Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Graf 11

The one thing that that was a thorn in my side during this course was the dreaded I-search. I had a horrific time trying to find something worth writing about, and ended up settling on finding the perfect job for me. I think that I would have been happier with a different subject, but my first three ideas didn't pan out and I was stressed about submitting my subject too late. Actually, to this day I still can't figure out what subject I could have come up with that would have been better. One subject I thought of and turned down involved researching the best solution to our vacant house in Hudson, either sell it and pay capital gains or try renting it for a few more years. The subject seemed too dry for me. Thank God the I-search is finished, and I did learn a thing or two while doing it.

Course evaluation

I have really enjoyed this course, except for the I-search project. I was very nervous before this course began in August. I HATED english in high school! It was never about what you wanted to write - it was always what the teacher wanted to read. I was pleasantly surprised that this course would be different, and even more surprised when the words came out of me to create all the grafs, essays, prompts and freestyles. This course was definitely worth the time and money. For one thing, it's required, but also through this class I discovered that I could write. The only thing I didn't like was the mandatory I-search, with it's picky formats and sections. That was one of the things I hated about high school english, but it's over, and I made it through relatively unscathed. Now I can sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the holiday season.

Final - cause essay

I've had my share of disastrous times. As a five year old, I fell asleep each night listening to my stepfather beat the shit out of my mother. Years later, I was devastated when she threw out my second stepfather, the only father figure that I'd ever had. Then there was the year that we were so poor we lived off spaghetti and ketchup and macaroni and milk. None of these hard times, however, prepared me for the horrific year of 2002. The following caused that year, which started out ok in January, to become a complete disaster by June.

In February of 2002, my husband and I made plans to fly to Colorado to see my aunt and uncle. Aunt Tae and Uncle Arlie never had kids of their own. They always treated me like I was their daughter. After years of struggling financially, Paul and I finally had the funds saved to go out and visit them. I called Uncle Arlie with the news and to find out what dates would work for them. He surprised me by being hesitant, then gave me the news -- Aunt Tae had been battling breast cancer for years, and it had now spread to her brain. I was horrified -- my beautiful Japanese aunt was dying. We continued with the plans to see her and Uncle Arlie. Unfortunately, she passed away five days before we arrived in Colorado.

In addition to this, my beloved grandmother had been placed in a nursing home. She had dementia and Alzheimer's and had fallen and broken her hip. A proud and independant woman, she had given up, and spent her days lying listlessly in bed. Her sister and former roommate, Aunt Flo, had been placed in a nursing home in Montana, where she was dying. I was heartbroken, as these two women did so much for me when I was a child, from taking me on trips to the White Mountains to shopping for school clothes that my mother couldn't afford to buy me. Aunt Flo passed away during our trip to Colorado. She was cremated and her ashes were sent to Maine to be buried in June.

After we got back from Denver, we heard that Auntie, Paul's great aunt, had taken a turn for the worse. She died in early May at a nursing home in Lincoln. After most of our grief had passed, we figured that since bad things happen in threes, we were off the hook for a while. Then, May 10, I got a call from my friend Donna. We both had boys in 3rd grade. She told me that one of the boys' classmates, Marissa Pinkham, had been killed in an atv accident. I was stunned and heart-sick. Marissa was a sweet little girl who loved sports and reading. No child deserves to die before their parents, and no parents should have to bury an innocent child. Paul and I, along with many other residents of Glenburn spent Mother's Day at Marissa's wake. I will never forget seeing that little girl lying in her casket, her face caked with makeup to hide the head injuries. Nor will I ever forget the wail of grief her mother let out at the funeral, as they were lowering Marissa's casket into the ground. That sound will haunt me forever.

A few weeks later, my cousin Eva flew to Maine from Texas with her husband and two baby girls. I really believe that Nana was holding out to see them before she died. She passed on the following day. My mother called me early that Saturday morning to tell me that Nana had died the previous evening. Paul and I went to the funeral home so I could say goodby to my nana. She was laying on a stainless steel stretcher covered with a sheet. I hugged her and kissed her cold cheeks, telling her I loved her and would never forget all that she'd done for me. We buried her ashes at the family plot in Augusta the following week, and went back three days later to bury Aunt Flo's urn.

The year slowly got better, but not until after another death. Krystal, another 3rd grader, lost her father to a heart attack. He died while working on the garage he was building for his wife and daughter. In August, my son's beloved cat went into the woods and never made it home, two weeks after the same thing happened to my cat. Hopefully, we put all of our bad luck into one year, and we should be safe for a while. If the saying is true that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, then Paul, the boys and I should be as tough as nails by now!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Practice final - example essay

I would like to think that I have a fairly strong stomach. Working at the hospital, I can't very well be gagging in every patient's room just because they are bleeding or messed themselves. However, there is one thing that no matter how often I see it, my stomach involuntarily lurches. It's called phlegm, mucus, snot, respiratory excretions, lugies, among other things. It is DISGUSTING! Send me into a room to clean feces, help a bleeding patient, or even someone covered in crusty sores, but dear God, please don't make me help a respiratory patient! Recently, I had the misfortune of dealing with my nemesis, on three different occasions.

In August, I was doing clinicals at Stillwater Healthcare. One of my favorite patients was affectionately called "Sistah" by the staff there. Sistah was adorable - she would sing all day long. However, Sistah had a condition that caused her to vomit at almost every meal. It wasn't just your garden variety vomit - it was full of PHLEGM! The first time I went into her room to empty her vomit bucket I almost added to it. It was so full of phlegm that it undulated, then slithered down the drain. One day she missed the bucket and threw up all over herself and the floor. By the time this was noticed the mucus-vomit had started to congeal on the floor. By the time I got out of that room, I was pale and had completely lost my appetite.

There was a man at Stillwater Healthcare that perpetually had a long line of snot dangling from one nostril. Every time I saw him my stomach would heave. One day I had to help another student walk him up the hall. As we walked farther and farther down the hall, the clear snot hanging from his nostril got longer and longer. I developed a few beads of sweat on my brow, and my stomach started making some warning "glurps". Somehow, I made it through the walk. I chose to skip lunch that day.

Last week on Grant 5, I was a little leary of the patient I had with pneumonia. It turned out that he had aspiration pneumonia, so I figured I was off the hook. I went into his room to help him get cleaned up. Only one of his arms worked, so I had to do a lot for him. The first thing we did was brush his dentures. He started brushing them, and then took them out for me to rinse off in the sink. The vision is now burned into my head - the man reached into his mouth, pulling out his top denture, which was connected to the top of his mouth with a long, thick, shiny glop of, you guessed it - PHLEGM! My stomach gave a heave as I reached out for his dentures. My mouth was filling as I reached for the bottom dentures, which had an identical slimy line of phlegm attached to them as well. How I made it out of that room without losing my cookies I'll never know.

So there you have it - go ahead and show me blood clots the size of apples from a postpartum patient, pus on the end of a man's catheterized penis, or even an elderly person's diaper filled with shit. Give me vomit, a catheter bag to empty filled with bloody urine, or a bedpan to clean. I'll even empty out a smelly wound drainage bag, but please - keep the phlegm away from me.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Comparison essay

A few miles down the road from our large, two story colonial with three car garage is another house. It is a small, beat up single wide trailer, no garage, with a muddy driveway. At first glance, these two houses seem totally unlike each other, but they are more alike than you think.

Inside each house, there are bedrooms for children and parents, a bathroom, kitchen and living room. When it rains or snows, the families in each house are kept warm and dry. In the evenings, these same families are equally comfortable, snuggling up on their couches in front of their respective televisions, after having a nice homecooked dinner made in their kitchens.

Outside these dwellings is five acres of woods. The families in each house are both able to enjoy walks through the woods and glimpses of deer and other wildlife in their backyards. In the fall, both backyards are covered with leaves to rake up and play in. In the winter, both yards are covered in snow to plow up and sled down. In the spring, both houses have equal amounts of muddy footprints tracked inside.

In the summer at each house you will find happy families playing baseball, basketball, and soccer together. On Saturdays both dooryards are full of friends invited to a barbeque or bonfire. At both places you will hear the sounds of laughter and squeals from the children.

Despite the difference in size and house payments, these two houses are very similar. They are both homes to happy families. What is most important is the people and goings on inside, not the type and appearance of the dwelling. If more people understood this, less would go into debt buying bigger and better houses. They would instead get back to the basics of making their house a home.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

example essay - redo

Growing up I didn't have the happiest of childhoods. My mother and I never seemed able to get along, and my brother was spoiled rotten. The bright spot in my life at the time was my grandmother. I loved her more than anyone, and the feeling was mutual. She gave me so much, including her name, Marjorie.

One thing Nana gave me was her time. She worked at the Augusta General Hospital as the head dietician, and every August she would take two weeks of vacation and I would come to stay with her. She would take me to the Capitol Building to see the museum and the state library. We would walk downtown and browse through the shops. She took me to Old Orchard Beach, Storyland, Santa's Village, and Six Gun City. Before I went home Nana would always bring me to the hospital kitchen to show me off. "Is this little Margie?" they'd say. "Hasn't she grown!"

If it wasn't for Nana, I wouldn't have had new clothes for school. She was a seamstress, and made me many outfits on her sewing machine. We would walk to the sewing store and I would pick out the fabric for each new outfit. She would make me pants, tops, skirts and dresses. Then we would go to Kmart to buy shoes and a few pairs of jeans. I couldn't wait to show off my new clothes at school!

Another thing Nana gave me was love. She always made me feel like I was her favorite grandchild. The look in her eyes when she saw me and the fierce bear hug she would give me meant so much - it was attention I didn't get at home. I loved being with her - whenever I had to leave her I would cry for hours. I dreamt of living with her so we would never be apart. We would spend our days listening to Bing Crosby records and watching Lawrence Welk on tv - what a life we would have together!

My Nana passed away a few years ago. I miss her terribly, but the memories of her and everything she gave me will stay with me forever.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I-search -- 2nd draft


ENG 101-95
November, 16, 2007





What I know


What I learned

The future


I think just about everyone would like to have the "perfect" job for them. However, many people get stuck in a position and don't have the time, energy or nerve to look elsewhere. My husband loves his job. I would love to find a job that I love that also allows me to be a hands on mom to my kids. There are many different opportunities out there for those who are willing to look for them.


Before I had kids I worked a Monday through Friday job at US Bank in Portland, Oregon, as a customer service representative. It was your basic bank job with weekends and holidays off, vacation and sick time, and of course health benefits. I worked at the bank's call center, where customers would call in to make balance inquiries, ask for help balancing their account, or request a balance transfer. I learned the job quickly. It wasn't the most exciting job, but there were advancement opportunities. Instead of advancing there, my husband and I had our first child and moved back home to Maine. I became a stay at home mom, and two years later had another child. After my youngest was a year old, I wanted to help make ends meet financially, and started waitressing at Governor's Restaurant. I worked evenings so I could spend my days with the babies, and so my husband could be with them when I wasn't. It was hard work, but the tips were good. After the kids started school and were gone all day, I tried changing my schedule at Governor's to days so I could be with my family after school. Unfortunately, it seemed like every time there was no school because of snow, holiday, or vacation I had to work. My kids were not old enough to be left alone, so I dropped to a fill in basis at Governor's. That way I could stay home with them if they were sick or on vacation. After seven years I was really getting burned out from waitressing. With all the new restaurants opening, business and tips were down. I had also been volunteering at the kid's school and was asked if I would like to be a substitute teacher. I decided to give it a try, and filled in at the school for five years. The hours were perfect and I had all snow days and vacation days off, but the pay was pitiful. At the same time my husband and I ran a snowmobile/ATV rental business out of our home. We discovered that it wasn't all we thought it would be and closed it after five years. I decided to try to get a job at EMMC, and was hired as a unit secretary on the maternity ward. I work two twelve hour shifts a week, and figured it would be easy to schedule my two days around my kids' activities. Unfortunately, with only two other secretaries it is hard to mesh everyone's schedule. With the twelve hour shifts I am gone from morning until bedtime and am unable to help my kids with their homework on those days. I took a CNA course this past summer and have a new position waiting for me on a different floor working 6:30-3:00. This will work for after school activities but not for getting the kids to school. We live 1/2 mile from the bus stop, so it's difficult for the kids to go up alone to wait for the bus. To work this job I will have to find a solution for getting the kids to school in the morning.


The reason that I'm doing my I-search on finding the best job for my personality, that also meshes well with my family life is obvious. I want to find the job that's right for me. I don't want to be "job-hopper", changing jobs every year or so when I get bored. I want to be happy with what I'm doing - who doesn't? I want to research many different types of jobs to make a determination of what is best for me. I have watched friends go to school for four years, get a degree, and two years later quit their profession because they hate it. I don't want to be like them.

I would like to find out if healthcare is the best place for me, or would I be better suited back at a school, with weekends, holidays and summers off, an office as a secretary or assistant, or maybe even the DMV or a human resources department. Each potential position brings up more questions. Would I like this job? Will it suit my personality? Will the hours work with my home life? Will I be continually challenged? Will I be happy? Will I be able to find a job that meets all this criteria, or will I have to settle for something else for now and start this job in five years when my kids are out of school? Hopefully, by the end of my I-search I will have my answers.


I know that I like working with people. I don't especially like working weekends, and I hate working holidays. I don't like sitting all day, but I'm not sure how I will feel on my feet all day when I'm 50. I am getting ready to start a new job at the hospital as a CNA. I expect that I will like it, as I'm told the floor I will be working on is very fast-paced. Grant 5 has a wide variety of patients, so I won't likely get bored. I need to be constantly challenged. I am expecting that the hospital or another healthcare setting is where I will find myself the happiest. There are many departments that are closed weekends and holidays. But who knows? There are so many other possibilities out there, from human resources to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

I currently work twelve hour shifts at EMMC. It sounded perfect when I started - five days off a week. The twelve hour shifts proved to be grueling, especially when you work all weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The shift is actually 7am to 7:30pm, which of course would be thirty seven 1/2 hours in three days. There are other options to investigate - eight hour shifts, which I will be starting in a few weeks in another department, medical office work, which would be Monday through Friday and no holidays, and overnight shifts, which pay more. Unfortunately, I don't think my body was made for overnight shifts.

With each type of job, there are even more options as to the setting I might work in. For example, as a CNA I could work in a hospital, nursing home, hospice, home health, doctor's office, psychiatric facility, and private duty. As an RN, I would have the same options plus school nurse, management, and teaching, all with much better pay than a CNA, but less hands on patient care.

Health care positions are in great abundance, but most require you to work holidays and weekends, and EMMC only allows employees one week of vacation time in the summer.

It is also extremely important to me to have a job that allows me to attend my kids' school and sporting events. Right now I work some weekends to give me time off during the week to be available for the kids. The problem with working weekends is that I am missing family time, when all four of us would be together.

If, after all my research, I am unable to come up with the perfect job for me, I hope I can find something that is a close second that I will be happy with for the next five years, until the boys are out of high school.


To begin my research, I checked personality and career tests on the Internet. I figured that it doesn't make sense to research a potential job if my personality isn't suited for it. To be quite honest, there really were no surprises in this area. This information did open up a few more potential jobs for me -- human resources and sales. Sales isn't an option for me because of the hours and lack of benefits, even though I know I would be good at it. It may definitely be something to dabble in when the kids are in college.

One wonderful source I found was the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On their website you can research information on just about any type of job. The site provides future growth, average pay, the amount of people employed in that type of job, and the types of institutions that employ the largest number of each particular profession.

I also found websites for applying for government jobs, both federal and state.

Of course, the Bangor Daily News was checked to find out what jobs were in abundance in this area, and which jobs were scarce here.

I have interviewed many of my coworkers to get their view on their respective professions at the hospital. Surprisingly, many of the nurses were burned out from their profession. Some of this could be due to the fact that they have been nurses for 20 plus years and need a change. I even had one nurse tell me that when her kids are out of college she plans on letting her license expire and becoming a CNA again. Most CNAs I questioned loved their job. Two CNAs that I interviewed had no intention of moving on to a nursing career. They felt the nurses had too little patient contact and too much responsibility.


I finally started my new job on Grant 5 as a CNA. My hours are from 6:30am to 3:00pm. I am able to pick up my oldest son after school when I get out of work, and I am home every evening to make supper and help with homework. My job is demanding, but I absolutely love the patient contact, and I am learning so much about fractures and brain injuries. My legs and feet hurt when I get out of work, but I like it so much better than sitting at a desk. The pay for both jobs is the same. I think CNAs should make more because of the training and work involved, but I can't complain, considering the hospital paid for my CNA class AND gave me a position.

I have thought a lot about working in the school system, which would mesh nicely with the kids' schedules. However, at this point I am not going to consider it. The pay is pitiful, and I clearly remember going home with a headache almost every day that I was a substitute teacher. In addition, there are no benefits unless you get a permanent position as an ed tech. Even then the benefits at the school cannot compare to what I have at EMMC.

One neat thing about working at EMMC is that there are so many different jobs available. I could try something new every year if I wanted to, and my employer, vacation time and benefits don't change. The hospital is a huge promoter of education, and the more you learn, the more valuable you are.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some jobs, such as dental assistant, have flexible hours, holidays and weekends off, but very low pay for a trained profession. Others, such as dental hygienist, paid more than an RN for a two year degree, but there isn't as large a need for them in this area at this time. Another job I discovered and am very interested in is a nuclear medical technician, but the closest school is in Lewiston.

As for the state and federal government jobs, the upside to these are great benefits, retirement, and pay. The downside is that most hours are from 8am to 5pm, which would infringe on my time with the kids after school, but I would have to decide if the better pay was worth it or not. It is also hard to get one of these jobs, but I applied for a few anyway.

I have discovered that I am in the right spot for me for right now. My new hours are wonderful. I will be working every other weekend, but for the next year or two, that will be convenient as it will give me more time with the kids during the week. Working at the hospital suits my personality and I am constantly challenged on the floor I am currently working on.

As for nursing school - that I'm not sure about yet. According to Theresa and Terri, RNs at EMMC, nursing has changed for the worse. They spend more time on computers, documenting, then they spend bedside with their patients. For school in general, I don't feel that I can go to school, work, and be a good mother to my kids. I will slowly take classes online for the next year or so. When the kids no longer need me I will be more aggressive on my education. Maybe by then there will be a nuclear medicine technology program closer to home. The pay and work environment is great for that job, if you can get past the fact that you're working with radioactive materials.

I was a little disappointed with my answers, only because I was hoping for an epiphany -- here is your dream job that you will love, with great pay and perfect hours! I believe that there are pros and cons to every job, and you have to decide which pros outweigh the cons. For me, right now, working with patients that I adore from 6:30am to 3:00pm outweighs the holidays I will have to work every other year. At least I'll be home by 3:30. We may have to open Christmas presents very early this year, but afterwards the kids will be so busy with their new game system that they won't even realise I'm gone. In two years when I work another Christmas, my boys will be 14 and 16, and probably won't even get out of bed until that afternoon.


As for my future plans, I will continue to work at the hospital. Regarding school, for even part-time classes I will be holding off, except for online classes here and there. For right now my home time will be family time. For the next few years I plan on working full time, by working two part time jobs in two different departments. That will give me more experience and more variety. I have just been offered a job in the labor room on the floor I previously worked on, which is a weekday only job and will mesh nicely with my position on Grant 5. It is an amazing opportunity for me to get trained for helping with deliveries by the best labor room RNs around. By 2009 I would like to work in outpatient surgery, which will give me weekends and holidays off, and is a very fast paced environment. Hopefully, if I end up going to nursing school, when I graduate I will have a better idea of which department I would like to work in. I will also have gained a wealth of medical knowledge, and got paid to learn it.


"Advisor Team and Keirsey Present Your Temperment." Google. 19 September 2007
This was interesting. It is a detailed profile of my Keirsey temperment.

"An Internet Study of the Basic Dimensions of Personality." Google. 19 September 2007
This test was from Northwestern University.

Bangor Daily News classifieds. October 2007
I checked the job ads regularly to see what jobs were in abundance in this area and which ones were not.

"Bloginality Weblogger Personality" Google. September 2007
This site was not very helpful - too few questions to pinpoint a personality type.

Bourgoin, Terry. Personal Interview. 15 October 2007
Terry has been a CNA for 17 years. She loves her job. Her twin is a nurse, and Terry gave me good information on why she has not pursued a nursing career.

"Bureau of Labor Statistics" Google. October 2007.
This is an awesome site maintained by the U.S. government. You can research any job and get the average pay, future job outlook, education requirements, and top employers.

Chapman, Terri. Personal Interview. 15 October 2007
Terri has been a nurse for 15 years, and was a CNA before that. She gave me reasons why she is planning on leaving the nursing profession after her kids are out of college.

"Human Metrics - Jung Typology Test." Google. 19 September 2007
This was the Jung typology test.

Jameson, Chelsea. Personal Interview. 2 November 2007
Chelsea works as an RN on both Grant 5 and Grant 7, and gave me insight on being an RN on each floor.

"Jobsearch USA". Google. 15 October 2007
This link gives all the available federal government jobs in the Bangor area.

"Keirsey Temperment Sorter-II." Google. 19 September 2007
This test was the Keirsey temperment sorter.

Kelley, Theresa. Personal Interview. Bangor, Maine. 17 October 2007
Theresa is a charge nurse on Grant 7. A nurse for 27 years, she gave me a lot on insight into the nursing profession, what has changed for the better and worse.

" Employment." Google. 15 October 2007
This site gives all the available Maine state government jobs.

"Typelogic test links." Google. 19 September 2007
This website was great. It gave links to many different tests.