Friday, February 25, 2011

What the ...Week!!!

Dang!  Where did it go?  I don't go to work.  I don't have kids and yet my week is gone! 

Last Saturday, we celebrated my niece's 1st birthday and I cooked.  I never cook.  I don't make things.  I can't draw, knit, sculpt nothing.  It took me two weeks to prepare, with one day of prepping and one day of cooking, but when all was said and done I managaed to make two pan's of cheesy potato casserole (one without onions for my brother and sister-in-law) and 3lbs. worth of mussels in garlic and beer.  I was extremely gluttonous and only slightly guilty.  The food was a hit with no leftovers to be had.  I made sure to get my niece two loud toys so her parents wouldn't forget her and she completely inspired me to get my own "smash" cake for whatever thrity-something birthday I have coming up in September. 

Sunday, A broached the idea of selling my road bike.  I had been kicking the idea around for the last year and a half, but being the type of person that has an emotional attachment to certain objects in my life I had not seriously done anything about it.  A convinced me it would go to a good home and I could get a decent price and within four hours it was cleaned-up, test ridden and sold!  Gone was my trusty red and black Trek 1200 that had carried me over thousands of miles, that had taken me 50+ mph once down a hill out by River Road and had only ever flatted on me one time in three years.  It went to a good home and I hoped it's new rider would enjoy it as much as I had.  The upside to all this was it got me a few bucks to get through these unemployed weeks until the dough starts rolling in from my new job. 

Monday with all the crappy weather I was dreading the drive to South Pointe for my phsycial and physical capabilites test only to discover the power was out in some areas of the buildings and only half of my appointments would be completed.  I was a little bummed.  It had to be the physical capabilities test that would require me maxing out all 4 of my appendages in less than 45 minutes.  I was told I would have to come back Tuesday following the same protocols, eat well, sleep well and avoid strenuous activity.  This was messing up my running and boot camp.  I peed in a cup in a pitch black bathroom, managing to avoid peeing on my hand and sacrificed three tubes worth of blood.  I only ran 7 miles after and opted to skip boot camp once the weather became sketchy around 3pm.

Tuesday I traveled down to the main campus to turn in my new hire paperwork, get my ID badge and parking assignment.  I originally was assigned the same parking deck as when I precepted down there, but switched to a surface lot to save $15 a month on parking, so now they only dock my paycheck $45/month (GEEZ, no wonder I make what I make -- they are gonna take most of it back in gas and parking!!).  It was really quick and I went directly back to South Pointe thinking maybe I could get in an hour early, but no such luck.  They checked me in and left me sitting in the lobby for an hour.  My appointment was at 2:30pm.  They called me back at 2:40pm.  The max test required I be strapped into a seat tighter than the Dragster at Cedar Point.  The straps criss-crossed my chest and after writhing, left and right, pretty much foaming at the mouth and grunting like a pissed off wild hog I had two thoughts. 

1. If I had breast implants and did this test I bet I would have popped one if not both it was so tight
2. My shoulders were gonna be wrecked for days (I had hickey looking marks on both traps and they are still sore 3 days later).

The test was new as of this year and to fail would result in my job offer being rescinded.  It was supposedly being used as an indicator for worker's comp and injuries, but it seemed flawed to me.  How does my max strength determine if I know how to lift appropriately?  Needless to say, it sounded like I had put the best numbers up at their facility by a female thus far when the administrator stated "Wow!  I think these are the highest I have seen so far.  She's set the bar for the girls."  I left sore but happy knowing if I didn't pass that test nobody would. 

Wednesday I ran down by my old high school and silently cursed all the high school drivers going by on their phones.  Damn kids!!!  And then it occurred to me -- I had been out of high school for 15 years (that was an unpleasant thought).  I looped back down the all-purpose path and back home for an exhilirating 12 miler.  Thinking back and looking outside now, I debate banging my head on the wall for not just making that my long run day as the weather was perfect for me and today is...well, less than ideal.  Boot camp that night was rough.  I had a really hard time doing anything that required my shoulders.  I looked forward to the deadlift station, for once. 

Thursday, I had set-up a reunion at Ray's for my classmates.  I figured about 10 people were coming as I had not received that many unofficial RSVP's, but a little after 4:00 pm, person after person trickled in.  It was amazing!  The majority of my class and even one of my teacher's had made it out.  I had meant to be home by 7:00 pm, but with so many great stories and an unending amount of ridiculous jokes and laughs it took me until 7:30 pm to muster the will power to say good-bye to them and head home. 

Now, today I have spent a large amount of the day re-hashing the wonderful week I had and posting pics and thank-you's, watching some old show called "Moonlight" on the SyFy channel and periodically looking out the window to see if I am ready to brave the snow for my run.  I will probably just hit the treadmill and keep watching TV before I possibly venture out to Bike Authority to spend time with another group of amazing people that have shared their friendship with me over the years. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Initiative

I had to backoff the blogging for a minute there, because I have found additional things to occupy all this free time I have so excitedly stumbled upon.  I also discovered I am not alone in my "what to do? what to do?" state.  Many of my classmates who have passed the boards are now searching for projects.  I spent over a year of my life living a fire drill, trying not to panic and get everything done and study enough (I realized I could never study enough) to arrive at this...

The ability to wake-up, stretch and just breathe.  I then plan out my day however I see fit for the most part.  If I wanna run, run, if I wanna watch TV I can do it, drink coffee and hang out on FB for half the morining, well go right ahead.  I even get to bed between 10pm and 11pm most nights and rise between 7am and 8:30am most days.  Never had a regular sleep schedule before, wasn't even sure if I could do it.  This nearly stress free zone I have been living in is fantastic and I know completely and whole heartedly that I earned it! 

It's only been a little over a week and I find myself excited for the next adventure!  Work starts on the 7th of March, and I have been going over new hire paperwork and scheduling appointments for exams and check-ups.  I have also started reading books again -- for fun!  No more text books addressing lab values and abnormalities of the human body.

I even started a private group on facebook for me and my classmates to share our knowledge about new nursing information, such as SB5 and collective bargaining (and to plan reunions, of course).  I have also reached out to a former professor of mine at school and have been mapping out some professional meetings and lunchs with some "superstars" in my profession.  I don't want to say too much yet, until it's set in stone, but there are about 3 million nurses in the US, however only about 20%  of them belong to a professional organization and are proponents of active nurse advocacy.  It is my hope to help that number increase in my own small and special way.  My last semester I made a promise to myself.  I wouldn't be that nurse that punched a clock and went home.  I would be professionally vested in my career, supportive of my colleagues and job, taking initiative to improve nursing care and patient outcomes. 

This is a really "BIG" step for me and I worry a bit I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but hey I wanna die I say "bring it on!!!" 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Results are in...

By 3:00 pm on Friday, the Ohio Board of Nursing still had the words "pending" by my name.  I was dying a slow death inside.  Most of my friends had found out by noon the day after their exams and I knew if mine weren't up by 5:00 pm I would have to wait until Monday!!!  I wouldn't survive that long with my anxiety.  I needed a straight jacket.  I needed Ativan.  I needed results.

I finally threw my running clothes on and texted A I was going out and gave him the information to check my status on-line if he wanted to while I was gone.  I swore to myself I would not return until after 5 pm.  The run turned out to be the best thing for me.  Mile by mile I slowly lost focus on the boards and just looked at the road ahead.  My IPOD wa turned up full volume, drowining out all my thoughts.  Peace of mind was filtering in and taking over, ahhhh thank goodness.

Eventually, I had no choice but to return to reality and at 5:05 pm I arrived back at my drive way.  I ran upstairs to see I had missed (2) phone calls, (2) text messages and (2) emails.  Oh man, something was going on, could it be, it had to results were posted.

Sure enough, I went to the website and pulled up my name and there it was plain as day, my name with an active status and an RN number!!  It was over.  I had passed!!  I was officially an RN.

Hell Yeah!!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Panic of Waiting

Uggghhhhh!!!!!  This week has just been something!  I can't find the word to describe it, but man it's been a doozy.  It started with the doctor's appointment I had scheduled for Monday to have that lump checked out and then Thursday was the mother of all tests for me.  Yes, the NCLEX.  It was absolutely awful for me and not just the test but the majority of the day and even part of Friday.

I scheduled the test for 0800 and received instructions to bring my a printed copy of my test code and my driver's license and be there by 0730 to check-in and start on time.  I printed everything out the night before and of course the damn printer ran out of ink before I got all the pages printed, so after a cartridge change and 2 more tries I got it.  I went to boot camp and as usual with the cold weather, my truck doors froze shut, so I made a mental note to check the doors at 0630 on test morning to make sure I could get in -- I did, no major problems. 

Got to the test center on time and waited to check in.  As if I and the other eight or so people weren't nervous enough, they all but patted us down and drew blood beforehand.  They called my name and I had to get fingerprinted, have my photo taken and have a venous palm scan.  I was then asked to remove my watch and any jewelry (no scarf) and place it in a locker.  They then asked me to roll up my sleeves, pull the front pockets of my jeans inside out and turn around stick my hands in my back pockets and prove there was nothing in there but my hands.  The monitor then gave me a dry erase board that I was not allowed to erase anything on and I was not allowed to write anything on until the test began.  Writing on the board ahead of time is brain dumping and is considered cheating.  There would be a camera above me monitoring me the entire time and if I wanted a break I had to raise my hand and wait for a monitor to come escort me out of the test room.  I was not allowed to get on my phone, use a computer or leave the building.  The monitor asked if I had any questions and then escorted me to the computer. 

Now, I was nervous of course, when the day started, but after all that I could feel my heart just banging in my chest, my palms weren't sweaty, they were drenched.  My ears were hot and it was hard to hear.  My level of anxiety was right below that of an attack and I was about to take the biggest test of my life.  This was gonna be rough.

I took my time going through the tutorial and tried to calm down, but my heart just kept hammering.  My stomach was on fire by this point and I didn't know what else to do, but begin the test.  I repeated positive affirmations over and over " You can do this.  You are gonna pass this test."  Nothing was working.  I can't even remember the test question at this point, not that I could repeat it anyway, but it wasn't as easy as I hoped it would be and I couldn't decided if it was because I wasn't sure or my brain was just so panicked.  I somehow got through the first 25 with a few "select all that apply," which is a very high level question, so that's a good thing.  I checked the clock on my computer, one hour had passed!  I had been taking my time, but this was crazy.  If I only did 25 an hour, I would only get through 150 questions.  There were as many as 265!  I would never get through all the questions.  I had to be found competent in as few as possible. 

I raised my hand at that hour mark and took my break.  We had been told to take the breaks when we were ready, not when they offered.  I was escorted out of the room and had a venous palm scan done again before I exited.  I went to the bathroom and tried to collect myself.  It didn't happen.  I was not gonna get it together today.  I started thinking I was gonna fail this and how it was gonna ruin everything and how upset my parents would be.  I got a grip as best I could and re-entered the computer lab.  They checked my sleeves and pockets again and did the venous palm scan.  After, being escorted back to my computer again, I sat down and forced  myself through the next 25, continuing to take my time and even writing a few things on my board.  I started making slash marks for all the "select all's"  I was getting quite a few.  I used that to give me hope that I was doing well, trying not to jump up and run out of the lab.  Got 50 and took another break, went to the bathroom again, checked-out and back in.  Two hours gone by.

The last 25 were no easier or worse than the other 50.  I had taken around 15 "select all's" and only one math.  Those were good signs.  I remember the 75th question was pretty easy and just like that when I clicked "next" -- It shut off!!!  I had taken the minimum amount of questions.  I just didn't know if it was because I was competent or completely incompetent.  I thought to myself "there is no way the computer, could tell I was that stupid in 75 questions.  I know I am smart enough to at least make the computer work harder than that to figure me out." 

I left feeling sick to my stomach.  I was shaking, my heart was still pounding and now after 3 hours my chest was hurting too.  I drove home near tears, thinking I failed.  I felt there was so many I had guessed at and never seen before, even with the review class. 

I logged on to the website to see if it would let me register again to take the test.  Unofficially, if you can register that means you failed and if you can't that means you passed.  I pushed credit card and it allowed me to continue on with registration.  I broke down crying.  It was letting me register.  I called A and explained what had happened, mildly hysterical and completely panicked.  He tried to calm me down, but nothing doing and then I realized, I hadn't logged into my account.  The site didn't know it was me.  It thought I was a first time user!  Still panicked I logged in and tried to register.  It wouldn't let me.  It was an unofficial way of saying I passed, but I had w,orked myself up so bad I still believed I failed. 

I thought I would feel better after that, knowing I had taken the test and it was over finally, but it was worse, the waiting, the wondering.  The rest of the day my thoughts were consumed with the idea of failing.  I talked to my dad and he tried to reassure me, but nothing worked.  I found out he even called A to come over and try to relieve some of my anxiety and calm me down.  I just felt terrible all day.  I couldn't focus on my tempo run and blew it after 2 miles on the treadmill.  I went outside and barely made it through the other 2. 

I was a mess and I still am today, the morning after.  I feel sheer torture as I check and re-check the Ohio Board of Nursing hoping my status changes to "active."  The more I check the worse I feel.  No matter what the result, I am certain I will be crying my eyes out.  I can't fathom re-taking this test.

Monday, February 7, 2011

It's Not Cancer

I can't tell anyone how relieved I am at this moment in time.  I just got home from the OB/GYN and the lump I had found last month in my left breast was just as I had suspected, hoped and prayed.  It was just some fibrous tissue.  I can feel the tears behind my eyes, the lump in my throat and the tension in my jaw as I sit here, fighting my emotions trying to type this out quick.

You never think it can happen to you.  I generally feel pretty health, but when I sat down and explained to the doc what brought me in I felt very vunlnerable and weak, knowing I wasn't invincible and I could be sick, really sick.  He did a breast exam and found the lump and told me he thought it was "nothing," but just to be safe he wanted me to have an ultrasound on it.  The ultrasound as most of you know is very quick and painless, hell the gel they used was even warm.  I watched the screen and every area on my breast looked the same.  While I am not an ultrasound technician, I can figure out that when the lumpy area looked like the rest of my breast, it was a good thing.  The doctor confirmed my unprofessional diagnosis.  I thanked him and walked out of the office knowing that for the first time in over a month I would be able to fall asleep tonight knowing that lump in my breast was not cancer.


By definition means exceptional valor, bravery, or ability, especially in combat or battle or exceptional or superior ability, skill or strength

Oh, the answer to the multiple, multiple is b, e & f and here is the rationale:

Hydrochlorothizaide is a thiazide diuretic used in the managment of mild to moderate hypertension, and in the treatment of edema associated with: heart failure, renal dysfunction, cirrhosis, corticosteroid therapy, and estrogen therapy.  It increases th excretion of socium and water by inhibiting  sodium reabsorption in the distal tubule of the kidneys.  It promotes the excretion of chloride, potassium, magnesium, and bicarbonate.  Side effects include: drowsiness, lethargy, and muscle weakness, but not muscle twitching.  Although there may be abdominal cramping, there is not diarrhea.  the client does not become confused as a result of taking this drug. 

Anyway, regarding running, it's been my soup for the soul!  I haven't felt this much peace of mind with myself and my body for as long as I can remember.  Sure, I still have my concerns and worrying is like breathing for me -- can't live without eiter, but man do I feel calm and relaxed deep down in my soul. 

Last week was really good to me.  Lots of strength training between boot camp and shoveling and I was on target to hit 50 miles running for the week for the first time since, oh I think last April (makes me wish I was a professional athlete sometimes).  It's been so amazing as the miles just keep on clicking by one by one.  Most of the runs I have just been enjoying myself, but on a few I have had delusions where I am not Kara Goucher or Paula Radcliffe, I am someone way faster, someone who can break records and keep going -- on those days I am a superhero version of ... me!!  I am the greastest runner out there (I didn't get to play Barbie and house that much as a kid and I never had an imaginary friend, so I think maybe I am making up for it now).

Monday, I managed a speedworkout of 3x1 mile on the treadmill at 7:24/mile and then Thursday I ripped off a 4 mile tempo run on the treadmill at a pace of 8:06/mile.  The treadmill is not my choice for running on, as 10:00 minute miles feel like 8:30 pace, but lately I have been ready to see how hard I can push myself to mentally focus.  Both workouts, were difficult as I hate the montony of staring at the wall, but it's helping me build the focus and mental prowess I will need for the last few miles of the marathon. 

I mean the marathon is a battle, cancer is a battle, sometimes even life is a battle.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Testing? Testing?

**This is the wall in front of my bed**

As I continue to sift through my stack of nursing notes in preparation for the NCLEX, my fears eb and flow like the sea.  At times I feel completely prepared, if not over prepared and at other times I don't think any amount of studying will ever truly prepare me for this f*ckin' thing! 

The test is based on what a new nurse knows.  Who is this person?  I don't know half the stuff she knows.  She had to be the chic that ruined the curve in school and had no life -- b#tch probably never bonged a beer in her life or trained for a marathon.

The test is computer adaptive, so depending on how I answer the first question will determine my next question and so forth.  The idea is to get a bunch of the easy ones right (about 15-20) and get up above the competency line then if I miss a few I am still above the competency line. 

The minimum I can take is 75 and the max is 265 questions.  I have 6 hours, which is way too long.  If I am not out in less than two hours it's probably not a good sign.  Shutting off at 75 doesn't tell me if I passed or failed.  If I make it past 75 questions that means I am still competent and the computer has not yet gauged my knowledge base (it's not that big--snicker, snicker).  If the test shuts off at 76+ questions and I got the last one right, I passed, if it shuts off on one I missed, I failed.  No pressure. 

The minimum also includes 15 questions that don't count for or against my score, of course I don't know which ones they are.  The state boards are trying to determine if the information is being taught in nursing schools yet and it should be a valid question they can utilize on future NCLEX exams (like we don't already have to know too much information). 

There are also these questions called "Multiple Multiples."  They suck!!!  The question will be something like ...

A client takes HCTZ for treatment of essential hypertension.  The nurse should instruct the client to report which of the folloing.  Select ALL that apply.

a. muscle twitching
b. abdominal cramping
c. diarrhea
d. confusion
e. lethargy
f. muscle weakness

You don't know how many you need to pick, you just know if you don't pick all the right answers -- it's wrong and if you pick all the right answers + a wrong answer -- it's wrong.  The good thing is these questions indicate high competency and if I get them I way above the competency line and I will pass.

UPDATE: There were 30 of us in my cohort in the fall of 2009.  One quit after 8 weeks, one failed out the 3rd semester and one dropped down to the traditional program after the third semester.  Twenty-seven of us made it through the acclerated program and of those twenty-seven, five of us have taken the test and passed.  Here's hoping I join those ranks shortly!!