The Calm Before the Storm

traumaIt’s been a quiet month on my unit.  The respiratory bugs have all died down, school sports are over for a few months, and people are more preoccupied with planning their summer vacations than going into the hospital.  It’s been very strange…. and very eerie.  It’s like we all know something is just around the corner.  And it is.  Trauma Season.  We got a taste of it last week during the Memorial Day Rush.  We had a little influx of it during prom season as well…. lots of motor vehicle accidents involving teenagers.

Soon school will be out here in Carolinas, and the kids will be outside droves.  It’s time for the car wrecks, the kid vs. car, the bicycle accidents, the (ugh) lawnmower injuries, the ATV rollovers.  They will start pouring in in the following weeks…. and while it is somewhat exciting to be a nurse during Trauma season, it’s never easy to see all the kids come up to my floor with preventable injuries.  It’s  never easy to see the child who might lose his foot to a lawnmower, or a teenager who may never walk quite right again because she was on an ATV that slammed into a tree.

So parents, take some time this summer to educate your kids on summer safety… wear seatbelts, helmets, and be responsible. Look both ways when crossing the street, and don’t ride double on the John Deere.

🙂

 

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Why I Walk for Cystic Fibrosis

What is cystic fibrosis?

From CFF.org (the website for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation):

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that:

  • clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections; and
  • obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.

In the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school. Today, advances in research and medical treatments have further enhanced and extended life for children and adults with CF. Many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond.

As a pediatric nurse, I have the privilege to take care of young people with cystic fibrosis on a weekly basis.  Because of the nature of their disease, and the rigorous courses of their treatment, these children are often with us for weeks and weeks at a time. We have some children that are fortunate, that we see only every six months to a year or so for a general (what we like to call) “CF Tune Up”.  We have some children that are with us five and six times a year for sometimes a month or more at a time.  Either way, you can imagine that we get to know these kids pretty well. 🙂  We know their parents, their siblings, their families.  Their stories.  There are nurses on the floor that have worked there for ten years and have watched some of these children, who are now in their teens, grow up.  Every  nurse on the floor has a story about at least one of them.  We probably each have our “favorites”.  🙂  When I started working at the children’s hospital just over a year ago, it didn’t take long for these patients to become some of my favorites to take care of.  They have an undeniable spirit.

Some of you may not know what cystic fibrosis is.   Most people tend to think it’s just like living with a chest cold all year long.  Growing up, I knew one boy with CF in my high school class, and that is how I remember him.  The kid who coughed a lot.  I had no idea what a toll this disease takes on the entire body.  It affects each and every body system in it’s own way.  So many of these kids struggle keeping weight on because of how it affects their digestive system.  Most of them have to take several pills with every meal to help their body digest food and use the nutrients.  Many of my patients have G-tubes… tubes that go straight into their stomachs.  These kids usually are on tube feeds – meaning a pump feeds them a formula either over night, or at scheduled times during the day.  It can be a struggle to keep these kids at a healthy weight!

The regimen that cystic fibrosis patients must do on a daily basis is intense.  It involves inhaled medications in the form of breathing treatments, chest PT for up to an hour a day, and so many pills and vitamins.  All of these things take a lot of time.

Needless to say, it’s hard sometimes to just “be a kid”, when you have CF.

Watch this video to learn more about living with Cystic Fibrosis!

Knowing these kids, loving these kids and their families…. this is why I want to walk for CF in the Great Strides Event.  The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is a leader in medical research, and with their help – we can find a cure for this disease in our lifetime. Last year they raised over 40 million dollars for the cause!

If you are touched, like I am, by these kids and their stories – please consider donating to my Great Strides Campaign!  I have a little over a month to hit my goal.  Every dollar counts.  With your help, we can make CF stand for CURE FOUND!!!!

Click here to donate:

donate to my cause

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Why this Pediatric Nurse is against Amendment One in NC

If you live in North Carolina, or perhaps anywhere in the Southeast, you have heard about the proposed marriage amendment to the state constitution that is on our ballot this May 8.  You may have heard all kinds of propaganda about this amendment… about how it’s protecting marriage in the state of NC by banning “gay marriage”. I don’t want to make it a habit of using my “nursing” blog to promote political agendas, but I felt that this one was important to discuss, given it’s potential impact on healthcare in my state.

First, let me tell you a little bit about the State of NC and gay marriage:

Marriage is already defined in our state’s constitution as a legal union between one man and one woman.  Passing this amendment does not mean that gay marriage will be illegal in NC.  It is already illegal in the state of NC.  Just as voting against this amendment is NOT a vote FOR the legalization of gay marriage in our state.  If this amendment fails, NOTHING CHANGES in the state of NC.

Now, on to why voting down this amendment in May is important in regards to healthcare rights in our state.

This amendment is poorly worded, and as a result – it will have harmful, unintended, consequences.  The amendment states:

Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.

Amendment one strips legal protections from children in our state.  The amendment’s impact goes far beyond our state’s current law.  This amendment bars the state from recognizing any LEGAL domestic union other than marriage.  This puts ALL CHILDREN OF UNMARRIED FAMILIES at risk in the state of NC. As a pediatric nurse, this scares me.

Don’t ALL children in NC deserve the same protections under the law?

This amendment puts a North Carolinian Child’s health at risk.

  • A child of an unmarried parent could lose their health care and prescription drug coverage.

This amendment puts a child’s HOME at risk.

  • A child could be taken away from a committed parent who has loved them their entire life if something happens to the other parent.

The amendment puts a child’s FAMILY at risk.

  • It threatens existing child custody and visitation rights that are designed to protect the best interest of a child.
  • Amendment one could keep children from their parents at the most critical of times.

Amendment one hurts families, in general. Not just gay families, ALL families.  It could hurt your family.

  • Amendment One would interfere with protections for unmarried (STRAIGHT) couples to visit one another in the hospital and to make emergency medical and financial decisions if one partner is incapacitated.
  • Families could lose their health insurance and prescription benefits.
  • Any couple in the state of NC could have their legal protections revoked.

No matter where you stand on the issue of gay marriage, you should be AGAINST amendment one in the state of NC.  Protect all families. Protect YOUR family. Keep the government out of your healthcare decisions.  Vote no on May 8.

For more information on this amendment, and why you should oppose it – visit ProtectNCFamilies.org

 

 

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Orientation (AKA: Baptism By Fire)

I love being a new nurse.  I am still fresh, and learning – and I do love to learn. I think that is one of the best things about my career… you can never top out on your knowledge.

Since I am a new grad, I am starting out one on one with a preceptor on my unit.  It’s her job to train me up in the way I should go. 🙂 Give me all the inside scoops as to how to roll on the floor and keep my head above water.  When you are orienting, you usually start out slow and gain more and more responsibilities as time goes on.  Well, on my unit times are hard right now – and we find ourselves frequently understaffed in the evenings by no fault of our own.  They have hired several newbies like me to help pick up the slack eventually, but the hiring process takes awhile – not to mention the training process! As a result, my orientation has started out on the crazy side.  The good news is I am the kind of girl who can roll with the punches.  It’s ok with me that things don’t always go as planned.  And you know what? That is kind of how nursing rolls.  Even the lowest patient census can provide you a crazy night – and you just have to be able to adapt and get on with it. Get the work done.  I am learning on my feet and I am ok with that. 🙂

It’s amazing to me as a new nurse just how much I don’t know.  You think you are really smart coming out of nursing school (hell, I was valedictorian!) but real life nursing creates entirely new sets of challenges and skills that I have never faced before.  Last week I was finally able to get my hands on a central line to draw labs. Guess how many times in nursing school I was able to play with central lines? Zero. Guess how many times I was allowed to draw blood? Zero.  Real world experience is where the real learning and teaching takes place for floor nursing and it’s been a blast for me to get up in it and meet the challenges head on.

I am really blessed with a great, patient, and funny preceptor who stands by me and points me in the right direction.  That’s important.

The great news is that even on these crazy nights where I don’t get to sit down and my lunch consists of cheetos and a Dr. Pepper because the Cafeteria closes at 3am — I still love it.  There is no doubt in my mind that this is where I belong.  I really love nursing. I really love pediatrics.

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First week on the job.

I’ll be honest – this week when I walked into the hospital for the first time as an RN, I was terrified. It’s one of those things that doesn’t quite feel real, no matter how many times you repeat it over and over to yourself.  I have been in the hospital so many times in the role of the Student… and now I’m the Nurse. I have officially bridged the gap.

I had a great first night, though.  My fears were unfounded!  But, the first night on the job came with a few harsh realities:

1) I have a lot left to learn.  As a new nurse, I know a lot of theory and not a lot of real world FACT.  🙂 But it also became quickly apparent that I’ll get there. The more I work, the more comfortable I will be with my job.

&

2) Nursing = lots of paperwork.  I think that might be one of the most daunting aspects of the job. Everything has a form, a place to be documented, a line to sign.  It’s amazing to watch these nurses that have worked on the floor for years effortlessly fly thru it all.

At the end of my first shift though, one more thing became blazingly apparent:

I really love nursing. I really love pediatrics.  I’m so blessed to have gotten in to this role, in this hospital… to learn and grow from awesome pediatric nurses.

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Child Life – An Important Part of Pediatric Care

Chances are, if you’ve never spent any time inside a Children’s Hospital, you have no idea what Child Life is or what they do.  When I started my pediatric clinical, I was immediately intrigued by Child life and their work.  These people work with the pediatric population to help them deal with the stress of being in the hospital.  Children aren’t wired like adults (and sometimes I think we tend to treat them like tiny adults – and they aren’t!) and they can’t handle the stress of being sick or hospitalized the same way adults can.  These wonderful people work with children and help them cope with their situations in a healthy way.  I will never forget working through my preceptorship – and seeing the evidence of the Child Life Specialists all around me.  As a nurse on the night shift, I never got to see them one on one, but their impression lingered in the patient rooms.  Children with absent parents had snuggly toys and cozy blankets and notes of love drawn on their white boards.  Fussy babies were left with sweet musical night lights.  Nervous children had pictures hung in their rooms that they had drawn earlier in the day – proof that they had spent some time talking it out with the Child Life Specialists.

These special people use play to create and foster a less stressful environment that facilitates healing in the pediatric population!

From the Child Life Council’s website, this is their definition of a Child Life Specialist:

What is a Child Life Specialist?

Child life specialists are trained professionals with expertise in helping children and their families overcome life’s most challenging events.

Armed with a strong background in child development and family systems, child life specialists promote effective coping through play, preparation, education, and self-expression activities. They provide emotional support for families, and encourage optimum development of children facing a broad range of challenging experiences, particularly those related to healthcare and hospitalization. Because they understand that a child’s wellbeing depends on the support of the family, child life specialists provide information, support and guidance to parents, siblings, and other family members. They also play a vital role in educating caregivers, administrators, and the general public about the needs of children under stress.

Child Life plays a vital role in any Children’s Hospital!

For more information on Child Life, visit The Child Life Council.

 

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Why do pediatric nurses need to like kids?

This was actually a search term that someone typed in to land on my blog.  I think if you have to ask the question, this field is probably not the right one for you.

The one thing pediatric nursing has the most of? Kids. Lots and lots of kids.

🙂

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