When assessing a respiratory patient, watch out for cyanide poisoning…


Really?? Well, apparently so. My professor for Fundamentals this morning was lecturing on oxygenation and told us this story:

“About 5 years ago, I was working in a doctor’s office and a woman came in complaining of really vague symptoms… dizziness, confusion etc. So we started asking questions and could not get down to the bottom of it. She came is again a few weeks later, with the same symptoms, only worse. We started running tests on her, looking for possible strokes, heart attack, airway blockages. Nothing came up. A few months later, she came in again, and by this time she was experiencing very stroke-like symptoms, with a very weak left side. We started running rarer and rarer tests on her, and nobody could figure out what was wrong.

On that visit, I was talking with the doctor, and I said,

‘Do you think there is any possibility that she could be being poisoned? Her husband never comes with her, and she’s mentioned something about arguments…’

So we ran more tests, for toxicity, and sure enough, she was being poisoned with cyanide. We notified the police and they pulled him over and even found cyanide in his truck. He spent some time in jail over it.”

How to pick a doctor

Today in my class with Karla, we were going around the table introducing ourselves. (There are only nine students in that class, so it didn’t take too long.) At one point, after about three students, Karla stopped us,

“So wait, do you all want to get married? Doctors and engineers seem to be the men of choice. Let me tell you something about doctors. If you really want to marry one, do not go for family practice or internal medicine doctor. They never get any time off. Surgeons are also a bad choice. Something about the very job of a surgeon requires a certain personality. I recently heard of a colleague who went abroad and tried to kill himself because he was getting a divorce after he cheated on his wife. I wish that were the first surgeon I knew who had done that, but he wasn’t. All surgeons are very arrogant. Something about being in control of every little aspect of another person, just like their job. Never marry a surgeon.

“If you guys are determined to marry a doctor, go for dermatologists. They have great pay, very little on-call time, and they can fix your skin.

“Engineers also seem to be a great match for nurses. I know a lot of nurses who are married to engineers and they all love it. I really like my artist-husband, too, so that’s always a choice.”

She also told us that we had to have any guy be interviewed by her before she would let us get married. She would do a whole health history on them, including a complete psychosocial history (which is really intensive.)

So now my poor future husband has to not only pass my dad, my brothers, and my pastors from both churches, but also my nursing professor.

At this rate, I’ll have a hard time finding a husband. =)

My Kind Of Town

Today, we had our second clinical that will eventually get us out on the floor. But today we stayed in the lab and practiced taking vital signs. Here are some things I learned:

n I have a low average temperature

n Taking blood pressures is ridiculously hard, and I failed lots of times

n Gait belts are incredibly helpful in lifting patients out of chairs, and it makes them feel much more secure (if my feelings were any indication.)

n Dropping a patient is a real hazard.

Next Tuesday we are going to have our first day in the nursing home, just to get oriented to our surroundings. Then we are going back to the lab to practice dressing wounds of a simulation man.

Yesterday, because of MLKJ day, Andrew and I went to Chicago (which is only about 2.5-3 hours from here, depending on traffic.)

We had lots of fun up there, but I have blisters on my heels now. We found out that the Museum of Science and Industry is free on weekdays this month, so we went there. The exterior of that building is almost as interesting as the interior. They have one of the only replicas of the Porch of Maidens which originally appeared on the Erechtheum which is a Greek Temple on the north side of the Acropolis. It was repeated at least twice (Andrew and I didn’t go all the way around) and was absolutely beautiful!

I also found out that it had a few metopes from the Parthenon depicting the Gigantomachy, which are huge (I think about three-four feet square). I kind of felt like a little kid in a candy shop walking around it. ;)

Inside the museum, I also found out that I have at my disposal some excellent simulation men in the lab here at Purdue. There was one simulation man in the museum, and he was not nearly as realistic as the ones that I get to work on.

Back down town, we watched lots of trains, half-heartedly looked for the Lego store, and walked a lot. But then it started to rain, so we headed home. Overall, a great trip.

I also learned that the week starts so much better if I skip Mondays.

More stories from the first week

Today I spent all morning in my Health Assessment clinical portion, taught by one of my favorite professors, Karla Ross. Last semester she taught Pathophysiology and gained my respect pretty quickly. This morning she continued to gain ground. After efficiently getting through her material (three hours early!) we were sitting around our table and she was telling us that she always has her 207 class out to her house at the end of the semester.

“Did you know that we don’t have TV? I mean, we have a TV to watch movies, but getting satellite would mean we have to cut down our favorite trees, and we aren’t going to do that. So instead, we listen to the radio. Every Saturday night, Prairie Home Companion.

We have a little shed that is about 10x12, and there is a wood burning stove in there, so many Saturday nights, my husband used to go out there and sit and listen to the radio. One night I decided that I would see what he was up to, and when I got there, he offered me his rocking chair.

‘If we are going to sit out here, we might as well get a bottle of wine.’

So there we were, in our little 10x12 shed, drinking wine, listening to the Prairie Home Companion, with the top window open watching the snow come down in our rocking chairs with a whole 3000 sq foot house not too far away!

So girls, this is what you have to look forward to in the future.”

It made me smile.

That shed is now full of chickens.

An interlude

4:08 PM by Kristen Wegener 2 comments

It was slow one day over break at work. I was talking with one of the other girls and I said something like, “I always win every bet I make.”

“Oh really?” She replied. “I bet you that in a year, you will be pregnant.” (She is pregnant right now, due on Mother’s Day.)

“I bet you I won’t.”

I think I’ll win this one. ;)

Second Semester

Has started. And it’s going to be rough. But I am very thankful that I have Professor Parrish again this semester for Medieval Art History. On Monday I have him in the middle of five hours of Nursing classes and when I went it there on it was like a breath of fresh air that I knew I could handle. I think it may be one of those semesters that makes me wish I majored in Art History, or something lots easier with no job possibilities. I’m also excited that I have to have one of my other favorite Professors, Professor Ross, who will be my clinical instructor for health assessment.

I also found out that as a nursing student, I get a cool nurses bag with has, among other things, a blood pressure cuff, so I can tell my big brother how unhealthy he is! Or my parents… or my other siblings… or my roommate. Anyway, it’ll be nice to have so I don’t have to buy one and still be able to practice at home! I also learned yesterday the difference between the diaphragm and the bell on a stethoscope (the diaphragm is the part that looks like a drum and the bell is the part that has no covering on it.) The diaphragm is used to hear higher frequency sounds and the bell is used for lower frequency, usually cardiac sounds. Also, when you put a stethoscope on, you have to wiggle the ear pieces into place by nodding up and down. It looks pretty funny, but makes such a huge difference!

In other news on the school front, I’ve decided that I will like Pharmacology, hereafter known as potions. It’s going to be fascinating learning the drugs, and relaxing not to have to take NCLEX (the RN licensing exam) style exams for once. The only sad thing about that class is that it goes till 4:30! So sad.

Also! Monday is MLKJ day, which means that I get to skip out on 7 (seven!) hours of class next week. Hurrah!