Friday, August 3, 2012

Learn to prioritize, people, I beg you.

I don't know how many times I've written "In order to provide holistic care, a nurse must remember to consider the needs of the patient along with the current priorities of the healthcare providers." in all sorts of BS essays.

Oh I understand the point. I know that patients are not going to pay much attention to what you're saying if they're worrying about who's gonna pick up their kids from school while they're getting chemo. I get that. That's important.

I want to rant here, because I learned the other day that some people are so afraid of losing their hair during chemotherapy that they acquire certain ridiculous looking "cooling caps". The idea behind these cooling caps is that they shrink the capillaries in your scalp so that chemotherapy drugs can't reach the hair follicles and make your hair fall out. You have to put them on at least 40 minutes before the infusion begins and change the ice packs every 20 minutes to keep the scalp at the ideal temperature.

If that was all, I would just chalk it up to silly vanity and not bother writing about it. But do you know where tumour cells just LOVE to go? The scalp. Especially with breast cancer. They freaking love it. The cooling caps are basically preventing the chemotherapy from getting to the places where tumour cells want to hang out. This is such a problem that when we see these things in the chemo clinic, we have to check if the doctors know about it and notify them so they can talk some sense into the patient.

Sometimes, the patient decides that keeping her hair is more important than the terrible risk of scalp metastases. That's when the nurses are supposed to think back to that blee-blah-bloo sentence up there. It's kind of like Frank Costanza screaming "Serenity now!" , isn't it?

So I did my job. I asked if the doctor was aware that she was using that contraption. She replied that the doctor knew but she was going to use it anyway. My poker face was awesome. I charted. I hung up the meds. I stayed completely uninvolved in the massive ridonculousness of her relatives measuring the temperature of ice packs, figuring out how to put it all together and strapping that thing onto her head.

One nurse muttered in passing, "Her hair isn't even that nice." It was a catty comment trying to hide the genuine frustration that we were all feeling, I suppose. What a terrible waste of money, energy and resources.

Your hair? It's not as important as your health. I thought that was pretty much a common sense kind of thing. Obviously not.

Serenity now.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Me? You want me?

It took months of polishing up my resume and getting all sorts of extra certifications, but I finally started getting some calls about job interviews in March. It was a huge difference from last fall, when I got one measly interview and then ended up not getting the job anyway, because I wasn't experienced enough.

Between March 23rd and April 10th, I applied to 151 positions at 17 different hospitals. It didn't matter if the positions were temporary or part-time. I applied for everything listed after January 1, 2012 that I felt that I could actually do. For instance, dialysis scares me, because I have practically no experience in it. If I learned to do it step by step, I'm sure I could, but I'm not going to apply to a dialysis unit and pretend that I can do it from the very beginning. Also, no OR, because I've never had much interest in surgery.

I went to 4 interviews in 3 weeks. I started feeling slightly discouraged when I didn't hear back from them when they said I would. Meanwhile, I booked 3 more interviews. I finally heard back from Sunnybrook 3 weeks after the interview and they offered me a position (my first choice!). I also got offers from 2 more places, which I have now declined.

Words can't express how relieved I am. I start my new job in June and I plan to stay at my current job in a casual position.

Lessons learned:

1) Get certifications in everything.
I was a community nurse. There was no reason for me to get certified in anything beyond BCLS, but I knew that I wanted to get into a hospital eventually. Hospital people LOVE it if you get certified in things before they hire you and have to pay for it themselves. Right now, I have my ACLS and PALS. I'm also registered to start Coronary Care 1 in a couple of days.
If I hadn't gotten the job at Sunnybrook, I would have signed up for NRP, ENPC, Coronary Care 2, lactation course, fetal monitoring, etc. etc. I might still sign up for those things, because why the hell not? If you have the money and the time, sign up for the courses and get them done.

2) Don't believe the timelines that interviewers give you.
Sunnybrook told me I would hear back in 2 weeks. It took 3.
The first interviewer at Brampton told me 1 week. It took 2 and a half.
The second interviewer at Brampton told me a couple of days. It took 1 hour.

3) Store up the most interesting stories from your past internships and jobs and spin them like crazy.
Most nursing stories aren't that interesting to laypeople, but people involved in healthcare love them. They love hearing about frustrating/disgusting/insane situations. Show them how coolly you dealt with equipment malfunctions and difficult family members.

4) Read over your old nursing essays and use key phrases from them.
I once used the line, "helping people help themselves" during an interview and scared myself. I thought, "Oh god, no one's gonna take that hokey line seriously", but guess what? They loved it. I am now realizing that all those tedious essays were to help us prepare for job interviews, because no one talks like that outside of those situations. Yeah, I just said that. It's a matter of memorizing the McGill Model of Nursing and incorporating it into every other sentence that you utter. Bite back your laughter and say it.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Huh, I've been an RN for more than a year now...

Yeah, I've started writing on this blog again so that maybe Robert will stop making fun of me for watching terrible television.

Clients always ask about what sort of things I see in community nursing. I guess since they're being treated at home, they're curious about whether there are other people who are equally unwell, if not more.

The other day, I was doing changing a dressing on someone's pilonidal cyst incision and she asked me, "Doesn't this gross you out?" It's a question I get quite often.

Believe me, incision wounds are a cakewalk. I LOVE pilonidal cysts. I could pack drained abscesses all day long.

Do you know what's surprisingly yucky? Tracheotomies. Oh sure, it's easy to think of it only as a tube in the throat to help you breathe. But people need them for a reason and that reason always leads to coughing and secretions. If one coughs hard enough, secretions can and will shoot out of the trachs like horrific projectiles of mucousy death. I will confess right here that when I used to suction trachs in the hospital, I had a silent scream frozen on my face under my mask every single time. Even disimpacting people's colons is less disturbing to the soul. Still, I've never actually dreaded doing trach care. I hid my face with a mask (and face shield, if I could get one) and got on with it. No one has to know that I did a little private shudder after it was over.

In the end, it comes down to the individual nurse's personal brand of heebie-jeebies. Eventually, you can get used to almost anything and will only feel a slight tingle running up and down your spine. The nightmares will only last a few weeks, tops. =P

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Is it so wrong?

I have this...let us call it perversion of character.

I love it - LOVE IT - when I get to witness episodes of social awkwardness. Not anything bad, you understand. No one gets hurt or anything. I can't even give a concrete example of such a situation. But you know those situations - it's usually between 2 people - when bystanders slyly glance at each other as if to say, "AWKWARD!!!"?

I delight in the awkwardness. I love the tension slowly winding up like an elastic band being twisted around and around. I can feel the heat as the gears in people's head rotate faster as they try desperately to figure out how to extricate themselves from this horrible position. For me, it's like taking a big slice of chocolate cake and sniffing in the moist chocolatey smell from the spongy goodness.

Before I know it, there's a tiny little crooked smile on my face, almost imperceptible but you can see it in my eyes. My inky black pools of death are laughing so hard, but you'll never know for sure.

Is it so bad, really? Is this evil? I always claimed that I was so.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Snippets of a conversation you would have overheard if you were seated at a certain table at Fran's 2 Saturdays ago

Anonymous: I just wish I could check if his Blackberry really did delete everyone like he said or if it was just me.
Judy: At this point in the romantic comedy that is your life, you would wait until he leaves his phone at his desk, casually saunter over and frantically dig through it for the information that you seek, but he would come back unexpectedly and you would have to shove the phone into your own bag and then a whole bunch of hilarious misadventures would ensue.
Anonymous: Like I even could. He keeps his phone in the back pocket of his pants.
Judy: Yeah and I'm sure that would deter you. o_O That would just add to the hilarity as you try to extract and then replace the phone in said pocket.


Anonymous: Too bad he has a girlfriend.
Judy: At this point in the psycho drama that is your life, you would go over to his house, clonk the girlfriend over the head with a stiletto, wait for him to come home, clonk him over the head as well, tie him up and then demand to know who he loves more; you or her. Then you would probably buy and subsequently boil a bunny to show him how serious your feelings are for him.
[Okay, so that bunny bit was stolen from something else.]


Anonymous: I just wish I knew what was going on. Does he really like me or no?
Judy: At this point in the romantic drama that is your life, you would meet him outside in the POURING RAIN, you in a modest dress that suddenly becomes ever so slightly see through in the precipitation and he in a light-coloured shirt that becomes clingy and reveals his toned physique. You would tell him that it's too late, he's left it too long and you've finally given up. As you turn to leave him in a teary huff, he grabs your arm, pulls you back and kisses you ever so passionately. Even as you protest, "No no, we musn't, it's too late", he scoops you up in his arms in a princess hold and carries you back to his abode, where the camera delicately pans away to the window where the storm is starting to subside, for it isn't that kind of film, oh no. The next morning, the camera pans back from the window along the streams of sunlight to the bed where you are vowing to love each other forever and ever, but then! The audience hears a slight plaintive cough. It turns out that you have both contracted pneumonia for not drying off properly like sensible people after your lovers' quarrel out in the rain.
Judy: After months of suffering from this debilitating respiratory infection, one of you dies just as your love was starting to blossom.
Anonymous: What? NO! I want a happy ending.
Judy: It's you who dies.
Anonymous: WHAT? Why me?
Judy: You want HIM to die?
Judy: Well it's got to be you.
Anonymous: But WHY?
Judy: For the tragic effect, of course! He had JUST realized he loves you after such a long time period of stringing you along and being wishy washy. And THAT is when he loses you. What is more tragic than that? You're dead.


[2 weeks later]

Anonymous: And he was just smiling at me. There we were, just smiling at each other on the subway.
[Looks at Judy expectantly.]
Judy: ...
Anonymous: ...
Judy: What, is your life a shoujo manga? Give it a rest.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cooking Attempt #49: Lemon meringue pie and lemon chiffon pie

Would you believe me if I said that I've never had any kind of lemon pie? Well, it's true. When Robert found out, he declared it a most grievous sacrilege and made the oh so subtle suggestion to his mother.

So Lilian taught me how to make a pie crust. It was my first time wielding a rolling pin. I poked holes in the crust with a fork before baking it. It was just like the Cooking Mama game!

We made lemon meringue pie that day. It was so pretty!!! And delicious. We didn't chill it long enough, so the filling oozed out when we cut it for dinner. But still yummy!

The next day, we made lemon chiffon pie. There was a tiny bit of leftover filling, so I nyomphed it down as a self-congratulatory snack. That pie sliced nicely when cut. Mmm~ so nommy.

So I know how to make pies now! Whee!!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Summer of Judy

You know that Seinfeld episode where George loses his job at the Yankees and decides to spend the summer putzing around willy nilly?

Well, it's turning into a Summer of Judy for me. I had originally planned on having a nursing job by now and studying for the licensing exam in October, but due to some unfortunate circumstances (which I have droned on and on about to so many people that I can't even muster the energy to do it once more in writing), that ain't happenin'! The delay is so infuriating that I was getting flashbacks to the days of Science in Society class when I was threatening to bonk my brains out with the pointy end of a scanner while Linda laughed and laughed hysterically, both of our minds on the verge of crumbling like delicious cinnamon dusted graham crackers.

So I've been spending my energy taking Japanese classes and studying nursing stuff from time to time so that my brain doesn't completely rust. And, since I am a poor student and in need of money until a bunch of bureaucratic nitwits tell me when I can start working in my field, I've advertised myself as an English/French tutor on a Korean message board. Ahhh, it's like being back at U of T all over again. Except the fact that I refuse to teach chemistry and math now. Thank goodness.

Oh, and you know how in that same Seinfeld episode, George slips on an invitation and hurts his legs? Guess what I did last night. I slipped on Robert's floor and twisted my ankle. Yes, the same one that I always twist. Thanks to my nursing interventions, it is not as swollen as it would normally be. But yes, it hurt so much that I cried last night for 10 minutes or so. So we all know what's going first when I'm 70-something and have osteoporosis. Something to think about.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A letter in Japanese~


7月6日 ジュヂ

Linda, how are you?
How's London? Last week, it was very noisy here because of the G20 meeting.
Luckily, I didn't go downtown. When are you coming to Toronto?
It's hot here, but fun too. Let's eat lots of yummy things together.
And we can go with Jenn and Vicky to karaoke.

July 6. Judy.

Hahaha, really simple sentence structure, but I was still very proud of myself. Eeeeeee~

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I'm home!

Yes, I am home. Oh blessed home.

Robert arrived in Montreal by train on Monday night. Poor guy. He helped me move to Montreal three years ago (2 trips in the Subaru Forrester, so crammed full of stuff that it was threatening to expl0de its contents all over the 401) and endured a most hellish trip to Ikea with me. Honestly Ikea, why is your one location in Montreal in the ass-end of nowhere, accessible only from the madness that is Autoroute 40?

Tuesday was spent eating delicious pizzar from Amelio's and packing up all of my stuff. Robert did most of the bulk closet and kitchen packing while I did the cleaning and the little finicky stuff.

We woke up around 7 on Wednesday morning so that we could drag our sleepy butts to the U-Haul location in the east end of Montreal instead of the one at Pont Jacques Cartier. So much for your promise of giving me the most convenient location, U-Haul. We got there by 9am, as planned, picked up the cargo van and Robert drove it back to the apartment ever so carefully. He had back pains, so he couldn't turn around completely to look out the back and lack of windows made it impossible for him to check the blind spot on his right side. That made the drive through downtown Montreal FUN. TIMES.

We had everything packed in the van by 11:30am and then we had the fun task of making our way through the other half of downtown Montreal to get on the 20. At one point, a cyclist ran a red light as we were crossing the intersection and gave us a mini heart attack. I may have called him a son of a bitch. I don't tend to use that term as an insult towards a specific person, so I don't know what my exact feelings were at the time. The way he was zipping through Ste-Catherine indicated to me that he clearly had a death wish and we would not have been at fault if we had run him over. However, I would have been obliged to help him after turning his sorry ass into road goo since we were still in Quebec. But if I were muttering all kinds of mean things while doing chest compressions, could anyone reproach me for that? I don't think so. Damn cyclists.

Things went smoothly enough after that. We stopped at a St-Hubert in Dorion just outside of Montreal for brunch and the 401 moved along nice and smoothly. Until we were a few kilometres away from Kingston. The traffic slowed to a crawl and Robert estimates that it took us about 40 minutes to move 2 km. The thing about U-Hauls is that there's only an FM-AM radio. Robert had his Ipod, but I had forgotten to charge my Zune. I thought I was going crazy with boredom. Thankfully, Robert's laptop was fully charged and he had his external hard drive full of Scrubs episodes. I watched about 5 episodes while composing the following.

5:13pm - Robert and I have been stuck on the 401 for the past 2 hours now. From what I can tell, we are just outside of Kingston. The 401 is closed. No explanation has been given. We have moved approximately 2km in 40 minutes. Robert says that the 401 better have collapsed if there is all this fuss. I can only surmise that there is a possible zombie uprising up ahead. In which case, we're pretty screwed, because the only food supply that we have with us in the U-haul cargo van is a package of ramen, 3 servings of uncooked flour noodles and a ziploc baggie of dried anchovies used to make fish stock. And I have finished the box of Junior Mints that I bought in Montreal. We have no water. To either side is a densely forested area and we have no viable weapons. We are in the worst case possible situation for a zombie outbreak. At this point, it would be just easier to get our butts bitten by zombies and join the winning side. If our zombie selves somehow make the 300+km trip back to Toronto and bite your butts, just remember that we only did what we could.

5:24pm - If I become a zombie, the first people I'm biting are smokers. Robert doesn't mind smokers, but hates people who throw their cigarette butts everywhere. Just saw a man jump out of his idling SUV and head off into the bushes. Thought he had mysteriously received news of the zombie outbreak and was abandoning his car to take his chance in the wilderness until Robert pointed out that he probably just had to pee. Am rather glad of the fact that am thirsty and not in need of relieving my bladder. Robert has taken to reading a book during the 20 minute intervals between inching forward.

5:31pm - If there is a zombie uprising and if I do end up surviving this traffic nightmare of 401 with some kind of weapon, I would want the soundtrack of my zombie mercy killings to be Knights of Cydonia. It would be kickass. Thought: Why am I so into zombies lately?

5:48pm - Seem to be moving ahead at about 70km/h all of a sudden. Robert is very perplexed. I would come up with some kind of zombie-related reason for this, but am strangely unable to muster enough crazy at the moment. As soon as the above was written, the traffic has slowed back down. Actually saw two cars ENTER the 401. Poor suckers.

The signs later informed us that the 401 had been reduced to one lane for 7km, because they were working on expanding the highway. So avoid the 401 around Kingston this summer at all costs. Once we got past Kingston, everything was smooth sailing again. We got to Toronto around 9-ish and got off the 401 at the Bathurst exit. The thing about Bathurst and 401 is that you can't get off directly onto Bathurst from the 401. You get off on Wilson and that takes you to Bathurst. We got on Bathurst and drove. It was taking longer to get to Finch than I thought. I distinctly remember saying, "St. Clair is after Lawrence, right?" but I must have been too tired because I didn't register at all what that was implying. It was only when I saw the huge red and yellow sign for Honest Ed's that I screamed, "We're at Bloor! We're at Bloor!" It was UNBELIEVABLE. Does this happen to everyone or is it just me? It seems like whenever I go on a road trip, some crazy thing happens and I end up spending the night in the back of the car or unpackaging a headboard in the middle of the Ikea parking lot at 10pm. We finally got to Robert's house (we weren't in any shape to unpack any luggage, oh no) and just crashed. This experience has thoroughly ruined my desire to move anywhere more than say, 50km away. But it makes for a crazy story, no?

Plus, I'm home. That's always awesome.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cooking Attempt #48: Thumbprint Cookies

Two of my nursing buddies and I have been doing our clinical course in an Enfance-Famille program this past year, so when the time came to say good-bye to our preceptors, we decided that we would bake a little something for everyone in the program. I found the recipe for these cookies here, but had to adjust it because the dough was too crumbly during my test run. I added a bit more margarine like the random people on the internet suggested and it turned out better for the actual batch that I presented to the nurses.

I was actually worried a bit, because these cookies aren't very sweet. I wasn't sure if they were supposed to be sweet or not, you see. I mean, all the storebought cookies are disgustingly saccharine (Tim Horton's? Even worse.). I eat maybe two and then I've met my cookie quota for the next month or two until Robert shoves one into my mouth again. So how was I to know if these would satisfy a bunch of middle aged ladies who are probably more knowledgeable in cookie lore?

In any case, they liked them a lot. So much so that they asked me for the recipe. And being an obliging youngster, I promised to e-mail my nurse the recipe, which meant that I had to translate it in French. FANTASTIC.

  • 3/4 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam


  • Cream margarine and brown sugar for about 3 minutes.
  • Whip in egg and vanilla extract.
  • Mix in salt and flour until formed into dough. Put in fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Form small 1-inch diameter patties and lightly press with thumb to make a small well in the centre.
  • Fill the well in the cookies with raspberry jam.
  • Bake on parchment lined cookie sheet (I use wax paper, which works just as well) at 350F for 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Let cool on cookie sheet for few minutes. It makes about 2 dozen small cookies.

These pictures are from my third time baking the cookies.

Brenda made the prettiest patties ever, don't you think?

And these are the cookies I actually presented to the nurses. I was still following the original recipe's instructions to make BALLS and then press your finger, so they have a cracked appearance. They were still yummy, I swear!

And now, the recipe in French that I translated for my preceptor nurse.

Biscuits “Empreinte de pouce”?

• Beurre – ¾ tasse
• Sucre – ½ tasse
• Oeuf – 1
• Extrait de vanilla – 1 c. à t.
• Sel – 1 pincée
• Farine – 1 tasse
• Confiture – ¼ tasse
• Papier parchemin

• Battez la beurre avec le sucre pour 3 minutes.
• Ajoutez l’oeuf et l’extrait de vanille et battez encore.
• Ajoutez la farine et le sel et mélangez. Mettez la pâte dans le frigo pendant 30 minutes.
• Roulez la pâte en boulette (?) et appuyez doucement avec une pouce.
• Remplissez le creux (?) avec la confiture. (J’ai utilise la confiture de framboise.)
• Arrangez les biscuits sur une tôle à biscuit. Mettez au four à 350 degrés Farenheit pendant 12-15 minutes.
• Laissez refroidir pour quelque minutes sur la tôle.