Friday, September 30, 2011

Something Worth Watching

This is a picture of the Gomez family. They are a Mormon family living in Utah, and they are featured on this Sunday's episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on ABC. A representative of the show contacted me several weeks ago asking if I'd be interested in previewing the episode and helping to spread the word, not just about the television show, but about the cause that's behind it, and I'm not just referring to a new house.

Little Jonah, there on the right, is 7 years old. He has two very rare blood disorders. So rare in fact, that he is the only person in the world with the combination, and the only way to save his life is to find a bone marrow donor who will match him. The problem is, one hasn't been found yet. In his young life, he's already had 65 blood transfusions and been hospitalized 20 times. His health status is so fragile. At the beginning of the show, the Gomez family is living in the grandmother's basement because Jonah's medical bills have left them unable to afford a house of their own. The basement, though, has some mold, and is damp and not conducive to the clean and abundant oxygen that Jonah requires to help keep him healthy. This is a very moving episode--I was in tears several times as I viewed it this afternoon. The beauty of this little boy's spirit shines right through the screen with his broad smile and upbeat attitude. You will fall in love with him (and his amazing mother and sister) in the first five minutes of the show, I guarantee that.

But besides being inspirational and moving, this episode raises awareness to the need to increase the bone marrow donor bank. You will be so impressed by how many people volunteer to be tested to see if they are a match for Jonah. It's an easy check, just a cheek swab, and sadly, Jonah is not the only little guy on a waiting list hoping for a chance at life. There's information at the end of the episode about how you can be checked to see if you might be a match to save sweet Jonah, or another child.

I highly recommend gathering the family together this Sunday evening for this episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. You know I don't have much time, but I am so glad I made the time to watch, and I am going to get myself checked!

(I was not paid or compensated in any way for this post. I was just asked to spread the word, however I chose to do that.)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I Owe You an Update!

Thank you all for being such faithful readers, and coming each day to check my blog. I feel awful that I've been such an absentee blogger, and I actually think of my blog every day, but you know. . . I've been BUSY.

School is going great, really. It's actually quite fun. Our nursing class is made up of 60 students (actually, I think the number is 54 now) and we're divided into clinical groups of 10. We're with those 10 students for all of our classes, except for the big lecture class on Fridays, when we're all together, if that makes sense. This means that we spend a LOT of time together every day, and we've already become like a little family. My group of 10 is awesome. So culturally diverse, most of us are in our 30's, but 2 in their 20's, and one in his 40's. We have 3 men, 7 women, and we all work really well together. And we make each other laugh, which is a wonderful element of being together as often as we are. I've developed close friendships with several of my group members, and I look forward to seeing them each day.

So far we've been learning lots of basic nursing skills. We've learned aseptic technique and sterile technique, taking vital signs, bed baths, bedmaking (with and without a patient in the bed), several kinds of enemas, feeding tube care, and medication administration (drawing up syringes for different kinds of injections, and measuring other meds), among other things. Starting next week, we'll be caring for patients at a long-term residential care facility. We're all feeling excited about actual patient care, but nervous too. There are so many ways to make mistakes, and learning from books, videos, and on dummies is obviously a lot different than real people. But we'll get it, and soon these kinds of cares will be a piece of cake. So, we'll be at the clinical site two days a week, and at the campus lab for another day learning new skills to add to our hats. Then, the other two days will be the research class and the lecture class.

My schedule at home has gotten so packed. My goal when I decided to start school almost 3 years ago was to make sure that it didn't interfere with what I consider the most important parts of my life as a wife/mother. It's important to me that I still cook breakfast, pack lunches, and cook dinner each day (very tricky now, I assure you. . . maybe a post on just that topic soon.) I still want to read to Conor each evening. I still want to have Family Home Evening and scripture study, and I want to have time for dates with my children. Time management has become even more crucial. I've got some work to do, but so far, pretty good. We're all a work in progress.

On a personal note, I want to thank all of you, friends that I know in person and friends that I have "met" from blogging, for your support and kindness and encouragement. I go back and read my initial "Should I go to school" post from time to time. That post got more comments than any other post, I think, and I'm so grateful for your belief in me! This goal would definitely have been easier had I done it 20 years ago, but I have never regretted starting down this path, and I couldn't do it without you. Thank you so, so much.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kindergarten Blues

My little guy started kindergarten last week. He'd been so excited all summer to go to school like the big kids. I got him up early his first day to get him dressed and ready, but I had an early class and didn't get to take him to school. His dad took him, and the first two strikes happened early on: no backpacks allowed for kindergarten (wish they'd told us that before we all took our kiddos shopping!) and his teacher would be serving jury duty for at least the first week of school.

I picked him up that first day, and he was beaming. He looked so adorable sitting at his desk waiting obediently for his name to be called. On the way home, he told me all about his day, and despite the 105 temperature, he clung to my hand the entire way. "He missed me," I thought. "He wants me close."

The next two days I had to drop him off at the curb from the van, to go into the kindergarten yard, where they don't let parents come before school anyway. He slumped slowly in, but both days his teacher told me he cried. As we walked home, I asked him about the tears. "It's just that I missed you," he said. "I looked out the yard, and you were gone."

He was grateful for a weekend.

Sunday night he told me he didn't want to go to school the next day. "I want to stay home with you," he said. I explained that I wouldn't be here; I had school too. He suggested Daddy, but I reminded him that Daddy has to work. "But I'll cry, I know it," he whimpered. "You can do it, Conor," I told him. "You always have a really fun day at school, and when you get home, you can tell me all the fun things that you learned." He persisted, so I tried other tactics.

"You have to go to school. If you don't go to school, they'll kick you out."

He wanted to get kicked out.

"If you cry every day, the other kids will think you're a baby."

"Oh, no, that part's fine," he said. "They all try to cheer me up."

On Mondays, my school schedule allows me to walk him to school, so I figured we'd do that instead of the dump and drive thing. As we walked, he held my hand. And he said the sweetest things:

"I just love holding your hand, Mom."

"I wouldn't trade you for any other mom in the whole world."

"Thanks for walking with me, Mom."

I told him how much I believed in him and how proud I was of him, and how I couldn't wait to hear about his fun day. I told him how many children in the world didn't get to go to school, and how lucky we all are that we do. When we got to the kindergarten yard, I got down on my knees and hugged him for a good long time. He took his Star Wars lunchbox and his water bottle, and walked through the gate. Once through, he came running to the fence, where I was waiting on the other side. "I can't do it, Mom! I can't!" and the tears were coming.

I wanted to burst into tears. I wanted to say to him, "You know what? Forget this public school crap. Come back out of that yard and come home with me. Let's read stories and bake cookies and color pictures. You belong with me." But I choked it back, and put my fingers through the chain link to grab his hand, like one of us was a prisoner, not even sure which.

I reminded him of how brave he is, gave him every pep talk I could think of. His anxiety waxed and waned (mostly waxed) as the bell got closer. When it was time to line up, his big blue eyes filled with water. "You can do this, my boy. I love you." He started to the line, and then ran back to me one last time. We lined up our lips through the chain link diamond and I gave him a kiss of courage. "When you get home," I told him, "go check your bed. I'm going to leave you a surprise."

He lined up, but kept his head turned around to watch me the whole time. Meanwhile I was giving him smiles and thumbs up and blown kisses and cheers. Finally, his blonde head of curls disappeared through the door, and safely now, I let my own tears flow as I walked home.

I hate kindergarten. It just feels wrong to me.

I'll get home from school around dinner time. Aiden will be at a Dodger's game, and Lyndsay will be tutoring. So, it's all about Conor. I will feed him and bathe him, and read to him a few chapters from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We'll say prayers together and lay together in his bed and he can tell me all about his day. I will praise his strong heart (and mine!) and tell him how doing hard things and facing his fears will make him courageous and brave.

And then, we'll do it all over again.

Friday, September 2, 2011

1 Week Down, 15 to Go

I finished my first week of the RN program.

Longest. Week. Of. My. Life.

But so much fun, too. I'm really enjoying myself.

My schedule has me at school every day. I've never done that before, and it makes for a long week with all the commuting (20 miles each way). Oh, what this will cost me in gas! And I am trying to coordinate all the other areas of my life around this new schedule, which I was in the dark about until I showed up the first day. It's kind of tricky. Some days I can take the kids to school, others I cannot. Some days I can pick them up, others I cannot. Some days I'm home early, some late. And then there's getting all my piano students worked in there too.

Oh, and enormous amounts of reading and studying.

There are 60 of us in this program. We are the Class of 2013. We are together for the Nursing Fundamentals lecture class on Fridays, but other than that, we are broken into groups of ten for our clinical groups. I already feel like I have a new family in those 10 new friends, and many other new friends in the other groups.

Every day I came home dog tired. One day I thought pizza sounded like a fun way to end the week for dinner, but then I realized it was only Tuesday. Tuesday!

This week, besides all the introductory stuff about the program, we learned handwashing and aseptic techniques, and taking vital signs. I heard my first blood pressure this week, and I've been checking everyone in the house regularly for practice. We are told very seriously that this program is rigorous and will demand most of our lives for the next two years, but that we will be so grateful, and it will be so worth it.

I can already tell.