Labor/Delivery, nursing school

Born

In the wee hours of the morning, a little babe came earth-side. So much fierce strength and endurance from mama! An amazing midwife helped her bring the babe down and out. Beautiful birth. Good Lord I missed this!

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nursing school, Schooling

No More Classes

Truth: I’m done with nursing school classes! Actual in-seat classes where I am following power-points, taking notes and studying for exams on specific topics–DONE. How crazy is that?! I took my last finals ever last week and I PASSED! What’s left? Capstone. Another term used is preceptorship or internship. I spend 180 hours in the field, in the clinical setting, taking care of patients, setting and meeting goals, and doing online practice exams for NCLEX (our board exam). We have a couple of in-seat classes but it’s not like the other classes. And it is not every week. April is so full. I set up my schedule yesterday and graduation will be here before I know it.

Oh and did I mention my Capstone is in L&D?! This was something I had to do a full on interview for, with a panel of nurses and a cover letter, resume, and letters of recommendation! And there was no guarantee that I would get L&D since it is a specialty AND so many students want it. By the grace of God, working hard, and amazing people, I got exactly what I wanted and at the exact hospital I wanted. It’s on nights, which is perfectly ok with me. I am ready!

For 3 days after Capstone ends and before graduation, we have intense in-seat studying and practicing for boards. I was pretty relieved to see that I have a 95% chance of passing my boards based on the score I got on our overall med/surg proctored exam last week. I was worried it was lower than that.

In the coming weeks, I will be trying to write here more. I need to document all the shit I’ve survived (literally!) while in nursing school. And not just me, but my family. Nursing school is hard without a family, health issues, and other life events. Throw in all those things and you have a giant bomb you’re carrying around, just waiting for it to explode. Mine exploded in January. More on that in another post.

Happy Friday!

nursing school, Resources

Advice for New Nursing Students

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Before I started nursing school, I asked other nurses and nursing students all the time about what I needed the most to succeed. Truth is, you don’t need much because it will knock you off your ass no matter how good the shoes and stethoscope. But in all seriousness, I really wanted to know how to be prepared. Now that I am 5 weeks away from graduating, I have made a list of the things I have used and needed the most throughout school. Some of those things are not actually “things”, like the love and support of my family. Also, sleep! If you have had a child and they didn’t sleep through the night for 1-2 years, you will survive nursing school just fine. 😉

Below is a little list of things I founds the most useful. These may or may not work for another person. The first, most important thing I had to figure out was my learning style. In our Health Assessment class way back almost 2 years ago, we talked about learning styles and I honestly thought I knew what mine was but I was wrong. I am a visual learner. I thought I was more hands on, but when you’re studying material and not skills, there is not a ton of hands on, other than note-taking. AND note-taking IS a visual learning tool, which is why I list pens and colors. I know other students who did not need tons of colors. Black, red and blue worked just fine for them. But mine were RAINBOWS of colors!

Any other suggestions? Please add to the comments below! And yes, I really am only 5 weeks away from graduating!! 🙂

  • Shoes – Depends on your feet. Mine are fairly flat and I like Sketchers and Alegria–great arch support
  • Nursing bag/Totes/Backpacks – Honestly, I found a great bag at walmart, not even sure of the brand, and it has held up great. I use tote bags for clinical from Old Navy.
  • Binders/Planners: 1″ binders for each class with 4-5 dividers each. I found a couple apps on my phone for the planner part to keep all my assignments straight. Also set reminders in my phone and in the calendar. I cannot survive without my reminders!!
  • Pens/pencils: Tones of colors! I have to write my notes with multiple colors. Whatever brand, colors, and shape work for you. I found mine at Barns N Noble. Something like 35 colors…I love them.
  • Apps
    • 1) iStudiez Pro, but I use the free version and get everything I need from it
    • 2) NCLEX RN Mastery App: worth the $30-40 for the full version!!
    • 3) Blackboard app (if your school uses it)
    • 4) CDC app
    • 5) Spotify premium for best driving and studying music!
  • Study Guides/Cheat sheets/Videos – youtube has great resources of videos for explanations on certain topics, Saunders study guide
  • Stethoscopes – Littmann
women's health

Fibromyalgia

I just finished my Population Health course on Friday and it was a whirlwind 5 weeks. I had a great clinical experience giving flu vaccines, doing blood draws, and attending a huge health fair. It was great! The class itself—not so great and I’m glad it’s over.

We take no breaks and dive right into Peds this week. I’ve been anxious about starting this class bc sick and hurt kids really pull hard on my heart but I’ve tried to let those fears go and embrace this experience.

In other, more personal news, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia a few weeks ago. This was a long time coming. And honestly, a huge relief. I now have an explanation for several, terrible symptoms and pains and it all makes more sense. However, explaining this diagnosis to others is hard so I am going to attempt to do that here.

When I was 15, the stomach pains began. I’d get terrible stomach aches and my mom would take me to the doctor and they would say it was probably IBS-C but that official diagnosis did not come until 2011 when I was 27. Yes, it took 12 years for me to get that and a GERD diagnosis which included very little help from my GI doctor and tons of trial and error from me. I tried gluten free diets a few times for several months. I have eliminated dairy almost completely. I have done several food diaries and discovered my triggers and do my best to avoid them.

Then, 5 years ago I became pregnant with my daughter. During the first trimester I started to get migraines. I had never had migraines before so I assumed it was a hormonal thing and, I’m sure it was a huge part of it. When I was starting my 3rd trimester, I began to have the absolute worst pelvic, low back and hip pain ever. I was doubled over in pain, crying hysterically and missing work because moving and walking was that painful. I was referred to PT where I learned I had pubic symphysis disorder (PSD). This is not entirely uncommon in pregnancy especially since I carried both my babies very low.

Over the last year, I have had a huge increase in frequency and intensity of migraines (with and without auras) horrible IBS flare-ups (three ER visits in 2 weeks) insomnia, fatigue (mind and muscle), painful joints and muscles (feels like the flu), anxiety (since I was 19 years old), heart palpitations (PVCs—nothing bad), and depression… For awhile there, I assumed this was from the stress of nursing school and honestly, that’s a huge trigger, but the intensity and onset of all this was really starting to upset my lifestyle. I was missing work, sleeping as much as I could during the day bc I literally had no energy for anything, and feeling a huge lack of motivation to do school work bc of all the above. Despite all this, I never missed a deadline and I made it to every clinical (except when sick in August) and continued to bust my ass in class to do well.

In May, I brought up fibromyalgia to my doctor and he suspected not since I am in nursing school. He wanted to wait until I was done to diagnosis me. I got a second opinion over the last 2 months and together we did finally agree that I do in fact have fibromyalgia. I have been in counseling, seeing OT, doing yoga, stretching, and deep breathing when I can. It’s a long ass road before I have any type of control over this and for some, this is hard to understand. But it’s just the way this is. I have joined a few support groups online and I’m learning other ways to cope and deal. I’m on a couple meds to help, including a magnesium supplement which has helped a ton but still, not a cure. There is NO CURE for fibromyalgia. It’s management and trial and error and every person with fibro has different variations of what I have. But all theses puzzle pieces of symptoms fit together and this is what I have. Like I said, it’s a relief. But I’m still 7 months out form graduating and getting through the day sometimes is hard. Balancing activities and learning how to not over do it is a huge work in progress.

I’d love to hear from others who deal with this condition. It is REAL. This is real pain I and many others deal with (5 million in the US). Just because someone can’t see my pain, doesn’t make it any less real. Thanks for reading. 💜

Nursing, nursing school, Schooling

birth

I am moving into my last week of Maternal-Newborn and feelings are bittersweet. I want so badly to stay right here in my comfort zone of birth, babies and mothers; however I must move forward into new classes to finish out my degree. I’m down to 8 months of school left and I will officially be a RN, BSN! Wow. That is so crazy to write! I have been on this road now for FIVE years. YES, 5! I was pregnant with my daughter when I started my pre-recs and the month I graduate she will turn 5.

The beginning of August was rough. I was so excited to have started clinicals in the hospital! But I had come down with a nasty virus that turned into a sinus infection and I missed two weeks of school and clinical! My heart was broken! I was miserable and also, I turned 33 so I spent my birthday not feeling so hot. A few days before my birthday, B took me to a tattoo shop and I got a tattoo I have been wanting for years! I had not decided where I wanted it until just a few days prior and I can honestly say I am so happy with it! What did I get?!?

OXYTOCIN!

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Everyone asks if it hurt-it was uncomfortable but actually painful? Not really. This is on the inside of my right bicep. The line work is incredible!

This special tattoo could have not come at a more perfect time. I was in my Maternal-Newborn class and gearing up to help women labor and give birth! After I was cleared to return to clinical from being sick, I spent 2 days in L&D and saw two beautiful births. One cesarean and one vaginal (no epidural-just some IV fentanyl). Both births made me feel like I was home, like I was right where I needed to be. My heart was full, my mind was growing with knowledge and happiness. It was wonderful.

I have 4 more days in clinical and then this class is officially over. I head into Population health and then Peds for this fall semester.

Thanks for checking in and sticking around with me! Two more semesters and I’m done! 😉

nursing school, Resources, Schooling

nursing school must-haves and apps

Tulo, my constant study companion.

One thing I used to search for before I was a nursing student was other blogs that talked about what one needs the most to be a successful, organized nursing student. One list does not fit all, but I do think combining different ideas is nice and you can decide for yourself what works and what doesn’t.

It was not until I was a good month into nursing school that I actually learned how to study, at the ripe old age of 31. Seriously. I’ve never been the A student, but I tried my hardest. I grilled my nurse friends about what they did to study and honestly, you just have to figure out what works for you. First, I had to find out how I learn. I knew that I learned well doing things hands-on and was very visual but how am I supposed to translate this into a study method? I realized that re-writing my notes from power points was exactly how I was going to learn best. This was both visual and tactile and skills were hands-on learning opportunities so I combined those things together and came up with a pretty good study method. So here is a list of some of the many things I do and use to help me throughout nursing school. Feel free to share and comment what works best for you.

  • PENS! I invested in tons of pens. Sharpies, ballpoints, and all the colors. Because of all these pens, I also picked up some cute pencil bags from the dollar section at Target. 😉
  • Concept maps: Our instructors gave us a couple formats to try out and the best ones for me are web-shaped. You can google nursing concept maps and find tons of options.
  • Plain white paper: I tried using regular lined notebook paper to write notes, and something about the lines really didn’t work for me. Sounds silly, but really-I now write my notes out on copy paper and use different colored pens to create notes that make sense to me. My fellow nursing buddies have even asked for copies. 😉
  • Laptop: I started out nursing school using a Windows PC and within 3 months it was not working for me. I invested in a Mac and love how I can use apps on my mac and my phone and they sync up. I also got a free Microsoft office download from the school that works with Mac so I don’t have to convert my files from Pages to Word anymore.
  • Printer/Copier/Scanner: I also got a new printer. The one I had previously worked just fine but was way too slow for my needs, it used ink up way too quickly and the scanner didn’t work anymore. Having all three features is a must for nursing school.
  • Evernote App: This app is a note-taking GEM! Especially if you use a Mac and an IPhone. I can type notes up on my computer from word or directly into the app and read my notes while out and about on my phone. I can also add photos, graphs, and PDFs that are important. AND I can share notes with friends–and they can share with me! There is a small group of us who do this and it’s so nice!
  • iStudiez Pro App: I use this app to keep track of my assignments and due dates. I can make different sections for different classes and add what I need. I also have an alarm set up to remind me the day before and the day of. Because of this app, I have not missed a due date! There are so many things to keep track of this helps so much.
  • NCLEX RN Pro App: I paid $30ish for the full version of this app and it is amazing. A few thousand questions in all areas of nursing that are actual NCLEX questions. To pass NCLEX (when I am done with nursing school), it is recommended that you do 50 questions a day–yes, A DAY! I admit I am not that good about practicing everyday but its a great tool to have. There are also special lists about lab values and abbreviations and meds and more that are helpful.
  • Amazon Prime Music App: We have Prime because we use Amazon all the time so you could certainly use Pandora or Spotify, but I personally love Amazon. There are tons of stations on this app and since I commute to school, I MUST have good tunes. I also use this app to find great relaxation playlists and study music. Some of my favorite satations are Alt-J, Hozier, Summer Jamz, 90s Pop, and The Lumineers. These stations keep be going. I love music! Maybe next summer I will be able to go to some concerts!
  • Sleep: Obviously to be healthy, we need sleep. And when I was awaiting nursing school to start, I worried so much about how I was going to get enough sleep. I NEED sleep. Like, more than 4 hours otherwise I have no energy and cannot function. My husband, on the other hand, only needs 5 or so hours and he’s good to go. Part of my self-care and overall lifestyle is needing a good amount of sleep and this includes naps. Yes, I manage to do well in nursing school and take naps! I really didn’t think it was possible but it is and is SO important. I will sacrifice other activities to get the sleep I need. That’s how important it is to me.

And that is where I will leave off. There are other little things I’m sure that I cannot think of, but this is a pretty solid list of what I need on a day to day basis to get through nursing school. Like I said, it is not easy, but it is fun and will be more than worth the hard work and sacrifices when I’m finished.