Category Archives: Random Stuff

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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Filed under Pediatrics, Random Stuff

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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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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Filed under General Nursing Blather, Pediatrics, Random Stuff

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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90% Calling, 10% Job.

This is a great video…. inspiring to Nurses and Nurses to Be alike! I really enjoy videos and articles that showcase what nurses really do.  🙂

Enjoy.

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Just call me… PEDIATRIC Nurse

If you read my blog from start to finish, you will notice one consistent theme. Pediatrics.  When I started on this journey, pediatrics was so far off my radar it’s not even funny.  If you talk to my classmates, many of them remember how much I dreaded my pediatric rotation.  But then I stepped foot into the children’s hospital for my very first pediatric clinical…. and that was that. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I was bitten with the bug.  When you are in school, you hear a lot about finding your “calling” – and you don’t really believe it until it happens to you.  🙂 After my pediatric rotation, I knew that it was what I wanted to do.

So I made it a goal.

Pediatrics was my second semester of nursing school.  I did a lot of rotations and worked on a lot of different units.  Nothing ever held a candle to pediatric nursing.

When the time came to make a decision about where I wanted to do my precepting, I didn’t hesitate.  Peds.  I wanted to work in peds.  I was told that they school I attended didn’t often get many pediatric slots, but I was in line for one if it became available.  I think around this time is where God really started to intervene in a powerful way. Things happened that I thought were mistakes, but in reality it was God paving the way for the career that I was called to do.  I ended up precepting 12 hours nights with a wonderful nurse at the Children’s Hospital.

And I loved it.

I had some amazing experiences, and while I did a lot of watching and learning – I learned a LOT.  It was the best time I have ever had WORKING.  That’s a great feeling, when you don’t dread coming in to work. 🙂

The bad thing about having such an amazing precepting experience though, is that it spoils you.  I couldn’t imagine going back to work with adults on the general med/surg floors.  It just wasn’t a possibility. But I had heard all the horror stories…. new grads don’t get hired into specialties.  New grads don’t get hired straight to units, they have to get in thru residency programs.  But again, God paved the way!

Long story short, I accepted my “official” job offer tonite. I will be working in that same awesome hospital.   I am blessed and humbled.

I am a pediatric nurse.

Awesome.

 

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Impostor Syndrome

One of these things is not like the other….

Last week in class, when we were going over what the next few months had in store for us, my instructor brought up a very good point.

We are all impostors.

Or at least, we feel like we are. I had no idea, but Impostor Syndrome is a very real thing… and there are people living it every day. Walking through life feeling like they do not belong there, that at any minute someone is going to figure them out for the fake that they are. They feel as if they have tricked the world into believing they are smart, and competent, and good at what they do – when the reality is they lack a whole lot of self confidence!

I can’t imagine that there are many senior nursing students that do NOT feel this way. If you are one of those people who are just naturally awesome and able to conquer the world, then rock on. I am not one of those people. I spend a lot of time freaking out that I have somehow managed to pass all the tests by some sort of fluke of nature, and I’ve managed to just slide through clinical without someone figuring out that I am a complete and total fraud. Eventually someone will wise up when I ask the wrong question, or do the wrong thing… and they will kick me out.

How in the hell have I made it to the end of this?!

The really scary realization is that I am going to be expected to get a JOB and WORK?! AS A NURSE?! How is that supposed to happen? Will I miraculously have all the knowledge I need in the next three months?

Rationally, I know that I have worked hard and that is how I have gotten to where I am. I do take comfort in my instructors reassuring me that we are BEGINNERS. We are NOVICE nurses. We will not be expected to go out and save the world. So why do we expect that out of ourselves?

So take comfort, fellow Nursing Impostors. We will be ok. We are where we are supposed to be. We have made it this far not by luck or chance or happenstance, but because we have worked our asses off for it. We are going to be nurses, and damned good ones at that – because that is what we have been called to do. We will ask stupid questions and we will do the wrong thing, but such is life on a perpetual learning curve. I have that much figured out already. No one can truly be an expert in the field of nursing, because medicine and technology are evolving faster than we can perfect our skills.

Maybe one day I will wake up and I will no longer be an Impostor. Until then, I will continue to “fake it ’til I make it” and trust in those people who have mentored me along the way. I have some great teachers and mentors paving the way for me… and they believe in me, even if most days I don’t believe in myself. Yet. 🙂

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Filed under Clinicals, General Nursing Blather, Lecture Notes, Random Stuff