Saturday, March 27, 2010

a little history

History is an integral part of any thorough exam, right? We need to know where our patients have been in order to have an idea of where they might be going.

So, in an attempt to get us all on the same page, I thought it might be helpful to let you in on my history. I grew up in Southern California, and my parents divorced when I was young. Dinner table conversations consisted of my father's comments about the "VSD that we couldn't get off bypass," the "20-gauge scalp line in the premie," and the "FLK's circ done under general". I remember wishing that I understood what he was talking about...I wanted so badly for him to share with me, but how does one explain these things to an 8-year-old?

In high school, I decided that I wanted to save the world. Not with nursing, no, that came later-- I wanted to be an environmental scientist, and I wanted to specialize in the destruction of the world's oceans. I got SCUBA certified and started college at an extraordinarily granola university, and the further that I got in the program, the less convinced I was. I considered law school, but my oldest sister's less than exuberant anecdotes about life as a 1L really didn't suit me.

I bounced around a little bit and finally, in the fall of my junior year, narrowed the field down to 'something medical'. I studied human physiology, struggled through anatomy (I was somehow unaware that my first anatomy lab was with cadavers), and hit my stride. I graduated and moved to the big city. I was hired out of, I'm sure, good faith alone, as an inpatient phlebotomist.

Make no mistake, phlebotomy is much more than just a skill. Running from room to room at 3:30 in the morning; waking people from a dead sleep; narrowly escaping vomit, spit, urine, and fists; attempting to maintain control, speed, grace, and accuracy-- all while keeping in mind the looming bloodborne pathogen risk. Perhaps this sounds simple to you, but for me (as unexperienced as I was), it was a challenge to say the least.

I heard from both the sweetest and the most hateful of patients in my year of drawing blood. I gained a sense of humility that many of my coworkers had either lost through time or never had to begin with. Yes, I learned to draw blood. But I also learned that I like the way it feels to walk out of work and struggle to get up the stairs of the parking lot, but do it anyway. I learned that even after 10,000 successful draws, I will still miss from time to time. I learned that, despite all the swearing I do in traffic, I actually do care about my fellow human being. And today, in the third of five terms in nursing school, I use what I've learned.


  1. YAY!
    dude ur gunna make a KICK ASS nurse!
    nursing school sounds sooooo much more fun than law school.

  2. I'm so excited that you started blogging, Cait! Way to join the blogging world! I can't wait to hear more! Tell us about your kiddos you have to help take care of...

  3. Cait- you are a great writer. Everything you say flows and is so clear! Can't wait to read the next blog!