My Burnout Story - page 3

I’ve been crying all morning coming from a pain so deeply repressed and locked inside me. I watched my last patient die three days ago and leave in his wake a broken family truly taken to the depths... Read More

  1. by   Kris1969
    I can't imagine working in an ICU setting - and to still feel each death means you have compassion and that is so necessary and yet it beats us down . I work in a small city ER - we see everything. Suicides hit me the hardest. Some days I feel like I can't cope with someone dying and then a person screaming at you that they need a prescription filled .
    Take time to heal - you've given and given and now it's your time to take.
    Thanks for sharing !
    Krista Manitoba Canada
  2. by   billswife
    Sometimes it's the suffering and death that is unbearable. Other times, it's the waste of a young life, with all its potential now gone. Sometimes it's that the management (who still write RN after their names), who have been away from the bedside so long that they have no clue why you are devastated. Sometimes I can't put it into words, and I just look at my coworkers and say "Nobody really knows what we do, do they? Even if they want to, they just don't get it."
  3. by   Dixie girl
    I hear your pain! I knew for at least the last 10 yrs of my 38 yr career that I was burning out but thought I was tough enough to handle it. I tried working different types of nursing trying to find something that was less stressful but it didn't work. I left with the guilt knowing I had failed my career, my family, and mostly myself!
    Now I'm 60 yrs old, living on my pension and what's left of my 401k. My family and husband don't really understand and only see the financial burden I have put us in.
    I have Fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, osteoarthritis, IBS, and type 2 diabetes. Have been trying for disability for the last four years and right now my life sucks!
    When I am asked if I would go into nursing again, I say not only no, but hell no! I was a really good nurse and helped a lot of people but the price ended up being too high.
    Last edit by Dixie girl on May 11, '16 : Reason: misspellings
  4. by   wyoRN0987
    First let me say, your post prompted me to join allnurses (instead of just lurking to read the articles, ha!) just so I could comment. It really struck a chord--my heart goes out to you. I totally understand everything you said and just reading it and the other comments has helped me cope with my own critical care encounters. You sound like a brilliant, dedicated nurse and I hope you are able to get back to a mental space where you can practice again. That being said--take some time off! Start living again, travel, go to therapy, talk with other nurses/EMS/MDs, people who know what you're going through. Try lots of different things, there is no one way or right answer in dealing with death, sorrow and burnout. Someone mentioned a book they'd read in school, so I hope you don't mind my suggesting one too--"Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. He was a psychologist and Holocaust survivor and it's about what gets people, from a psychological perspective, through the worst experiences life has to offer. It's a little book but very, very good.

    Again, let me say thank you for sharing your story, you have helped me more than you can know.
  5. by   CURLY56
    I've been a nurse 28 years. Hospice, AIDS, Cancer, ICU, Tele. I can't tell you how many pts I've seen pass away. I've held a hundred people in my arms as they die. I'm still haunted by deaths I've seen 20 years ago. I've had to tell children they are going to die. I've had to call mothers in the middle of the night with the bad news. But I counterbalance this by thinking of the lives I've saved, hundreds at least. Nurses are like soldiers in a battlefield. We have to go on no matter how bad it gets. If we don't the war is lost.
  6. by   power%away
    Nurses have compassion for everyone but themselves. We need some concrete ideas to come forward. There is real battle fatigue here. We need mental health days. We need support of doctors, chaplains, grief counselors and administration. We don't want token help of pizza, etc.. Nursing needs administrators to show up and step up with flexibility and compassion for those that keep their doors open

    Nursing needs to demand a place at the table.

    What about changing units, rotating in and out of intensive care units? What about recognition being vacations or extra time off? Ideas please.
  7. by   Jlangford1
    I also am in the same boat. I was a STICU nurse forn2 years. I am now seeking help for agoraphobia with panic disorder. I would rather stay in my house with my dogs than go out into "the real world" every aspect of my life has changed. I was a RN for 13 years but now I don't even know if I ever want to be a nurse again. I used to feel good about myself and what I did. Now.....not so much. Good luck to you
  8. by   Luckymut
    My breaking point was when my dad arrested in the back seat of our car.,we were 10 miles from the nearest hospital, and at least 15" from the nearest ACLS rig. It was agonizing realizing that CPR was fruitless and the medics telling me they could not stop because I did not have is wishes on me. I had to watch them flog him on the side of the road for 20 minutes while begging them to load him and go. I never again want to do CPR on another living being. After 33 years at the bedside, I have walked away. It's been 3 years.
  9. by   billswife
    Quote from power%away
    Nurses have compassion for everyone but themselves. We need some concrete ideas to come forward. There is real battle fatigue here. We need mental health days. We need support of doctors, chaplains, grief counselors and administration. We don't want token help of pizza, etc.. Nursing needs administrators to show up and step up with flexibility and compassion for those that keep their doors open

    Nursing needs to demand a place at the table.

    What about changing units, rotating in and out of intensive care units? What about recognition being vacations or extra time off? Ideas please.
    Our vacation days are also our sick days, so I think extra time off (i.e.:mental health days) would be the greatest perk ever!!! One year our manager had a message therapist rotate through all the Units doing chair messages. That was really nice for the folks who were able to step away from their patients for 20 minutes. Most recognition comes in the form of food or candy, which I could really live without.
  10. by   selfdevlab
    So, so sorry Another Broken Healer.

    Good for you for knowing your limits.

    I wish your facility would have practiced a post-death huddle. Seems like the only chance a person could have of surviving in ICU for very long would be to have that type of support.
  11. by   Lucky724
    I understand, as many on here do, where you are right now with nursing..going to school to become a nurse is one thing, the reality quite another...it's difficult for co-workers (even in the best of units) to be able to support each other because they too are human, have reached or are reaching their limits, have their own stresses bot at work and home..it's very difficult to give away understanding and compassion when one is "tapped out." Compassion fatigue is another term linked to nursing. Patients are sicker or seem to be when they hit the units, staff remains poor at many places because experienced nurses are burning out, new grads can't get a job or if they do are hit so hard by reality that they leave. Never once in nursing school did anyone ever mention the physical or emotional toll nursing would take..not how to navigate those turbulent waters, nothing about self care. Whether one has excellent coping skills or not, the fact remains we are human..sponge like and there is only so much we can put in, hold in, until we have a "gut full" and are done. For those of us whose situation is compounded by multiple personal losses, mental health issues and general lack of personal support..well, I'm amazed we are able to function at all. I have no advice, no words of wisdom to impart to make things easier for you or anyone else reading this but you stepping out of the ring and getting yourself help is the best move you can make. If/when the time comes for you to return to nursing, there are many other options besides ICU as you know..one may be exactly this..taking your experience and become an advocate/educator about Compassion Fatigue/PTSD as related to nursing. Bringing this issue front and centered is long overdue. Good luck.
  12. by   Michelle Rhodes
    Such an amazing story! So true for many of us and it could happen to all of us. Compassion fatigue is so real.
  13. by   NortsMom
    I'm sorry. My heart breaks for you. I won't suggest ways to GET OVER IT OR THROUGH IT. Events like this follow us throughout life and they never go away......the only suggestion that comes to mind is maybe you should consider becoming a nursing/medical teacher at a college for the ones who have decided to take the schooling to become future nurses. They need guidance and with your experience maybe you can help to prepare them for this new generation of what nursing has become. God Bless. You're in my thoughts and prayers.

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