Burned out nurse

I’ve been a nurse since 1999. Before that, I was a nurse’s aide from high school graduation until college graduation. I have no other marketable skills. My entire adult life has been healthcare. Even my husband is in the medical field. I love being a nurse. It’s the only thing I ever really wanted to be, other than the six months or so I wanted to be a super spy. Gimme a break, I think I was ten and had seen a really cool movie or something. My point is, this is all I know and all I want to know.

Now comes the confession. I’m not currently working. Yeah yeah, life came up. We moved. The kids are in private school and there aren’t any buses so I have to pick them up. Nursing isn’t a 9-5 job and my husband’s job is demanding. Somebody has to take care of the kids. Truth? I got really burned out. Like, dreaded the job burned out.

It wasn’t taking care of people. I’ll always love that. That is hard, but it’s what I signed up for. No, I’m talking about becoming an administrative nurse. Sitting behind a computer, dealing with schedules, family members, corporate offices and government regulatory agencies. That is what I’ve done the last several years of my career. That is what burned me out. That’s not what I went to school for. That’s what sucked the joy out of my job.

We need those kinds of nurses. And I believe with everything in me that we need nurses in those positions that have “been there, done that.” I don’t think we need nurses that graduate and move right on in as administrative nurses. I think you should have experience in the trenches first. But, I think maybe I’m not meant for that type work. Yeah, it’s cool being the boss. It’s nifty having a desk to put your family photos on. It’s pretty darn swell to not wear someone else’s body fluids.

It’s also so rewarding to hold someone’s hand when they’re scared. You feel like a rock star when you can help someone get their pain under control. And don’t even get me started on all the feelings when you’re in a code, and you get that person back!

I guess, all this to say, maybe it’s time to get back to the basics of just being a nurse. I miss that part so much. New Year, no excuses. I’ll be finding my joy again. What have you been putting off?

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I’m just not there yet

I was at my in-laws for Christmas eve and had the chance to visit with my sister-in-law. It was nice since they moved and I only see them about once a year. It was a brief conversation since my kids and her grandkids were itching to get into the presents. The conversation started something like this:

Her: “I like your hair color.”

Me: “Oh thanks but the greys are showing again so it’s time to make another hair appointment.”

Her: “You know, I’ve decided to quit dying mine and just let the grey come in on it’s own.”

Me: “I think that’s great but I’m just not ready to do that yet. I’m not ready to have grey hair.”

You see, I’ll be 40 this year. Like next month. And I’m not taking it well. At all. I always thought I would. I’ve worked around elderly people since I was 18. I’ve never seen 40 as old. Not like the 80+ or even 90+ year olds I’m around all the time. For years I was fearless about 40. And then I hit 38 and it became inevitable instead of a far in the future thought. Then I turned 39 and I was ready to get off this rather rude roller coaster. Now, a month away from the big 4-0, I’m a mess. Like I may or may not cry when I think about it.

I’m not old. I know I’m not. I don’t have a head full of grey hairs. I’ve got, like, 23, tops. But still. Grey hair! And really it’s not just the hair. It’s the actual number. Twenty was cool. I was an adult, not a teenager. Thirty was nice. It was like being a real grown up. Forty? What do I do with that? Do I trade my black leather pants for mom jeans? Swap the black nail polish for soft pastel pink? I really just don’t know.

I don’t want to be one of those women you see and feel sorry for. You know what I’m talking about. The women that try too hard and you want to smack her and tell her to act her age. But the thing is, I don’t feel like I thought a forty year old woman would feel like. I figured at forty I’d understand the stock market, geometry and my car insurance policy. But I don’t. I still feel like a kid around my parents. I still feel like goofing off with my husband on date night. I still feel like wearing trendy clothes.

Maybe that woman doesn’t deserve to be smacked after all. Maybe she deserves a pat on the back for being herself. Maybe it’s ok that my oldest childhood friend is loving forty and I’m just not there yet. Maybe it’s ok if I’m not ready to have grey hair yet. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get electric blue highlights in my hair and be “that” woman people talk about. I’ll get there eventually and I’m sure I’ll love it. But I’m just not there yet, and that’s ok.

Cleanliness is next to…

We’ve all heard that expression: Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Seriously. Who made that up? So, here’s my take on cleanliness.

It’s January 3rd. My Christmas decorations got tucked safely back in the attic yesterday. Today is trash day, so the tree got lovingly wrapped up and taken outside. The water and pine needles have been cleaned from the floors. Basically, I’ve spent the last 2 days cleaning, cleaning and cleaning. I must get this done now! The house must be spotless! Why is no one else having a manic episode like me? The kids go back to school next week, so the house has to be done before then. They should be up cleaning just as frantically as I have been. Why are they reading the books they got for Christmas, playing video games and doing crafts? There’s plenty of time for that stuff later. Wait. What? Later. This is my forehead slapping moment.

I’m not going to get all cliche and say we aren’t promised later. I’m going to keep things simple. One word. Priorities. My girls. The youngest. The last 2 still at home. One is a teenager. The other is a tweenager. How many more Christmas breaks will they be home?

I’m reminded of a funeral I went to. It’s not weird. I’ve been to a lot through the years as both a hospice nurse and a long-term care nurse. Anyway, the woman’s kids got up and spoke about her. They told stories and shared memories. Not one kid talked about how immaculate she kept her house, though I’m sure she was a good housekeeper. Not one kid talked about how she fixed them 5 star meals every night, though I’m sure she was a good cook. Her grown children talked about how she built forts with them, read stories to them and came to games, recitals and concerts. She was there for dates and driving tests. She was engaged in their lives. This sweet lady realized the importance of priorities. Her kids were first.

I saw a one act skit years ago. It was Martha (the one from the bible) being frustrated. She was up, doing all the cooking, cleaning and washing while Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to His teachings. Martha was frustrated with Mary and Jesus. Why wouldn’t Mary help? Why wouldn’t Jesus reprimand Mary for her laziness? The skit went on with Martha learning that what Jesus wanted from her was, well, her. Again, priorities.

Now I’m not saying to never cook, clean or do laundry because…yuck. But, maybe it can wait until after we play that board game or talk about the book we’re super into, or even after the family walk.

Don’t Judge A Book And All That

*Names have been changed for privacy*

I was working in a locked Alzheimer’s facility. I had a fairly new resident that was very difficult. She threw herself in the floor, beat up the staff and refused food and medication. One day, a couple hours into my shift, my nurse aides came and told me Sally was in the floor again. I went to do my assessment and ensure Sally wasn’t injured. As I was crouched down, Sally looked at me and said, “That’s a nice watch. You should take it off cause I’m gonna hurt you.”

Long story short, Sally wound up in a mental facility for a couple weeks. She came back a completely different person. She became one of my favorite residents ever. You see, Sally had lost her husband. She found new love in a support group, and, on the eve of her wedding, her fiance passed away. I believe she also lost a child during all that as well. You see, Sally wasn’t really a bad person, she just had more than she could handle. If I had judged Sally just on what I saw initially, I would’ve missed a truly beautiful person.

I think we do that a lot. All black clothing, tattoos and piercings are bad. They spell trouble. Pastels, khakis and penny loafers (are those even still a thing?) are good. They spell responsibility. This has always been a sore subject for me. Why do we do this?

I think it boils down to something very simple, something we teach our kids at a very early age. Treat others the way you would want to be treated. In other words, if you don’t want to be judged, don’t judge others.

So I guess, treating others how you want to be treated goes hand-in-hand with judging a book by its cover. What I put on the outside is not a total representation of what’s going on inside. My Doc Marten combat boots are just one chapter of me. My Prada (I don’t really have Prada heels) heels are another chapter. Read the whole book, or get to know who I am before you decide if you like me or not.

Resolving to be Accepting

Ah, New Year’s Day. Welcome 2018. I’m sitting here this chilly morning (And yes, 18 degrees in Texas is catastrophic) having some coffee and enjoying the quiet. As my family sleeps, I started thinking about New Year’s resolutions. I’ve never been big on making them. It seems they get broken so easily. If I really want to change something or do something different, I just need to do it. I don’t need some big moment in time to say I’m making this change.

But, I digress. I was thinking about resolutions. People make all kinds; lose weight, get fit, save money, get out of debt, be a better friend, make career changes, blah, blah, blah. I could go on. I’m not making fun of people that make resolutions, I’m just saying that it’s never appealed to me. This past year, like so many others, has been filled with good, bad, and indifferent. I’ve had wins and losses. I’ve been happy and sad. I’ve been angry. Angry. I’ve been angry.

I’ve had times when I’ve been so angry about things. I remember talking to my husband about these things that made me so angry and fully expecting him to be on my team. He should, as my husband, be just as angry as me. I’m sure it’s in the marriage vows somewhere. He would calmly ask me how this thing affects my life. He would tell me that “I don’t have a pony in that race.” In other words, he wasn’t angry and was trying to use logic to explain why I need to calm down. The nerve!

So, true confession time, I might be a bit of a control freak. I might be just a smidge stubborn and when things happen that I can’t control, I may have a touch of temper. I know this about me. I also know if can be a great asset and also a huge hindrance.

So maybe, just maybe, this year I’ll make a New Year’s resolution. I can resolve to let things go. I can choose to accept that I can’t control everything and that’s ok. I can let go and let God. This year, 2018, I will resolve to be Accepting.

My gift is what now?

Spiritual gifts, we all have them. Sometimes, though, it takes time to discover what your gifts are. There are all sorts of spiritual gifts, but I’m really not an expert. This story is just telling you about my gift.

When I was a teenager, I remember talking about spiritual gifts in my youth group and being so excited to discover what my gift was. It seemed like all around me, my peers were discovering their own gifts. The gift of song, really cool. The gift of leadership, awesome. The gift of discernment, wonderful. But, what was my gift? I couldn’t figure it out.

Fast forward a few years. I was in my senior year of high school. It was a wonderful and difficult year all at the same time. I was taking a health occupations class and really felt a calling to nursing. I’d felt this my whole life, but this was the first time I really thought about it as a way to support myself. Through some amazing people and events (I’ll spare you those details), I decided I would go into nursing.

During the course of my adventures into the world of nursing, I realized my spiritual gift…And was thoroughly disappointed. I had the the gift of service. I was a servant! All I could think was, “Can I get a return or exchange on this thing?” “This doesn’t fit me at all.” I thought, surely I was meant for something more glamorous, or at least not so lame.

Over the next few years, I fought the gift. I put it in a box, in the attic and ignored it. Do you know what happens when you ignore a gift from God? Let’s just say nothing good happens. You can’t be blessed or fulfilled. One day, as I was working as a hospice nurse, I was caught by a coworker singing hymns to my actively dying patient. She asked why. “Because it helps her,” was my only answer. I was then asked why I clean the bodies after death instead of letting the nurse aides do it. “It’s the last thing I can do for them,” was how I responded.

My coworker said some sweet things to me and then went on her way. It was then I heard this tiny voice telling me those were the actions of a person with a servant’s heart. That was my lightbulb moment. I hadn’t left my gift in a box. I embraced it and used it everyday! And what’s more, I liked being a servant. I was good at it. It really meant something to me, but more importantly, to the people I came in contact with.

So now I say with pride, I am a servant. Again, I’m not an expert on spiritual gifts. Heck, I had to be beat over the head when it came to my gift. But I have learned a few things. One, everyone has a spiritual gift. Two, your gift is nonrefundable and not transferable. And three, your gift exactly perfect for you.

Putting yourself out there

So I’ve started a blog. So I’ve started posting more on social media. So that’s really terrifying. Let me explain.

I’ve been feeling an urge to write, to give voice to my opinions and to put it out there for others to read. This feeling not only hasn’t gone away, but it’s gotten stronger. So, I took the plunge. I started a blog. I started posting and I felt pretty proud. I even got bold enough to make some comments on social media. That’s when things started getting dicey.

I took two of my children to see a movie. We loved it! In fact, I loved it so much, I decided to comment on the trailer that popped up on my Facebook news feed. I got a nice comment, then a couple not so nice comments, then a really ugly comment. Yikes! I was just talking about how much I liked a movie.

I began to doubt myself. “Should I delete my comment?” “Should I respond to the mean comments?” So many other things went through my head. Then I saw it. I had over a hundred likes and little heart responses! I realized I needed a thicker skin. People aren’t always going to agree with what I say. Not everyone is going to think I’m brilliant and witty. I simply need to be truthful and kind and forge on ahead.

Then my blog. I made a post and felt pretty good about it. Then…Oh My Word! People I know ‘in real life’ read it. The ugly doubts came up. “Should I delete this?” “Is it too personal?” “Did I say anything inappropriate?” But guess what? People liked it. They wrote really sweet feedback. I could do this. I should do this. Heck, I am doing this.

All of these things happened yesterday, in the course of about two hours y’all. Seeing this happen, doubting myself and getting over it, all in a couple hours. I felt like a crazy person. But I’m a crazy person that’s taking a chance on something that I feel passionate about doing. I putting myself out there…But with a thicker skin.