First of all, for anyone who has sent me PMs or poked me here, thanks! There's no way I can go back and respond, because my sparkmail is packed and overwhelming (mostly with team notices that are ridiculously out of date) so I'm just going to delete everything and start over.
That said, starting over is something of the theme here, as something has to change. It's bad enough I've gained 26 lbs since my last blog entry in January. That was in the very beginning of what turned out to be a BEAST of a semester - we lost nearly half our numbers (my clinical group alone dropped by 4 on the last week to withdraw - happily they are all back and doing their second attempt at Nursing 102 this semester). I learned to cope with getting Bs that semester - I felt lucky to have survived and passed at all. Nursing 103 was just as intense, though it almost felt easy compared to the previous semester. Well, if I thought that was hard I hadn't seen hard yet - the classwork is going fine so far in Nursing 201 (our last semester with clinicals - next semester we work with a preceptor), and my maternity rotation is wonderful (yeah, it's where I want to end up), but the med-surg clinical is kicking my butt, mostly because I have an instructor who does everything by the book (including making us use the paperwork forms the rest of my instructors have altered, because whoever put them together has NO computer savvy and you have to reformat the durn things any time you type something), and has us all terrified. She's incredibly intimidating, it's like being in a skills test (remember the comment about being thrilled I'd passed without throwing up on the instructor's shoes?) for 8 hours straight. We're in week 5 now, and it's not getting any better (at least not for me, I've got two black marks on my record regarding the paperwork, and she's asked to meet with me during her office hours...I have a bad feeling no matter how many As I get in lecture, I'm going to end up unsatisfactory in clinical and have to do this over). All of which leads to what really has me scared...
The other night, as the mate and I were doing our usual "stupid TV and getting tipsy" routine, I started getting really shaky, had chills, and just generally felt crummy all of a sudden, and decided I needed to get to bed ASAP. I'd been drinking one of those frozen alcohol thingies (the pouches they sell at Kroger, I think this one was a peach daiquiri) and it almost felt like a sugar crash (except a crash makes no sense since I was pretty jacked up on sugar considering what I'd been drinking). Whatever it was, it was kind of scary. Yesterday at work, I decided to check my blood pressure. I tried again with a different size pressure cuff (which didn't work, I thought maybe the large was too large...it wasn't), and then took it again because I had a hard time believing what I'd seen the first time. Nope, my blood pressure really was 176/101. Now, this is at the end of a busy night, but I didn't feel particularly stressed or anything. Still...not good. This morning I decided to break out the self-blood-pressure kit I picked up in January for practice - I'd used it to practice on the mate, but had never tried to take my own blood pressure with it - and see what my resting blood pressure was before I got up (considering I've been waking UP stressed out, I figured it wouldn't be good). For those unaware of how blood pressures are taken, you pump up the cuff until you can't hear the heartbeat in the stethoscope, and then start releasing pressure - the moment you hear a heartbeat is when you take the top number, and when the heartbeat is no longer audible again you take that reading for the bottom number. Well, it's too small (even though it's a large, it's a "commercial" large - there are bigger ones in medical facilities), and I wasn't able to pump it up enough to get my top number. The highest I was able to pump the cuff without it coming off was to 140...and I could still hear my heartbeat (which is still not good, but that means it was *higher* than 140 - I'd like to know how much higher). As I released pressure, my heartbeat went away at 100. So at BEST my blood pressure was 140/100 - definitely not good. And I hadn't gotten out of bed yet!
I've known for a while that this was getting to me - any time I think about clinicals (with the med-surg instructor, not my maternity clinical) my heart starts racing and I feel sick to my stomach (part of the problem with the paperwork, it's tough to make myself sit down and get it done, and it's taking most of us an average of 7 hours on a good day). I have school EVERY day during the week - lecture Monday and Tuesday, clinical Wednesday and Thursday, and the paperwork from Wednesday is due Friday by noon, so I'm up early on Fridays dealing with that. Which doesn't even take into account the homework, the ATI practice tests we have to take and do remediation on during our own time, or studying for tests. I live in a constant state of feeling slightly panicked, like I'm forgetting something. During the week, I'm averaging 3-4 hours of sleep a night (and I know the two days of 8 hours on weekends don't begin to make up for it). And I also know at mid term we have a 3 hour session in the SIM lab looming, which panics me whenever I think about it (it's not the fact the mannequins breathe...that's actually kind of cool, but having the instructors set up a scenario and then watch if you handle it the way they want you too is beyond crazy stress-making for me, it makes clinicals look like a casual walk in the park).
I'm a wreck. Seriously. I'm stress eating, living on caffeine, drinking every night just to relax enough to get to sleep, and feel like I'm in a constant state of "fight or flight" (and flight sounds pretty good - I'm at the point I just want to dig a hole in the ground and hide). I vacillate on clinical days between "I'm gonna have a great day, I can do this!" and wondering if I'm going to be able to get out of my car and force myself to walk into the hospital. And now I'm not only an emotional basket case, but my body is starting to show signs of breaking down. Things can't keep going like this - I'm not even half-way through the semester yet.
So, I weighed myself when I got up (less than 10 lbs from my highest weight *sighs*), and I just spun the Spark wheel. I'm making a grocery list, and I'm going to increase the veggie content and maybe start picking up stuff for some of the healthier meals I used to make - lately, whatever is quick and makes leftovers is all I have bandwidth for caring about in terms of cooking, and I tend to simply eat at the cafeteria and snack on junk at home. I'm going to start drinking water again (I've really fallen hard off that wagon) and decrease the caffeine. I keep saying I need to find time to exercise, because I really miss it...but realistically I need to hold off on thinking about that for a minute (because finding time for that on top of everything else is just one more thing to stress out about, and that's the last thing I need at the moment).
Baby steps. TEENY TINY baby steps that won't stress me out. But still, I need to start taking them.
Keep me in your thoughts, friends. Because I'm not kidding.