Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Day Three of being Snowed in--slowly losing my mind...

It is too flipping cold out.  Not only that but Mother Nature dumped about a foot of snow on us, well at least she waited until school break. (Not that I care, but I still would have to make up class time for nursing school & my son's school calendar does not build in snow days.)  My car has been plowed in TWICE. The geniuses of the "association" tossed my door mat into a pile of snow (mind you it is the ONLY thing that keeps flooding rainwater out of my front door.)

My son refuses to listen to me. He gets obsessed with certain topics and is trying to drive me insane. So I just tell him he has 5 seconds before I start returning Christmas presents, hey I could use the cash. 

My mother brought over a shovel so at least I have a chance to dig out my car from the mounds of icy snow the "association" plowed in twice (did I mention TWICE!!!)

My wonderful child keeps making messes in the kitchen and throughout the house. He's convinced himself that he is going to go sledding (mind you at 20F it's sheets of ice outside!) He claims that he is starving to death (I actually have non-perishables in the house. No milk. No eggs. But I do have toilet paper). 

The dogs are insane.  Especially since it is so flipping cold outside & I have to carry my miniature horses outside & across the street because the "association" puts down so much freeking calcium salt that it burns their paws & the idiots try & lick the salt off. But I shouldn't be surprised since one dogs steals tissues to eat and the other will eat anything she can get her little paws on.  They are content right now keeping me warm laying in my lap.

Oh yeah, I need more dog food. Those who fed the dogs on Friday morning failed to let me know that the bin was empty. Comfort & Joy,  My mutts are rather happy with carrots & chicken nuggets right now.

My son is truly on another planet. He disappears for 15 minutes to do things that should take 30 seconds. I can see how his teacher would be chronically frustrated at my little genius's inefficiency.  I've been doing some reading for school, and my practice assessments online (and doing well thank you very much!)  We've been watching old shows & odd movies on TV. Lots of hot cocoa. (Love my Keurig)

Hey last night I made pancakes for dinner.  I think I'm going to make my son clean the bathtub today and maybe I can finally fix my toilet tank. (Thank you eHow videos!)  I am getting tired of "yelling" at my crazy 8 year old.  But he can be cute especially with his odd choices in wardrobe.

On the positive side of life I do fit into a pair of windpants that haven't fit in at least 4 years.  Oh and check out my new blog banner I created it myself using a digital scrapbooking program from Stampin' Up! I used a photo we took of T-Rex at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC (aka "Rexie" from the Night of the Museum movie)/

Saturday, December 25, 2010

People wonder why I don't like Christmas (But I truly love my son)

So here it is Christmas morning and I still don't have my tree up (and at this point I'm not going to bother). Just too exhausted with nursing school & taking care of my son, (who is very good at exhausting his mom)

For months now my aunt keeps telling me how much I suck. When her father (my grandfather) died she broke her lease and then moved into her mother's house with her son. (Who was about the same age as my son when my father died)  She kept telling me if I am a good person I'd move into my mother's house.

A few problems there:
  1. Unlike my aunt, I own my home.
  2. I don't like the school district in the neighboring town, I've fought long & hard with my current district.
  3. I don't really WANT to live with my mother again.
  4. My mother doesn't really want me to move in, but we'd both make it work if it was necessary.
  5. The real estate market is in the toilet.
  6. There have been many issues with my siblings over the years. Compounded by the fact that I am the only one who didn't move out of NJ. So of course my mom knows my son best, because she sees him all the time.  I could just hear the nasty remarks now if we moved in with my mom!!! (Would you believe my one psycho sister actually told me that I;ve "had mommy long enough" and that I need to tell her to move by my sister in VA or the mutants in GA.  (My mom doesn't WANT to move out of state.. She doesn't like GA. And she doesn't like my BIL in VA(
I did promise my mom that when she sells her house she can move in with us in our condo. Plus we have cable & internet.

So anyhow my one sister has flown in for her "annual" visit (one that often costs my mom big bucks that she doesn't have). She calls my mom occasionally during the year but never helps out with money, solid advice, or anything else.   My grandmother basically declared my son and I chopped liver last night because "your mother is all alone" and "thank God you're here (little sister) because no one helps your mother and no one stays with her." Huh? My sister sleeps until noon (she is on CA time). She's not as bad as my other sister who takes my mother's car and leaves her stranded.  Shopping is a hobby rather than a necessity for her, my mom usually buys things with her that she can't afford. 

On the good side...I kept my mouth shut.  Amazing how she gives $100 to my cousin & his wife (who bought a second home out of state 8hrs away and make more money than I have in 10 years) and as usual I get a sneer. "Because they may need something on the drive to their beach house."  Yeah okay. Thanks for passive-aggressively calling me chopped liver to my face.

Best part is my aunt will claim that my mother tells her and my grandmother how rotten I am. When I ask my mother she tell me she says no such thing and if anything she tells them how grateful she is to have us nearby. We help each other out financially and emotionally.

So Merry firggin' Christmas to you all!

Santa didn't leave too much last night. He forgot the stocking stuffers in my trunk. Left the presents at my mother's house.  But left a little red bag with coal next to my son.  My son was very excite when he opened the red bag.  He said "cool, I LOVE rocks!"  My son is such a nerdy, geek like me.  Our next quest this AM is to look up coal on the internet and find it's chemical properties.

Oh, and revenge will be sweet. I purposely didn't buy nosy toys for my nephew & niece. So what does my cousin give my son a friggen Bop-It with no off button!  I told my nephew to make sure he wakes up Mom & Dad with his drum (from last Christmas) at 3AM this morning. (He's 2 so I'm not sure if he followed through with his promise).  But next round of birthdays & Christmas, his son & daughter will be sure to get the most obnoxious, loud no-off-button toys (age appropriate of course) that my son & I can find.

Anyone have suggestions?

Friday, December 24, 2010

I think I have finally found my niche in life...reflections on nursing school

I started nursing school in September.  The lecture portion is rather challenging but also common sense to me. I have been doing rather well between my personal background & experience and our texts & lectures, my grades truly reflect my knowledge and effort.  In the beginning of December, we started our clinical rotations.  For the current rotation, our class has been divided between three sites. A rehabilitation hospital, a long term care/rehab facility, and a sub acute facility that also has long term patients.  My first stop for the month of December has been the rehabilitation hospital. The first half I was on the medium stay wing with mostly surgical/orthopedic patients. Patients on this wing are inpatient for 1-6 weeks depending on their condition and medical history. 

At first it was daunting to assume the role as student nurse and have a higher level of responsibility for patient care. While previous patient care experience taught me how to interact with patients and do some simple procedures (such as blood pressure, dressing changes, and the like) it was still a subordinate role that was directed by an RN or an LPN (and in some cases the MD/DO).  The level of documentation as a nurse is vastly different of that required of a PCA, CNA, or EMT.  After the first day, it was a bit easier.

It was truly awesome to see the changes in patients over a short period of time. For example, the woman who the first day I saw her was very anxious and needy, in addition to being doubtful of her own abilities. She told me initially that she could not do anything herself, and was worried that she'd have another complication that would send her back to the acute care hospital. I worked on building her confidence, and reminding her of what she COULD do rather than what she couldn't do.  I told her I would help her do what her present condition prevented her from doing, and the health care team would work together to build her independence.  She was apprehensive but was proud to tell me what she could do. (She did think it was funny that I had a hard time helping her with her hair clips. I don't use them in my own hair and I have a son...) 
The best part was when I came back the following week, another student told me to go in and help her with care, stating that "she requires a lot of help."  I walked into the room and asked her how I could help her, she told me she just needed her reading glasses. I obliged, and when she 'dismissed me' I reminded her that I was only a call button away if she needed me.  The most incredible part was what I overheard when I was outside the room working on my paperwork.  She had gotten a new roommate the evening before. The roommate was tired and apprehensive. The patient proudly told her of her recent accomplishments towards independence, and even said "(This team) is great, in a week you'll be surprised at what you can do by yourself again."  The primary nurse for the day was next to me and smiled, "That is what this job is all about."

I most certainly think I have made the right choice going into nursing. 

These past two weeks I was on the other side of the hospital. While a still a sub acute unit, the patients required a higher level of care due to their more complex conditions; plus their length of stay is much longer often 2-3 months.  I had my "own" patient assignment, this week I had another gentleman.  He explained why the holidays are such a difficult time for him.  (We had just finished our nursing fundamentals unit on communication & therapeutic communication/emotional support the day before our assignment shifted.)  Now previously I might have said "I understand how you feel.", "It must be tough for you." but this time I did not.  I reflected on my own experiences and the lecture on how frustrating these seemingly empathetic statements can be to someone.

Simply, I said "There is nothing that I can say that is going to make it better." My patient brightened a bit and said "You know you are right." Then I did the skill that is probably the most difficult skill to master, I simply listened to him. I was silent, as that was most appropriate. After listening to him for a while, I could hear the pride in his voice when he casually mentioned his family.  When it was time, I asked him if his family was nearby....the reaction was amazing.

My patient was rather ill, in addition to being despondent.  He lit up like a Christmas tree when talking about his children and grandchildren.  He showed me the items decorating his room that his adult children had delivered. He proudly told me of his youngest grandchild that was able to visit him.

When I returned this week, he had taken a few steps backward in the way he was feeling. His plan of care altered as nursing & medicine in general must be flexible.  But again he greatly improved when his family visited or when given an opportunity to (boast proudly)talk about his family.  I reinforced small accomplishments, such as finishing getting ready nearly 20 minutes faster than the day prior. (We are there 2 days a week.)

I knew, at least emotionally, he was feeling better when he commented on receiving a physician's order for a day pass to go to his family's home for Christmas Day.  He even smiled and said that he knew who would be picking him up. I took the 'bait' and asked him "Who?" He said since his pass is for 7AM, he knew that it would be his daughter with his youngest grandchild, since like most young children she had everyone up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning to see what Santa had left overnight. I had to smile. 

This week's experience helped me to see the true value in silence and active listening. If I hadn't been listening the first day, I would not be aware that he had a positive relationship with his children. Asking if his children was nearby could have royally backfired if he felt that his children "abandoned" him or if they were not on speaking terms.  By taking cues from our conversation, I was able to know when to gently transition the conversation to his pride and joy, his family.  Even with my female patient last week, she started off nervous and negative about her ability, but asking her if she could do simple tasks and seeing her smile & say "I CAN do that!" (and more excitedly with each task that she realized she could still do) was wonderful and enlightening..

I also learned how much a person's emotional state and their self-confidence can impact their medical condition(s) and progress. Simply empowering a patient toward independence can positively impact their ability to recover, in addition to raising their self-confidence.  I also realized that permitting a patient to share their positive experiences or talk about a source of pride (in my one patient's case--his family) can improve their overall appearance.  Happiness and comfort can affect our vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, respiration rate) and our ability to heal.  While I may have always known this in my heart, it was amazing to see the effect in clinical practice.  To know that even as a student, I was able to play a minuscule part in raising a person's self confidence and self esteem is humbling. To know I had an effect on the life of another...well there are no words for that.

Sure I have had a direct impact on my son's life, emotional state and well being, but that is harder to see because I am with him everyday.  Kind of like losing weight gradually, you may not notice until someone else comments (or preferably compliments. :) )

On thinking clearly, and potty mouth....

I am loving nursing school, but that's another post. So son started school in the "out of district" self-contained class. He LOVES going to school now. He LOVES his van "bus" driver. He LOVES his teacher, and his classmates. Not too keen on the school "social worker".  His teacher Mrs. B is most definitively a true asset to teaching. When he had a particularly bad day I got a call, saying Blue was not doing well, uncharacteristically verbally defiant. (as in teacher: "Please open your books so we can go over the directions." Blue "I'm not opening my book." teacher "please open your books so we can go over the directions." Blue: "I don't need directions since I'm not going to do the work anyway" and proceeds to toss is book on the floor.) Ummm, ok. Well she and I both know his "typical" refusal is to stare off into space and ignore the present, "refusal by default" is what we call it. Sometimes it can be semi-intentional (he's frustrated and thinks if he ignores everyone they'll just go away) other times it's unintentional (he's just in his own little world)

I get the call (nearly got in trouble since cell phones are not permitted in the classroom. I was on lunch break. Of course my mom couldn't leave work either.)
Mrs. B tells me about his day thus far, then says "Can I ask you a question?" 
me: "Um OK" 
Mrs B. "Is (Blue) on any new medication?"
me: (puzzled) "No, why?"
Mrs. B. "He told me this morning that he couldn't think clearly because he didn't take his medication." (The other students apparently are ADHD and often blame their inability to focus & think on new medication or forgetting to take their medication.)
me: trying not to laugh. "Did he perhaps use the term 'Claritin Clear'?"
Mrs. B. "Now that you mention it, yes."
me: "He had a bit of a runny nose this morning & sneezing. I offered him a dissolvable Claritin tablet and he refused." (trying not to laugh) "The commercial "Think clearly. Claritin Clear." has been running on TV a lot lately."
Mrs. B. "His eyes are pretty glassy and he has been sneezing." (clearly trying not to laugh now)
me: "So would it be easier if I pick up miserable boy early?"
Mrs. B. (now giggling) "I think that would be great. He is pretty miserable. and he didn't get much work done today. Can I send it home with him?"(under her breath I can see her say "Claritin clear, I can't believe it" and chuckle)
me: "I'll be there as soon as I can." ( I think she broke into hysterics once she hung up)

Flash forward to me arriving at school, though he came skipping up the hall big smile on his face, eyes red and tearing, sneezing every few minutes.  me "Dude, you know this isn't a reward. You are in big trouble. You have a lot of work to be done. And since you made me leave class, now you have to come back to school with me and be our patient for the rest of the afternoon."
He stopped short "uh, uh, really?"  me "no dude, my class is almost over, we're going home"

He passed out within 30 minutes of getting home. Allergies can exhaust you.

Yep that's my kid the parrot. He didn't even know he was funny this time.

The parrot thing can be not such a good thing too. Being in a class with three other 8 year old boys, two who have older siblings, can be an asset or a detriment sometimes. Especially with the discovery of "potty mouth".

No not THAT kind of potty mouth. More like bathroom, toilet humor. Like "potty", "butt" "poop" "pee" "fart" and a few others. Sometimes all it took to set them off was "I need to go to the bathroom."
My son was NOT alone in this endeavor, but sometimes his internal sensors didn't tell him to stop. Sure it's funny but not all the time. He was starting to get out of control.

So the decision was made between parent & teacher. Each potty word would cost him one piece of Halloween candy. His behavior report would have a tally of words for the day.  Let's just say my son got to eat very little Halloween candy this year. It KILLED him to turn over the bag of candy to his teacher each week. He tried to "forget" he had it, but forgot that mom & Mrs. B actually talk to each other (unlike previous teachers). So Mrs. B knew to ask for her payment.

Yeah, well potty mouth & inappropriate words have pretty much stopped now.

All in all the best was that we encountered the principal/guidance counselor from the home school earlier this month. She spoke with my now animated son, before he excused himself (!!) and went to play with his friend.  She came up to me later and said "In three years I've never seen your son so happy." (Even the CST case manager said the same thing when she did a classroom observation in early October) It took all that I had to not say "Well the only thing different now is that he is not in your school anymore. Coincidence perhaps, I think not." but alas I didn't say it. (My sensors work MUCH better than my son's) I simply said thank you.

Sure my kid is not perfect. This placement is not the BEST for him, but it certainly is an improvement over last years. He has an awesome teacher, and the paraprofessional classroom assistant is just that a classroom assistant. Unlike the classroom aides in his previous school who thought they were co-teachers (without a license) or his 1:1 who would change his assignments without consulting the resource room or classroom teacher. The paraprofessional is a professional, she works in tandem with Mrs. B.

One day at a time. Oh and not only has my son's reading ability skyrocketed (as I already knew. His 2nd grade teacher didn't know he could read because he refused to read aloud in class. She was a bit huffy when the resource room teacher said he read for her all the time in the small group setting.), he is actually voluntarily without much prompting doing is journal writing and other writing assignments. Now that he is getting his ideas out, she is working on properly answering questions in a full sentence and basic grammar & composition.  He still has difficulty with addition/subtraction but he is ROCKING multiplication.

He is still obsessed with rocks, weather, astronomy,Legos and science in general. Me being such a geek, I am absolutely thrilled. Now he wants an Erector set (we saw one on TV yesterday that was used as a prototype model for a major invention. And it was major league cool.) Funny part is that I had one in my cart at TRU, but put it back thinking I was projecting my interests onto him, since I always loved Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Legos & Erector sets as a child. Plus I figured I'd end up having to build it anyway. Darn it, now that he knows what it is he wants it!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Musing--my Aspie and his instincts...

Let's face it, most Aspies are quirky and have social defecits. It is just who they are, my own philosophy is to just accept my son for who he is, and to help him to understand the nuances of social communication as best as I can. Sure my son needs social skills groups, art therapy, a behaviorist, speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy, but so do a lot of other children.  There has been speculation that some of the great figures in history my have also been Asperger's or on the spectrum. They survived and thrived and so will my child.

There are many times where my son's social defecits are painfully obvious. He has poor pragmatic language and expressive language skills. This is obvious when it's time to 'share jokes'. At least he has his old standby that he knows is funny and why. (Where do cows go on dates? To the moo-vies.) Other times he hears a joke and is confused but laughs because the others are laughing.  His social awkwardness shows when he meets a new group of children. As he gets older, social nuances are more confusing.

However, my son does have good instincts. Even from his preschool years. My dad used to get upset when he'd pick my son up from day care and the boys would be playing on one side of the classroom and the girls would be playing in the kitchen area. Little Boy Blue would be playing with the girls, complete with apron.  It would be frustrating for my father, but at least he only verbalized this to my mother and me and never interfered.  He found out why when he came a bit earlier to pick up Blue.  The boys would be ripping toys out of each other's hands, tackling, and beating each other over the head with plastic dinosaurs. The girls would help my son in play, and even let him choose his role. They were more mild in their pretend play. My father came home that night, and said "Now I know why (Blue) plays with the girl, he's smart. The boys are out of control and always in time-out. (Blue) knows how ot stay out of trouble."

When he was 4 & 5 my son played instructional soccer. He's a little clumsy and had some difficulty with the various skills. Soccer simply didn't hold his attention.  Occasionally he'd have a shot on goal, however it was because another player went down. My son would stop and make sure the other child was okay and help them up (regardless if they were on the other team).  His coach who was working on getting my son's 'head in the game', turned to me and said "Well daydreaming we can work on, but I don't want to change his empathy and care for others."  I just smiled. At 4 my son would rather give up a goal to help another child.  That is something you cannot teach, no matter how hard you try.

Flash forward to the present day.   Each child in the social skills group has their own challenge, but over the 10 sessions they often make a friend.  In the first group, my son gravitated towards this young girl (his age). Some would think it was because the other boys in the group were more aggressive and over the top, but it turned out this girl really needed a friend.  Not only was she a foster child who's original home was out of state, later I found out that there was more to the story. This young girl has had an extremely difficult time in her short life.  The mom approached me a few weeks into the session to tell me how her foster daughter gushed about her new friend Blue. She said how much she apprieciated my son's befriending her.  She has a very hard time making friends since she was so isolated in her birth family.  This little girl needed a friend, and that friend was my son.