First Year…and now

one year ago…

“I made it! I’m halfway to becoming Felicia Harrold RN. Boy, was that crazy! I’ve never faced a more difficult challenge in my life. I’ve never felt so many highs and lows in such a small time frame. It’s crazy the amount you learn in just ONE YEAR. When they tell you nursing school is no joke they mean NO JOKE. It’s time-consuming, it’s difficult information, it’s difficult responsibilities, it’s a lot to get used to. I feel like it was just yesterday I was freaking out about giving another person a bed bath and now it’s no big deal. I remember thinking I was going to fail injections because I just couldn’t imagine myself stabbing another human with a needle and now I can do that with no problem. I still question my ability and I’m always wondering “Can I actually do this?” “Am I capable of becoming a good nurse?” Which is normal. It’s a new journey, it’s normal to feel that way when you are just starting out, that’s why we have instructors to guide us through the process.

I struggled with this latest semester. It was 3 five-week rotations plus a pharmacology class. I found myself struggling to balance the time to study for both classes and to work and to have a social life. I decided to give up the social life and just work and study…because well, that’s just the way it worked best for me. But, at the end of the semester I passed all 3 rotations and my pharmacology class and I’m now considered a 2nd year nursing student! In the Nursing school realm, that’s a pretty big deal. That means you adapted to the nursing student lifestyle and survived the transition. And that’s big. Plus, it means you only have one more year or two semesters (which is actually substantially less than a year)

I can’t wait to graduate! I know, I know, I JUST completed my first year. But I see all the current 2nd years getting ready for graduation and it just makes me so excited! I’ve been told that it’s going to be the fastest 2 years of my life and if my 2nd year goes as fast as this year went, I can believe it!

If anybody reading this is considering nursing school, here is a snippet of advice from this nursing student:

Study. Study. Study.-if you think you don’t have to study you’re wrong and you will learn that very quickly.

Don’t piss off the instructors-they control your grades…self explanatory. But seriously, they are there to help you, but only if you put in the effort…and they don’t take too kindly to those who don’t.

Don’t compare yourself to others-you will find that people on test days will be huddled in the halls asking, “what did you get?” “How did you do?” People will post on Facebook how amazing they did and how good they feel, which is fine. But if you didn’t do as good, don’t beat yourself up. You aren’t going to get an A on everything. You are going to do poorly on some quizzes. You need to reevaluate your studying habits and aim to do better. But don’t ever think you are going to be less of a nurse because someone got an A on their quiz and you got a C. You are going to be fine. You are going to be a great nurse.

Record lectures-so far all of my instructors allow this. You will have to check your technology policies and ask your specific instructors but it helps A LOT! When you have 2 hour lectures, 4 HOUR lectures, you tend to tune out, or the instructor starts talking so fast your handwriting looks like a 4-year-old is taking notes. (✋🏻 guilty) Recording lectures allows you to go back and listen for things you missed. I would listen to them just to hear them again.( I was the crazy one that listened to them 4 times just to pound them into my brain)

Don’t be scared of clinical, clinical is fun-okay, yes some clinical is difficult, but for the most part, clinical is the exciting part of nursing school. It’s time to practice skills, seek help from instructors and other nurses when needed, and 99.9% they will be ready and willing to help you with everything. Patients aren’t going to bite you, most of the time they like to learn things with you. (A lot of my patients found things we were doing interesting.)

Now,

My plans for the summer are quite simple: Work. Read. House projects. Get healthy. Vacation. Relax.

Oh, and prep for next semester!”

and NOW,

I wrote everything above (almost) a year ago, I never posted it because I wanted to reflect on it and write something for where I am now…

A year later.
2 weeks away from graduating.

I’m overcome with emotions when reading it, I’m not sure that’s how I planned I’d feel, but it is. A year ago I was looking up at the second year nursing students thinking,

“I can’t wait to be there, graduating.”

Now I’m there. I am that 2nd year nursing student. In 1 week and 6 days I am done. I will graduate from Lake Michigan College with my Associate in Applied Science focus in Nursing and that excited, giddy, cloud 9, “I can’t believe I’m finally here” feeling is everything I thought it would be. I felt like I had learned a lot in that first year, and I did. However, this second year has taught me more about myself. I’ve refined certain skills and I’ve begun some new. I could feel myself transitioning to that “Nursing Role”. I stopped questioning “do you really think you’re going to be a good nurse?” and I worked my ass of to make sure I would be instead. I am able to critically think,

“What is going on with my patient, and what am I going to do about it?”

First year, I’d run some vitals and tell my nurse anything critical to see what she would do. This year, I stopped to think “what would I do with these vitals?” because at the end of all of this I won’t have that nurse to report to and let deal with it. I will BE THE NURSE.

I remember several times throughout this last year where I would make a call and it would be the right one and I would sit back and think “Wow, I might actually be getting the hang of this.” It was such a good feeling to apply what you learn in lecture to clinical and be doing it RIGHT! I don’t even know how to explain it other than, “hard work pays off.” But, dont worry, there is still plenty to learn and plenty to master. Which excites me, I love to learn new things.

I’ve also met some amazing people along the way. We have worked so hard for this and my classmates have been a huge support system since day one. I could not have made it through this without their encouragement. I am excited to see where this journey will take them.

And my instructors, I have been BLESSED with amazing instructors! The knowledge that all of my class instructors to my clinical instructor shared with me will forever be the foundation that I build my career on. They taught me how to be a good nurse by being good nurses themselves.

In the end, nursing is so much more than what I thought it was a year ago. It has changed me. It has humbled me. There are people going through far worse things than me and I get the opportunity to meet and treat these people everyday of my life and for that I will forever be grateful. Nursing is what I am meant to do, it is who I am.

 

January Kitchen Update

Can you believe it? Our kitchen is actually making some progress. I’m a full time nursing student and Michael is a full time banker so I’d say we have pretty good excuses. But, it’s nice to be getting it done.

I don’t like overloading people with pictures of our house, especially if they don’t want to see it so, I figured I would just post all the “current state” pictures here with a little insight on what is in store, for the people who are interested.

First, our absolutely stunning backsplash. It’s beveled subway tile from lowes. It’s 45 cents a piece. In this particular picture, it’s the area behind the stove. The tile will go all the way to the ceiling here and a stainless steel hood will be hung above the stove. I love the depth that is added to the walls with the beveled subway tile rather than just plain subway tile. I find it, visually, more appealing. I just love it. Love it. Love it.

In the next photo you’ll notice the subway tile from the previous picture, only this time the oven is actually in front of it. So now, you can visualize the subway tile going to the ceiling and a stainless steel hood above that. To the right of the countertop it’s empty. Two big pantry units are going to be placed there because we need a place for food. It is a kitchen after all.😜

You can also see just a corner of my stainless steel island. Michael got it for me for Christmas and I LOVE it! I’ll show that again in a later picture.

Below is the same wall as above only left of the stove. Here, backsplash is also going up. In the very near future there will also be a second set of shelves just like the others.

Here is the sink, my beautiful sink. I actually look forward to dishes because I get to stare at it. Anyway, this area is basically done, aside from the backsplash. (Obviously)

This is just the front of the sink. I’m sharing this because of the window. I plan on putting window treatments up. They are probably just going to be simple gray curtains.

Next, the hardware. We are using these pulls on every drawer and just plain black knobs on all the doors.  This is also a pretty good close-up of the wood countertops.

The next picture is standing at the sink and looking out into the rest of the house. Yes, this area in the kitchen looks rough. This whole Wall is going to be drywalled and trimmed, just like the others. The archway was widened in the process, so it will need to be reframed and trimmed out. The door leads to the basement and doesn’t close properly so that is getting ripped out and a standard door will be placed. (And I’m painting it black…I can’t wait!)

Here is a better view of the stainless steel table. My favorite part about this table is the fact that when I can actually get in here and make cookies with my new kitchen aid mixer, I can just throw the dough right onto the surface. It’s easy clean up.

And, as you can see, the floor is still an exposed subfloor. Since I’m a poor nursing student, I don’t plan on putting a brand new expensive floor down right away. Instead I’m going to paint it with white and gray latex floor paint. In stripes of course to match my office wall.

So that’s it! That is where it stands currently. We have made huge progress in just the few weeks we’ve had this year. I probably won’t have another update post. Just a reveal/before and after. It’s so close to being done that it would be pretty pointless. However, on Instagram I post random pictures as we move along so there will be small little details here and there. I’m really excited for the before and after since it is such a dramatic difference, so I don’t want to give away too much before then.

Thanks for reading and encouraging us along the way. We really appreciate all of the kind words.

Sincerely,

Feli

2015

2015 is coming to an end! It went by so fast. This year treated us well. Of course there were hiccups along the way and that’s okay. You live and learn. However, a lot of good things happened in 2015. September 19th 2015 was our 1 year homeowner anniversary. Throughout the year we started projects and finished some. We learned to love AND hate homeownership. I started Nursing school in September as well. And, in December, finished my first semester with passing grades. Only a nursing student will know the anxiety felt during that time. Becoming a nursing student has taught me ways to deal with high stress situations. It has taught me better ways of communication. And it has also taught this previous straight “A” student to be happy with passing, regardless of the letter. In January of 2015 my niece, Skyla, was born. She has been an absolute gift to our family and I can’t believe in just a few short weeks my nephew, Jeremiah will be two and FIVE days after that Skyla will be turning one. (seven days after her birthday I will be TWENTY-FOUR) We traveled to Tennessee in August with Michael’s family and had a blast. Tennessee is one of our most favorite places to travel.

I hope for even more amazing things to happen in 2016. In January I go back to school to start my second semester of Nursing school. I turn 24 only 3 days after school starts. There’s talk about going up North some time in the summer with Michael’s parents, Traverse City area perhaps. We have another trip planned for August, back to Tennessee of course. In September I will officially be a SECOND YEAR nursing student. (If all goes according to plan during the upcoming semester, that is) And, of course there is the house, I have many plans for that this coming year as well.

Now, time for resolutions, or as I am going to call them this year, GOALS.

I feel like I’m more likely to hold myself accountable when I call it a “goal” rather than a resolution.. I feel like “resolution” sounds too much like “something I’d LIKE to achieve” and “goal” sounds more like “something I HAVE to achieve.” or “I’m GOING to achieve.” So I’m calling them goals. And here they are:

2016

My individual goals:

  • Save 15% of each paycheck starting January 1st.
  • Develop new ways of staying organized and studying for Nursing School before January 11th.
  • Lose 20 pounds by March 30th.
  • Journal/blog write at least once a week
  • Read four new books (allowing three months for each because of school) Summertime might allow for an extra. Plus I’ve already started.

Our goals we made together. (seriously, Michael helped me with this part):

  • Finish the kitchen by January 31st
  • Build the dining room table by June 30th
  • Finish the dining room by the last week of August.
  • Reduce the number of times we eat out to twice a month (date nights)
  • Have date nights twice a month

I know people find it cliche to do this every new year, but it’s a nice way for Michael and I to organize or house projects and remind us of the things we’d like to achieve throughout the year.

I hope all of my friends can look back at 2015 and smile, and if it wasn’t such a great year, I hope they can look back and find the moments that made them smile. I hope everyone has a wonderful new year and a clear outlook for 2016. Life is what you make it. So make it wonderful.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Sincerely,
Feli

Halfway There!

Last time I updated my blog I was only a week into the program

Now,

I’M HALFWAY!

Holy moly, its been C-R-A-Z-Y! I’ve learned so much! It’s amazing what you’ll go through in this program and you still come out of a crazy day feeling accomplished. There are days when I throw my hands up and say,

“Forget it, Im done”
“I can’t do this”
“I need a beer”
“What the hell am I doing right now?”
“Why did I do this to myself?”
“Am I trying to die? like…wtf self?”
“Yep, I’m dying.”

Yeah, it can get kinda dramatic, but still.

My life has changed so much. A lot of time is dedicated to passing my classes. Free time is hard to come by which means a social life is hard to maintain. A family life is hard to maintain. A home is hard to maintain. For instance, my boyfriend and I weren’t spending any time together and it was starting to take a toll so I had to develop a way we could spend time together and I could study too. So, I devised a new way of playing monopoly with nursing questions.

Here’s the run down:

You start out playing normal, buying properties…whatever.
When I land on one of Michael’s properties he asks me a question from the review section of my assigned readings.
If I get it right, no moolah for him
If I get it wrong, I pay up.
So when he lands on my properties its kinda the same thing
If I get it right, he pays up
If I get it wrong, I don’t get paid.

I used it to study the night before one of my quizzes and I got a 9/10 on that quiz, so it helped a lot. And, I got to spend time with my boo thang. (shucks)

It’s also the only way I can win monopoly against him. I can’t beat him in a normal game. Don’t play monopoly with bankers. They’re assholes.

I made it through my first clinical rotation which was long term care at a local facility. What I can say about that…not for me. Not a long term care kinda gal. I really admire nurses and other healthcare professionals that enjoy it, but it makes me uncomfortable. I feel like there is no “getting better” in a nursing home…that sounds terrible, I know. In acute care, I’ve seen patients go from extremely ill to 100% healthy and that is a very rewarding feeling. You go through the healing process with the patients and their excitement for their met goals become your excitement for their met goals. It’s a rewarding journey. I didn’t experience that in long term care.

I am happy to say that I am in acute care now and I’m loving it! We only have two clinical rotations this semester so this is the last rotation.

I’ve learned how to do a full assessment. We were taught system by system assessment. However, my experience with floor nurses on post-surg is head-to-toe assessments. I think it’s better for time management and easier for the patient. We’ve also begun medication administration. On Thursday, our skill in administering PO medications will be validated or “checked off” as we call it. Then we will begin parenteral medications starting with injections which we will also be validated on. Yes, we will be stabbing each other with needles. Not looking forward to it. But, hey gotta do whatcha gotta do. We don’t start IV’s until later in the program. However, we will be learning how to hang a bag and all the basics of IV’s this semester. That shouldn’t be too hard. (knocks on wood). Since I haven’t written a “nursing school update” post since the fist week, here is a list of skills that we have been validated on:

  • Bed bath
  • Bed making (occupied, not occupied)
  • Vitals
  • Transferring, Ambulating
  • Assessment

The only thing I hadn’t done from those things as an NA is an assessment so it wasn’t too bad. Im excited that we are actually getting into the nursing activities that, as nurses, we will be doing everyday. Like, an assessment, administering medications and injections. It’s quite exciting.

In Pharmacology, we spent the first seven weeks learning how to calculate dosages and read labels and all that fun stressful stuff that comes along with the RN title. This is the eighth week so we took our Math Competency exam TODAY (dun Dun DUN) and that was a nightmare, not the test taking part, but the studying part. I won’t get into why. So I will be patiently (not patiently) waiting for the results to be posted. The thing about this test is you have to score an 88% or above to PASS THE CLASS, regardless of your quiz grades. Seriously, you could get 100% on every quiz and if you can’t get 88% or above on the test…you fail the class. You do get two attempts at the exam though So, it’s only slightly intimidating.

Okay, so I think thats about all the update I can handle right now. Im reliving stressful moments as I dive deeper and deeper into the memories of the most stressful times of these first eight weeks and I can feel my heart rate and blood pressure go up.
(Not really…but I told you this can get dramatic.) ; )

The countdown begins
Thanksgiving break: 4 weeks

Sincerely,
Feli

What I’ve Learned After One Week of Nursing School

Today is FRIDAY! I survived my first week of nursing school!

This past week has been a whirlwind of emotions. Before you start the week you’re excited and ready to dive into it and start learning skills to become a nurse. Your first day you’re still pretty excited but then you dive in, and you realize, “Holy crap, this is A LOT of information.” Then the worried overwhelming feeling settles in because you seriously have no idea where you are going to find time to study all of this stuff. Oh, and did I mention this is just one class and you’ll be quizzed on Monday? Then, its off to your other class where they lay just as much information out on the table but it’s MATH and conversions and pretty much review of what you had to learn to get into the program but still, it’s 10 chapters long and you are going to be quizzed on ALL OF IT on Tuesday. So you have several, SEVERAL chapters to read and study and become fluent in for one class before it’s quiz on Monday and then you have 10 chapters to read and become fluent in for another class before you are quizzed on it on Tuesday. Oh, and Thursday you have an hour and a half long skills check off for clinical that is worth like 222 points.

That was literally JUST the FIRST DAY of nursing school. Yesterday, I had class again and learned even more information that will be on the Monday quiz and another skill to be checked off the week after the next.

There is no general education class that prepares you for this. You will have never experienced this in any other class. I know I didn’t. My tip to anyone going into it, before class starts, be as organized as you possibly can be! Set your binders up, have empty spaces for new handouts and notes because you will need them! Read as much as the chapters as you can before classes start. And, work as little hours as you possibly can, instructors will tell you this at orientation before classes start. I know a lot of people get upset about that because they can’t NOT work. I know, I feel ya! I can’t NOT work too. But, I worked Monday, had class Tuesday, worked Wednesday, had class Thursday, and Im working today, tomorrow, Sunday, and Monday. It’s too MUCH! Im sitting on my couch waiting for 9:00am to roll around because thats my scheduled study time and this is the first time I’ve actually had time to just sit. If I’m not in class, I’m in skills lab or the computer lab with my partner. If I’m not there, I’m at work. Actually, Wednesday I had to work at 3 but before, I was at the school studying even though I didn’t have class. My work schedule doesn’t allow for optimal study time. Which is important. DID YOU SEE THE FIRST PARAGRAPH? My fear is to fail and with a work schedule like this…I feel it would be inevitable.

On a positive note, it WILL be worth it. There’s already been moments in (THE FIRST WEEK) where my partner and I have admitted to each other of crying and saying to ourselves, “What the hell did we get ourselves into?” But, you just keep going. You study, you do your best. The instructors are actually there to help you and they don’t hate you, contrary to what you hear. I’ve talked to several second year students and they all say, just keep going. They admit to struggling their first year too, but they made it and at the end of this school year, they will graduate.

It’s scary and overwhelming. Im scared and overwhelmed as I type this! But, knowing what I know from second year students and new nurses on my floor, it can be done and they were all once here, where I am now.

I gotta go study, bye!
; )

So Much Change

For the months that I’ve been away from WordPress, so much has changed in Michael’s and my life. For the better. First, I was accepted into the nursing program at Lake Michigan College and Ive been spending my Summer preparing for that. Along with that, I have began working as a Nurse Assistant at Lakeland Health on the post-surgical floor. I have LOVED it so far. Yes, there are the typical workplace struggles and yes there has been challenges but I have learned so much and really believe it will only do good for my upcoming challenges in the nursing program. Michael has moved branches. He is no longer working at the Berrien Springs office but now at the big, fancy, downtown branch in St. Joseph. He has really enjoyed that adjustment. We continue to progress on our house and change it into something we really enjoy. It has taken somewhat of a back seat to everything else only because everything else is so time consuming and important.

OH, and, I have a Facebook once again. I completed the semester social media free and to end my experiment with a bang, I figured I’d sign up for a Facebook that I hadn’t had in about a year. All of my family is on it plus it’s nice to reconnect with old friends. I really enjoyed being social media free. It was eye opening. I still don’t use my Facebook very often. At least not like I used to use it when I originally had one. Anyway, feel free to add me on it if you’d like. I typically don’t add people I don’t know personally but I’ve found some pretty awesome people in the WordPress community and I can make an exception there ;p

In three days Michael and I leave for a family vacation to Tennessee. We are looking forward to that. It’s been awhile since we’ve been on a vacation so we’re very ready for one now. We will be staying at the Great Smoky’s Lodge through Wyndham. (I believe thats what it is.) I LOVE the Smoky mountains and can not wait to be venturing through them once again. Last year in July we took a trip to Tennessee but we were much further from the mountains than we will be this time. Michael and I are really excited for the road trip to Tennessee. Windows down, breeze in our hair, road trip music in the background. Those are the kind of things we live for. We will be going with Michael’s parents, brother, and our nephew.

A week after we get back from our vacation, school starts and Im ready, excited, scared, and nervous. It’s okay to feel all of those at once, right? I have all my books, tuition is paid, physicals are done, immunizations are done. Now it’s just a waiting game. I have a clinical course my very first day at 7:30 in the morning! The reason why that is scary is mainly because 1. I usually don’t wake up that early and 2. I work until 11:30 the night before. I just keep telling myself, “You can do this.” I’ve had a lot of support and advice given to me from nurses that I work with at Lakeland and it has helped me understand what I need to do to succeed. They all say the same thing, “STUDY!” Which I totally understand. Some have told me that half of the people in their classes had to drop because they thought they could get by without studying. That’s just crazy to me. How can you work so hard to get to this point and then NOT STUDY? You have to study to get to this point, why would anybody believe the studying would stop after the acceptance letter is received? Ugh. Anyway, this semester is light compared to the others in terms of classes, according to advisors. Light in class load, Heavy in material. Im only enrolled in two classes, Nursing Fundamentals and Pharmacology I. Plus, I have clinicals. But there is so much to learn that there is also a Pharm. supplemental class on Mondays and study groups throughout the week. Which I will be attending FOR SURE.

Im just rambling about nursing school. I guess that shows how excited I am. I think I could probably talk about it all day. Im just so ready to begin this next chapter. So so ready.

Sincerely,
Feli

Finding New Places

Yesterday was Michael’s 25th birthday! To celebrate, we played a game of progressive rummy with his grandma and mom, we ate one of our favorite pizzas from Silver Beach Pizza in St. Joe, and Michael and I went driving down Lakeshore drive to look at all the big, beautiful houses along Lake Michigan. On our adventure through Harbert, Lakeside, and New Buffalo we came across a new park that was recently constructed. It is called “Galien River County Park”.

We hadn’t been back to this area in so long we had never known that they were building it. We were driving down Red Arrow Highway towards New Buffalo and I was looking out my window and saw a HUGE tower overlooking the grassy swampy field. Alongside it I saw pathways through the fields. Obviously, I was quite interested to see what it was so when we drove a little farther and saw the entrance to this new park we HAD to go check it out.

Here are some pictures:

This image is walking out to the open platform ,on top of the tower. You are 60 feet up!
This is the walkway out to the platform. It is 300 ft long!
This is the tower and walkway taken from the paths seen in the upcoming pictures. See it in all its glory!

            

We were amazed with the platform! My recommendation when on this structure: DO NOT LOOK DOWN! The tower sways and you can see just how much it does when you look down. It is secure with tension cords and it sits atop a very large steel post but, it is still rather scary for people who hate heights.

If you would like to read about the history of these lands and get an idea as to why this park was created in the first place, here is a link to the parks webpage: Galien River County Park

Thanks for reading!

Sincerely,
Feli

Let There Be Storms


I love thunderstorms. I love the sound of thunder rumbling through the sky. It’s soothing. I used to watch as the storms would come over Lake Michigan and be amazed with their magnitude and the speed they move towards shore.

Today, I was taking a quick trip to Benton Harbor with Michael and saw these amazing storm clouds. I loved how they changed the sky so I snapped a few shots of them. Not exactly the scenary of Lake Michigan, but open corn fields will have to do.

Thanks for reading!

Sincerely,
Feli

Just a little Sunshine

Today, Mother Nature blessed us with 70 degree weather. That kind of weather called for a St. Joe day. During the Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons my boyfriend and I run/walk the bluff and pier frequently. It’s still about 20 minutes away from our house so we only go here when it’s really nice out. Today was one of those days. Here’s some pictures

   

         

We love it here. We wish we could have moved to St. Joe when we were house shopping but the real estate here is super expensive. For obvious reasons. 

We especially love to get our run in here at the pier because it’s so open and if you get there early enough there is barely anybody else except more runners. The environment is perfect for a good run. Surrounded by Lake Michigan and fresh air. It doesn’t get much better than that. 

Thanks For Reading!

Sincerely,

Feli

Life on Kimmel Street.

For those of you who follow this blog, you may already know by now that I made another. Life on Kimmel Street. This blog is dedicated to just house stuff. All of our projects and renovations will be posted there and you may even get to hear some stuff from my beloved boyfriend. Yes, he is an author over there as well. I started it so my friends and family that were really interested in our home and its changes, before I deleted my life from Facebook and Instagram, have a place they can keep up with it. I hope everybody enjoys it!

Thanks for Reading!

Sincerely,
Feli