Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Weekend breather

I had forgotten how intense writing exams is.  The focused concentration for 90 minutes is extreme, and then when the paper is handed in, there is such a flood of relief and relaxation in your body, that one seems completely unable to concentrate on anything else in the immediate future. That's how last Friday afternoon felt, when my first set of midterm exams was over. 

The past weekend was great, and I didn't touch my books.

Today classes resumed, and I am feeling good both about the midterms being done, and about the next batch of learning that is beginning. 

We have a new prof in my physiology course, who is exponentially more intense than the previous prof.  Not that there was anything wrong with the other guy, he was very good and I enjoyed the lectures.  But today's new prof is dynamic, clearly l-o-v-e-s the material and simply exudes passion for the topic.  AND she managed to cover an entire chapter during one 90-minute lecture.  (which may not seem as much to some, but perhaps a quick peek at a physiology textbook will explain why this is a TON of material...and it all has to be memorized!)

I felt so great at the end of today's lecture, given how intense and interesting it was.  I went home and straight to the books, to re-learn, re-inforce and start memorizing the details of the chapter.  In my past  university experiences, it is with profs like this one that it is imperative you stay on top of the material.  Catching up later is possible, but very, very difficult.

I'm starting to prep for my other lectures this week too, so it is all good.  I am happy.

As far as results go, I've heard back from two of the three exams.  So far I've gotten an A+ and an A.  The latter result was on the exam I studied the least for, so hopefully that will be the lowest mark of the bunch.  Like I said, I am happy.  I am satisfied.  I am learning much.  Things are going well.

Oh, and I should mention, that the S&V studying snack food has been replaced with air-popped popcorn....a much, MUCH healthier alternative!!!  Lol!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


...while snacking on my beloved "S&V" (aka salt and vinegar) chips and drinking ginger tea.  Hmmm, not exactly a healthy habit.  (I guess the ginger tea would be considered OK!)  S&V chips are my main junk food addiction (I don't have a sweet tooth, but make up for not eating sweet junk food by eating salty junk food!) Funny how some habits re-surface years later.  I always used to snack while I studied, mostly chips or salted sunflower seeds.  Now it just seems to be chips.  Probably time to nip this bad habit in the bud, as I want to stay fit and healthy!!!

This morning's exam was OK.  I think I did well, but it wasn't that really good feeling like last week, when I know I did well (or at least I think I did, as I am still waiting for the results!).  I am not at all worried about not having passed the exam, but it is a question of whether it will be a high A or a lower A.  I really didn't know what to expect from today's exam, as there were no sample questions given out, and the course material was rather general.  I will know for next time to memorize all the details in the textbook.

Now I am studying for tomorrow's physiology exam.  I have mixed feelings about it -- I've done all the sample and practice exams and quizzes on the on-line version of the textbook, and gotten mostly 100% on all of them, so that is definitely encouraging and confidence-building, but, always a but, that doesn't mean the exam will go that well. 

We shall see tomorrow -- in the meantime I review as much as I possibly can, and eat more chips!!!  (I think the dog will get an extra walk today, and I may even visit my old friend the treadmill in the basement, for a quick run...or I could just put the chip bag away...)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mental Health Humour Break!

Do you have one of those friends who just seem to instinctively know what you need, and when you need it?  I do.  I am lucky enough to have one such great friend (thanks T!!!).  You're awesome!!! :-) 

In my email in-box this afternoon, I found the following jokes -- whether they are true or not, I have no idea, but they put a smile on my face in this long week of studying!



A man comes into the ER and yells ...'My wife's going to have her baby in the cab.'
I grabbed my stuff, rushed out to the cab, lifted the lady's dress and began to take off her underwear.
Suddenly I noticed that there were several cabs - - - and I was in the wrong one.

Submitted by Dr. Mark MacDonald ,
San Francisco

At the beginning of my shift I placed a stethoscope on an elderly and slightly deaf female patient's anterior chest wall.
'Big breaths,' . . . I instructed.'Yes, they used to be,' . . . replied the patient.

Submitted by Dr. Richard Byrnes ,
Seattle , WA

One day I had to be the bearer of bad news when I told a wife that her husband had died of a massive myocardial infarct.
Not more than five minutes later, I heard her reporting to the rest of the family that he had died of a ' massive internal fart. '

Submitted by Dr. Susan Steinberg

During a patient's two week follow-up appointment with his cardiologist, he informed me, his doctor, that he was having trouble with one of his medications.
'Which one? ' . .. . I asked. ' The patch...
The Nurse told me to put on a new one every six hours and now I'm running out of places to put it! '
I had him quickly undress and discovered what I hoped I wouldn't see.
Yes, the man had over fifty patches on his body!

Now, the instructions include removal of the old patch before applying a new one.

Submitted by Dr. Rebecca St. Clair ,
Norfolk , VA

While acquainting myself with a new elderly patient, I asked, ' How long have you been bedridden? '
After a look of complete confusion she answered . . .
' Why, not for about twenty years - when my husband was alive. '

Submitted by Dr. Steven Swanson-
Corvallis , OR
Baby's First Doctor Visit

A woman and a baby were in the doctor's examining room, waiting for the doctor to come in for the baby's first exam.
The doctor arrived, and examined the baby, checked his weight, and being a little concerned, asked if the baby was breast-fed or bottle-fed.
'Breast-fed, ' she replied.

' Well, strip down to your waist, ' the doctor ordered.

She did. He pinched her nipples, pressed, kneaded, and rubbed both breasts for a while in a very professional and detailed examination.

Motioning to her to get dressed, the doctor said, ' No wonder this baby is underweight. You don't have any milk. '

'I know, she said, ' I'm his Grandma, but I'm glad I came here today!'

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Am still studying...but taking a quick break to blog...

Two more mid-terms await me this week, one on Thursday and one on Friday. 

I've worked my way through various population health models, and will need to do more physiology still tonight. 

Maybe next week I will attempt to re-surface socially for the first time since school and this huge lifestyle transition started.  I owe so many people phone calls and emails!  But I am optimistic about this re-joining of civil society, given that I'm almost back to normal with the latest round of family viruses, and I am truly getting into a studying groove.  And most importantly, I'm adjusting to being a student again and wrapping my head around the fact that this stage of life is my current reality (leaving a desk job to be a student again was a major shock to my system)!  I'm guessing I should be fully mentally adjusted to being a student by the time I return to my desk job in May 2012...

I really must get back to the books, but one last item I want to share tonight is a quiz I took recently, from the text book on "Life's Transitions: The Aging Process", from my Determinants of Health course.

It is a simple quiz, one that estimates your life expectancy (based on various health behaviours and heredity factors).

The good news is that I'm going to live to be 101 years old!!!  I guess I'll get be a nurse for many more years than I thought, given that I plan to never fully retire from this job. :-)

The quiz can be found at:  (oh yeah, and eat right, don't smoke and get your body moving, even if it is just a daily walk around the block!!!)   Best of luck!!!

OK, really going back to studying now...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Midterm #1 - that was OK!

Actually, I'm thinking better than OK.  I think it went really well. 

I wanted to write a quick post this morning, before the first exam, but I just ran out of time.  What I wanted to write was that I had this incredible feeling of calm, before the exam...not something I was used to having before exams!  I was trying to figure out if this feeling came from A- being well-prepared for the exam, B- being a 'mature student' and having lots of univeristy exams already under my belt so this is not a new experience, C- studying in a field I LOVE, which makes learning easier, or D- still feeling that this whole 'going back to school for nursing' experience is still a bit surreal.  (YES, can you tell I was preparing for a mostly multiply-choice exam!?!? -- LOL!) Well, I think the answer was E- all of the above.

It was multiple choice, the bane of my test taking existence, but I felt quite confident about the vast majority of the 55 questions.  There were two I just skipped to return to later (which I did!), and about 3 more that I think I answered correctly...but the rest, I think I just knew all the info.  There was also a long-answer essay question about the inner workings of the eye and vision, essay style, which I could have explained if awoken from a deep sleep.  So that was good too. 

Now, of course, thinking I did well on a multiple choice test, and actually having that confirmed, are two very different things.  I think results will be posted on our student course-specific websites, so I'll be checking that in the coming days.  I remember, "back in the day" when I was first an undergrad, our results were typed up, pinned up on a bulletin board on the wall, and we'd all crowd around, elbowing each other as we jostled for a better view of the sheet of paper, looking for our student number and the corresponding mark!  Those days have most definitely gone the way of the dinosaur!!!

Now it is full-steam ahead for my two mid-terms next week, one of them being my beloved anatomy and physiology.  So much to prepare for there.  And this weekend will be busy with our celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving, and a out-of-town wedding we'll be attending.

Happy Thanksgiving, happy studying to any and all students, and happy weekend!!!  :-)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Mid-term exams start this first university exam in many (many!) years will be on Thursday.  Two more will follow next week.  Can you believe the term is practically half over already???

Must get back to the books.  I also think we will have a surprise quiz in class today, in physiology.  On a good note, I spent the weekend working on a physiology assignment, and managed to get 99% on it!  Wahoo!!! 

Here's to hoping the physiology quiz is on the same topic as the weekend assignment, 'cause I know that stuff inside and out!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Yesterday's class was incredibly frustrating.  I arrived a couple minutes late (mea culpa), and had to sit a bit further than I would normally choose to sit.  That being said, given a choice, I usually sit somewhere in the 5-7 rows from the front, and yesterday sat in probably row 8 or 9, so not a huge difference.

What was a huge difference, was the number of my classmates not paying attention to the lecture (and it was a doozy -- 90 minutes spent on the physics and chemistry of action potentials of nerve impulses). 

Many more people are now bringing their laptops to class, as opposed to the first weeks.  That in itself is fine, except that I see so many people using them for stuff other than accessing the prof's pre-posted lecture notes.  Yesterday there were so many Facebook sites up, photos being listed through, Tetris games played, Solitaire games played, someone near me had apparently Googled "light sabers" and was going through the various sites that Google generated for her, texting, etc. etc.

Frankly, all these things going on doesn't bug me, per se -- they're quiet activities and don't really disrupt the class.  I think they're incredibly disrespectful tasks to be doing during a lecture.  Oh yes, and then there's the other reason we go to lectures -- to listen to the prof and actually learn something.  But again, that's the individual's choice and prerogative whether they choose to learn or not. 

What frustrated me yesterday, beyond belief, was the two, extremely young, girls chatting directly in front of me for the entire lecture.  It took everything I had in me to not tap them gently on the shoulder, and suggest that they go to a coffee shop to continue their conversation.  Why were they in the lecture?  They were not taking notes, they were not listening.  They were talking, giggling, laughing so hard they had to wipe tears from their eyes and put their heads down on the table (this was the result of realizing the desk was sloped and that their pens roll down), and texting.  Nobody takes attendance at university.  They were just a distraction to everyone around them.  What did they think they were gaining by showing up?

I'm not expecting everyone to take school as seriously as I do.  Of course not.  But it just made me feel so frustrated and even bad about this second career choice.  Will people like them be my future bosses at hospitals?  I'm giving up a lot to be doing this change, and I still at times doubt myself in this choice.  I have an established career that I'm good at, that pays very well, that has a great pension, benefits and job security, where I have good friends, colleagues, managers whom I really like and respect.  Anyhow, I don't have to decide this right now.  I know I'm back in the office on May 1, 2012.  I sat there in the lecture thinking maybe I should have gone to medical school instead of nursing school.  Maybe that would be a better fit in terms of students being there because they truly want to learn the material.  But I truly do not want to be a doctor, I want to be a nurse practitioner specializing in maternal health. 

Then I looked around me, and saw other young students sitting near me, all with lecture notes printed off or studiously typing notes into their laptops.  Clearly the few totally immature ones in front of me would be considered the few 'bad apples' that tend to give entire demographic groups a bad rap.  They'll either not be around by the end of the year for flunking out (if that even still happens at university - things have so changed in terms of deadlines...that's another blog post in itself!), or will get their act together, grow up and smarten up.  And the class demographic is about 50% being 30+, and the other 50% being fresh out of high school.  So at least half the class is in a similar mindset to myself. And, most importantly, I'm building a core group of friends that are great.  :-)

Given the was they behaved yesterday during the lecture, the giggly topics of conversation I was privy to listen to, I simply cannot imagine these girls in their first clinical rotation next year, when we'll have real patients to touch and work with. 

This vent is ending.  My lesson learned from yesterday was arrive to class early, and choose where I want to sit!!!  And I guess I really need to focus on the end result of the schooling, not necessarily the process, and the fact that like-minded friends are in the program.  I need to visualize myself really working with a labouring mother, and assisting her in the safe delivery of a new life.  That's what I really want to do as my job.  More than anything else. And I've been given the opportunity to do so, even at mid-life.

Time to hit the books.  It will be a full weekend of studying.  My first exam is next week!  Ouf!