A day in my life of surgical nursing

Can you believe it?  I’ve been working as an RN for 7 months already! Time flies.  It’s going well.  Some shifts are quiet — that’s usually when I’m working on the quieter floor :-),  and some, well …. let’s just put it this way.    People have been known to complain that nurses get paid too much.  Well, let me tell you, today I earned EVERY penny.

I just finished 3 day shifts – one on Sunday on the quieter floor (which got busy in the afternoon with pre ops, post ops and admits), and then 2 days on Tuesday and today – on the heavy surgical floor.  I’m pooped – exhausted – tired.  Capiche?

Here’s a little window in my day today …just a peek mind you.

Had four patients (which was an improvement over the 5 I had yesterday!) Discharged one at 1600.  So then I had “only” 3 patients for the last 3 hours. But the last 3 hours felt like having 6 patients!


Let’s see:

***Spoke with/ paged/or called 6 separate doctors throughout the day – some multiple times.

***Used a ceiling lift x 2, portable sling lifts x 2, and platform walker in helping two patients transfer/mobilize.

***Gave the following “emergency” type meds:  Ativan, Haldol, Narcan, Nitroglycerin

***Gave the following meds that required access to the narcotic cupboard: Dilaudid (hydromorphone), Morphine

***Gave 6 Nebulizer treatments.

***Inserted a Nasogastric tube in someone else’s patient

***Received 6 orders from doctor’s over the phone – several which needed to be processed by moi because we didn’t have a unit clerk.

***Checked blood work on computer several times throughout the day to report to docs.

***Checked vital signs 7 x throughout the day.

***Assisted a surgeon with changing a surgical dressing. (some surgeons like to do their own)

***Emptied a colostomy bag.

***Supervised a nursing student.

***Charted a gazillion pages ….okay, not quite, but it felt like it!!

My next booked shift is for Tuesday … on the quiet ward.  Man, am I looking forward to these next 5 days off – at home – with kids and hubby – with normal stuff.  And hoping that when I return to the busy unit for Thursday and Friday next week day shifts, and Saturday night shift, that I am refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes my way.









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Christmas Letter to YOU

December 1st, 2015 ….and just like that it’s the last month of 2015, another year has almost gone by, and Christmas is back again.  Truly, the older we get, the faster time goes.   And the more aware you become of the uncertainty of life, the fragility of life …and more thankful for the amazing God we serve!  And so grateful for His Sovereignty.   In today’s world, with all the political upheaval, the turmoil, the threat from ISIS, the continuing “natural” disasters, the economic uncertainty and personal tragedies – it’s comforting to know we serve a God who is in complete control, and that His plan is unfolding .  What a gift to be able to see His hand throughout time – all the way to the beginning of time, to the birth of Jesus Christ, and to now where we anticipate Jesus’ return!      May you all feel His presence this Christmas season ~ and find meaning through Him.

This year, instead of mailing out Christmas cards/picture, I thought I’d save a bit on postage, and do a Christmas letter blog post with lots of pictures to give you a peek into our lives and what makes us tick.  :-)

We’ll start with the youngest – Ethan.   Ethan is now 11, and in grade 6. What makes Ethan, Ethan???

LEGO — and lots of it …mostly Star Wars.  Of course!!  He learned how to play the Ukelele in grade 5 this year ….but I don’t think that’s his gift ….. :-)

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Sports – of all kinds.  Here he is doing High Jump, and the long distance run at Sports Day this year.

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HOCKEY!!!!  Yes, loves playing ice hockey.  He’s in his fourth year, final year in C Division, once more on the Penguins.  Sadly, he’s a Pittsburgh Penguins/Sidney Crosby fan now, and not a Canucks fan.   We still love him though …. :-)


2015-06-22 13.35.48  And he loves his pals ….. :-)

Video games – specifically on the Xbox – and playing Minecraft on the computer too.    And Soccer – here he is participating in Spring Soccer …coming in for a goal!

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So, Danielle?  She is currently 14, and in Grade 9 at Credo Christian High School.  What makes Danielle, Danielle?

At the beginning of the year, she was allowed to have highlights put in her hair by her Auntie Michelle ….     and due to her parents faulty genes, she got glasses this year ….

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She can be found reading (or on her phone!) …. all the time, and dabbling a bit in art:

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And then there is her Dog, Prince, and a horse called Smokey that she spends time with, a few blocks away:

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And of course, her friends: ( at the Spring dinner with Abigail and Maddy, and her birthday celebration with Lauren, Torah and Karissa)

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What makes Braden, Braden?   Braden, is now 17 and in his final year of high school!   But ….. what a year!!!  Remember how in previous letters you learned about his broken hip, surgery, and then subsequent surgery last year to remove the hip pins?  Well, this year he suffered two concussions in the spring …he hadn’t even recovered from the first one, when he got a second one. (both were from soccer).  He missed a fair bit of school, and we spent a lot of time going from one place to another to find a way to help him recover, and get rid of the headaches.  As of now, he’s almost at the end of 6 months of treatment at the chiropractor:

2015 Christmas B5  Doesn’t he look thrilled?  (that was the first visit!)

He got a part time job at McDonalds :-), and spends time playing Xbox with his buddies:

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During the summer, he volunteered as Counselor for the Stepping Stones camp, which he really enjoyed.  He and his buddy Micah went as “Calvin and Hobbes”  …. Braden was Hobbes.   2015 Christmas B6

At the very end of the summer, we had a massive windstorm that took out our power for just over 72 hours.  It also put a massive tree branch on our roof, which Braden removed for us:

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What makes Alanna, Alanna?   19 this year, and experiencing a year of transitions ….. right after graduating from high school last year, she began a full time nannying job for my cousin Adyron, taking care of sweet little Lani (and later, Kai as well) ….and this October said goodbye to the nanny world, and to some truly wonderful people, and hello to MTI college!!   She’s enrolled in the “Child and Youth Care Worker “ program – which will enable her to work with at-risk children and youth in the community and in schools.  Unfortunately, her campus is in Chilliwack, and so she has moved out part time (Mon- Fri) – currently with her Aunt Michelle’s sister Amanda and her hubby Lyle, and when the place (more private with her own bathroom!) is ready, with my cousin Greg and his wife Veronica Dehaas.    Waaaaaa …. I’m not ready!!!!!!  :-(

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Not to be outdone by Braden, she sustained an injury at the beginning of the summer and broke her  left big toe!!!   But she still managed to have fun (hobbling around on an air cast) – at the Taylor Swift concert with her friends (pictured here with Megan):

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She was busy this year – as a rep on the Fraser Valley Young People’s League, (pictured here with all other reps at the May Long Weekend — yes, she’s the SHORT one at the far left in the front),  went to the Calgary Study Long weekend (pictured with a bunch of second cousins from her Mom’s side….Tyler, Curtis, Justin, Jocelyn, Andrea, A, Kailyn), and was, again, a Counselor at Stepping Stones ….a much loved event, made even more fun by being co-counselor with friend Kristy.

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And we would be remiss if we didn’t bring in her love for photography … here she is capturing her sis Danielle.  You can check out her work at Alanna Danae Photography:   http://alannadanaephotography.zenfolio.com/blog  We’re very proud of her as we watch her business grow.  Give her a call!

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What about us, you say?  We’ve had a different year.  I think the most changing thing this year was losing Martin’s Mom on March 27.  She passed away, 3 months shy of her 80th birthday.    We all miss her so so much.  She truly was the matriarch of our family, with wisdom and love and so much more.  She suffered so much pain in her life, yet she always put a smile on her face, and cared for us all.        One day, we will see her again, in Heaven, but she will be without pain, standing straight and tall!!


Martin continues to teach at Credo Christian High School, and for the most part, enjoys it.  This school year he teaches Socials 8, English 10, History 12 and Law 12.

Truthfully, there is always a struggle because of his headaches which have not gone away despite our prayers – and yours.  God has not seen fit to answer our prayers for relief.  We will continue to trust in Him, and rely on His strength and peace.  It’s been over 14 years of headaches, and we’ve even gone back to square one and he started seeing a new neurologist, but so far, no answers.  No great break through in pain management either, even trying essential oils. Continued prayers are appreciated!   So … Martin takes a lot of medications, and spends time in his “den” – prepping and prepping and prepping!!

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One thing that has been a blessing is the success God has granted to his presentations with Behind the Screen.  http://www.behindthescreen.ca/    He did a lot of local presentations, and has also been flown out to Manitoba (Carman and Winnipeg), and Alberta (Edmonton, Barrhead, Neerlandia).  There are plans to go to Alberta again next year – to the Calgary, Coaldale areas.   If your church or school has not had the presentations on how to handle social media, what social media is, how it affects kids, pornography, etc etc, plus how to protect your family from the perils of the ‘net … contact Martin.     I got to go along on the Winnipeg trip – which meant FINALLY visiting my sister Maria and her boy Ryan!!   Good times!!!!  We also got to visit with my cousin Michelle and her hubby Ed on their farm in Carman ….thanks!

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Last year I was studying to get back into nursing again, a career I left behind when Alanna was born.  It was a long long year of studying.  FINALLY, in March and April, I did my preceptorship at Langley hospital on the main Surgical floor,  and FINALLY got hired in July!  I’ve been working as a casual RN on both 2 North (surgical) and 2 North B (peds and short stay surgical).   And thanks to God, have been getting enough work.  I hope that next Christmas I can inform you that I’ve  moved to 3 North – the Maternity floor!  Proof: (even wearing a doctor’s stethoscope! – :-) )

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This doesn’t mean I have abandoned my love for doula and prenatal work. I still teach classes, and had two doula “babies” this year …both births were “repeat” clients …both third babies – and I got to attend all three for both parents!   The first was a baby girl named Aberdeen (Abbey) – pic of me and her mama Daniela, and the second was my very beautiful niece Gwen Elizabeth – from James and Michelle!

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Martin found two great “hobbies” this year – one he shares with Braden – airsofting, and one he shared with Ethan – rock stacking (it’s called zen) :-)  (that was in Whistler, where we vacationed again …and for the final time …as the people who let us use their condo there have since sold it  – :-(   )

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What more can we tell you?  We are still in the same house :-), no moves there.  We are finding our place in Langley church … I now serve on the Home Mission Committee. But with work, and that, plus being a wife and mom, I have not had time to go back to other things like choir or piano.   One day …..     Martin is super super busy with school, Behind the Screen presentations, as well as the odd website here and there.   Oh ….. RATS.  Yes, rats – the rodent kind. We were dealing with that this year …. ugh ugh ugh.   So, out of desperation, we adopted “Athena” …and since her arrival, we have not seen “evidence” of rats!!

2015 Christmas Cat




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July was my last post? Really?

Ah, for all my good intentions, I’m not that great at keeping this up.  Meh.

I just re-read my last post – from July 16, about working as an RN again, and the funny thing is, although I’ve worked 340 hours and almost 3 months, I still feel the same!  Who was crazy enough to give me that title RN?  :-)   I’m still loving it, and there is lots of learning still, finding my way ….meeting up with new skills/new challenges etc.  But the best part is I work with amazing colleagues who are ALWAYS willing to answer my questions and help me figure out what I’m doing.  I’m getting more and more comfortable with the routines, with figuring out who’s on call,  paging doctors, being assertive in asking for what I want for my patients,  and making decisions on my own without second guessing myself or confirming with another RN.   It’s great.  I’m getting enough hours, and even have to ignore phone calls from Staffing if I am tired, or worked enough.  It feels like I’m doing more nights, but that’s okay, I like the pace.   A few more months, and I will think about applying to Maternity!

So much has happened since my last post …a Whistler holiday, going back to school for Martin and the kids,  Behind the Screen presentations, a trip to Winnipeg, Alanna’s 19th birthday (!!!), our 20th wedding anniversary …….

For now, I want to just focus on our wedding anniversary.  20 years is special.  Two decades of being married!!  We’ve gone through a lot, ups and downs, lots of health issues, grief, joy ….just like every other couple.   We’re raising 4 blessings from our Lord …and one of these blessings – our 19 year old daughter, made this anniversary very special for us in 2 ways.  First, we were in Winnipeg and came back the day before our anniversary.  While we were in Winnipeg, Alanna asked us to keep Thursday free.  :-)  Cool?  Okay, we’ll do that.  But FIRST, on our actual anniversary, she left a very special gift on our bed for us.  Those of you who know Alanna know that she is gifted linguistically and has a passion for literacy, poems etc.  She writes extremely well.   This poem was written for us:

I see the show of affection a lot, you know. Even if isn’t blatant. I can see their love for each other rise up in the air like dust, and settle firmly between them.

It’s in the way he listens   ~ patiently hearing every emotion laced through the words, strong and vibrant and binding.

It’s in the way she asks how he’s doing – and you know she really wants to know  ~  the good, the bad and the ugly; all the messes he’s tried to contain.

It’s in the way he makes her laugh    ~   and how his eyes light up when he knows he’s succeeded in brightening a part of her day

It’s in the way she holds her his hand   ~  how her slightest touch will send currents of strength and reassurance flooding in

It’s in the way he serves   ~  going above and beyond what is expected, just to help her out, just to ease her burden

It’s in the hope that she gives  ~  standing as the optimistic one for the both of them, daring to dream when he no longer can

She is his lifeline.  He is her solid ground. They are a unit, each unable to breathe without the other.

And perhaps, one day, they will need to learn how;  how to stand alone, without their heartbeat.

But for now, they are a vision.  Glorious, rare, true.

A love traced with passion, scars, tenderness, truth.

A love that has gained durability over the years.

They are a forever deal.  They have made the vows they spoke come to life in front of my very eyes.

They are what I aspire to achieve.

When I am asked “what do you think is true love” my answer is simple.

I simply point to them.  My parents.


What can I say?  She’s special.  :-)

And then she organized a surprise anniversary get together with our families and close friends – to acknowledge our 20th wedding anniversary.  And yes, she managed to surprise us.  And took care of it all with the help of a few people.  :-)

We are blessed.  So so blessed.   Thank you Father God for 20 years together, for 4 amazing children and every other blessing we have!!!

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Working as an RN again!

Well, it’s real.  Or surreal.  Working as an RN again.   I’ve just completed my first two day shifts.  Wednesday was a true unit orientation, in that I spent time with the Patient Care Coordinator and attended a couple morning meetings with her, hung out with Physio and saw what they do on the floor, did lots of computer work setting up accounts, logins, passwords for various things, figured out where things were,  spent time with the Unit Clerk to look at Order Entry and chart make-up …and re-acquainted myself with paperwork, charting, and things like Narc cupboard codes, Night Cupboard (for meds), Education material for patients and the like.

Today was all about patient care and getting back into a routine …. yay!!  I started with two patients, but a KPU BSN student had one of them.  The other patient my mentor had was completely independent, so she took care of her, and then we had an empty bed – waiting for a post-op knee patient to arrive …. so at the end of the day, I had two patients – woot!  One patient post op day 1 after a major abdominal surgery, with PCA for pain management, IV, foley catheter, multiple dressings, a drain and the need to get her up and moving for the day.  Lovely, Christian lady.   And then by 5:30 pm, my second patient arrived – with similar issues, except with knee surgery.

It was overwhelming, and exciting, and  daunting and interesting.  Sometimes I would be shocked to see me sign something with RN behind my name.  Who was crazy enough to give me that RN title back?? :-)    I felt mostly in control (hahaha …. control? who am I kidding?), and other times a bit stressed …thinking, “I only have 2 patients, how am I supposed to do 4?”.       I start two night  shifts tomorrow night – and expect to have three patients the first night, and  four the  final night.   And then, that’s it –  unit orientation is over.  I’ll be on my own after that.

On my own ….and hoping and praying for shifts to come my way.  I don’t have any senority, so I’m not sure how many pre-booked shifts I’m going to get.  I pray that I’ll get some pre-booked so I can plan my days etc accordingly, instead of last minute nights!!   If you’re reading this, and you’re a Believer – would you be open to petitioning God that pre-booked shifts would be offered to me soon?

In the meantime, I’m so thankful to be working as an RN again.  A dream come true!!

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How long?

Is anyone else just as sad/angry/hopeless/concerned about the state of our world, and the dominion Satan seems to have over it?  It’s just so ….depressing.  The depths of depravity humanity can go to.   If you’ve been on Facebook recently, you probably have some idea of what I’m referring to.  Planned Parenthood.  Abortion. Selling of baby parts.  Oh. My. God …and I mean it as a prayer.  Oh my God, what is this world coming to?  How long, O Lord?

The Almighty God.  The Maker of the Universe.  Holy.  Perfect.  Father. Looking at His Creation – people, His children … and watching them spit in His face, doing everything to deny His existence, doing what they can to ….. do what??   Wait, so many don’t even acknowledge His existence.  Therefore, what God requires of His people doesn’t matter.  So, why does this bother me so much?   The blatant disregard for life.  From one end to the other.  It’s  disheartening that our society can’t even see how an unborn baby is …well, a human baby.  A life.  To be protected, cherished and loved.  That selling aborted baby’s body parts is ….acceptable?  Really?   Have we stooped so low?  

Where are we going as a society?  Where will it stop?  All in the name of ….science, or progression, or equality, or …..you name it.  We have gone so far from the 10 commandments that were the basis of our entire law system.  How can we get back to what is right?  What’s God honouring?  Are we so far gone that God has given our nation over to the depravity?

Case in point:  a letter to the editor in the Langley Times today had a man writing about how the fact that TWU lost their appeal in Ontario for the Law School it wants, is good.  Called Christianity and it’s values and beliefs as  rooted in “ancient folklore”.  And then, he goes on to say, and I quote:  “It is ridiculous and suicidal for any modern society to fund those very organizations which promote the repression of others, from gays to women, and consign them to the role of second-class citizens.”    The problem with this is it’s so not true, and based on inaccurate information, and made to sound normal, and good, and right.    I’ve been a Christian all my life, and I’m a woman, and certainly don’t feel repressed or living as a second – class citizen.   The Church is also misunderstood when it comes to the whole gay movements, but I’m not going to get into that here.  The sad part is – this man’s opinion is politically correct, and will receive nods of approval from many others – without ANY regard for the Christians in question.  Or Christian’s “human rights and dignity”.

What’s the answer?  I do not know.  I shudder …and can only pray that we can raise another generation of God-fearing, courageous men and women who aren’t afraid to stand up for the Truth.


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On my way!

So, this past week I began my new career as a returning RN in Fraser Health.  I had to start with Regional Fraser Health orientation, along with Acute Nursing orientation.  Boy, what a difference from 1994 when I first started working.  Back then, there was 0 orientation.  None. Nada. Zilch.  I did my final practicum at Richmond Hospital on a med-surg floor, and when I was close to finishing up, I knocked on the Unit Manager’s door (her name was Jean if I recall correctly!) and told her I was interested in working as a casual.  She hired me pretty darn quickly, because I was working the week after I graduated – before writing my RN exam.  And that was that.  No orientation.

This orientation is unbelievable in comparison!

Monday morning.  Heading to New Westminster – the Royal City – to start orientation at Royal Columbian Hospital.  I had it all mapped out, and knew I needed to get off at Exit 40 – Brunette Ave.  That exit has changed – and as luck would have it, I was behind a big truck, and missed the exit.  GAH!  So I carried on, and got off at the next exit – Gaglardi Way – not having a clue where to go.  I kept up with the flow – and turned off a side street, turned on my Data and GPS, and lo and behold, it took me straight to RCH within 8 minutes, so I wasn’t even late!  Woot!!     (Martin’s joke later was:  ‘if you miss the Brunette exit, is that a blonde moment?” )  Anyways – found the building I was scheduled to be in – the old Sheraton building.  In a lecture room.  With no air conditioning.  It was brutal!!  The morning was all general Fraser Health ….boring stuff, sorry to say.  Who and what FH is, how many hospitals, how many employees, how many surgeries, changes etc etc etc.  Hard to stay awake in that hot, stuff room!!  Thankfully, we got a break half way through.  Did learn some important things – like how to access the online New Employee Orientation 4 hour module (which I can do at home and get paid for!), what FHpulse is, and how to get to it,  how we should be using the Occupational Health Nurse at the Provincial Call Centre, and how to call in sick with EARL.

Then things got more specific:  how FH colour codes precautions for patients (contact, airborne, droplets), info on C-diff and MRSA, and Infectious Processes etc.   After lunch, it really became nursing specific. Whew!  Started off with Nursing Practice and the Health Professions Act, our scope, competency and RN initiated management.  (that’s definitely a big and welcome change from 20 years ago).    We covered Medications  – aka, safe medication administration, the 7 rights, and appropriate documentation,  Looked at Care Sensitive Adverse Events, and how to do Patient Safety and Learning System reports.  We covered MOST (Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment), Code Blue process, and Blood transfusions and specific policies and protocols.   By 4 pm I was exhausted.

Tuesday morning – this time I did NOT miss Brunette exit :-), but had to deal with traffic backed up to the Port Mann, due to an accident past Gaglardi Way.  Day 2 I was supposed to start at 9:45 a.m. instead of 8 a.m.   The first 1 and 45 was for IV initiation.  I understood that I wasn’t booked in, as it was a full session. I spoke with the gal in charge, and explained that I hadn’t received an alternative date, and that I was working on a surgical floor, and she told me to come anyways.  Fabulous – because my original nursing program, as well as the Refresher course did not really cover this.  Back when I worked in Richmond Hospital, there was an IV team, so I didn’t really get to do that either.  So it was a GREAT morning session.  Thankfully we were also in a bigger room with better airflow, so it wasn’t crazy muggy.   Covered communication (SBAR and CHAT), and Documentation.  This has really changed too over the years, so it was great to really soak that in.     We also covered pain management, which really was boring for me, since I have spent many years dealing with pain management in many aspects of life!, Skin and Wound care, Diabetes care,  management, and protocols, as well as the Older Adult — as the presenter said, unless you work in Peds or Maternity, we’re all working with the older population.

And back again, Wednesday morning at 8 a.m.  Easiest drive in. Way more comfortable now with traversing RCH.  Sad it was my last day!  We started with Sepsis focusing on early detection and interventions and saw an incredibly sad video of a young 20 – something woman, who had multiple amputations after going into septic shock after a routine surgery.  Important info!!  Covered TIA and Stroke care/management, Alcohol withdrawal and the CIWA protocol, Chest tubes and care of pneumothorax and pleural effusion, and finally CVC (central venous line) care — which was super important as I have next to no knowledge of this,  Very interesting, and very hands on!!  Really got educated on how to identify what type of CVC (subclavian, jugular, femoral), whether it’s a valved or non valved CVC, open or closed ….PICC lines, and care and maintenance. We practiced changing caps, flushing and dressing changes.  And we also looked at IVAD (implanted venous access device) access and maintenance.

It almost felt like nursing school condensed into 2.5 days of intensity!  But, so glad I was able to do this.   Thursday afternoon I did a 4 hour computer training session – learning the ins and outs of Meditech, entering orders, and accessing patient information. This I did at Surrey hospital — which took almost as long to get to!

Phew!!!   Next up?  My LMH unit orientation next week.   I have two day shifts booked – Wednesday and Thursday, and two night shifts  – Friday and Saturday.

And the best part of all this?  I get paid!!

Very excited to start.  THANK YOU to all who have loved and supported me through this journey – from thinking about whether or not to try apply to the Graduate Nurse Refresher program back in 2013, to applying to the CRNBC for this privilege after being out for 17 years, to getting permission, to getting in to Kwantlen’s program, to starting my Pharmacology course in January 2014, to the Theory course in April 2014, to the Skills portion in October 2014, and starting my preceptorship in February 2015 …. to getting hired at LMH after my interview in June 2015.  God is good – and so are all of you!!

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Concussions …and what we’re learning

Everyone, including us, seems to think that a concussion is a “knock to the head” – resulting in a bruised brain.  But it’s so much more complex than that.

Everyone knows what the symptoms are.  Here’s a list of symptoms from the Mayo Clinic website:

Signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:

  • Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
  • Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
  • Dizziness or “seeing stars”
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Appearing dazed
  • Fatigue

What most people don’t realize is how different people can have different symptoms, that show up at different times in response to different stimuli.   And because it’s an “invisible” injury, most people don’t appreciate what a concussed individual is dealing with.

Since Braden has suffered two concussions recently, I’d like to clear up a few things.  Yes, our non-athletic kid has had all kinds of injuries and surgeries etc.  Hernia repair, two hip surgeries, and now 2 concussions.

First a bit of history:  (and this is in a nut-shell!) Friday March 13, while playing soccer during lunchtime, he got hit in the face/side of the head at close range by one of his buddies.  Wham. Knocked him out cold – according to the kids there he was out for approx 30 seconds, so not long, but long enough that when he came to, he had zero recollection of what happened and how he got there.  Amnesia.  He was dizzy, nauseous and his vision was hazy/blurred.   A visit to the ER, a CT scan to rule out any internal bleeding, and a diagnosis of concussion.  Sent home with strict instructions to do nothing until vision returned to normal.  Lay in a dark, calm room.  Do nothing.  In about 5 days his vision returned to normal, but a persistent headache set in.   We let him return to normal activities – probably too soon in retrospect.  Went back to school once spring break was over.  He experienced some concentration issues, moodiness, irritability, and fatigue.  But we figured it would take time.   Enter Monday April 27th.  Scorekeeping in the gym for his PE class. Sitting in the bleachers!!!!  Got hit on the same side of the head AGAIN.  No loss of consciousness, but it did affect his vision and headache immediately.  He went to work that afternoon, and experienced visual and auditory hallucinations.  What followed that week was nothing short of concerning — confusion, inability to speak coherent sentences, irritability +++, down mood, extreme fatigue and worsening headaches.   He was not himself AT ALL.

We pulled him off all activities again, and I made an appt for him to be seen by the Fraser Health Concussion clinic.   They helped us see what a concussion actually was (a brain that is chemically/neurologically messed up) – and that the brain has a hard time taking all the sensory input and making sense of it all.   We received a “protocol” to follow, and a referral to GF Strong Rehab Concussion Centre for the school issue.  We had a fantastic school liason who was our strongest advocate and educated staff about his needs and limitations.

But still his headaches persisted ~ even with following protocol, half days at school, reduced time on electronics etc.

We have learned over time what affects his headaches negatively.  And it’s not the same for all kids.  He has a huge problem with one on one conversation/concentration, and with large groups of people/noise.   Some things, like playing Xbox don’t negatively affect him because that relaxes him, releases endorphins.  He does experience an increase in headache afterwards, but not during.   Which makes it challenging for him to back off and allow his brain to rest.     Conversation with a group of friends – you know, when they just are hanging around and chatting ….he can handle that, although not necessarily able to follow conversations entirely.   Church or school assemblies are tough.  He did both recently – he attended the year end school assembly (with noise cancelling headphones) and experienced an increase in headache, and just last Sunday made it through the second service at church (also with noise cancelling headphones!) – but his headache went from a 2/3 to an 8 out of 10.  Not good!!

Sometimes he looks fine, and is his “old” self, joking, teasing siblings, etc etc. Other times you can see it all over him.   Some classes he’s fine, other’s he’s not.  For instance, Socials/Bible/Digital Media – classes he does well in, don’t require as much concentration and he can cope with.  Math and french?  Well let’s just say, he can’t do them right now. Even had a panic attack in math class. Experienced a huge increase in headache, inability to think straight …

Recently met up with a lady who’s 15 year old daughter has suffered several concussions, and they’ve been seeing specialists at the Advanced Concussion Clinic in Vancouver.  Guess what?   The dark room, no activity, rest and nap …. NOT helping the brain rest or recover.   Sigh.  I learned a lot from Monika and her daughter and what they’re learning too.   It has to do with how the brain receives signals – especially through the tracking of the eyes – and that a brain injury needs exercise to recover.   And patience.  And a recognition that his symptoms are real,  even if we can’t see it.

So, if you see him acting normally, it’s likely that he is either masking what he’s feeling or actually having a good day.  And if he has a good hour or good day today, it may not be so tomorrow.  Concussions can take months to recover from – especially when you consider it’s actually a brain injury.  Not a bruise.  Not just a knock to the head.   Symptoms can go away for a while, and then come back again.   It takes a lot for a brain to heal and start functioning normally again.  And it’s not easy for a teenager to take “brain breaks”, close the eyes, do deep breathing …. heck, it’s hard for adults.

We really want to take him to the Advanced Concussion clinic …but I kinda need a job first.  It’s a private clinic, and will cost close to $600 by the time we’re done.   I will take donations! :-)

If you remember, please pray for him.  Having hip surgery was easier – crutches and staples in the skin are very physical.   People can see and appreciate how long the healing takes.   But a concussion – and for him, a double whammy …. is invisible and people simply don’t understand.

Thanks for reading!



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