Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On birthing fake, plastic babies.

There are moments in nursing school that are stressful, funny, chaotic, infuriating, wonderful, and sad.

And then there are moments that are straight up ridiculous. I'd say 99% of those moments involve our school's "high fidelity mannequins." They are plastic dummies, but we're supposed to call them "high fidelity mannequins" so as not to hurt their fake, plastic feelings. Seriously these things are literally worth their weight, and then some. Like tens of thousands of dollars worth of robot. If there were a horrible fire at school, and the administration had to choose who the firemen would save between the mannequins and the students...

well let's just say the mannequins have better insurance policies.

We have these simulations with the high fidelity mannequins, and have had them from the beginning, when it was just baths and changing sheets. We've taken the mannequins' vitals (and they have vitals, heart sounds, pulses, and respirations, because (dramatic pause), THEY'RE ALIVE!). We've given them meds, blood transfusions, IVs. Two semesters ago we lost a mannequin. He flatlined in a tragic code, despite our heroic rescue attempts. I haven't mentioned it on this blog, because I'm still grieving. I'll never forget the look in his shiny doll eyes.

Taking a moment to collect myself. Moving on.

This semester things have gotten even more fun. Because guess what? Mannequins come in all kinds of varieties, like child size! And pregnant!

There is nothing quite as soul destroying as having to practice nursing care on a glorified doll (if my school knew I called it a "doll" right then I think they would expel me on the spot). Not only do we get videotaped and then have to watch it back, but the simulation objectives always, always, include "practice loving kindness."

Pause for a moment.

I am 27 years old and I get graded on practicing loving kindness to a giant Ken doll.

To be fair I've gotten used to it. I'm a little better at keeping a straight face when my mannequin says things like (oh yes, it TALKS, and cries, and bleeds and poops and sweats and wheezes, there is no limit to what these things can and cannot do) "I don't feel well."

Today was a first though. Today's simulation ended with the arrival of new mannequin life into the world. Of course we didn't know in advance. We never do. The teachers like to keep the simulation mysterious and secretive, like we're going in to elect a pope.

We got in the room today to get "report", on a homeless, drug addicted teenage pregnant girl and within minutes our patient was crowning. Just picture this beautiful, nugget of a moment.

With one arm I'm holding the mannequin's leg as far up as it would go toward the ceiling (I think she can technically sue me for sexual assault now), with my other hand (warning this is about to get as graphic as any conversation about plastic will get), I am sticking my fingers into her hoo haw to keep the umbilical cord away from the baby's head. I am also alternately shouting "breathe!" and "push!" and "you can do it!". The mannequin is shouting back at me "don't touch me!" and "mommmy!"(our teachers control what they say from a little man behind the curtain set up in the room). My classmate across from me is doing the same thing with the other leg. Another classmate is gowned and gloved at the foot of the bed, delivering the plastic baby that is rapidly coming out of our mannequins lady bits, because our "doctor" is stuck in traffic.

That is literally something that happened to me.

And it is about only the 50th weirdest thing that has happened to me in nursing school.

Also, it is my worst fear to be alone at my school at night. Because you just know it is a horror movie WAITING to happen with all of those talking, coding, baby birthing mannequins all over the place.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Charleston was.

Had an absolutely wonderful time in Charleston, as I always do. And as always, it was really, really hard to leave (like checking out Zillow for a $500 shack I might be able to buy and live in there hard). Some highlights:

-Morning runs. I could just kick my past self for not being a runner when I lived in Charleston. Because it is such an amazing city to run in. I look forward to waking up early and running. When I'm on vacation. Seriously. Because this is what I see on those early morning runs, when the tourists aren't out in full force yet, and the streets are quiet and soft, and the air is cool but the sun is warm. 


And this.

-Food. Oh so much delicious food. From an oyster slider (sweet home-baked roll, the most flavorful fried oyster, this out of control Asian sauce) that almost made me pass out at The Ordinary to some of the best chicken I've ever eaten in my life at Stars (that wood-fire oven is magical). From banana/peanut butter muffins at Baked to more oysters and beer at Pearlz. From morning coffee at City Lights to fried pickles and sparkling rose at the Bar at Husk, to finally, the main event, after so main failed attempts to get reservations, dinner at Husk, Sean Brock's restaurant that Bon Appetit called the best new restaurant in America when it opened in 2011. We had insanely good mussels and fried chicken skin for an appetizer, a skillet of cornbread for the table (I am highly skeptical of restaurant cornbread, because homemade is usually far superior, but holy wow, there must be a bunch of Southern grandmas in the Husk kitchen, because this was ridiculously good), and then I had trout and Carolina gold rice for my main, nothing crazy, nothing weird, just Southern food the way Southern food really is to anyone who knows it, all about great, traditional, local ingredients, from seafood to vegetables to rice, served to taste fricking amazing. I am positive I gained at least 5 pounds in Charleston. But it was so totally worth it.

-Kayaking at Middleton Place. I only went to Middleton Place once when I lived in Charleston, at night for  a Spoleto concert, and I definitely never kayaked the Ashley near Middleton. But I'm so glad we did this weekend, because it was such a great way to experience my beautiful Lowcountry. Tidal marshes are always what get to me most about Charleston, more than that ocean or those rivers or the harbor. Maybe it's just me, but there's something rawly soulful about a tidal marsh, the way it ebbs and flows, rises and falls, carries things from the ocean and carries things (and manatees! although only in the summer darn it) back to it. Tidal marshes are unpretentious and quiet next to those big bodies of water all around Charleston, but they are without question its life blood. And they infuse the whole area, even inland, with that hint of salt, with that promise of wide, blue sea.

We had an awesome guide, one of those people who grew up in Charleston that I am so jealous of because they literally exude outdoorsy sedation. We paddled up river against a current so it was a great upper body workout, but still so relaxing and peaceful. We didn't spot any gators or dolphins (although we saw plenty of wild gators later walking around the grounds of Middleton, and plenty of dolphins playing in the harbor), but I could have cared less. I was surrounded by marsh and marsh grass and got to listen to a guide talk about Charleston area history (there is nothing I dorkily love more). It was heaven in a kayak.

We walked around the grounds of Middleton (or a tiny fraction of them, according to our guide it's still an 8,000 acre plantation, and that's a substantial reduction from what it once was), and I cannot think of a more beautiful place in this world. Yes, before you yell at me, I know Middleton was once the sight of slavery, and that's awful and horrible, and it should be remembered and not just glossed over because things are pretty. But being somewhere like Middleton, with such crazy physical beauty, you also are just fully in the present, appreciating the place for what it is now, not what it once was.

Spring is beginning to spring in Charleston, and the first hints of flowers were popping up around the grounds. Although even without the flowers, even in the middle of winter, this place would be stunning. Just because of the fact that the grounds are covered with some of the biggest, most ancient looking, out of control gorgeous live oaks I've ever seen. Even after all these years, live oaks and spanish moss make me weak in the knees.

Plus, gators! The big pond there was PACKED with these. Would have been more scared but our trusty guide told us there are about two gators attacks per decade in the Lowcountry. So I figured my chances were pretty good.

-South Carolina Aquarium. I am such a nerd for this aquarium. I think I took nearly everyone who visited me in Charleston to it. It's not the biggest aquarium in the world. It doesn't have the fanciest selection of water creatures. But I absolutely love it, because it does such an incredible job of being about local South Carolina animals and conservation. It was built on the harbor and even the building feels like an extension of the natural world around it. There is so much love and passion in the air there for these local animals, and I every time I go, I come away wanting to do everything in my part to protect sea turtles and fish. Which is kind of the whole point of aquariums, yes?

Since the last time I went they got an albino alligator. And I swear to God I had to stifle a scream when I turned the corner and saw this.

I am torn between being 99% positive that this is Satan incarnate, come to destroy the world, and feeling kind of bad for the guy, because apparently albino alligators usually don't live into adulthood in the wild because they don't have the usual gator camouflage. Which is pretty sad. Also alligators have to lie in the sun to get warm, and albino alligators get sun-burnt. Which is also pretty sad. So 1% of me feels sorry for him. The rest of me wanted to get a vial of holy water and start an exorcism. 

On a much less demonic note, we took a tour of the sea-turtle hospital, which I've always wanted to do, because what is more adorable than a sea turtle hospital. 

They were at capacity, because apparently there was a huge incidence of "cold shock" this year in more northern harbors (sea turtles swim up north somewhere like Boston harbor, the water gets really cold really fast, the sea turtles get hypothermia and really sick). The Boston Aquarium was full, so a lot of these turtles were flown down in private planes by very generous millionaires (take a moment to say aw). There were also turtles there who had been run over by boats (sad face), or gotten hurt by fishing lines or hooks (dear fishermen, according to the aquarium, if a sea turtle swallows your hook, do NOT try to get the hook out, cut the line and alert the proper authorities). There was even a turtle with a bowel obstruction who had really bad gas that made it hard for him to stay under-water.

(that's why they have weights on his shell, poor guy)

It is incredible the lengths this place goes to to save these turtles. They do surgery, start IVs, give medicine. The turtle with the bowel obstructions even got enemas (although to be fair, that's probably a much easier and nicer job than a human enema). They'll sometimes have these turtles in for years, but the ultimate goal is always to release them. They had all these pictures on the walls of the releases, of all these humans on a beach there to celebrate a sea turtle going back to the ocean. And the whole time I was there I couldn't help thinking how beautifully dumb humans can be. And I mean that in the best possible way. What other species would give up so much time and energy and resources (private planes people) to help another species? It's so immensely compassionate and lovely. It shows this vast wealth of decency and selflessness. There's hope for us yet right? If we're willing to do this:

I can't help but think that overall we're good eggs. We just need to work a little harder to be so heroic towards each others. 

(Also, another public service announcement brought to you by the sea turtle aquarium guide, if you go to a beach where sea turtles hatch, at the end of the day level the sand (if you made a sand castle or buried someone), because baby sea turtles have to walk across the beach and if they fall in a hole or run into a sand castle they might get stuck and not make it to the ocean, which makes me want to cry, so I will never again leave a sand castle on a beach and I hope you won't either, also never leave a plastic bag on a beach, sea turtles think they're delicious jellyfish!)

But really that's why I love the SC Aquarium. I leave there wanting to save the ocean and rivers and ponds and all of their inhabitants. 

There were of course so many other highlights, long, lovely strolls around the city, doughnuts from Glazed (oh if that had been there in college, actually thank GOD it wasn't), rooftop bars with heat lamps, some good live music at an otherwise quiet bar on a Monday night. The whole trip was one big highlight.

It was Charleston. How could it be anything less?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Oh my sweet Carolina.

I am officially on spring break and tomorrow Rob and I are heading to my favorite place in the world, my sweet Charleston.

I have talked at length on this blog about how much Charleston means to me, and I still don't think I've ever adequately put it into words. This city was my physical home for four and a half years. And it's still my home. That hasn't changed or shifted or softened with the years I've now spent away. I think about Charleston nearly every day. And it always fills me with quiet and peace, with grace and stillness. It's my heart, and tomorrow I will be there, and that makes me so, so happy.

I have such a long list of things for us to do in the three days we'll be there, including:

-Going for a run around the city and along the battery. When I was in Charleston in January my knee still wouldn't let me run without pain, and I am hoping that I get a pain free, lengthy run of the peninsula. I wasn't a runner in college and that fills me with regret. Because Charleston is a city designed for running, completely flat with a constant breeze in the fresh, salt tinged air.

(see! Runner's World agrees with me that Charleston is the best running city ever. This was in their latest issue as a Rave Run)

-Drinks and dinner Saturday night on Upper King (which has grown even more hip and trendy and revitalized since when I was a student and all there was up there was O'Malley's and Silver Dollar)

-Drinks and oysters at The Ordinary, the new raw bar from the guys who run FIG which was the site of one of the greatest meals of my life

-We have reservations for dinner at Stars, a grill room and rooftop bar with what sounds like an awesome delicious wood fire grill

-Sunday we're going to go see Middleton Plantation and (!) kayak the Ashley river from the plantation as a starting point (the description said we could spot gators, dolphins, and, wait for it, manatees!)


-Hoping to have a casual night Sunday, maybe get a big, juicy burger out on Sullivan's at Poe's Tavern or hit up Shem Creek (the site of so many drunken college nights)

-Will definitely get in a Sullivan's walk (or if it's really as warm as it sounds like, sunbathing session)

-Hoping to get in a stop at the Aquarium, right on the harbor and one of my all time favorite Charleston places (plus sea turtles!)

-For our last night we're going to Husk, Sean Brock's second restaurant, which I've been dying to try since it opened (even a few weeks ago every other night we were going to be there was booked solid)

And I plan on spending the rest of the time soaking up as much of Charleston as possible, taking the kind of deep, full breaths that I only really take in that city.

I have been a good number of places in this world, to a lot of far flung cities and islands, to places of incredible beauty.

But nowhere, and I mean nowhere, compares to my Charleston. Give me spanish moss and tidal marshes, coastal creeks and soft, blue ocean. I'll take live oaks and salt air and side porches; tides and shrimp boats and Confederate jasmine. I'll take them, and Charleston, over anything on this big, wide earth.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Snow day.

Today I was supposed to go teach middle schoolers with learning/language disabilities about the fun filled topics of nutrition and sleep (oh the things nursing school loves to make us do).

Instead I woke up to find out that their school is cancelled, our school is cancelled, and pretty much the entire city of Richmond is cancelled.

I have an exam tomorrow so sadly I can't participate in my normal snow day mainstay (mimosas at Joe's!). But in my dorky way, I'm still happy for a cozy day of studying pediatric congenital heart defects, skin conditions, musculoskeletal disorders, and communicable diseases (fun right?), with the snow storm outside.

It will be a day filled with this

And this

And of course, this :)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Burning Love.

I stumbled across the first season of this Bachelor/Bachelorette inspired/mocking show on E! a few nights ago, and was momentarily confused and then immediately obsessed.

The first season isn't online, but the second season is (which is a take off of the Bachelorette). I feel like I would appreciate these even more if I watched the source material, but seriously they are some of the funniest things I've ever watched. I gorged on all seven episodes (they're only like 12 minutes long) last night like they were candy. If you watched the great Party Down you'll be delighted to see a lot of the cast on here. The actor who played Ron Donald is the creator (Soup R' Crackers forever!) But there's also so many amazing random and great people (Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, Adam Brody, Jerry O'Connell and the list goes on and on).

I really can't do it justice, so just take my word and watch it. Like I said the episodes are really short, but you might want to block out at least an hour or two, because once you watch one you'll want to watch all of them.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Saturday o' wine.

Saturday combined three of my favorite things: day-drinking, beautiful Charlottesville scenery, and WINE. Wine gets the all caps treatment, because come on, what is there not to like about wine. It makes everything better. And okay fine I may have woken up today with somewhat of a raging headache, but you know what, totally worth it.

My present to Rob for Valentine's Day this year was a 5 hour wine tour, which I booked through Wish Wish (sort of like a Groupon/Living Social hybrid). The tour basically meant we had a driver pick us up, take us around to wineries for 5 hours, then drop us off tipsy and happy at the end, which is a crucial ingredient for a successful day of wine drinking.

The picture above is from our first stop, Barboursville. Their tasting was definitely the most extensive of the day, and the people who worked there seemed really knowledgable. I nodded and murmured agreement as they went on about oakiness and soft finishes and touches of boisonberry or whatever. But my internal monologue went more along the lines of one consistent "yummy." 

After Barboursville we went to Keswick. A really cute and cozy little tasting room and the guy who poured for us was awesome, really friendly and helpful. 

From Keswick we went to Blenheim (also known as Mr. Dave Matthews' vineyard).

The tasting was pretty short with only four wines, but the atmosphere here was my favorite of the day. Beautiful view. Cozy, non-pretentious tasting room with a younger vibe than some of the other places. The tasting room was on the second floor of the building, and you could look down into the barrel room on the first floor.

Also they had pita chips, hummus, and Italian salami! Which when you're a little buzzed after three wine tastings and two glasses of wine, really hits the spot.

From Bleheim we went to Trump. And yes I realize how incongruous that name sounds amidst a day of classy, Charlottesville wine tasting. But it was right next to Blenheim and we were curious. It was hard to get past my aversion to all things Trumpy, but really, except for giant gold Ts on everything, the former Klugy winery, was very restrained. I liked it because it was the only tasting with sparkling wine. And by then, let's be honest, you could have poured me Arbor Mist and I probably would have thought it was the height of sophistication.

I've been to wineries in Charlottesville before, but this was the first time I did multiple ones in one day, and it was definitely worth the eventual headache. It was freezing and cloudy on Saturday, which doesn't scream country outing, but it ended up being really nice. Most of the tasting rooms had fireplaces, and it gave the day a very cozy, warm up away from the cold vibe.

There are a million wineries in Charlottesville and I look forward to hopefully trying them all. Because where there is wine, I will go to there.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...