I started nursing school the 21st of July, 1988. Some friends at the home started at the same time, Shirley and Patty, who were about ten years older than me and a young friend, Julie. We rode down taking turns driving the cars but they decided I drove recklessly or I didn't have a nice enough car. I had a blue Ford Fiesta that was falling apart and it was so small we had a hard time fitting everyone. The red, maroon, Mercury was headed for A-1 auto salvage because it wouldn't run again even after the new motor when the timing chain went out etc...
We would ask each other question for the test we had every day. We had to study every night for five hours. They told us we would gain about twenty or thirty pounds. I gained thirty five. I weighed 124 lbs when I started and got fitted for uniforms and weighed almost 160 lbs by graduation in May of 1989.The first ten weeks we had tests every day but after that we had our "fly up" ceremony when we got our caps. We were very proud. I was on the honor roll and those of us that made it were in the Troy newspaper for the whole county to see! I kept my grades up into the high nineties to make sure I made the high honor roll. There was an honor roll and a high honor roll. There was competition between the girls so that encouraged us to keep the grades high. We had one male in the class; I can't remember his name so I will call him Dave.
We learned to build a human being from one single cell to the hair and skin. Learning the intricacies of the heart and valves, arteries and veins was the hard part but I was so fascinated I ate it up! I thought this is what I was born to do. We learned to figure drop factors and at the end of the year we drew blood from the other student nurses. I didn't have a partner so I got to draw blood from the Director of Nursing. After several of the students also had drawn blood from her for practice I thought she would pass out! During our clinicals we went to the hospital in Atchison to observe and pass medicines alongside the nurse there. When we were studying Obstetrics we got to watch a cesarean section and newborns being circumcised. We practiced doing treatments on patients with wounds. Older folks do not have the fat under their skin so the skin tears like tissue paper. Diabetics especially have to be careful because they do not heal as well. We did our clinicals in Dr's offices and the nursing home there.
When I would come home at five o'clock after being up at that time in the AM I had told Jenny and Chuck to make sure Midnight, the poodle we bought to replace Lucky, was inside the house because she would wait for me to come home all day and would run out into the driveway as I came home. One day I drove home and pulled into the driveway, hit the remote for the garage door and drove inside. When I went into the house Midnight wasn't waiting for me to pick her up as she always had been so I said, "Where's Midnight?" Chuck said, "Jenny let her out!" I knew without looking she would be lying there in the driveway, and she was. I had run over her when I stopped to open the garage door. She thought I was stopped and getting out but I only stopped long enough to open the garage door. Charles buried her somewhere on the property; I don't think he even told me where he had buried Lucky.
The house in Highland was so well insulated that in the winter time the only way to tell if the wind was blowing was to watch the trees sway through the big "picture" window. The snow would fall and the trees would be covered. I think it was the only time I actually liked to watch the snow fall. It was easy to keep warm. There was a square wood stove in the kitchen that Charles cut wood for and Jenny and I and Chuck would help load it. We didn't need to cut all year round like the big house in Troy. At night the furnace would take over if the temperature would go below 60 degrees so we didn't even have to get up in the middle of the night to stoke the coals when the fire went out.
One day when it was raining especially hard the creek started to rise and I couldn't find King. I knew that he was getting older now and the vet in Highland had prescribed some pain reliever for him for his arthritis. I'd squeeze some out of a tube and he would run and play as he always did. This day I looked out of the picture window and saw King floundering around in the creek bed trying to hang on to the sides with his toenails. I hollered at Charles and he ran out into the blinding rain and picked him up and carried him to the foyer to dry off. He was still afraid of storms after all those years. We never did figure out why he was out there.
We still had our rabbits. Sometimes they would get out of the cages somehow and King would chase them all over the yard, killing as many as he could. We'd gather as many as we could and fix the cages. We still had problems getting them to breed. The males would go through the motions but the females would fight them off most of the time. When copulation would take place the females would rarely be pregnant or they would kill them right after birth. We finally sold all of them.
Another friend of Charles' had ferrets, a male and a female. I had had ferrets before and I really liked them. But these were so wild every time you would stick your hand in the cage, the female especially, would grab onto your fingers and hang on. Once they were out of the cage they were friendly and we would bring them into the house and let them play with cat toys or dog toys. They were very funny to watch and easy to hold once out of the cage. I had wanted to breed them and sell the babies but after getting my fingers bit to the bone so many times we gave them away. Chucky had a pet rat we kept in his room in a cage. He loved that rat but he wouldn't take care of it. The feeding and watering of the rat went to me of course. He too got so he wouldn't let you get the water bottle or the food bowl out to add more to it. He would jump up onto your hand and start biting like crazy. I’d checked the water bottle and it was always full of water. Chuck refused to hold him anymore because of the biting. One day he came outside with tears in his eyes holding his pet and said it was dead. I checked the water bottle and the ball had gotten stuck and no water was coming out. All the time I thought he had water, he couldn't get it out. That’s why he was biting. He was drinking the blood from our fingers!
Another pet I was especially fond of was our guinea pigs. We had two. There was a movie out at that time that had a funny looking creature that was real cute until you gave them water and then they would become really mean and vicious.
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