Friday, 22 November 2013

Knitting oddments

I am crazy about knitting at the moment - I think because it's an easy bit of creativity to fit in whenever I can: sitting at ballet waiting for Olivia, for half an hour in the late evening before I collapse into bed, for twenty minutes during my break at work.  I love knitting for its pick-up-put-down qualities.  Little by little it grows no matter how busy I am.

Slouchy sock-yarn beanie hat finished! #knitting #hat #sockyarn

The beginning of a multicoloured cowl, using sock yarn leftovers #sock yarn #knitting #cowl

At the beginning of this week I finished a slouchy beanie hat made from sock yarn, and almost immediately felt bereft and cast on something new.  Holding the tiny little ball of yarn I had left over from the hat, I was reminded of this shawl which I knit eighteen months ago and wear constantly.  I obviously use more sock yarn than I realised because since I finished the shawl, I have once again built up enough yarn oddments to make something with them.  This time I've decided to make a simple cowl.  I just cast on 160 stitches on 3.25mm dpns, did a few rows of alternating knit and purl to stop the bottom edge from curling, and then switched to stocking stitch.  I'll keep going until I run out of little balls of yarn.  Easy, mindless knitting - with the added excitement of not being quite sure how it will look when it's finished.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

10 things about a new placement

I am back on the wards.  I've started a six-week placement in a rehab unit, which marks the end of Part II of my course - after this I will go from two to three stripes on my epaulettes, and have less than a year to go before I qualify.  It is both scary and exciting to write that.

I have only done two shifts, but already I am:
  • missing being able to wear nail varnish (this post on A Cup of Jo just makes me swoon with desire);
  • remembering how long a twelve or thirteen hour shift is;
  • remembering how a long shift just flies by in a flash when you are busy, busy;
  • enjoying working with gentle, kind nurses who have decades of experience and still take the time to teach me new skills and enthuse about their career;
  • appreciating the colour and vividness of a day off;
  • enjoying a nap on the sofa under a quilt, once the children have gone to school on my days off;
  • getting back into the swing of constantly washing and packing uniform;
  • wondering when I might do any Christmas shopping or planning if I spend all my days off asleep on the sofa?
  • wondering when I might also write the essay which is due in on the 23rd December? 
  • remembering how I end up eating and drinking at such odd times of the day when I am at work (lunch break at 4:30 pm and supper break at 5:45pm on Monday);





I am also missing my nursing friends who are on placements at other hospitals, and hoping they are getting on well.  This course...this asks so much of us, but it gives more back.  Each time I go on placement I realise I have forgotten how tiring it is.  But I also forget how much I love this job; and it's good to be reminded again. 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Warm hands

Earlier this week, I ran for the first time in my winter running top.  I love the thumb hole so much and came back home wondering why manufacturers and knitters don't make thumb holes in every single garment.  It makes the top so much more cosy to wear.

Warm hands

And then yesterday I remembered my armwarmers, which also have thumb holes.  There's now no need to hack at my clothes, or spend the winter in running gear.  Problem solved.

Warm hands  

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Essays and OSCEs

Which way?
Walking to University early in the morning
It's been that sort of week #pint
Unwinding with the student nurses in the pub, after the first week of simulated practice
Essay editing. More fun with a pink pen.
Essay editing, made more fun with a pink pen
Leyton Town Hall - Victorian splendour at its best. It is now a rather lovely pub. #Leyton #london
Leyton Techical pub - glorious on the outside
Tuesday. The children are away. Post work pint. Keeping our hand in with our pre-child skillz.
Leyton Technical pub - and glorious on the inside too
Coffee break time.
Walking past St Paul's during a coffee break
Lunchtime in Postmans Park - one of my favourite London haunts #secretlondon #londonparks
Lunchtime in Postman's Park
I need to tidy my desk.
Messy desk
A more orderly desk. Revising for an exam on Monday.
Tidy desk
The view from the sofa.  Am inside, revising. Would rather be outside, running. #exam
Revising on the sofa - my view
Revising for the OSCE
A surprise exam Good Luck card from Livvy - darling girl.
A surprise OSCE good luck card from Olivia
Exam DONE #phew
Celebrating the end of the OSCE in style
Sunset over the Olympic Park this afternoon
Sunset over the Olympic Park, on my way home

I have had a very full few weeks of essay writing, exam revising and some excellent trips to the pub.  The exam I've just done was an OSCE (pronounced oss-key), which stands for Objective Structured Clinical Exam.  An OSCE is a practical exam, used in medical and nursing degrees, where we have to perform a clinical skill in front of the examiner whilst giving a running commentary about what we are doing and why.  It's a pretty terrifying ordeal, and endless books are published to help medical and nursing students pass them.

For this OSCE we were given a list of nearly 60 clinical skills which could be examined, and we didn't know until we walked into the exam room which one we'd have to do.  The whole process made me simultaneously realise how much I've learnt since this time last year (give an intramuscular injection? yep - fine) and how much I still have to learn (insert a naso-gastric feeding tube? yikes).  In the end, the skill I had was a fairly basic one, so they were expecting me to know it very well indeed.  I have no idea how I've done, but I'll find out in four weeks' time.

To prepare for our OSCE, and for our next hospital placements which start next week, we've just finished two weeks of simulated practice.  This is where we spend all day in the University's mock wards and clinical rooms, in full uniform, learning new clinical skills, and practising the ones we know already, on mannequins (if they're invasive), or on each other (if they're not).  Simulated practice is always a very intense fortnight, where we are overwhelmed with information and new skills, and have to discuss and act out many different scenarios.  

We were let loose on the advanced mannequins for the first time - these ones had pulses and blood pressure, and could be programmed to suddenly vomit or go into cardiac arrest.  The mannequins are cool, but scare me slightly - they have very glazed eyes.  On the very last afternoon I had to catheterise my mannequin, and made a complete botched job of it.  This is why simulated practice is both reassuring (it's just a mannequin, not a real patient) and necessary (I'm going to have to catheterise real patients very soon without getting it wrong).  It's probably also why the mannequins have scary eyes - the result of many hundreds of student nurses practising their catheterisation and resuscitation skills on them over the years.  They could probably do with a pint of cider after two weeks of simulated practice, too.