Do you know how hard it is to convince someone you are not incarcerated after you accidentally told them you were? I do. In February I realized my pre requisites for the lpn to rn program were due to expire in the coming year. I made the choice to reapply to school and finish what I started before I lost it all. I don’t have the money to do this, one course cost me approximately $900-$1500 and that doesn’t include tuition. My single income household with 3 growing children cannot survive an expense like that. So I applied for financial aid. Two weeks ago I got the news that my prayers had been answered and financial aid would be provided!
I started making preparations for what is to come. I turned my resignation in for my beloved wound care position and requested to work the weekends. I enrolled in my courses, sought out the different options for my end result career, looked at pre med and clinical research options in case that is where I end up, and then I completed some final questions for my financial aid. Unbeknownst to me I made a small error that turned into a big problem! I plead insanity. I was in a pure state of delirium having worked the night shift before and misread a question that asked if I was currently incarcerated. I answered yes.
My financial aid came to an abrupt halt with red bleeding all over my beautiful white application. I tried to explain to the financial aid advisor that I was not in jail and that I thought the question asked “are you willing to go to jail?”… to which she wanted to know why I was willing to go to jail. Listen lady I’ll do whatever it takes at this point, don’t judge me.
After I repeatedly stated my claim to confinement was indeed false, I finally found a way to resolve my error. It will take some time and I had to pay out of pocket for this semester but it will be a memory for the books.
In the midst of all the confusion I said a prayer that God would help me be prepared for what is to come. Not even 5 minutes later my mom walks in my front door with a huge black duffel bag. She says it’s a 3 day survival kit for 5 people. She got it for me in case I ever have to make a quick get away. While I may have done a belly laugh, I have always fantasized about having to make a quick get away so I enjoyed it. Then I thought back to my prayer and did a double take at the heavens questioning what God has in store for this next adventure of mine. This story is to be continued…
The COVID-19 has taken its toll on everyone. People have been out of work, self isolation and quarantine measures taken, the lack of home goods, mask being worn on essential errors, a complete uproot to our normal routine. Change is hard. It’s been a little over a month now, what have you all done to pass the time? The first week I worked around the clock, swing shifts. The second week I had a day off (I think) and I started deep cleaning my house. I began finding stuff I had forgotten. Projects, crafts, and if you’ve followed my previous blogs you know that I was starving. I am not a great cook. Social media began taking a toll on me, the conspiracy theories, people publicly shaming others for there lack of isolation and the media blasting case after case threw me into a panic, which had me then sitting in my house scrubbing my walls with bleach.
I began to pray for my patients that I was serving, my children who were out of school and out of care, for my family and then I prayed for myself. I asked God what I needed to do. The first thought that entered my mind was to further my distancing by shutting off social media. I can’t tell you how many times I was watching a movie or just got off the phone and went to pull up Facebook or Instagram. I still check my messages and get a little peek at the first post on the timeline here and there but that break has been the best thing I could have ever done. I’ve stopped listening to what everyone else is telling me to do and started listening to what God wants me to do.
Week 3: I quit drinking caffeine. What better time to kick a nasty habit? You have time to go through withdrawals and no outside influences tempting you to cave! The first few days were horrible, but I have energy that last all day now and no afternoon crash, a total win in my book! I’ve stepped up my game a notch and started working on my personal skills. With my kids back home and school happening right under my roof I’ve made a plan to sharpen their skills as well! After many failed attempts we are in the kitchen making successful meals and desserts from SCRATCH!
My oldest daughter is learning to sew with a machine we’ve never even touched. She is a quick study and has made several mask with different techniques. She also helped me make my neighbor some banana bread as a thank you for cutting a fallen tree off my car and cleaning up the debris. We don’t know if he likes banana bread and we’ve never attempted to make it before but it came to my mind and so I took that as a sign that he would enjoy it.
I’ve started crocheting, reading more, studying gardening, I even learned from a Buddhist online how to remove a wasp from my home without killing it (the secret is a cracked window, blow dryer on cool, and talking to it as you guide it to the outside). I’m also creating new goals for what I want for my kids and I. I’ve taken a short night shift contract at work and flipped my schedule. My days off seem longer now and it feels great to have full days off to spend as I choose. I believe having my girls back home put the biggest worry in my mind at peace.
I think the biggest question to ask yourself right now is, in several years from now what will you wish you had done with your time? Do it now. Make these days count toward the future days. Sharpen your personal skills, kick a nasty habit, read a book, study and pray, look out and take care of your neighbor, make your house your home!
An amazing woman named Marjorie Hinckley said, “The only way to get through this life is to laugh your way through. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.” I’ve cried more than I’d like to through this pandemic and I agree with Marjorie Hinckley, crying gives me a headache.
I’ve taken up a challenge to improve my cooking/baking skills. It’s more complicated than I originally thought. I’m not one to follow instruction well. In fact my motto in the kitchen is, “let’s just see what happens”, followed by fire, smoke and an “oh no, that can’t be right”. I’m not talking about your Pinterest recipes either. I’m talking about boxed Mac and cheese. I have a new oven. It’s changed me. I feel that I need to honor it and give it a good life. The other oven was somewhat of a slut and smelled like tomato sauce seared into an over done apple pie. This new oven in different. Loyal. I need to respect this baby.
I wanted to up my game so I started using recipes from scratch. I don’t understand most of the baking lingo. It’s like a foreign language to me. YouTube has become my shadow. Sifting, soften, kneading, beating… come on recipe makers, I don’t know what the crap those things mean when baking! It sounds like I’m reading a romance novel. I had to google every one of those terms. I even moved a tv into the kitchen so I didn’t have to keep taking a timeout to figure out the meaning.
I finally made my first batch of cookies from scratch. It was messy, sticky, and terrifying. But it was better than any store bought cookie I had tasted before. Does everyone know that these homemade foods are this good? I’ve thought about opening a bakery with these cookie skills! Of course I will have to substitute that crisco shortening stuff in all my recipes. I almost used it… almost. Until I saw the warning label on the back in bright red letters. Fire warning. Major fire warning. It even goes into detail on what to do when the stuff sets fire… oh heck no. I catch non flammable stuff on fire, no way I can take a chance on something that requires a warning label.
I’ve read that the energy you use when cooking/baking transfers into the food you are making. I guess that’s why people say, “made with love”. I wanted good energy in my food so I set out on an adventure to dress my body in something that would make me feel the best. I found this 1970s style wedding gown at the local goodwill. I go there and try on the old creepy dresses sometimes. Don’t judge me. You have your hobbies and I have mine. Anyways, this dress has the biggest puff sleeves I’ve ever seen. I felt like a princess. The back wouldn’t zip all the way up which ticked me off. Who the heck in this town is skinnier than me? I love this dang dress so I’ll just have to buy a corset to squeeze my spine into it.
There is nothing better than baking cookies in an old wedding dress. Swishing around like a mad woman, praying the fire department isn’t called later so you don’t have to explain your attire… it’s risky business. These cookies will be made with energy that you’ve never tasted before. Just when I think I’ve found the ultimate happiness I get a random Snapchat from a guy, a selfie. I’m like eh? I don’t have time for this silliness. I can’t respond right now. I don’t even know how to respond. I can’t send you a snap back of what I’m currently wearing, that would send the wrong message.
Since when did we revert back to the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics form of communication anyways? You are much more likely to grab my attention with a phone call. I felt it was safest to ignore. I do have good judgement some of the time. I only use the snap to convert my voice into something hilarious anyways. I may be 31 years old but I laugh everytime my voice and face gets altered by that app. My baking that night was a job well done. I am still munching on the goodness made with that unique energy. I’m planning to bake something similar for the ladies at work, they need a conversion of energy anyways. There’s bad energy “sifting” around. See what I did there 😉
About 8 months ago I felt so overwhelmed with my responsibilities. I felt no matter how hard I swam I couldn’t seem to keep my head above water. Just drowning day after day, working, thinking about work from home, thinking about home from work. An endless cycle of torment. I work out of town, about 45 minutes from my house. When I get in these overwhelming moods I tend to scroll the classified ads and apply for the most ridiculous jobs. I applied to be a chef for nascar… if you’ve seen my kitchen fiascos then you understand what I mean by ridiculous. I also applied for the army, to be an online psychic, and even the coffee queen of another country. Apparently you need a passport for that last one and I didn’t qualify. I always look for the jobs that are impossible to get without an immense amount of experience. It’s like playing the lottery with my career, which is my kind of fun. I scrolled passed an ad one morning for a wound care nurse position closer to home and thought oh wow something realistic that I could actually do to eliminate some of my stress.
I went for an interview and listened to what they were looking for in a wound care nurse. I told them what my current responsibilities were and how I managed things in my current position and watched as their eyes lite up. Hired right on the spot. But something was said that took me back a step, they said I might be bored because it was a smaller facility and they don’t see the kind of wounds I’m used to dealing with. That’s what I was looking for right? A reduction in responsibility so that I could stay afloat. Then why did that seem off to me? I kept those words in my back pocket and talked with my current boss about taking the position closer to home. She told me I could do this if I really wanted to but to take sometime and think about why I started working here in the first place. I don’t know about you but I take all advice seriously.
I went home, pulled out a notebook, and started jotting down what I loved about my job. I began to reminisce about when I was first hired. It was one of those ridiculous jobs I had applied for. I had no experience. I remember bringing up bandaids in my interview like that gave me some sort of wound care expertise. I also remember praying that I would get this job, and bartering with God that if I did then I would stick with it and do the best I could. I thought about how far I have came, the experience I’ve gained, the knowledge that I’ve obtained in my few short years. The only reason I was able to get that light up eye effect from the new job interviewers is because my current job has prepared me for it. They provided training and education, everything I had asked for, a wound care tech, paid conferences, readily available supplies, if I need it then I have no problem getting it. My brother works as a nurse for another facility and he has told me countless times how lucky I am to have the supplies readily available. I didn’t realize that was a privilege. They have to order the cheapest thing available and if they want something expensive it has to be approved and fought for… now isn’t that something. I didn’t know any different, I don’t have to ask my superiors to order supplies. If it’s the best treatment for my patient then that’s what I get. If we can reduce healing time then doesn’t that save money in the long run?
With all these thoughts rolling around in my head I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel and move on to the quiet life. I enjoy the fast pace environment, I enjoy learning new things, and having a facility that will provide me with the things I need to try new treatments. I’m not done growing as a nurse. Something I’ve gained from this experience 8 months ago is to slow down during my grumpy days and change my prayers. Instead of asking God to reduce my responsibilities to meet my abilities, I have started asking God to increase my abilities to meet my responsibilities. I’ve learned that grumpy days are okay, but don’t let those days turn into weeks, or months. Change it. Have fun at work. We spend a big majority of our lives in our careers, make it something you enjoy! As for me I enjoy learning and when I feel I can no longer do that then I’ll pack my bags and move along. By the way if you aren’t familiar with the discovery of penicillin, look it up. By far the coolest thing I’ve learned this week! I want Alexander Fleming’s lab coat. The falls nurse and I have been inspired to create a similar experiment for our skills fair coming up and it is going to be fantastic!
This past month I feel like I’ve been taken to the cleaners. It has me wanting to loop the Dairy Queen Drive thru until I slip into a diabetic coma. I don’t know what God is trying to teach me here lately but I can tell you I don’t want to learn it. I mean I asked for it, I asked for growth and direction in my life. And then I prepared for learning only the lesson feels more like discipline. Maybe those are the same thing, consequences are lessons that grow us into better people right? I don’t know. All I know is I don’t like it. I work hard as an employee, my time at work doesn’t stop when I clock out, I investigate cases outside of work, take phone calls off the clock and come in on a moments notice when help is need. I work hard as a mother, it’s an unappreciated job at times that is 24/7 regardless of whether they are at school, a friends house, or with their dad. I work hard in my relationships with people, I find time that’s not mine to give to you. I carefully word responses and refrain from saying what’s on my mind to spare feelings and save conflict. Maybe that’s not the best approach, I work hard but still need growth.
This past month I have asked for growth. I’ve set goals and made plans to meet them. Every positive has been counteracted with 2 negatives. So as I sit here with my large moolatte and reflect on this past month trying my best not to add my salty tears to this sweetly crafted goodness I see some critical errors I’ve made along the way. I think it’s time I had a crucial conversation with myself.
#1 You don’t give yourself credit for the passion you put into you’re job, and you’re not going to receive that anywhere else. So take a deep breath, hang that lumber jack calendar up, touch you’re salt lamp, and remind yourself why you are doing this. It’s not for praise, it’s not for appreciation, it’s for the patients and you can lay your head down tonight knowing you did everything within your skill and knowledge level to meet their needs. *side note to self, turn to march on the calendar to add some cheer on a gloomy day*
#2. You have been through worse before with the kids. You have been close to rock bottom. You’ve been through the motions. You know you are a good mother, more importantly your children know it. Do not let an outsider have their 60 seconds of condemnation with you. Brush off that ignorance and pay the fine, do the time, and move forward. And your 7 year old is sleeping now so it’s alright if you want to go ahead and shovel what’s left of her fries into your sad tummy. You deserve it mom.
#3. Girl. Even I don’t have anything good to say about this one. What were you thinking?! Being with that guy is like stepping into a revolving door with no exit. You end up in the exact same spot you started every single time. You are a smart woman. You know exactly what you deserve. You know there is no connection and no evolution so what the heck are you doing lady. If I had a ruler right now I’d smack your hand harder than a nun in a catholic school. Save your time for things you want to be doing until the right person who meets your standards in what you’re looking for in a man comes along. Smh. Girl stop acting a fool.
You know… that was a good talk with myself and a nice emotional binge on this Dairy Queen haul. I feel better already. My therapist would be proud.
Pain is something I’m used to. I have to be careful when I sit Indian style, or to be politically correct “criss cross apple sauce”. Which by the way makes no sense because apple sauce can never criss cross. The cold hurts my bones and turns me into a hobbled old lady. I look like I’m auditioning for a role in the walking dead as a zombie. I’ve tried to get it fixed, ortho consults, injections, anti inflammatories, the works. I’ve given up on the dream of being pain free and walking like a runway model, besides I think the gangsta walk suits me better anyhow.
This passed weekend I watched too many hallmark movies and got inspired to clean my attic out, pull my Christmas decor down, and bake a pie. The pie part was challenging, I had to watch a YouTube video with my daughter on how to beat an egg and then we didn’t know what to do with it… the can didn’t say if we should mix it in the filling or where to put it so I had to contact an expert. My older brother Jo Jo. He has always been the baker/cook of the family and for Christmas one year he surprised me with a ton of cooking stuff I’ve never used until now.
A little too late, might I add. We already screwed up the pie and racked it up on our list of Pinterest fails. We like failure around here, it’s educational. The kiddos went off to their dads as usual on the weekend and I decided I’d get in the attic to try part 2 of my hallmark inspired weekend plans. I forgot my sister had a ton of stuff piled away since she is in the army and needs a place to keep her memories safe. Naturally I went through all her things like any good sister would.
After neatly organizing everything into clear totes, I started my ascend to the attic with the remains of my sisters youth. It was heavy. Too heavy. I got halfway up the ladder and gave the big tote a big push and whoosh, my shoulder felt like the devil being soaked in holy water! I dropped the nonsense memorabilia and laid against the wall pretending I didn’t just screw my shoulder up. The pain didn’t stopped, not after ice, not after nsaids and rest and praying. Crikey. Now I’m really in trouble with myself. I am a worker. I don’t simply watch a movie, or sit still for anything. I always have my hands going, knitting, crafting, writing, ect.
I decided to show my wound some attention when I realized I couldn’t hold my coffee mug and brush my hair without a stabbing pain. So I went to the dreaded doctor, actually I love my doctor but I hate going. It’s only torn, no break 🙌🏼 ! They said to take the rest of the week off and no lifting but that’s just a guideline… like stuff they have to say when you’re a patient so, I hid the note and went back to work the next day looking like the hunchback of notre dame with ice packs shoved in my scrub top. I’ve mastered the art of looking fine when I’m in pain for years so the next couple or weeks should be cake, fingers crossed.
Being home from work was too boring. I didn’t have anything to do while the girls were in school and I imagined spending sick days being productive, like laying on the couch with the flu while crocheting a blanket and folding laundry here and there but none of that happened. I grazed through the things I pulled down from the attic, reminiscing through memories of my dad. He’d probably make me a peanut butter sandwich if he were here. He always did that when I was out of commission. I remember crying in front of the fridge once in my wheelchair days because I couldn’t reach the milk and felt helpless. He saw me from his office and came to the rescue as always. I miss that old man. I was able to visit a piece of his life over the weekend.
I’ll be revisiting most of his treasures for the next few weeks as I’m not able to get them back in the attic so if I seem suspicious for the next little while it’s because I’m learning secret trades from an old crook hahaha. Talley ho!
I’ve heard that death is as easy as walking into another room. That there is a veil between this mortality and immortality. There is a sacred symbolic meaning behind the veil, it can mean obedience, modesty, concealing, humility or all of the above. I want to share the oddest dream I had the other night that changed the way I viewed the veils of our mortality.
I dreamt I was walking into work. It was quiet which is unusual for a nursing facility, there were no other employees, no call lights ringing off, and every patients room had a white veil hanging on the entrance to the doorway. In most of my dreams I can not talk, rather I feel what’s happening. I felt at peace in this one and continued to prepare myself to treat my patients. I approached a doorway and felt a voice ask me who I was. I’d describe it as a telepathic conversation as my mouth never opened but I answered with, “I am Annabelle”. The voice responded with the same question, “Who are you?” After a revolving Q&A with the same results I finally took a step back and thought there is a patient in there who needs my help and I am a nurse. The mystery voice said, “You May enter”. I stepped through the veil and only found the patient inside, no security guard at the door… it was odd but I didn’t question it. The patient was angry at me, he was asking why I took so long and why I hadn’t come to see him sooner. I wanted to respond with, “my child was sick and I’ve had a stomach ulcer so I’ve been out of work” but the voice in my head said again, even louder this time, “WHO ARE YOU?!”. I answered silently, “I am a nurse”. I felt a change internally, the stressors that control my time outside of that room quickly dissipated. I was no longer a woman who had only 4 hours of sleep, a sick child, a crippling stomach ulcer, or a single mom with bills racking up. That woman was not permitted into this room, only the nurse in me was extended an invitation. My response to the patient changed to, “I apologize for my absence but I am here now, how can I help?” The angry mood shifted as the patient allowed me to treat his wounds. I finished up and stepped back through the veil. As I entered the hallway I was Annabelle again, I was a mom, a painter, an adventurer, and a nurse all in one. But each time I approached the door to another room the same question was asked before entry was granted, “Who are you?”.
As I woke up I started pondering the dream with the veils. I thought about all the doors I walk through each day and the person in me who was permitted on the other side. When I come home am I bringing the stressors of work with me? Or am I stopping at the door and asking myself who am I with the response, “I am a mom”? Am I doing the same at work? It’s an interesting concept when I sit back and think about all the mortal doorways we each have in our own lives, with that invisible veil that only allows a part of us to enter. What have you come to that doorway to do? If it’s to give excuses when you get to the other side then take a step back and remind yourself who you are before you cross.
When I walked into work yesterday I couldn’t get the image of the veils out of my head. I believe the dream came about to remind me of who I needed to be in that room, and who I needed to be at home because I couldn’t be both. The hard days I have at work do not belong in my home with my children and the hard days I have with my family at home do not belong in the room with my patients. I thought to myself yesterday before I entered each room, “Who are you?” and that changed my entire day.
I listened to Jeffrey R. Holland’s “Are we not all beggars?” a dozen times this morning. If this message doesn’t strike true with you in the nursing field, you’re doing it wrong. His talk isn’t about nursing, it’s about poverty and caring for those in need. I still see it in the nursing aspect. Of course. Homeless, HIV, immigrant, poor, kind, bitter… it doesn’t matter. I will care for you regardless. I want to share a paragraph from this talk to put into perspective my feelings on the topic: “For one thing, we can, as King Benjamin taught, cease withholding our means because we see the poor as having brought their misery upon themselves. Perhaps some have created their own difficulties, but don’t the rest of us do exactly the same thing? Isn’t that why this compassionate ruler asks, “Are we not all beggars?” Don’t we all cry out for help and hope and answers to prayers? Don’t we all beg for forgiveness for mistakes we have made and troubles we have caused? Don’t we all implore that grace will compensate for our weaknesses, that mercy will triumph over justice at least in our case? Little wonder that King Benjamin says we obtain a remission of our sins by pleading to God, who compassionately responds, but we retain remission of our sins by compassionately responding to the poor who plead to us.” -Jeffrey R. Holland
This is such a powerful paragraph. How many times do we look at someone in need and say, “I’m not helping them, they brought this upon themselves”. If that is the answer The Lord gives to you when you go to him with your own personal troubles the tables would be turned wouldn’t they be? But it’s not. It’s not the answer we give to our own children when they come to us with a mistake or misfortune either. We seek out ways to help them recover, to make changes. In nursing it’s the same way. Maybe you have eaten yourself into a diabetic coma, you’ve been shooting up and have an infection in your heart, you could’ve damaged your vital organs with an unhealthy lifestyle, whatever the case we do not turn you away at the door because you’ve brought these problems on yourself. We take you in with open arms and care for you regardless of whether you continue with your current habits or have a remorseful heart. We educate and let the choice of change lie in your hands, this is your chance to make that change, we cannot do it for you but we will care for you in your time of need!
How different would our lives be if we lived by these words? How different would the lives of others be? I sometimes look at the dilemma of poverty in the world and think, “I can’t fix all of this, I don’t have enough to fix all of this?!” But then something happens, when I am in a position to help another and I think, “I can’t save them all but I can save THIS ONE”. Remember my post from yesterday about how conquering multiple small things will cross off the big things? This is it. That small act of kindness will cross off a big thing in someone else’s life. I encourage whoever is reading this to be charitable in the lives around you, even if they have brought their difficulties on themselves, haven’t we all? Thanks for coming to my ted talk 😉
I’ve always been a lover of broken things. I could enter a store and see all of these perfect pieces and the one thing I’m drawn to is the only thing tarnished, broken, unique. Sometimes I try to fix it or keep it just the way it is admiring the beauty of the imperfections. I think we spend too much time looking for the perfect thing, place, person, life… when life is perfect imperfect. Maybe the obsession with that picture perfect life is an association with cleanliness. When I think perfect I think clean. Clean is peaceful. Broken things can be clean.
I haven’t posted in my blog for almost a week. My goal was to do daily updates, but this past week I have made a dozen drafts and withheld publishing any of them. I’m saving them for later. I think one of the most helpful things to do in times of trial is to write them down, get it out on paper or type it out, as long as it is out of you. Removing that energy you want to rid yourself of.
This past week I took some time to myself to try to alleviate a decision I’ve made. I know it’s the right decision but it doesn’t make it any easier. I took a spontaneous trip to the middle of no where to visit with nature, old cars, good people and creepy baby dolls. It’s called old car city in Georgia. When I saw pictures online I imagined this place being packed with people and hoped I’d make it early enough to have some space to myself. I stayed most of the day and to my surprise the place was desolate. Imagine taking a trip to an abandon amusement park and having the place to yourself, that’s what this paradise was like. I shared the wooded area with only the creatures within, saw squirrels and a deer between the haunted vehicles. The untouched cars had trees growing inside of them along with the debris of the forest. It was incredible!
My sister flew home over the weekend for a final visit before she deploys. She is soaking up every minute with my girls and spending the days with my mom, siblings, and friends while she is home. We went to the pumpkin patch on opening day and played on all the attractions like little kids, went on a hayride to retrieve our pumpkins, roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over a bon fire before getting lost in a corn maze at night. I felt like I was on vacation as well. I’m working towards a schedule that will allow me to have more time home with my family. Time is important to me and spending it slaving the days away from my littles isn’t optimal. I miss this. Sometimes when I sit back and take a good long hard breath and look at the bigger picture I feel the best part of me is not being projected in the right places. I’m going to change that.
One of my favorite quotes is from Dieter F. Uchtdorf, he says, “We would do well to slow down a little focus on the significant & truly see the things that matter most”. I believe that. If we stay so busy that we miss those significant things in our lives then we are far busier than God intended us to be. I was able to accomplish several things I put off for months in one extended weekend I took off work. The dresser I rescued months ago has a new life now, my daughter has a new hair cut, my house is feeling more like home again and my time with my girls feels renewed.
I felt guilty for wanting time for myself this week. I spent the first few days worrying about all the people who would be upset of my absence. But the more time I had to reflect on things I realized I wasn’t just wanting time for myself but I needed it! There is nothing more important than self care, if you don’t take time to care for yourself you CANNOT care for others. I am blessed to have people in my life that respect that and allowed me this peaceful break! You all rock 😉
If you’ve ever seen the vampire diaries you know these vampires have an extreme heighten sense of emotions, they feel everything on another spectrum. They also have the ability to shut that off. It’s like a switch they hit and it’s incredibly hard to turn that back on. People in the medical field do something similar. They call it compartmentalizing.
Have you ever witnessed something so traumatic that it breaks you? Maybe you’ve watched a loved one die, found yourself at the scene of a car crash, saw an accident happen before your very eyes… the emotional claim it has on you breaks your soul in two. Nurses experience these kind of things regularly. You don’t see it on their face at the time because we compartmentalize these things so that we can continue to care for those still living.
I was rude to someone this weekend after they had experienced an unexpected trauma. I wasn’t very empathetic because I have been doing this for so long and have forgotten what that fresh nursing experience is like. You know the old saying, ‘nurses eat their young’? I vowed when I became a nurse not to be like that. I wanted to be someone you could come to and learn from without the bite that comes with it. Whether you are new or old to the medical profession, you are going to experience shock, pain, and heartbreak. We become conditioned to these things and shut it off. We flip our switches and continue to care for the next one.
To the newbies we may seem heartless after a failed code. I know that look you just gave us as we continue to eat our lunch and check in meds… all while you sit in silence with your heated cheeks and flooded eyes. I know what you are thinking… that we are all stone faced with paralyzed hearts. I promise you we feel it. We feel it when we go to lay our heads on our pillows at night, replaying the entire code in slow motion, second guessing every move we made, retracing the steps back and wondering if there was anything different we could have done. We feel it in our dreams as the nightmares fill our minds with the last agonizing breath that was let out. We feel it as we shower in the morning, we feel it every time we hear the tone of the overhead page, every time someone says our name a certain way, every time we slip our scrubs on. We feel it. But right now, right this minute, as we work we cannot feel it. You HAVE to learn to shut that switch off. You cannot freeze up and cry in that room, they need you. Everything you have ever learned, this is it. Shut that switch off and act fast now, cry later. We cannot carry the weight around with us as we continue to work and care for the living. Right now we have to put on a smile and walk to the next room and continue on. They need us.
You can always tell the old from the new in this way. You come to trust each other and have unspoken communication. The trauma is not held on their face but you can see it in their eyes. We almost become telepathic. We could be in the same room as another nurse and say something without saying it at all. It’s like a superpower.
Our CNAs are one of the most important parts of what we do. There is one in particular that I would trust with my own life. She works the night shift, her name is Haley. Now Haley is soft spoken, at least to me. I nominate her every year for CNA of the year (probably not supposed to say that aloud but it’s my blog so I’ll do what I want). Haley has this gift I was just speaking about. She does her job without complaining, she shows up and works hard. I could tell her there’s a disaster in a room that needs attention and she doesn’t let out a groan, she just smiles and says, ‘I’ll take care of it’. Now I know I’m the wound care nurse but more often than I’d like I get put on a med cart. One morning I was coming in to start my shift and Haley comes out of a room with this face that we all recognize as the stone face (means she a veteran) and says the words no nurse wants to hear, ‘there’s something wrong with this patient but I can’t put my finger on it’. That one phrase can make any nurse cringe, it’s a enchantment for disaster… almost as if speaking the words “quiet” or “good day”. I may not speak to Haley on a regular basis or anything but I trust her, I have seen her work and she has earned that trust. Within 2 minutes we are calling a code blue for said patient, Haley saved this patients life. And afterwards, through the chaos and paperwork, I looked to check in on her and she was tending to the next patient. Continuing onward with a smile on her face. That is what these patients need. They need people who can continue to care for them even after the trauma next door.
So I know that I may seem like I wear the name badge ‘Tinman’, but I feel it too. And I’m sorry for not being more empathetic, I sometimes forget I was new once as well. I hope you continue on and create your own coping mechanisms so that you can continue to care for those that live on.