Separating work from home life - page 3
I know :) I am full of questions lately :) Nursing obviously affects many on a very emotional level, and can be very intense. As a student, I see nurses working so hard, emotions flying, and I... Read More
Mar 22, '02Great question Brandy and got me thinking. I come home to a 16 yr old son and he realy doesn't want to hear my stories! I have found the benefit, as an earlier poster said, of playing my favourite tunes on the drive home. This question has also made me realize that I work with a bunch of good people and I very rarely feel that I have to deal with something on my own, there's always someone else in there with you. Often we are able to take a bad scene and work it our of our systems.
Mar 22, '02I agree it is very difficult to separate work and home when your work is dealing with life's very heavy issues. For me, it's not the hospital and usually not the individual patients that bother me when I leave work - it's the SITUATIONS that affect me over time. I WOULDN'T BE HUMAN IF THEY DIDN'T. There was this one night the coroner brought in a Vietnam vet with a self-inflicted GSW to the head...turns out the guy was drinking with his cousin, and they made an unbelievable pact..."i'll kill myself if you will"...the guy blew the top of his head off with a rifle, the cousin called 911. Coroner brought him in for a blood draw. That was the first (and hopefully the LAST) time I ever saw such a thing. I didn't handle it well. I was white as a sheet for the remaining couple of hours of my shift, cried the whole hour's drive home...just the human tragedy. The sight of it. I needed to debrief (the other,mostly male, nurses were no help, they started telling jokes) but there was no opportunity for me to do it at work. I NEEDED to cry, get it out of my system, and (before you say anything about it, this is the only time I've ever done this after work for this reason) I knew that I would see that again in my dreams if I didn't just completely knock out the dream process so I had about four whiskey sours and I just got it out. My partner held me and let me cry it out. I couldn't even vocalize to him what I had seen, I was just SO traumatized by it. Couldn't form the words until I had had a couple of those drinks.
NOW I am NOT advocating substance abuse as a means of coping with difficulties at work. But the horror of some of what comes through the ED (I could NEVER be a paramedic) is a stark, gritty reality that can be very difficult to deal with. I have since left the ED and work ICU and will be going to work in dialysis shortly. I liked the ED for the general clinic atmosphere it had, and the occasional "good" trauma that gets the juices flowing. But some things will get to you. It's only human. Sometimes situations come in in such numbers that it makes you wonder what's going on "out there": For a while I was afraid to go on vacation or take a road trip anywhere because of all the patients we got through the ER who were in wrecks and stranded on vacation, who had MI's on vacation, it just seemed like everybody was having major life-changing tragedies while on vacation. ED nurses tend to be superstitious anyway, and when you see situations like that in such disproportionate numbers it can affect how you see the world outside. I worked in correctional nursing (lots of sociopaths) for a couple of years after my divorce, and it's funny...it was impossible for me to date anyone because I could picture every man I met in that inmate uniform!! Had to get out of that before I developed a complete distrust of everybody. In either situation, the nurse is the witness to mans' constant inhumanity to man. There are a few special moments, but staffing levels tend to not allow us to experience many, much less to savor them.
A rather large percentage of nurses I know are on Zoloft or Buspar (I've taken both) to help them live with the reality of what they work around. That should be a clue to how damaging it really is. You can't always leave work at work. PTSD is a valid diagnosis and a large percentage of ED nurses have it. You react either by internalizing it or by going numb. Neither is good for you. Some may be lucky enough to work in a facility that offers an Employee Assistance Program or other opportunity for counseling but most I know of do not have that. Personally, I think if you work in an area that is THAT stressful that you NEED that, something else must be better for us than that.
I'm rambling, I know. But we can't live in denial that what we work with and what we do affects how we see things and who we are. It's one of the hallmarks of nursing. We are touched by our patients. It's just a shame that so often now our patients touch us with their fists and verbal threats and demands, no matter how "nice" and attentive we are, rather than with the kind of warmth and appreciation that all the nursing propaganda would have us expect and that maybe at one time we did have.
Maybe it's my geographical area, maybe not. Often we get more drug-seekers in the ED, on the floor, and in the ICU than actual sick patients. Had one walk out of the ICU AMA last night because the doc wouldn't give her any more morphine, she pulled out her IV twice and turned off her nitro, turned her heparin up to 150cc/hr and demanded to be put on the floor (where she could go downstairs to smoke and visit her boyfriend's car - we know this guy - he's got her drugs), all the while popping Percocets out of her pocketbook and yelling out cursing out one of the other nurses on the unit who only walked in her room to pass a phone message to her. (her room was right behind the nurses station). I'm sure glad she wasn't my patient last night, but you know? Half the time I'm not caring for the sick, I'm giving these people their fixes.
I guess I'm just saying that it doesn't matter where you "hang your worries" consciously, subconsciously some things WILL affect you more deeply than that and that one way or another, you are changed by what you do when you work with people in difficult situations all the time.
Mar 22, '02Originally posted by Renee Williams
When I was a traveling nurse working near the beaches of the world, I would come home from work, strip out of my work clothes and put on my bathing suit, grab my beach bag, and head for the beach. I ate at the beach, sunbathed at the beach, read a book at the beach, talked to other people at the beach, and walked a good walk on the beach. I collected seashells and most times just laid out on my beach towel listening to the heavenly sounds of the seagulls and the ocean waves. Ahhhh, heaven indeed!
Mar 22, '02I just kick the dog...
Seriously, I'm lucky that I'm married to a nurse. It's SO nice to come home and be able to say "Last night SUCKED" and have him know exactly what I mean. We work at the same facility so we know all the same doctors, nurses, etc.
I manage my stress by talking with him and venting, and he does the same. But I think too that after being a nurse for so many years that I've gotten better at dealing with the crap that goes with nursing...
Mar 22, '02Great advice on this thread. I listen to music......a lot.....and I knit. Making something with my hands, and the repetitive motion of knitting is soothing. I have good friends and a sympathetic, patient spouse.
Also, I will admit to coming home and having a stiff drink once in a blue moon when something very traumatic has happened. Hot baths work well too.
And Mario is right. Good diet, adequate hydration and sleep are essential to balancing the body and the psyche!
Micro, thanks for the URL. It's a lovely site, and I've bookmarked it.
Remember the "gratitude journals" of a few years ago? Listing things you're thankful for sometimes does help when things seem negative.
Mar 22, '02My boyfriend just told me tonight that when I go on about work he feels like Archie Bunker about to pop his cork when Edith gabs about her work at the Bide-Away Nursing Home. Like Archie, he wants to yell "Stifle!"
I guess I must talk about work alot.
Mar 22, '02P.S. No music for me! After hours of beeping IV's and other alarms I want at least an hour of total silence ( unless its the sound of me gabbing about work;} )!