A Modern Day Rufaidah

Just another Muslim Nurse Blog…or not.

BTHO NCLEX! A-WHOOP!

Yeah I know…it’s been two months.  Long story short. Graduation. Vacation = enjoying three weeks of freedom. Study time. Test time. Happy “I passed” time. Free Time. Just hunt time. = )  In a nutshell.

But really Thank Allah the NCLEX is OVER. I swear I think I learned more in my one month of cramming than I did during nursing school – only because it was crunch time –  not that school didn’t help. = )

I basically put off studying for a few weeks so my brain could unwind, readjust to living at home again and basically getting on a sleep schedule, gym schedule, meal schedule, family schedule. Life. Until finally it hit me that I really, really needed to schedule my exam in there somewhere. We have a window of 3ish months I think that our Authorization To Test is valid. After that you gotta fork out more dough to take the test. Mine ends this Thanksgiving-ish.

My ideal plan coming out of school was to break for a week and hit the ground running. Take test early October and then job hunt. Obviously, as I said that did not happen. So the day become November 9th and I disappeared for all of October.

Daily October Schedule:
Wake up around 8.
Have breakfast by 9.
Park it in front of the computer for the next 4-5 hours.
Have lunch.
Park it for 4-5 hours.
Have dinner.
Park it for….you get it? I am sure I slept in there somewhere.

Even throughout my efforts of being antisocial (though I never deactivated FB…which prolly would have not worked anyway), I still managed to hear about the people who had already taken it, passed, gotten jobs and those that unfortunately gone the other route…

Eventually, I had stressed myself out so much that I wasn’t sure if I was learning anything anymore. You know how they tell you don’t study the night before the test? B.S. like that was going to happen. I couldn’t even sleep. I got up on time the next day but still made it only 5 mins before scheduled time. Sad part is the testing center was only 10 minutes from my house. Whoops. But I made it!!!

To add to the anxiety, there was a girl in line behind me who was taking the test for the 4TH time!!! – God, just shoot me now… I don’t know what possessed her to tell me her horror stories right before I was called in – argh!!! THANKS RANDOM GIRL FOR TERRIFYING ME WITH YOUR NCLEX FAILURE HORROR STORIES! I WILL REMEMBER YOU FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!

Anyway, I don’t really remember testing….I do remember busting out with my study duas as I sat down to put on my noise cancellation headgear.

DU’A BEFORE STUDYING

“Allaahumma infa’nii bimaa ‘allamtanii wa’allimnii maa yanfa’unii.”
O my Lord, make useful for me what you hath thought me and teach me knowledge that will be useful to me.

DU’A FOR KNOWLEDGE

“Rabbi Zid-Nee ‘iL-Maa”
My Lord, increase me in Knowledge.

I swear Allah took the test for me! I always used to nod off during practice tests at home. haha Oops. but on the day of I was there 100% – no smart balance popcorn to keep me awake! = )

I was really hoping for 75 questions but I got about 130-something. I stopped looking after it went over 100 because I didn’t want to psych myself out too much and everyone was right the screen literally shuts off on you.

What I do remember: I got zero calculations, a million medication Questions, a TON of priority questions (this was probably the biggest category), and only a handful of the select all that apply, ZERO diagrams, and like one that you actually had to look at a chart.

ADVICE:

  • If your about to take it for the first time or again – please do a review course. Kaplan or Hurst or whoever – if you need content practice go with Hurst if you need test taking strategy go with Kaplan. I got lucky and got a bit of both because I have amazing people in my life that are awesome sharers. = )
  • Make a cheat sheet/packet with common lab values, quirky things about meds, diseases, diets etc – READ THIS PACKET EVERY DAY! EAT, SLEEP and DREAM of this packet every day…so on test day…you know it! = )
  • I did a lot of googling to find reviews and tips and stuff. Keywords: NCLEX Review (duh!), NCLEX most tested medications, NCLEX tips.
    Most helpful websites: allnurses.com (my go to website for almost everything nursing) and scribd.com (people post up reviews and stuff on there).

After the test, I felt like hiding in a corner and just crying. (Yes, even though during the test I felt nothing). I knew that two hours from now I could go and try to re-register for the test and that would tell me if I had passed or failed. I don’t think I had been that stressed in a very long time. I drove home in a daze and had my late breakfast in a daze. I didn’t even talk…my mom was like “hello…im trying to have a conversation”. I’m like “ma…my heart it beating in my throat, I have a migraine, I’m gonna puke and I’m prolly about to have a fit of diarrhea…whatchu want to talk about!?” – Just kidding but that probably would have been close to my answer had I not been so dazed. Most people sleep after a big test. Give me a break. Keep that advice to yourself. I’ll sleep when I pass.

Two hours later I am sitting at the salon waiting for my mom when my friend texted me to tell me she had passed. You know that moment when you feel your heart beating in your throat….this was it for me that day. I debated for about 30 minutes before breaking down and checking on my phone.

I passed. = )

We laughed. We cried. ( I don’t mean just me and mom….I mean the salon girls too…that was a little weird.)

The weight had been lifted. I was free. LIFE BEGINS AGAIN!!! (That’s from watching “Ponyo” 50 times with my little brother).

10 days later (today) I get my official “you passed” paperwork and my RN license in the mail making November 19th an epic Friday. To reward myself….I sat around in my PJs all day – just like in undergrad. It was awesome. I wish there were more of these days.

Now: JOB HUNT!

So that was my NCLEX story.

Alhamdulillah.

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Graduation Day

Guess who graduates from Nursing School today! = )

It really throws me off when I think about how fast the year has gone by. We just started last May and now we are walking out with our degrees and getting ready for Boards. I don’t think it has hit me entirely just yet because there is too much other stuff to think about – packing, moving, boards, why I collected so much junk that I now have to sort thru/pack…not to mention the last 10 days and more important days of Ramadan (and going crazy that I have to spend it packing!)

I gotta get the placed cleaned up because the familia is coming into town but I have tons of stories to tell so I will be back. = )

Whoop for the end and a new beginning.

Ramadan Rant with 2011 additions

Ramadan Mubarak Everyone!!! I just wanted to take this opportunity to take a break from the regularly scheduled (and belated) post to bring you 2011’s Ramadan Rant.
Well it’s 2010’s rant with 2011’s additions so far… Enjoy!

—————————————RAMADAN RANT————————————————-

I know, it’s Ramadan. The month of patience and forgiveness.

However, this Ramadan has been quite a special one. So I put together my top ten peeves of this Ramadan. This one is specifically for the Mosque. (My intention is not to insult anyone. I would just like to bring awareness to some issues to make the mosque a better place for everyone.)

1. I commend those mom’s who bring their kiddos to the mosque.It’s great to expose them to the atmosphere when they are young so they learn to be comfortable there. This should be lesson number one: TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF! My FACE is going to go on that carpet where your kid just ran across with their filthy chapals! There is a reason we leave our shoes outside of the prayer hall. I would rather not have the world’s bacteria on my face or be staring at an imprint of your kids chapal on the floor infront of me.

2a. The Mosque has this awesome room with all these toys! I like to call it the babysitting room (others may disagree). Please, USE IT! I can work on tuning out background noise when I am praying but your child’s scream reaches decibels that not even dogs can hear.

2b. PLEASE do not add your own soundtrack to my sunnah prayer by having a conversation when it is time to pray Sunnah because well… it’s time to pray Sunnah.. not time to have a conversation! Your really downing on my Khushoo.

3. Aunty, if you don’t want your water bottle knocked over, please don’t put it by my foot or within my personal prayer bubble because it will get knocked over (not on purpose). And yes, if it is touching my little toe, it’s in my bubble. A better place for your water bottle would be in front of your person just like everyone else.

4. PLEASE STOP THE LIGHT AND CURTAIN WAR! Leave the lights off and curtains open. Or turn them on and close the curtain. or get rid of them both or keep them both —> I could care less, but the constant arguing makes me (*GASP*) NOT WANT TO GO TO YOUR MOSQUE! Still confused? Let me give you a scenario.

Scenario 1: The Light. Sister A enters the darkened prayer hall and flips on the light switch. All of a sudden the ladies prayer hall is filled with whispers and evil glares at Sister A. Sister B rushes to the light switch to turn it off in fear that it may cause the Day of Judgment to occur. Poor unknowing sister A sits quietly on the side not knowing what just happened.

Scenario 2: The Curtain. It’s Jummah. The Khutbah has just begun. The curtains are drawn. “Progressive” Sister 1 comes and pulls back the curtains while stating the window is tinted the brothers can’t see in even if the light is on. Older Aunty Sister 1 grumbles to herself then to the Older Aunty Sister 2 sitting next to her then proceeds to draw the curtains closed. “Progressive” Sister 1 shakes her head in disappointment. Here comes “Progressive” Sister 2 to open the curtains. (At this point in the back of my head I hear “Let’s get ready to rumble!!!” followed by pump up music) This time Older Aunty 1 proceeds to loudly scold “Progressive” Sister 2 DURING THE KHUTBAH!!!! People, you are not even supposed to say Salam during the Khutbah let alone lecture some one about whether a curtain that is hiding a VERY tinted window should be open or closed.

5. To the ladies who graciously give out the iftar and dinner, Please don’t make yourselves or your children to go boxes when there are hungry fasters waiting for their food. If your child, husband, sister, mother didn’t come to the mosque then they didn’t come. I am sure they will find food in your sub-zero at home. I can’t tell you how many times food has run out because of this. It really makes me sick when people get turned away at the mosque because the food ran out due to this issue.

6a. I understand the concept of the toe to toe shoulder to shoulder and I am all for it. I am all for keeping the Satan out of our prayer space but I am NOT all for your foot stepping on my foot and your shoulder pushing me into the next sister. That’s not unity. That’s borderline bullying. Calm Down. Please.

6b. I would like to bring up this concept of your personal prayer space. Imagine it as a bubble. When going into Sujood, if your elbows are in my ribs-YOU ARE IN MY BUBBLE. Please tuck your elbows into your sides and stop praying like a man.

7. Back to the aunty with the kid wearing the shoes, if you want to break your prayer to yell at your child, go for it. It’s a free country. But can you not yell at the kid while I am trying to focus on my Fatihah? It’s super distracting. (I had to start over…)

8. Why is it a race to get your shoes after prayer? This worries me. I mean are my shoes going to disappear if I don’t get there in time? I really won’t steal your shoes so there is no need to push.

9. Making Prayer Rows. When the first row is filled, start a second row. When you start a row, you start it right behind the Imam NOT all the way to the right or left. When you do that the next person coming in is faced with a huge dilemma! Does that person stand next to you in the corner or do they start the row the proper way and leave a huge gap between you and them for Shaytan to mambo into!? Answer me that. Or start your rows in the middle.

10. To the cute hijjabi girl sitting outside on her cell phone giggling while isha is being read inside. I understand you can’t pray and all but sitting outside in the front of the masjid is going to do you no good. “Br Abdullah” for whom you are sitting out there for is not going to see you being all giggly and batting your eyes because HE is in the prayer hall actually praying Isha. Unlike us women, he is NOT excused from praying. The mosque is called a mosque for a reason. It is not called mack central or hook up hall. If you need something to do, how about you go inside round up all the kid’s take off their shoes, introduce them and their yelling mothers to the babysitting room.

PS: To the brothers, pull up your pants. Your chuds (undergarments) are not attractive.
Please let me pray in peace.

 

 

 

2011 Additions:

THE RETURN OF THE LIGHT WAR –
It had been a grand total of 15 minutes since I stepped over the threshold of the mosque on day 1 (Sunday) for Taraweeh Prayer…and ALREADY the Epic Battle of the Light had commenced. To the Board of the Mosque – Please remove the light switch from the sister’s side of the mosque! We CAN’T HANDLE IT! It’s too difficult and confusing. You flick it up the lights turn on you flick it down they turn off. It’s giving me a headache because I don’t know if I want the lights on or off. Now I can’t tell which one is the light switch and which ones controls the fan so we are all going to die of heatstroke in the masjid… AHHHH!! Seriously, sisters if I had a seizure disorder (which Alhamdulillah times a bazillion, I do not – but you never know someone might) you would have induced not one, not two but probably 10 seizures within a matter of 20 minutes. My conclusion: Get rid of all the lights, remove light switches, remove light bulbs – let’s go back to when times were good and use candles. At least during the candle war, we will all get some respiratory exercise.

H20 is NOT your child’s play thing-
Sweet. Half way done. Just started Tawaweeh numero 6. I am pumped after an uplifting half English half Arabic Khatirah (short lecture). Let’s DO THIS!!!!! I’m all Khushoo-ed, eyes closed and all…then I hear a rustling…then swishing of water in a bottle. I open my eyes to see your child standing where my head will be in less than a minute with some auntie’s Desani water bottle UNSCREWING THE LID….while the bottle is very very sideways…my heart stops. Do I grab the bottle? I am technically only allowed three “extra” movements right? I used the last two to scratch my nose and stifle a yawn….crap. What do I DO!?! I see and hear the water dripping and its getting faster wetting the carpet where my face is going to be….in 30 seconds…..my muscles twitch three times wanting to reach out and grab the water bottle from tiny devil boy who is staring at my in the eyes as he viciously continues to open the Desani flood gates on to the place of my future sujood…all of a sudden out of the blue from 2 people away the aunty grabs the kid and the bottle but not before my head hit the ground in a slosh of wet carpet….fan-freakin-tastic…

Multitasking at it’s best –
The first night of Taraweeh is a great time to catch up with friends before prayer, who you only see during Ramadan. I get it. I enjoy it myself. Being able to multi task during this time is great. If you can carry on a convo, control your kids and find a place to pray at the same time – Kudos! What I don’t get is how you can carry on a conversation AND start your sunnah prayer at the same time…Really…did you just finish a sentence while raising your hands to say “Allahhu Akbar” at the SAME TIME…..Did this just happen!? I guess the two seconds of making your intention was part of the multitasking -having a conversation/controlling your kids/finding a place to pray/ making intention and finishing up the conversation all before finishing the phrase “Allahu Akbar”. Sister. That. Is. Impressive.

Picking your Mosque –
Alhamdulillah. Most cities have a good handful of Mosques that you can pick from to go to. How do you decide where to go? By the food? – the Desi Mosque will have Biryani…the Arab mosque will have Hummus…what am I craving today… By the crowd? more friends at one or the other? By the number of kids? Parking? Well, I usually choose the mosque that has the Imam that has good recitation. I feel like that is the one thing that can really make or break your khushoo in prayers as long as Taraweeh prayers. That being said…. Dear Sister standing next to me, who feels the need to recite aloud during the prayer because you know the verses…you are NOT leading the prayer…therefore I do not want to hear you recite in my ear…There is a reason the Imam that is leading the prayer has a microphone and there is a reason the Mosque has installed an insanely good speaker system and trust me….it is NOT so you can recite into my ear! Sometimes I wish we had noise cancellation headphones that you could plug into the speaker system…that would solve many noise issues – Kids and sing along aunties.

SubhanaAllah, it’s only Day 4. Stay tuned for more.

Stress: An unpleasant by-product of life in modern society. (Urban Dictionary)

There are some days that I get so stressed I just want to sit around and cry. (No I’m not hormonal, I’m stressed). Alhamdulillah, I look back and it feels like all the stress from the past three semesters doesn’t even add up to the amount of stress we are going through this semester.

Stress from clinical assignments, “high school” style projects, final exams, practice boards, job search/apps, registering for boards, studying for boards, TAKING BOARDS…wow that was my to do list right there.

Everyone is on edge, everyone is in a bad mood 3 out of 5 days during the week, everyone is over worked and under graded.
I don’t understand why we have more MAJOR assignments for a class that is pass/fail versus a class that is actually for a grade…maybe I am an idiot. Maybe it’s just dumb.

One day at a time. That’s what we tell our patient’s right? It’s not so easy. I feel like I have no time to breath. I am exhausted. Mentally, physically and emotionally.This past clinical rotation 2 of my patients had humungo-ginormous nervous breakdowns and guess whose job it was to calm them. Not the doctor who ran out of the room (seriously – If I could say what was on my mind when I saw that doc leave the room as fast as lighting I would have been fired. But hey I don’t work there. I still didn’t say it. Don’t worry.)

One patient had cancer of the throat and mouth. His tongue was so swollen with the cancer that he could not speak, could not eat.  He communicated through writing and ate through a tube in his stomach. As if that was not bad enough, he had a tracheotomy (google it). To top all of that off people would rush into the room in and out and not really pay attention to what he had to say. So I stopped and asked him what I could do. Who knew “What can I do” can open such flood gates.

Me – What can I do to help you?
Patient – Everyone is in such a hurry. I thought Grand Central Station was in New York. When did it move to San Antonio??
Me – I understand. There is a lot going on the floor today and I think they are short-staffed.
Patient -I went from being comfortable to being helpless.
Me -I am sorry you are going through this. Please tell me what I can do to change that. (At this point I have started his “feeding” through his PEG tube the one that’s going into his belly – this was going to take about 20 mins)
Patient -You have no idea. your calming my storm. Thanks for hanging out with me. Why do I feel so much more calm around you than I do around other people.
Me – Because I am awesome! Just kidding.
Patient – No. You are. do you read the bible Tanya?
Me – No I am Muslim. I read the Quran.
Patient – Well, the Lord is watching over us all. Thank you for being my friend.

It was after conversations like this that makes all that stress worthwhile. I literally did nothing except hang around and talk (I lied. I was doing the feeding so I was there with purpose but still). An action so minute can mean so much to someone else.

This was also a day when I was hit with the “what goes around comes around” thing. Earlier this week I was stressing (go figure) about my next rotation and how the timings were going to overlap with my Ramadan schedule (breaking fast, prayer, Quran classes). I had asked another student to switch but that didn’t pan out so I basically said alright I’ll suck it up and do what I can (This was after 4 days of full on stress about this issue). Later that day, I had a meeting with the teacher that was organizing the next rotation. I walk in sit down she briefs me on a few things and then she tells me she brought up my schedule with the managers and they were able to work it out so that when Ramadan starts. I will be on the morning shift (6am – 3pm – meaning I can eat, pray and then head out, come home, relax, study, and start the evenings festivities!). This was one of those moments where the room kinda spins and you think you’re dreaming. It took almost all I had to not cry like a baby right there in her office. That is how happy I was. As I walked out to my car I still couldn’t believe what had just happened. and yes as soon as I got into the car the flood gates opened because I was so happy.  I screamed. I laughed. I cried. This is going to be the best Ramadan away from home ever.

Indeed, the Lord is watching over us all.

“Indeed, I am with you, hearing and seeing.” [Sūrah TāHā: 46]
“He is with you wherever you are; and Allah is the Seer of all that you do.” [Sūrah al-Hadīd: 4]
“So wait patiently for your Lord’s decree, for surely you are in Our sight.” [Sūrah al-Tūr: 48]
“In whatever business you may be, and whatever portion you may be reciting from the Qur’an, and whatever deed you may be doing, We are witness to what you are engaged in. Not the weight of an atom on Earth or in heaven is hidden from your Lord, nor anything lesser or greater but it is recorded in a clear Book.” [Sūrah Yūnus: 61]

The first of the last.

Today (Monday 5/16) is the first day of our last and final semester of Nursing School. (Remember my program is accelerated – actually I am not sure if I ever mentioned it…) The program that I’m in is accelerated for those who already have bachelors degrees. Instead of 2 years, it only takes 15 months to get a Bachelors of Science in Nursing. So in three more months I will have my second Bachelors degree. Whoop!

It’s hard to believe that at this time one year ago we were just starting out. Knew nothing – I argue I still know nothing.

Recap of the break. I did nothing special. Visited my old college town and had a mega reunion which was GREAT! Besides that nothing but R&R. National Nurses week was May 6-12th. (More about that in another post, today I am just rambling)

Anyway, back to my last first day of school (for now). This semester things are pretty crazy. Crazier than I thought. So much for easy breezy. We are starting our semester with a public health class so we are getting a lot of the history (as I type, I am learning about Lillian Wald the first public health nurse) and a lot of seeing the community. We even have field trips like every other day. I have not been on a field trip since Jr High maybe middle school!? All I heard when the prof was going over where we were going to going was…PHOTO DAY PHOTO DAY PHOTODAY. I love taking pictures. If I do end up taking my camera (which I may not because it’s big and I don’t think I want to get jumped in the shady neighborhoods) then I will put up pictures. It’s also crazy because a) we are not in class every day. b) the Schedule is different everyday c) when we are in class it’s from 9-5….shoot me. d) all I want to do is sleep.

I ordered my books about 10 days ago thinking that they would be here by now. They were but I was not so FedEx didn’t leave them at the doorstep or in the office so I had to call and yell at them. Not really. I just put a note on my door. I am to lazy to call.

Nothing exceptional has happened yet. I still need to get organized for class. I have however bought movie tickets and planned a social outing already. I have my priorities straight. = )

Here’s to a new semester. Cheers.

Have you smiled today?

It’s crazy how one hello or smile from someone really can change someone’s day. I know it sounds cliche but it’s cliche because it is true.

The other day I woke up grumpy. I don’t know if I didn’t sleep well or slept wrong or just had a bad dream that was subconsciously still playing in my mind but that day everything and everyone was irritating me (stop jumping to conclusions it was not that time of the month…). I trudged through the hospital and to the elevators smashed the up button at the same time a maintenance guy hit the down button. Within two seconds, the elevator dinged and it was going up. Normal reaction for anyone is to automatically go towards the elevator that was here and thus did this man. Then he paused and looked at the up arrow and says “oh yours came first. Your going to have a great day today.” even though it was not much it really turned my outlook around. And I actually did have an amazing day!

Today I was taking out an older patient’s IV and when I was done she goes that didn’t hurt at all. You have a soft touch and that’s because you have heart. Then she grabs my arm pulls me closer and looks straight into my eyes and said “please, never lose your heart. You are going to be an amazing nurse”

It’s patients like those that make me realize that this is where I am ment to be in life. Listen people, folks don’t go into nursing for the money at least not if they are wanting to roll in a Benz. I got into it because of moments like these. I I can make an iota of a difference in someone’s life even if it’s just for that moment, then I have had an amazing day.

Change someone’s life today. Smile.

It may be bad, but it could be worse. And it is for some.

I keep telling myself I need to update daily because so much happens every day but by the time I get home all I really want to do is watch TV and let my brain rot. I’ll try.

A new round of clinical rotations brings forth a new batch of interesting encounters. I can’t tell you how many times in the past month I have been identified as an Aggie thanks to a thin maroon TAMU lanyard. WHOOP! I love it. I was also told I had the “facial features” of a Muslim…..I am not quite sure what that means, if you know, please educate me. And lastly, but most commonly asked what I thought of the state of “that side of the world”, about the politics and why people would care so much about burning a Quran here but shrug off the burning of a woman there. Sigh. It shouldn’t stress me but when people ask me stuff like this it really stresses me out. ARGHHHHH!

The other day I was hit on by a patient walking down the hall and called a guardian angel by another patient going into surgery within 5 hours of each other (I’m not going to lie, I teared up when she said this.) I also experienced what it would be like to be the only nurse in charge of a patient and let me tell you it was exhilarating! On a typical day as a student, you are assigned a patient and a nurse but depending on the nurse that you get you may or may not be doing much. Some nurses only want you to watch, others will quiz you like it’s the day of judgment and there are those that let you fly on your own – these are my favorite.

I didn’t realize how much there was to keep track of with each patient. Sad part was… I only had one to keep track of.  Bottom line: organization is the key and thanks to my years in the Muslim Student’s Assoc in undergrad, I think I got that down. (Watch, I just jinxed myself).

My episode on Friday: We get to the hospital and by 6:30 AM we are on the floors, getting our patient and nurse assignments. Each student is paired with a nurse and gets a specific patient to look after. So I get mine and find my nurse, intro myself and tell her who I have…..and she smirks….. I immediately freak out in my head: OH MY GOD, this is not a good sign).

And it wasn’t but not because there were 10 thousand tasks that needed to be done for her but because it was an eye opener. At only 36 years old, she has 3 bags hanging from her stomach and a wound vac attached to a raging abdominal infection – basically all her gastric contents are being drained into bags (gross much?) and her infection was being treated with this contraption that will help her tissue to regenerate and help her wound to close.   Was I grossed out? No. I was imagining what it would be like to never go number 2 again in my life. I still can’t fathom…I mean some people do their best thinking during that time…ok I won’t go into that.

Second, I imagined having all my gastric contents hanging from my belly (yeah that was a secondary thought to going number 2). Imagine if a bag busted or accidentally opened while out in public. That would be HORRIFYING! This was just me, inside my head, freaking out because I was putting myself in her shoes. One the outside, I kept my composure because I realized this patient is only 11 years older than me. And if I were her I would not even want a nursing student in the room, forget nursing students I would not want ANY student in the room – I could care less about your learning. But praise Allah, it was not me on the bed and this lady was more than happy to have me there and I was more than thankful.

She taught me a lot that day. I set my first bedpan for her. Changed my first hospital bed. Gave my first patient bath. Emptied my first Ileostomy bag (Google it – it’s literally poo in a bag). And for the first time since I started nursing school I felt like I made a difference in someone’s life. She was so thankful I was there and said she felt so much better after getting cleaned up and taken care of.

Even though my back was killing me when I was done (yeah I need to learn not to bend with my back), and I was starving, I realized my pains were NOTHING not even an iota of what others are going through. Even though we all “know” this sometimes it takes a wake up call to really “know” what it means.

What is sadder is that she is not even the worst of what we have seen so far.

Alhamdu lillaahi ‘alaa kulli haal (All praise is to Allah in all circumstances)

The Automatic Unstated Faith Bond

**All patient names and identifying information have been changed or left out for confidentiality.**

Nursing is hard. Dealing with people is hard. What’s worse is dealing with other muslim patients (calm down, and keep reading). No, not because we have specific things that must be taken into consideration but more because there is this unstated automatic bond between you and the patient. A bond of brothers and sisters.  A bond of faith.

The first time I met “Ahmed” was on a white board in a psychiatric unit. “Ahmed – Paranoid Schizophrenic – (insert other irrelevant information here)”. I didn’t think much of it. Maybe it’s some old and senile man (yes, I did think that, sue me). It was not until rounds that I really met “Ahmed” – a 19 year old college student(Side note: at rounds everyone on the care team gets update on the patient condition, medications etc. We talk to the patient and see how they are doing and make changes to medications, treatment plans and if they are doing better they get discharged. End of side note. )

Here is his back story (edited and shortened):

“Ahmed” was admitted to the ward because he was afraid that people were going to break into his house. So afraid that he used to take screwdrivers into his bedroom for protection. He was often found talking “to himself” in the bathroom, loudly. He often got into fights with his family over money and had various incidents that led to his admittance to the ward, including one specific incident that led him to throw medication at his mother’s face. Obviously, something is very wrong or this is just one weird dude. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know how, coming from a Muslim family and being the only son, he was admitted to the psych ward of all places. What was he up to and what led to this?

Luckily, after rounds I found “Ahmed” in the TV room. As I passed by I waved and before I could say anything he said “As-salamulaikum”. For a second I froze. Yes. Froze, like this was the first time I had ever heard the phrase and had no idea how to react. Once I had finally regained control over my muscles and mustered up some guts, I replied and ask if he was up for hanging out for a bit. He agreed and I joined in on the television watching. I had no idea what we were going to talk about or what to ask. My mind had gone blank. It didn’t help that he was mimicking my every move. Eventually the conversation started and I was shocked at what I heard. “Ahmed” “the paranoid schizophrenic” had real dreams and aspirations. He wanted to become an engineer, stand on his own feet and explore the world. He laughed and joked about politics, conversed about sports and he told me he spoke to his father often and helped his uncle run his convenience store. He was “a beast” at checkers and always beat his friend Paul when they played. I was elated. He was not paranoid. He was not schizophrenic! He was just a misunderstood teenager from a conservative home  being raised in a less conservative atmosphere and no one understands him. I was sure. Write it in stone. I’ll tell the world.

In conversation with the Nurse Practitioner (Whoop!) that was on his case, she asked me questions about his culture and religion and how some of his actions could be explainable such as his mumbling could be him praying? or making dua (supplication)? He could be doing tasbeeh (similar to rosary) when he taps finger to finger. Everything had a reason. He was not crazy. I was sure of it. She asked me what I thought, and I confidently answered that I was not confident he was a paranoid schizophrenic. Seriously, please. That was ridiculous. This kid talked normally, he looked me directly in the eye during our conversations, he had goals, aspirations. He was NOT crazy. I refused to believe it.

The next week that we went back I was excited to hang out with “Ahmed”, play checkers (he said he wanted to play the next time we came) and find out more about him and his condition but when we got there he was gone. “Ahmed” was sent to a more protective mental facility one day before we returned for our last week of rotation.

The Nurse Practitioner updated me on his status, then she asked me questions that made me realize all the things that I was pretending I did not see. Suddenly, my whole perspective on my conversation that day with “Ahmed” had changed…

His direct eye contact was the manipulation of a schizophrenic. His mimicking my every move was in a sense a way to impress me. A way to feed to me what he thought I wanted to hear. Just like his answers to my questions. I also found out later that “Ahmed” had been doing drugs after he dropped out of college. Remember when he told me he talked to his father often? His father died 2 years ago. (This was another one of those moments where I froze and didn’t know what to do) So if he is “talking” to his father, it’s definitely not physically his father. His chart said he sees shadows around him and they whisper. Maybe he was high? (yeah I still tried to justify) He reads the Quran. Mashallah. He reads it so fast he can’t stop himself or understand what he is reading.

I still sifted through his chart and read every note made by the nurses or doctors in hope that there was some unseen piece of the puzzle. There was nothing.

All I could do now was pray for the brother with whom I had an automatic unstated faith bond with. So I prayed that Allah (God) help my brother “Ahmed” and bring him peace and guidance so he can achieve his dreams.

The “Automatic Unstated Faith Bond” can be blinding.

Who is Rufaidah?

In the field of nursing, there have been some absolutely amazing people.

Florence Nightingale: the founder of Modern Nursing, After the Crimean War, where she was dubbed “The Lady with the Lamp”, she established the first nursing training school in London which later would be the model of nursing schools in the US. Most notably she wrote the “Notes on Nursing: What it is and what it is not” in 1859. (Still need to read that; on my to do list)

Dorothea Dix: Superintendent of Women Nurses of the (Union) Army during the American Civil War (1861-1873): She trained thousands of women who volunteered to serve the union forces. These women included Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. (Betcha didn’t know that.)

Mary Eliza Mahoney (1845-1926) First TRAINED African American nurse in the United States. Back in her day, getting into nursing school was even more competitive than it is now. Get this. 40 applicants, 18 accepted for probationary period, 9 enrolled after probation, 3 received diplomas. (3! She was one of them? Pretty Cool, Right?)

Rabia Choraya: (1755) Head Nurse of the Moroccan Army during the French and Indian War. She was the HIGHEST paid woman in the military. (Ching Ching $$$)

James Derham: (1783) Slave from New Orleans, bought his freedom with money earned while working as a nurse. (Power to men in nursing!)

Clara Barton: First PRESIDENT of the American Red Cross, which she founded on May 21st, 1881. (Don’t believe me?) Check it: http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.86f46a12f382290517a8f210b80f78a0/?vgnextoid=271a2aebdaadb110VgnVCM10000089f0870aRC

Ellen Dougherty: (1902) FIRST REGISTERED NURSE IN THE WORLD (Feb 10, 1902). She was from New Zealand. New Zealand was the first country to pass legislation that registered nurses. (Even though there were nurses they were not RNs until this event!)

The list goes on, through time, through wars, through peace. Amazing People doing amazing things. I wondered though who, what, where and when was the first MUSLIM nurse? So I did a little research.

and Ta-DA!

Rufaidah bint Sa’ad
First Muslim Nurse.
One of the first to accept Islam in Medina during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
She worked as an assistant to her father, a physician, from whom she learned all of her skills. Not only was she a nurse during peace time with a tent outside of the Prophet’s mosque in Medina but she was also a military nurse. She led and trained volunteer nurses to care for the wounded during war time.

Wait. What? Muslim WOMEN were on the battlefields??? (Please don’t get me started….well ok fine I’ve started)
Believe it or not,
Rufaidah’s field hospital tent was where the Prophet used to direct that the injured and the casualties be carried to in the battles of  Badr, Uhud, Khandaq, Khaibar, and many others.

STORY TIME! (Actually, two stories – couldn’t help it. The stories are very limited!)
(Story 1) Once upon a time, at the battle of the trench AKA Ghazwat Al-Khandaq, The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had the injured Sa’ad bin Ma’adh transferred to Rufaidah’s hospital tent. She watched him, read him bedtime stories and waited for the MD to show up…..PLEASE! This woman removed an arrow from his forearm and achieved the homeostasis he needed to survive! She saved his life. (Well Allah saved his life but still….)

(Story 2) Battle of Khaibar. Rufaidah and her group of trained nurses (trained by her) went to the Prophet (PBUH) to ask for permission to go out to battle and tend to the wounded. PERMISSION GRANTED. Rufaidah did such an amazing job that the Prophet (PBUH) gave her a share equivalent to the share of the soldiers who were actually in battle!

Amazing much? —> EDIT: Wikipedia article found: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nursing_in_Islam). And if you google her you will find the same (EXACT) story on many websites. The story that you will find is from a very short “paper” (rather a short essay) written by Prof. Dr. Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. entitled “Historical Roots of the Nursing Profession in Islam”. Google it. This is virtually the only source I have found thus far on Muslim nurses in Islamic history.

I’d say it merits more research.

….A Blog? Really? Why??

Yes, really.

One of the things I have realized over my first two semesters of nursing school is that everyone wants to know what really happens in nursing school. After repeating the stories over and over, I realized why not just have it all in one place!?

I have also realized that I have never been MADE so aware of my faith and culture on a daily basis as I have been in nursing school. I am a Muslim. I am a student nurse. I cover my hair. My skin is a different color. I get it. I am kinda the elephant in the room – in class, in clinical, on the street, in the gym, at the sushi restaurant. No complaints. I take it as Allah (swt) giving me opportunities to help educate the people who may only get their “Muslim ed” through the media. I have been given the rare opportunity to touch the lives of so many people and not to tell but to show people what Muslims are really like. (I’d like to think I am pretty darn cool. I’m just sayin’)

Alhamdulillah (Praise be to God), I have not had a negative experience yet. Stories to come.

So a little bit for the sake of getting the word out there about what it’s like to be a Muslim Nurse (Nursing Student at this point!) and a little bit for my own sanity.

Why not?

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