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Dear Everybody - I'm Scared

Sunday, September 21, 2014

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go back and respond, because my sparkmail is packed and overwhelming (mostly with team notices that are ridiculously out of date) so I'm just going to delete everything and start over.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.
I'm scared.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Sweetie! I came on today to see if you had updated. WE can do this! You have an awesome support system and people who love you! We are both starting over. Let's do this!!
    2452 days ago
  • JENNY888
    Try to exercise just for 10 minutes a day. You will be surprised at how much better you feel with just that little amount. You can always find 10 minutes in a day. I don't go to bed until I have done it even if I have to do it in my bedroom just before going to bed.
    2454 days ago
    *hugshugshugshugshugs* I've been there--stressed out of my #(@$#@ mind, even when I seem to be holding it more or less together I was barely holding on by stubborn fingernails. So I can sympathize a little too well. I don't have any great advice for you, however. The only things that worked for me were getting in a little exercise daily (I usually went for walks while listening to music that made me happy), studying to playlists that made me happy, remembering to eat regularly, trying to get as much sleep as I could (which I wasn't successful at), remembering to BIBO (breathe in, breathe out) when I started to panic, and frankly drinking a ton of green tea. I have joked for years that I got through grad school on caffeine and sugar; I wasn't able to cut the caffeine that last year (by the end I was drinking 2 pots of tea and a can of Mello Yello a day) but I was able to at least cut back on the sugar.

    And you are right. Baby steps are your friend. I'd focus on 1) getting through your program and 2) stress management and not worrying too much about your weight for now. Stress makes me gain weight, at least, even without emotional eating. I swear I could eat 1300 calories a day but the stress would still pack on the pounds. My doctor told me not to worry too much about it--to keep up my healthy habits as best as I could and not to worry about the scale. He said that the weight would come off when the stress levels backed off and so far he was right. So try not to let the scale stress you out--you're already stressed enough. Try to take care of you, and right now that means reducing your stress as much as you can.

    *hugs hugs hugs* emoticon
    2458 days ago
  • 4CYNDI
    I have been hoping you are well, but barely hanging on myself most days. I know that you know what to do. You can and will get through this. I agree that the drinking alcohol every night probably isn't helping. I know it can help you get to sleep, but I always end up sleeping poorly after drinking to get to sleep. I agree that herbal teas before bed can help.

    But as you said small baby steps to get yourself back on track. Is there anyone you can talk to about your fears and pressures? Someone who can help you prioritize and relax some? It sounds like you are under never ending stress right now. Make sure you take time to breathe (BIBO breathe in, breathe out).

    Wishing you the best of everything.
    2458 days ago
    You can get through it
    2459 days ago
    emoticon , sweetie. I've been wondering about you, just never got around to letting you know that. The most important thing for you right now is self-care, so you can stay around and actually do that nursing stuff you're training to do. You are so right, start with baby steps, so you can start making some positive impacts on the health and well-being front. And I agree with several others, see if cutting down or out on the alcohol will help out with calming you down. I'll be sending out some good, positive energy your way.

    emoticon And I really mean that!
    2459 days ago
  • no profile photo CD2712264
    2459 days ago
    I know you know this, but the alcohol isn't helping your blood pressure, weight, or anxiety levels. That needs to go first. When I was in grad school and working full-time, I found myself going for "just a glass" to help me sleep. I quickly realized I soon felt like I needed it, not just wanted it. I know it sounds lame, but switch it out for some herbal tea at night. It really does work much better as a sleep aid and stress reducer.

    You can do this. You are a much stronger, more determined woman than several I know who have made it through nursing school. Take those baby steps, come here when you can for support and encouragement, and take care of yourself!

    2459 days ago
    emoticon I know you can and will get through this because you are one strong woman. That said, the only way it will happen is if you can take care of you. It sounds like you're getting off on the right foot, baby steps to start. You might even think about just taking one or two minutes a day to just sit with your eyes closed and breathe deeply. That should help with both the stress and blood pressure issues.
    2459 days ago
    Be careful. A friend of mine was finishing up work on his BSEET. He was living on coffee, Halloween sized candybars, a huge salad at work, and very little sleep (he would work from 5 am to 5 pm, then go to school until 10 pm, and work on homework until 2 -3 am. He ended up in the ICU for over a week and ended up with chronic medical issues.
    2459 days ago
    The other day, I read an article on 7 additional things that alcohol effects in our bodies. That would be the first thing I'd get rid of; the second would be caffeine. Wishing you better days.
    2459 days ago
  • MM11113
    Don't mess with the blood pressure. I had higher than yours and ended up with an amaloyd angiopathy. Not sure how to spell it, but I was bleeding in my brain for a month before I went to the doctor and eventually had enough tests to find out. And they thought it was tumors, so get things under control. You are young, you have your whole life.

    2459 days ago
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