Monday, November 30, 2009

I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself king of infinite space....

It's the last month of internship, and I have been dreaming.

Most of the dreams involve the Old House. That's the house I grew up in, the house in which my sister used to say, "Here, Jo, smell *this*!", the house El Erstwhilo and I bought from my parents when we were first married. (Yes, before you ask, it was weird. I found myself looking for things I remembered Mom having, in the places where she kept them, before my brain would remember what my body didn't know: that those things weren't there any more.)

Most of the dreams also include tornadoes, or bad storms. Some of them involve El Erstwhilo and the woman whom he left me for, who doesn't get a nickname here because my mother reads this blog. In the latest, from this afternoon's nap, I was in the upstairs bath watching a tornado come rolling in while simultaneously trying to get Max in from the back yard and applying eyeliner.

The one last night had El Erstwhilo and La Cucaracha (hey, it starts with 'c') in it: they'd covered the outside of the house with ugly beige brick and had lined the insides with panelling. Furniture was floating in midair, suspended by ropes while a new floor got laid.

My dream interpretation book, published during the height of interest in Spiritualism after the First World War, tells me that houses, especially childhood homes, are symbols of my perception of myself. Storms and tornadoes ("cyclones") say that I'm either undergoing a massive change internally, or I'm unsure of whether my current relationships are healthy. Makeup means I'm either trying to hide my true self or put my best face forward. The books say nothing about ex-husbands or cuckolding best friends or large, shaggy blond dogs with a jones for kitty bellies.

And yet, the book is right. My perception of myself has changed considerably in the last few weeks. Although I probably couldn't handle a CCU-level crisis, I can handle a lot more than I could in September. F'rinstance: I know where all the cords go, who's likely to give me report on what, which doctor wants what (fer Godssake, don't put a three-way on Doctor X's patients! He hates those damned things!), and I can give a simple, plain-English explanation of What All Those Beeping Things Mean to the most freaked-out of family members.

In short, hugs are second nature now.

Hugs were never second nature on the floor. In the CCU, people need them. I am not--despite what casual observers might say--naturally a very touchy, affectionate person. These families *need* it, though, as when a family member misread "ARTIFACT" on a monitor as "ARREST" and fled the room in a panic. A side-hug calmed her down when no amount of intellectual explanation would.

So my personal perception of Jo is changing, fearfully changing. I'm still not sure whether I'll be a *good* CCU nurse as fast as I'd like to be, but I have no doubt I'll be an *acceptable* CCU nurse.

I have one more month to commit to memory whether it's atropine-bicarb-epi-what the hell or whether it's epi-atropine-bicarb-oh-scruit. I have one more month to try to memorize what color tube gets what blood for what test, and to remember that levelling an A-line means turning it *off* to the patient and *open* to air, and why (thank Frogs for my Holy Kamole preceptor, who explained that!).

Jo is totally, completely, unironically ordinary in real life. Maybe I can move from being ordinary and acceptable in this job to being extraordinary, as I did in my last one.

We'll see. Three more weeks to go, and we'll see.


Alpine, R.N. said...

I'm a TERRIBLY not-huggy person. It has taken a lot of getting used to being hugged in school. I'm ALMOST at the point where I dont freeze up and glare at people for touching me. :-p

I'm sure you'll be AWESOME! stopcocks still scare me.

Molly said...

That's nothing. I once had a dream where Friedrich Nietszche dressed up in a clown suit and tried to murder me. (Really.)

I'm surprised there's not a rule, written or not, about not hugging patients or their families. Not that I think there should be, but I'm surprised that there isn't.

Andrea said...

How I remembered to level lines: you know how the patient-side tubing is stiff and the other side is soft? I tell myself (every day still) "turn toward the stiff". As in mortuary lingo. Sick humor, yes, but I never forget it.

I feel such a connection with you. Been an RN for four years, CCU for three. CV junkie and neuro wuss. Love my job to pieces. :)

Anonymous said...

Hmm. You might consider including in your next dream what The Ghost In The aforementioned House might end up evidencing - yr mom has adopted Newagespeak - at the idea of ugly facing, floating furniture and new paneling. I remember that he was *quite* active during the installation of wallboard.

As for the rest of it, keep us informed.

Unknown said...

Bless you for hugging. Those of us who *need* the hugs thank you from the bottoms of our hearts. I hope and pray they NEVER put a rule out there saying no hugs. I have a friend who was born a premie - for 4 months, she was in the big bubble thing, and had no human contact at all. She is now 35 and HATES to be touched. But, she hugs her friends, and she offers that hand that calms and helps. Bless you Jo for not being touchy and overly affectionate. Bless you for being there when people need you.

Penny Mitchell said...

What great timing. I just had this passed along to me:

...which, as a born-again Christian, makes me want to run out and full-frontal hug every damn person I encounter.

Keep on huggin', Jo.

CandyGirl said...

I always dream of tornadoes when I'm particularly harassed and stressed and just overwhelmed.

I also frequently dream of the house I grew up in. Didn't know if meant how you perceive yourself - quite interesting.