Thursday, October 29, 2009

House of plague

Mr. McP has returned to school but now Miss G is glassy-eyed and feverish, and Drama Queen and Mad Scientist are complaining of sore throats and cough. I think we're lucky to get this thing over with early in the season, although I worry about my girls because they have asthma. Drama Queen got pneumonia last winter after having the flu, but there was not a lot I could have done to prevent them getting it, since the vaccine takes two weeks to provide protection, I've been told, and the schools were supposed to start distributing after my kids were already exposed, and anyway, I've learned that they have run out.

As I said, I'm not too worried, and I'm glad that the people who commented on yesterday's entry feel more or less as I do. Let's hear it for common sense! Then again, I was thinking about my great-great-grandmother who lost four of her five children in the same week in an epidemic. Ironically, her surviving child, my great-grandfather, died at age 38 during the 1918 flu pandemic.

I feel well. Perhaps I'm immune. I was seven years old during the earlier swine flu outbreak in the 1970s, and maybe I caught it then, although they're saying it doesn't necessarily confer immunity for this outbreak. I don't remember being sick, but I do remember hearing about it on the news, so I imagine the coverage must have been frequent and obsessive, because what seven-year old pays attention to current events?

That's my handsome husband in the photo, btw.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Corn phone, H1N1, and Nursing Students

We got the phone situation cleared up. After being totally frustrated by the Sprint store, we went elsewhere. I am not a big fan of Best Buy, but this can be said of them: they will sell you a phone and not barricade themselves behind invisible fortresses and/or pretend that logging into their computers is a process that takes fifteen minutes of unbroken concentration. While being ignored at Sprint, we browsed among their phones and found a cute one that is made of corn. Everything is made of corn nowadays. When we went out to dinner the other night, our "plastic" cups were made of corn. I think the expansion they're building onto my hospital is made of corn. So at Best Buy, when the salesman asked which phone we wanted, I said, "I'd like that stout, squat one that's made of corn." (And it does have a square profile, so "squat" is an appropriate adjective. I don't remember saying "stout" but Drama Queen and Miss G both insist that I did.) Apparently the Best Buy guys aren't educated about their products because our guy clearly thought I was crazy, but he was polite about it and he sold me a phone anyway, because, you know, it's his JOB. Equally important, I now have proof of being fabulously modern and enlightened since we buy phones made of corn now.

H1N1 has invaded my family, via Mr. McP who developed a fever of 101.8 and other classic flu symptoms. Several of his classmates had confirmed H1N1. He is now recovering, and so far no one else in our house has gotten sick. It really wasn't too bad and he was far sicker when he had the seasonal flu last winter. Everyone I talk to in person about H1N1 seems to have the same attitude I do--some mild concern but nothing approaching panic. Then the TV news does stories implying that our entire nation is in the grip of mass hysteria. One segment--I forget on which network--showed people lining up for hours to get the vaccine. They all talked about how frightened they were and how they would endure any hardship, just so long as they could get vaccinated. They interviewed one mouth breathing meathead who bellowed, "The side-effect of not getting this shot is DEATH!" Really? Consider this, Mr. Meathead: A "side-effect" of getting in your car and driving to your Swine Flu Vaccine Fiesta is also DEATH. (Potentially.) It amazes me how Americans freak out about any imagined threat, and yet blithely hop into their cars fifty times a day without a second thought.

Nursing students. I often felt out-of-place and unwelcome as a nursing student in hospital units, so I was looking forward to being helpful and supportive of any nursing students I encountered. The ones on my floor are first years, and some of them are terrified. I guided one through assessing our patient, something I always wished one of my co-assigned RNs would do with me.

At one point, a nursing student told me my patient had a question about a non-urgent matter. I was just going into that patient's room, but was addressing her more pressing issue, pain, so I forgot about the non-urgent question. Later, the nursing student reminded me, and I told her I'd forgotten but that I'd follow up with the patient in a few minutes, which I did. A little later, I noticed the nursing student had written in the chart: "Again, reminded co-assigned RN, Patience, to address patient's question about the [non urgent matter]." The "again" is a nice touch, no? It's more funny than annoying.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


The Good:
  • My new Frye boots came today.
  • Retail therapy at Anthropologie this morning.
  • First paycheck last Friday
  • Am eager to get back to work and try again, despite new-nurse stress
  • Biking to work is going great
The Bad
  • Not as much time for writing
  • New-nurse stress
  • Drivers who don't want to share the road

The Ugly
  • There's not a lot that's ugly and certainly not my new Frye boots. Nor my new orange shirt dress.
That's it in a nutshell. My first week on the bike, I focused on riding in a straight line and not getting hit by a car. My second week, I felt more confident and worked on being speedy. I suppose the learning curve in nursing is similar, although it progresses more slowly. It's not like I didn't know it would be hard. I knew it would be hard, but it's still a big adjustment--not just to being a nurse, but to working full-time. School was a full-time occupation, but it was in short bursts of a few hours at a time, and I did much of my work at home. Being out of the house for twelve hours at a time is something you have to get used to. So far, the kids have really stepped up about getting themselves off to school, and helping around the house.

Then there's being a nurse itself, which can be crazy. I'm continually haunted by a fear that I've forgotten to do, or chart, something vital. Then again, it's never boring. The way I feel about nursing right now is the way I felt about climbing ladders when Jon broke his rib and I had to finish painting the house all by myself. I was terrified to climb the ladder, and yet each time I did it successfully, I wanted to do it again, and again, until by the end of the summer I was able to be three stories up, and feel OK. At the end of each work day, despite the stress, I feel that I want to return and try again.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

In which Bono uses the "C" word

I haven't been to a U2 concert since the 1987 Joshua Tree tour, where I saw them in a muddy football field in Rochester, NY. It was not a good show--Bono had just broken his arm and can probably be forgiven for not really being into it. The highlight of the day was when I successfully swerved to avoid the vomit spewing from the mouth of a drunk girl near us, who had spent much of the concert sitting on her boyfriend's shoulders, directly in front of me. So it's understandable that I never made much effort to see them again, but our dear, dear friends called us back in March to arrange that we all attend the U2 concert here in Charlottesville, and I decided I could give them a second chance.

I'm glad I did because the show was fabulous. Muse opened, and they were awesome too. Isn't it a beautiful symmetry that the best and worst concerts I've seen were by the same band?

Charlottesville is a tough crowd. I know that well, from my twelve years of social interactions here, and now U2 knows it too because the concert crowd was pretty lame. Yes, they cheered, but it all seemed lukewarm. Early in the show, Bono asked if Mr. Jefferson was in the house, and this was the only time that the crowd really went wild. Charlottesville is a college town and the show was held at the University's football stadium, but when Bono referenced the "campus" the crowd gave a collective gasp. I could almost hear the mutterings: What does he think this is, the University of Oklahoma? 'Campus' indeed.

At the University of Virginia, we do not say "campus," we say "grounds" and we don't say "quad," we say "lawn." I'm not even a UVA person, (and frankly, some of them can be insufferable) having gone to college in New York, but I've lived here long enough that I couldn't help wincing every time Bono said "campus." Still, how was he supposed to know? Maybe I'm misreading things, but it seemed to me that the rest of the crowd wasn't as willing to forgive him for "campus" as I was.