Saturday, December 31, 2005

Hospital Update

Maybe tomorrow!!!??? It seems like nearly every day the doctors say maybe tomorrow. We are hoping that our son has no more high temperatures in which case he should be able to go home "Most likely Monday (2nd) and at the earliest tomorrow". Yesterday our son had another high temp and diarrhoea which immediately extended his stay in hospital. My husband is there tonight and it is New Years Eve. We all had a lovely day as a family (looking at the situation positively) we spent a relaxing day together, got our favourite take aways and watched the fireworks from our prime position on the 7th floor of the hospital. The position was perfect, no too noisy but still a great view. My heart was aching for the children who were too sick to come out to the balcony and those who were brought out in their beds as thier condition didnt allow any alternatives. I am truly blessed to have so much to be grateful for and I hope that this coming year I appreciate all the gifts of my life each and every day.

The blood tests to rule out mycoplasma have again come back negative so today we got released from isolation which was a gift for my son who was getting a bit stir crazy and itching to be allowed to play and interact with the other children. This was a blessing in itself. The skin is still peeling from my sons hands and feet and today I took it upon myself to cut away the dead skin so that my son didnt peel it off causing pain to himself. There was still fluid on his lungs at his last chest x ray and I am hoping a repeat will be done before he is released. In any case we have already an appointment for 2 weeks for a repeat to make sure he is progressing. The stomach pain seemed to me to be a bit of a mystery, however I am assured that many many children who present in the hospital (even many with "surgical" conditions) with stomach pain, ends up being referred pain from pressure on the diaphragm caused by pneumonia. That is reassuring, and also on the improve.

So we may never know what microorganism is responsible for our sons pneumonia, but this really doesnt matter, so long as he continues to improve and we get to bring him home soon......Maybe tomorrow!!!!????

"A conclusion is the part where you got tired of thinking"

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas in Hospital!

Again I have left it too long to update my blog. Although I really enjoy writing I have had such a hectic week I just haven't had the chance. As if the lead up to Christmas isn't bad enough I spent Christmas day/night and each day since in the Children's hospital with my son. On Friday (23rd) I got a call from the Childcare centre saying that my son had a 39.4oC temp. I went straight to pick him up. We battled Friday night and Saturday to control his temp, with little success. He had what looked like a heat rash (outside it has been hovering around 35oC for a couple of weeks) so I got the Dr's home visiting service to come and check him out Christmas Eve. The Dr said he was fine, just a virus, keep up the liquids and antipyretics. Sunday (Christmas Day) we visited the in Laws, my son hovered between sleeping on the couch and being relatively normal, a little unhappy but not too bad.

By Christmas Night he still wasn't happy, we were still battling the temperatures and he was wincing with severe stomach pain so we packed up and went to the Children's Hospital in the City. Not the closest hospital but one that specialised in Paeds so I felt comfortable with the decision. They took him straight into the ED and checked him out. The staff were amazing. They set him up for IV and gave him a dose of oral antibiotics and ran some blood work. We were able to go home for the night and went back in for the results and further IVAB's in the morning. The Dr was pretty sure it was Pneumonia but she wasnt sure about the rash so ordered more tests and we went home and back again in the afternoon. By the time I took him back in the afternoon he had stopped drinking so he was admitted. We have been there ever since.
I have to say the staff have been inspirational. They are simply marvelous. Our son is doing much better and only still there because he is still having high temperatures. The latest is he should be home tomorrow. Well I am off to fix some lunch and spend some time with our daughter before heading back into the hospital to take over from my husband. Hope you all had a wonderful festive season.

"I intend to live forever - so far, so good"

Saturday, December 17, 2005

It's about time I updated my blog.....

Contrary to my desire to update my blog everyday it has been over a week since my last post. Apologies to anyone who has been checking for updates.

I have just returned from traveling interstate. I live in Brisbane and went to Canberra to visit a sick friend and catch up with my parents. Just to fill you in my friend had a stroke a couple of months ago and I wanted to visit to lend my support and to ease his transition home. My parents also live in Brisbane but my friend had just begun renovating his house (beautiful but dilapidated historical house) when he had his CVA, he was unable to return home from hospital till he had somewhere safe to live (used to be in a caravan onsite) so my parents went down there to finish his house for his return.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at Jim's progress. Having spent prac on a rehab ward dealing mostly with stroke patients I didn't hold out much hope of a good outcome. Jim's stroke was major hemorrhage but after an incredible amount of work he has regained much of his function, cognition and personality. Unfortunately he will be paralysed permanently on his left side. I spent much of my time focusing on positive outcomes, progress he has made and trying to encourage a healthy attitude to the future.

I am really tired now. The drive down is 1200kms took me 16 hours and I took my 7 year old along for the "holiday". She was amazing in the car. I did a lot of preparation for the trip and it certainly paid off, I never heard "Are we there yet" and I didn't resort to buying a portable DVD player!!! We had a lovely week to catch up and we left Thursday night at 7.00pm and arrived at 9.00am Friday morning. My Mum drove back with me for company and so she could tie up some loose ends. She is driving back to Christmas eve.

Because Mum will be away for Christmas we had an early celebration today which was lovely. I love to see kids open presents, it is so joyous. I have to say I am still recovering from my trip so I will have to call it quits now and up date again tomorrow (?). Will do my best. I have missed all my cyber friends so will do the rounds to you all in the next few days.


"It takes both sunshine and rain to make a rainbow"

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Inspiration - Best Nursing stories

I was lying in bed last night contemplating what I should post here, then it hit me. I want to dedicate this post to inspirational nursing stories.

I can't tell you how many times when I have said that I am studying nursing, or that I want to be a nurse people have commented "Why would you want to do that?" The worst offenders tend to be nurses!! who usually add to the end something like "I wouldn't if I were you", or "You'll hate it", or "I don't know why you would choose Nursing!".

So it got me to thinking I would love to collect some stories about positive Nursing experiences on the job or on prac. That way when someone makes a negative comment or I am feeling sorry for myself I can read my blog for inspiration...(and other people aswell). Well it sounds like a good idea in theory, now all it needs is some good stories.....Ok first I will share mine, then you can share yours??!!!

Firstly I haven't had heaps of experience, I am just a newbie, but I have had some great nursing experiences. This one was on my last placement which was 2 weeks at an Acute Mental Health unit.

A few days after I started working on the ward R was admitted. R verbalised strong suicidal ideation and was assessed as having situationally induced severe depression. R's expressions were blunted and he withdrew from interactions with other patients and staff.

I was privileged that R allowed me to work with my buddy nurse (excellent mental health nurse with 20 years experience) and get to know him. Over the next few days I got to know R's story and received insight into the circumstances which led R to the Mental Health facility and his current mental status. My buddy nurse and R's examined his experiences, choices and circumstances. We learnt that R had broken most of his family ties and someone close to R died hours after his admission.

Gradually we began to see a change in R. He started to accept his mistakes, having examined the choices he made and was able to initiate plans for the future. R's affect began changing and he responded appropriately to staff interactions. My buddy nurse encouraged R to seek support in his family network which thankfully was readily forthcoming.

As the days went on R began to initiate positive interactions with staff. R had made some remarkable progress and he was discharged. I have to be honest and say that my eyes welled up for just a minute seeing such a positive outcome and seeing R have such hope for the future. I felt like I had participated in something special, that the care R received had really made a difference in his life, and to top it off I had well and truly overcome my anxiety of my Mental Health placement. I have to say this placement was definantly one of the best for me.

Ok...over to you............

'Birthdays are good for your health - statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest'.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Graduation Ball

Today has been really hot in Brisbane. Temp was around 35oC (95oF). We took off to the shops to do a bit of Chrissy shopping and to get some relief from the heat.

I have volunteered to be on the fundraising committee for our Graduation Ball. It will be when we finish up next year around October. Basically we will be raising money to reduce the out of pocket expenses for the ball. This year we are thinking of having a casual BBQ the day after the ball as a "recovery" event. This will be open to our families and it will be a way to recognise the support we have had in getting to the end of our degrees. It should be great fun.

I would love to hear from any of you who have fundraising suggestions.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Yes it is tough to do a 40 hour week. After about 4 shifts straight I am usually exhausted. After 10 shifts I can hardly put one foot in front of the other (I know, I know...just wait till I am working full time!!! - I think that will be a bit different for a couple of reasons..1. Shifts will not necessarily be 5 earlies in a row, or 5 lates in a row allowing for a bit of flexibility. 2. I probably wont be studying concurrently. 3. I will have permanent arrangements in place for the care of my kids 4. I will be able to afford good shoes!). It is really quite a juggle with the rest of our lives too. We usually have assignments to complete, exams to study for not to mention many of us have children and families to care for. Just organising getting the kids looked after before and after school is a challenge. I think I would rather do a couple of shifts a week but there is only 1 University in our state doing that at the moment as a trial so we will see what the future holds.

Friday, December 02, 2005

3 Year Bachelor of Nursing - Australia

Here is some further information about the Australian Bachelor of Nursing. The "standard" progression is 3 years full time. Clinical Prac's are full time 40 hours per week. Usually Monday to Friday and can be earlies or lates - no nights. Weekend work is required by some clinical settings. Pracs are 2 week blocks in 1st and 2nd years and 3 week blocks in 3rd year. All up there are 20 weeks worth of clinical placements = 800hours. On prac students have a facilitator - an "expert" from the field who mediates between the student and the clinical setting, each faciliator has 6-10 students to oversee. Tasks undertaken on prac must be within the scope of the learning for that semester and must have been taught already in that semester.

The on campus course requirements vary but generally 4-6 hours per subject. The semesters are have 13 teaching weeks. During clinical pracs there are no on campus requirements (assignments are usually due though). Labs build on skills from general cares - assist in ADL's and work up to drugs, IV's, catheters, drains, dressings, and complex cares through 2nd and 3rd year.

Each course is likely to have 2 major assessments - 1x essay and 1 x exam or 2 x exams. The courses which have a clinical placement have 1 x exam, 1 x "clinical challenge" which is in the lab and is a make or break assessment a 1x med calcs which requires 100% to pass and the clinical placement is also graded as pass/fail.

Year 1 Semester 1

Communication & Assessment in Nursing

Perspectives on Nursing, Health, Culture & Society

Psychosocial Health Across the Lifespan

Anatomy & Physiology 1

Year 1 Semester 2

Anatomy & Physiology 2

Nursing Practices - 2 weeks of clinical placement - Aged care facility

Clinical Health Assessment

Health Promotion

Year 2 Semester 1

Acute Nursing - 4 weeks of clinical placement - acute care facilities

Health Law & Ethics Health

Pathophysiology & Pharmacology 1


Year 2 Semester 2

Pathophysiology & Pharmacology 2 Pathophysiology

Complex Clinical Practice - This course has a 2 week placement in an acute setting.

Human Responses in Crisis - This course has a 2 week placement in a Mental Health/Psych facility.

Research for Health Professionals

Year 3 Semester 1

Wound & Pain Management

Nursing & Health Informatics

Community Health & Diversity - 2 weeks of clinical placement

Adapting to Health Changes - 2 weeks of clinical placement

Year 3 Semester 2

Transitions to Practice (Double course load) - 6 weeks of clinical placement.

Contemporary Nursing

Leadership & Management for Health Professionals

Christmas Blues

I am exhausted. I got up early this morning cause I couldn't sleep. Those damn chirpy birds start at about 4am!

I feel like I have spent the whole day today running around in circles. I set myself the task of finalising some Christmas shopping. At the top of my hit list was one of my dearest friends. Why are they the hardest to buy for? D has everything and wants for little so it was a huge task. My first choice was to get her a writing set with a diary, notebook and address book in a pretty shade of blue to match the colour scheme she has just redecorated to....couldn't find anything suitable. After concluding that this was just not going to work I diverted to plan B. About 10 months ago D mentioned that she was looking for a"Hopscotch" window (old style window with 2 small panes of glass then one big pane and another 2 small panes). I searched and searched through the demolition yards today till I found the perfect peice. I have just finished cleaning it up and am satisfied with my choice. No luck on the pressies I wanted to find for the kids though.

I picked up a nice diary for myself today and am currently inscribing it with all the relevant information...birthdays, anniversarys, kids school terms, and finally yes! I can put in my classes for next sememster. Oh how I miss uni. I have been trying to imagine what my life would be like today had I not made the decision to go to Uni. Don't know what I am going to do with myself until I return to school at the end of February.

The plan for the weekend is to put up the Christmas tree with the kids. This is always a fun job. I will post a photo when it is done.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Exams, Exams, Exams

I have just finished my final exams for the year - much to my delight.

I had a research exam, a Human Responses in Crisis (Mental Health) exam and a clinical challenge (practical skills in lab situation - fail this = fail the whole semester and can't move onto the next years work)

My research and human responses exams went smoothly. My clinical exam went horribly!!!

We were reassured that there would be no tricks and that the lecturers wanted us to pass.

Lucky me I was the first of our cohort to take the test.

My "patient" (plastic dummy) was suffering from Asthma and was supposed to be on an oxygen mask - She wasn't. I introduce myself to my patient "Polly Pocket" (better than Peter Pumpkineater one of the other patients I suppose) I then check out the med chart - surprise! the order was illegal. Whats more it had been written up more frequently than recommended. I "contacted" the DR to check the order after getting the ok continued to administer the drug as a IV push. I was shaking so much I could hardly reconstitute the drug - to top it off the saline was expired!

After I had finished and done my documentation and reflection I was sure I had done terribly. I was stunned to recieve my mark of 29 out of a possible 30!!! So much for no tricks! But in the end it didn't matter.

I guess the moral of this story is believe in your abilities to practice safely, expect anything and be prepared for it, and breathe in and out often - passing out from anxiety won't help too much.

Why do we get so anxious? I must have done this exact thing 50 times, with real patients and real consequences if you get it wrong, still I couldn't convince myself not to panic.

I guess it is normal to have high levels of anxiety attached to such a critical test, knowing that this is a make or break moment. I wish more attention was paid to the work we do with real patients while we are on prac (pass or fail but ungraded, no difference between outstanding performance and just getting by) and less emphasis was placed on contrived clinical challenges.

Well that certainly feels better......

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Wading my way through Uni in Australia....Cont

Ok I just found out what the other two courses I will do next year are... Leadership and Management for Health Professions and Contemporary Nursing. Why do they name courses so that you have no idea what they will entail? Oh how I miss Pathophysiology & Pharmacology, and Anatomy & Physiology.....

From the rumblings around Uni that I have heard the prac next year will include our "choice" which may be Childrens/ED/Theatre/ICU/Maternity and a community setting such as a GP's office or with the mobile Blue Nurses (Nurses that do home visits within the community). I beleive there is even one spot for someone to go on prac with the Royal Flying Doctors Service (Small planes that fly around the outback taking care of emergencies).

We don't have any specialist courses such as womens or childrens. They sound really interesting though, I would love to learn more about the program structure of other countries. We heard a rumour that the American system has gone back to hospital based training is that true?

Wading my way through Uni in Australia....

I am fascinated with all the international nursing blogs especially those from US and UK. I thought I would write down some thoughts about the Uni program I am dreadging my way through at the moment.

Where to start??? At the beginning I guess. The university program is currently 3 years but can be extended to cater for part time students (especially helpful if you are concurrently working or like me have kids) up to 6 years. Entry is based on rank received on completion of high school or can be determined based on life experience, professional development and sitting a special entrance exam.

At a crisis point in my life I decided to persue becomming a nurse. It was never a life long ambition or a dream of mine as a child, I honestly never imagined I had what it took until I started out. The major turning point was being a birthing partner for my best friend who was so grateful for the support and I remember thinking to myself - I could really do this. I felt useful, I instinctively knew how to support her and I felt empowered to know I really made a difference in the birth of my goddaughter.

So I sat the test to give me a rank and then I waited. I was amazed that I did so well and I started preparing for my new life. I remeber being really worried that I wouldn't fit into uni life and that I would be the oldest undergraduate on campus (How naive I was, I needn't have worried at 27 I was far from the oldest).

The first year I started out doing a part time load of 2 subjects per semester. I had told myself that Uni was going to be incredibly hard and juggling it and 2 small children would be a mammoth effort that I would be lucky to handle. The first 2 subjects were Anatomy & Physiology 1 and Perspectives in Nursing. I loved A & P and hated Perspectives. The whole idea of sociology and how it fit into nursing was lost on me. The second semester I did A & P 2 and Clinical health assessment. I enjoyed both of these and did really well. Due to my part time status I did not go on Prac for the first year of my degree. (infact not until the end of the second year).

By the end of the first year I knew I could handle a higher workload so I adjusted my progression to a full time status. The second year I did Pathophysiology and Pharmacology 1 & 2 (absolutely loved it), Communication, Psychosocial development, Nursing Practices, Health promotion and my elective was End of life studies. I had 2 weeks of prac in a Aged Care facility/rehab fascility which I hated. I didn't mind the work, it is just that I was so bored and the nursing staff were so old fashioned.

This year I have completed Health Law & ethics, Acute nursing, Informatics (hated it - all about computers in nursing) Research, Complex clinical skills and Human Responses in Crisis. This year I have had 8 weeks full time clinical placements in a variety of settings(in 2 week blocks). For me I have worked in 2 x Cardiac wards, ICU, Critical Care Unit and Acute Mental Health.

For my final year I will be doing Wound and Pain management, Adapting to health changes, Community nursing, and Transitions to practice ( I know there are two more, just cant think of them), In addition I will be on prac in 2 & 3 week blocks for 12 weeks of the academic year.

Wow I am exhausted just thinking about all that work. I have to say that as hard as the work is (I am amazed at the amount of work involved and by the amount nurses need to know), I absolutely love studying. With all its pitfalls and the juggle with other commitments it is still one of my greatest passions.

Thanks for reading.

Student Nurse Link

Student Nurse Link

Student Nurse Website

After I finished my first year at Uni I wanted to create a website to share all the great nursing related links with my colleagues. I developed a website called "Student Nurse Link" which can be found at I would love for other students, graduates and nurses to contribute their ideas and links to the site. Please have a look and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I have just discovered blogging and have decided to try to use it to link with other student nurses from around the world to gather useful links and resources and as a way to share experiences. Please forgive my future mistakes while I learn how to drive this program. I am a busy Mum of 2 children and I have just finished my 3rd year at University in Australia, I have 1 year left of my degree then I will be out on my own in the big bad world of nursing.