New Assignments

Classes started on Wednesday, and I am back to the usual nuttiness that seems to breed in my school district. I have three new schools this year, in addition to one I've had since I first started in 2010 (2010!), which means this year will certainly be more interesting than last year. An overview:

Wackyworld Elementary School: I actually had this school my very first year of school nursing, and had a couple of memorable experiences there, including this one: Being right never felt so bad. Yup...It's the weed cookie school. That incident pretty much sums up the clientele in the area. Lockdown isn't a rarity here, and I've been told specifically to not buy gas at the gas station across the street; it's too dangerous. Get in, take care of the kids, and get out. I like this kind of school; the kids need me, and I can make a difference. 

Disneyland: I've had this school every year since I started, and it's just a good place to be. Like Wackyworld, the kids need me, and the principal and secretaries make it a good place to work. I rely heavily on the Spanish speaking secretaries to contact the parents here. There are some high maintenance teachers here that I could do without, but again, I like this kind of school. The kids know me now too; kids I met as kindergartners are now in 4th grade and wave at me every chance they get.

Unknown Elementary School: I know nothing about this school. It's another elementary school with grades K-8, and a similar student population to Disneyland and Wackyworld. I have two 8th grade diabetics, one girl totally competent, and the other a boy who I'd heard had compliance issues. Sure enough, on day one, he didn't show up to the nurse's office. I had a lunch lady track him down, introduced myself, and told him in the future that he would need to make it to my office on his own. I think he got the impression; the next day, he had dropped off the doctor's orders I'd asked him to bring, and showed up promptly at lunchtime. He'll be a good kid to work with.  

Middle School: By no coincidence, I have been assigned Spitfire's middle school. I have two other diabetics here, including Mr. High Maintenance. I'm taking over this school from a woman twice my age who had been there for years, and for now, the staff is suspicious. I'll admit to being a little suspicious myself, as rumor has it the principal pulls the race card whenever she can. I hope to focus on the diabetics and other students in need, and forget the moody school staff best I can. 

To sum up: 3 new schools, including a middle school, and five diabetics. Spitfire was SO happy to see me on the first day of class that she ran through the gate past the secretary to give me a hug. It felt good to be back. 


A Waste of My Breath

I've been back all of one day and already have had to listen to an irate parent tell me, "You are a waste of my breath." This was in response to her being turned away when attempting to pick up her child's schedule  because she somehow missed the zillions of phone calls and letters that have been sent out warning future 7th grade parents that their children must have proof of a Tdap shot to start school.

The beginning of the school year always feels like being thrown into a hurricane, and this year particularly so after being essentially off for four months tending to full time motherhood duties. Oof. Here we go for another year! 


Daycare hunting

We've been hunting for a suitable daycare for our baby that she'll need come August, when she's four months old and I return to work. And, wow, there's a whole spectrum of places. One was a million dollar home, with a lovely lady running the place, someone put together enough to, when I told her I am a nurse, tell me the details of her sick-child policy. But we went to one last night that still just gives me the creepy crawlies.

In a living room crowded with grungy looking toys and playpens, her 5 year old daughter was glued to a handheld video device on the couch when we came in. A small dog in another corner of the living area was yip-yapping non-stop so loudly I could barely hear my own thoughts. When I asked if the dog ever came out of its kennel (like it sounded like it desperately wanted to), she said, "Oh, that's not my dog, I do boarding and grooming on the weekends." Um, it's Wednesday, woman. She also practices attachment parenting philosophy: "So, you know, I pick up the babies and stuff." There was no yard, and when we asked if the kids ever go outside she said, "Yes, sometimes I take them to the park." Can you explain how you safely take five children, including up to four infants, to the park a half mile up the busy road from your duplex? She failed the next question as well. When asked where she changes diapers: "On the floor. You know, there are so many kids running around that I don't want them on the table, it's just easier on the floor." So you are going to put my daughter's bare butt on the dirty carpet while children step on her? No. No you will not. I let her hold my daughter briefly, and she allowed her five year old daughter to start climbing on her while holding my 10 week old. "Okay, I think my baby wants her mommy now..." It was like a train wreck...so bad, yet I couldn't stop asking questions to see just how bad it was.


Greetings, Earthlings

I've been a bit preoccupied in the last seven weeks, but the publication of a study of school nurses reminded me that I used to have a paying job, and this writing outlet. First, the study: School Nurses Save Money. The study mentions RNs, I suspect the use of LVNs might save even more money. It's nice to see something positive about school nurses in the headlines, though I'm not sure it will change the fact that school nurses seem to be being phased out in my area. 

Second, and far more importantly, I had my baby! It is crazy to recall the time in my life in which I just referred to her as "the baby," before she had a name, a face, and a personality. A few thoughts on motherhood while she finishes her afternoon nap: 
1. Natural birth is without a doubt the coolest thing I have ever done in my life. 12 hours to the greatest surprise ever. The most important thing is that our baby arrived healthy, but I am so, so happy to report that I would not change a thing about her entrance to the world. I just found my admission paperwork for the hospital stay while cleaning the house: I signed my consent forms at 4:45 AM, and our baby girl was born 5:51 AM. 
2. Recovery after childbirth is a bitch. No one told me how much I'd hurt afterward. I recall actually thinking I'd never walk again. A bit dramatic, maybe, but I was in pain and sleep deprived. Thankfully, that time has passed. The pain part, I mean. 
3. Breastfeeding is hard. Again, no one told me how hard it would be. My milk was late coming in, or at least too late according to my baby, and one of the hardest nights of my life came just days after the best night ever. Not being able to feed your child is probably one of the worst feelings in the world. 
4. Labor, recovery, breastfeeding, etc. are all washed aside when your baby smiles at you. Seriously, parents aren't joking about how rewarding it is to make your kid happy. It's the best. 
5. Newborns poop. A LOT. 

In the words of my husband and I: we are obsessed with her. Our trials continue, right now facing a possible cow's milk allergy, an unsteady milk supply from me, and irregular sleeping patterns, but so far, parenthood is awesome (except for the daycare costs we are facing come August). It also puts work in perspective. My district has hired more LVNs in my absence, and reorganizing, supposedly, our nursing staff in August. I have no idea what that means. I have one more school year left before my credential expires, and as for now, don't plan on going back to school to get my permanent credential. What that means: I essentially have one year left to be a school nurse, and after that, I'll need a new job, or be "taking a sabbatical," also known as unemployed. The latter doesn't sound nearly so bad when I take a look at my sleeping baby...Hmm. 


One last thing

I saw Spitfire today for the last time and I could not have asked for a better parting gift from her than these words.


Over and out

As of Thursday afternoon, I will be on maternity leave! I'm not due until the end of the month, but I had some comp time to either use or lose, and I'm choosing to use it. 

Things I will miss:
1. The students

Things I will not miss:
1. Everything else: parents, teachers, the politics of it all, commuting...

Even though my year is being cut short, it's been a doozy of a time that I've mostly been omitting on this blog. The restructuring of our nursing staff - adding on LVNs before figuring out how best to utilize everyone - has taken a toll on everyone. One of our nurses made a very serious error and went on paid administrative leave for three months pending an "investigation" into the matter while we all had to fill in for each other and step up our own game, only for her to return bragging about her 3 month paid vacation. Worse, she's now been rewarded with the lightest assignment of us all because she's proven her lack of integrity and can't be trusted around students. Let's just say this: there's a serious downside to unions sometimes. Frustration and lack of morale has reached an all time high, certainly in my time here, and the more veteran nurses that have been here 15+ years agree. 

In all the mess, it's easy to lose sight of why we're here: to take care of the kids. I'll miss Spitfire and many others, and have been totally amused by Spitfire's ability to make it clear to everyone how she feels about the situation. Kids are just kids, and it's a shame to have watched them become less of a priority to nurses and other staff alike. It's been a real challenge to keep this blog going this year simply because just trying to keep afloat in the drama of everything going on with our health staff has put the kids on the back-burner, unfortunately. 

But for now, it's my turn to focus on my own baby. I may or may not be back here; my world is about to change and I don't really know what to expect. Add me to Feedly or whatever blog subscriber you use if you'd like; but until later, in the words of the kids around here: SEE YA! 


A new one

It's rare that I come across a new problem these days, but I did this morning. The principal called me into his office at one of my elementary schools: rumor had it one of the fifth graders was pregnant, and he thought it best if I address it with her directly. I agreed, and talked with the girl who vehemently denied the possibility. Still: rumors gone wild about a girl being pregnant at an elementary school?? The principal even said that in 29 years of being involved in education, he's never come across a rumor like this at the elementary level...ugh. Let's all just hope it really is just a rumor.