Quo Vadis?

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    For those who know little of Latin, the phrase means "Where are you going?" An aging nurse stands at a crossroads in both her career and her life, agonizing over the choices before her and wondering which direction she should take. Should she fight for what was once the best job she's ever had, or start looking for another? Even more critical, should she try harder, knowing that she's already given it her all.....or accept the truth that it's over?

    Life, as my grandmother used to say is a very odd little duck......you live through five or six decades, fashioning an existence that (hopefully) reflects your values, and learning to be at peace with who you are and where you're going. Then suddenly "stuff" gets real, and you find yourself standing at a crossroads where you're given a list of choices as to where you want to go next; the only option you don't have is staying where you are.

    I just arrived at that intersection yesterday. And I already hate it here.

    For some time now, I've been battling a personal issue that I've realized---too late---really does affect my work, no matter how much I wish it weren't so or how often I've denied it. Now it's developed a new wrinkle that is likely going to cost me my job in the short run, and perhaps my career as well: I've developed work-related anxiety attacks.

    I don't mean just a little nervousness, or the stray "Omigosh, I can't do this anymore!" I'm talking about a primal fear that floods my entire body with stress hormones that I can literally feel---my heart flutters wildly, my stomach turns to stone and drops into my pelvic floor, my throat closes up, and my hands shake like leaves in a brisk wind.....all because I can no longer perform consistently at the level of intensity my job demands.

    Naturally, I was the last person to figure this out. I've been clinging desperately to life at work since the disastrous state survey in which my department was scourged ferociously for multiple documentation issues. Six months later, we still have not succeeded in passing. And I have it on good authority that if we don't pass the next re-survey, the top three managers will be replaced.

    I'm number two. In more ways than I'd prefer to count.

    Look, I get it. I've been in this business long enough to know more than I ever wanted to about the 'business end' of things. I myself have fired people for poor performance; it doesn't take a Donald Trump to figure out who their problem children are and get rid of them before they can cause even more trouble.

    None of that mattered one bit to a certain MD I see pretty frequently, who promptly took note of how stressed-out I am and wrote an order taking me out of work for a minimum of ten days. This is not to say I had no choice in the matter; unfortunately, the options were limited to either taking time off---NOW---or going inpatient.

    I chose the timeout.

    Now my boss is upset, and the rumors are spreading among the staff like wildfire. My condition is not the world's best-kept secret, but until now I never thought of it as a career-killer. Maybe it doesn't have to be.....but I do know that I'm done at my current position. Oh, I'll still be employed for a bit longer while the TPTB figure out how to dump me without running afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but eventually they will. I know it as well as I know my own name.

    That said, I've never worked with better people. My boss, my co-workers, my subordinates, and most of my residents are simply awesome. (I could do without the families, but that's a whole 'nother subject.) I hate the idea that I will soon be leaving them, even if I do manage to get my department through this next survey. Bottom line, I can't take the pressure anymore, and it's time for me to own up to that.

    It's often said that God never gives us more than we can handle. But as a dear friend of mine says, He sometimes does hand us a burden that we cannot bear, so He also gives us wisdom to know when something is no longer ours to handle.

    I am not there yet. Someday in the not-too-distant future I will be, but I have this crossroads to navigate before I can be on my way........and oh, so much more to learn.
    Last edit by Joe V on Apr 14, '13

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    About VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

    VivaLasViejas has '17' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'LTC, assisted living, geriatrics, psych'. From 'The Great Northwest'; 55 Years Old; Joined Sep '02; Posts: 25,265; Likes: 36,784.

    Read more articles from VivaLasViejas

    25 Comments so far...

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    Viva!!! ((HUGS))

    I hear what you are saying......
    It's often said that God never gives us more than we can handle. But as a dear friend of mine says, He sometimes does hand us a burden that we cannot bear, so He also gives us wisdom to know when something is no longer ours to handle.
    But I have so many days I wish he didn't trust me so much!!!

    We are kindred souls you and I for different reasons.......and walk the same path....((HUGS))
    timmedico, lorirn58, wheresthatcat, and 3 others like this.
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    May you find peace with the decisions you need to make and a ton of wisdom as you travel this road.
    silverbat, LTCNS, and VivaLasViejas like this.
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    Viva, while you feel committed to this position ,there is no shame in moving to a less stressful position. I do not know the reasons why you failed the audit, but my past experience has been that there could be many factors such as lack of support from HQ, lack of staff, unreasonable auditor, etc usually it is a system failure not a failure of one person.
    uRNmyway, lorirn58, jadelpn, and 8 others like this.
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    I have struggled with state audits during my nursing career, past most, but there were two that I had "conditions" placed and I had to undergo a second audit or a corrective action plan. I felt that it would be the end of my career and that I could be fired. I was fortunate and finally passed inspections so I don't think you should give up. However, having the threat of not passing inspections is a heavy burden to bear. I no longer wish to live with the threat and the anxiety that goes with it. So I do my best and whenever the anxiety kicks in, I daydream about my back up plan. I don't feel committed to my employer, so it may be easier for me. I realize that I may not find another nursing job at my age and with my experience. But, I'm prepared to take a pay cut, leave nursing and work at walmart, if I must. I keep telling myself it will be difficult, but I will survive if it ever comes to that. So do your best, but know that if things don't go as planned, you will survive. It will be a new chapter in your life, but you will survive...
    Esme12, LTCNS, salvadordolly, and 1 other like this.
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    Hugs to you Viva - You may have your moments of weakness, but you also display a great deal of strength. Let that carry you thru whatever path you go down.
    uRNmyway, poppycat, Esme12, and 2 others like this.
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    Viva, I was so sorry to read this article. You are obviously in distress. You are a bright, talented, can do nurse. I think that the universe and your body are sending you a message. Enough is enough. I don't have to tell you that stress can kill. I don't have any answers for you because only you can find the right answer for yourself. I do know that you have the support of all of your followers on all nurses. I'm sending you positive thoughts and prayers. You will get through this. It won't be easy but I have faith in you.
    lorirn58, poppycat, Esme12, and 5 others like this.
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    You have so much knowledge, so much experience..ever thought about becoming a contractor for surveys? If not working for those who actually conduct them what about a company that helps others get through them - like "mock" surveys? Two different places I worked used contractors like this to come in before state hit & point out where the weaknesses were, etc. They were invaluable to these facilities and both places never failed nor received an flags because of using this pre-survey service. You could consider working for the state surveyors as well...whatever you chose, where ever you land, the employer will be lucky to have you. As bad as you feel and as hard as this time is, you will get through this - like others on here, I'm rooting for you!
    uRNmyway, Esme12, NurseDirtyBird, and 3 others like this.
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    All I can do is send you positive vibes.
    Esme12, LTCNS, and VivaLasViejas like this.
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    You know what's funny.......during my grilling session with the surveyors, I was joking around a little and told them I'd almost gone over to the "dark side" a few years back. They grinned and one person said in all seriousness, "Hey you could still come over to the dark side, we have openings." I can think of worse fates.
    Marshall1, jadelpn, poppycat, and 6 others like this.

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