Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Week one down, week two half over... and when do I stop feeling exhausted?

Week one over. Week two halfway through. There's a couple of things I want to know... actually there's just one thing that I really want to know - when do I stop feeling so tired? Seriously I can only remember feeling this tired at one other time in my life - and that's when I had glandular fever!!

I'm loving most of the work I am doing - and a lot of the classes I am taking this semester just keep on getting more interesting, but when I don't have classes all I want to do is sleep. I've managed to set my timetable up so that I have two days where I don't have to attend uni and where I should be doing study at home, but what do I end up doing? I sleep. And then I get annoyed with myself since I shouldn't be sleeping and I should be studying.

Apart from being so tired though it's great... or it will be when I get those assignments due in week three done.

The practical classes are fantastic. This week we practiced giving bed-baths to other students and making beds. The bed making wasn't too bad, since it's pretty much how I was taught to make my bed as a kid. And the baths were interesting... apparently I give a good bed-bath and the student I was bathing said that she really liked the way I bathed her hands and feet because it was soothing and relaxing. So I guess that's a good start.

A few rants about doing group work, but it doesn't surprise me that much, because I've never been all that good at taking part in group work. I tend to get frustrated that people don't listen to my opinion when I have a point to make. For example today I was working on a group assignment and one of the girls just out of high school was saying not to use websites as references, and I was saying that there are some websites that are actually good references, such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics website. However she refused point blank to accept that any website could be a good source of information.

I've been spending the last couple of days at uni coming out about my being vegan, which has been interesting. Of course there's been the usual reactions of "I wish I could be veg*n" or "That's got to be hard/restrictive", but so far most of the people I've told have been pretty cool about it. Although the hard part is going to be coming up soon - dissections. I have an ethical (and semi-philosophical/religious) objection to the use of animal dissections and have a feeling that it may be the first of many battles to come, but I'm going to stick it out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Day 2 of Classes - A Clinical Lab, Coffee and Tiredness

Day two of classes - or a day to do one subject. 8am lecture, one of the most interesting so far and I'm looking forward to more of them... a bit on the history of nursing, and an introduction to clinical work. Next up my first clinical lab session - a lot of going over rules and regulations before heading onto the first skill - handwashing. Sounds simple, right? It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be and I was told I need to cut my nails - something I don't mind doing, but since I was told I wouldn't get my hands and nails cleaned well I had to prove them wrong - and it only took two attempts!

A break and some of that awesome coffee. Mmmmmm.... A trip to the bookshop to discover that the book I need to get is out of stock (not that I've ever seen it in stock there!), which lead to a visit to the library. And my feeling totally lost... A two hour loan of the book I need to buy - with the reading chapter read in just 20 minutes. Not bad! Then a tutorial. A familiar situation... no tutor turning up. A phone call on my pointing out a phone in the room and a request for somebody to turn up. A moment later the tutor shows up apologetic that she was running late, and just a few minutes later the lecturer in charge turning up in response to a call saying that there was nobody there and explanations that we - the students called because our tutor hadn't turned up and the tutor saying that she had been late.

Home reasonably early, but ever so tired. All I want to do is sleep, but there is more reading to be done and I need to start on assignments, re-write notes and downloading of course information to be done - and emails to be sent. But at the moment all I can think of is sleep - so it's off to feed guinea pigs, grabbing the text I need to read and curling up in bed to sleep.

I just hope that it's not as exhausting next week.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Day One - Lectures, Tutorials and Timetable SNAFU

So here I am, at the end of day one exhausted, but happy. It was a long-ish day starting with a lecture at 9am and finishing at 6pm (again with a lecture). Three of my five lectures covering four subjects were on today, in addition to two tutorials and a pre-seminar meeting.

The first lecture was pretty much just an introduction to the subject (anatomy and physiology/microbiology) which was a nice start to the day, however following right on from the lecture I had to sign up for my seminar assessment topic which has ended up being in week 3 - hence the pre-seminar meeting. So in week 3 I will be completing my first assessment, a 20 minute seminar on the structure of the neonate skull.

After a break of about an hour and a half, my first lecture should have been followed by a tutorial. I turned up for it, as did the rest of the tutorial group... but not the tutor! Seems there had been a first day timetable SNAFU and the tutor thought she was starting at 4pm, not 12.

After the missed tutorial, it was off for another lecture - followed by another tutorial, and then my last lecture of the day. It doesn't sound like much when it's put like that, but it feels like it right now!

So many thoughts going through my head and my eyes keep on demanding that they be closed, so it's a half-hearted entry today and some much wanted sleep.

Although on a quick side-note there is awesome coffee! And they have good soy milk! Did I mention the coffee was awesome? Because it was! And they were so nice to a dorky first day student that asked for soy, had the lady behind the counter collect more soy and then realised she didn't have enough money to pay for the coffee (I thank the coffee gods for the kindness is letting me have a discounted coffee).

Sunday, February 17, 2008

<15 hours until my first lecture

Wow! It's almost here, my first actual day and it's going to be a long one... I have three lectures and two tutorials starting from 9am and finishing at 6pm. For cone though I'm actually pretty organised and I'll really be getting into it all tomorrow.

And I'm not so worried about my studies and my classes - I'm just worried about the sillier things - like is there going to be any food on campus that I can eat? Or any drinks that are not ethically problematic? I'm not expecting there to be much, but it would be nice... Although when you consider that not only am I vegan, but I also appear to be gluten intolerant it does make thing a little harder, so packed lunches it will be.

So what's for lunch on day one? A pasta salad - brown rice penne pasta with semi-dried tomatoes and mushrooms cooked lightly in oil with fresh basil. Snack wise there's some nuts and dried fruit and of course my typical bottle of water. I'm still deciding if I'll pack some extras like corncakes with hummus.

The desk I was doing up was finished over the weekend and my sitting room is now transformed into a sitting room/study. And the desk looks awesome! It's hard to believe that it's the same one that was $25- from the op shop (opportunity shop - ie thrift shop). I've got all my books put in the cupboards and pens read to re-write lecture notes when I arrive back home tomorrow night.

Continuing in the disjointed format of this entry I am excited about starting my classes tomorrow. I will recognise one or two people and I'm sure I'll get over the initial 'I don't know anybody and feel out of place' soon enough.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The part where I wonder 'what am I doing?' and 'Can I run away?'

Another orientation day - this one specifically for health sciences students, which means me.

After confusing myself over how to get to uni via public transport I managed to get a lift from my Dad who was driving across town for a meeting and could get there by going past my uni. That was good.

I was there early, but due to when the information sessions I was attending were on I got to miss out on witnessing a historic event - Sorry Day, where the Prime Minister said Sorry to the Stolen Generations on behalf of the Australian Government. I did get to see his speech later and it was beautiful. The words, the sentiment and the fact that an actual apology was made using the word sorry - and not just once either. I just hope it results in action and improvement in the lives of Indigenous Australians - something that is long overdue.

Sorry Day deserves it's own post and not just a small paragraph in this entry, but for the moment I will leave it at that so I can give it the attention it deserves.

Today was the introduction to the Nursing Course and Faculty. For me it was a moment that said "Okay, this is it, you're doing this now". And while I want to do this, it was for me a moment where I thought of running away. A point of no return, because for me sitting through that presentation was making a final commitment to becoming a Nurse.

While classes have yet to start this was the moment that finally made me feel like I was starting on this journey. Just a few more days and I'll be heading off to my first lecture... now that's scary!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Day One - Orientation, Anxiety and Sleepless Nights

For the last few nights I haven't been sleeping well and last night I just couldn't relax. I don't think I've ever been so scared about a first day in my life. I wonder if I am doing the right thing, if it's going to be too hard and what I am doing going back to school.

I'm 28 years old and have floundered around in my working life, so going to nursing school is a big change - and one that I've been looking forward to (even if it is sometimes with fear). Today was my first day of orientation at uni and I was terrified about it. This morning I woke up from the little sleep I had gotten and packed my bag. I caught the train and went to catch the bus. I was already nervous, and when the bus didn't turn up on time I was verging on panic. I didn't want to be late for my first day. After making a few calls to try and arrange a lift the bus finally turned up - only 15 minutes late, but it felt like hours. I cancelled the lift and was on my way.

I arrived at my uni and headed up to one of the lecture theatres where an introduction to the uni was being held. I'd been running a little late, so I didn't get my bag of information until later, however I did meet a midwifery student who was close in age to me, so I had somebody to talk to and sit with through the day. Once I was sitting down and listening to all the speakers I relaxed somewhat. I was really doing this. I was taking steps towards becoming a nurse.

I did all the first day things - signing up to get my ID, touring the campus, signing up my interest in a couple of different groups/activities and buying my books. Everybody I met was friendly and I even ran into somebody I know! So I guess it's a good start.

Although the pile of text books is kind of daunting, I'm sure that at least some of them will be interesting.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Only A Few Days To Go

When I started the process of applying for university last year I was at a low point in my life. I had started working for a not-for-profit agency wanting to "make a difference", however I ended up hating my job and hating myself. When my employer found out about my mental illness (depression/generalised anxiety disorder) my supervisor started treating me differently. I was no longer a smart, intelligent person who was expected to carry out the workload of two people, I was stupid and incapable.
I would arrive at work to emails that were full of blame and the implication that I was incapable of my job - in spite of taking work home, working unpaid overtime, weekends and requesting assistance. I'm not going to say I wasn't struggling with the work, because I was... And I was taking a lot of time off.
It was during this time that I finally decided to do something about my employment situation. I'd fallen into office/administration work and to be honest, I'd never really liked it. I needed to feel like I was achieving something with my work - achieving in a way that was not just meeting deadlines. Which was why I took the job with the not-for-profit agency. And while I become more depressed there I did realise something - that I needed to find work where I could see the difference I was making, where I could see my achievements - even if nobody else could... Something more hands on.
I went to every university expo, open day and information day I could. And in the end it came down to one option - nursing. I've been alternately excited and scared about it for months. It's something that I never considered in the past - and something that when I think about it I wouldn't have had the maturity to deal with earlier on... but now it feels like one of the most right decisions I have made in my life. And now it's so close.
Come Monday I will be getting to know the university, finding my way around, getting books, ID and everything related to being a new student. I can't wait.
Over the weekend I'll be setting up my study space. I have found my ideal desk (a second-hand bargain at $25 - even with a little work to be done on it). I've got books and pens and a diary with all my lectures written out in it... And a determination to do well. *grins* why, yes I am a geek!
At the beginning of this process there were those that questioned my desire to do nursing... but that's been changing, in the last week I've had nothing but encouragement and support and it's a wonderful feeling.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Animals, Humans and Wanting to Become a Nurse

A conversation and an email to a friend got me thinking about a few things today. In my last entry I wrote about how working with animals started me on this path towards becoming a nurse.
I've been working in Administration for close to a decade now and am currently employed by a health organisation. As my course starts on February 11 I'll be leaving work very shortly and most of my co-works are now aware of what I am doing. Generally they have been very supportive - including 'the bosses'.
Today one of 'the bosses' was congratulating me on getting into the bachelor of nursing program and asked if nursing was something I'd always wanted to do. Being me I was happy to honestly answer that it wasn't and when asked what made me want to do it I said that it was the work I had done with sick animals... I probably didn't answer in a particularly well though out way and am sure I came across as a ditz. I emailed a friend to tell her about it and she replied with something that struck me as central to my decision and my life - "...it reinforces the similarity in needs between animals and humans..."
And it's true - humans and animals react in such similar ways when they are sick and in pain. I've seen both humans and animals respond in ways that are aggressive, scared, appreciative of small gestures - a hand held, a soothing voice... Sometimes no matter how hard you try you can't save them... And sometimes those you think won't survive do...
And while I am sure these inital posts make it sound like I'm ignorant or naieve about the real work nurses do, I don't think that is the case - i'm going in to this expecting blood, guts, poop, vomit and things I have probably never imagined... I expect it to be hard work and there to be times when I wonder why I am doing this, but for the moment until that happens I want to focus on the good. To be excited about starting a new career... besides, reality will hit soon enough.