Why do I feel so guilt-ridden?

  1. I use about 2 sick days per year, this week alone I had to call in 3 times for vomiting and diarrhea. Like on the bathroom floor in a puddle of my own vomit, can't stand up because I am too dizzy from dehydration sickness, yet I feel guilty for calling in. I have had these symptoms for the past week and managed to work 4 days out of seven, but just could not go in for those other 3. I am racked with guilt, maybe because I was told if I showed for work they would hydrate me with IV fluid so that I could work. I have worked in other professions and have never been made to feel so guilty for being ill. What is it with nursing that makes management feel we are expendible, have no lives outside of work, live to serve administration? I am just so depressed and fed up, I feel trapped, like I am in a dead end profession where I get little respect from management and even less from the patients. Thanks for letting me vent.
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  2. 49 Comments

  3. by   Da Monk
    I hope you recover in short order. Consider this. You could go to work and make everyone ill. Do not feel guilty. If they feel it's OK for you to come to work, they are wrong. Your guilt is misplaced. Get better.
  4. by   Tweety
    Take care of yourself first and foremost and there's no reason to feel guilty about that.

    I called in sick two days last week, after having been sick a couple of months ago as well. I knew it had an effect on my coworkers with me not being there, but they survived, the patients survived, and the hospital is still standing.

    Get well soon.
  5. by   Hairstylingnurse
    Hi Huggietoes, You need to get over that problem real quick. I know as a nurse that I already work twice as hard as alot of people in other professions and make less doing it. I readily take a sick day for me or my children because we are just as important as the pts. I take care of. Also I know this goes without saying, you are doing your pts. a dis-service by going in and possibly contaminating them with such a nasty virus. They are already immunosuppressed. Every where I have ever worked has told me in orientation that they don't want sick workers coming in and making staff and pts. sick. I'm sorry I don't understand why u feel guilty. Think of it that you should feel alot guiltier making everyone sick. P.S. I hope u feel better real soon
    Last edit by Hairstylingnurse on Dec 19, '04
  6. by   talaxandra
    You feel guilty because from the first day of our education nurses have the message "you are responsible" hammered into us.

    Now sure, we really are responsible for a lot, and ought to be - I firmly agree that we ought not practice outside our range of competence, for example, and of course we have a host of duties regarding self-education and safe practice and patient care.

    However, we also find ourselves answerable for things that aren't within our control: patient outcomes, doctors who leave bed rails down, a cleaner not posting that the floor's wet, rates of MRSA on the ward, allied health and medical discharge planning, doctors not calling in ICU fast enough on an unwell patient, the previous shift not ordering staff, and making sure the family don't feed a nil orally patient. These come to mind from my last four shifts - all things my colleagues and I have no control over, but were somehow still responsible for.

    This is especially the case with sick leave - ever-present in this is the idea that, although we do not generally feel valued by admin, we are irreplaceable. Without us our patients will suffer, our colleagues will have be laden with an untenable burden, and our selfishness will blow the budget. We expect things of ourselves (and each other) that we would never expect of our patients! I can't tell you the number of patients who've been told of for bringing in laptops or conducting business on the phone because 'you're sick and you need a break'. But you? Standing in a pool of vomit, dizzy from dehydration and being ill? Just pull an IV pole around with you and you'll be fine!

    I'm sorry - I seem to have hijacked your thread with my own little rant! My point is that if you're sick you need to rest. If you're sick enough that IV fluids are even being joked about, you need at the least to be home in bed resting.

    Repeat after me:
    Although I am awesome, I am not indispensible
    My health is as important as the health of my patients
    A sick nurse cannot be an effective nurse
    Slow sips of flat lemonade and a dry cracker

    Feel better soon
  7. by   NurseGuy_in_06
    Quote from huggietoes
    I use about 2 sick days per year, this week alone I had to call in 3 times for vomiting and diarrhea. Like on the bathroom floor in a puddle of my own vomit, can't stand up because I am too dizzy from dehydration sickness, yet I feel guilty for calling in. I have had these symptoms for the past week and managed to work 4 days out of seven, but just could not go in for those other 3. I am racked with guilt, maybe because I was told if I showed for work they would hydrate me with IV fluid so that I could work. I have worked in other professions and have never been made to feel so guilty for being ill. What is it with nursing that makes management feel we are expendible, have no lives outside of work, live to serve administration? I am just so depressed and fed up, I feel trapped, like I am in a dead end profession where I get little respect from management and even less from the patients. Thanks for letting me vent.
    Probably the work ethic in you coming out. Most of us want to go to work and know if we don't it will inconvience someone. But hey, sometimes you just get sick and can't go to work. Just remember, if you are not at work the sun will still come up that day.
  8. by   teeituptom
    I have an excellent work ethic for the most part, but I have called in ill to take a day off on a beautifull day to play golf. My rationale here is that it makes me so happy and content with life that it can only be good for me and my patients when I go back to work in a much better frame of mind. Besides I have over a 1.5 thousand hours of sick pay accumulated that I cant use unless I really get sick.
  9. by   fergus51
    Why on earth would you be working 7 days in one week anyways?! Personally, I can't stand it when nurses come in sick. I'd rather work a few shifts short staffed than catch whatever nasty bug they have so that I can spend a few days in a pile of my own vomit. You have sick time benefits for a reason. There is nothing wrong with using them and anyone who says otherwise is a complete freak.
  10. by   JBudd
    I used to feel guilty about it, but after 20+ years, I finally got over it. You have EARNED your sick leave. Its part of your pay. If you don't use, they don't even pay you the full amount of the money if you leave.

    Your coworkers may have a tougher shift. Not your fault, there are lots and lots of agencies that will supply people at short notice. Not covering you is management's fault. Putting the blame on you for them having to do their job (covering staffing), may make the next one reluctant to call in, so life is easier for them. We actually have written into our union contract that the supervisor cannot even ASK what is the matter, just accept the call in. Why? Because people were being told "that wasn't sick enough" to call in for. I once had a manager call and ask if I wasn't actually on my death bed, wouldn't I come to work anyway? Why didn't she work the shift?

    Someone may wait a few minutes longer for a bedpan. NOT FATAL. Call a code, people respnd from everywhere, pt. dies or doesn't, but not because you weren't there. Codes are teamwork. Are you superwoman? No, just a terrific nurse who does make a difference, but not if you're not well enough to work up to par.

    Take a deep breath, then let it out and let go of the guilt.

    Honestly, when you feel better and can think straight, HYDRATE YOU WITH IV FLUIDS SO YOU CAN WORK? This should make you extremely angry! Makes me mad just sitting here! I went in with post op complications, needed several liters, NO ONE in their right mind would have expected me to work. What did they want, that you should roll your pole around while pushing your patient's pole too? :angryfire
  11. by   huggietoes
    Thanks so much for your heartfelt words of wisdom! They were desperately needed and much appreciated. You have more patience, intelligence and compassion than many of the people I work with. I can not for the life of me understand why as nurses we expect more out of ourselves than we ever would from family, friends, patients, we lessen our self-worth by doing this and you all reminded me of what I have not taken the time or priveledge to believe in quite sometime; that I am a human being, I am worthy and I deserve time and TLC, and if I can not demand that for myself than no one else will either. Thanks again and Happy Holidays.
  12. by   SarasotaRN2b
    ((((Huggietoes)))) hope you are feeling better! You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of any patients.
  13. by   apaisRN
    They will hydrate you with IV fluid so you can work? That is DISGUSTING. That is so f&^$# uncaring, cold, and self-serving. We don't care how sick you are, we just want you to be able to pass meds without passing out. Wow. I thought my place of employment coupd be bad, but I have NEVER heard a supervisor make such a terrible suggestion.

    They don't care about you or your health, or the fact that if you don't get some rest you'll be sick twice as long. Sleep, drink fluids, get IV hydration if you need it, even, but DON'T go to work until you feel human again. Work will chew you up and spit you out if you let it.
  14. by   DutchgirlRN
    Occasionally I will call in sick because I need a mental health day. Anyone else out there feel the same. I can't remember the last time I called in sick because I actually was sick. However, when I do call in I stay home, rest and pamper myself all day. I think it's better than getting burned out completely.

    P.S. Huggietoes......I wouldn't want you sick at work either. I hope you feel better soon.

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