Sunday, April 27, 2014

Frustrated with waiting

I feel like I'm stuck in a suspended animation.

The children have finally stabilized. The move back south and into a new life was harder on them than even I anticipated, but they are stable again. Those whose school tanked are slowly recovering it. They all have activities, friends, recovering school status, and they are happy. They are mostly back in grief therapy, and the two with additional mental health struggles are thriving with new therapists and an excellent Psychiatrist locally. All of the hard work was so worth it. There is no way I could have sought work in the midst of caring for those needs.

I have two classes left for the BSN. My classes start tomorrow, and I honestly staved my Death and Dying class for last, simply because I knew I would enjoy it most. This week, I apply for my degree, which I will earn in August. I started this journey 4.5 years ago, and I never imagine it would take this long, nor that this was where I would find myself.

Yet, I'm spinning my wheels. My applications for graduate school have been submitted and still no answers have come, not rejections nor acceptance letters. I have confirmed that all of my documents arrived at the programs, so there is nothing more I can do but continue to wait.

I have been job searching for a month, and finding a PRN position that will work while I'm in grad school has not been easy to find. The dream job turned out to not be advertised honestly. They advertised for 12 hours per week, but they actually wanted 32+ hours per week, which won't work if I'm going to be in school full-time.

My financial aid for grad school has been submitted, but does me no good unless and until I am admitted somewhere. There are several national scholarships for graduate nurses but they also cannot be applied to until I have an actual acceptance. I interviewed for a job last week, and the interview went fantastic....and the hiring manager is out of state until next week.

So I am waiting, waiting to see where the next several years of my life is going to be focused....or not. There is absolutely nothing I can do but keep waiting, and try not to convince myself that I was foolish to think I could do this and stood a chance to get into any program in the first place.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Small steps forward, backward, sometimes sideways

Nothing life shattering is happening now. Yet, small things are shifting around here. Most of the kids are getting stable finally (and I cannot stress how important that change is). A and E are still struggling in school. However, E was accepted into a Magnet school for fine arts for this fall--conditional to her bringing her GPA back up, and it has been the motivation she has needed to push through her mental health challenges to get back to somewhat steady ground. We know what A's struggle is, we just aren't having any luck getting him fully back to thriving. He is the most tech unsavy teenager I have ever seen. We moved him to a school that is extremely tech oriented (the children all use ipads for their textbooks are supposed to submit their assignments online. We're desperately trying to help him, as is the school and the soccer team. I think he's looking at repeating three classes in summer school. There just doesn't seem to be a way around that outcome. E will likely have to repeat her math class in summer school. Surprisingly, S is passing all but his math, which everyone expected and knew and he will simply repeat it next year.

The children have all restarted grief therapy through a local non-profit. It's wonderful for them, and it's helping everyone get adjusted so much better than I was getting it as I spun my wheels and did it on my own. It was amazing. Whey they oriented the children to the center, they each received a bag. Those bags were full of things like journals (or grief oriented coloring book for the littlest guy), tissues and other things to help them. They were also given a stuffed animal and a full sized, handmade quilt. Those blankets are beautiful and all of the children love them. They are supplied by Project Linus. Years ago, in another state and another lifetime, the girls and I did a Girl Scout service project providing blankets for Project Linus in our area. Never did I imagine that I would see Project Linus as something to minister to my own children.

E had a very bad month of March, probably the worst in both of our lives. There was a point that I thought we were going lose her, quite literally. She's had a full tune-up of her mental health status and a new therapist. Her other therapist seemed nice enough, and was making progress with her, but he seemed to fail to understand how traumatic this whole move was and did not understand the need to see her more frequently than once a month. It had a great deal to do with what led to the disaster last month, and I certainly don't blame him. However, the grief center gave me a recommendation for a therapist not only skilled in addressing grief issues in teens but specialized in ASD children. In just three sessions, she has been FANTASTIC for E. Normally it takes a lot longer to get a therapist to understand who E is and how to work with her. This one really knows the Asperger's challenge well. She truly believes we can get E stabilized and back to every other week sessions by fall. I truly hope that is the case. It hurts me to see E hurting. But, since her tune-up and starting with this new therapist, I have tremendous hope for her getting stable and happy again. I was stunned that the Magnet school gave her a conditional acceptance despite her tanking her GPA this spring. They told her she has until August to get into the required GPA range and if she cannot accomplish that, then they will put her admission on hold until she does rather than reject her. This will be fabulous for her, to allow her to express her creativity and focus on positive and healthy avenues of creativity.

I interviewed for a job today. It was mostly a let-down simply because it appeared to be an HR screening interview and generic. However, she was going to forward my resume to the hiring manager, and that is where my hope lies that I will garner the attention and eventually the job. I've applied for quite a few jobs. This is the only one that has responded. It also happens to be my dream job, so I'm okay with that. I am waiting on an admission committee somewhere to agree that the future I envision for myself is one they believe I am capable of as well. Two of them have told me I can expect to hear in June. I'm impatient and want to hear today, but I continue to wait.

Yesterday, I started another journey in this reclamation process of my life. I started a journey on aggressively and proactively conquering my health struggles. By summer, I will have taken drastic measures that I believe will help see me through many more years with my family. It's an ironic but medically necessary journey I am entering, and one I hope I will not regret when I get to the other side.

Today, after years of avoidance and research in the dark of night, I made a leap on my spiritual journey as well. I am ready to explore spirituality without feeling like I have PTSD myself, without rejecting a creator because of the creations. It's not something I'm ready to discuss, and I don't know where it will lead. But, the sheer fact that I am speaking to a religious authority of any variety is HUGE for me at this point in my life.

Little by little we are putting our lives back together. This time, we will not be uprooted again. This time we will restore and this home will be a haven for healing for this family. It has been a stormy spring, and I couldn't have worked through this even if I had the option. However, as the family is recovering, we will find our footing again and find our way back to thriving again.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The dream job

If we had stayed in New England, I was reaching a point where I was going to have to find a new job. It wasn't just that my manager was horrid, and she was truly horrid. It was that as much as I liked working with adult oncology patients, my heart is still in pediatric care. I am a pediatric nurse and, if all of my dreams go as planned, I will one day be a pediatric nurse practitioner. That's who I am. That's how I got into adopting medical needs children in the first place. I was born a pediatric nurse. It's basically the one place where my mothering instincts that cause me to mother hen everyone around me becomes acceptable and beneficial.

So, I've said for years that my dream job is to work Pediatric Oncology and Hematology, with the ability to have a focus on palliative and hospice care worked into that population. In New England, the closest children's hospital was nearly 1.5 hours away, but if I was ever going to get back to pediatric practice, it was going to become necessary. Here in the south, the nearest pediatric hospital is only slightly closer, but the winters are more mild. So, I figured down the road, when I was ready to stop denying that I was born to be a pediatric nurse, I would look that direction for a job, in the hopes that if I got my foot in the door somewhere, then eventually I could work my way into the Oncology/Hematology area where I really want to be.

It took several months to get my licensure transferred to my new state. I had this identical problem when I moved to New England and I now believe the slowdown is the state that I took my board exams in. Only about half of the US states have a compact agreement for nurses, in all other states, you have to apply for what is called licensure by endorsement. In each state that I have had to do that, I am required to have a verification from the state I was most recently (and actively) licensed in sent to the new state. However, I am forever required to also have a form from the state where I took my board exams. Once my licensure was issued for this new state, several issues came up with the children in March and I was unable to work at looking for a job until a week ago.

Despite working a very normal looking, traditional nursing position for a year, most of my background is very non-traditional. I'm skilled and I am terrific at what I do. However, if you are looking for a job where I clocked in, worked my shift, and then took my paycheck home, you simply aren't going to find that. Consequently, I have not heard back yet from the local positions that I applied for, and I applied for every per diem and float pool position that any of the local hospitals have advertised. Two days ago, on a lark, I went to the children's hospital to look at what positions they had open right now.

They had a per diem night shift position on the peds floor. I thought about it for a minute and decided that if working night shift so I don't have to accommodate childcare, I can totally to the commute, so I applied. Then I happened to look at their list again. They have a per diem position in their Pediatric Oncology/Hematology infusion center they are looking for a nurse to hire. This....this is my DREAM JOB. This is the job I thought I would have to work my wait to get to, the job that was outside of my reach because I can only work per diem while I'm in grad school. And, I fit every qualification they want....except I am not chemo certified.

I am willing to get chemo certified, and I thought that perhaps my background and strengths in infusions, in central lines, in pediatric hematology and in hospice care would boast my chances over that missing chemo certification. I figured if I got past the screening, I would explain to them that I was supposed to get that certification in December but I knew the ethical thing was to not hold off on giving my resignation and letting my employer pay for that training and then quit two weeks later. I decided the ethical response was to give my manager a chance to put someone else into that slot so they could do the work after I left. So, I gave up being chemo certified before moving to do the right thing. I didn't honestly think I would get anywhere with this application. At most, I figured it would get my name to this department and they would start seeing my name repeatedly and with time they would eventually talk to me and see how passionate I am about this specialty.

I cannot describe the panic and the excitement to open my email 36 hours later and find an email asking me to call the nursing recruiter and set up a job interview. It's not a job yet. I still might not get this job. However, they know I am not chemo certified and they still want to interview me, so they must be willing to at least consider paying to get a new hire certified. This's THE job I've wanted. It's THE job of my dreams, the one I wanted more than anything, the one that is my long-term career goal. If I could convince them that I am perfect for this job, I could work it for the years I am in graduate school, and then I would be known and established to try to get a nurse practitioner job with them when I was done. It feels too good to be true!