I wrote this roughly two years ago, and found it today. When I re-read it, I wondered why I never blogged it, because I still feel the same way! Since this piece, I have returned to the Medical Intensive Care Unit, but cherish every moment I spent in my almost two years in the hemodialysis unit!
I was reminded yesterday that 10 years ago, at age 43, my nursing career “journey” began. (I thought I was old ) LOL
Over the past 24 hours, I’ve laughed about that with one friend, talked seriously about it with another, and gone to a 2-hour meeting where nursing morale was discussed at length.
I have thought A LOT about the past 10 years since yesterday, and a few other things lately….. both nursing career wise, and also concerning my heart …. Here comes my best attempt at condensing it.
When I worked full time in the ICU, it was HARD WORK. I started there – it was my first nursing job, and it was TOUGH in so many ways! I remember so many people – the help they gave me and examples they set. Some good, some bad. (But we all need that, don’t we? I’m equally grateful for both).
I remember Theresa who pulled me in a room and encouraged me like I had NEVER been encouraged before. I remember the nurse who taught me how to untangle and label multiple lines. I remember 2 nurses (Jamie and Tina) who let me ball my brains out over making a pretty hefty mistake one day. I remember the resident who came in my room, pulled the curtain and balled HER brains out, and it was then that I really realized how stressful a job we ALL had…. and how important it was to encourage each other. I remember my friend and preceptor, Ingrid, who always told me life was a series of hoops Oh, how many times I have repeated that! And I remember one doctor in particular who encouraged me and shared how stressful it was when he first began practicing.
I remember patients whose hands I held, the times I walked to my car and as soon as the door was shut I balled my brains out. I remember times I opened my sun roof, and sang all the way home feeling really good about my day. I remember one physician in particular who came in a room to speak to the wife of a dying patient, and she knelt down on the floor in front of the woman’s chair, took her hands, and asked, “How many years have you been married?” She had no clue she was teaching ME.
I remember the names, the stories, and faces of soooo many patients.
The funny part is that many of those I worked with, if they read this post, they will likely know who all of those people are….. I don’t even have to say names. When you work with people that long – you know each other that well!
I learned the names of my co-workers’ spouses and children. We celebrated births, and grieved deaths together. We supported each other through difficult times in our lives. We argued. We disagreed. We cried. We hugged. We made up. Eventually, many of us went on to new jobs. But so many of us remain friends – dear, close friends.
I’m in a new unit now, and for the past 1-1/2 years I have had new co-workers who have also become like family to me. I’m doing something completely different now full time – inpatient hemodialysis. I rarely interact with the family members of my patients, and spend only three hours per day with my patients. Sometimes, it feels like an assembly line. We are tucked away in what feels like the armpit of a gigantic hospital. We don’t hear announcements overhead. We often have to give directions to people over the phone on how to find us. Our unit seems to be a forgotten one, swallowed up in our gigantic institution. Our patient population tends to be extremely sick and very, very depressed. They are often angry, and we take the brunt of their frustrations. My “only three days a week” schedule is more often 15 or more hours long, and we are constantly on our feet with only naps in between our shifts. (And I’ll probably never forgive Rockport for going out of business when I had only one pair of shoes left!)
I learned a LOT in the ICU. But I have also learned a TON in dialysis – Oh yes, skills, for sure! But so much more. I’ve learned that it is really, really crucial for nursing staff to appreciate nursing staff. We HAVE TO encourage each other. Our job is emotionally – not just physically exhausting. We do hemodialysis treatments and are rarely recognized by family members or others as having contributed anything significant in the care of a patient. It is so important that we encourage one another. Nurses need nurses……. Every single day.
But on a deeper level – I’ve really had to THINK about why I became a nurse over the past year and a half. Because to walk out of the hospital after an exhausting day, I need a reason to come back and do it all over again. And that reason cannot be so that someone else will tell me I did a good job, because the truth is – that is not going to happen. Our patients most often take out their anger, sadness, and frustration on us. This has been the most humbling year and a half of my short career. I must do my job with excellence because I want to do my job with excellence, and for no other reason.
As I walked to my car with a friend and co-worker yesterday, we spent half of the walk grumbling about the long hours, the call shifts, how filthy we feel, and a few other things. Then we laughed and both said – there’s really nothing else we’d rather do!
So I guess the most important thing I’m continuing to learn (besides lots of nephrology and dialysis nursing skills and knowledge!) is HUMILITY…… And if God wanted me to learn humility, He certainly put me in the right unit!
I’m not finished learning. I’ll never be finished learning. And I’m so glad God never gives up on me. He’s always molding and shaping me, refining me, and teaching me new things about my heart, allowing me to examine why I do what I do…. I fail OFTEN! But I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be right now.
EVERY DAY I have to remind myself of these two verses before I even get out of my car to walk into the hospital….
Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”
Ephesians 6:7 says, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.”
But this week, He has laid this scripture on my heart….. and I believe He is trying to teach me what Philippians 2:3 really looks like.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
Speaking of long hours on my feet…… I’ll end here, and I”ll take my “nap!”
If you’re reading this and you are a registered nurse – consider yourself hugged by me! Goodnight!