Lyme Disease + Nursing School = WTH was I thinking?

Nursing shoes

Seriously, what was I thinking?

Well, I knew what I was hoping, anyway. I was hoping that my LLMD who put this crazy idea into my head would cure me by the time school rolled around. Sadly, though, that didn’t happen.

What did happen was that I began getting tension headaches around the end of July. You know, because the fatigue and the pain and the brain fog was not enough. I have to admit, it makes life more interesting these days. These damn headaches that have plagued me since the last attempt to get me off my meds that are treating my Lyme Disease and co infections. Every. Day. So we added a headache med to the mix, which works just well enough to take the edge off so I can accomplish some homework. My symptoms are never completely gone, though. I’m reluctant to try something else because the current script isn’t interfering with my other medications, or giving me any noticeable side effects.

But sadly, my poor husband has never heard, “but I have a headache,” whined at him with such regularity in all our 17 years of marriage.

Nursing school is just as bit as stressful as people say it is. And since my life hasn’t had enough monkey wrenches thrown into it in recent weeks, one more was added to the bunch: we have new instructors who were apparently brought on last minute, and are trying to get their act together so that we are given a solid education. I chose this program partly because of the success rate of students to pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Last year, for example, their graduating class had a 95% success rate (according to one of the instructors), which is higher than the state average. In this state, once I learn my RN, I’m eligible for a Master’s as an NP since I already hold a Bachelor’s degree, despite it being in Biology and not Nursing. Granted, some schools require time in the field as a pre-req into their Master’s program, and there are those pesky GREs I’ll have to retake since the last time I took those was in 1990.

Are you getting the picture that I’m a little older than most students? I’m not bothered at all by that fact. What does make more of an impact on my education is my health.

I have to stay more organized than usual, since a bout of brain fog can be an unexpected thing. This is harder when your new instructors are trying to organize themselves at the same time. (But I have to say, they have a good humor about it, and recognize the challenge it presents to everyone involved. Luckily, they really make themselves available to us, and are very approachable.)

Fatigue is another factor. For example, after a full day in class, I’m often wiped out and very little gets accomplished outside basic household responsibilities like dinner, dishes and laundry. The fatigue is the most frustrating part of this whole illness. I’m fine in lab and in lecture for the most part. I’m being mentally stimulated by my environment and I’m able to focus. The problem comes when I need to study, or do homework, because I’m just so exhausted. I usually work for 30-60 minutes at a time, then get up, walk around, or drink some water. Then I get back to my work.

My daughter, who is in her first year of high school, is virtually on her own for homework. I’m just too brain dead to help, especially after doing my own homework or being in class all day. But she’s a smart kid. She takes after her mom, if I do say so myself (hey if I don’t toot my own horn who will!) so she really is self-sufficient. She checks her grades online every single day, and she will panic when teachers don’t grade fast enough for her. Every day she gives me a report on her grades in all her classes, and she’s got a 95 or better in all of them. She really is ok. It’s more a matter of confidence, usually.

Then there is the pain. Sitting in a chair for 8 hours while we get through Fundamentals and then Pharmacology lecture is hard on my joints. I get stiff, my back aches, and the next day I’m hobbling around my home like I’m more than twice my age. My feet hurt after a 4 hour day in lab, despite the fact that I invested in Nursemate shoes, but those weren’t as good as they used to be when I wore them back in the day. I purchased an alternative, and I hope the program approves them for use in clinicals. Also, the strength in my hands aren’t as good as they used to be either, so getting on T.E.D. hose can be a challenge. Oh I get it done, but my joints do ache for a bit after the fact.

I try not to let it get me down, despite the potential for this entire entry coming off as whiny. My family has always just plowed through illness, injury, and other obstacles in order to get shit done. We’re tough stock. Besides, a negative attitude just exacerbates pain, tension, and fatigue. Well, at least for me it does.

I’m excited about my future prospects. I’m excited to be headed down this path. Years ago, when I was taking my MCATs and considering med school, it never really “fit.” Oh I wanted to do the work of an MD, and have the autonomy of an MD, and I met the requirements I had to meet to do so, but it wasn’t “right,” and something felt “off.” Now, I’m pursing my RN and will eventually finish as a FNP, and being in school for this fits. It feels right. It’s as if I was trying on shoes and the first pair looked cute, but pinched a little in the toes, only noticeable after a few hours of wear. But this new path? Oh yeah. It’s like a pair of shoes a cobbler made lovingly by hand, of supple leather, and in a style that fits my personality just a bit better.

Now please excuse me while I shine these puppies. ;)

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