Waiting

In just 30 short minutes, you’ll have the letters you’ve been waiting weeks for: Fall 2018 grades. You’ve calculated and hoped and prayed that things will turn out how you want (and feel need). You have all sorts of thoughts on the “what ifs” surrounding these final marks. There are plans if you don’t make a certain GPA and what punishment you then deserve.

Please, take a deep breath. I know this seems like the bet way possible to measure your self worth, but I promise you it isn’t. This time next year, when you’ve graduated and found your first nursing job, not a single soul will look back on these numbers. They’ll be far more interested in the fact that you graduated, passed the NCLEX, and have stellar recommendations. Who you are and the amazing nurse you’ll be isn’t based on how well you studied for med-surg.

Instead of clinging to these letters and GPA, I want you to focus on what truly matters: you made it. You fought hard to get through this semester, and that work shows. Look at the evaluation from clinicals. If one class or number has any meaning, it’s that one. Your professor sees something in you, and told you herself you’re making progress every single day. Think about all the patients who said you made a difference for them with your compassion and care.

No matter what you learn at 5 pm, be sure to show yourself grace tonight. That you do deserve.

Love,

Emily

I made it! – a little update

As a rule, I genuinely dislike taking breaks from blogging. I love to write. I love how this allows me to get my thoughts out. I love that I can reach other people. I love being vulnerable and sharing bits of my story. Sometimes, though, all of  that needs to be put to the side. The past couple weeks have been one of those times (for good reason).

The last post I made was on May 7. That was the start of one of the craziest weeks of my life. It consisted of: finishing a 6 page research paper in around 24 hours, writing and rewriting our last big journal for clinicals, attending IOP, shadowing a lactation consultant, packing up and cleaning my entire dorm (all last-minute, of course!), still making it to support group, studying, and trying not to lose my mind. I took my exams the next Monday and Tuesday, aced my maternal newborn ATI, and finally left campus at 6 on Tuesday.

I thought I would have time and energy to blog right away, but it wasn’t the case. I have napped more days than not since being home. I hate it but know my body is probably trying to tell me something. My brain feels like absolute mush, which definitely doesn’t help. I have all the ideas in the world, but without energy or focus I end up sitting at a blank screen most of the time. That’s finally changing because of work. I’ve always been able to think about different ideas/posts when I’m otherwise preoccupied. Driving is a top offender for this. I’ll have some brilliant idea but it slowly fades out by the time I have access to a means of jotting it down. Luckily, I have found time to type a note on my phone or even write all over my arm to remember bits and pieces of what I want to say.

Although I’ve found some inspiration while working, being there so much since coming home has left me exhausted. It’s been all kinds of crazy and stressful – from difficult requests to long hours and staying late more nights than not (I was officially scheduled 3 hours last week and worked 5 days/20 some hours). I come home and immediately sink into the recliner/my hammock. Naps and staying home are a big part of my life currently.

In the short almost two weeks since school ended, I’ve learned more and more that recovery is going to be the true full time job this summer. My team has already been on me about increasing exchanges, a meal plan change (that I’m expected to give a try..), weight gain protocol, and generally making strides away from the ED. They also share the beautiful future I could have without Ed. It’s nice to be reminded of the end goal because I can know what I’m fighting for. I don’t often see what could be when I’m in a struggling place.

I am so, so ready to be back in this space. I have lots more to share soon, but I just wanted to give a quick update to start off!

Dealing with disappointment in clinical

Monday, I got to observe a cesarean section. I saw a tiny little peanut enter this world. It was messy and involved more fluids/tugging than I would have thought, but the second baby girl was out none of the “yuck” mattered. The tone of the room shifted as the nurses and doctors talked about how long her toes were, her perfect lips, and her curly hair. It was amazing that there was suddenly this new human being, the one her parents had dreamed about for months. The miracle of birth and experiencing so many new things should have been more than enough energy and excitement to get me through the day. The nurse I was assigned to actually gave me the tasks of 15 min vitals checks, the hourly assessment, and generally helping out in any way possible. My confidence grew because she could trust me and I was competent. That stopped once another nurse told my professor the patient was no longer wanting a student (aka me) to be a part of her care.

I wanted to cry. I didn’t consider any of the million reasons she could have made that decision. Instead, I decided that it was ME. I did something wrong, so wrong that she didn’t even tell me herself that she wanted to be left alone. I was a failure of a nurse. I am not competent. I annoyed her and said the wrong things. I didn’t make her feel comfortable. I was too peppy or shy or awkward. I was so focused on this belief that I had no room to consider other options, even when evidence arose.

I can separate this out better now, so I want to do that. I don’t need to believe these automatic negative thoughts just because they exist and seem true in the moment.

Evidence against these beliefs: my nurse continued to teach me and involved me in med preparation, my professor telling me that I had done a great job today, doing super well on charting and everything, positive responses from patients in the past.

One thing that really helped snap me out of it was a conversation with my mom. I called her, like almost every day, to let her know how things went. I told her about the incident and how down I felt about it. She immediately fought back with other reasons that the mom would request me to leave: emotional, sick of being at the hospital, tired, cranky, had visitors, didn’t want to be touched any more than necessary, wanted to avoid the questionnaire I mentioned. Those few minutes we spent talking about it helped me to realize that there wasn’t just one logical explanation. I’ll never know for sure why she made the decision, but I have to accept that I’m not some terrible person no matter what her reasoning was.

I have to remind myself that I am a student and I will make mistakes, tons of em. That’s why I’m a student. I am learning, not just the book stuff. I have to apply that to real people and situations, which is way different. I’ll have good days and bad, but I have already learned from when things haven’t gone well in the past. I am going to be a nurse one day and I won’t get there without stumbling because it’s part of the process.

I don’t want that small part of my day to linger and ruin the experience I had. Spending time in guilt and shame that I don’t deserve only brings more self-defeating behaviors. I have to move on and keep going.

Delayed graduation shame

I tend to push away anything that’s uncomfortable and makes me think about the hard things. I’ll completely “forget” about it, only for whatever emotions to bubble up due to some trigger. Today, that happened in regards to schooling. I wanted to share my processing of this and what I’ve come to.

I graduated in 2014. In the perfect world, you spend exactly four years in undergrad and come out with your degree and all is well. With how competitive my high school can be, this plan usually includes amazing opportunities, scholarships, honors societies, and varsity athletics. Just like high school, it isn’t enough to simply graduate. If you would have asked me sophomore or even my 6th grade year, my plan would be exactly like everyone else’s. The expectation in our school was to go above and beyond if you wanted to prove yourself as one of the “smart ones.” By junior year I had a new, more prestigious and impressive plan. I was part of early college which meant taking half college and half high school classes junior/senior year, then doing one more year at community college to get my associates degree a whole year early. I clung to that idea and goal, right up until it wasn’t possible anymore.

Switching to nursing was absolutely the best decision I have EVER made in regards to academics, but this meant having to accept that I was no longer above and beyond. It meant having to do lots of prerequisites and instead getting my degree on time. I learned to be okay with this, considering I was on track still.

I am no longer on track to graduate with my class. I haven’t been for over 2 years now. I’ve been shoving those feelings of disappointment, shame, frustration, and inadequacy down ever since then. I’m able to forget about it most days. Today was not one of those. I logged into Facebook (which is an absolutely terrible place if you want to feel proud of your own accomplishments and not play the comparison game). A friend from high school posted a status update about his events today, including the last meeting with his advisor and trying on cap and gown. It brought up everything all over again.

I immediately went to all of the reasons I’m not enough. How could I be smart if I did really poorly in classes, couldn’t even handle my first college semester away, and am not in the honors program? The only conclusions coming from this line of thought put all of my worth in school, and since I “failed” there, I must be a complete failure of a person. I sat here for a while. I wallowed. I cried. I felt super shitty about it all. Then, I really started thinking.

Besides my eating disorder in itself as a barrier to my education, quitting halfway through my first fall semester is the reason why I had to take an extra year. I could do a few things with this information, but today I chose to explore why things are how they are from a lens of understanding and compassion.

I can’t deny the facts that I dropped a semester or had a terribly low GPA last spring. I can pretend all I want that I was this perfect student who never missed class, gave 110% in all work, turned in everything, and didn’t even need to study. I could sit there and lie to everyone about how amazing school has gone, but I don’t want to now.

I hate the idea of ever using my eating disorder as some crutch or excuse for my behaviors, but it truly did/does impact my schooling. Not a single moment of the past 3 years have been easy from an academic standpoint. Instead of the normal college experience, I got constant ED thoughts and behaviors that took over my life. I look back at this time and wonder how I even got through it.

The fact that I’ve gotten this far isn’t a miracle, but a culmination of a lot of hard work. I overcame every battle to get to where I am today. This isn’t the route I would have chosen, not even close. No one wants to actively seek out the most difficult path, but it’s what I was given.

I choose to stop the comparison game and look towards my future. In 5 or 10 or 20 years, no one is going to care what my college GPA was or how many years it took me to finish.  What truly will matter is what kind of nurse I have become, who I am as a person, how I treat others. School is important and will allow me to pursue my dreams, but it’s only a stepping stone. In 5 or 10 or 20 years, I don’t want to be able to brag about what I did in college. Instead, I will speak about the roller coaster of a journey it took to get there.

OB clinical eve!

This is my 4th first day of clinical experience. Every time has brought this crazy anticipatory/excited/terrified feeling that’s somewhere between the night before Christmas and a root canal. Currently leaning a tad more towards the latter, aha. This has a ton to do with the fact that I’m dealing with postpartum women because A) adults after only having kids for 2 months and B) the awkwardness of areas that need assessing.

I truly am freaking out about a lot of the assessment stuff. The acronym BUBBLEHEP is intimidating as anything and includes all of the areas we need to look at with moms. I have this terrible vision of everything being incredibly awkward when I have to ask her invasive questions or perform exams. I’m afraid that I’ll screw up, break down, and cry.

Excitement, on the other hand, is very palpable as well. I can just imagine how squishy and sweet the babies will be. I love babies and specifically newborns so much. I get to be a part of some of the happiest times for moms/families. I’ll be able to teach on a variety of skills and information that can be invaluable to a new mom. Starting now, I will see if OB nursing is something I could find a passion for.

Tomorrow (and the 4 weeks following) is going to challenge me. I want to push through to learn as much as possible. I need to use my voice and ask the hard questions. My professor will be there to support and guide me. I have the nurses too. One regret I had from peds is how little I interacted with my patients some weeks. I don’t want that mistake again now. I have to savor each patient interaction (especially when that includes my littlest patients).

I feel so honored that I am getting a look at new life: the sweet hours or days old babies and their incredibly strong mamas who brought them into this world. I’m not just there to complete my assessments and move on. I can be an educator and help mom learn how to care for herself and her baby. I can give her support if she’s overwhelmed and help in any way possible. I can make sure baby and mom are both doing well throughout the entire day. I will devote my day to one mom and her baby and make sure they both get the best care possible.

I have so much more to say and I’ll try to edit it in later, but for now I’m leaving it here. If I fall asleep in 10 seconds immediately have around 4.5 hours of sleep. Time is most definitely ticking.

Ed’s coming back to bite me

I got an email yesterday that immediately made my heart sink. I have a significant academic scholarship (those years of slaving away in HS paid off, ha) and it’s renewed each year. The past 2 have been no problem at all. My GPA was wonderful, until last spring. It was the hardest semester of my entire life and an extremely low point. I was deep into the eating disorder and depression wasn’t well medicated either. I missed classes, had no motivation, worked my body too hard, never slept, ate very little, missed assignments and papers, etc. To be quite honest, the fact that I got through the semester and my team didn’t end it early is amazing. It was truly miserable. One of the only reasons I could stay in school was the contingency of a higher level of care afterwards. I left for residential before our final grades were even posted. In the first week or so there I was able to find out what my GPA was: not good but .1 above what’s needed to stay in nursing. I thanked God, rejoiced, and tried to forget how terrible I did. I mostly was able to accomplish that, until today.

I can no longer hide from the failures that happened last spring. It doesn’t matter that this past fall was a huge improvement and return to my normal GPA range. I still failed to make the quota, by just .05 this time. Small difference or not, it isn’t enough.q

I can’t change that spring semester, as much as I want to. There is still a chance to get my scholarship back, though. This is through an appeal process for “extenuating circumstances. ” I will need to explain the situation and provide documentation (whatever that means) I’m terrified that nothing will change their minds, but I emailed anyways to find out specifics. I know that R and Dr. C will be in my corner. I just hope that my eating disorder doesn’t take this from me too.

In this limbo period, I’m going to try to take care of myself. If I don’t do that, this semester could he a repeat of 2017 and even more would be at risk. Nursing is so important to me. I can see myself as a nurse in just a year and a half. The whole struggle has been worth it. I just don’t want my eating disorder to cost anymore than it already has.

I haven’t cried yet about this. Maybe I’m still in shock. It’s honestly hard to believe it’s real at this point… It feels like one minute I was a straight A high school student and the next barely scraping by. I’m going to try my best to be kind to myself and allow tears to come.

Now is the time to fight for myself. I can use my voice and be vulnerable here. In the meantime, I’ll try not to completely freak out (easier said than done). Worrying and overthinking won’t help. I have to put more effort into recovery because a repeat of last spring would only end up with me in treatment. I can’t have that happen ever again, so I’m going to fight: for my scholarship, schooling, overall wellbeing, and recovery.

Halfway there!

The semester is officially half over and I’m on spring break! It’s crazy how long/fast the past 6 weeks in pediatrics were. I’m thankful for every second (okay, maybe not the stress) and it is by far my favorite placement in nursing so far.

I remember back to my first surgery, in 2009 when I was 14. I was naturally pretty terrified and uncertain about the decision. I’d never stayed in the hospital or had surgery before, and here I was about to have a major operation with 3 nights there. My experience was nothing short of wonderful. The staff was all amazing, especially my nurses. I have the fondest memories of how kind and helpful they were. Other than the whole pain thing, I enjoyed my stay. I vowed then that I would one day work in the medical field, but specifically at Devos. While my mind has changed a thousand times since then, I’ve now come to that same conclusion. I would love nothing more than to work in pediatrics (hopefully NICU!) in the very hospital that changed my life.

I’ll admit, I’ve cried more than a couple of times during this first half of the semester. I dealt with a ton of frustration, anxiety, some panic, stress, and exhaustion. There were late nights and some missed assignments. I made plenty of mistakes (which only added to my frustration). I lacked motivation at times. Despite everything, I ended Tuesday in the happiest of tears. I did it! I’m content with my grades overall and I feel like I put in as much as I could, considering my #1 job right now is recovery. It wasn’t an easy thing to balance, so I am trying to be proud of the accomplishment.

I am beyond grateful for peds rotation as a whole, my professors, the off unit experiences I had, and the floor nurses and patients. These 6 weeks confirmed a thousand times over how much nursing is my calling. Nursing school is tough. I’ve wanted to give up, but the interactions with patients and glimpses of the future I’ll have makes it all worthwhile.

After break, it’s OB time, and I’m getting pumped for that too! It’ll be weird to work with adults again, but I’m excited for the opportunity to witness birth and see more babies, of course. I already can tell I will like this area as well. Still, I think peds will hold my heart 🙂

Treatment update – IOP round 3

I have a whole ton to update on and a couple posts I’ve drafted, but first I want to touch on a difficult subject that came up yesterday. I’m still trying to accept my new normal for the first few weeks of the semester.

I had an absolutely wonderful day at clinical orientation in the children’s hospital. I’m very pumped for it all. I left in a great mood and just felt positive, but then I looked at my phone. I got an email from R that was a little shocking and very upsetting:

K and I talked and we would like you to be at x exchanges before you stop coming to IOP.  We will extend your time in IOP to 2/15.  If you haven’t been able to reach x exchanges by then we will need to look at having you go to a higher level of care like PHP to stabilize. So,  work hard this week to keep moving forward!

Now I want to back up a little bit. In the beginning of January I stepped up care, attending more groups and eating lunch at treatment. I didn’t consider it IOP because I had other appointments while I was there. I quickly realized that being there the whole time IOP is going on still means I’m in IOP. I think it’s been good for me to get out of my dorm and try to work through some of this. The one thing that hasn’t truly improved (okay, I did have half an exchange increase from 2 weeks ago to last week) is my eating and subsequent weight loss. I don’t know that I’ve had this much trouble getting out of restriction before.

IOP is going relatively well. I’ve had a ton of challenges and mostly stepped up to the plate. Last week Monday ended up being the most exchanges I’ve had in months, thanks to increasing for both my meal and snack at IOP. Even though I do love the therapists and some of the activities, I don’t want to be there any longer than I already have been. I’m ready to focus on school instead.

Originally I was supposed to attend full IOP this Thursday and R would let me know on Monday what the plan would be. Unfortunately, that wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I’m not at all happy with this arrangement. I cried and felt generally terrible upon hearing the news.

I decided that yesterday I would allow myself to wallow. I felt all of the negative emotions that came up – guilt/shame, frustration, fear, hopelessness, a little anger, sadness. I didn’t try to push them down. At some points I felt genuinely sorry for myself. It honestly was a bit miserable. As hard as that was, I believe it definitely benefited me. I got out those feelings in a more healthy way. I didn’t focus on acceptance, which may seem a little counterproductive.

Today, I will attempt to end the wallowing, rationalizing, and planning about how I will get myself out of IOP for the next 2.5 weeks. As my best friend said, arguing against it may result in my team feeling I’m not in a good enough place to continue in this level of care. I really can’t have that happen. (side note: any other form of treatment absolutely will not work with my schedule)

Today, I will work on acceptance. I want to go into tomorrow with the best possible attitude. If I’m going to be forced into IOP, I want to actually gain something from the experience. We’ll see how that goes considering how stubborn I can be (and how loud Ed is now).

I am not where I wanted to be by the time spring semester started. I am not where my team wants me. I am (probably) not in a stable enough place to handle everything. I need to change this so I can be in the best possible place to thrive and not just survive.

This is obviously not the update I wanted to make, but it’s where I am. This won’t be where I am going to stay.

I am going to be a nurse.

This statement may seem a little obvious, considering I am currently in nursing school. To me, though, it is very significant. I have never been in a place where I truly believed this. Now, here I am, nearly a month into the semester and that statement couldn’t be truer.

I want to focus a little bit on the times I doubted myself so much, since it tells the story of  where I came from. As is with many areas of my life, mental illness has greatly affected the possibility of me becoming a nurse along with decreasing my confidence that I ever could reach my dream. I have been in that dark place for much of my college career. I wondered if it was even worth trying when I saw little hope for anything, especially myself becoming anything worthwhile. My mind constantly plays tricks on me with the distorted thinking. It may be more difficult to reach my dreams, but that doesn’t mean impossible or that I am wrong for the job. In general being sick has brought low motivation, a lack of caring about what happens to me, isolation, and my life as a whole unraveling. I become a sad shell of a person when I’m far into my illnesses.

Another major contributor to doubting is my academic performance. I’ve had struggles three out of four semesters at Calvin. Fall 2015 ended in me leaving early for residential, spring 2016 was actually pretty good, fall 2016 brought plenty of hard times but ended up better than it could have been, and spring 2017 nearly disqualified me from staying in the nursing program since my GPA was so low. I never ever had a hard time in school until my ED became more severe. I never imagined I would be that person who was okay with C’s because anything was better than actually failing. Sadly, that has been my life the past couple years, especially this past spring. It’s hard to believe I managed to pull this all off.

I’m beyond thankful that I’ve fought so hard to get into nursing. I have persevered through it all. In a way, I think this struggle has made me stronger. There is nothing I want more than being able to say I made it as a nurse. In less than 2 years that will be my reality. I don’t think I have had so much hope for the future as I do now.

I want to end this with evaluating how different aspects of who I am will play into learning how to be the best nurse possible. I have plenty that has to change but also so many traits that will help in nursing. I want to be able to look back at this list and see how much I’ve grown.

 

Strengths

  • my experience as a patient will allow me to better understand what patients are going through
  • I am compassionate and truly care
  • my faith allows me to carry hope and see the good in others
  • I love learning
  • my medical knowledge and interest in all things medical
  • I want to be the person that others can come to and lean on in hard times
  • medical math and terminology knowledge

Things I need to work on

  • my extreme fear and avoidance of vomit at all costs
  • I am still pretty shy
  • I tend to feel awkward in different situations
  • I have to practice therapeutic communication, namely slowing down and taking in what the other person is saying v feeling rushed
  • overall, just a TON to learn, but that’s okay!

I’ll probably continue to update this as I think of new things^^

 

 

First day back.

*Disclaimer: I will not ever be talking about patients, things that happen with patients, etc. Confidentiality is important. My reason for this post is to explain my experience and how it felt in general with being back at the hospital. Also, I know a joke about HIPAA, but I can’t tell you 😉

It was the craziest of days with emotions and everything. I’m not quite sure what all I expected, but my time so far at the hospital has surprised me.

It’s hard to explain, but once I stepped in the hospital and those doors closed behind us, it was like being transported back to 2 years ago. My heart started racing, there was a sinking feeling in my stomach. It felt a little like I was reliving my experience there as a patient. This didn’t last for a long period of time, but also recurred throughout the day. I saw all of these familiar places: the courtyard, patient rooms, dreaded lunch carts, nurses’ station I used to stand by, phones, room where ED met/ate, coloring pages (the SAME ones from before), etc. For many brief moments, it was like I was there again.

Feeling “there” is not a pleasant experience. It brought many panicky moments and racing thoughts. All I could think about was how I would be force-fed, locked out of my own room, and not let out again.  It was distracting to the point of zoning out multiple times. I had to keep repeating to myself: “I am a student. I have keys. I am free to leave.”

I only stayed inpatient for a week, plus about a month in partial (although we only went through a small portion of the hospital then). That is only a blink of time, especially compared to residential, but somehow it matters. It gives this place hold on me. I hate it, but I know it is also something I have to work through. I’ll be here the next month or so and I don’t think I will be able to gain as much from it if I’m stuck in a bad place.

There were many opportunities for me to disclose that I’ve been to FV before (not as a patient, we were asked if we have visited too). For whatever reason, I want to scream that I have been here and just let it be known. No clue where that’s coming from. At ALL. I truly don’t want my peers/prof/staff/patients to know that I was once a patient too, but it feels like I have to bottle up this secret and that I am wrong for having been sick. I obviously am not going to say anything. I guess maybe this could be related to wanting to push past stigma/show others mental illness doesn’t stop you/show my classmates they’re just like us? I have no clue and that paragraph is very embarrassing.

Lunch was a challenge. It probably helps a little that ED never ate in the cafeteria (that would be so much worse as a patient omg), but this was by far the most overwhelming part of my day. I have had the exact meal before and I saw all of the “amazing, lovely, wonderful” desserts displayed for us. Here, I was given the gift of choice: what I wanted on my burger, veggie or beef, vegetables or no, what type of dessert, salad or soup, finish everything or not, etc. Coming from an ED treatment background, this feels empowering. It made me think back to when we were handed these trays and basically forced to eat them or given an Ensure. I am thankful to not be there anymore. The meal was still scary, though. All I wanted was a support person to text during meals like I do normally if needed. There was conversation, but I pretty much made myself eat with little distraction available. This is probably not anything that will change unless I try to make it a point to get others to talk. I’ve never been very good at this, but we shall see. The worst part of the meal was caused by Ed. As per usual, sitting with a group of people led to me “needing” to eat less than everyone else. It gives me this sick satisfaction if I do “better” than others. This ended up causing me to be the only one who didn’t get dessert. Lunch could have gone much worse, of course, but I want to do better next time.

One of the most frustrating aspects of my day came at the end during our debriefing. We all met to go over what happened, get our assignments the next 4 weeks, and ask questions. My professor said this: “I do not want you working with eating disorder patients, especially not one-on-one. You could say one thing and they will crumble, completely unraveling their progress. I would rather have you stay far away, but if you do go to a group do not say anything at all.” The request here bothered me a little, but the way she explained her reasoning was what upset me most. I’m sure she was attempting to protect us from harming a patient, in her mind. I don’t agree with 95% of her statement. I don’t see people with eating disorders as weak to the point that 15 minutes with a nursing student could erase all progress made in treatment. The 5% agreement I have is over what exactly could be said. I’m pretty sure that any of us wouldn’t be oblivious enough to mention the patient’s weight, tell them they don’t seem like they have an eating disorder, or anything of the like. Those topics and others would absolutely have more power to harm. Anything else that would come up in a nursing assessment/general conversation doesn’t have that same potential really. I see those of us with eating disorders as strong, especially when facing your fears in treatment, so I am a little hurt by her insensitivity. I wish that I could let her know some truth of what this is like. I also would like to ask her rational (was it a guideline set by FV, her own feelings, etc). Maybe that will happen before the end of my time here, maybe not.

I’ve focused plenty on the struggles of returning to the hospital, but now I want to highlight some lighter things that came of my time there so far. Probably the biggest thing is that I have keys. I was absolutely shocked when my prof handed them out. It’s kinda crazy, right? Two years ago I was locked in and now I’m able to venture all over the hospital. The freedom is weird but also comforting in a way. After looking at patient charts to see how they lay out diagnoses, meds, group notes, progress reports, and more, I’m so curious about what mine looks like. This past time I had the psych doctor fudge my records somewhat so insurance would cover inpatient (for those who don’t know, I was admitted a week and a half before school started, so time in treatment was a huge priority). I wonder what he actually wrote down and just how nurses, my case manager, therapists, psychiatrist, and MHW’s talked about me. I’ll never get that opportunity, but it’s still entertaining to think about. One of the funniest/almost embarrassing things was when we were on our tour. She said where we were headed next without direction on which way. I remembered exactly which way it was, so I started walking towards it before I realized I’m supposed to act clueless like everyone else. I covered for it but I can imagine my classmate and prof’s faces if I had actually unlocked the door or something.

I head back tomorrow morning (at 7am, wayyyyy too early). Now that I have experienced my first day, I want to set some goals for the next month of clinicals. My hope is that I’ll be able to learn and also decrease the amount of fear and anxiety I relate to this place.

  • practice deep breathing, thought stopping, and other DBT skills in the moment when I start to panic
  • eat my correct exchanges and a freaking dessert at lunch (thanks to my therapist and dietitian for that one gah)
  • give each patient my full attention and take a few steps in their shoes
  • remember what it was like for me because it will help me understand patients more
  • ask lots of questions
  • take away as much as possible