Memoir of a Girl

The stories of my life

Mabuhay Philippines! October 26, 2012

Filed under: Adventures — krisedja @ 11:12 am
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When I announced to my friends and family that I was moving to the Philippines, with the littles, they thought I was absolutely insane. You’re going where? You’re doing what? A family member called my mother and suggested that she was the only one that could talk some sense into me; she had to do something.

Mid-summer of 2009 I was getting ready to take a vacation with my friend from Ohio. We were heading up to Maine for a week with the kids. In the midst of that, my (now ex) husband and I were trying to figure out how I was going to finish my BSN. It was getting to the point in the program where I wasn’t really going to be able to work because of the clinical hours, and with two infants that needed day care, we weren’t going to be able to support the family on his salary.

His two brothers were already in the Philippines; one of them was studying nursing. “It’s too bad you couldn’t just go to the Philippines,” he said to me one night while we were lying in bed. “Where were you with that idea four years ago,” I asked him. It started from there. I confessed to him that I had actually toyed with the idea of sending the girls to stay with his mother, in West Africa, while I finished the last 18 months of school. We talked about it more and more and eventually all the talking evolved into a plan.

Why did I think this was such a great idea you ask? Well….

We estimated it would cost somewhere in the vicinity of $30,000 (tuition only) to finish the BSN here in the US; in the Philippines, we were looking at roughly $100o per semester, or $3000.

We made plans for my mother-in-law to move to the Philippines and take care of the girls while I was in school. This was good for a lot of reasons. If not for this, it was unknown if/when she would be able to meet the girls. Lucy was already two and a half, and The Baby was soon to be 18 months. Not only would they meet her, but living with her, they would actually get to know her. At that time were were paying roughly $800/month for day care, and now day care would not be an issue.

The littles and I would also be living with his brothers and sister, so we would all really get a chance to know each other.

The stories my brother-in-law had from clinical gave me the idea that the hands-on clinical experience was not something I would ever have here. In the Philippines (depending on your school and the hospital/doctor you have duty at) it is not unusual for a student nurse to deliver a baby. Here in the U.S. student nurses stand back and observe, and might be considered lucky if they assist with the immediate newborn care.

The combination of my brothers-in-law already being there, and the cost of living being so low in the Philippines, it would not be much ‘extra’ for the littles and I to stay there, expense wise,

I imagined that the cultural experience would be amazing. The Manchild at that time was twelve years old, and though he dragged his feet most of the way, and complained most of the 18 months that we lived there, I know that someday he will reflect back on those times and be grateful. Even though today I am still reminded of how challenging that time was in my life, I know that it changed me forever, and I believe it was for the better.

Not much of anything worked out the way we had expected it to, and there were daily challenges. Sometimes friends or family will ask me if it was really worth it (the financial aspect) and I am quick to say no, because there were so many extra expenses related to the ‘project’ that we hadn’t anticipated, but when I really think about it, I can’t say with 100% certainty that it wasn’t still less costly than it would have been here. I am still facing daily challenges in waiting for my documents so that I can take the NCLEX, but I have to say that the overall experience was priceless.

 

Mr. Lizardo September 5, 2010

Filed under: Adventures,Inside My Mind,Mabuhay Philippines — krisedja @ 5:04 am
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This is going to be a rambling post. A distraction of sorts for myself as I am breaking from answering assignment questions about the right to life being fundamental and ‘alienable’. Yes, that is the word used in the question; ‘alienable’. I, however, took it upon myself to use the word ‘inalienable’ in my answer. I hope I don’t lose points.

I have a tendency to be easily startled. I am not fond of insects or any kind of breathing thing that has more than two legs, or no legs at all, and is not considered to be a four-legged-family-member (read dog or cat). So here I was a few minutes ago writing away, shaking the $10 plastic table that serves as our eating and meeting place in the house, when an opened package of cookies was jiggling in such a way that the little torn piece looked like some kind of living thing that might eat me. Even though it was smaller than my thumb. Can you see why my husband likes to jump out and scare me? I would be entertained too, I can’t lie.

I get up and take said package to the small bag serving as a garbage can for the evening, when all of a sudden something in the bag jumps and scares the life out of me for at least an hour   30 seconds. You see, internet, we have a plethora of ‘house lizards’ here in this part of the world that I am calling home these days. They are really just little geckos, like the famous Geico gecko, but they are still not my favorite friends. As a matter of fact, when I first relocated here, if there was a lizard anywhere in the house, you would likely find me standing on a chair screaming. Because surely, the lizard was going to come and eat me.

That was then.

Now, I am a lot less fearful of these little creatures, and I will even go so far as to say that I might be able to actually shoo one out of the house without any equipment in the coming days. Just not yet. But seriously, they are everywhere here, and I had to make the decision to be gecko-friendly, or have an all night long fear-fest. I chose to get friendly. But, I am still easily startled, and this little guy hiding in the bag scared me.

I can see I am going to have a long night ahead of me because I slept until about 2:00 this afternoon in anticipation for my noc duty (3rd shift) that is actually a PM duty (3p-11p) tomorrow. I love it when they post schedules the same day that they become effective.

 

Culture. Shock August 4, 2010

Filed under: Adventures,Mabuhay Philippines,Savoir faire — krisedja @ 12:13 am
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Where I am here, on the other side of the earth, things are different. I was expecting different when I got here, and I think I adjusted well, but there is still something weekly, if not daily, that just shocks me for at least a second. This last week it was more than one, and it was day after day after day.

First, a friend/neighbor was sick and had to be admitted to the hospital. Since there was nobody else volunteering to go, or even one that said yes when asked directly, I was the ‘watcher’ as they call them here. That means that I was at the hospital for a great amount of time during the admission, running here and there to get food and more supplies from home. This is in addition to having duty, and although the hospital I had duty at happened to be the same as friend was admitted to, said hospital is about 1-1.5 hours away from where I live, depending on how I am traveling.

Now, this was all good, and I am not complaining, but I just have to say that what bothered me has bothered me before. It is times like these that we see who people really are. Who is really a friend, and who really gots-your-back. Lots of people knew this friend was sick. Lots of people knew I slept not a wink in over 24 hours and have 3 littles I would love to see for at least a minute in the craziness that can be my life, and lots of people knew that I was traveling back and forth sometimes twice a day between duty and keeping this friend company. But do you think that anyone offered to trade places with me? Even for just the afternoon? Enough said, I just needed to vent and now I can move on.

The next thing that got me is the difference between what a private room and the ward patients experience. I have put many an hour into the medical ward at this hospital, and I’ll just say that it is not a place I would like to be in when needing any kind of medical care.

Ward equals up to six beds in one room with noises, lots of people in and out, and could be lights on for 24 hours… mostly student nurses attending to your needs, which typically equals a visit every two hours for vital signs depending on what the good doctor ordered. The CR (or bathroom as we like to call it in the west) is shared by everyone, might not have a shower, typically has not been cleaned since Moses was breathing, and has only a hole where there may have at one time been a door knob. Sheets and gowns are not typically changed during the entire hospital stay, and you may have an additional fee if they are.

Private room equals two sheets on the bed, two pillows, a TV, a fridge, and a private CR with a shower. They get better food for meals, better dishes, and they even get a snack. The sheets were changed while we were there without any request being made. There were three staff nurses for no more than 10 patients, while in the ward they could have three nurses with as many as 60 patients.

Big.difference.

On a general note, I have to say that I was shocked, but not really, when I noticed that the stretcher in the ER that my friend was placed on had a sheet that had not been changed since the last patient, or who knows how much longer. How do I know that you ask? There was a little blood stain that I noticed. My observant self also noticed some blood stains on the floor that had not been cleaned up.

That was Friday. Fast forward to Monday, 3 pm -11 pm shift duty. To make a long story short, I observed a male patient with feces draining from an abdominal wound that had dehisced, a colostomy bag made out of what appeared to be a tube normally used for suctioning and a rubber glove, and a decubitus ulcer. I haven’t been impressed with the care I have generally observed since I have been here, but this one just made my jaw drop.

Fast forward again to Tuesday 3 pm – 11 pm shift, different hospital. I got my patient assignment, which was nothing too terribly toxic. Went to take the vital signs, and my classmate is waving at me and speaking lip. I went out to the hall and asked her what she was trying to tell me, and the answer was, “you might want to put a mask on because there is a patient in there who has PTB.” Enough. said. I asked to be reassigned because I am not really sure if my reaction from the BCG vaccine was really positive, and The Baby has now had two doses that were definitely not reactive. My choice was a patient in the other ward room, but there was another PTB patient in there as well. Aren’t these patients supposed to be in isolation? Why weren’t they at least sharing a room while the other non PTB patients shared another room? I’ll never know the answer to that one, that’s just the way they roll here.

So. Really. All I wanted to do here was make a note so that I would never forget this past week, and be reminded of how little we really have to complain about living in such a rich, developed country.

By the way, another thing that has been nagging at me… Um… if you live in the U.S. and you are not a Native American Indian (or whatever the politically correct term that we are using these days is), you my dear are really an immigrant too… Maybe not directly, but somewhere along the line one of your family members traveled to the U.S. from another country. Stop bitching about immigrants. Please.

 
 

A Million Miles December 19, 2009

Filed under: Adventures,Mabuhay Philippines — krisedja @ 1:24 am
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Have you ever done anything crazy with a pinch of impulsive mixed in?

I sure have.  Sometime over the summer, probably in early to mid-August, we (hubby and I) made a kind of spur of the moment decision. That was, Plan B for the completion of my BSN was developed and put into action.  Here I am now, half way across the world, a foreign student in a new school, away from my hubby, extended family, and friends, welcoming new experiences.

Here I am in the Philippines, making my goal become a reality.  Hopefully in two years (the length of time is still debatable) I will return to the States ready for another new chapter to start.  But for now, I am here learning lots of new things, seeing lots of new things, doing lots of new things, eating lots of new things, and loving lots of new things.  The decision to come here was difficult to make on some levels, but on others, it couldn’t have been any easier.  I’ve been here now for just over two months, and so far it’s been pretty great.

I’ve been trying to keep a handwritten journal of sorts, a record of my adventures, but even with the pen I have been slacking.  Just before I signed in tonight, I thought maybe I should try to start the new year off with a resolution of sorts, to post once a day… but I figured I should be more realistic and aim for at least once a week, both here in the cyberworld, and with paper and ink.  I would really love to look back and have a regular record of our experience, especially for The Manchild and the babies.  I have also been encouraging the Manchild to keep his own journal, because I think it will be amazing to look back in years to come and see the different perspectives we had throughout this time.

So here I leave you for the evening (or wee hours of the morning), before I fall asleep, hoping to be back sooner and more regularly with some adventures to share!