Monthly Archives: January 2010

What do you know? I can go to bed!

This fact makes me immensely happy. I don’t have to do anything. I can go right to bed. Even if it is only 6:30. (Going to bed early seems to be more effective for me than trying to sleep in, at least once a wake-up-early routine is enforced the other 6 days of the week.)

Today, a guy asked me if I’d ever punched a horse in the nose.

I imagine your reaction is something similar to mine: What??

I don’t think it was any sort of figure of speech. Everyone else wanted to know if he’d ever had a horse/punched a horse in the nose, and he went on to tell a story of how some horse was not cooperating with him when he was trying to guide it by the bridle (or some such) and how he’d finally gotten fed up and punched it in the nose and after that it cooperated. And then the girls behind me got indignant that he’d punched a sweet, innocent animal.

Well, here’s the context:

That morning, we’d been practicing bed mobility. This means helping to move people in bed, from their backs to their sides to their backs to their sides to sitting up. That sort of thing. Some patients need more assistance than others. A maximum assist means that the patient can’t help you at all, and you have to move the entire bodyweight by yourself. Laura and I wanted practice doing a 2-person assist, so we asked Mr. Quarterback to be our max assist patient; he complied.

We did just fine getting him from his back to his side. We “scooted” him closer to the edge for properly sitting him up. He complimented our teamwork, but we were pretty much ignoring him, because we were busy thinking about the next part: sitting him up. Laura, being taller, was supposed to take his heavier upper body from the mat to sitting. I was supposed to swing his legs off the mat and down. I suspected I was the stronger of us two, but wasn’t sure I had the height to get him properly sitting (the table/mats are already as high as my waist).

On three, I swung his legs off, but Laura couldn’t lift her end. We wound up both lifting his upper body together, and got him into sitting. We also got him back out of sitting; then it was time for the next class. I was glad for the practice, because moving smaller people is easy; it’s the hard assists you really want practice with.

So we were all sitting in the next class waiting for the teacher to show up, and out of the blue he turns around and asks me if I’ve ever punched a horse in the nose.

“What?! No! What on earth made you ask that?”

“‘Cause you’ve got strength, you know? When you were moving me.” (And then everyone else wanted to know if he’d ever punched a horse in the nose.)

So as best as I can tell, it was a compliment; that he thought I would probably do well at keeping unruly animals under control.

I think I rather approve of instilling the sentiment that I’m the sort of person who could punch a horse in the nose.

I fact-check everybody

So today I overheard a student asking the teacher about a muscle behind the knee. She (the teacher) said it was anconeus. I said I thought it was popliteus, which looks almost exactly like anconeus, but anconeus is at the elbow. So she looked it up. And I was right, and she said so. And the class said, “Of course she’s right!” Like the poor teacher just didn’t yet realize that I knew everything. Well, now she does. She very humbly said she would ask me any time she needed to know what a muscle was. And the class was like, “Yeah, that’s what we do, too.”

Sometimes I wonder how I got here.

We also got to listen to some gruesome stories, like a diabetic patient who got a cat scratch. It scabbed over, so she thought it was healing, but she kept having calf pain. By the time she went to the doctors, the hidden infection had destroyed muscle right to the bone, up and down her leg. They patched her up, but she still had a chunk of her leg missing due to an infection she didn’t know she had.

Also about blisters that are infected on the inside, and eat you away to the bone.

Also about working with pediatric burn patients, and how you have to work at stretching out their scar tissue so they can heal (functionally), except that it’s super painful, so that even though they’re drugged up on morphine they scream and scream in pain while you work on them.

And grade 4 pressure sores, which means down to the bone, that can develop if a patient is not repositioned for merely ONE SHIFT. A grade 2 pressure sore—a blister—can take about 2 hours. It left me amazed that Grandpa didn’t have more problems with pressure sores.

We are all nervous about our practical exams, because they’re pass/fail. . . and you have to nail almost everything, exactly, in order to pass. It’s just—-stressful.

Faith and Finances

There is utterly nothing new in saying that finances are an excellent chess board for faith to be played out upon, but some things bear repeating.

When I applied for college, I had no idea how I would pay for it. But I was strongly convinced that it was God’s will and that He would make a way. The two things I didn’t want to do was (1) accept aid based on “financial need” or (2) crumble on convictions or principles out of fear.

I paid for my first semester out of my summer job earnings. I was pretty sure I could do the same with the second semester. I got cold feet about the second year, and started looking at academic/merit based scholarships, but I didn’t really feel right about it. I sat on the fence for a while, and finally realized that the only reason I was looking was because I was scared. I wanted a back-up plan. You know, “Well, if God doesn’t work out, I’ll just go this route instead.” Realizing I was being motivated by nothing but fear, I shut the door on that option and stopped looking. God would suffice.

A week or so ago, we were asked to fill out a brief questionnaire about our scholarship eligibility. I almost didn’t even take the questionnaire, but in the end I took a sheet home. But when I looked at the questions, it had a lot of “how much money do you make?” and “where did your spouse go to school” and in general was mostly full of questions I didn’t want to be considered. So I never filled it out or sent it in.

But, by “chance”, I happened to be in the office when the dean of our program got packets for this scholarship. I wasn’t going to take a packet, even when I found out it was only academically based and had no “if you promise to work for us” strings attached. After all, I’d realized I was pursuing scholarships out of fear, right? Well, the secretary thrust a packet in my hand, and it came home with me.

I feel a little like the Israelites who wanted to go when they weren’t sent and then refused to go when they were sent. Or was it the other way around? At any rate, it’s a pretty substantial scholarship, and perhaps my reading of the packet is skewed, but I honestly cannot imagine a scholarship more deliberately tailored to exactly who I am. It seems like, as with God and Abraham and Isaac and the ram in the thicket, it was all about the point of trust and faith. Rather than spending hours upon hours trying to dredge up scholarships that suited me, I shut up, sat down and waited. . .and had a scholarship thrust upon me.

Well, that’s a little hyperbolic. I haven’t got the scholarship yet; indeed, I haven’t even gotten the application filled out and sent in. I don’t even know how good my “chances” are. On the other hand, if you don’t believe in chance and circumstance. . .the chances are pretty good.

Ice Skating

I’ve wanted to learn how to ice skate for a long time, just because. For fun. I realized that right now, going to a school with an ice rink and a student discount, was as good a chance as I was going to get. But I also know that, typically, new skills of coordination come hard to me. Learning how to ride a bike took forever; I had to work awfully hard to learn to juggle. I thought I would never be able to get my hands to do to distinct and separate things when playing the piano. So even while I knew I wanted to learn, I also anticipated a battle.

Well, today I went. And I did a lot better than I expected I would.

It didn’t hurt that there were two elderly gentlemen there who obviously knew what they were doing. I scoped them out. One seemed too professional, intent mostly on ignoring the imbeciles while he practiced his graceful art. The other one, I was pretty sure, was good natured, and would be willing to pass along advice he if thought it would be appreciated and followed. I might have made a point to smile at him every time I staggered by.

Sure enough, he decided to pass on encouraging advice. Mainly: Bend your knees and lean forward; DO NOT lean backwards.

Thanks to his sage advice, the number of times I fell was relatively few. Bending your knees and leaning forward is apparently an excellent way to safely come out of incidents that would like to be spill.

Towards the end, though, the ice was getting pretty gouged up, and my untrained skates started getting caught more and more often. Although I usually managed to employ the “bend and lean forward” advice and avoid the fall, I more and more frequently was caught so off guard that I did fall. Most of the times I managed to mitigate it, but at least once my feet were out from under me before I realized what was happening. I did fall—backward—hitting first my butt and then my head. Oy, my head. Two ibuprofen seem to have taken the edge off of it, but I hope it’s cleared by tomorrow morning.

But I’m tired!

So yesterday I deliberately and intentionally drugged myself: I had a piece of cake and a cup of caffeinated tea.

You laugh. You sit there and say “Ha ha, she had a cup of tea, and she says she drugged herself!!” But it’s true. I didn’t have tea because I was thirsty or really wanted the taste of it. I drank it because I was tired, I had just come home from work, and all I wanted to do was go to bed. But before I did that, I wanted to do my laundry, clean my sewing room, do some core exercises to keep my from accidentally blowing my back out, eat supper, pack my lunch, make bread, and take a shower. And it worked.

I’m still not quite sure how I feel about that.

See, you can take either side of it to the extreme, to the point perfectly healthy people are taking ADD drugs to get an edge in college or to the point one refuses to ingest anything that isn’t certified organic. Most people would say there that it’s downright silly to hesitate drinking some form of caffeine in order to get things done.

Maybe it is. But I’ve long harbored a suspicion that feeling sleepy is there for a reason; that tricking your body and continuing on is detrimental. That, in short, sleeping when you are sleepy will help you get more done in the long run. As such, I’ve resisted caffeine. I figure it is treating the symptom, not the problem. If I’m taking on more than I can cope with without wanting to install a caffeine IV drip, I need to cut back somehow on what I’m trying to do; not drinking caffeine keeps me honest about what my limitations are.

It’s not that I think that caffeine is inherently evil. It’s just that, as I was chastised by multiple people regarding bending the writing rules, first you just say “Just today.” Then you say, “Just for this test week.” Then you say, “You know what? It’s okay if I drink caffeine for this semester. It’s just one semester, and after this, the worst will be over with. 15 weeks of drinking caffeine is not going to be life changing.” And we all know that after that, good luck with functioning without caffeine.

How do you reconcile not being a rigid, legalistic person who can’t come to terms with the reality of the way life is with not being a back-boneless person who gives in at the first side of adversity?

(Incidentally, I think I’m right with my whole sleep-instead-of-caffeine theory, because I’ve totally crashed today. But I suspected that was going to happen, and if I hadn’t known today was a “light” day of classes, I wouldn’t have allowed it. But as it is, it was worth the price I’m paying today.)

I propose an amendment

I forgot I was supposed to write a post, and my mental functions are shutting down to the point I can’t type, at the moment.

However, I note that apparently I was rather chipper yesterday, and wrote enough for two days.

I wonder if it would be in good interest to propose a weekly word goal instead of a daily goal? In the interest of generating more words that were worth reading and less words that were an effort of trying to type. . .actual words instead of mishmashed nonsense playing at the importance of actually making sense.

Semester II, Week 1: Thursday

Amusingly, today I, the shortest person in class, worked with The Guy From The Bronx, arguably the tallest guy in class. We were in the Intro to Rehab lab, and we were supposed to do such things as practice educating people on the proper way to lift things by themselves, lift things with another person, do laundry with a bad back, and reach for things that are high up.

If you will realize that, when we are both standing on the ground speaking to one another, I will get a crik in my neck, you will have a better visual of how absurd it would be to pair us up carrying an object. I believe the teacher was pleased to see that we correctly addressed the situation on our own. How could we not? I’ve been the short one almost every single time I’ve helped carry something.

Then we get to the laundry, where we presume I have a bad back. He correctly shows me how to load the washer, and how to move laundry from the washer to the dryer. Then we get to getting the clothes out of the dryer, and shows me how to squat down and keep my back straight.

“But,” I say, “How about reaching the clothes in the very back of the dryer? How do I do that without bending my back?”

He got a rather confused look on his face. He squatted down and tried for himself. It was easy for him, naturally; he probably could have reached the back of the dryer from several feet back. Finally, flummoxed, he asked, “How can you not reach the back of the dryer?” (I would have to kneel on the floor, as opposed to squatting, in order to reach the back.)

When it came to the item on the high shelf, we were supposed to talk about using a step-stool. “Not,” the teacher cautioned, “climbing on the counter.”

“But,” I said, “My brother always says it didn’t hurt him the last time!!”

I addressed my deficiency in height by requesting he get the item down for me. The lab Assistant agreed that was a perfectly viable solution. Next I was supposed to teach him. If I had him climb on the stool, his head would have gone through the ceiling. I recommended he didn’t. The lab Assistant agreed that was good advice. Next, we examined what would happen if I did use the step-stool. If I went on tip-toes and my fingertips could only just reach the counter, I could reach the object. Otherwise, not. He recommended I not store things on the top shelf. The lab Assistant concurred.

When it came to turning patients during bed mobility practice, I was referred to by the teacher as tiny and petite. Petite I can swallow. Tiny made me laugh. Nonetheless, my handicapped length proved to be a hurdle there, as well, because although strength is generally not an issue for me, there were some actions that simply required more length. Helping someone sit up, for example. One arm is supposed to scoop the patient’s leg of the bed while the other arm goes underneath the patients armpit to lift them up. I can’t have an arm here and an arm there at the same time; it required helping someone sit up to be a two-person job.

Wednesday, January 20th

Today I met two more of my previously unknown teachers, neither of which wanted me make me gnash my teeth and pull out my hair immediately upon their first words, which was the case with my English teacher last year. No other decision will be made until they’ve had more of a chance to show their colors.

Today, we learned how to put on and take off gloves. It’s more fun to say it that way than to explain we were practicing sterile procedures, of the sort used in operating rooms. We will rarely need to use this information—“clean” being much more standard than “sterile”—but it is a good thing to know. I suppose.

Also today, my psychology teacher from last year finally emailed me back about my grades, and this has all the same stench as the last time I tried to sort out a returns fiasco with a clothing store. In other words, it ain’t over yet, but there is still some hope I can settle it.

Today the rest of my books were delivered, including the ones that I inadvertently FORGOT to order, and ordered at a later date when I caught my error.

Today seemed like it was several days’ worth of school, not one. Back to back to back classes make you feel like you’re in a time warp.

I am feeling better about school than I was, say, yesterday, but I must confess I still feel rather anxious or apprehensive. I’ve yet to shake the feeling that this is going to be an ugly 4 months. . .but I’m doing a better job at living in the moment and not pre-living every stressful thought.

I rather suspect it will always be easiest for me to stay within my “word limit” on Wednesdays. . .


Today I had two surprises.

The first was when I woke up and realized it was Tuesday. I honestly truly thought it was Monday, and yesterday was Sunday. I suppose that’s what comes from normally working on Sundays; you equate working with that day of the week. (This explains my lack of posting yesterday. I didn’t think it was a week day.)

The second was sitting in class realizing that I had forgotten to bring along a notebook or pen or anything at all. This brought my denial crashing home, a simmering sort of denial that I’ve been intermittently trying to pick out the reason for. I don’t want to go to school.

The funniest thing is, I thought that working some over the break would keep this from happening. That I would stay neater and more organized, and more on a schedule. Instead, the more I worked and the closer school starting came, the worse I got. Not horrendously so, but rather dramatically so for me: my knapsack isn’t packed; I haven’t looked through any of my books, to speak of; I haven’t even ordered book covers, which I have found hugely helpful in keeping my books alive through the semester when they’re constantly crammed in my knapsack.

Work I don’t mind. School, for some reason, I dread. I have narrowed it down to not being physical—though the long days and short nights do wear me down, that’s not what I dread. And it’s not mental; although it can be wearing trying to cram so many piece of information in my head in such a short time, I cannot honestly say I’m concerned about my ability to learn the information. It seems to be purely emotional, hence “I don’t want” to go to school.

I emotionally do not like be graded. It not only feels stressful, it feels, well, degrading. Do we have to assign numbers? Can’t we just talk about what I didn’t understand, and do better next time?

I emotionally struggled with most of my professors last time. I felt like they were fighting me more than helping me; they left me feeling discouraged and like I was on my own.

I emotionally did not like being on campus; it was always strange and never felt like home—and even if you could get familiar with some of the rooms or locations, it was always filled with strange people you didn’t know.

I didn’t like the class work, because it seemed so pointless and game-like, irrelevant to real life.

It was wearing feeling like I had nothing more than a tentative truce with at least half the class; we have utterly no common ground and no reason why we’d want to be around each other. Recognizing we’re stuck with each other for the duration of the program, there is no active antagonizing. . .but not really anything close to camaraderie, either.

The other half of the class, the over-achievers (the half to which I belong), accept me, but in some strange way, not as an equal. It’s rather implicitly obvious that I have the overall highest grades (it’s never been explicitly investigated, so it’s quite possible it isn’t true. However, as it’s been observed before, it isn’t the facts that matter, it’s only what people believe).

This means that, from either half of the class, I’m approached as “the smart one”. I do not need, and do not want, to be approached as “the smart one”. I already take myself and life too seriously; it’s better for my mental health when people tell me to lighten up and stop being so wound up. I’d rather be counter-balanced, not pushed over the brink of What If I Score Lower Than A Ninety? (This is basically the mantra of the overachievers.) Congruently, I find myself in the position of trying to encourage people who score lowered than me, and resolutely trying to refrain from saying, “I can’t believe I missed that question!!”—after all, when it quite possibly was the only question you missed, people don’t have much sympathy for you.

Finally, I don’t feel competent at school. I didn’t say I wasn’t, I said I don’t feel I am. I’m faking it. Every day I come in and fake that I know what I’m doing, that I’m confident and in control. Really and truly, there will never be anything familiar about school. It’s a time of constant transient; it’s kind of a question of how well you roll with the waves.

So I have avoided, as much as conveniently possible, the looming existence of the next semester. Unfortunately, I have run out convenient ways to avoid it. Tomorrow is my first day dropped off by the boys at 7:20; it is the first day I will back with nothing but me and my knapsack (and therefore, it had dang well better be packed!!); and it is also my first day where I have classes back to back from 8 am to 5 pm, with nothing but a half-hour break for lunch. If there was ever any hope for the denial of school’s existence, it will all be utterly crushed tomorrow.

Younger Brothers

So J. and E. have commandeered my sewing room as their study room while I was going to school. This is fine, swell and dandy. However, it has been conclusively decided that I am a great distraction to them. Sitting quietly in the room reading is a distraction. Opening the door is a distraction. Walking in the hall is a distraction. In fact, the other day, I was sitting DOWNSTAIRS, in the Den, and I could hear them getting quite distracted indeed, followed by a bellowed “TT!! Stop DISTRACTING us!!!” Apparently, my mere presence in the house is enough to make all concentration breakdown. As they tell the story.

O. and I never seem to call each other by our real names. I think he started it, and I followed suit. At any rate, it’s gotten to the point that neither one of us blinked an eye when he walked in, patted me on the head, and said “Hello, cow.” To which I responded, “Hello, toad.” It occurs to me that most people would probably not think this is normal.

They probably would also not think it is normal the way he comes up and pokes me in the arm, saying “test, test.” I finally asked him what on earth he thought he was testing, and he responded, “Your blood pressure. If it’s low, you ignore me. If it’s high, you whack me.” Yea, verily. As scientific as they come.

Collectively, I call them all “George”. They all answer to it; it’s simpler. Collectively, they all call me a rule breaker, a bad influence, rude, and anything else that might get me indignant.

I have informed them that tomorrow I’m going to be doing haircuts, and I’m going to cut all their ears off. C.B. is looking forward to it; he suggests frying the ears and eating them with ice cream.

“C.B.! That’s disgusting!”

He was pleased.