It’s odd, I figured this unemployment thing would be like a vacation. Sit back, relax, catch up on things left unread, do some housework while slowly getting things for the imminent move together. I figured I would not miss working, prepping for work or the actual time spent going to work.
Yeah. Wrong on all counts.
Admittedly I’ve done a fair bit of relaxing. There have been many days of sitting around in sweats like some somewhat thinner suburban version of Jabba the Hut, dropping whatever snacks were within reach into my maw, ordering minions to do things (at least in my head). I’ve spent some quality time on Twitter, on some blogs, scoping out new places to ride when we move, but have done little of anything constructive. The place looks pretty much exactly like it did the week I stopped working. Packing? Psshh. Attacking the list of things I need to accomplish for the week? Did (the easy) 50%.
Never thought I would say it, but the hardest thing is not going to work. I see the #nocshift tag come up on Twitter for all those headed to slay the dragon of work and while I may be there in spirit, I’m really just an impostor now. I wish them luck and go back to doing nothing of consequence. But it’s the odd things that seem to mean the most to me. Not buying food specifically for work. Not staying up ’til all hours to readjust my internal clock to stay up for the next three nights. Not having the in-person interaction with my friends as we strive towards a common goal. It has made me slightly off-balance and I don’t like it. Coming from a long line of Scandinavian hard working folk, the need to work is etched indelibly into my DNA. Go too long without and I become insufferable to be around, pacing like a wild animal trapped in an enclosure but unable to do anything.
Worst though it has allowed my fear of not getting work even more real. It has allowed that nagging voice, the one that I used to continually tell to “shut the fuck up!” a little more volume. That little voice has been very, very talkative of late. Doubt, the killer of initiative, has been working overtime.
All this after only a week. I’m going to be a psychic wreck by the time I get to Arizona. And I will have probably driven my wife insane.
At least though, things are slowly coming together. It appears we have a place to call home lined up. There seems to be some jobs in the area that I could pursue. I just have to realize that things will take some time. This isn’t going to happen overnight, no matter how hard I want it to. The last time I was unemployed was so painful, more for factors beyond not having a job/income, that issues I thought I had dealt with long ago are bleeding into the current discussion which makes this more stressful. I have to remember that this is not like last time. I have experience. I have money coming in. I’m not running from death, disappointment and despair. Instead I’m running to something new, exciting and different. And you’e all along for the ride!
I’m done. Stick a fork in me. Cooked. Tired. Knackered. Straight up worn out.
Y’know how I know? Every little bug knocks me down. I want to sleep but can’t. I wake up more than I’m asleep it seems. Even with chemicals.
That said, I’m taking the rest of the year off. I get on a plane tomorrow and head for Arizona hoping to recuperate and recharge and maybe stem the bleeding that is my will to continue as a nurse. Burnout is a terrible thing. So I’m going to enjoy a white Christmas in the White Mountains with my family.
Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year. I’ll be seeing you in 2012. Promise.
This is post 501.
Yeah, five hundred and one chances to see into the inner workings of a nurses’ mind.
Five hundred and one attempts at humor, pathos, cathartic screaming, ranting, introspection and education.
I’ve been writing a blog of some variety since nursing school, most of those older posts are lost to the Internet ether and frankly, they weren’t any good to begin with so it is no true loss. This blog has been with me though since I started at my current job, nearly five years ago. I’ve gone from wide-eyed new grad praying not to kill anyone to a slightly crispy-crittered, nearly burned out charge nurse.
So much has changed on my floor that I hardly recognize it somedays, just like I hardly recognize myself somedays. I’ve grown and this blog has grown with me. Soon, I will be into another phase of my career, new fresh things to learn, new fresh things to complain about and teach about, and I’ll be taking everyone with me. It is no longer a question of if, but when. Not yet, but I hope soon.
Thank you all for being on this journey with me. As the saying goes, “This is only the beginning.”
I know this rant has been making the rounds on Twitter. It is full of rage, a touch of woe is me and the grim reality of the situation we place so many new grads in. A quote (shield your eyes if easily offended…)
Well, after a year of getting rejected I have finally decided to give nursing the bird. FUCK YOU NURSING FIELD! Too bad the schools and media are still insisting that people go to RN school. Believe me THERE IS NO FUCKING SHORTAGE! New grads are considered garbage. On top of that, the degree serves no purpose in any other setting. BSN is a complete waste of time and money. …And it is not just the economy. Hospitals turning huge profits stopped new grad programs and hire foreigners.
Wow. The rest continues on in a rant that she (assuming a she) will never get a job, never put her degree to use and that she wasted 6 years of her life.
First gut reaction: she’s right. It sucks to be told there is a ready market of jobs just waiting for new grads. Read too many job requirements of “at least 2 years experience” and raged at the screen saying, “How am I supposed to get experience if I can’t get a job? WTF?!” I know many, many grads who have cycled through our unit for practicum who have yet to find jobs. We have nurses on our unit who jumped at the first offer (methadone clinic anyone?) but persevered and got the jobs they wanted. In fact that was me. I got lucky. I can empathize. The betrayal of it all is painful, kind of like when you realized Santa was not real, or your girlfriend was banging your best friend.
Second reaction: buh-bye. Maybe we’re (as a profession) better off not having this person in our ranks. Nursing is not easy…what happens the first time they get a difficult assignment? Or have “one of those days”? Run out? Quit? Nothing in this profession is given to you, one has to work for it. Take for example NurseXY, who landed his dream job in a world-class CVICU. Seriously, go read his stuff, he worked his ass off for it. Nothing was easy. No one ever promised (at least anymore) that a job would be waiting right when you passed NCLEX – and if they did you should make sure they aren’t selling a pile of hooey. Just because there is a nursing shortage does nothing to guarantee you a job just because you passed the boards. Anyone who degrades their education to this degree and doesn’t realize that sometimes sacrifice is a needed part of our job has no place being a nurse.
Final reaction: no seriously, buh-bye. If you want to work as a nurse enough to devote 6 years and thousand of dollars to do so, giving up isn’t an option. She never says that she looked out of state for jobs, into different avenues than the traditional hospital based nurse or for other ways to be a nurse. Our system interviewed over 500 grads for spots in our residency program and they came from all over the Northwest. They tried to make it work. There is nothing to say she did this, just a whiny, “why isn’t it given to me!” rant. We have too many toxic personalities in nursing and truly don’t need anymore.
I know this is harsh. Maybe this person is a amazing nurse, top notch clinical skills with empathy to boot, is driven far beyond belief and tried EVERY avenue to make things work, but based on what I’m reading, what they posted onto the internet for everyone to read, I doubt it. And with this rant, I doubt any but the most desperate, worst, idiot recruiter would ever even consider asking for a resume. I know it sucks, but maybe it’s for the better.
This last week beat the snot out of me. I really want to write a resounding “Fuck yeah!” and a post related to some great nursing writing by Not Nurse Ratched and Those Emergency Blues, but I don’t have it. I’m running on empty from a worse week than normal. If we weren’t getting screwed by the patients, the ED, docs and our fellow nurses there was a general feeling of being under a bad moon. I feel like I saw the future of my floor this week: it wasn’t pretty. I want to say more, but can’t formulate coherent logical thoughts. Believe me, I’ve been trying. Nothing seems to flow right. I have some snippets put down, but can’t seem to make them go anywhere.
Go read these posts. They’re beyond good and in many ways capture what I’m thinking better than I can.
I have this feeling of impending doom regarding my unit. What they write about is evolving on my unit and I am scared to death about it. I feel that even though my manager wants our input, doing so would make me (and every other charge nurse) complicit in the same destructive behavior described above. I don’t want any of it.
Don’t worry I’ll find my flow again.
Nothing can bring such madness as this one simple word. Even though it is just a threat of snow, nothing on the ground and people act like it is the Blizzard to End ALL Blizzards.
Snow haunted me through nursing school. No mater if there was 2 inches or a foot, I had to go. Nothing says fun like a drive to school in a 1973 VW Bug at 6am when it is 24° out and windchill to 0° all while lugging my massive Med-Surg text, A&P book, plus the other assorted miscellany needed for a day of school out to the car while looking like Ralphie’s little brother due to the amount of clothes I was wearing.
There she is, the little red one with that light dusting of snow. That little car got to everyone of my clinical dates (even the one I got pulled over before), to class everyday except the day I broke my key thanks to ice. Nothing says fun like scraping the inside of a windshield so that I could see out. Sure, I would have to sit there and warm it up for 30 minutes before even attempting to drive, but I drove in all sorts of nasty weather in.
It was never a question of going to school. So I learned how to drive in the snow. Learned how to pry my frozen fingers off the wheel when I got to school. I learned how to carry the 60lbs books and other crap we were required to carry. Nursing school taught me far more than the required information needed to become a nurse: it taught me to deal with adversity.
It isn’t easy, just like nursing isn’t easy. It breaks us down to build us back up. Remember when you first stepped on a floor for clinicals? You were freaked out, like our city in the face of a storm, but as the day went, you grew more comfortable, it grew easier and soon you found yourself thriving in the new and different environment. Now when you step on the floor you know what needs to be done. You know how it needs to be done. That’s knowledge brought on by the act of nursing, the practice. You are able to deal with the adversity that faces us everyday because you’ve been through it all.
Now I’m off to stock up on groceries, run around like crazy tracking down a heater and generally acting like an idiot – there’s snow coming!
Potpourri. Funny word. Always reminds me of Jeopardy. But it’s a collection of things. Randomness in a bowl.
It’s fall, finally. The leaves are changing and soon I’ll be back to sliding on leaves as I ride to work. Rain + leaves + cement = road rash. Happens every year at least once. But it’s good. Fall is my favorite. I don’t mind cold and wet, makes me want to curl up with a book, cook soup, plus there are a lot of good memories from growing up that are from the Fall. I can tell it is coming because of the smell. It’s a fresh, almost funky wet smell. It smells like time to pull out the woolies, hoodies and hot toddies.
Insomnia sucks. Once again I fell asleep for a couple of hours then woke up. For no reason. Wide awake in the middle of the night. Tried to go back to sleep, but just lay there tossing and turning. Too late to take an Ambien, to early to get up. It’s frustrating at times. Before I used CPAP I would have times like this and for a good 6 months after CPAP I haven’t had to deal with this insomnia, but in the last month it has happened more often. Probably have too much on my mind, ate pizza too late or some other reason to mess up my sleep cycle. My doc thinks that it’s related to my shift and he has a point, but until I can not take a pay cut to do so, I’m not working days.
I watched a bit of Hoarders last night. Made me very self-conscious about our house. While we don’t have garbage laying about, we have too much stuff. I despair looking at it thinking that we’re going to be moving in the next year and I have no intention of moving so much again. It comes down to buckling down, sorting and deciding on stuff. Not the easiest thing in the world.
Halo: Reach. What can I say? It has consumed far too much of my time of late. And why not? It is an amazing game. I haven’t had this much fun with a game for a very long time. People give me shit about it though. Yeah, I’m in my thirties and probably shouldn’t be so into games anymore. But why not? It is something I enjoy, something that provides a little escape from the grind and it’s fun. Too many people are far to serious and take themselves far too seriously and want to project that onto everyone they come into contact with. Sorry, I’m a gamer. It is my hobby. Deal with it.
I wish that the hospital would supply scrubs and provide a decent place to change. When they remodeled our floor they got rid of the bathroom with a shower in it. It was a nice luxury when you got covered in blood/pee/sputum/blood/assorted nastiness to be able to change scrubs and shower. I liked it when I rode in the summer for a quick rinse when I stunk from sweating my brains out. Ixnay on the shower though. But scrubs, they’re expensive. Admittedly I like the ones with multiple pockets to carry all of the detritus of floor nursing and they cost more. If I had a house I could write them off, but I don’t so I eat it. Would be nice to not have to worry about them. Show up in street clothes, change and work, then repeat. Would be nice.
My life has been one set of aggravations after another lately and I feel like the picture implies. And it sounds trite and trivial to whine about them in a pubic forum, but sometimes we have to vent. The problem is that I can’t spin them in ways to make it sound less trivial and less trite. When I do write it out and go back over it the words sound like some teen who’s parents took the car away from. So it’s kind of like a block. But I’m going to spit it out, get the vitriol, hate and anger out. We’ll see what happens.
My doctor’s office.
They don’t seem to realize that I need answers sooner rather than later. You see I had a result on a test which my doc wanted me to get further worked-up for. They assured me that the office staff would get on it. That was a week ago. And today they don’t even return my phone call. WTF?! The results are life-altering and frankly I’m scared as hell about it. I want, no I crave answers to what is going on. That’s the fucked up thing as a nurse, you know enough to be totally freaked out, but not enough to be rational. Reading Up to Date at work does not help the situation.
I love my staff. My co-workers are some of the most awesome nurses I have ever worked with and we’re one hell of a good team. When shit goes south, I know they have my back and likewise for them. But the patients, oh, our wonderful patients. I’m slowly losing interest in little old demented ladies, the non-compliant trainwrecks that circle through every month or so, the stupid admissions and the psych cases that need “medical clearance” before going to in-patient psych. It’s no longer a challenge. Which is dangerous for me. I get complacent. I get bored. I need to leave and find new adventures but the economy is still to fragile and based on item #1, I don’t want to be changing anything yet. So I’m stuck.
I’m tired of floaters to our floor. I appreciate having them fill our holes and some days a body is better than nothing, but only barely. What’s worse is when they get floated because our staff gets canceled (thanks to our convoluted staffing office’s system that no one understands and is about as transparent as mud), or they get floated to a sister unit as that unit can’t staff themselves. Ever. So I give up one of our floor nurses, trained in ACLS, stokes, rhythms etc., who can handle anything that gets admitted for someone who I have to carefully tailor the assignment for and hope they are there for the entire shift (one floor in the whole f-ing hospital has a special dispensation to have different hours 6-6 vs 7-7 and their nurses, even when floated keep that time, so we lose a nurse at 0630). And if anything gets funky I pretty much end up taking over the patient(true story).
Who do as little as possible so it is like having no aide at all. ‘Nuff said.
My Sister Unit
Them whose shit don’t stink, those that are better than us as they get “critical care differential”, those who take care of open heart patients and stent patients, those who can only take ACLS certified floats. Yes, those bastards. They tend to forget that I used to work with all of them before our units split apart. So you have a post-open heart patient. Big deal. Been there, done that. With four other patients. Oooh, you had to pull a sheath. And? It wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t so fucking condescending about it. Yes, we’re the other tele unit, the dump unit, the one you turf the trainwrecks and pain in the ass patients too. Even though you are an Intermediate Care Unit, the only true step-down type patients you take of are cardiac stuff, we get a ton of the nasty medical stuff that should probably go to you. You stonewall any attempt to take any sort of non-cardiac patient all the time. And I’m sorry that you had to take an admit the other night, we had 3 nurses and didn’t have the ability to take an admit at the time. Yet in your busyness, you Ms. Charge Nurse-lifer still found the time to come up and chat with us for 45minutes. You were really busy. The classic line though was when one of you looked at our patients and said, “They have a chest tube! Shouldn’t they be in the IMCU? Can you handle it?” No, we can’t. I was wondering what that funny thing sticking out of their chest was, maybe I need to get them transferred! No, the reason they are up here, I wanted to tell her, was because the surgeon wasn’t as picky as your typical guy is, because God forbid, his holiness, the cardio-thoracic surgeon would have to go a floor above yours and the ICU! We can take care of a patient with chest tubes, it ain’t rocket science like you make it out to be.
Last, but not least, our Day Shift
I’m not starting a Days vs Nights war, this is not a general meditation of day shift, but my feelings towards our lovely day shift. It can be summed up simply: can you just get your shit done? Ever? Nursing is a 24-hour job, but that doesn’t mean you can dump everything on the night shift. I am sick and tired of spending the first 3, 4, 5 or more hours of my shift cleaning up your messes. I know I can’t say anything because all we do at night is sit around talking (yes, more than one has said this). I mean we have to have something to do, right? Nearly every night for the last 3 months has been like walking into a war zone when I get to work. Some days are better than others, but they are the exception. It’s not a good sign when the nurse you get report from answers every question of “Did this get done yet?” with, “Oh, I didn’t see that.” Not a good sign when the patient has been on the floor since 1600 and nothing is done and they’re lying in their own waste. Having been around during the day for other things at work, I see the manic take hold until all of them are wandering around in circles looking like they are doing a lot but really doing nothing at all. And if you really want to see frantic useless action, call a Code. It’s like the proverbial chicken with their head off. While it is nice to be welcomed by your patients, it’s never a good sign when they say, “I’m so glad you’re here!” So yes, day shift, I’m not a fan. Don’t you dare give my nurses shit when everything isn’t complete on a patient who arrived at 0630, because it never is when y’all do it.
At least I feel a little better now.
My GI doc appointment is actually scheduled now, my PCPs office called at 1900 last night to let me know. Guess they heard my ranting. Dude looks like a child though. Could be interesting.
Well that’s what I did. I listened to it. I plopped my ever-expanding ass right on it. Remote control or game controller in hand I spent more time here than just about anywhere in the last 7 months. Sure, I went to work, did household chores and lived life, but always ended up back here. I knew that it wasn’t the best choice, but it was the easiest.
We get our post-open heart patients up and moving about on post-op day 1 and many times they are dangling at the bedside 18 hours post-surgery. We get total hips up in the same manner. Why? It has been shown that muscles lose mass within 7 days in a hospital setting. And we all know that the typical sedentary lifestyle of the American public causes obesity, fecal incontinence, diabetes, heart disease, loss of value on one’s house, cancer, impotence, heart attacks and all sorts of other bad things.
Prior to January of this year, I commuted by bike and train everyday. It wasn’t a lot of riding, but enough to help me feel better and lose some weight. I had been doing it for almost three years and was feeling better than I had felt in years. Then I got sick with a nasty winter cold and worse, got a new car.
I felt like crap and I could drive to work. How was this a bad thing? And at the worst part of the year. No riding in pouring cold windy weather. Getting home and being in bed by when I used to only get home. This was a good thing. I dismissed the idea that this might not be best for me physically, that the riding had kept me somewhat fit. And as the scale rose with each successive doctor visit, I played it off as something else. It was the steroids, or the anti-depressants, or the buffet I had gone to the night before not realizing the lack of true physical activity as I drove everyday.
Today I threw a leg over the old steed to take back a movie. It was a short easy ride, something I would have done before without any stress. Not today. Legs and arms were burning, short of breath, side-ache and plain old miserable. I could hardly walk upstairs to the main floor when I got back. And it’s not like I was riding balls-out trying to set records. I was way out of shape. Call it an eye-opening moment of realization, self-awareness.
Now I know I need to get back on the bike. Continuing to live like this will turn me into my father (who looks like Santa) and in the long run, kill me. I can’t let that happen. I’m not going to let the couch win this time.