Sunday, December 16, 2012

3 terms done, 5 more to go!

I guess that makes me 37.5% RN!  Getting there, slowly but surely!

Final exams finished last week.  Am pleased to say I survived.  Not so sure I thrived this time, but I definitely survived. 

Two exams on one day, one right after another, is brutal.  Studying for two exams for the same day is also brutal.  I hope that never happens again.  But it's over, and as I like to say, "If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger!" -- I guess I am that much stronger for having had that experience.

Just before my last exam on Thursday afternoon, I guess the stress level of everything going on that week was finally getting to me (studying stress, I got sick for the first time all term, the kids were getting sick, school was cancelled one day due to bad weather, raging hormones...), and I was briefly, ever so briefly, regretting my career-change decision. 

How easy it would have been to have been sitting in my nice office all week, enjoying my wonderful paycheque, and not studying for or stressing about anything school-related.  I texted a couple friends who I turn to often, with these thoughts.  My one friend, who is already a RPN, wrote back with the best possible words I could have read.  She said, "It'll pass the first day of hospital clinical when you touch someone's life forever...or when someone touches yours."  So true. 

I knew that feeling was temporary and fleeting, basically just during that exam week, and as soon as the exams were over, I was again beyond thrilled and grateful to be exactly where I am, in nursing school!!!  I just thought that answer was so beautifully written and it's so true -- that basically sums up my motivation and thinking to make this career change into a 'helping' profession. 


I'm not naive and am very realistic- I'm not expecting to become Florence Nightengale, and I know full well there are many stresses, issues and conflicts in nursing- just like in any job/career.  Probably even more-so than in my first career...or at the very least, different stressors.  However, nursing also gives the opportunity to touch someone's life, or have mine touched by someone else, in a way that my previous career simply could not.  And to me, that makes all the difference in the world.  I cannot fully express how grateful I am to have had the courage and the support from my dearest husband, to have made this change.

While driving home from the last final, I was calculating in my head how many more final exams I need to do until I'm finished (Have I mentioned I like countdowns!?!?)  I have 24 more courses to finish, but I have no idea how the clinical courses will be marked, tested and evaluated.  I don't know if there will be a written final exam in those courses, or if we're just marked on our work performance and preparation. 

So 24 more final exams await me, at the most.  Then there's also the "detail" of the licensing exam, the CRNE, so I guess that technically makes 25 more exams until RN, at the most.  Somehow, thinking in concrete terms like that makes it seems more real and do-able.  I also love the thought that we're almost half way done!  And clinicals finally start next month - that should bring a whole new dimension of experiences to write about on my blog!!!

I've been in a vague sense of fog since finals finished on Thursday evening, but am now fully waking up and getting into Christmas prep mode.  My cards are going to be super-late this year, and my poor sponsor kids in Brazil and El Salvador....well....they'll probably get their Christmas packages in March or April...nothing like spreading the Christmas spirit out over the year, eh?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Timmy Global Health

For the Canadians reading my blog, "Timmy" does not refer to our national "cultural" icon and beloved coffee shops...only Canadians will get that reference!  LOL!

Yesterday evening I took a study break for a few minutes.  I plunked myself down in front of the TV, thinking I'd have a few minutes of mindless entertainment to give my tired old brain a break.  After channel surfing a bit, I came across an award-type show listing caught my interest, so I paused.

It turns out it was the American Giving Awards (I'd never heard of that before, but what a great concept and idea!!!).  The nominees were just being listed for the health-care/wellness category when I arrived on that channel.  All the nominees were very inspirational, to say the least, but the one I found myself rooting for was the Timmy Global Health Foundation.  And guess what, they won that category!!!

I admit I didn't stick around watching the acceptance speeches or even really try to find out what that win means for that organization.  My study break was over and I went back to my books and computer.  But, I did look up Timmy Global Health Foundation, and research their work.  Wow.

When I read about an organization like that, it simply re-inforces my passion and desire to be a medical professional.  I dream of one day volunteering on medical missions, such as the ones run by the Timmy Foundation.  I know I have so much to give and share with the world in my career, and that aspect was something that was severely lacking in my first career.

I cannot wait to be finished school and have my medical paperwork in hand, that will allow me to make these brief, yet life-changing, volunteer medical trips.  Life-changing for everyone involved -- all the people I'll have the priviledge of helping, and me.

Check them out! What great work they do.  I plan to remember them when I finally get my RN registration papers and am qualified to be part of a medical team, and most definitely when I have my NP papers safely in hand.  I have so much to give back and share with others.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Registering for Clinicals today!

Tuesday morning, 10h40

Oh the anticipation as I wait for 11 am to come.  We register online for our first clinical placements (Long Term Care and Public Health (school nursing)) at that time.  They said that the site becomes live at 11 am, and usually by 11:05, the registration is complete.

We had a practice registration session last week, and the site showed all the available spots for each location.  However, I'm told that only about 3/4 of the class participated in the run-through, so it will definitely be more intense today when we do it for real.

I think I'll easily get the placement that I'm hoping to get, given that the location of the LTC placement I want is a for-profit nursing home, located on the outer edges of our town.  During the practice sign up session, it was evident that most people preferred to be in the hospital-type settings for LTC that were offered, and they are located downtown.  As for me, I'm looking for a good experience (which I know I'll get in any LTC placement), an easy commute (I've spent enough years already doing commutes I didn't enjoy), and free parking (which is a bonus for facilities located out of the downtown core, where space is ample.) 

What I'm most interested in getting is the lab placement in the time slot I want.  Actually, it's a need, given that there is only one that works with my kids' schedule and means I don't need extra daycare.

Fingers crossed!!!  The countdown to registration is on...


Tuesday morning, 11h05

Well, that took all of 20 seconds to do, once the site was live.  I got both the placement I wanted, as well as the lab time I was hoping for.  All is well.

I was right, though, in my prediction that the placement location I chose was not one of the coveted ones.  I noticed that there was still one spot left at my placement location, when I logged off.  All I can say is I hope there are not a bunch of not-too-happy-nursing students in my placement group, who got there by default, because their first choices were filled!

Another new experience done. Now to just focus on preparing for next week's exams.  That is somewhat stressful to think of, when I realize just how soon they are.

And Christmas prep, that I'm completely putting on hold until final exams are finished....

Friday, November 30, 2012

Lab Exam today, part 2

Whew.  It is over.  It went well. It went exactly as I expected, in terms of calming down inside as soon as I started and focused on what needed to be done.

In my previous communications career, we would refer to a post-event analysis or evaluation of how it went, a "post-mortem".  In my current career, that somehow doesn't seem quite appropriate, especially considering nobody actually died....

Of course, of the four assessments we had to prepare, I drew the paper that said I had to do musculoskeletal/neuro exam...which was the one I least wanted to do. Murphy's Law, I guess.  Luckily, it was the one I'd prepared for the most, as it was my weakest one, so I guess it all went well, in the end.

And now I'm in that post-exam happy place, where I breathe a big sigh of relief, of gratitude that it's over, that I prepared the way I did in order to feel good about how I did, and most of all, gratitude that I'm in nursing school (mentally insert Kate's happy dance here!!! LOL!)

I'm so happy that's over.  But I really learned so much in the preparation for this exam.  You need a cardiovascular, respiratory, GI or musculoskeletal/neurological assessment done, you come to me.  You'll get a thorough one!

And, yes, I remembered my 'critical elements' - hand washing and ensuring patient privacy - omitting those would have guaranteed an exam failure, no matter how perfectly you did everything else.  So all is truly well.

Just three more classes and three more exams to do, and second year is half way finished.  Next term the real fun starts -- practicing our new skills on real people!

Now to prepare and pack for a weekend of winter camping....brrrrrr...

Lab Exam today

I am a jumble of nerves, as I wait for the lab exam waiting for me later today. 

Logically, there is no real need for these nerves to be jangling...I am prepared, I've done several run-throughs of the various body system assessments we need to prepare, I know what I'm doing. And I can talk about it-- yes indeed, I can talk.  Never had a problem in that department!

But, it's just like so many other times when I'm waiting for something - an interview, a piano competition (back in the day!), giving a presentation at work, an exam - the waiting is always the hardest part.  Mentally, I'm counting down the hours and minutes until it's time to perform.

"Perform" is actually a great word to describe today's exam.  Once it starts, I switch from jangled nerve mode, into performance mode.  The adrenalin kick in just enough to give me a energetic edge, and once I start talking, all is well.  The nerves subside and I focus on what I'm actually doing.  That's the phase I love to be in, when I'm "on".  That's a great feeling, as I actually do really enjoy public speaking and presenting. (It's just the build up to doing it, that I could do without!)

Another aspect I realized, that really works for me, when giving presentations or verbal lab exams, is not to over-prepare.  There is a fine line between being confident in knowing the outline of what you're going to say, and actually memorizing too much. 

In my experience, I truly need to know the outline - the topics I wish to present, and a few key points to absolutely mention.  These are the 'hooks' on which I base my presentation.  However, if I try to memorize sentences or phrases, I find that way too stressful, in the off chance I don't remember it exactly the way I wrote it.  So I don't do that!  It's much easier to just talk about the topic, to ad lib, than to try to memorize everything.

At times like today, I almost wish I could just have been content sitting at my desk job, with no exam stress in my system.  But as soon as the exam is over, I'm back to rejoicing that I have this incredible opportunity to create this new career in the medical field.  This is where I belong, without the shadow of any doubt.  Career-wise, this is truly where I'm meant to be.

Off I go, to run through the intro once more...and then find something constructive to occupy my time with, until it's time to go to lab....wish me luck!  I'll be so happy when this is over!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Great New Reasons to Wash Your Hands, Often!

The semester is winding down, and exams will be upon us very fact, as early as this coming Friday.  Friday's exam is a lab exam, which I truly love doing.  What a welcome change to be graded on "how" I do procedures and explain what I'm thinking and doing, rather than how well I can memorize facts and figure out how not to be tricked on multiple-choice questions.  Those types of exams will come in about two weeks time...

In the interim, I prepare and study.  Critical components of Friday's lab exam includes proper hand washing techniques, cleaning our stethoscope bell, and ensuring patient privacy -- and doing them at appropriate times.  We can fail the exam (and hence the entire course, which involves a significant theory component, too), if we forget to simply show proper hand cleansing during the simluation exam.  Ouch.

Here's an interesting list I came across, on an amazing nursing forum, called  If you click on the title below, it is a link that will take you to the actual site. 

I'll probably be thinking of this list from now on, when I push elevator buttons at a hospital.  UGH!!!  (Even more reason to take the stairs, and work in a bit of exercise!!!)


(870 more days to go....)


Great New Reasons to Wash Your Hands, Often! - General Nursing Discussion

We as Nurses know this one. We even know little cute ways to know how long to wash them(i.e. alphabet song, happy birthday, etc.). A new study conducted by our University Hospital's Medical Tech Program reminded me that Bacterial Colonies, Fungal Spores, and Viruses love the things we touch the most!

Here is the list of the top 10 "most infected" surfaces according to 10 Students swabbing 218 Inpatient Hospital Items.

10. Toilet Flush Lever
9. Soap Dispenser Button
8. Salt/Pepper Shaker in Staff Cafeteria (see #6)
7. Rim of sink (cleaned daily)
6. Cafeteria Cleaning rag
5. An Elevator button (Ground Floor)
4. Water Fountain Handle
3. (TIE) A Patient's Bed's TV Button and Handle of a Patient's Thermos
2. A Stethoscope's Bell (Owned by Infection Control RN)
1. Nursing Desk Phone..."best(Worst?) in show"? The "S" key of one of the "Staff Only" Computers. Now I think "Staph Computer" may better sum it up.

"Dishonorable" Mentions:

Some surfaces' ranks that didn't make the top 10 included a toilet seat (#88), a hearing aid (#31), a BSC (#47), an Emesis Basin (#20), a used tube of Wound Gel (#11), and an abandoned pair of Dentures left in moist Zip-Lock bag (#12)!!!

Do you have any advice for Infection Control Methods?

What are some disturbing things you have seen, that, if given the authority to change, it would be safer/more sanitary?

Do you wash your hands in patients' room for them to witness?

Is enough hand hygiene taught at your facility, and if so do you see it being followed?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Exercise - can you spare 10 minutes a day???

10 minutes a day.
Surely we all have 10 minutes a day to invest in ourselves. 
Surely our health is enough of a priority to dedicate 10 minutes a day to it.
Just ten minutes. 600 seconds. How many chunks of 10 minutes do we waste every day, checking email or FB for the upteenth time...I am guilty of that myself.  But I also have 10 minutes a day to dedicate to me (even 30 or 40 minutes!).


And I'm not even talking about exercise as intense as running.  I'm talking about a simple walk. Not a stroll, but a determined walk.  No exercise clothes are required.  No sweat build up. Just a simple brisk walk.

We all owe it to ourselves to dedicate 10 minutes a day to our health.  Most people take it for granted until it changes. 

10 minutes folks!  Give it a try!!!  Challenge yourselves. Your body will thank you.



Exercising 10 minutes a day can boost life expectancy

Researchers pooled data on 650,000 people 40 and older in Sweden, U.S

Even as little as 75 minutes a week of physical activity can extend your life by nearly two years, according to U.S. researchers who found some benefits regardless of body weight.

The study by Steven Moore of the U.S. National Cancer Institute and his co-authors also suggests that regular activity would boost life expectancy even more.

The researchers pooled data on 650,000 men and women aged 40 and older in Sweden and the U.S. who reported their activity levels.

The findings show that 75 minutes a week — or just over 10 minutes a day — was associated with 1.8 years of added life expectancy, compared to getting no leisure-time activity.

As well, brisk walking for 450 minutes a week, just over an hour a day, was associated with living 4.5 years longer.

The researchers in the study in PLOS Medicine hope the findings convince sedentary people that even a modest physical activity program can boost health.The researchers in the study in PLOS Medicine hope the findings convince sedentary people that even a modest physical activity program can boost health. (Nikki Carlson/Havre Daily News/Associated Press)

"More leisure-time physical activity was associated with longer life expectancy across a range of activity levels and body mass index groups," they said in the November issue of the journal PLOS Medicine, published by the Public Library of Science.

Investigators also considered weight categories:
  • Being active and at a normal weight — the best-case scenario — were associated with a gain of 7.2 years of life, compared with being inactive and in the highest obese category.
  • A normal-weight person who is inactive could face a loss of 4.7 years of life.
"This finding may help convince currently inactive persons that a modest physical activity program is 'worth it' for healthy benefits, even if it may not result in weight control."

Long-term cigarette smoking reduces life expectancy by about 10 years, notes the study, which was funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute and U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Intensity rule of thumb

Between 2007 and 2009, only 15 per cent of adults were getting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity to gain health benefits, according to Statistics Canada's Health Measures survey.

"As a good rule of thumb, if you're taking time and you have to think about your breathing and you feel that you're warm and sweaty afterwards, that's the type of activity we're looking at to get these health benefits," said Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky of the pediatrics department at McMaster University in Hamilton, where he studies how exercise helps metabolism such as repairing age-related damage.
What this study and others suggest is that it's the first 30 minutes of vigorous activity that gives the majority of benefits, Tarnopolsky added.

Lack of motivation is a common barrier to getting physical activity, says Tanya Berry.Lack of motivation is a common barrier to getting physical activity, says Tanya Berry. (CBC)
A journal editorial cautioned that participants self-reported their heights and weights and leisure-time physical activity, which may have been overestimated.

Other factors also could have influenced the findings in the observational study, although the researchers did take variables such as use of tobacco and alcohol into account.

Overcoming barriers to physical activity

"These findings reinforce the public health message that both a physically active lifestyle and a normal body weight are important for increasing longevity," the editors wrote.
The challenge is getting people to act on the knowledge that physical activity is important for health, said Spencer Moore, an assistant professor in the school of kinesiology and health studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

"In our work, we focus on the importance of having supportive social (e.g., active peers) and built (e.g., available parks, walkable neighbourhoods) environments," Moore said in an email.

"Individuals make the decision to be physically active or not. Having supportive environments around us, however, help to make the healthy choice the easy choice."

Tanya Berry, Canada Research Chair in physical activity promotion at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, studies barriers to physical activity. Time is the top reason cited for not exercising, said Berry.

In Toronto, Melissa Perugini, 20, said she gets no exercise. "Too busy with school and work. No time," she said.

But when people fill out diaries on how they spend their day, Berry adds, most would be able to carve out 35 or 40 minutes a day to at least go for a walk.

"When you're thinking about leisure-time physical activities, where are your priorities?" Berry said. "For a lot of people, physical activity isn't something they enjoy and it's not something that's a priority for them, so motivation becomes a big, big issue."

The immediate increases in energy levels and time spent together being active as a family can be motivating factors.


Monday, November 12, 2012

National Nursing Student Week

Apparently it is "National Nursing Student Week", here in Canada. 

Who knew?!?!

Wishing all my fellow nursing students everywhere, a happy Nursing Student Week!!!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fitness motivation

My willpower needed a little boost this morning...I am about to go out for my (almost!) 5 km daily soon as I get my duff off this chair and turn the computer off...

Even 10 minutes of exercise a day is better than no exercise...your body will thank you....

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Art of Writing Nursing Notes

I feel I am learning a new language, and learning how to write, both at the same time! 

I already speak five languages, and can muddle my way through a couple others, that are very similar to the ones I know.   I love languages, and was lucky enough to live in several countries where I got to truly learn the languages.  Now I'm learning a new language from a textbook in simulation lab...certainly a new experience!

I also already have a MA in Communications, and spent the vast majority of my government career writing and in strategic communications.  Writing was one of my core strengths in my job...I wrote, planned and project managed for a living.  Writing was so easy, so natural. I knew all the governmentese lingo.  I was fluent in it.  Not anymore!  Now I read my nursing notes and feel like they were written by a five year old.

What a learning curve it is for me to write succinct, yet descriptive medical notes that touch on all the important points that need to be addressed with each patient. The sentences are so intricate.  Medical writing fascinates me, as to how a simple sentence can convery so much information. 

The medical lingo in itself is mostly new. And learning what to include, what is "note worthy" and what is secondary, is currently the biggest hurdle.  Further, today I learned that something as simple as a carelessly written number could make or break a court case, as my nursing notes could be considered invalid evidence. The pressure!

What makes it particularly daunting, is that somebody's life may be on the line.  That was NEVER a factor in any of my previous writing.  Ever.  Now, if I miss documenting something that was, in hindsight, a vital clue for that person's diagnosis, or even if I don't ask the right questions in an interview, the results truly could be life and death. 

I'm not trying to sound melodramatic here.  It's simply coming to realize the full implications of writing in my new career reality.  I never before fully appreciated just how important the writing component is.

That's a lot of responsibility.  I'm up for the challenge, and am reading and practicing as much as I can (yes, I've mentioned before I am somewhat of a 'keener' -- but all joking aside, this is really very important to me to learn to do as best as I can, as quickly as I can.)

I'm hoping it will come more naturally over time and from practice, and most importantly, from experience.  That last factor is probably 'the' most important piece of the puzzle.  We are still only in simulation lab.  Lots of practice and real-life experience, where I can read 'real' nursing notes is bound to help with the learning process.

Any suggestions of books or website that people have found useful in learning this craft would be greatly appreciated.

Have I mentioned recently just how much I'm LOVIN' this career change!?!?!

Happy Future Nurse Kate!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Midterms finished for this term!

Last night was our second lifespan psychology mid-term.  130 multiple-choice questions, which means 130 little circles to be coloured in on the scan sheet.

At one point, I just told myself, "Every little circle you colour in, brings you that much closer to being a nurse."

I'm still having trouble truly seeing the validity and value-added this course gives me, to being a nurse.  On one hand, I think its maybe because I'm not a "traditional" student, that I find little value in this course.  I have experienced pregnancy, labour and delivery, the newborn phase, the toddler phase, the pre-schooler phase, early school years and now the middle-school years (with my oldest).  That's not to say that just because I've experienced these phases with my kids, that I know all there is to know about them -- far from that!  I'm certainly still learning much new information for the exams.  It's just that so much of the course is not new information.  And that parts that generally are new, namely memorizing the various theories, I have a difficult time finding a practical use for in the real world.

Maybe because I'm a "non-traditional" student, I just want to cut to the core, and focus on the nursing material.  Don't get me wrong here, I'm not complaining, I'm just "thinking" with my fingers on the keyboard, about the merits of various courses.  (and there are only three more classes until its over!)

I guess the focused-only-on-nursing-courses approach is what I'd be getting if I'd chosen to the accelerated BScN route.  But that would have caused our family much more undue stress with me attending school full-time, especially over the summer semester when the kids are home.  I'd have been finishing my first term of fourth year right now.

But taking this longer, part-time route (due to credits being accepted that I'd studied previously), is really the right approach, and worth it in the long run for us.  I am forever grateful that I got to spend so much time with my littlest last year, when she was just in school half days, and for the past year, to be able to take my kids to school in the morning, and be home when they come home.  Those are moments that are fleeting and can never be re-gained once they're over.  Our family has definitely benefitted from my career changes, in ways that cannot be quantified.  

Actually, come to think of it, increased parental involvement is definitely a bonus for kids, (and us parents!), in all their various stages of development.  That is something that has been confirmed by my lifespan psychology course! 

Onwards and upwards!

Future Nurse Kate

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ears? I've got a box of ears!

Is it strange that I now want my very own otoscope to add to my 'medical toys' collection???

"There is a box of ears for you to examine."

"Let's go check out the box of ears now."  Yet again, I heard myself utter another sentence that a year or two ago would have seemed completely unprobable for me to say, (unless I had become incoherent due to some bizarre as-yet-unknown and undiagnosed medical condition...) 

So there was this box full of ears for us to peer into.  Each ear had a number assigned to it, and a handy reference chart indicating what ear condition corresponded to it.  Wouldn't it be awesome if it worked that way in real life???  LOL!  ("Let me take a look at your child's ear...aha, it appears she has ear #3, which means she has acute otis media.")

Our simulation lab yesterday was about eyes, ears and the neurological system.  It was a fascinating lab, as usual.  We had to pick new lab partners, so had to part ways with my wonderful first lab partner, Z. 

Now, K and I are partnered up.  She is a sweet and fun wee "young thing".  I'm not sure what she thinks of being paired with a "sweet older thing", but nonetheless, we certainly had a good time in lab, had fun and learned lots.  Really, what more is there?  It's great. 

It's probably a good experience for both of us.  My kids are still very young, as are the kids of the vast majority of our friends, so we have a definite gap in our experiences and encounters with the young adult population.  Our kids' babysitters are adolescents, and at my former job, the youngest colleagues were in their late 20s.  So interraction with the 18-26 age group is one that is definitely lacking in my life.  This will be a very good remainder of simulation lab -- and there are only three labs left before we're allowed to try our new-found basic nursing skills on the unsuspecting public!

Back to yesterday's lab....what I learned....(I learned way more than this, but these were the highlights!)...

- I learned that looking into real (and fake!) eyes and ears is fascinating beyond description. 

- I learned that I really want my own otoscope to be able to check my kids' ears when they get sick.

- I learned that it is practically impossible for me to distinguish between a chronic ear infection and acute ear infection in the fake ear collection.  Thank goodness that is not part of the nursing diagnosis I'll be expected to do in the future...I need to know enough to realize that "this ear does not look healthy" and leave the medical diagnosis to the physicians...

- I learned that if I am examining a patient's right eye, I have to hold the opthalmoscope on MY right eye too (and vice-versa), to avoid an extremely awkward face-to-face position...think about it...

I'm lovin' this nursing school adventure!!!  I am so grateful to be exactly where I am.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Health Assessment Midterm Exam

Well, that was an interesting exam!

What a strange exam. We were told about the types of questions we'd encounter, so it wasn't a surprise, but actually writing it was a very odd experience.  An experience I best get used to, and quickly!

The exam was all multiple choice, but included in the answers, were several correct choices. It was up to us to choose the "most correct" choice of the correct choices (follow that???)

From what I understand, these are the types of questions we'll be asked when writing the CRNE, or the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination -- "the" exam we must write (and pass!) after four years of nursing school are finished. 

"The purpose of the CRNE is to protect the public by ensuring that the entry-level registered nurse possesses the competencies required to practise safely and effectively."

It is an exam that essentially tests us on everything we learned in nursing school. And even if someone graduates with honours from their BScN, if they don't pass this exam (which would be odd, I know, but I'm trying to make a point here!), they will not be licensed to practice in Canada.
No license = no work.

Getting back to yesterday's exam. There were enough "regular" questions on it (i.e. those with a clearly correct answer), that I know I did well enough on it. I think I was able to pick the 'best answer' for the more complicated ones, but until I see the results, I won't know for certain. What a strange feeling.

For the better part of yesterday, I found my mind wandering back to several of the questions that were particularly tricky, analysing the various answer options. And this morning, I am no further ahead in trying to figure out if I choose the right answer or not!

I think this type of exam will become easier, when we have actual EXPERIENCE.  It is one thing to learn about best-practice health assessment interview techniques from a textbook, and completely another to actually do it on real patients.  (Sim lab experience doesn't count for me in this case, as my partner and I are model patients with each other!!!)  

I best just focus on the next two upcoming exams, as those are ones I can still do something about. Yesterday's exam is over and done.

Pathophysiology, here I come...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Simulation Labs

Sim labs are great.

Every Friday we (finally!) get to wear our brand new scrubs and casually toss our Littmanns around our necks as we parade into the lab. We get to look like the medical professionals that we aspire to be...our reality is quite the opposite!

Honestly, I love simulation lab. I have a great lab partner, Z, who gives what she gets from me. We learn from each other, and we don't hesitate to give each other feedback. We each have three kids. I didn't mind her examining my post-kids abdomen. She rocks!

In the sim lab, we are now saying sentences to each other, sentences I never thought I'd be saying, like, "Of course you don't hear anything well through your stethoscope, Z, you've put it in your ears backwards!"

And I get it back from her, "Umm, Kate, I think percussing the dorsal chest means percuss my BACK, not my FRONT chest!" (OOPS, that was awkward!!!...and I've known the difference between dorsal and ventral/anterior and posterior, since high school...)

It is just suddenly so different when doing it in a (quasi)medical context.

All I can say is "thank goodness" we have this semester to practice on each other, and our new buddy SAM, the Student Ascultation Mannequin, before we're let loose on the unsuspecting public, when clinical rotations start in January!!!

Bring it on!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

First midterm exam

Last night I got to write my first mid-term exam for second year nursing school.

It was on "lifespan psychology", which, I must admit, is a course I am having trouble linking its real value, to nursing. I'm hoping it will get more interesting/useful as time goes on, but the first exam focused heavily on theories -- Piaget's theory, Erikson, Pavlov, Bronfenbrenner, Watson, Skinner, Bandura, and on and on....

There was also a large component on heredity and prenatal develpment. Both of those topics we covered in detail so great in last year's physiology classes, that it was amusing to listen to our prof, a newly-minted PhD in psychology, (who is apparently teaching his first course ever, based on his ego-laden lecturing approach...but I digress...), lecture us about neurotransmitters, neurons, axons and the like (this course is reserved for nursing students, so we all have the same background in physiology).  It was a repeat of high school biology class. 

I don't mean to complain, but frankly, I sincerely do hope it gets more useful and interesting.

Something happened to me as I sat down to write yesterday's exam.  Something that has never, ever, ever happened to me before (and this is my fourth university degree!)

I realized I had NOTHING to write the exam with.  Normally, I bring my backpack or computer case, which has loads of pens, pencils and erasers in it.  I'm the one who shares my pencils with others.  For the exam, however, I brought only my purse with me.

So last night, I sat there in the classroom, and my blood ran cold as I dug through my purse and realized it contained my wallet, my BlackBerry, my daughter's Epi-pen and two lollipops.  Nothing else!  I could not believe it.  Perhaps what I could not believe even more, was that that making sure I had a pencil with me hadn't even crossed my mind when I left the house!!!

Luckily two friends came through very quickly as I sheepishly voiced my need for a pencil.  But I just kept shaking my head in disbelief that I could come so unprepared like that to an exam.  After all the university exams I've written in my life, you'd think, just maybe, I'd know better.

It all ended well, and gave us a good laugh after the exam!

Onwards and upwards!!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Medical "toys"

Toys are fun, and this doesn't just apply to kids!  In recent weeks, I've had the priviledge of buying some medical toys of my own. 

My first purchase was my stethoscope.  Much debate went into this, whether or not to get a simple "student model" basic stethoscope, or invest the money into the real thing.  On one hand, a basic model would probably suffice, given that we are starting from the basic level in our simulation labs (we're just allowed to practice on one another this term, and that is a very good thing...more about that soon!)  But I was also thinking that it's probably a good idea to have a good stethoscope in school, as this is the time to learn from our instructors as much as we can, and having the right tools is important. 

I talked to various nurses I know about it.  Again, the results spanned the spectrum of opinions.  Some people said that as nursing students, we just need stethoscopes to hear breath sounds, so we don't need a high quality one, while others stressed the importance of learning what we're listening for correctly, from the start. 

In the end, I decided I might as well invest in a good one now.  So I very happily brought home my "ceil blue" Littmann Classic II (for those of us who speak French, "ceil" is a typo -- it should be "ciel", which means "sky"). 

And that evening, everyone in my family got their heart beat and breath sounds listened to attentively, by a keen nursing student, who didn't really know what she was listening for...

The following week in simulation lab, we did blood pressures on one another.  Apparently I am somewhat of an "anti-talent" in finding the brachial artery, both by touch and hearing.  So off I went to get me my very own blood pressure cuff.  I am still working on saying the word, "sphygmomanometer" with a straight face and without stuttering too many "momamomoms" in it.  About half my simulation lab group was in the medical bookstore buying blood pressure cuffs, so that made me feel somewhat better, that we all need to practice. 

Finally, after last week's lab, I felt the need to have my very own penlight.  We had a lab on ear/nose/throat, and I have thoroughly inspected my lab partner's nose, probably like no one has inspected it before. 

I feel very professional now with my new medical equipment and scrubs.  Now we have to keep practicing and learning more, and by January, they'll let us out in the "real medical world".

Until then, my poor lab partner, husband and kids will continue to have their blood pressure taken regularly, and I'll practice whatever else the labs teach us to examine!!! 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday morning smile

Good morning - I'm up early again.  I thought I'd share these few images I came across today.

I simply love this one!  Yes, that is exactly where I'm at.  This is finally a reality, not just wishing it was so:

I realize that the next one is truly meant to be destined for a kid's t-shirt, but for "some" reason, I feel that I really connect with it. 
Is that a sign of making the correct career choice, the one you've felt was your calling for as long as you can remember when thinking about career choices??? 
Well, I guess I am finally "growing up" when it comes to my career (second career)!  (OK, guess I'm a late bloomer, but "better late than never", is all I can say!!!):

And finally, this is the one I am MOST looking forward to coming true (hence the new "countdown to BScN feature in the sidebar....those who know me well know about my love of countdowns!!!):

Happy Sunday everyone!!!

Future Nurse Kate

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Second year BScN - one month in!

Yes, I'm still here.  Still in nursing school, still working on my fitness challenge, still a mom to three busy kids, still trying to somehow get a vague semblance of control over the chaos that was September 2012.

I am trying to get into our new routine and catch my breath. So much is going on, with so many extra-curricular activites, homework and assignments starting all at once, when school starts...for myself, my husband and our three kids!  At least the dog has her usual routine! (Yes, I am very grateful for the small things in life!!!)

I will write in much greater detail soon, I just need this one more weekend to catch up on so many things. For this year, I committed to being both a Brownie leader and a Sparks leader, with Girl Guides of Canada...what was I thinking????  I am sure (I hope!) that a new routine will emerge, and I will stop losing sleep thinking about all the stuff I still need to do.

Regarding my fitness challenge, I am very, very pleased to say that it is going full speed.  Honestly, I have never felt better.  I now run my "5 K a day" run, which I am now able to complete in under 40 minutes (I think 38 minutes is my personal best, so far).  The fact that I am running daily now astounds me completely.  I haven't run all year.  I just started this month.

A little over a month ago, physically I was the equivalent of a couch potato -- if one can be considered a couch potato without actually sitting on a couch!  Maybe "sedentary" is a better word -- I have a relatively active lifestyle given our family situation -- the kids keep us active -- but I wasn't doing any other activity as exercise.  I just moved when I had to.  Now I'm moving because I run every day.  And I love it.  I feel so incredibly good. 

I must say I owe the good, energizing feeling I get from running in helping me cope well with all the demands the past month has placed on me.

So even though my record keeping of my fitness challenge on my blog has faded, if I was keeping track, it would be a series of "5 km run" recorded daily...with a huge smile on my face.  What a feeling. :-)

If anyone is even remotely considering starting to be a little more active, or even start a project or hobby or even look into something they think they may find interesting -- just start.

And one final "poster" that brought a smile to my face:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Remembering Sunscreen and Butterflies

This post ties in to my health communication goal. 

On the sidebar, you will see a graphic and link to a site called "Hands Free Mama".  It is an exceptional site, talking about realizing how much time we spend with our various electronic devices, Blackberrys, tablets, etc in our hands, and the impact it has on our lives. 

I love the message of the Hands Free Mama site so much, because it ties in with my career change to nursing.  In my case, changing careers goes way beyond simply changing what I do for a living. 

It is the privilege of being able to use one's talents to the fullest, to become a better person, wife, mother, daughter by being thoroughly satisfied with what I choose to do with my life, including career choice.  To feel that I am making something better in the world, that my day's work feels like it contributed to something good.  It is about becoming the best person I can be, to truly living my life fully and cultivating joyful experiences and memories with my beloved family and friends.  It is simply 'waking up' to living my life, not just going through the motions to get through each day.

And yes, I realize how extremely lucky and privileged I am to be able to have the choice to leave a secure, well-paying job to venture into this new medical adventure.  I am so grateful.

Getting back to Hands Free Mama, the blog's author, Rachel Macy Stafford, wrote an incredible piece a few days ago, about one woman's battle with melanoma.  There were two main messages in the piece: 1- the importance of using sunscreen/the dangers of UV rays, and 2- don't put off doing things you want to for "someday" when you can do them "now".

The dangers of young people using tanning beds has been in the news lately here in Canada.  The province of Ontario recently tabled legislation that would ban people under 18 from using tanning beds.  (And then there was the so-called "tanorexic" woman who made the news in the US, when she allegedly brought her young daughter to the tanning salon with her! But I digress, that was an extreme case...)

As a fair-skinned, blue-eyed, red-head, I know first hand the power of the sun in producing sun burns, and the importance of using sunscreen.  (And I also know how to seek out shade whenever/wherever possible!!!).  The risk of skin cancer has certainly been on my radar, and we use many bottles of the stuff year-round. 

Rachel writes beautifully about a beautiful woman, Christy, who recently lost her fierce battle with melanoma.  Please take a few minutes and read her story. Thank you.

I am posting the blog entry here in its entirety, as it is such an important message, and so powerfully written, to try to help, in my small way, to raise awareness about the risks and reality of melanoma. 

As mentioned, the link to Rachel's site is on my sidebar (, if you want to read more of her incredible blog posts.



Remembering Sunscreen and Butterflies

I think Christy would want us to remember sunscreen … but also everyday miracles like butterflies and the feeling of a child’s hand in our own.
When I decided to share my “Hands Free” journey with an online community, I had no idea what insight this would bring me. There I was striving to grasp what really matters and it appeared, what matters most in life, right in my inbox.

On January 20, 2011, I received a message from Christy.

A mutual friend had posted “Butterfly Part 2” and from that post Christy said she read entry after entry on my blog. She wanted to know if she could read the original, unpublished version of “Your Mother is a Butterfly.” She then added that she was going through treatment for cancer and had quite a bit of downtime with her recovery.

I sent her the butterfly poem and was pleasantly surprised when I heard from Christy a few months later. She needed to document her battle with cancer for a fundraising flyer but couldn’t seem to find the right words. Although I am uncertain about many things in life, I am certain of one thing; my purpose is to write difficult, beautiful words when someone else can’t.

As I worked on the wording for the flyer, I felt certain Christy’s story should be shared with as many people as possible. I asked Christy if she would allow me to write a blog post about her. Being a private person, Christy needed time to think about it. But ultimately she decided she would. I’ll never forget her selfless rationale: “If ten people use sunscreen this weekend because they read the post, or if a few more kids are lathered up because of me, how can I say no?”

Christy’s story became one of my most popular posts, and many people wrote to tell me Christy’s experience changed the sunscreen habits of their entire family. I completely understood what they meant. I, too, thought of Christy on a regular basis. I often felt compelled to drop her a line just to let her know I was thinking of her.

Once in awhile Christy would write back and let me know what treatment she was going through.

One thing was for sure; Christy was always fighting. Perhaps that is why the email message from one of Christy’s friends came so unexpectedly. I blinked back tears as I read her friend’s words, thinking surely there must be some mistake—not courageous, beautiful, strong, determined Christy … not the woman who had become a hero to me and so many … not the amazing mother of three who would defy the odds and outlive us all.

Christy passed away on September 1, 2012 in the presence of her loving family. For several days, I had no words, only heartache. But then inspiration came—I like to think from Christy herself—offering a chance to save one more.

The following pledge is how I will live out my days here on earth—inspired by Christy, the remarkable one whose life was the epitome of grasping what really matters.

In Your Honor

In your honor, I will wear sunscreen.
Even when it’s cloudy. Even when I’m in a hurry. Even I think a little color on my cheeks would be nice.

In your honor, I will smile at the surly cashier. I will smile at the grumpy school secretary. I will smile at those with no smile because I don’t know what battle their facing today.

In your honor, I will say yes to gumball machines and holding that big fat toad that will probably pee on my hand. Because this makes my kids happy—and one day they will remember I said yes to gumballs and toads.

In your honor, I will buy the pretty undergarments on the same day I say, “Yes, I’ll take extra hot fudge.”

In your honor, I will celebrate the rare occasion when my 9-year-old grabs my hand as we walk through a parking lot. And I will relish the unusual occurrence that she leaves her hand in mine far longer than necessary.

In your honor, I will let that agitated driver into the line of traffic even though I waited my turn. I will even wave and wish him well.

In your honor, I will pause for sunsets and butterflies that cross my path. I will acknowledge such things are miracles. Everyday miracles.

In your honor, I will take the stairs. I will take the scenic route. I will take a chance if it’s something worth fighting for.

In your honor, I will carry spare change just in case I see that man on the corner of Clairmont and 30th with a sign that says, “Can you spare some change?”
Because I always have a little hope to spare.

In your honor, I will schedule my mammogram and dermatologist appointments.
And I will pester my friends to do the same.

In your honor, I will slide my hand beneath the covers until I find my husband’s hand. Not for any reason, just because he’s there … thank God, just because he’s there.

In your honor, I will sing in the car. I will sing in the shower. Even though it sounds unpleasant. Even though I don’t know the words. I will sing.

In your honor, I will pick up live sand dollars washed ashore on Hilton Head Island and place them back in nourishing waters. Because you loved Hilton Head Island. And because you would save anyone, anything from pain and suffering if you could.

In your honor, I will stop prefacing sentences with “when I lose 5 pounds” and “when things slow down.”

In your honor, I will live life now, not “someday.”

In your honor, I will call my sister at least once a week. Even if it goes to voicemail. Even if all I say is, “Have you heard the new Citizen Cope album? I think you would love it.”

In your honor, I will listen to my child’s heartbeat at bedtime. I will let her listen to mine. Even if she does it to stall going to sleep.

In your honor, I will say, “I am sorry.” Even when it’s difficult to say. Even when I think the other person should say it first.

In your honor, I will visit my kids in the lunchroom until they say, “No more Mom. I am too old for that.” And then I will periodically ask—just in case they change their mind and need me to come one day.

In your honor, I will keep writing the stories providentially placed on my heart. For that is what brought you to me.

In your honor, I will bless the butterfly that crosses my path. For you taught me everyday miracles are abundant if we just open our eyes and look for them.

In your honor, I will not let life pass me by.

In your honor, I will wear sunscreen.


I leave you with Christy’s ultimate wish taken from her post, “Where The Sun Doesn’t Shine” …
“I would like to see awareness raised about melanoma. I would also like to see tanning beds banned. Teenagers are too young to understand the extensive damage that tanning beds can have on their skin.

People think that skin cancer can be easily removed, and then you just go on with life; I know I did.

People do not realize skin cancer can be deadly. It is the fastest growing cancer and affects more people than prostate, breast, colorectal and cervical cancers combined. One person dies every hour from skin cancer. I don’t understand why no one is talking about it.” – Christy B.

In honor of Christy, talk about skin cancer. Talk about sunscreen. Talk about living and loving like today matters, because it matters.

*Thank you for being a part of The Hands Free Revolution, a community of people striving to let go of distraction and grasp the moments that matter.

If you are interested in expressing love and support to Christy’s family, memorial contributions should be made to the Christy Barford Memorial Fund c/o any 5/3 Bank.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Confessions of a Student Nurse blog

Confessions of a Student Nurse

Here is a blog entry that caught my attention, and I feel it needs to be shared.  The author of this blog finished nursing school several years ago, but has kept her blog on the web for all to read.  It is a wealth of information written in a very humorous way.  Enjoy!!!


Advice for Nursing Students

Starting nursing school soon? Scared out of your mind? Don’t worry, so is everyone else in your class. One of the most popular searches that leads to my blog this time of year is: "scared to start nursing school." So you are definitely not alone!

My advice for soon-to-be nursing students:
1. Never forget that every other person in that
classroom is just as scared as you are. If they always look confident,
it is just an act. So don’t let them stress you out.

2. Be prepared to work hard. You will have to do a
lot of reading, and it will be very confusing at times. Do the best you
can to get through it, and highlight anything that might sound

3. Find a few classmates you get along with, and
stick with them through the whole program. At times when no one else in
your life fully understands what you are going through, they will. I
can’t emphasize enough how important this mutual understanding is, and
I guarantee that these people will talk sense into you every time you
are 100% sure you are going to quit.

4. Be prepared to feel lost. My first time doing
everything (including putting a patient’s sock on her foot), I was so
scared I was shaking. It is normal to completely forget how to do
everything (even the most simple tasks) when you are nervous. So don’t let this make you feel stupid or inferior- it is NORMAL!!


5. Ask tons of questions. If you are told by a
nurse to do something on a patient and you are not familiar with it or
are uncomfortable, ask for help. Don’t let it bother you that she rolls
her eyes at you, you have the right to learn, and your patients have
the right to receive safe care.

6. Be prepared to laugh at yourself. If you fail to
do this, you will be more stressed out than necessary. When you do
something stupid, laugh. Don’t be embarrassed, we all do dumb things.
Also, allow your patients to laugh at you. One patient told me that
watching me frantically search for my clipboard (the clipboard I was
holding in my hand) and then laughing with me when I realized my
mistake, was the highlight of her week.

7. Even though you are extremely busy, take one
night off. This means do not do any school work whatsoever one night
every week. Thursday night is my night off. I watch TV, catch up with
friends, just do whatever I want. On Monday, when I really want to
watch something on TV or feel unmotivated to work, I keep telling
myself that I only have a few more days until Thursday.

8. Find an outlet for your frustrations. This site
has been wonderful for me- I just write about what I feel, and even
though I usually don’t end up posting those things for the world to
see, just writing about them makes me feel a lot better. Although this
takes away from my study time, it is well worth it. I don’t think I
could keep going all those hours if I didn’t have some way to release
some steam.

9. Know that you are not alone!! If you need
someone to vent to or share your wonderful experiences with, leave me a
comment and I will get back with you (just don’t forget to leave your
email address).

Good luck!!

Those are definitely words of wisdom from someone who's "been there"!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Second year nursing school - starts today!

Well, technically, I went to a classroom yesterday, given that the schedule indicated yesterday as the start day...but that class actually starts a week from yesterday.  However, I wasn't the only one present, and had a chance to chat with a few classmates and meet new ones.

So here I am -- second year nursing school about to begin (for real!) later today.  What a difference a year makes!  This time last year, I was a nervous wreck. Well, only part of me was nervous about starting university classes again, this time as a (ahem!) "mature student".  The other part of me was in almost complete disbelief that I was actually starting nursing school classes.  That latter sensation partially lingered throughout the whole of first year, mostly due to the fact, that all the classes were lectures.  Had clinicals or some form of labs started first year, that vague feeling of disbelief of truly being in nursing school would have dissipated quickly.  I should also add that, typical for me, I worked at my job until the very last day before classes started, not leaving a bit of time to transition psychologically.  Live and learn.

Now, at the start of second year, my approach to nursing school is completely different.  I am looking forward to starting classes, to getting more credits completed to getting that BScN, and to getting out working again (6 more semesters --72 more weeks -- bring it on!).  I now know many of my classmates, I know that I am not the only non-18 year old in my classes, and I think this year I'll be getting to know even more of my classmates, as the labs start, and we're put in a situation where we have to interract more with random strangers who are our classmates. 

Last year I was so hung up about my age and being back in a first year university environment, especially after being in a professional workforce for so long.  But we have a diverse enough mix of students in the nursing class (like many nursing school classes, from what I've read about), that I don't feel overly old.  When doing my first degree, I remember vividly how the 'mature students' looked through my 18-year old now I am keenly aware of how ancient I must look to them!  And to an 18-year old, anyone over 26 looked positively ancient.  I must admit that I truly don't feel my age at all.  I definitely don't feel like an 18 year old anymore, but more like I did in my late 20s-early 30s.  Maybe this is the 'young at heart' feeling I've heard about.  I'd certainly like to keep that feeling, attitude and approach to life forever!!!

But as I start second year, I know I'm not alone as a second-career nursing student.  I hope that the high school kids have had a year of exposure to university life, and realize that it's not a homogenous group like high school was.  It's called reality, and is a situation they'll be faced with for the rest of their lives.  And frankly, I fully realize that I'm not there to 'fit in' as I did when I was doing my first degree.  My reality and life experiences are completely different.  All I hope to achieve from the younger set is a mutual respect as classmates, to co-operate and work together, and possibly even have some fun while at it.

The nursing school reality will set it later this week.  I'm researching stethoscopes ("toys" are fun!) in order to buy one, and figuring out what scrubs and lab coats we'll need for this semester.  Yes, I am now truly a nursing student.  Yay!!!

My self-proclaimed fitness challenge is going exceedingly well.  I am really pleased with that accomplishment, and fully intend to continue it.  It completely amazes me that I am able, within the span of just under two weeks, to go from mostly sedentary to running 4 km in 32 minutes.  I started running gradually, didn't overdo it, nothing hurt, and I was able to keep upping the distance and time.  I feel great, and am thoroughly enjoying that so-called 'runners high' feeling, that keeps circulating for hours after a run.

I'm starting to think about setting some running goals, a 5 km race, in the coming couple months.  But more about that later!

Onward and upward -- here's to second year!!!

Future Nurse Kate

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fitness Challenge #1

This is where I will document the details of my first-ever tracked, publicly announced, personal fitness challenge. 

I am a great 'starter', always enjoy starting new things...finishing, not always so good.  I should clarify, that the 'biggies' in life, I definitely finish what I start.  It's the smaller projects, such as fitness challenges, new artistic projects, house decoration projects.  It's time to work on finishing what I start.

Three consecutive days have already been successfully completed...this is good...

I think this is a great time to start this, with second year nursing school just around the corner.  Another week and a bit of summer vacation.  By the time nursing classes, labs and clinical rotations start, this daily 30 minutes of movement will hopefully be starting to become a habit!

                                            (from the amazing collection at

40 Day Fitness Challenge #1  August 26 - October 4, 2012
Goal: some form of exercise for 30 minutes every day, for 40 consecutive days

Day 1 (Aug. 26) : cycle (16 km, 60 min), swim (60 min)
Day 2 (Aug. 27) : run (20 min, 2.24 km), walk (20 min)
Day 3 (Aug. 28) : run (30 min, 3.36 km), cycle (15 minutes -- to the park & back)
Day 4 (Aug. 29) : power yoga (30 min, almost did me in!)
Day 5 (Aug. 30) : run (25 min, 3.01 km), swim (25 min)
Day 6 (Aug. 31) : run (20 min, 2.51 km)
Day 7 (Sept. 1) : power walk (35 min, 3.22 km)
Day 8 (Sept. 2) : run & power walk
Day 9 (Sept. 3) : run (4.02 km!!!), swim
Day 10 (Sept. 4): lots of walking, no actual 'work out', but lots of movement
Day 11 (Sept. 5): run (31 min, 4.13 km)
Day 12 (Sept. 6): run (31.30 min, 4.20 km)
Day 13 (Sept. 7): power walk
Day 14 (Sept. 8): ran a slow 5 km without stopping, in 44 min 47 sec! WAHOO!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Getting back into fitness

I went for a 16 km bike ride yesterday, and managed to run 2 km today!  Gotta get moving again.

I. Feel. Great.

I am challenging myself to get fit. My goal is to do some form of exercise for 30 minutes every day for forty days.  Nothing complicated.  After forty days, it had better have become a habit!!!  
Follow my fitness challenge progress on the sidebar! (And thank you 'smilewithyourheart' for the sidebar idea!)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Medical humour!

OK, perhaps these cookies will help inspire my 'summer brain' to come back to nursing school reality!

This is great!  My Christmas baking may never look the same again...

For this photo, and plenty more medical gems, visit:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A different perspective on "having it all"

The scope of my blog is evolving.  I am evolving.  Everyone is (hopefully) evolving in at least some small way.  The primary focus remains on career change to nursing (second year starts up in a few short weeks!).  But changing careers, choosing to change careers to a completely new field, does not happen in a vacuum.

There are so many other factors involved in making the decision to leave a stable, successful career. There are so many considerations to think about, so many scenarios to imagine (good and scary!), and so many people who could be affected by such a change.  A change of this magnitude most certainly does not happen in a vacuum!

And this is why I need to branch out in my writing, to include these other considerations.  I have recently been reading several blogs I find to be very inspirational, for different reasons.  Hands Free Mama focuses on the importance of being present and not distracted by our BlackBerry when being a parent.  Smile With Your Heart (I hope the author starts writing again soon!!!), is very inspirational about healthy living, fitness, and community involvement.  Plus there is the bonus factor that the author is a nurse, and it shows me all the various volunteer  and travel opportunities nursing provides.  I am energized, motivated and simply feel better when I read these blogs.  (Links to both are in my blog's sidebar, and I hope to add more in the future.)

That is why I realized I need to evolve my blog, and include more positive, encouraging messages in my writing too. 

Ever since I became a mom, work/life balance has been at the forefront of my mind. I think being a nurse will definitely help improve this quest to gain balance, particularly if I end up working part-time (and picking up the odd extra shifts).

However, the mythical work-life balance dilemma is very much a reality in our society.  And I am certain it will continue to be a significant factor in our life, even with the career change.  As the children get older, their needs change and our roles adapt to their changing needs.  But the limited amount of time we have together does not change. 

The article I've chosen to highlight, represents a completely different perspective about priorities and what is truly 'important' in life. 

The author summed up this perspective beautifully, in the following sentence:
"We are chasing the wrong things, asking ourselves the wrong questions. It is not, "Can we have it all?" -- with "all" being some kind of undefined marker that shall forever be moved upwards out of reach just a little bit with each new blessing. We should ask instead, "Do we have enough?"

I hope you enjoy the article, and thinking about a different spin on what it means to have it all.

It made me realize I truly 'have it all', a million times over.  I have more than enough. I have so much I need to reach out and share with others. 

And I am, and always have been, regardless of my situation and station in life, extremely grateful.

Future Nurse Kate


What My Son's Disabilities Taught Me About 'Having It All'

Because of her child's problems, the author will never have a tidy, peaceful life. But none of this keeps her from being happy -- as long as she asks herself the right questions.
marie-son.jpgThe author on a walk with her son (Photo by Karl H. Jacoby)

Women in the Workplace Debate bug
A debate on career and family See full coverage
As someone in her 40s, unequivocally in middle age, I find myself and my friends in that stage of life that seems to auger constant assessment -- am I happy? Am I doing the right thing with my life?
Evidenced by the number of times Anne-Marie Slaughter's Atlantic piece "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" was posted on Facebook, it served as a cri de coeur of the collective unconscious of those of us swimming in the Gen X/Baby Boomer estuary, last stop before becoming truly elderly. (It's apparently also the most-read article in the magazine's 155-year history.) Slaughter rightly questions why having a family complicates the career ladder for women in a way that it does not for men. But the hidden heart of the article, I believe, is its hinting at that unspoken yearning for that perfect life that has been promised to us by ... someone? Ads? TV? Ms. Magazine? Those ATHLETA catalogs?

Let me compare and contrast that with a typical incident that happened just last week in my own 40-something working mother life. My husband and I were sitting in the office of a neuropsychologist who had just run an assessment on our 12-year-old son who has a variety of disabilities and medical problems.
While our friends worry about middle schools, we bring our son to the ER to get stitches after he puts his head through a window.
"You know cognitively, he's functioning at the bottom 1 percent of children his age," he said.

I nodded.

"That means 99 percent of children are doing better than he is."

I nodded again. (Yes, I can do the math.)

He waited, seemingly perplexed. "Having seen what I saw, and of course you have to be with your son all the time -- I have to ask you, how do you have the patience?"

I looked at him. He's my son. It was so obvious, I did not say it.

"I mean, really. How do you do it?" He looked to my husband, who gave him the same look. He tried a different tack: "Well, with all this stress, how are you two doing?"

"Fine," we said, and meant it. He handed us the thick report, still shaking his head.

This is, sadly, a very typical exchange, not just with the experts in our lives, but even close friends: How do we stand our hellish life with a child who functions at 1 percent and starts to bite and hit when he is in situations he doesn't understand -- often, multiple times a day? Once, watching our son having a hard time, a friend even blurted, "I'm so glad this didn't happen to us!"

While our friends worry about the quality of middle schools, our parental duties include bringing our son to the ER to get stitches after he puts his head through a window, then arranging for a window replacement and for a special treatment for all the glass in our house so it won't shatter -- at a pretty penny. Other friends declare, "I couldn't do what you do." If I am to conform to their expectations, I'm not sure what I am supposed to do: Beat my son? Kill myself? (Sadly, parents with kids like my son have done exactly that.)

Maybe it's my Buddhist outlook, but I'm not consumed with worry and frenzy and despair like I'm "supposed" to be. I don't enjoy that my 12-year-old son is still in diapers and sometimes purposely makes a mess in the bathroom. Or that he dumped his Thanksgiving dinner on my sister-in-law's pregnant belly. Or that he screams in the parking lot of Whole Foods until people call the cops on us. On the other hand, he is my son, and he is what I have. And he has a nice smile.

To read the entire article, please click here:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Inspirational thought for today

I came across this gem of a quote this morning. 

It simply needed to be included in my blog about career change to nursing. 

However, it can be applied to any change you want to make in your life -- be it huge or tiny.  Just set a goal, and take at least one step towards making that change, towards your goal.  And then another, and another.  And before you've realized it, you'll be needing to set new goals to work towards and achieve.  (I'll be writing a lot more about this theme in the weeks and months to come!!!)

Thank you, merci, M. Thoreau.

Friday, August 10, 2012

B.C. teens, twenty-somethings turn to Botox for forever 21 look


Teenagers and twenty-somethings having 'pre-emptive' Botox injections???  How sad. 

Here is a recent article from the Vancouver Sun.


VANCOUVER — Carly Roberts's forehead is smooth as a baby's bottom. The skin around her blue-green eyes is equally wrinkle-free.

Sure, she's just 25 years old. But there's something else going on, too.

"I'm Bo-jacked," the Vancouver sales associate said.

Roberts has been unapologetically using Botox — a widely used drug, made famous by youth-seeking Hollywood stars and certain reality-show housewives, that weakens or paralyzes muscles — to fend off wrinkles and skin creases for two years now.

Along with injections between her eyes and forehead, she also regularly uses Botox under her arms to reduce sweating.

Is such devotion to a drug excessive at such a young age? Roberts doesn't think so.

"I still have a little bit of expression left. Not huge . . . But my face isn't frozen or anything like that," she said.

Roberts is part of a growing number of B.C. women in their teens and 20s who say they are turning to the toxin to pre-empt signs of aging, despite the financial cost and health concerns around its use.

"I see 20-year-old women not wanting to have wrinkles," said Dr. Warren Roberts, Carly's father and an oral surgeon who is licensed to administer Botox in the province.

Roberts said the majority of his patients tend to be women between the ages of 35 and 60, but estimated roughly 25 per cent of his clients are teenage girls or women under 30.

"I couldn't give an exact amount, but it's increasing," he said.

Botox procedures among teenagers in the U.S. increased nearly 800 per cent between 2008 and 2010, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Among women in their 20s, injections increased by more than 11 per cent to 78,000 in 2010 alone.

Statistics for Canadian procedures are unavailable publicly.

Read more (link to entire article) : B.C. teens, twenty-somethings turn to Botox for forever 21 look

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Our Body - the Universe Within

I am impressed that I still remembered how to log-in to my blog, it has been that long since I last wrote! 

We had a great vacation to the US, specifically Maine and Vermont.

While in Burlington, VT, we visited a neat little science/nature centre, called ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Centre -- -- on Lake Champlain.

They had a fascinating temporary exhibit that I had to go see, called "Our Body -- the Universe Within".  (  It is an exhibit prepared in partnership with the University of Vermont's School of Medicine.

It was INCREDIBLE.  I saw for myself so many of the body parts we'd learned in anatomy class, that I had just seen in the textbook or on the computer.  And there they were, right in front of my eyes. 

It was astounding.  How I wished we could have had access to something like this display when we were learning our anatomy and physiology classes.  Not even to dissect them ourselves, but just to have access to see them for real. 

I would look at a kidney, for example, and see all the veins in one filled in, and in another kidney, see all the arteries filled in.  And I would think back to renal physiology, and think what complex changes take place in each of the various parts of the one million nephrons found in each kidney.  It was almost overwhelming to see it, as I said, right there in front of me, for real.

It was eerily beautiful.  Dark, sombre lighting, mellow music playing in the background, and the gift that these people gave, so that we could marvel at our inner universe. 

It was a great exhibit, well worth the price of admission.  I even got a 'student discount' when I showed them my university nursing student card -- that has not happened in years (and years!).  I would not recomment children to see it, as it is very graphic, (or easily queasy adults!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Thought for today

Summer vacation is in full swing -- for both the kids and myself!  Nursing school seems like such a hazy and distant memory, I almost wonder if it indeed happened. 

And I wonder if I even remember anything I learned in the past year -- someone recently was asking me about heart conditions, and I was describing basic heart anatomy, and found myself stumped as to the location of the mitral valve -- left or right side???  If a non-medical person is reading this, knowing the location of the mitral valve is among the most basic of basic heart anatomy structures.  It would be placed on slide one of a lecture, consisting of many dozens of slides.  Needless to say, I felt horrified when I realized I'd forgotten that basic thing already...and I'd done really, really well in those classes!

I guess I'll just call it 'summer brain', and hope that the basics will be repeated and repeated in the coming years of nursing school, until I know them in my sleep.  I also think that with clinical rotations starting in the fall, and learning 'hands-on' will really help to cement the textbook info we learned last year. 

Here's to hoping -- and to enjoying these precious summer weeks that I'm priviledged to be able to spend with my amazing children.

"It's never too late to become what you might have been."

                                                                                                -- George Eliot