Can you overcome the cardinal sin of speaking up for yourself?

“If you aren’t failing every now & again.  It’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.”   However, I have been paralyzed in a state of fear this past month.  Fear of making the wrong decision.  Fear of going back to work.  Fear of traveling for my job.  Fear that I made the wrong choice in deciding to pursue my goal of travel nursing.

As a full time staff nurse & as a travel nurse, I very rarely got into trouble.   However the expectations of a travel nurse are different.   Every nurse on the planet has had a confrontation with a patient or family member.  Yet as a travel nurse those are grounds for dismissal.  Staff treating you poorly & actively participating in hazing -you are suppose to smile, accept your shitty assignments, accept the crappy treatment, and be thankful you are working in this hell.   You are expected to put up with obnoxious, rude behavior from patients, family members, or staff.  And the ultimate cardinal sin is speaking up for yourself & protecting your own license.

Fear these past few weeks have consumed me because I committed the ultimate cardinal sin.   My assignment ended early because I am not into being abused by patients & apparently speaking up for yourself is a bad thing.   I don’t regret that decision.  I will always stand up for myself.  Are there lessons I can take away from this situation? Absolutely.  For now, I don’t wanna work nor bang on the drum all day.   Unless it was pressing, I have stayed home in my pajamas, slept, & hid from making a decision.  I also have joked about being a kept woman at home but you need a man for that first.  Clinically I am strong & always believe I have room for improvement.  I am compassionate & firm.  And I actually give a damn about my patients.  I want to know their stories.  Sometimes time and acuity doesn’t allow for that but I try.  I am not perfect, sorry, I am just a human being who like everyone else in the world.  However, why should I continue to give my best when it seems those things don’t matter.  It seems as though keeping your head down, making sure your are popular, & improving profit margins are all that matter.

Honestly, I could have been placed at another facility weeks ago but just have enjoyed being home with my family & friends.  I could have accepted a position an hour away but in my heart it just didn’t feel right.  And apparently close to home, I am overqualified for many full time positions and various nurse managers feel like I would be bored working for their facility.  Sometimes you can’t win.

How do you continue on a journey when you have been kicked multiple times?  How do you continue to believe in doing the right thing when it gets you in trouble?   I am a God fearing woman so I believe in grace, forgiveness, & trying not to live your life in fear.  God doesn’t let you suffer without a purpose.  I am trying to walk in the light of forgiveness & grace.  But sometimes it is hard.  The bumps, bruises, and cuts hurt especially when you know you have been done wrong & those who know you, work beside you, and support you also know you have been done dirty.

A full time position at home doesn’t look like it is going to pan out.  Traveling looks like it will be a necessary evil.  Yet, I am so scared to drive thousands of miles only from home to have to work in unsafe conditions, endure nurse on nurse hazing, not be supported by hospital administration, &/or have my work cancelled early because people want to lie and take pride in getting others to quit or have their contract terminated early.  Life is a journey & perhaps my friend is right.  “The trials you are going through right now aren’t even about you. They are to help someone in life.

They are a testimony to something far greater than you imagined.”   I hope he is right.   Now, if only I could look into a crystal ball & see what the future holds.

Sidenote of topic:  Let me clarify something.  I absolutely love what I do.  Healthcare is one of the few professions that rewards you in so many ways.  It teaches you something new medically & personally everyday.   However, in my opinion patient satisfaction scores has undermined healthcare professionals & is attempting to turn hospitals into hotels with trained people for your illnesses.  Where are the protections for healthcare providers?  I have been physically assaulted (punched, kicked, shoved, slapped), verbally threatened, called racial slurs, sexually harassed, & lied on.  I have endure nurse on nurse hazing. Worked with patient ratios that could have ended badly. And failed to be supported by hospital administrators or managers because patient satisfaction scores matter & everyone wants to make money.  I want to help people.  I want to touch lives & save lives.  But I will not endure working in an environment where I am not protected.  Perhaps wanting basic human rights is too much.

But if the bright lights don’t receive you

Feeling like a failure makes it hard to come out & tell people that you are back home earlier than expected.  Yes, I want to see the people that I love but when you are home early because of reasons that can’t really be explained – you just don’t feel like facing the ones you love.  Sacrificed in the name of patient satisfaction.  And in one moment you feel like the Matchbox Twenty lyrics: “But if the bright lights don’t receive you, you should turn yourself around and come on home.”

*sigh*  One year ago I made a decision to accomplish a goal; I decided to leave my full time job to become a traveling healthcare provider.  Morale was low at my old job so it was the perfect opportunity to see what the world had to offer.  I stepped out on faith & worked my first assignment.  Things were great.  My next assignment was absolutely horrible.  The next assignment was like returning back to an old lover & then I did it again.  I was living in a new city, experiencing new things, and learning about different ways of thinking.

Becoming a traveling professional has had it’s share of peaks and valleys.  I got to live in Texas & California.  I learned how to adapt to living in two vastly different areas.  I got to check off a few bucket list items – drive across the country & see the Pacific Ocean just to name two.  I have seen mountains, desert, & oceans.   I have had the opportunity to see how different life can be from one place to the next.   And the icing on the cake was meeting some amazing people some of which have become great friends & family.  However, this adventure has also had my integrity called into question, lost of money due to cancelled contracts, & made me question my own sanity in pursing this crazy dream of mine.

I learned that I am smarter, stronger, braver, & more resilient than I ever imagined about myself. Living the life of a gypsy has given me the ability to adapt more than I would have given myself credit for being able to do.   I learned maybe the big city isn’t exactly where I want to be.  But I also learned the country isn’t exactly where I want to be either.  Give me city with a suburban feel.    Valley of this adventure includes losing your job before the end of your contract which leaves you with money you didn’t expect to spend.  Losing out on time with family and friends.   Learning a new area only to have to leave in 13 – 26 months then having to leave and relearn an entirely new place.  Crying yourself to sleep because you are stressed & alone.  Starting relationships & losing relationships.  And honestly I wouldn’t have made it through this journey without the support of so many people through modern technology.
So, what is missing in my life?   The answer is stability.  Being a travel healthcare worker is amazing but the uncertainty between jobs is stressful.  I miss the decor and furniture I picked out for my place (it took me years to pick out each and every piece for my home).  I miss having a place of my own.  I miss my friends & family.  The freedom to design your own life is fabulous. There is money to be made if you take the gamble but do realize sometimes you bust.

The stress of having to find a new position every 3 months is exhausting.   I achieved a dream & am able to check off several items on my bucket list.  However I think I am craving stability.  The ability to have continual health insurance.  The ability to earn PTO, retirement benefits, & a stable income.  Having a home to go to that is truly mine.

My dilemma is I am not overly excited about working for any of the hospitals in my hometown. So, what is the solution?  Honestly, I have no idea.  I am trying to be silent and wait for clarity.  I ask God for direction but at the moment there is no answer.  Perhaps I am giving up to early in my traveling career.  I know that nothing is certain however I am tired of the constant uncertainty with my new adventure.  In this moment, the only thing I am certain of is that is amazing to be in my own bed.  It is wonderful to see the things I worked hard to buy.  It is comforting to see the faces of those who love me & I love.   And for right now that is enough for me.

Death is a part of life

Hi

“Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.” 

Television shows are a lot different than the reality faced by millions of healthcare workers across the country everyday. Do we have moments that are so surreal you do a double take and think what the fuck?  Absolutely.  Do we see miracles occur? You bet we do.  Are we honored to stand next to people and assist them during their hours of need?  Yes, we do.   We love to share the moments that make us laugh.  We love to share the moments that are super gross.   We love to share the moments that are absolute chaos.   However, many of us shut down when it comes to speaking about the moments that leave us emotionally drained.  We try to forget about the moments that leave us breathless, heartbroken, devastated, and/or questioning why we do what we do.

My specialty is critical care.   Critical care has allowed me the opportunity to see people at their most vulnerable not only recover, but prove miracles happen everyday.  Sadly,  I have also witnessed my fair share of people cross over from this life to the next.  Preventing, witnessing, and fighting with death is what we do.   Sorry the RN doesn’t stand for refreshment and narcotics.  Nor are we waitresses.  We work to save lives.  And death is that annoying family member that shows up at 2 am causing all sorts of drama and commotion.    Death doesn’t care about your economic status, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, age, height, weight, or looks.  Death is an equal opportunity taker.

The process of watching an individual die, whether quickly or slowly, is something few people ever witness.  Sometimes the process can be etched into your mind so strongly you can recall the events, names, and people who were there like it was yesterday.   You see the look of utter shock and grief flash across their face.  You know they are going to ask you the same questions again and it is okay.  You try to block out the cries.  You try to encourage them to share memories of this person and encourage them to lean on each other for support.   You feel terrible to have to ask them – what funeral home would you like to send their body?   You give them time and then sometimes you have to wrap their bodies and send them down to the morgue, if a funeral home isn’t selected as of yet.   And even after years of doing this job, the process is difficult.  The process hits you at the core & all you can do is emotionally let go.

The past few weeks has been emotionally overwhelming for me.   I rarely have had to call an medical emergency/cardiac arrest (code), yet in the past couple of weeks – I have had to call two and in the end neither patient survived their injuries.  And I watched one lady slip away as her brain swelling couldn’t be stopped.   All three cases stick with me.  However I will share two out of the three stories because I think sometimes people need a look at the harsh parts of what we do.

The lady who slipped away from life due to brain swelling was hard.  It is hard to watch someone neurologically decline.  It is even harder to look at the person who has loved her for 56 years, watch her die.  He told me wonderful stories about the woman he loved.  He called her the boss and respected how she raised their family and supported him while he provided financially for the family.   He wanted her to recover.  He said he would be lost without her.  He said how much he loved that woman.  He gently stroked her hair and kissed her forehead while reminding her constantly.  “Baby, I am right here.  I haven’t left your side.”  He looked at me and asked would she be returning home to him.  I gave my PC answer – “the next 24-72 hours are the most critical.  We will have to wait and see.”  I didn’t have the heart to look him in the eyes and say you won’t be bringing home your wife, lover, best friend and mother of your children.   You won’t be holding her hand or kissing her again.    I am grateful I didn’t have to see her die with him by her side.  My heart would have broken for him.  And the days ahead that no words would be able to soothe or heal.   The pain that no one would understand because his life partner was no longer standing by his side.

Death doesn’t discriminate & it took a woman in her 20’s like a thief in the night.  I can remember wanting the physician to see her as soon as possible because I didn’t like anything I heard.   The physician was busy and said when they got a moment they would be around.  Pt wasn’t breathing the best and we had some conversations about comfort and not wanting to remain this way if nothing could be done.   Got her breathing treatments going and he O2 sats started picking up and she was sleeping soundly.  The physician peaked in and saw everything improving and basically said if you need something call but she will be fine.  I didn’t feel comfortable but I started to think maybe I am just paranoid.  I kept calling doing labs, listening to her breath sounds, monitoring everything looking for signs, and some things were improving.  She was comfortable and still resting in no distress.    An hour before shift change, I was outside her door and heard her let out a yell.  I went inside.  She looked at me and said “I can’t breath.” Told respiratory to get an ABG stat while I called the physician.   Within the two minutes it took to call and get a response.  I saw her go from having a rhythm to asystole.  We tried to save her life while her family member stood by the entire time just watching in shock.   We never saw life return to her body.  Finally I hear a crying out from the other side of the room “no more”.   After 27 minutes, we declared this young woman dead.   I couldn’t catch my breath.   I heard her family member say remember our conversation from earlier & I did.  And I couldn’t hold back the tears. I had to walk away because heartbreaking doesn’t come close to describing how I felt.  I came back and held this lady and told her take all the time you need.  And we talked about her not being in pain any longer.  I was assured there was nothing I could have done.  I did everything possible, yet I felt like a failure.   I carried that home with me that day.  And still do in some ways.

I love what I do for a living.   I can’t imagine doing anything else at times.   However, we forget that health care providers are people as well.  We also leave part of our hearts with you.  We hurt and grieve the loss of our patients.  We are impacted by the losses and victories of medicine.

Dreams, reality, & what do I want?

Young, fresh-faced, naive me had her life all planned out.  Exact ages and times in my life where I knew what goals and dreams I wanted to achieve.  The old saying is incredibly true, we plan & God laughs.   Now has my life come even close to what I envisioned for myself when in early 20’s – absolutely not.

The dream:  Finish graduate school by the time I was 25.  Get married around the age of 30.  If I were to have children, it needed to be done by the time I was 32.  Have a great career as a teacher.  And by 35 me and hubby would by a house to raise our beautiful family in and live a great life.   Yes I am giggling my ass of right now.

Reality:  Finished graduate school at 27.  Only to go back to school cause my first two degrees didn’t provide a single gal with enough financial stability.   Never been married.  No children.  I have a career in healthcare that I never dreamed in a million years that I would be doing but couldn’t imagine doing anything else – I honestly love what I do.  I am a nomad of sorts so I don’t really have a settled down type of life at the moment.

Am I sad about my current reality?  Overall no.   There are some days I question my choices but I am sure we all questioned our life choices at one point or another.   Hindsight is 20/20 & there are something I would change if I could.  However, changing those decisions, whether good or bad, would change the person I have become today & I kind of like her.  Each decision has taught me a lesson.  Am I still learning lessons?  Heck yeah, I am trying to take what has happened in the last few months and learn the lessons I need from that right now.   And I believe with every fiber in my being that these situations I have been through are preparing me for something greater.   All of the losses I have sustained financially, mentally, and emotionally – some known to those close to me and some I haven’t shared with a soul – will be restored with time.

Sometimes it is hard to see a clear path of where life is taking you.  The road isn’t always smooth & easy; There are road blocks, steep hills, & potholes.   Sometimes we suffer losses that are so extreme, we lose our faith, we blame God, and question why He would ever make us endure such unbearable pain.  I am guilty of questioning is plan & getting angry because things seem to be overwhelming & too painful to push on.  Sometimes all you can do is hold on to what faith you have, believe there is a purpose to my life, and remember God hasn’t taken you this far to let you fail.  You have to believe that He will restore all that was taken from you and give you beauty for ashes & tears in ways you never could have imagined.

All the things that have occurred in the last few months up until now got me thinking about what do I really want?  If you get nothing else out of this writing, how about this – dare to be honest with yourself & truly state what would make you happy.  It is so rare in this busy world to take a moment, be selfish, and think about your needs. What do you want?  What do you believe will make you happy?  These are a few of the things this lady of pure filth wants?

I want a committed, sexual relationship with a person who is Dominant and sadistic because the submissive & masochist in me needs those things in order to be fulfilled completely in a relationship.  I would love for this person to be honest, compassionate, loving, funny, ambitious, and have faith in God.  I want him to be proud to have me on his arm because I am a hell of a woman.   I would prefer that relationship to be a monogamous one. Polyamory in theory sounds great, however I haven’t seen work out beautifully in the long run.

I desire financial stability.   No, I am not looking for someone to take care of me.  I would love to erase the debt I incurred from the whole trip to California.  I would love to be debt free.  I would love to have a disposable income where I could help out people anytime possible and never have to live on a budget.

I want to be comfortable in my own skin.  For the most part, I am.  However, there are those moments where I don’t feel pretty enough, thin enough, or just enough.  I will never be a super model nor do I want to be.  I want to be proud of my gray hair when it starts to grow in.  I want to enjoy my smile lines and remember the memories that caused them.  I want to be proud of my body because it is strong enough for me to do all the things I desire.  I want to be okay with my thinning hair.  I don’t want to hide in hot as wigs and heavy fake hair.   I don’t want to apologize because I can’t have children & if I did it would cost me a fortune to have one on my own.

Life is about compromise.   Will I get the desires of my heart?  I sure hope so.  Am I disappointed with the life I have lived thus far?  Absolutely not.  Despite all the smiles & tears – I have been able to do things, see things, and experience things I never imagined.  I didn’t foresee my life having so many beautiful friends.  I didn’t foresee losing some of the people I loved to life and death.  I didn’t foresee the adventures life has allowed me to experience.  I didn’t foresee ever living a life outside of my hometown.  And I don’t know where this journey called life is going to take me.  Along the way, I am bound to make some poor choices, but I am also destined to make some great ones.  One thing is for sure – I am going to continue to have dreams/goals but I also know the reality will definitely more than I could have ever imagined.