Yep, that’s IV as in intravenous. And yep, sometimes we nurses have to take refresher courses in performing this basic nursing skill, which is as much of an art as a science. I used to be one of the best IV starters at the local hospital…..hell, I’d even get called down to the ICU if they had a hard stick (that’s a person who, for one reason or another, is hard to start an IV on). But that was a long time ago…….eight years, to be exact.
That’s not to mean I haven’t craved the adrenalin rush of getting an IV in a combative 400-lb. alcoholic in DTs. Every time I’ve had to call 911 for a resident in one of my assisted living facilities, my fingers have literally itched as the paramedics worked to get a line in…..sometimes they’d have trouble with the dehydrated elderly ladies with spindly veins, and I wanted to just push them out of the way, say “OK, boys, lemme show you how a PRO does it!” and slam that puppy right in there.
Well…..I wasn’t quite THAT awesome, but I was definitely good, and I’ve missed using that skill something fierce. So when my boss asked me the other day if I wanted to take the class, I jumped at the chance. Just a small class of six nurses, none of whom really wanted to be there in the morning, but I was practically salivating at the sight of IV needles and tubing and other related items to play with. (Yeah, I know I’m weird, but isn’t that why you read my blog in the first place? 😉 )
Strangely enough, only one other nurse and I had started IVs on actual patients before, but then we were the only ones who’d worked in hospitals in another life. Practicing on a rubber arm with ropes for veins is nothing like doing it on a living human being with veins that are often hard to find, and which tend to play hide-and-seek when we’re going after them with a needle. Now, she and I were both pretty rusty, but once we got going, a lot of it came back and we got our lines in on the first try.
Damn, it felt good to hold a 22-gauge angiocath again! I felt like an old gunslinger who’s been out of circulation for years, and then someone puts a Colt .45 in his hand and all the old moves come right back. Yee-HAW!!
Now, I’ll tell you something about adult learners: We have a really low tolerance for boredom. Power Point presentations put us to sleep, and unfortunately so does the food served at most of these affairs. Thankfully, the instructor was more about substance than style, and she was a lively presenter who really engaged us with her quick wit. Still, our energy was flagging by about 2 PM, and we took a short break.
During this break, I noticed that one nurse was reading an educational handout called Understanding Bipolar Disorder. She’s taking classes toward a higher nursing degree, as it turns out, and this was evidently part of the curriculum.
Well, since I’m “out” at work and don’t have a shy bone in my body, I leaned over and piped up with “Hey, if you ever want to know anything about that, you can always ask me.” I meant it as a joke, but she was immediately intrigued and mentioned something about cyclothymia, which she had just gotten done reading about.
“Oh, yeah, Bipolar Lite,” I said, whereupon she spewed a mouthful of water across the room and broke into choking laughter. She had apparently never heard this expression before, and when I added that the kind I have is the “full meal deal”, she laughed even harder. (Gosh, I love cracking people up…..I must’ve been a class clown in a former life.) Then she said “You’re so happy all the time—you’re like, oh, who’s that actor……oh yeah, Robin Williams!” to the amusement of the other nurses in the room.
Now, if truth be told, I’d much rather be likened to Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is as classy a bipolar as anyone could ever be, than the wild-and-crazy Williams, who seems to swing between manic comic and raging asshole. I’m not a raging asshole. (Well, most of the time anyway.) But, there is a grain of truth there, and I’d prefer to think it’s just because I show my happy face at work and leave the frowny face at home.
The rest of the day passed quickly, as everyone was wide awake after all the hubbub died down, and we were pretty much all in agreement that the class had been useful. So now that I’ve finally gotten to hold an IV needle in my nimble fingers again, I’m ready to roll. (Pssst—anyone up for some fluids that come in a clear plastic bag instead of a cup or a bottle? I need more practice!)