Big Changes

4 Nov

Yup, I disappeared again. Not really surprising, I know.

I’m currently NOT in school. I got a 79 in a class last semester and was removed from the program. I’m still bitter. Mostly because it was 1/100th of a point on an exam that changed my grade from an 84 to a 79.

Besides that mess, I’m working full time. I’m still a licensed nursing assistant, and I love my job! I have lost the usual number of residents to the usual causes, including my absolute favorite resident that I have had in the last year. I have learned quite a few things about my career choice, myself, and the facility I work in. I’ve had problems with nurses targeting me for no reason, and I’ve had people stand up for me. I’ve been rewarded for picking up extra shifts last minute and all my other hard work (I get the holidays off this year!)

My husband and I have also been saving to buy our first house! All the extra shifts have helped us both pay off debt, raise our credit scores, and obtain a home loan. As long as the last few things – well water test, etc – go well, we will be closing in less than a month!

The scariest thing about becoming a homeowner (fun fact: the word meow is in the word homeowner) is money.

I have been glued to Pinterest and google looking for organized ways to track bills, payments, savings, etc and absolutely nothing seems to work the way my brain works. I work in calendars, not spreadsheets. Everything on Etsy, Pinterest, google, etc is spreadsheets. NOT COOL.

I spent an hour in Staples staring at their planner selection, looking for something with a zipper, a calendar, spots for cards and check books and a pen. Everything was upwards of $40. I do NOT want to spend that much money on paper and fabric that isn’t even what I need it to be without MORE money invested.

I even went to Michael’s crafts because lately they have been carrying planners, since that’s suddenly the hip thing. Nothing. Seriously. Nothing.

I’m being super cheap, I know. I could easily toss $100 over a counter for a planner and everything else to make the thing I’m picturing in my head to track finances. But I’m determined to figure this out without spending any more money than I have to. Plus, I need to get into and stay in the habit of saving money everywhere I can if we’re going to buy a house. Especially since our first few months there will be winter and heating costs are soooooo expensive!

Then I found it.

I have a Michael’s/planner/notebook problem. And a Michael’s coupon problem. So I have a stash of miscellaneous planners and notebooks. After standing in staples for an hour and then wandering Michael’s for another hour and not finding anything, I got home and found a planner I had gotten from Michael’s a couple months earlier. It was undated, it was disc bound, is was small enough to fit in my purse, it was unused.

It definitely is NOT everything I need it to be, but I know I got it for about $5, and I could make it work for now. I also have an extra wallet (which was replaced by my new wallet from Italy) that I never threw out. So I put our joint account checks and debit card in the old wallet, along with other credit cards we try not to use except for around Christmas time, and put both the wallet and planner in a small canvas box. You know the kind – they’re usually square, just as wide as they are tall, and come in approximately a billion colors. I have a half box cube thing (yay for never throwing away things that couple be useful later!) This way my mini planner and wallet aren’t floating around in the abyss getting disorganized and lost. But it’s still big enough for me to add a couple folders or a 3 ring binder for receipts and statements.

I finally feel like I have a plan, and a system, that I can stick to. AND it’s portable. So if we need to go to Home Depot, we can bring the house wallet and not risk forgetting to put the check book or debit card back where it belongs. It all stays together and nothing gets lost or mixed in with our daily spending. It would be a lot easier to spend our emergency/house funds if I had the debit card on me ALL the time.

But the planner itself – How am I using it?

Monthly Spread: fill in which bills are due on which days. That’s it, just the name. No amounts, no further info. Fill in pay days. Fill in doc/vet appointments. I get travel pay for each day I go to the the VA for an appointment, so that ties into my finances. I fill in vet appointments because 99% of the time I need to pay for something. Today it was $207 for flea and tick meds and to have one dog’s ear tested and treated for an infection. That definitely affects our finances.

Weekly Spreads: write in any due bills on the day they are due. Write in pay days. On each day, record the balance of our accounts (my checking, joint checking, my bank credit card) at the end of the day. My husband tracks his own personal checking and credit card in his own way. I track mine and the joint account.

Super simple, and it still gives me a picture of our accounts like a spreadsheet does. I think spreadsheets overwhelm me. There’s too much info all laid out in front of me, and I don’t like numbers. Having daily or weekly amounts of information at a time is much easier for me to handle. I may venture as far as creating a graph to show daily balances – to track any possible trends – but probably not more often than three or four times a year.

I already feel better about the extra financial responsibilities we’re taking on in a month.

How do you track your finances?

Bump in the Road

26 May

Last semester, I failed one class by just over a point. At this time, I am no longer in the nursing program at my university, but I am asking for readmission. I will be meeting with the Dean on the 6th, and I should know by the 8th if I will be granted readmission or not.

In the meantime, I am working full time as a nursing assistant in a long term care facility, which I love. I will also be studying the material we covered last semester in preparation for retaking the class in the spring. While this may be a pretty big bump in the road, it definitely is not the end of the road. Even if the dean does not grant me readmission, I will try to continue at another college. I’m not going to give up on my dream to be a nurse.

So in the meantime, I’ll be working, studying, and hoping for the best.

Lesson Realized

10 Jan

I am not just a nursing student. I’m also a licensed nursing assistant, and I work as often as I can around my school schedule and homework. I can’t tell you much, other than residents do pass away now and then. Sometimes when I’m at work, they are actively dying. I have never been there when a resident on my floor passed away. 

I recently had a resident that was actively dying. 

I’m new to the medical field, so I haven’t been in that situation before. Sure, they tell you what to do if a resident passes, how to perform care after they have passed, and all those things, but it is very different actually seeing it first hand. I had been told about death rattle, read about it, discussed the process of dying in both the LNA training and Nursing 101, but I actually saw it first hand for the first time. I had to help reposition the resident, which was the closest I have been to a dying resident. We still performed all normal care. We still applied barrier cream.

It was the barrier cream that really hit me. This resident was in the last hours of their life, no longer voiding, their skin was still intact, but we still applied barrier cream, even though we knew they probably would not be with us for more than a few more hours. It seems like such an obvious thing, and I am almost ashamed to be writing this right now, but it made me stop and think.

No matter how close to death someone is, we still provide the absolute best care, as if they are going to live another hundred years. It made me so glad to be a part of a care team that actually cared; to be a part of a care team that loves their residents as much as their family does, just in a different way. 

I am very sad that we lost that resident later that night, shortly after the family left. But I am glad that the family was there, and that when they left WE were the family. I am honored to have been a part of that resident’s life, even for a short while. 

That shift is one I hope not to forget. Not because something traumatic happened, but because I realized a valuable lesson and had the opportunity to really think about why I do what I do. 

Game On

3 Jan

I survived last semester with a B+ in Micro and a B in Nursing 101. 

I currently have access to Care of the Adult and Pathopharm through the school’s online classroom thing. Still waiting on Health Assessment to become available. 

 Classes start next week and I feel like I’m already a month behind. I guess we all know what I’ll be doing starting tomorrow. I’ll give you a hint: there is a LOT of reading involved. 

I also need to go back to campus for more text books, and to print more documents. I should probably pick up a couple more 3 ring binders and some dividers. This semester is gonna be challenging.

As intimidating as the workload for this semester is, I really am excited to start. It’s Game On! And time to kick some more academic butt! (Just to be safe though, can we add an extra 6 hours to every day, plus maybe an extra day between Saturday and Sunday? I am DEFINITELY going to need the extra time.)

Reflections before Finals

8 Dec

Wow, I honestly forgot about this blog. So thank you to those of you that have stopped by since my last post. 

So much has happened since I wrote that letter to my desk. I’m in nursing school, and almost done with the first semester. I have my schedule for next semester (as long as I pass the two classes I am in now) and I’m a little nervous. But let’s not talk about the bad. 

This semester seems like it’s been a year long. It also feels like it has only been a week. I’ve learned so much about nursing, and about myself. I wanna share my top 10 tips for surviving the first semester of nursing school. But since everyone hates reading paragraphs and even I prefer bullet lists, here we go:

1. Don’t go into clinical thinking it will be easy. But don’t think it will be so hard you can’t do it. Go in with an open mind, ready to learn. Ask questions, get to know the nurses and ask them if you can watch procedures. You’ll get to see some things you aren’t allowed to do yet. You’ll learn something. (I also want to say not to tell anyone else before you go to see a procedure because then the room will be packed, but I also want to say tell everyone because you ALL get to learn something new.)

2. Go get a small hard cover Moleskine notebook, and keep it with you for every single clinical and skills lab. Find things you want to remember and print them out, then tape them in your Moleskine. Breath sounds, med math formulas, health assessment cheat sheet, common abbreviations, etc. Whatever you feel is important to have on you as a reference, put it in that notebook. I suggest a hard cover Moleskine because they’re very durable. I used them in Iraq in the Army and they didn’t fall apart. Almost 10 years later and I can still read everything in them and none of the pages are falling out. They’re available at B&N for like $10. Yeah, it seems a lot for a small notebook, but DEFINITELY worth it. Because you can keep adding to it throughout your entire nursing school career and beyond… at least til it’s full!

3. STUDY. Ohmygawd STUDY. Just because you think you know it doesn’t mean you do. I could have A’s instead of B’s right now, but I’m cocky and decided not to study. I have a feeling it’s gonna bite me in the ass next semester when everything gets more difficult. 

4. Live in the skills lab. Well, don’t actually move in, your lab professors might not like that, but spend as much time in there as you can. Even if you aren’t working on skills every minute you’re in there, you will hear other people sharing how they remember to do things, and you’ll be able to pass that knowledge along. Teaching someone how to do something helps you learn it better. 

5. Communicate with your professors. Communicate with your professors. Communicate with your professors. 

6. Sit toward the front in lecture. You’ll be less distracted if you sit up front. I’m one of the older students in my class, and it drives me absolutely batty when all the younger students spend the class talking. Sit up front because the loudest part of the lecture hall is the back. Plus, being so close to your professor you’ll feel guilty for checking facebook or texting on your phone. 

7. Hand write your notes at least once. If you type your notes, go home and write them. Make them pretty if you have the time. Just write them by actually putting pen to paper. It’s another way to commit information to memory. Great study technique.

8. Wash your hands like 437 times a day. 

9. Buy some really good lotion because you’ll be washing your hands 437 times a day. 

10. It’s ok to cry. This IS nursing school. I’m allowed to cry. If you’re going through it, you’re allowed to cry. Even if you have to hide in the bathroom before an exam and ugly cry for 5 minutes. Cry it out, then go kick some academic ass. 


– LOOK AT YOUR FREAKIN SYLLABUS EVERY FEW DAYS. (I totally had NO idea we had an exam yesterday. Like, I walked into class and was handed an exam and it was a complete surprise. Don’t be like me. I got an 86%, but don’t be like me. Just… don’t.)

– GIVE ATI A FREAKIN CHANCE. You will probably hate it at first. I did. But now I love ATI. If your school doesn’t use ATI, I’m sorry. 

– TAKE CARE OF YOUR FREAKIN SELF. Take a hot bath, binge watch Grey’s Anatomy, go for a hike, eat the ice cream. 

– DON’T WAIT UNTIL LAST FREAKIN MINUTE. Do your assignments, studying, reading, etc ASAP. 

What did you learn your first semester of school? 

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