Friday, June 8, 2012

Becoming a nurse

March 2, 2012 will live on forever in my mind as if it were yesterday.  That particular Friday had been my third day in a row to work.  I had the same patients all three days so I felt that I knew them fairly well.  I knew which patients wanted ginger ale with their dinner, what time they wanted to bathe, and how many times I would have to beg a patient to let me give them a Lovenox injection before they would give in.  This specific group of four patients were wonderful.  As my rule of thumb I try very hard not to pick favorite patients.  Sometimes it happens unintentionally but I don’t let that fact be known.  Mr. X (as he will be called for the remainder of my story) was one of my unintentional favorites.  The day before I sat on his bed as he recalled multiple stories from his time in the war.  He also opened up about his one son and how much he loved his grandson.  Mr. X had dementia so he quickly forgot that it was his grandson in the room with me or his great grand-daughter playing on the couch.  He was always pleasant and so thankful for everything. 

That Friday Mr. X had slept most of the morning.  This is very common for him as well as many dementia patients.  I woke him up for lunch and he ate fairly well.  I turned out his lights because he said he was tired.  As I was leaving the room he, as always, said “thank you so much,” and I watched him instantly drift off to sleep.  I checked on him periodically throughout the day and he always said his usual “thank you” as I left.  Around 5:00 that evening a doctor wrote an order to give the patient a now dose of 60 ml Potassium Chloride.  For a young patient with a potassium level of 3.4 or even an older patient who was in better condition I would have never questioned the order; but for a 93 year old patient who wasn’t doing well and was in a-fib with a potassium level of 3.8 I questioned it.  Everything about the order seemed wrong.  I asked the charge nurse what she thought I should do because my gut feeling was don’t give it.  She said it was a nursing call that I had to make but that if it was her she would call the manager and the doctor who wrote it to clarify the order.  So I did just that.  Everyone I spoke with said yes, give him the potassium.  I reluctantly poured the potassium over orange juice and woke Mr. X up to give it to him.  He swallowed it quickly and drifted back to sleep, but not before saying “thank you.” 

I checked on Mr. X quite often after giving that dose of potassium.  My gut instinct still told me something was wrong.  So I documented everything I had done in his chart.  6:20 PM: I sat at my desk doing chart checks and finalizing some paperwork for the day.  I heard the telemetry monitor go off and when I looked at the screen Mr. X’s heart rate was in the 20s.  I ran as fast as I could down the hall and saw that he was unresponsive and now asystolic.  I immediately began chest compressions and screamed for someone to grab the crash cart and call a code.  The only person nearby was a night shift secretary who jumped into action as quickly as she could.  We continued CPR until the code team arrived and took over.  It was truly heart breaking to watch the nurses push countless medications and do thousands of chest compressions.  After about ten minutes the doctor in the room called it.  The team left the room and it was just Mr. X and me.  I cried.  The tears poured out of my eyes and nothing I could do made them stop.  I didn’t cry for him because he knew where he was going, but I cried for his family.  I cried because I worried that I didn’t make the right decision in giving the potassium the doctor had ordered; but deep down I knew that didn’t cause this.  When my rational thinking came back into play I knew it was just his time. 

I stayed until 10:00 that night just to make sure the family had everything they needed.  The amazing night shift nurses dressed Mr. X in the clothes he brought while I did the paperwork.  He looked just as if he was taking a nap.  He was peaceful.  That night as I was driving home I thought long and hard about the choices I made that day.  I know I made the right ones, and I know it was his time to meet our maker.  I realized that my gut instinct was telling me something and I now know to always listen to it.  That night I went from being an RN to becoming a nurse.  

Friday, June 10, 2011

New job, new apartment, new beginning!

It's no secret that May was a tough month for myself and for Kyle.  Three days before graduation, and four days before we were supposed to move to the beach Kyle received a call from his job in Gulf Shores saying his position may no longer be available.  Long story short Kyle did not get the job he was originally promised and all our plans changed.  We went from both having jobs and having a place to live in Gulf Shores, to have no jobs and no where to go.  It was a difficult time but God had his hand in the entire situation.

May 9th we graduated from Auburn University!!! I have never been so happy and so miserable at the same time in all my life.  I was ecstatic that the day had finally arrived when I no longer had to be a part of Auburn's nursing program (it was a severe love-hate relationship).  The day didn't start off as smoothly as I had planned though...but when does anything go as planned?? First thing in the morning as I was taking pictures with my family I stepped in a massive pile of something a dog left behind. I didn't realize I had it on my shoe so I tracked it all the way through my apartment into my bedroom...Awesome! Thankfully I had a sweet uncle Kevin who came to my rescue and cleaned up the dog poop so I could leave for graduation.  The ceremony was long and extremely hot!!! People were passing out from the heat and the staff at the ceremony were running out of water to give the graduates.  It was by far the most miserable day and the most informal graduation ceremony I've ever been to! But we survived and I am now so happy to say that I'm a COLLEGE GRADUATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After graduation things spun into a whirlwind of job seeking and apartment hunting.  Kyle and I were completely lost as to where to even begin looking for jobs.  So many cities, but only so many jobs.  Again, God had his hand in it all.  We fervently prayed and waited and waited and waited for something to open up.  Between the two of us we easily applied for 50 jobs within a 3 week time period.  Nothing seemed to be opening up, but we pressed on.  One night Kyle's dad mentioned to him that he should look into applying at a veterinarian's clinic.  He was initially hesitant because it isn't exactly in his field.  However, he applied to every vet clinic in Montgomery anyway.  He received a call back from one for an interview last week.  I spent so much time praying for this interview.  After his interview was over Kyle immediately called me with good news! He mentioned that they were looking for a Vet tech possibly, and they were specifically looking for someone to live in the apartment above the clinic.  The clinic wants to be able to care for critical animals 24 hours a day and having someone living at the clinic allows them to do this.  It also gives the 3 veterinarians peace of mind knowing that someone is right there with the animals at night.  They took Kyle to see the clinic and then to see the apartment.  He loved it, but of course I was skeptical of an apartment above a vet's office. A few days later I was able to visit the clinic and the apartment and I was completely blown away!! The apartment is very nice and has everything we were looking for! I almost started crying when I saw it because I couldn't believe that we get to live in it for free! God moved so many mountains for us.  Kyle got a job and we got a (FREE) place to live all in the same day!!! We are blessed beyond what we deserve.

Sunday, after I take the NCLEX (dun dun dun...) I'm going to Montgomery to help my sweet fiance move into the new apartment.  I can't believe this is all finally falling into place.  We are so blessed and so happy!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Blessed beyond belief

I am quickly nearing the end of my time at Auburn.  As the days pass by I get more sad yet more excited for the future all at the same time.  It will be so difficult for me to leave this wonderful town I love, but I am ready for what the future holds.

This weekend has been amazing! My mom came to Auburn yesterday to spend some time with me and to come to our first wedding shower today.  I had so much fun with her! This morning we drove to Montgomery to see Kyle's family and hear his Uncle Kenneth sing in the special "musical" they had at church.  It was so much fun!! Then this afternoon we went to spend time with our wonderful friends and family who came to the shower.  The love shown today was truly astounding! I felt so blessed to get to spend the extra time with our Auburn family.  It has been a wonderful weekend and I know the days this week will be just as special :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Oh Happy Day

Yesterday was such a wonderful day I just can't help but smile!! The day began with a sweet text message from Kyle saying happy 18 month anniversary.  That was just the beginning of a great day.  It reminded me of how far we've come since we started dating last year. Many days I forget we've only been together a year and a half because I feel he has been a part of my life forever.  The day progressed and that afternoon I got a call from Kyle.  He has been trying to contact the zoo in Gulf Shores for over a week now to confirm his job there.  The woman he needed to contact has been super busy and in and out of the office for weeks.  But yesterday he finally reached her! That was a PTL (praise the Lord) in itself!  They spoke briefly but she is putting him on the May schedule today!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So Kyle has his big boy job! It's finally official that we are moving to Gulf Shores! PTL!!!!!

On top of all that good news I received the best news of all last night.  Kyle's dad had an MRI done last Wednesday.  He has been off of chemo for 3 months and at the end of the 3 months they did the MRI to see if there was any progression of the tumor.  Everything came back as well as they had hoped!!! He has another 3 months CHEMO FREE!!!!! What a blessing!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

6 months left :)

In exactly 6 months I will be a WIFE! Oh my goodness I'm so excited! I can't believe how quickly the time has flown by! I feel like Kyle has been a part of my life forever, but at the same time it seems like we just started dating yesterday.  I am so blessed!

I am so thankful to have a fiancée who cares more about our marriage than a wedding.  We have spent more time reading and talking about our future marriage than the actual wedding.  This has made me even more excited to get married.  A wedding lasts one day, but a marriage lasts a lifetime.  I am also so thankful that he is willing to read all of these books with me! Kyle has been so patient with me and has helped me become a better person and therefore a stronger couple.  I know we will make it through anything together!! God's love for us is overflowing and we can feel it in our lives! I can't wait to see what the future holds for us!!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

God's Grace

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

While driving to work at 5:45 Monday morning I was awe struck by the power of our God.  The sunrise seems to remind me daily of the great love he has for us! Each time I glanced at that amazingly pink and blue sky I kept hearing this Bible verse over and over in my head.  His mercies are new every morning.  What a humbling thought that is! Who are we that God would choose to love us each day and give us a second chance daily?? Our God is wonderful.

I've been struggling lately with grace.  I can't seem to wrap my mind around something as wonderful as God's grace.  I have been given so much over the last few years that I feel guilty.  I have been blessed with the most amazing fiancée in the world. If I could have created the perfect man Kyle would have exceeded all of my expectations.  He is more than I deserve and I am eternally grateful that we were brought together.  I know God has amazing plans for us as a couple! Besides my wonderful Kyle I have an amazing family and a career that I adore! I stand in awe with all God has blessed me with lately.

My only hope is that every sunrise is as beautiful as they have been this week.  They not only remind me of the amazing grace we have been given, but they allow me to slow down, if only for a moment, and see the beauty of God's creations on Earth.

Monday, February 28, 2011

First week of preceptorship

When I began my journey as a nursing student my only goal was to one day be a nurse in an oncology unit.  When my dad had cancer his nurses were amazing.  They made that difficult time for us much easier because we were confident that he was in good hands.  That overwhelming feeling was what made me want to be an oncology nurse.  I knew that if those sweet women could give our family that peace, then I too could give that peace to another family.  God continued to prepare my heart for oncology nursing my entire time at Auburn.  Whether it was going to clinicals at the Hospice facility, or having 3 patients with a terminal illness in one day he prepared me.  He continues to bless me daily with the reminder that this life is not all that we are promised.

Last week I started my preceptorship on the oncology unit at Huntsville Hospital.  My preceptor is amazing! I feel right at home on that floor and I am confident that I am where God has hand picked for me to be.  Before going to preceptorship I had this fear that the oncology floor would be somber and quiet all the time.  It is anything but!! These patients are exactly who I need in my life.  Even with terminal illnesses or chemo running through their veins they are by far the kindest and most generous people I have ever met.  It has been my personal observation that patients who don't have many days left to live are the ones who find the most to live for.  They realize how precious time is and they take nothing for granted.  Their hope and smiles keep me wanting to go back every single day.  I can't even begin to describe the feeling I get when I walk into a sweet older mans room and see him laughing with his wife and grown daughter.  My patients have all found so much joy in the day to day tasks!

One evening it was time to change the IV site of one patient.  He is known for having difficult veins because of all the treatments he has been receiving.  This did not stop my preceptor from letting me try to get a good vein.  She had full confidence that I could do it.  This particular patient was hard of hearing as well so explaining the procedure was not an easy task.  The first try was unfortunately a failure.  I got the vein but then as we were flushing the line the vein blew.  So try try again.  After many minutes of searching for another vein that would work we found one that was ok.  It was not my first choice, but my preceptor said to try it so I did.  The same thing happened again and I blew the vein after inserting the IV catheter.  I was a bit flustered at my lack of skills for the moment.  I knew I had done the best I possibly could have, but as a nurse nothing makes you feel dumber than blowing a vein.  My preceptor stepped out of the room for a minute to answer a page from the doctor and left me alone in the room with the patient and his sweet family.  I was standing there trying to tell myself that I'll get it next time when my sweet patient said, "Jessica don't be sad you couldn't get the IV.  The most important thing is that you tried, so just keep trying."  It's moments like those when I know I'm in the right profession.  I wanted to hug him!! He and his wife were just so encouraging!! I am so blessed by my patients.