Thursday, September 11, 2008

neuroreceptors and nursing students

I wrote a few days ago about my new detox diet. A lot of people commented on the vileness of fake cheese. Others were concerned about the presence of soy in a detoxifying diet. Still others wondered if it was wise to accept diet advice from Oprah. I realized that my goal is not detoxifying, so much as retraining my neuroreceptors. Because my neuroreceptors like sugar. They like sugar a lot.

In the weeks leading up to my birthday I auditioned cakes. I did this by baking cakes whose recipes I hadn't tried yet. This was a lot of fun for the whole family. I think I baked six cakes in two weeks. By the end of the experiment my neuroreceptors were not unlike Rush Limbaugh after an oxycontin bender. Is bender the right word? I am not up on the drug culture jargon. At any rate, my neuroreceptors are now in a rehab program imposed by me and facilitated by Oprah. They are doing well and have not had sugar (or wheat, dairy, gluten, meat or alcohol) for neary two weeks.

Speaking of neuroreceptors, yesterday was my first “real” day at the state mental hospital. We are a group of nine students with one instructor who said that first morning, “They have some very exciting patients for all of you.”

Actually, I don't have a problem working with psych patients. What concerns me is that we are to spend the bulk of our time interacting therapeutically with our patients, in other words, talking to them, and of all the things I am bad at, the thing I am worst at of all is talking to people I don't know. Especially talking to them about deep and personal things. Back in my first semester, I was doing some sort of assigned assessment on my patient and I needed to find out how many times a day he brushed his teeth. I couldn't imagine asking such an intrusive question of anyone and I pulled aside one of my classmates and asked her how she had gotten this information out of her patient. She said, “I asked him, 'How many times a day do your brush your teeth?'” So simple,yet so difficult for me.

Still, the day was not without its funny sides. When we got to the unit where I will be working, a patient noticed us right away and started yelling, “Where's my girl nursing student? You girl nursing students, if one of you gets me, you meet me on the Barbour Mall!” Then he pounded on the windows of the nursing station with his fists—the nursing stations are all locked offices—and screamed, “I WANT ONE OF THOSE GIRL NURSING STUDENTS. YOU SEND MY GIRL NURSING STUDENT TO MEET ME IN THE BARBOUR MALL!” (The patients attend group therapy in various “malls.”) Our instructor observed that the patients seemed very excited to have nursing students on the unit.

And so the day went. I think my psych experience will be interesting, and possibly somewhat rewarding, but like most introverts, I become completely drained after prolonged interaction with other people so I anticipate being totally exhausted at the end of each clinical day. My overall first impression of Western State Hospital is of a place where the staff are sincerely trying to help the patients get well.


  1. Good luck with your conversational courage. And I think you did a fine job incorporating "drug lingo."

  2. Mmmm. Speaking of benders, I am still on my ice cream bender. I refuse to let Oprah or fake cheese come between me and my reduced-fat dairy. Our house is a bit like a psych ward sometimes. I like it here, and I hope your visits to the more official variety will be equally rewarding. Hee.

  3. Careful of HIPPA, not that you broke it but Western is not famous for good training nor observation of HIPPA guidelines.

  4. Oh. A Cake Bender. I wish I had been there.

    Good Luck with this training assignment. When I was in the medical field, doing my housecalls with psych patients was frustrating for me. You couldn't ever tell if they understood what you were trying to say to them.

    I do think it taught me a lot about being patient.

  5. I love how you're working with psych patients and your biggest concern is how to go about asking them how many times a day they brush their teeth.

    It sounds like a great adventure. Did you get to meet Mr. Excitement in the BARBOUR MALL!?

  6. Thanks for visiting me. I read that you dined at Moosewood, one of the best meals I've ever eaten was there!
    Aren't you pursuing a noble job? I would have to crawl into the fetal position every night, and I would double my weight in a month.