Saturday, April 24, 2010

Nursing School: Part Three

One might think going to school along with your husband could be a disaster, a remedy for trouble. But to be completely honest it worked. That's not to say his early morning good mood did not annoy me more than once when all I wanted to do was melt into the car seat and slip away with my coffee. Or that the fact that he never had to study for anything while still acing every exam in med-surg didn't drive me crazy.

But aside from the little nuances we had through it all, it was never as difficult as I thought it might be. In fact, if I could just jump up on my soapbox here for a moment and make a little speech (which I'm sure Ryan will be thrilled about...) he was the reason I was able to make it through this year. For someone who quit college twice before because of lack of interest and failing grades, he proved he is more than capable of doing whatever he sets his mind to. And he pulled me right along with him- never letting me give up while always letting me remember if it got to be too much, I could be done.

Going to school with my husband actually turned out to be an experience I'm sure has changed us for the good forever. In many ways it brought us closer together and made the whole year a little easier. I'm not trying to get all sappy and say our life is just a bouquet of roses and a ball of sunshine now, but I think going through this made us realize how far we've come together.

On the night before the first day of school last fall we brought the kids over to my parents, tucked them into bed, told them to be good and that we loved them, and left. On the way home we stopped at the grocery store to get some things for our lunches and as we wandered the aisles I felt my eyes blurring with tears because I wasn't sure I'd made the right choice. Yes, it was only one day a week they needed a sitter and in my heart I knew they would handle it a lot better than me- spending the day at Grandma's is never too hard on a kid. But as Ryan tossed bread and oranges and lunch meat into the cart, I trailed along worried out of my mind we might be selfish doing what we were. When we went to pick up the kids the following evening after making the two hour drive to and from class and spending six hours in lecture, the kids weren't ready to go home. We just started playing with the blocks, they said, we need to stay longer. And that was the proof I knew was there all along- I was not harming my children by making them stay at Grandma's once a week.

I understood quickly that if I was not making that drive with Ryan every week, if he was not the one coaching me through the presentations that rattled me, if he wasn't with me to remind me the kids were fine and that they probably weren't even missing us- I'm not so sure it would have been so easy to make it through.

He worked full-time nights, he made me attempt to start an IV on his hand when I was afraid to try, he stopped at every gas station on the way to I******d so I could use the bathroom in the last couple months of my pregnancy. He made fun of the little things when I felt too overwhelmed, listened to me talk for hours about my first IV starts, and always convinced me I would be fine. No matter what it was, he'd always tell me: Don't worry about it. You'll be fine.

In two weeks we'll make the final drive to get our diplomas. And after that life will begin to change again as he starts a new job and summer begins. And while it was an experience I'll always be glad we went through together- I'll be happy to say we'll never go to school together again. I hope.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nursing School : Part Two

When I started this all, I half doubted I would finish. I laid awake till 4:30 a.m. the night before I was to register for classes. I weighed options on imaginary scales, I flipped mental coins, I made bargains with myself: If I try one semester, I can quit after that. No one will blame me. I wrote pages in my journal and scratched a pros vs. cons list out on paper trying to decide if I was making the right decision.

Weary and trying to distract myself that evening I picked up a magazine and began reading an article. While I don't remember what the article focused on or what the point of it was, I do remember picking out a quotation amongst the otherwise jumbled words- Whether you do something about it or not, the time will pass. Okay, so I don't even remember the exact words that were used, but this is what has stuck with me after all this time. The next day I found myself registering for classes with a knot in my throat and nervous excitement boiling inside of me.

And so, time did pass while I went to school. Sometimes I seriously doubted my choice. This, after all, was not what I had envisioned for myself when I had once looked ahead toward the future. It was not what I had in mind for my children either. There was always the worry that I would miss something important or that they might despise me for doing this at all. I cannot count how many times I was quitting over the years- all the while knowing I probably would not stop halfway through. Ryan quit reacting to my words, That's it! I'm done with this. I'm going to quit. The funny thing was- he always said so calmly, "That's fine. Be done right now if you want." But it was never quite the right time to be done. Weeelll, I'd reason with myself, I'll just finish out this week. This month. This semester. The LPN year.

It might sound as if I don't really want to be a nurse at all. And quite truthfully, there have been times I've doubted that as well. On my first day of clinical during my LPN year, I think I came home and cried. I'll never forget the way my stomach dropped when my instructor led us into the hall in the nursing home that first morning and said, "Okay. Go wake up your resident." How, I wondered, was it possible that I had made it this far into the program without really becoming prepared for this part. Patient care, after all, was where everything we learned was applied.

In reality, there is no preparing completely for anything. In nursing school as in life, we can only prepare to a certain point- after that you have to experience it to truly understand it. Sometimes it goes how we've imagined it, sometimes it's a surprising contrast to our plans. And, yet either way- somehow after the first time you've attempted something it's never quite so scary again. All the firsts a person goes through in life makes us a little stronger. Every step takes you a bit further. And after that first bed bath, then the first insulin shot, the first IM injection, the first dreaded catheter, I began to understand that I would be okay. No one else stated out knowing everything on day one, and there was no way I would either.

And time continued to pass as things became a little easier, a little more interesting, until I actually could admit that I really liked what I was doing. A bonus when you've already invested so much time into something, really. I kept going because I wanted to make it to the end. I kept going because no matter how many times I let myself think I wouldn't finish I always felt the reminder that time was passing. I kept going becuase I wanted to be a nurse.

Time went by, life happened, I didn't quit. And it's easy to say now, I think I always knew I'd make it.

Eighteen more days...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Nursing School: Part One

We started the first three weeks of this semester with me making the two hour drive to do my two day a week mental health clinical. And as the timing was, all I could do was hope that I could make it through those weeks before my baby arrived. I'd drive down there wondering if I'd end up having to leave for home early, I'd lay in bed at night thinking- is this it? Should I get in the car and head home right now? Always hoping I'd just make it through. And just barely, I did; Adalie was born three days after I finished my last one.

Well, at the time it seemed like forever until Ryan would be heading out the door for his mental health rotation- the last three weeks of the semester. At the time it seemed so far away and distant that I could hardly think about it because there was so much else to focus on. But then, this morning arrived and Ryan packed up his stuff and headed out the door for week one of the final three! What an incredibly awesome feeling it is to realize this point that I doubted would ever come has finally arrived! Three busy weeks and it's over. (As if you haven't heard me say that enough!)

Lydia asked me the other day what a 'grad-ja-ta-shun" (graduation) was after hearing us talk about it so much. I tried explaining it to her and told her I'd be done with school for good after it and the poor girl couldn't even comprehend it. Till next fall? she asked. I don't think she remembers a time before I went to school. Yet although it's all she knows right now someday- as so many have told me- she won't have much memory of us going to school at all. And the other kids- I doubt they'll remember it at all.

So, with that being said: I'm going to be doing a series of posts reflecting back on these past few years because I know as quickly as it is over we will begin to forget what it was really like. And so one day when our children ask what it was like I'll have something to show them. Over the next few weeks I'll be trying to get some thoughts down here- a countdown to the sweet end of all of this!

Just a little over three weks now...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Cleaning will have to wait 28 more days...

Wow, this blog needs a serious facelift. I kind of cringe when I open it and see how desperate it I have let it become. Exhausted posts, worn out fonts, a visually unappealing dead-end begging for a second chance. And whenever I stop by, instead of sticking around long enough to do anything about it, I run away quickly so I don't have to look at it. Kind of the same way I treat my laundry room-which-has-now-morphed-into-my craft room. One look inside those doors and I start to hyperventilate to the point where I close them back up tight and make myself scarce before I pass out from pure panic at what it has turned into.

There's no room for creativity in that craft room anymore. It's been taken over by and overwhelming amount of stuff that has the walls feeling awfully tight. Piles of clothes that are headed for a garage sale or Goodwill, piles of clothes that are clean but haven't made it to their rightful owner's rooms, piles of clothes on their way to the wash, all clutter the table and floor. Stacks of school books from the past six semesters- collecting dust because I never got around to listing them on ebay. {cringe} Papers that were supposed to be filed and winter mittens that are on their way into storage litter themselves across the counter that once housed scrapbooking supplies. Still probably does but they are not currently visible beneath the heaps and stacks of junk.

Well. If you'll kindly notice that cheesy little countdown ticker on your left over there you'll see that my school days are numbered. Ahem, 28 to be exact. So, I'm forced to believe there's hope that some day in the near future when life isn't so full of papers to write, tests to study for, and careplans to create I will get this blog spring-cleaned as well as the rest of this house. I have projects cooking in my mind and ideas bouncing around the corners of my brain.

So kindly put up with the desolate disposition this blog has taken and hopefully someday in the near future new air will be breathed through the cobwebs that clutter it now.

In the meantime- I'll be counting down till my life is once again my own. Less than a month: 4 days of class, 3 days of regular clinical, 2 days of OB clinical, 1 day of exams... Now that just sounds downright crazy. Yeeeah!