Weekend Musings

Hey hey!  I haven’t forgotten about my blog.  😉  School + work = utter chaos.

Musing #1.
After sitting at a C- in my med-surg class for weeks, I finally boosted my grade by passing version two of the medical surgical HESI.  For anyone who is preparing for nursing school or HESIs, I’d like to recommend a few resources.

1)  RegisteredNurseRNshe has a Youtube channel and a website.  Both are full of excellent (and most importantly, FREE!) resources, and she explains concepts in a way that is neither condescending nor overly complicated.  If I hadn’t found her tic-tac-toe method of assessing arterial blood gases, I probably would still be absolutely clueless.

2)  Davis’ Med-Surg Success: A Q&A Review, Applying Critical Thinking to Test Taking – currently available for $39.76 on Amazon.  I’m not sure whether it’s the latest edition, but it has been immensely helpful this semester.  Medical-surgical classes are ridiculously broad, so you really need to focus on the basics of patient safety and care to succeed.  This book provides you with hundreds of questions over a variety of topics, along with rationales and study tips.  Note: there are several mistakes, so double-check with your instructor and class content if something doesn’t seem quite right.

3)  Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination – $63.60 new, $39.99 used.  While it’s definitely not a replacement for your dependable med-surg textbook, it helps highlight interventions and stuff you NEED to know about different concepts, disease processes, and patient care.  Also, probably about 3lbs lighter than a typical med-surg book.

4)  Mosby’s Pharmacology Memory NoteCards: Visual, Mnemonic, & Memory Aids for Nurses – $21.35 on Amazon!  What a steal!  If you’re a visual learner, or adore mnemonics, this is a handy study guide for learning the most common medications.  Pharmacology is a pain in the you-know-what, this can make it easier, and dare I say… fun?

Musing #2.
As most of you know, I made the commitment to eat cleaner and be more active.  Guess what.  It’s not easy when you’re in nursing school.  You gotta have action along with intent.  Soooo… I made it simple for myself.  While looking up recipes, I consider the cost and simplicity, along with the nutritional content.  Fiber + fat + protein = happy Jo who isn’t starving half the time.  One of my favorites is a simple vegetarian tortilla casserole.  I know you’re probably thinking, “HEY, veggie dishes aren’t satisfying,” but seriously… this casserole is the bomb-diggity.  Plus, if you’re not a fan of some of the veggies, you can easily modify the recipe!  Corn tortillas, yellow squash, big ripe tomatoes, salsa con verde (I promise it’s not terribly spicy), mozzarella + parmesan, a pound of spinach… is your mouth watering yet?  One serving size is a full QUARTER of the casserole, and contains a mere 370 calories, while packing a punch as far as fiber (5g) and protein (14g) go.  I treat myself with a dollop of sour cream on top (full-fat, I’m a rebel)!

Musing #3.
The last couple months, I’ve intentionally pulled back from social activities and communications in an effort to focus on personal growth and academic ventures.  While certainly not a good long-term strategy, it has given me time to assess where I am at in life, and what I need to do to achieve my goals and sustain feelings of contentment, without any distractions.  I’ve realized that I possess more inner strength than I ever thought possible, and my emotions and feelings are valid – I don’t need to hide anything.  Struggles, ambitions, fears, hopes… it’s all in the open.

Musing #4.
My cat is the cutest cat in the whole world.  Just look at that face and adorable feet!


Musing #5.
Despite struggling with insomnia for my entire adult life, I basically slept through Thursday and Friday.  Thursday, I dragged myself off of the futon at 5:30pm to hang out with a friend, then went back to bed around midnight.  Friday, I dozed till 2:30pm.  I’m on the struggle bus this semester, but our last final is a week from Monday!  Sadly, I missed the 2 nice days of the week.  Yesterday, various parts of Iowa had tornado warnings, thunderstorm warnings, and winter storm warnings.  C’mon spring, we don’t want to immediately skip to summer and sweltering hot days.  Enough with this 20-30 degree nonsense and intermittent snow.

I don’t know how to write a suitable conclusion for a blog, so… see you later, I guess?


[insert incredibly witty title]


Last year, I acquired a 365-day, 5-year journal.  I ambitiously decided to chronicle my everyday life through stream of consciousness ramblings and observations.  Alas, one paragraph for each day was not adequate.  XANGA I MISS YOU COME BACK.

And so… this is my new space for musings, reviews, ideas, fitness journey, experiments in the kitchen, nursing school thoughts, and overall dispensary for anything I think about and want to share with family and friends.

Comprehensive March Update

After a couple weeks of anxiety and dealing with big life changes, my weight reached an all-time high: 178.2 pounds.  Comparison:  In December 2016, I weighed a slight 110 pounds.  Neither of these weights are ideal.  I could attempt to shift the blame onto my under-active thyroid, no longer working 12-hour shifts at the hospital, or trying a variety of medications to deal with insomnia (weight gain is a fun side effect).  But that would take away the focus from what I need to do about it.

In the past, I tried quick fixes, smoothies and shakes, intense workout regimens, expensive programs, and 1,200 calorie restrictions.  Guess what?  They didn’t work long-term.  Instead of trying the same method over and over again, I’ve decided to go back to the basics and start slow.  Small changes build over time!  I set MyFitnessPal to 1,700 calories/day, and will be buying a new pair of running shoes tomorrow.  Weightlifting would be my preference, but is not financially feasible at the moment, nor safe with tendonitis in both wrists.  I used to love running, and I bet with some discipline and commitment, I could grow to enjoy it again.

Mental Health
I’ve always been an advocate for self-care, but it has always been a difficult aspect of my own life.  For a couple years, I felt ashamed that I needed medications to function.  Lately I’ve realized that the medications are a large part of what has gotten me to this point.  Lexapro, for anxiety.  Seroquel, for mood stability.  Restoril, for sleep.  I’ve even started joking about my “daily cocktail,” because really, it’s not a big deal.  My mental illnesses are not going to just disappear because I want them to, or because I try REALLY hard not to feel anxious or depressed.  Part of self-care will tie in with my fitness goals: I need to fuel my body with nutritious food, and partake in regular exercise to ward off anxiety and diminish insomnia.

Nursing School
924 days completed, and 278 days left of this hellacious experience.  Every day I wonder why I chose the bachelor’s program instead of starting with an associate’s.  TOO LATE NOW!  So far, I have passed my Fundamentals, Nutrition, Pharmacology, and Pediatric HESIs (helps predict likelihood of passing the NCLEX (licensure examination upon completion of nursing program (I like parentheses))).  I scored 779 on the Medical-Surgical HESI (benchmark at Mercy is 850), so I’ll be doing remediation over spring break in an effort to boost my score on version 2 of the HESI.

Nursing school has been going well so far – this semester has been the most difficult so far, and I hear that summer semester is going to be completely bonkers.  Last semester will be a breeze – just gotta hang in there for another 5 months.  Right now, I’m sitting at a C- in Nursing Concepts & Practice 320, which is worrisome, but I utilized most of my tax refund in the most responsible way possible – I bought three review textbooks, a critical thinking nursing textbook, and pharmacology memory notecards.  If at all possible, I’d like to keep my GPA above 3.0 so grad school can be an option.

If anyone intends on going to Mercy for nursing, I’ll gladly show you where all the best places to cry are.  =)

What I’m Reading
Judas Unchained (Peter F. Hamilton)
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things (Jenny Lawson)
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (Siddhartha Mukherjee)
Olive Kitteridge (Elizabeth Strout)
Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban (J. K. Rowling)