. I know what I need. Give me a second to regroup! I repeated to her all of the gauges and lengths for all the types of injections. I finally found the needle, I sat down and then had to give the injection as my insides were dying. I did it. I tried to lighten the mood by saying, "nothing like having a mental meltdown in the middle of an exam." That didn't go over well. She looked at me like I had grown another head.

I did the rest of my injections perfectly, including the TB test. She commented on my skills. I made sure that before I left that station, I repeated back to her all of the gauges and lengths, picked the correct syringe, and covered all my bases. I informed her that would never happen again.

And then it happened...she wrote, "Needs great review of needles." WHAT?! WHAT!!!!??? I was furious with myself, and I still had to go start and flush an IV after this. My hands were shaking and I was just so ticked.

So I went to the next station, commented on my previous mistakes, and told her I was ready for redemption. I got out all of my equipment, I prepped everything, and began. I talked through every step, not missing a thing. I got the stick, moved the hub to the skin, remembered to release the tourniquet, and got the saline lock in place without a hitch. I taped everything properly, labeled it correctly, drew up my saline, and flushed it properly. I got the highest marks on the most difficult skill, and the basics were just a crap show.

It had taken over two hours. My nerves were shot and I was livid over my complete meltdown on the injection station. Then I heard that things were taking too long and they were changing up the stations for the next group of people, which made the whole situation much easier for that group. I couldn't take it and I gathered up all my materials and literally ran out of the lab. I was not going to cry in class.

I got to my car and bawled like a baby. I cried for a good 30 minutes. I gathered up my willpower to drive home, and started studying for the HUGE Pharm test and quiz scheduled for the next day.

I studied from 5-8:30 just for the test. Jansen came in at 9pm to tell me goodnight, and I asked him if he had finished everything he needed to turn in. It was then that he told me all of the unfinished paperwork (that he had been telling me for weeks that he was to finish in class) was due the next day. I couldn't even look at the child.

I pulled everything out of his binder. He had 7 pages and 2 packets that were incomplete. My husband was playing Clash of Clans. I know, I know...why didn't I ask him to help Jansen. Well, homework done with Dad is more stressful than homework with Mom. He starts out patient, then starts to get snippy, then starts to yell, then Jansen is crying, and the whole thing is a mess. It's easier for me to just help.

So Jansen came into my closet office and sat on the floor beside my desk. I started working on my drug list. He started asking questions and I just abandoned my drug list. At 11:30pm we were finished. I sent him to his room, told my husband that I wanted to stab him with a spork while he was laughing at our favorite TV show, comfy in bed. I went back to my closet office and restarted. I was falling asleep at the computer, and I just gave up.

Thursday morning, my stomach was so anxious. This was the last day of the week and I needed it to be over NOW. I got the kids to school, packed everything up, and was quizzing myself on the way to school. We got settled, we were quizzing each other, and the director of our program walks in with packets.

She starts a speech about practice NCLEX questions and how we needed to be exposed to mock tests and we were going to be working on it together. Where was our professor? What is going on? Is this test for a grade? Are we still having our Pharm test and quiz? Next week there are no tests...are we moving things to next week? Are we still having a mandatory Student Nurses Association meeting at lunch? I repeat, what is going on? No answers, just this NCLEX test.

Four hours later, an SNA meeting down, and finishing the NCLEX test, we found out that we would be taking the Pharm test next week. I have never been so upset in all my life...just at the situation. It was like the prefect ending to the worst week of my life thus far.

I got home and my mom told me that Jansen didn't turn in his paperwork, so she took him back up there. She had a meeting with the teachers that left us all wanting to have him tested for ADHD. So, now how am I going to schedule that with my school schedule. Then I was told that Jansen didn't come straight home after school like he always does and had decided to go to a friend's house without telling anyone, prompting my mother to go to the school in a panic, prompting them to panic, and had my mom almost calling the police. I was so furious, I was done.

I snapped at my mom, who was only trying to help, and snapped at Jansen, and I snapped at my dog. My mom left the house upset, I started crying, Jansen was crying, he was devastated, I was devastated, I texted Josh to come home because I was leaving. I needed time to myself. I couldn't handle it and needed to run away. Jansen and I cried together and talked about things and then he sweetly said, "I need to take a nap to start over. Do you want to come with me?"

Yes, yes I do. We crawled into bed, took a nap, and woke up to my husband walking through the door worried. He said, "let's go eat at Tokyo," Jansen was thrilled, Caleb was happy, I was 75% back to normal, but I really just wanted them to go so I could just be by myself and sleep. We ate, went to Kroger and got some pumpkins, and got home and went straight to my room. I watched Project Runway and fell asleep. I slept until 7:30am, which is late for me, and got up more relaxed and ready for the day.

I am spending the entire day with my kids. We are going to go play. We are going to have fun. I will not think about nursing school today. I will not. Period end of story.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Nursing school-midterm

Well, it is here folks. Midterm of my junior year of nursing school and I didn't know if I would make it. The half way mark is upon us, and I can see this tiny little penlight at the end of the tunnel. In December, we have one whole month off! BLESSED!!!!!

We have learned so much this year. There have been things that I can't believe have happened and that I forgot to document. But for the most part, it has been amazing.

There are times when I second guess myself, but I am just going to keep trucking.

So here is what has been going down for the last few months.

We have checked off on ambulation, restraints, bed baths, moving patients, and changing linens.

We took everyone's vitals.

We got our nurse packs and began digging through the goodies to practice medication administration.

We practiced giving injections...intradermal, subcutaneous, and intramuscular.

We celebrated National Student Day with FREE hot dogs, chips, and candy!

My husband got me an early Christmas gift to help with my studies!!!!

We started IV's....many, many IV's...

I thought about changing my mind but...

I have studied until even my dogs have had enough....

We've done outlines, care plans, ATI notebooks, videos, simulations, check offs, blueprints, quizzes, Prep U, and we have cried. But we are still trucking.

Steady...we are half way through the semester.

GO BUCS Day at elementary school

Our local high school, Brazoswood, had their Homecoming a couple of weeks ago. Since I have been engulfed in nursing school, I am just now getting around to posting a picture of my Jansen.

His school had a Buccaneer Day celebrating the school that he will be attending soon enough. Children were encouraged to wear a B'Wood shirt or pirate gear. Thankfully, I bought him this shirt last year at the dollar store down from our house! Last year it was too big, but it fit him perfectly this year.

He's so cute!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Houston Texans vs Buffalo Bills

Sunday, I took a break from my crazy nursing school schedule to spend some time celebrating my husband's 37th birthday with our kids at the Houston Texans game.

We had a really great time! I only wish we could go to games more often. In time, in time, like two more years...we will get our season tickets back!

Anyway, got our gear on early Sunday morning...

Stopped off for some breakfast tacos, and headed to NRG Stadium to tailgate. We were only out there for a little bit, because Josh wanted to go inside the store to get a new jersey.

We ate our tacos...

played a bit of football...

ate some cookie cake....

talked to a few members of the Bull Pen Pep Band...

and then headed in to the stadium.

Josh got a new jersey...

and we watched as the team warmed up on the field.

We cheered for our team like crazy lunatics....

it was rough, it was ugly, but it was a win.

We had so much fun together. It was great to be able to get away from school work and enjoy my family.

We love our Texans!!!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

What's nursing school really like?

I get asked this question a lot!

It's very different that anything I have done before on so many levels.

This is my junior year, so Lord willing, I will be graduating in May of 2016. I long for that day.

Here's the low down of what the nitty gritty for me looks like.

Monday morning, I am up at 5:45, ready to shower and get the morning going. I get the kids up, get breakfast going, and thank the good Lord that I packed lunches, signed papers, and set out school clothes the night before.

By 7:15 we are out the door, headed to drop one kid off at Polk, then the other kid off at Clute. I return home to grab all my work, a quick bit of food for lunch, a coffee or water, and I am back out the door, headed to school.

On Mondays and Wednesdays we have Skills 1 and 2 and Simulation Lab. All day. Our professor lectures, we grade papers, we work on chapter assignments, and we break for lunch. The afternoon is for lab...bathing patients, practicing our skills, making beds, talking to mannekins, feeling overwhelmed.

You see, Skills and Sim are deceptively difficult. Each week we are to read the chapters in the book ahead of class. We have hour long videos to watch that include post video quizzes we must get a 90 or better on and turn in proof of completion...each week. We must read chapters in the ATI Fundamentals book and copy and answer the end of chapter questions in a notebook that we turn in each week. She gives us Alternate Format questions for each chapter that are to prepare us for NCLEX. We have Prep U online quizzes for each chapter that must be completed each week. This week, we are learning 4 chapters, which averages out to be around 40-50 online quizzes. We have check offs where she watches us complete a skill and checks off on a flow chart if we pass or not. And then...we can study for the weekly exams.

So that is on Mondays and Wednesdays.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays we have Dosage, Pharmacology, and Health Assessment...all day. We begin with dosage, that we teach ourselves. We were given a book and each week we are to complete two chapters. Each chapter has several section practice tests that must be completed, end of chapter proficiency tests, and there are two quizzes each week. There are 8 tests and we have about 8 or 9 weeks to complete the course. Every semester before clinicals we have to take a dosage test to show competence and we must get 100%. Three strikes, and you are out!

Next is the lovely Pharm. Pharm...I have a love-hate relationship with Pharm. Ok so here's the low down on Pharm....

We have a book and a study guide. Each week we work on about 5 chapters. We are to have read and outlined each chapter prior to coming to lecture. She lectures over the chapter. Each week, the corresponding chapters are due from the study guides. They are graded based on completion. There are med cards that used to be a requirement but are now just considered a suggestion that need to be filled out for the drugs that include class, action, uses, contraindications, precautions, interactions, things to monitor, assessments, etc. We have an ATI book for Pharm as well that we are to read the corresponding chapters and complete the end of chapter questions. Those are to prepare us for the proctored exam at the end of the semester that is in addition to the final. We have weekly Prep U online quizzes to complete for this class, as well as weekly class quizzes for brand and generic drugs, and weekly exams. Oh, we have to watch videos for this class as well.

After lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays is Health Assessment. We have a book and a study guide for this class. We averaging 2-4 chapters a week, we are to have read and outlined these chapters prior to lecture, we have to complete the study guide chapters, we are to watch the online videos and take those quizzes, we have weekly class quizzes, and almost weekly exams.

Wednesdays we have Dosage and Health Assessment SI class at 5pm, which is a supplement to assist us.

Thursdays we have Pharm SI at 4pm.

We are off on Fridays. God bless it. By the time I get home each night, cook dinner for the kids, pull out all their work and help them with their homework, get the bedtime routines going, and have the boys in bed between 8:30 and 9pm, I drag myself into my closet office to get started on all the work. My limit is midnight. Whatever is not completed by midnight, is not completed. I throw myself into bed around 12:30 am and am up and at em again the next morning at 5:45am to start these shenanigans again.

It's not overwhelmingly hard, but the amount of work is overwhelming. When you are at school all day learning and taking notes, and then have to come home and get all the reading, study guides, outlines, quizzes, questions, notebooks etc completed...well, you really have to be super organized. The subject matter is serious. It's difficult. You cannot study the night before.

But my grades so far are good. We had three tests this week and three quizzes. I made 100 on all my quizzes. I made a 96 on my skills exam, an 86 on the pharm exam (that was later changed to 100 because many of the test questions got thrown out), and a 78 on the health assessment exam. Now the 78 was the highest grade in the class. Myself and a classmate each made a 78, and that was the highest. I am sure I will do better on the next exam because now I know what she is looking for and how she tests.

I don't have to have all A's...but I want them. I'm not going to freak out over B's....but 74.9 is failing. And by failing, you are out of nursing school. So I barely made it with that 78. Yes, it is the average at the end...but everyone wants a little wiggle room.

So, I have next to no time for anything else. I got a pedicure today since next week we are practicing pedal pulses on each other, and the whole time I was taking online quizzes on my phone and reading my pharm book. I spend entire weekends trying to catch up and even get ahead. This week I really have to get ahead because I am in my friend's wedding next Saturday, so school work and studying will not be an option for me.

Oh long rambling post, but it is just really hard to get across how draining and time consuming it really is to be in nursing school. But it is so worth it!