These memories are only funny because they are from so long ago. I got through it, got my Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and never looked back. The dorms I lived in my Freshman and Sophomore years didn’t have AC. There was one window and we put a fan in it. My freshman dorm had a flat asphalt roof and I arranged my 18 credit hours around peak tanning hours so I could take a beach towel up to the roof to study in the sun. No problem when I was tanning my back, but lying on my back trying to hold a five-pound textbook close enough to read but far enough away to not cast a shadow was challenging. And after about an hour my highlighter would start to melt. #freshmanproblems
Roommates. From. Hell. All my friends going to college in our hometown lived at home. Since I lived way out in the country and had a scholarship that included housing I stayed on campus, but always with strangers. My first roommate honestly didn’t understand that our room didn’t come with maid service. She’d sit dirty dishes and half-eaten food outside our door. Yogurt will mold eventually. Dirty clothes (meaning she’d been seen in them once) went to the bottom of our shared closet. When she ran out of clothes she went shopping. She left in shame after our first semester when she couldn’t meet the GPA to be accepted into the sorority she’d pledged.
I thought my second semester was going to be better. Then my new roomie started questioning my religious views. I told her as long as she didn’t kill me, steal my stuff, or throw up in the room I was cool with whatever. She informed me she was a Fundamentalist Christian and that she handled snakes and spoke in tongues. I asked her not to bring snakes into the dorm and not speak in tongues after midnight since I had 8 a.m. classes every day. It turns out that really wasn’t a problem, since she discovered SEX about two weeks later and I rarely saw her after that. I was seriously worried about that snake thing, y’all. If she brought a snake in she might think I was having fits and speaking in tongues, but I would actually be cussing like a sailor and doing my best to get out of that room, even if it meant making a new exit. I was thankful for the disinfected-daily communal bathrooms that semester, too. I didn’t want any of the smaller creatures she might be carrying around, either.
My third roommate wasn’t so bad. She adored The Talking Heads and The Andy Griffith Show, and always had both going at the same time. I was a bit grossed out by the collection of tonsil stones she kept on the counter next to the bathroom we shared with two other girls, but I was a Nursing major. I’d see worse, right? (Oh, yeah) One interesting factoid is she had a very short haircut and a rat-tail down to the middle of her back. If you’re not familiar with this eighties fashion statement this is what it looks like.
In my Junior year we got to interact with actual patients. This was when Nursing majors switched to Accounting in droves. Changing a dressing and having a chunk of bone come out with the bandage will do that for you. So will inspecting a fresh placenta your instructor is really excited about at 7a.m. in the private dining room which also contains the remains of the previous night’s “New Mom and Dad Lobster Dinner”.
Junior year was also the first year year I ever failed a test. OK, I did fail both free throws and dribbling in high school P.E., bringing my grade for the semester down to a B, but I still think that was unfair and my mom should have gone to the school board.
Anyway, I failed a test in my Nursing Pharmacology exam. My instructor (picture a very old Jabba the Hutt in support hose with a Northern accent) insisted on meeting with me right after class, the exam results fresh in my hand. This was an excellent learning experience, as I found out what it was like to have a panic attack. I literally could not speak and my vision started going dark. She kept rambling about how unfortunate it was that the half of the class I was in never got “graded on a curve” since our half had two women with grown children who had taken all their classes except clinicals and specific nursing courses over the past several years, then taken those alone. So not only did they have decades of life experience we nineteen-year-olds didn’t have, but they were taking 6-8 credit hours a semester and living normal lives while the rest of us were carrying 18-21 credits plus working part-time, living on Ramen noodles and saltines, and putting $2 of gas at a time in our cars and praying to get there. She wanted to “talk about my feelings” on that topic. I got up and walked out, looking forward to Psych the next year. (I managed a B in the class.)
Senior year for our half of the class was Public Health and Psych. We learned to check kids for lice and tried to teach caregivers about Universal Precautions (Wear gloves plus whatever else it takes to keep from coming in contact with anyone’s blood or body fluids). This was 1987 and AIDS was on the upswing, but people still thought they could get it from shaking hands. We got to see where a lot of our tax dollars go when it comes to Medicaid and Welfare. Then we spent time at inpatient psychiatric hospitals. We got the employee discount and could buy a big bowl of soup for a quarter, which is pretty much the only perk of my college career. I spent lots of time in Group Therapy sessions with a dozen or so people who were depressed because they were bored. They were in the hospital for two weeks because they had really good insurance. The psychiatrist who led the sessions was a narcissistic asshole who often laughed in his patients’ faces. I’d wanted to go into Psych since junior high, but this rotation cured me of that. Happily, in May of 1988 with a nasty recession going on and many college grads with no job prospects our entire graduating class had jobs when we graduated. Some were still deciding which of several fabulous offers to take, but everyone had a job, and none of us had ever worn a nursing cap.
Linking up with both Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop and Seven Quick Takes this week! (Even though I really can’t ever make my seven takes quick enough!)