Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10 of 2010

Looking back over the past year, this PICU nurse feels grateful, successful, proud, educated, tired, but even a bit refreshed and relaxed (a great vacation at the end of the year will do that!).

Here are my Top 10 Moments of 2010:

10.) 2009 is over!!! It was a ROUGH year for Jon and I. We were both glad that it was over and ready for a fresh new start!! 2010 here we come!

9.) I finished 4 more quarters of grad school with a 40 GPA...more importantly, that's 4 quarters closer to becoming an Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner!!

8.) I went on some GREAT vacations (Mexico, Carolina Beach, PR, cruise)- these greatly helped to keep me walking back through those doors of the PICU and logging onto school when it just seemed too much!

7.) I have been able to care for a few patients who were not expected to RSV baby, one heart transplant, one liver disease kid, etc. What a joy it is to see the day they walk out of the PICU and get to go home, healthy and smiling!!

6.) I turned another year older...and yet at least once a week still get asked by a patient or family member if I'm old enough to be a nurse!! Not so sure this is a "Top Moment" this year, but I want to remember it...I'm sure I'll greatly appreciate it in 10 or 20 years!!

5.) I started a blog and found a new passion...what a great outlet it has become for me!

4.) I had some great laughs, both in the PICU as well as in my "real life"- A few of the work related laughs can be seen here or here

3.) The little guy I've been caring for over the past 6 months is showing great developmental improvements despite living in the PICU most of his life. I am proud to say this is largely due to the committment I made to consistently care for him (wow, lot's of "c's" in that one!). It has been a true joy to be able to take care of him...but I can't wait for the day when I get to send him out those PICU doors and off to home!

2.) I have been able to make new friends and deepen friendships I already had. Friendships are essential in keeping PICU nurses sane...and friendships within the PICU are priceless. Who else would understand at the end of a long day whether it's a straight to bed vs. wine vs. martini night based solely off of the last name of the patient you cared for??

And my TOP moment of 2010:
1.) I am married to the most amazing husband in the world. While so many TV shows depict nurses feigning for the docs, it is a true joy to know that I am going home to my best friend...a man who understands very little about what I do. And this is completely to my advantage, because I can leave all of the medicine out of it, and just tell him about the emotions, the physicality of my day. And what a great listener he is!! While most of our dates this year were what we coined "Couch Dates" (AKA: catching up on tivo while I do homework), we still managed to create great memories, deepen our friendship, and fall more in love.

At the end of the day, a PICU nurse is still a nurse...but she needs to go home. No matter how long a day it is, the hospital is just not the same as home...and this PICU nurse is truly grateful for the home...the husband...that she has to go home to!!

So adios 2010....while the adventures for this PICU nurse were a roller coaster of highs and low, stresses and successes, I look forward to what 2011 has to bring!! And to the fellow PICU nurses ringing in the New Year with their "mocktail" (off-brand sprite mixed with cran-apple juice!) while putting those little ones to bed, thank you for all that you do...thank you for your dedication! Those kids are entering into a new year because you are able to keep them alive at least one more day.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A pleasant surprise

I work with a doctor who is notoriously known for being gruff, rude, mean, snappy, sarcastic, and tough....and SHE'S only 5' tall!!!

I say these things not talking behind her back, but in front...or rather, straight from her mouth. She knows how she comes across and is not phased by it at all. She'll admit to being this way, and in some ways is proud of it.

She has been the director of the PICU forever...and can definitely get things done her way when she wants to!!

So it came as a COMPLETE surprise to me yesterday when she gave me a gift!! A real, Christmas present, wrapped in a bag. OK, it wasn't wrapped...but it was in a bag...the one from the store...but still!

She gave me a L'Occitane beauty kit...a nice one!! (Yes, cheep-o me looked it up, and it cost $39 on the website!)
The funny part to the gift is that she has NO idea what my name is!! Yes, she went out and bought me a gift. Yes, she has worked with me for the past six years. But, NOPE, she has NO idea what my name is! She would just rather call me "nurse".

And so that's what she did! We were at the meeting I go to every Tuesday and she was passing out the gifts she brought a few of us (a book on God for the chaplan, a book on patient's near death experiences for social worker, a necklace for the child life specialist, etc). As she passed my gift, she told the woman sitting next to me, "Pass this to the extremely hard working nurse that makes these meetings run smoothly every Tuesday!"

I wanted to laugh, but I was seriously in shock, so I refrained. Not in shock that she didn't know my name....shock that she got a gift for me!!! And a little shocked that she noticed how smoothly I can run those meetings (she really doesn't give out compliments...ever!)

So I guess the Holiday spirit is in all of us....even the gruff, snappy, sarcastics docs....and the 'no name' nurses!!!

Here's to a Happy Holiday....and getting some great surprises!!! Have you received any gifts yet this year that have pleasantly (or unpleasantly!?) surprised you??

"The Day Before the Night Before Christmas"

"and I'm busy, busy, busy being good"... I think the song goes something like this.

Although I'm singing a song more like "The day before the night before another day of work..."

Being a nurse, I tend to see holidays different than most of the world. Or at least most of the working world.

Holidays don't necessarily mean time off, or time with family, or parties (unless you count the PICU potlucks). So while everyone else in the world is getting giddy over Christmas, many nurses all over the world just see it as another day to wake up early, throw on those scrubs and head out to saves people's lives!

This year, this feeling is exaggerated even more for me because I didn't do much of the traditional decorating that I normally do. Being gone 2 weeks in December and then getting into the full (psycho crazy!) swing of things with school Jan. 3rd, I didn't see the point in taking several hours to get everything up....and then several hours to get it down and back in the attic.

Plus, the husband and I decided that our gift to each other was the cruise/vaca in PR. So no gift giving, no decorations, and warm sunny weather in Dec....Christmas WHAT???

The plus side to all of this:

1.) Hello AMAZING vacation!!!! Best gift EVER!!

2.) Getting (kinda) into the holiday spirit in's just so unnatural to sing Frosty the Snowman when I'm sweating outside, but I did do it : )

3.) Not having to fight all the mall crowds to get gifts....or spend endless hours online trying to find the perfect one!

4.) Saved hours of decorating/undecorating (I can whip up my prelit 4ft tree in NO time!)

5.) PICU Christmas potluck!!! (I'm not joking...this is defintely a plus...people hook it up with the food they bring!)

So come Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I will put on my Santa & Reindeer scrub top, make my gooey delicious crock-pot mac-n-cheese for the potluck, and celebrate this holiday PICU nursing style!

While I will miss my family, it is rewarding to know that I will be taking care of my little guy (yup, he's STILL there!!)... helping him celebrate the holiday....and doing something that many people in this world cannot a nurse!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A blog Hello from.....

Sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico!!!! PICU Nurse knows how to vacation!!! And I'm loving EVERY second of it!!! It's our last day, and I'm not looking forward to going back to cold, snowy weather, but I will say I feel much more refreshed, relaxed, and rejuvinated....perfect for getting back to work and school!! Here's just a bit of what we've done over the past few weeks!!!Enjoyed some great wine, dressing up, and going to nice dinners on the cruise....
Had a FABULOUS day sail with Simplicity in St. Thomas....full of incredible food, amazing waters, and beautiful snorkling!!!
Mmmm, escargot night on the of my favorites!!!
And of course there was plenty of chillin' movie days....full of great (and plentiful!) food!!
Some gorgeous runs on the secluded beaches....heaven!

And enjoying the Christmas holiday in San Juan....what an incredible way to enjoy the holidays...especially since this PICU nurse will be celebrating with the kiddos this year!!

Hope you all are enjoying a festive and fabulous Christmas season this year....I know I am!!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Online Education

So having taken my entire graduate education online, I think it's safe to assume that I love learning this way. Anytime, anywhere, wearing whatever I's pretty great to have this flexibility!

BUT- my opinion has slightly changed (or maybe it's just fried!) after tonight. I just finished taking the online portion of the new PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) certification course. It was 5 1/2 grueling hours of simulation lab after simulation lab.

What was cool, was that as you were performing interventions (doing chest compressions, listening to lungs, ventilating, etc.) you could actually see it on the patient. If my compressions were adequate, the baby's color changed back to pink (from a lovely purple/blue). If the breaths I was giving via facemask were large enough, the baby's chest would rise well. These were the cool features.

What was not cool was if the baby was breathing, then he/she was crying constantly. So not only did you have to take an accurate history and perform a physical exam on this pseudo patient, but they would NOT stop crying!!

I considered giving some morphine to some of the kids just to get them to be quiet. But, of course, that would not allow me to I refrained!!

AND, unlike real scenarios, you could only do one thing at a time (despite there being 2 health care providers in the room!). So if I clicked the button to ask the mother a question and then had the 2nd person put an IV in, the mother wouldn't finish her answer.

Twice I forgot about this, and had the "rude" pseudo mom (how accurate can they get!?) say "I already told you!" Alrightly- guess I'm not getting that answer!!!

And the catch was when you thought you were done caring for the patient, you had to "transfer" them the PICU, to the general floor, to a test (CT/MRI), or stop all care (hello, I just killed my kid and am "calling it").

Once you transferred the patient, you had to tell the system whether or not you treated the patient appropriately. If you clicked "Yes, I want to continue" but did NOT accurately care for the patient, you had to successfully complete that patient scenario TWICE more!!

If you clicked "No, I would like more practice" you would get another chance to try again. But, if you happened to have done it right, you still had to do it again....only once though (assuming you did well the next time!)

Confusing I know!! Either way, it was a LOT of simulations!! And after it was done came the
written portion of the test. Which thankfully was MUCH easier than the pseudo-patients. Tomorrow I go for the live skills portion...just to show them I can not only click a button to give good compressions, but I can actually do them on my own!!! Thankfully, that's only 3 hours!!

I'm planning on enjoying the last few hours of my weekend catching up on my Grey's (which by the way, they would NEVER pass these scenarios!!!) and eating some Chinese!! Mmmm....feel good food + mindless tv = perfect treatment!! I pass!!!

Hope you all had a great weekend!!! If you've done the new online version of PALS, what do you think???

Friday, December 3, 2010

Change of Plans

Ahhh "Winter Break".... such a much needed concept in grad school! If only work would also get on board!

Either way, I have the entire month of December off from school. Being the Type-A person that I am, I wrote a list of all the things I wanted/needed to get accomplished before the insanity begins that will describe my January through August!
And then later in the day I checked my school e-mail (WHY oh WHY did I do that!?!?)...This is what I found:
Guess my advisor has completely different plans for me during this "break!" Obviously she doesn't care if my closet stays a wreck, or I finish some of the DIY projects I had planned for my casa!

Instead, she has an 8 hour video/test for me to take, along with about 800 hours of readings and preparation for upcoming projects and papers!

Nice- so much for "Ahhh, winter break!"

Guess I'll cozy up with another cup of coffee, light a candle, play some Christmas music, & get to work! It will not always be this fact, next December there will be NO school at all!! Now that's a concept that will get me through!!

Despite all the work, the holidays always seem to go by so quickly...TOO quickly!! So I'm going to try and enjoy each and every moment. What are you doing to enjoy the next few holiday weeks??

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Another Yummy Pumpkin Recipe

I am LOVING all things pumpkin right now!!! I can't get enough of it!

BUT- my body (ok, my pants!) cannot take any more high fat, high calorie meals right now! Thanksgiving just pushed me over the edge!!

So, after a great workout today, I was craving something pumpkin. What a better post-workout snack than a Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake!

I googled " pumpkin protein shake" and a bunch of recipes popped up. So I created one of my own that mixed and matched things to make it perfect for me (and the ingredients that I had on hand).

Let me tell you... It was DELICIOUS!!! It literally tasted like I was drinking pumpkin pie...but without any sugar (other than what's in milk) or the fat, or the calories!!

Here's my recipe:
-1 cup milk (I used 2% b/c that's what we had, but almond, soy, skim would all work too!)
-1/2 cup canned pumpkin
-1 scoop vanilla protein powder
-1 tsp. Pumpkin pie spice (around this much, the original recipe called for 1/2 tsp but it was NOT enough for I kept adding more and more dashes)
-Stevia in the Raw added to taste (or any other sweetener you use)

Blend all ingredients together and serve over ice. If you wanted it more like a smoothie, you could add the ice right in the blender. I wanted it thicker and creamier so I just poured it right over the ice.

While the Pumpkin Cheesecake bars were amazing, it's great to enjoy something as much without ANY of the guilt (my shake: 260 calories)!! Mmmmmm!!!! Enjoy!

Christmas Spirit

The little boy that I've been taking care of since the summer is starting to go through a bit of stranger anxiety....particularly men! Every time new people walk through the door, he looks right at me with this terrified look. And then it's an all out wail!

Except you really can't hear much of anything because of his trach. His face just scrunches up really tight and the aligator tears start flowing!

But whether or not a sound comes with the wailing, he looses it...until the man leaves! It really makes the many doctors walking into his room throughout the day a joy for him : (

But yesterday was a little different!! The respiratory therapist we had typically works on the floors, not in the PICU, so I dont' really know him that well. What I do know is that he is a new face, and a man...a rather large man! I saw him coming down the hall headed into our room and thought, "Oh boy, here we go!"

But as the therapist walked in, the little guy LIT UP! Like a Christmas tree!! He was smiling from ear to ear, shaking his head (that's about all he can move because of his stenosis- see THIS post) and SO happy!

So what was with the sudden change!?!? The patient's dad was in the room, and he said "I think he thinks you're Santa Claus!" And sure enough, at the mention of Santa, the little boy went crazy! He couldn't stop smiling and doing whatever wiggling he could out of joy!

It was one of the cutest things I've ever seen! Now, I'm pretty sure the therapist didn't appreciate being called Santa, but hey, when you're a fluffy/pudgy/stout man with white hair and a long white beard, you pretty much just gotta expect it....right!?

If he wasn't so offended, I would have taken a pic to show a side by side comparison. But either way, whether or not he liked it, this respiratory therapist made the day of my little guy! And that made it all worth it to me!! Can I get a "Ho Ho HO!" : )