A Year Later

It was a year ago 2/27 that I worked my last shift at the bedside. I was burned out, didn’t care anymore and looking for a change but couldn’t get motivated to make one. Taking a voluntary lay off was one of the best decisions on my career.

A year ago I dreaded going to work, dreaded dealing with the unstable mess I felt my unit had become and sick of dealing with the overwhelmingness of not caring. I cared about my patients but didn’t “care” about them. Maybe I allowed myself to get too close, didn’t keep and extend enough professional distance to not feel burdened by their issues. Whatever it was, I was not healthy, mentally or physically.

In the last 6 months I worked in Portland I began developing serious anxiety issues. I had never experienced an anxiety attack, but when the first one hit and I sat there vibrating like a guitar string, hyperventilating, freaking out over going back to work I knew something was not right. I was crass, callous, more cynical than normal. Short and rude with co-workers and unable to maintain the Zen-like ease that I had previously, I needed something different.

Different I got. Moving from a teaching facility to a small community hospital. Changing from bedside nursing to compliance and charge capture nursing (clipboard nursing…). Moving from a city to a small rural community. Going from 9 months of gray skies to abundant blue skies and sun. It’s like getting my life back. I’ve lost weight, learned to sleep normally again and rekindled that spark with my wife. Life, for the most part, is good. It took 5 years of death by a thousand cuts to nearly destroy me, luckily it only took a year to heal me.

And now I sit on my porch, blue skies over my shoulder, feeling the sun on my back and know it’s been worth it.



  1. Wow, Strong words. I’m glad you’re better. I just found your website through my instructor at an online college course I’m taking. My goal is to go back and read from the beginning. So far I read March and April 2007. I’m looking forward to reading the rest.
    I can’t say I’m burned out but I hate the thought of going to work. I hate the fact that for 12 hours, patients will make demands of me-even though i became a nurse to help people. I work on a maternity floor,taking care of ante- and post-partum patients and it is not always fun. Moms can get really sick really fast. But once I get to work, it’s ok. Some days suck, constantly being stressed sucks, but I work with a decent group of nurses.
    I don’t know the details yet (if there are any), but I’m sorry about your daughter.
    Take care and I look forward to reading more posts. Kathi
    P.S. My in-laws live in Az in Prescott Valley, about 90 mins above Phoenix. It’s just lovely there. I always enjoy visiting. The nature is fascinating.


  2. Very powerful writing, I am going to school to becoming. I have anxiety as well, and I can’t even imagine how hard it will be if I get attached to my patients.


  3. Overwhelmingly powerful post, I am going to school to become a nurse, and I worry about becoming attached to my patients as well. I am very personable and I know that it could hurt me in the future


  4. WOW, very powerful and strong words, I am going to school for nursing, I am in my first year, and I to suffer with anxiety, I worry that my anxiety, and becoming stressed out constantly will ware on me, and I worry I will become too attached to my future patients. You’re very strong, and I am glad to hear(well read) all of your struggles and bumps in the road have been overcome.


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