Why you’d really hate your life if you had cancer and went to CRNA school in the jungle

by Suz on February 3, 2011

I asked myself how it could possibly be more challenging than the jungle.

They're not so bad when you get used to them.

There, I lived with a family of cockroaches and a fear of electrocution.  They said the shower was safe, but the electrical wires surrounding the shower head told me that dying was a distinct possibility.

At least…I would die clean.

I told myself that if I could put up with Ecuador, then anesthesia school would be a breeze.

I quit writing about Ecuador for the same reason I don’t write about school – It’s hard to see the computer screen when you’re bawling .  Not to mention, I had an even better chance at getting electrocuted when the motherboard of my computer filled up with tears.

Although, the worst is over, I do still harbor occasional thoughts of throwing a curare dart at some of the CRNA’s with whom I work.  But now, I have some perspective.  I can look at the new students and say, “Wow- that was pretty awful.”

I get it.

There is no better way to raise the price of their stock in anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, and anti-hypertensive medications than for the CRNA’s and anesthesiologists to terrorize new students.

One thing I have learned in school is instead of crying in a bathroom stall, I should just write a blog post.  That, or reach in my pocket and pull out one of those Ecuadorian darts I’ve been saving.

I learned how to shoot a blowgun from the best.....Just kidding, I don't really know this guy.

I can look back and see that maybe it wasn’t so awful losing a quarter of my hair due to stress…it does accelerate my blow drying time.  And all those missed happy hours? My liver has had a nice break and I’ve turned into a cheap date.

Cheaper, at least.

Breaking down the numbers gives you a little better idea of what the past 17 months have been like.

  • Number of times I wanted to quit school: equals number of times my alarm has gone off for any school related activity
  • Number of times I really, truly, genuinely, honestly, actually, seriously considered quitting school: 4
  • Number of times I’ve been yelled at:  I can’t count that high
  • Number of times I’ve been yelled at and called a liar: 1
  • Number of times I’ve told my husband I miss him: 39,593
  • Percentage of students in my class that started some sort of anti-depressant, anxiety or blood pressure med: 33%
  • Number of times I’ve hidden in the bathroom and cried: 3
  • Number of times I’ve been physically pushed out of the way: 1
  • Number of times my husband has said he wished I never went to school: 1,892
  • Number of gray hair I’ve grown since the start: 6
  • Number of times I’ve hidden in corners/closets/stairways/bathrooms so as not to run into certain people: 84.3
  • Number of good friends and family weddings I’ve had to miss: 3
  • Number of times I’ve been called lazy and unmotivated for taking an hour long lunch: 1
  • Number of times I’ve barely had time to eat at all because I’m so busy: innumerable
  • Number of wrinkles that have appeared on my forehead: 4
  • Number of times I’ve been insulted by instructor due to my being in the Army: 1

One of the girls in my class had breast cancer.  I asked her if she had to pick cancer or anesthesia school to experience again, which she would choose.

She paused and said, “Ooohh, that’s a tough one.  I think I’d pick cancer.”

Pretty much sums it up.

And as for the whole jungle versus anesthesia competition? I was way off.

Yep, I was wrong.

Anesthesia school is way worse than the jungle.

And apparently cancer too.

I know if any of my fellow anesthesia-peeps are reading this, they’re saying, “but wait! you forgot about this or that!” So please tell- What did I miss??

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{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Paula Kiger February 3, 2011 at 7:55 am

Stopping by from Mama Kats!! You know, I am forwarding this to my niece who is in pharmacy school – I think she will be able to relate SO completely to the stresses, etc. Thank you for sharing – I hope all those years pay off in work you love. :-)
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WildChildT February 3, 2011 at 8:50 am

WOW. now that really was a good reason for me NOT to further my career. I’ll continue to be content and happy being a “JAN”:)

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Suz February 3, 2011 at 9:55 am

Wait, I’m lost. “JAN”? Is that ‘just a nurse’? I couldn’t come up with any other words. Sure, it sucks- but there are SOME good things about it too. Once I get done, I know I’ll love what I do. It’s just the getting there that’s the issue. :)

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T. February 3, 2011 at 10:29 am

I didn’t mean it in a negative light at all…I think you are awesome for having so much on your plate and dealing with all the stress of CRNA school. please don’t get me wrong. I meant for me, personally, I need a few years of low stress, mundaneness in my life (I’ve been going non-stop and just need a slow down). I keep seeing my peers head off for more schooling and higher positions and it makes me wonder if I should be doing the same. Seeing all the stress of CRNA school just makes me feel settled that I am doing what is right for me right now. I use JAN (yes, just a nurse) in a humorous way. I think us nurses are more than that it is more a tongue in cheek thing.
I hope i didn’t offend, I didn’t mean it! “Anything in life worth having is worth working for.”
T. recently posted..Sunday White Ranch Run with MtnRunner2!

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Suz February 3, 2011 at 10:45 am

Oh- I didn’t take offense at all! I’m just not all that smart sometimes and I wasn’t sure what “jan” meant! I totally get where you’re coming from. There are many many times that I’ve wished I was just back hanging out and relaxing being JAN. (now I’m going to use it all the time) never let anybody else push you into feeling like you should be doing something else. Like babies for instance- sometimes I feel like I should be having them because everyone else is. But truthfully, I want to be able t o relax for a few years when I’m done. My ovaries aren’t THAT old!

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Christy February 3, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Wait! What are you talking about? I don’t think that there is anything wrong with someone pressuring you into having babies… your clock is ticking! You NEED to have kids the exact same age as your friends’ kids! Plus, think about how much guilt-free ice cream and doughnuts you would get to eat while you were pregnant – totally worth the subsequent months of interrupted sleep and a new college savings account (wait, didn’t I just finish paying for my own college tuition!?!). You know I’m kidding! But, you two sure would make cute ones… someday… :)

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Renee February 3, 2011 at 10:52 am

I enjoyed reading some of your posts (some, because I didn’t read all)…and I think Maile is the cutest thing in the world!

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Suz February 5, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I also think she is the cutest thing in the world…but I may be biased. :)

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tori February 3, 2011 at 11:10 am

Oh My Jesus. The “At least I’d die clean” thing had me rolling on the floor. On a serious note though, if you have any spare Ecuadorian darts, feel free to help a sister out. I have a feeling they could come in handy in the crowded grocery store or in trying to catch my escape-happy dog :)
Great post!

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Suz February 5, 2011 at 4:04 pm

To be honest, I never even though about using them on MY escape happy dog. Thanks for the suggestion. To be honest though…I never really brought any home. Although, I’m sure I could find some if I really wanted some. Maybe I should start a new business.

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Doe Zing February 3, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Well, the Apostle Paul knew just how you feel. “..but we were harassed at every turn–conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast (that would be you, no?), comforted us.” (2 Cor.7:5-6) Thankfully, you can’t come close to his “been there, done that” list!!! (If anyone dares to pick up even one
stone, I’ll get on my horse/your sled dog to come save you, I promise!)

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Marty Wombacher February 3, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Hopefully the rest of your time there will pass quickly. How much longer do you have. After reading this I’m happy being, JAM. (I’ve got a feeling you’ll be able to figure that out.)

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Suz February 5, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Okay. Either I’m just stupid or you’re saying ‘just a man’. I hope it’s the latter. I don’t want to be stupid- not that I haven’t gotten used to it. I’ve got 6.75 months left. Not that I’m counting.

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Stacey February 3, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Wow! It doesn’t make me want to go there and do that! It sounds tough! Stopping by from Mama Kat’s!

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Suz February 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm

It’s only worth going through it if you really want to- which I happen to really want to do. If I didn’t, I’d totally be a quitter. Thanks for commenting!

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Erin February 3, 2011 at 5:26 pm

I hope all that stress is going to be over soon!

oh and I so think you need to do a how to vlog on the blow dart!
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Suz February 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm

In my free time, I’ll have to come up with a good tutorial about ‘blow-dart-usage’. I have a feeling that someone will report me and I’ll get arrested though. I’m not sure how legal getting some one with a blow dart is. :) You’ll be the first one I’ll inform though, if it ever happens!

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Betty Fokker February 3, 2011 at 7:25 pm

This made me SOOOOOOOO glad I am not in grad school to become a nurse a CRNA. My friends who went thru med schools have similar tales of terror. As an anthropologist, I know hazing rituals to induct new members into a cohort when I see it. Let me know when they tattoo you or circumcise you or tell you that you can now pick a hut of your very own.
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Suz February 5, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I know! It pisses me off to NO end how people behave when they have new recruits to demean. It happened in nursing school, it happened whenever we’d get a new nurse in the ICU. Certain people just have this wiring and have the need to feel better than other people- and the only way they can feel better if they can flaunt their knowledge in front of the lesser knowledgeable person. Drives me nuts- and I’ve always tried extra hard to make sure I’m the complete opposite of all of those people.

It does make want to forward your comment to the ANNA (American Association of Nurse Anesthetist’s) to let them know how outsiders REALLY see what a lot of the CRNA’s are putting us through. (I’m sure they know…they just don’t care).

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Curiosity February 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm

It’s crazy the amount of stress we put ourselves through for the sake of careers. …And crazy how that kind of situation becomes acceptable and “normal”. At least in the middle of nowhere, you have TIME to shower… Sometimes…
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Suz February 5, 2011 at 4:14 pm

The only problem with being in the middle of nowhere is that you don’t feel the NEED to shower…at least I don’t. But then again, I don’t feel the need to shower a lot. So much work.

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Snuggle Wasteland February 4, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Ugh. That sounds horribly stressful. There’s no way I could go back to school again. I was lucky to make it through the first time. Hope the stress lets up soon.
Snuggle Wasteland recently posted..The Tradition Of Being Sad

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Suz February 5, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Thanks! I hope so too- can’t be too awful- only 6.75 months left!

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Josh February 4, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Great blog Suz!! As a fellow classmate I can attest to the many gray hairs, paralyzing sound of the morning alarm, crazy a$$ CRNAs & MDAs, my new meds, relationship stress & well about everything you mentioned. However, I love the job… when “I’m” giving the anesthetic (meaning my CRNA lets me do my thing). But, wow! One should questioned such an endeavor if they are not ready to sacrifice life as they know it for 2 years day in & day out.

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Suz February 5, 2011 at 4:16 pm

You said it! I’d totally not have made it this far if I wasn’t ready to have absolutely NO life for two years.

You got gray hairs too!!??

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Marty Wombacher February 5, 2011 at 7:11 pm

You were close, but JAM = Just A Marty.

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Suz February 5, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Sometimes I impress myself with my not-smartness…. :)

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TRR February 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm

So wait… Does this mean you’re done? Or almost done at least?

SITS is doing their 31 Days to a Better Blog Challenge again. It starts tomorrow (Monday, Feb 7). I’m going to do it. I need structure and discipline. And not just the gratuitous spanking. You interested? (In the Blog Challenge, not the spanking) :-P
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Suz February 6, 2011 at 9:19 pm

I’m not done…sigh…but almost! 6.75 months left!! I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yeah, I’m into the 31DBBB thing (again). I was sort of a drop out last time. It’s so hard to stay on top of it. Maybe I’lll actually BUY the ebook this time…

Also, I’ve never been one to shy away from a good spanking. So don’t make me come over there.

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theprincessblogger February 6, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Wow…so glad I didn’t go into your field!
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Juicey February 6, 2011 at 10:12 pm

I’m pretty sure your husbands told you he wishes you didn’t go to school more like 5000 times.

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Megan (Best of Fates) February 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Wow… Yeah, now I’m petrified of CRNA school. And I have a strange craving for a blowgun.
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Sandra February 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm

You’re in anesthesia school?…you is sa-mart…
I’m a nursing student, and I consider quitting every damn day, so I can’t even imagine all the drug calculations and everything else you have to do. And you only considered quitting 4 times?…stick it out, clearly you’ve found your calling!
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Suz February 7, 2011 at 7:35 pm

ohhhh… you poor soul. I absolutely HATED nursing school. I have a different kind of hate for anesthesia school. In a way it’s much better than nursing school because you’re learning applicable stuff and you get to do some pretty sweet things, but on the other hand it’s way worse because it’s SOOO much harder and everyone is SOO much meaner (if that’s possible), and you have to study SOO much more.

Keep it up!

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Lara Taylor February 7, 2011 at 9:08 pm

What a great blog! :) Great mood and tone, I haven’t read anything like this—but this is what I like most about blogging, that I can “meet” people who have been other places and read cool stories! Good luck to you!
Lara

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Suz February 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Me too- I love ‘meeting’ new people. My husband thinks I’m nuts. Oh well.

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Alison Golden February 8, 2011 at 7:40 am

Wow, CRNA school sounds abusive. If you can get through this you will be awesome at it and I now have a much greater appreciation for all those anaesthesiologists out there. Good luck!
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Suz February 10, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Thanks! I need the good luck!

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Holly L February 10, 2011 at 1:28 am

When I make my next career change…I know what not to do!
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Jenny February 10, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Hi there. Found you over at SITS on the 31 Days forum. Reading this post makes me so very glad I am not a nurse. Of course, it also makes me have a lot more respect for all the nurses out there. And CRNA – go you.

Run on.
Jenny recently posted..Run- Jen- Run

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Suz February 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Yeah… I didn’t even mention all the poop I’ve cleaned up!

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Jennifer February 12, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Why did your instructor insult you for being in the Army?! I was in the Air Force….

Well best of luck as you continue your schooling. I’ll say a prayer for you for endurance. I really appreciate what you’re learning to do. After my last two babies were born, I had some problems and had some minor surgeries. Then, a couple of years ago, I had my appendix out on Thanksgiving. I think of those times fondly–I got to enjoy long naps without interruption from the kiddos! ;)
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Suz February 13, 2011 at 8:17 pm

He stated he was a ‘pacifist’ and basically sent the message anyone in the military was evil. Thanks for the encouragement! I also think of surgery fondly- it’s fun to have everyone taking care of me for a change! And there are some good drugs. :)

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Fenny February 14, 2011 at 6:42 pm

I love it when people are passionate enough about what they do that they are willing to pay the price (& I don’t mean just the $$$). Kudos to you (and your husband)! I love your posts – your sense of humor and cynisism (sp?) sarcasm etc. I’d love to read about your time in Ecuador.
Take care! By what I have read, I am sure you’ll finish well!
(stopping by thru SITS)
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Suz February 15, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Someday I plan on writing about Ecuador- you may have to buy the book though… :)

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Jen June 24, 2011 at 4:11 am

So I googled… “stress and CRNA school” and your blog popped up. I loved reading your post… not that I enjoy other people’s misery, but it allows me to know I’m not alone! As I sit here typing on my laptop in the hospital, with my pager on my table at 4am… praying it doesn’t go off within the next 3 hours for a trauma. I officially have 10 more months as an SRNA (that’s if I make it to graduation) and feels like an eternity !!!!!

Thanks for sharing your feelings… it’s been helpful for me during this lonely night… and BTW… you’re ALMOST THERE !!!!!!

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Suz June 28, 2011 at 11:22 am

Glad I could help! And misery DOES love company. The ten months will pass in no time- I promise. I only have TWO more now, and I can’t freaking believe it. This probably means I should start studying for boards….or I’ll be stressed about that. Hope your night was trauma-free!

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Carol March 6, 2012 at 4:25 am

Your site gave me an insight as to how tough CRNA school could be!!!!!I was planning to apply this yr for 2013 fall……..now I am hesitant , esp as I have 2 small kids.
What do you think?

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Suz March 10, 2012 at 8:09 pm

It depends on how badly you want to be a CRNA. Go to http://www.nurse-anesthesia.org and read up on the forums about people that went to school with kids. I know people that did it- Personally, I don’t think I would’ve been able to do it. Good luck!

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bport June 26, 2012 at 8:26 pm

having a rough week in the OR, decided to google “anesthesia school sucks” and i found this. and it made me laugh. and i definitely relate BIG TIME, unfortunately i am only 6 months in! aghhHHH

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Suz July 10, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Hang in there! It sure does suck, but it’s worth it in the end- I can say that now that I get a pay check. I’m still scarred and bitter from school though :)

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