Tag Archives: Nursing

A Year in Review – 2011

Hey all! Hope everyone had a wonderful holidays and New Years! I’ve been M.I.A. from the blog world for the past two weeks, as you may have noticed. I have been keeping up with everyone’s blogs, but obviously not commenting as much. I’ve had lots of new and exciting things come into my life this month. Things have been busy, but I’m so ready for the changes that are brewin’!

Generally I’m not a huge fan of the “Year in Review” blog posts, because I’ve probably been following your blog for the past year, and already know what you’ve been up to! (Hey, just sayin’…) But after reading through a couple review posts, I realized how awesome it will be a year from now to compare my 2011 to my 2012. So for purely selfish reasons (and because I haven’t been blogging since the beginning of the year, so you probably don’t know what I’ve been up to) here is my 2011 in review.

It hasn’t been the greatest year for me. I went through a loss, a layoff, and a lot of job unhappiness. But there were some positives and definitely a lot of lessons learned!


– After a terrible snowboarding accident, and what seemed like a successful recovery, my family loses my uncle to a pulmonary embolism. It is the first time I truly see my dad devastated. I spent a lot of the past year (2010) wondering what was the reason I had ended up back home when I hadn’t planned on moving to my hometown after graduating nursing school. I realize that maybe I was meant to be close to home when this happened so I could be around to support my family.
– To deal with my own grieving and the increasing stress at my job, I start practicing hot yoga every single day.

– Lots and lots of work stress. There is talk going around the office about an impending layoff. We are all waiting with bated breath.
– I am one month into my everyday yoga practice. I swear this was the only thing keeping me sane at the time…

– The rumors are true. We receive one month’s layoff notice at work, with potential for a layoff extension. Wonderful.
– I complete a 60-day hot yoga challenge. I am exhausted, but in great shape!
– I make a quick trip back to Kamloops to visit some friends.
– I run my first trail race, and end up falling into a cactus. I finish the run with spines sticking out of me! Then, a day later, I experience an allergic reaction where the spines punctured me (mostly on my arm).
– On the last day of the month (and the day our layoff notice gets extended by three months), I decide to walk away from my position. I am devastated, but know I can’t continue working in a toxic workplace.

– I don’t work for most of the month, but I quickly get hired at a new workplace in a similar position to my last job.
– I run the Vancouver Sun Run 10K. Unfortunately, my Kamloops ex beats me by a couple minutes. Friendly competition.
– I turn 24, and celebrate at Chippendales. Yup, classy 24th…
– I travel to Vancouver Island with two of my university professors to do a presentation to nursing faculty from all over BC and up north. Exciting stuff!
– I buy my first brand new vehicle!
– I make the decision to not proceed with starting graduate school (Masters) this year, and instead pursue my dreams of Medicine/Dentistry.

– I start my new job.

– I move into a brand spankin’ new apartment.
– My friend and I spontaneously go to a Rihanna concert, and have the best time rockin’ out to RiRi!

– I fulfill one of my life’s dreams of seeing Britney Spears (and Nicki Minaj) live in concert… Don’t judge. I was emotional and ecstatic. It was an awesome night!

– I reunite with some friends from nursing school at my old roommate’s wedding in the city.
– I go on a whole slew of very interesting dates. They all made for some very interesting stories, and made me realize I’m in no rush for a relationship at this point in my life. 
– My brother moves in with me.

– I head out to good old Nelson, B.C. to see my little cousin get married! The best part of the trip is getting to road trip with my mom and realizing that we are finally starting to develop a friendship.

– I start my Chemistry course.
– I go to the hot mess of a Ke$ha and LMFAO concert. That’ll be my first and last time attending one of their shows… Sorry that I’m not sorry!
– I get “officially” accepted into university, to start full-time studies again in the Winter 2012 semester. Here we go again!
– I get hit with tonsillitis, but recover very quickly (as I always do).

– My brother gets a position up north and moves out. I’m on my own again!
– I attend an out-of-town work conference and come to a few disturbing realities about my job while there. I leave pretty devastated, but knowing I have very legitimate reasons to make a change so I can be happier and healthier in my working life.
– Run a 5K race with my best friend!
– I make the decision to give my notice at my apartment for the end of November to move in with a couple friends. I make this decision so I can (a) save money and afford school, and (b) so I can work towards a job change.

– I run my first half-marathon… While injured. However, I’m not acknowledging my injury at the time because I’m so determined to run this race. Not really smart, but I finish!
– I run another 10K and set a PR… Ya! While injured.

– I move into my new place, and am adjusting (to a lot less space).
– I am now dealing with a severely injured foot and ankle. I start intensive physiotherapy.
– I celebrate my one year vegi-versary! I’ve actually been a vegetarian for longer, I just never stuck with it as seriously as I did this time. I’m so happy being veggie and plan to never turn back!
– I get hired for not one, but two new positions – one RN position, and a care director position. Whoohoo! Things are a-changing!
– I spend Christmas with my family, minus my brother who is stuck working up north. We celebrate Christmas over webcam.
– I get hit with gastroenteritis thanks to new job.


Reflecting on the past two years, I realize that I have gone through a lot of hurt and loss. In 2010, I had some of the most significant relationships of my life breakdown. I also went through the loss of finishing nursing school, moving out of a city I’d lived in for the past 4 years, and leaving friendships behind. In 2011, I went through losses with my family and my job. I processed through many feelings of anger, betrayal, broken heartedness, sadness, and depression. But through it all, I’ve come to realize that as humans, we all go through pain. Going through my own painful times has made me more compassionate towards others. I want the theme of this year ahead to be “peace and kindness.” Inner peace with who I am and what I’ve gone through, and moving forward without any ties to the hurt and pain of the past couple years. And in regards to kindness, I just want to treat others kindly. Not that I don’t, because I like to think I’m generally a good hearted person, but in stressful moments or moments where I’ve been hurting, I’ve sometimes been too self absorbed to be there for others. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is to act kindly towards them. People remember kindness. 

Also, keeping on the theme of kindness, I have decided to stop eating fish. Fish is the only animal flesh I have continued to consume, and I’ve decided (for many David Suzuki reasons) that I want to omit it from my diet now. It’s a personal choice for me, and I have nothing to say to any fishy eaters out there other than *pretty please* do your research around sustainable seafood! Let’s make sure we keep our friends in the ocean around for a long time.

One of my own fish friends.

I’m ready for 2012. I feel like this year and the next couple years have the potential to be some of the best years of my life. I’m moving forward without fear in the direction of my dreams. Life is good.


When Nurses (Try to) Diagnose

This week, my left foot and ankle swelled up. Naturally, I took a picture with my camera phone, which I do anytime I experience any observable physical symptoms. Hey, I like to document things! Why the eff else do you think I like blogging?!

I was showing a nurse I work with a picture I took of my swollen foot with my iPhone. To the top of my foot was a noticeably large red bump, which was quite evident in the picture.

Nurse: Oh wow, that’s a DVT! (i.e. “Deep Vein Thrombosis” or a blood clot occurring in the “deep veins” of the lower extremities)

Me: It’s not a DVT…

Nurse: No, that looks like a classic DVT!

Me: It’s not a DVT. (OK, sure I have two of the classic DVT symtoms… Foot pain and edema, but those symptoms could be many, many things. NOT A DVT!)

Nurse: Well, it could be a DVT. It could be one that formed in the foot. Rare, but it could happen.

Me: It’s not a DVT. DVT is “deep vein,” not superficial. It can’t occur in the foot. Why are you trying to diagnose me?! It’s quite obviously a running injury!

Excuse me, nurse… Do you have an “MD” behind your name? No? OK, then stop trying to diagnose me via iPhone picture!

There are plenty of times I’ve seen ailments in patients and known exactly what they are. Oh ya, that’s a stroke! Definitely pulmonary embolism. Classic atelectasis!

I get texts all the time from friends listing off their symptoms. 100% of the time, I’m not sure what their deal is. Friend says she has heartburn… Well, ok, that could be a million and one things from dehydration to peptic ulcer. Or, you know, it could be a symptom of first trimester pregnancy… Just sayin’!

But you can bet your bottom dollar I don’t try to diagnose them. And most of the time I tell them to go see a physician or a nurse practitioner who can properly diagnose. Because I am neither of those things… Yet.

My scope of practice is that of a nurse. I don’t try to play doctor, and I’m certainly not amused when someone else with the same credentials as I tries to diagnose me. #GTFO!

I believe medical students are taught something along the lines of “when you hear hoofbeats, look for horses, not zebras.” Meaning, consider the most common diagnosis FIRST. (Duh.) In my case, I’m a healthy young woman who runs long distances, has no history of heart disease, and has not recently embarked on any long duration flights (which can cause blood clot formation. That’s why they encourage you to get up out of your seat on long flights, people!).

On Wednesday, I saw a doctor who, after thorough examination, diagnosed me with a running-related ankle injury.

And low-and-behold, the physiotherapy he referred me for seems to be working quite well.

So, definitely not a DVT.

End of story.

Why I Went Into Nursing

Most of the references I’ve made to my job so far on this blog have been, well, not exactly positive. I’ve focused on a lot of the negatives. How frustrating I find my job somedays. How much I want to pull my already untamed hair out by Friday afternoon. But there was a time I had high hopes for a career in nursing.

While getting organized to move, I came across the letter I wrote 5 years ago when I was first applying to nursing school. Obviously some of the wording has been changed. I did not graduate from “The Raddest University,” although close to it.

To the Absolutely Stunning Group of People on the Admissions Board,

Please accept my application to your awesome school of nursing at The Raddest University I’ve come across. I am extremely interested in pursuing my nursing degree at your institution as I find both the high quality of education and small campus atmosphere characteristic of your university to be very appealing. I am excited to take on an active role in the academic community while preparing myself for a successful future within the workforce.

I have been interested in pursuing a career within the health sciences since middle school. During the 9th and 10th grades, I was a candy striper at my hometown’s hospital and at a care home. It was through this experience that I found I had an innate desire to help others. I carried out various duties such as feeding patients, performing basic housekeeping, and engaging in casual conversation. I also saw what an intricate role registered nurses play within the care setting. Their job includes caring for patients, administering medications, and educating people on managing their health challenges, among many other tasks.

I’ve also had the opportunity to coach a high school girl’s rowing team since my 12th grade. I thoroughly enjoy teaching these young women new skills and watching them grow in their confidence and abilities. In my coaching role, I am responsible for the safety and well-being of the entire team, much as a nurse would be responsible for the individuals under her care.

Throughout high school, I balanced academics with a part-time job as a cashier at a grocery store. One of the important aspects of that particular job was having exceptional customer service skills. As a result of this job experience, I am comfortable working with people of all ages and from all walks of life. I particularly enjoy working with the public and accomodating the needs of each individual. I am presently working as a traffic control person, where I’ve gained the ability to make critical decisions in a timely manner. In this particular job setting, one must use their experience and critical thinking skills to ensure the safety of those working on the job site, and the general public using the traffic system.

I feel I possess many characteristics that will be beneficial in becoming a Registered Nurse. I have a great deal of experience working with the public, and am confident in that capacity. I’m organized and detail-oriented. I’m hardworking, energetic, and able to work well under pressure.

I believe there are many interesting avenues to explore within the nursing profession as it’s such as varied field. I’m not sure where my strengths will lie yet within this vocation; however, I’m excited and open to the many areas this field encompasses.

An area of nursing that interests me would be a position in a northern community of our country where there is a great need for Registered Nurses. I’m aware that nurses working in these areas take on a great leadership role, where they are often responsible for running health care centres. Along with completing my baccalaureate, I plan to continue pursuing education in the health science field. One of my greatest goals in life is to take part in “Doctors Without Borders,” and offer medical assistance to areas where those services are inadequate.

I truly believe the nursing program at your Truly Radical University is going to provide me not only with the essential skills to establish a successful career, but also skills that are going to assist me in life. Thank-you for your time and consideration, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Wannabe Nurse Rachel

Words right from my 18-year-old self. Funny to think it really wasn’t that long ago that I was dreaming of entering the career I’m in now. I know nursing (especially my field of nursing) has it’s hardships and frustrations, but the truth is, the majority of th0se frustrations are because of bureaucratic and political issues affecting my job.

It’s not the patients. Being a part of their journey, and seeing their progression from sickness to wellness (most of the time), or from dependence to independence is one of the most rewarding aspects of working in health care.

Being a guinea pig for an IV start.

When I get down because of workload issues, or because I’m being dragged down into the dungeon of despair by other nurses, or just because I feel like I’m going to lose my friggin’ marbles somedays, I have to remind myself there was a time that I was dreaming of being where I am today.

Whether I’m in this career for another 2 years or another 10 years, I want to be the best nurse I can possibly be. Not for myself, but for my patients. At the end of the day, caring for patients is what got me into this, and caring for patients is what gets me through the toughest days.

Flashback… Like hitting the jackpot to a nurse!


What drew you to your job or career?