Sunday, October 19, 2008

Accomplishments Galore

I feel so accomplished!!!

At work, I did two procedure preparations this week! Wooooot. On Thursday, I worked with an 8-year-old girl who has been a patient at MSTI for many years. My supervisor really wanted me to do a prep./medical play with her, so she asked the patient if it would be okay for me to do a prep while she "tested" me on how well I did. So, I did a peripheral blood draw prep while the patient watched and then asked her what grade I earned. My supervisor suggested an 80%, but the patient (who, I guess, hasn't grasped an understanding of percentages yet) disagreed, saying I deserved a 20%. It was quite funny; her foster mom vetoed the low grade by saying I deserved a 100%. Hehe. Fun stuff.

Thennn, on Friday, when I went into the Child Life office for lunch, my pediatrics supervisor asked if I'd done any IV preps yet. I said "no," and so she decided that "today [was] the day!" So, I scarfed down my pb&j (hehe), and hurried off to do the prep before our weekly intern meeting. The prep went pretty well, even though I totally forgot to mention the numbing cream and all that jazz. Fortunately, my supervisor reminded me of what I forgot and filled in the holes that I'd missed. A huge weight is lifted off of my shoulders now, though, and the idea of doing preps doesn't seem quite so daunting. Hopefully I'll get some time to refine my skills though, cuz it sure wouldn't hurt.

It was a pretty cool weekend, accomplishment-wise, too. Friday, however, we just layed around doing nothing. I actually fell asleep near the end of Gilmore Girls around 6:45 p.m. and slept until 9:15 p.m. without even realizing it. Like the big lazy bum that I was, I got up to eat a snack, shower, and talk to my mom, then went promptly back to sleep at 11:30 p.m. and slept right up until 9:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. How nice.

On Saturday, Kim and I went shopping. Now, for those of you who don't know, I absolutely hate shopping. For this reason, I brought along Pride and Prejudice, my new addiction/bus-ride-activity, knowing that Kim loves to shop, and expecting to be finished with my shopping adventure much earlier than she. Oddly enough, I didn't get too bored with the event, and did, in fact, find a decent variety of cold-weather clothing. We met up with Tessa at Savers, a massive thrift shop (similar to Goodwill?), where we each found a costume for Tessa's murder mystery party later this month. It was quite productive, if I do say so myself.

Jeff's housewarming party was fun, but we didn't get there until late (there's just something about girls taking forever to get ready...?). Joey'd had a long day of cutting firewood with his father, and so when he wanted to leave early, Kim did too...and thus Tessa and I left, as well--since she was our ride home. Tessa and I stayed up talking until 3 a.m., though, so that was pretty fun. It's always nice to have girl talk from time to time.

As with Boise Sunday tradition, we girls cheered on the boys at the Shenanigans soccer game this morning. It was such a pitiful match, though. Out of the 18 registered team members, only 9 were in attendance. Most were working and couldn't attend, but some flaked out and just didn't show up. The sad thing was that 11 players are allowed on the field, and there are typically a number of subs on the sidelines, but today's shortage meant everyone played the entire game, and they were still short two players for the field! Needless to say, we lost 4-0, but the guys made a great effort, considering. If they'd had a full team, I'm sure the Shananigans would have kicked some boo-tayy!

For more accomplisments, this afternoon I finished making some beignets that Tessa started before the game. Anddddddd, I made gumbo for the first time everrrrr!!! Yay!!! Nanna walked me through it, via written directions and multiple phone conversations. When it was all said and done, by golly, I made some real, authentic Cajun gumbo! Yummy-ness. Jeff and Joey came over to share in the glory, hehe. Man, it sure smelled like Nanna's house in here tonight...and boy did it make me miss her... In any case, I am SUPER proud of myself for this new skill. I'll have to make it again someday, and invite the entire boys' house, perhaps. Hmm.

Anyways, it's way past my bedtime, and tomorrow's another full day. The indoor soccer leagues start this week, so now the Shenanigans are playing multiple times a week. I'm hoping to make at least one of the games each week, starting tomorrow...

With that, I bid Adieu.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Christmas in October!

Can I just say that I love, love, love my Nanna!!?!?

Today I received a package from my (favorite person in the world) dearest Nanna! A few weeks ago, we were talking about me missing Cajun food and how it's getting to be gumbo weather but I have no gumbo. So, she said she'd send me a jar of roux with directions on how to make gumbo here in Idaho. arrived today! Woot.

Not only did my package contain the much-anticipated roux, but also some "Cajun spaghetti sauce" (whatever that is...hey--I'm grateful for everything, ok?), and traditional Cajun spices such as garlic and onion powder and gumbo file! She also included some newspaper articles and pictures from the hurricanes, as well as a hat/gloves set, and warm slipper-type-socks. I can't wait to show the hurricane pictures and articles to everyone at work. Oh, and probably my favorite goodie item of all was the bag of lemon heads!!

Let me tell you, this package of love sure made my day! It was like receiving a mini "Christmas box" in October!! Though, I guess most of you have no idea what I'm refering to, in reference to a "Christmas box"...

So...we have this tradition in our family that Nanna started when we were little and now I won't let her quit... For christmas she would always put together these "family boxes" or "Christmas boxes" with random things for everyone in the funky socks, candy we liked, shampoo, toothpicks, envelopes...some useful and some fun things that come from like the Dollar Store or whatever...and I absolutely love the Christmas boxes becuase we just like tear it open and dive in, looking through it to figure out what's for us and what's for everyone else. It's kind of like a really fun scavenger hunt/guessing game. Over the years, there have come to be a few specific items that I know she always puts in there for me. These items include lemon head candy and funky socks, stationary, etc. So, when I saw the lemon heads and socks, it made me think of our Christmas boxes and how much I love them each and every year.

Last year, Nanna threatened to do away with the Christmas boxes, since we are all older now and the items are evolving into more useful, every-day things. In response, I complained for weeks about how it's just not Christmas without our boxes. I even told her that I'd rather have a Christmas box than a present, if it came down to one or the other. In the end, we did have the boxes for Christmas, after all...and I made sure to remind her that they MUST continue. So, today when I received the box, I told her that she better start working on my real Christmas box...or else. Hehe. (Okay, I was nicer about, but I did say that I expected a box for Christmas...tehehe. )

Anyways, I'm getting sleepy, so I think it's about time I get to bed. These 6:20 a.m. mornings suck royally...but I gotta do what I gotta do. Best wishes to all, and I'll try write again soon!

I love you, Nanna!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Week 5...SNOW!

Apparently I suck at updating regularly. Every time I tell myself I'm going to write often, nothing interesting happens, and when it does, I don't have time to write. Grr. The current trend includes weekly updates. I guess that's better than nothing, right?

Okay, work. Last Saturday (10/4) was my final night working in the Emergency Department. We had one patient with extreme respiratory distress, so it took a while to work with her, and she ended up being admitted to the PICU. Meanwhile, a two-year-old boy with a laceration to his head came in needing staples. My supervisor was busy working with the other patient, so I went ahead and worked with he and his family on my own. It was the first completely independent preparation and support that I'd done at all. Afterwards, I was super proud of myself for such an accomplishment! I definitely felt like it was a good way to end my rotation in the ED.

To celebrate my last night, our little group of peds ED people did a "Cajun Night" dinner. We had jambalaya, cornbread casserole, and apple pie. I was supposed to bring King Cake, but Kim had taken my food coloring to school, so the cake didn't pan out as planned. So, I guess it turned out to be more of a "Southern Night," but that's okay. The jambalaya was a huge hit, and we all enjoyed it. Mmm.

On Monday (10/6), I started working at the Mountain States Tumor Institute (MSTI), which is the outpatient oncology clinic; I'll be there until the beginning of November. MSTI is located in a separate building, but right next to the main hospital building, so I'm still close to the center of it all. In fact, it's pretty normal for us to make a trip up to the pediatric floor to see some of our oncology patients or for other random Child Life reasons. The clinical setting is very different from an inpatient one, but I think it's slowly growing on me. Things got better with each day this week. In fact, on Friday, I spent most of the day playing board games with the patients as they were waiting for their treatment. ...Work is so hard... :-P
So...guess what. It snowed on Friday!!! Yes, that's right, I've now officially seen snow!!! Wooooooooot. Oh my goodness. It was sooo...freaking...amazing!! Ah! It started snowing right after I'd gotten on the bus home from work, so I couldn't play in it until I got home forty minutes later. It was just plain torturous! Thankfully, Tessa was nice enough to play in it with me for a while, but then she escaped indoors "to make hot chocolate." (Personally, I think it was an excuse to get away from my insane excitement. lol.) I begged and pleaded with everyone I knew for someone to come and play with me. Luckily, Jason (one of Joey and Jesse's roommates) really likes snow, so Tessa called and asked him to come play with me. He came, and I had a grandddd ole time. We have over 75 pictures to prove it!! (If you want to see the pictures of me looking like a five year old snow fanatic, just let me know, and I'll send them to ya. Hehe.)

Also Friday (yes, it was a great, busy day), our whole gang went to Briana's going away party. Briana is the really sweet girl who came to have tea and crumpets on that English afternoon I wrote about. She's also lending me a whole box worth of wintery clothing items, most especially important--a winter coat. Yay. Anyways, Briana is moving to Honduras for five months to teach at a school there. To celebrate her greatness (hehe) and send best wishes, she had a Toga-themed party. Even though it wasnt my first time (i.e. summer at French immersion in Nova Scotia), dressing in the Toga theme was quite an interesting experience. We didn't stay very long, though, because the boys wanted to come over and watch a movie or something...whatever. But yes, we have pictures from the whole fiasco...some cute roommate bonding ones, too. :)
Last night (Saturday, 10/11), Kim, Tessa, and I went to Rockie's Diner, a great 50's diner located down the street from our apartment. I've been planning to eat at Rockie's since way back in July and am glad to have finally had the experience. The hamburgers are delicious (yes, I liked a hamburger, whoa), and our side items were great too. It was really wonderful for the three of us to just sit down and have some girl time. Usually the stupid boys (lol) are around, so we don't get much roommate bonding time. I'm putting this restaurant on the list of "To Do's" for when my mom and Dr. K come up to visit in November. I think they'll really like it...

Today has been a somewhat-busy, though always glorious Sunday. I love Sundays in Boise... The day began rather early with attendance at 8:30 a.m. Mass. Tessa and I usually bike to Mass but it's just too darn cold to do that anymore, so we somehow roped Kim into serving as our chauffeur.
After mass, we rushed home to start cooking breakfast, as we were hosting Fantasy Breakfast this week. In case I haven't mentioned it previously, Fantasy Breakfast originated earlier this year, and consists of an open house style brunch event. Invitations are sent out to anyone and everyone, but most especially the usual F.B. crew. Fantasy Breakfast rotates from house to house as sponsored by different individuals each week. The three of us have been to a few F.B. events over the last few months, so we figured it was about time to host it. Plus, we wanted to give Briana a final Fantasy Breakfast before she leaves on Tuesday.
In true Cajun-English style, the menu consisted of traditional Cajun and English breakfast items ranging from beignets to fried tomatoes and mushrooms, amongst other, more traditional breakfast goodies. The crowd today was rather slim, because so many people were busy or out of town enjoying the snow, but it was still fun, nonetheless. I'd say it was a success, and perhaps we'll have to host it again before Tessa and I leave in December.
This afternoon, we girls worked on our Shenanigans groupies t-shirts. lol. Shenanigans is the soccer team on which the boys play, and since we girls are weekly spectators, we decided to design t-shirts to support the team. We also serve as soccer moms/team secretaries/snack-nourishment providers/all other random roles, as needed. Thus, we now have team t-shirts and plan to wear them to the games each week. So what if it's cheesy...okay?

Speaking of soccer games...the next one starts in an hour, so I guess I better go...I'll try to write again soon!

Yay Sundays!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Work, Work, All Day Long...

To make this easier on myself, I now present to you, my summary paper for FACS 497: GFCS Internship... (Beware: It's 5 pages double spaced in Microsoft Word.)


In order to graduate with a Bachelor of Science Degree in General Family and Consumer Sciences: Child, Family, and Social Services at Nicholls State University (GFCS), students must complete a 480-hour internship in a related area of their choice. Because I am currently interested in earning my certification as a Child Life Specialist, I chose to pursue an internship with an established Child Life Program. This internship is just one component in qualifying for certification as a Child Life Specialist; the others components include taking ten courses in an approved area of study such as child and family development, as well as passing a national certification exam.

Child Life Programs are available in an increasing number of hospitals, most frequently those located in larger cities. These programs are typically organized by Certified Child Life Specialists and consist of two primary objectives: to help the child cope with the stress and anxiety of the hospital experience, and to promote the child’s normal growth and development while in the health care setting and after returning home. In order to accomplish these objectives, Child Life Programs utilize the following interventions: providing materials for guidance and play, preparing children for hospitalization, surgery, and medical procedures, lending emotional support to parents and siblings, advocating the child’s point of view to hospital personnel, and maintaining a receptive environment for children and their families. Child Life Programs offer a “home away from home,” and are a wonderful resource for families.

To begin the certification process earlier this year, I applied for internships with Child Life Programs across the country—10 different programs in 8 different states, to be exact. I completed a number of phone interviews featuring topics such as child development, family centered care, and my experiences within the hospital setting, volunteering, and working with children. My first internship offer came from St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital in Boise, Idaho, and because I had a friend from Nicholls who was already planning to move to Boise, as well as a few native Idahoan friends, I decided to accept this offer.

Throughout the summer, I was in contact with the hospital staff, securing professional liability insurance, providing a national background check, and turning in the required paperwork. In July, my friend, her family, and I, drove 2,000 miles to Idaho, taking along with us a moving truck worth of apartment furnishings. We secured our apartment and got settled in while enjoying the humidity-free weather and gorgeous scenery along the way. A few days later, I flew home to begin work at Camp Bon Coeur, a camp for children with heart defects, as well as enjoy the rest of the summer and time at home with my family.

About two weeks before beginning my internship, I traveled to Ohio to meet with two potential graduate programs and reunite with some friends of mine. While in Ohio, Hurricane Gustav set his sights on Louisiana. After rearranging my flight schedule twice, I ended up cancelling my flight home out of concern for getting stuck in an airport with no way into Louisiana before the storm. Instead, I stayed in Ohio a bit longer and then spent a week in Michigan with a friend who attends Michigan State University. I then flew from Detroit to Boise, arriving two days later than originally scheduled.

Upon arrival in Boise, I had only two days to get settled before beginning my internship at St. Luke’s on September 8th. The Child Life staff was very understanding about the storm situation—I did not have any of my paperwork for the hospital, my school assignments, or more than a week’s worth of work-appropriate clothing. Thankfully, my suitcase filled with professional clothing was mailed before Hurricane Ike’s landfall, arriving about a week later, and I received my paperwork about a week later than that.

There are two interns here in the Child Life Department at St. Luke’s—myself, and Gina, a recent graduate from the University of Idaho. The internship is organized based on a schedule where Gina and I rotate through various departments of the hospital. My first rotation is primarily in the Emergency Department, or ED, where as Gina is working on the fourth floor, which is the pediatric floor, and includes general pediatric rooms, as well as oncology rooms and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Later rotations will also include the Operating Room (OR) and the Mountain States Tumor Institute (MSTI), an outpatient pediatric oncology clinic.

In order to facilitate reflective learning, an intern meeting is held each week, usually on Fridays. The meetings include both interns, as well as their supervisors, and sometimes, other Child Life Specialists or guests such as the hospital schoolteacher or parent speakers. As interns, we discuss our weekly self-evaluations which feature “high” and “low” points for the week, our performance as interns, suggestions for how supervisors can help us better, progress toward accomplishing last week’s goals, and goals for the coming week. We also turn in assignments and our daily journals for our supervisors to read and add comments. Assignments include a “What to Do When” scenario worksheet, two 5-minute “What is Child Life” presentations, two Role Observation (ranking Child Life roles) assignments, seven therapeutic play session plans (one every two weeks), a personal philosophy statement, and a 5-8 page disease paper.

Working in the ED involves an unconventional schedule, to say the least. Most weeks, I work Thursday through Saturday from 1 p.m. to 12 a.m., Sunday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., and Monday from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. However, every third week is a Monday through Friday schedule with some shorter days, so that the Child Life Specialist has one weekend off each month. For the most part, I work a total of forty hours each week, regardless of the schedule.

Typically, I begin my day on the pediatric floor of the hospital and finish it in the pediatric emergency department. My supervisor and I start by getting an updated copy of the fourth floor census sheet (list of patients, their ages, room assignments, doctors, and medical conditions). Then we meet with the other Child Life Specialists who have been working with patients throughout the morning. We discuss which patients have been seen, which need to be seen, who is allowed to go to the playroom, and any special notes such as upcoming procedures. By the time we arrive, most patients have generally been seen by a Child Life Specialist already. Sometimes, however, the floor is rather busy, so my supervisor and I help the other specialists with visiting patients, assessing their level of coping, explaining about child life services, and just making sure we are doing everything possible to make their stay in the hospital the best that it can be.

Because I only spend a couple of hours each day working on the pediatric floor, and it is not my official rotation at this time, I have not been able to build relationships with very many patients yet. The other intern and some of the Child Life Specialists spend more time on the floor working with the same children each day, where as I stop in only to say “hi” every now and then. For this reason, I have found it difficult to develop a sense of confidence for working on the pediatric floor up to this point. I have, however, completed a few patient assessments, usually with the supervision of a specialist, and a few times on my own. The assessments document important information about the patient and their family, helping us to know them a little bit better. Some topics include the patient’s age and grade in school, parents’ names, siblings’ names and ages, pets, and general interests or other information.

The majority of my time, about six hours each day, is spent in the pediatric ED. When patients come into the ED, we review their medical history, chief complaints, and acuity level. We then predict the medical course of action and services we can offer through Child Life. If a child is going to be waiting for a while, we go in and introduce ourselves and offer play materials such as books, toys, crayons, or movies. In cases where procedures are necessary (sutures, CT scans, X-rays, IVs, etc.), we prepare children for the procedures based on their age, previous hospital experience, and level of understanding. We also offer distraction and support during procedures, using spinning lights, find-it books, view-finder toys, breathing and visualization techniques, and much more.

Throughout my time in the ED, I have seen many interesting situations. My very first night, there was a little boy who came in with a fishing hook stuck in his eyelid, and on a different instance, a teenage boy was kicked in the face by a horse, resulting in a broken nose and lacerations. There have since been plenty of lacerations needing suture repairs, as well as abdominal pain requiring emergency appendectomies.

Probably the most difficult situation that I have dealt with in my internship experience has been sexual assault. In my first two weeks, there were four female patients with complaints of sexual assault. The girls ranged in age from thirteen months through fifteen years old. Sure, I knew sexual assault occurred more frequently than I was willing to admit, but now I see that it is an epidemic.

Though it has just begun, the whole internship experience has already opened my eyes in ways I never expected. Looking toward the future, I am sad about concluding my time in the ED, but excited about moving on to new experiences in other parts of the hospital. In the end, my ultimate goal is making the most of this opportunity in every way. It is my hope that experience will have afforded me the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed at a career within the helping profession, regardless of where life takes me.


There. Now you know about work. :)
Feel free to comment/ask questions.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Boppin' Around Boise

Well darn. I had super high hopes of writing a blog before October, but I guess it's too late for that now. Things here are just so crazy busy, and my work schedule is insane (but only for a few more days), so blogging just has not worked out. For this, I apologize.

Now, as I sit watching the Boise State vs. LA Tech football game, I figure it's as good a time as any to write. (Not to mention, I got a complaint today...saying I hadn't written in two weeks. heh.) So. I now present to update!

I better say this while I still can...Idaho is GLORIOUSLY GORGEOUS! The weather has been just plain amazing. For a while, Tessa (English roommate) and I rode our bikes to the park on my days off, just sitting out and admiring the beauty of it all. One weekend, it rained (yes, rain in the desert, imagine that!) so the temperatures dropped from the mid-nineties to the seventies for a few days. Lately, the temperatures have ranged from mid-eighties during the day to low fifties at night. ...Word has it, there will be snow in the mountains after the rain that's heading our way this weekend. Eek!

It's just so dang pretty outside! Every time I see the mountains, I sit in awe of their glory. Jeff (4-H friend from Idaho) says they're brown and ugly, but I just think they're so amazing. The leaves are starting to change colors now, so soon the greens will be yellows and reds. In fact, next week marks the 1 year anniversary of my first trip to Idaho, and I definitely remember there being beautiful fall colors during my visit. I'll have to go out and take some pictures for everyone to see that real seasons do, in fact, exist, in some places. ;)

What else...oh, the apartment. And roommates. Yeah, sooo...Joey (Kim's Idaho native boyfriend) found an apartment for Kim (and Tessa and I) way back at the beginning of the summer, and Kim moved in at the beginning of July. (Some of you may remember reading about this in earlier posts.) Tessa, our English roommate who is dating Joey's roommate, Jesse (also Idaho native), moved in a few days before I made it up to Idaho. We were supposed to get settled in on the same day, but due to the hurricane ordeal, she beat me to it.

So anyways, we three girls live in a quaint two bedroom apartment on "the Bench" of Boise, Idaho. Tessa has her own room, where as Kim and I share the Master bedroom. I sleep on a twin sized (rather comfy) air mattress, and share part of Kim's massive closet. It's working out rather well, thus far.

As for Tessa's English-ness, I absolutely love it!! We have a running list of English-American comparisons that are rather interesting. For example, American's call clothing for your legs "pants," where as the English refer to them as "trousers." On the flip side, Americans refer to clothing for your lower area as "underwear," and Englishmen call them "pants." You can about imagine the snickers I hear when making comments such as, "I'm going put on some pants." Tehehe.

One day, we had an afternoon of tea and crumpets. Briana (a new Idaho friend!) came over and we had a wonderful teatime experience. We also had yummy cookies and ice cream. Mmm.

Speaking of new cultural experiences, this past Saturday, we girls hosted a cultural party! It was a Louisiana-England food mayhem! I made jambalaya and King Cake, Kim made red beans and rice and pastalaya, and Tessa made fairy cakes and cucumber sandwiches. We decorated with American and English flags, red, white, blue everythings, ribbon, and Mardi Gras beads. To maximize the seating and eating area, the boys brought over a table and chair from their house. We also had random chips and candy snacks, and Tessa made a summer drink concoction using Pimm's which is some famous English beverage. It was a grand ole time and we have tons of pictures. Yay.

The following day, Sunday, we girls went to the boys' soccer game. Joey, Jesse, their roommates, and friends all play on a men's city soccer team. We like to go watch the games because it's a good excuse to sit outside and enjoy the outdoors for a while. I was particularly excited about this game because (due to my crazy work schedule) it was the first one in a few weeks that I managed to attend. Boy was I glad I made it to this one, because sure turned into an eventful experience.

To make a long story short, two of our players ended up in the Emergency Department at St. Alphonsus hospital. When the first guy got hurt, I offered to go with Briana as she brought the guy to the hospital, so that she wasn't alone. Meanwhile, we got word that a second player was hurt and on his way to the ED, following the game. Before it was all over with, the entire soccer team hung out in the ED waiting room, taking turns sittting with the guys while they were going through the whole ED process. Finally, both guys were said to have concussions, one of which also had a broken cheekbone. Once they were both released, we all headed over to IHOP for a late dinner, and the two injured players spent the night at the boys' house for observation. ...I felt so accomplished! Basically, doing Child Life work on my day off, heh.

As for work, I believe that deserves an entire blog entry of its own. For this reason, I think it's best for me to stop here... Now that I've taken the time to write a brief update about my first month here in Boise, perhaps I'll manage to blog again more often.

Thanks to all for your patience.