A Time to Heal
Once in a while, a nurse is forced to push the Reset button and take a little time away from her career to reassess her goals and values. Here are some of the lessons the past two months have taught me about life, work, and the pursuit of contentment.
As hard as it is to admit even now---two months after my career crashed and burned in a rather spectacular flameout that my former co-workers are reportedly still talking about---there's something to be said about the experience of it. (Much of it isn't printable.....but I digress.) I didn't enjoy this defining event one bit, and will never look back on that time with any fondness. But it was a turning point which forced me to hit the Reset button and examine what was good and true in my life, and what needed to be taken out to the curb with the other trash.
One of the lessons I've had to learn---again---is that without my mental and physical health, I have nothing. Many years ago when I stopped drinking, I found out very quickly that maintaining sobriety was the single most important task on my to-do list each and every day; now I know that I have to work at wellness with the same degree of care and attention.
I have to eat decently and comply with proper sleep hygiene; I have to do at least some physical activity on most days of the week and stay on my medications. And, I still have to see my doctor on a regular basis even though I'm no longer acutely ill. No more do I rebel against the discipline necessary to maintain my stability; I've come to accept it fully, along with the fact that my condition is chronic and will always require vigilance to prevent recurrences.
Another thing I've learned to value is my identity outside of work. My life may appear dull, even boring to many people, but in reality it is rich and varied, and it needs to be nurtured rather than left wilting on the vine, as it has for so many years. This means staying away from nursing jobs that demand 24/7 responsibility! I am too old internally for such things now; I've been there, done that, got the crow's-feet to prove it. And somewhat surprisingly---to me at least---I've lost the competitiveness that drove me to achieve more, earn more, be more.
I'm a good nurse, as well as a fairly decent wife, mother, grandmother, writer, and friend. I am also a child of God. What more do I need to be content with my lot in life? There is so much to be treasured in the happy shouts of a much-loved grandchild as he spots me getting out of the car in front of his house.....so much to appreciate on a summer's evening shared with family and friends.....so many things to delight in as the flowers open themselves to the sun and the soul opens itself to the beauty that awaits us in abundance.....if we will only stop the busyness of our lives long enough to notice and savor it.
And, I've had to realize that as reluctant as I am to acknowledge my limitations, I must accept the fact of their existence. Everybody has at least a few. Mine are just a little more, well, limiting in some ways. I cannot handle a job that requires me to remember literally hundreds of minuscule details at one time. I'm easily distracted and more easily frustrated. I often have trouble focusing when I most need to do so. I'm prone to extreme mood swings that make it difficult to conceal my mental illness. I become agitated when dealing with large crowds or loud noise. And I tend to fall apart under prolonged stress.
But even with those constraints, there is much I CAN do in order to contribute to the world beyond my own front yard. I can still work. I can paint word pictures that describe in vivid colors what I see and hear, and I can share them with others. Best of all, I can look at my four beautiful grown children and their families, and know that the good things I gave them will be passed on to generations yet to come.
In the words of a favorite verse from the book of Ecclesiastes: to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven. A time of war, and a time of peace; a time to dance, and a time to mourn; a time to laugh, and a time to weep; a time to kill.......and a time to heal.Last edit by Joe V on Jun 24, '13
About VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN Guide
Joined: Sep '02; Posts: 26,807; Likes: 43,956
RN and blogger extraordinaire; from OR , US
Specialty: 20 year(s) of experience in LTC, assisted living, geriatrics, psychJun 24, '13Wow....I absolutely loved this. I feel like it was me on so many levels. Though not yet a nurse, it touched me mentally and spiritually.Jun 24, '13This touched me on a number of levels. I am humbled. It is so hard to be so much to so many, when one is just trying to be that much more to themselves, and to the inner circle of family and friends that are our priorities as well. Your gift is your writing, and intended or not, it has profound effects.
Nursing is difficult as that we are conditioned to put every one else's needs in front of our own. That we got this, all's well, and gosh darn it I am a seasoned PROFESSIONAL, I can do it "all". But as we get seasoned, we get burnt--which is wonderful for a rub on charbroiled beef, but not for us. Gotta get out from under the broiler. (and even beef should be consumed in small doses).
Something my mother always told me-- "Let em talk. It reveals so much more about their character than yours". And how dare anyone "share" with you that people are "talking". Methinks if you had, say, heart disease oh how the tone changes.
Your power is in your pen. And the depth of your character is apparent.Jun 24, '13Ah Viva, you took the words right out of my mouth. I am 56, been a nurse for 8 years, and was just laid off from my 24/7 home care job. I have also lost the ambition to earn more, be more, etc. I love nursing but it is literally killing me; have to lose 20 lbs, start eating more than coffee and donut on my way to the next patient, have to stop documenting medicare visits until 11pm every night, need to start living my life again. My husband died suddenly 16 months ago, we have a 19 year old that I have to get through college or else I wouldn't even contemplate getting another nursing job. Good luck to you, and keep on writing, you are a TERRIFIC writer.Jun 24, '13Insurance companies and hospitals are hiring Case Managers. Wellpoint, Aetna, United Health Care, etc. Good luck Viva and MauraRN. I am older and starting a new job soon. Wish it wasn't so but finances and the need for benefits require it.Jun 25, '13My thanks to all of you who've posted thus far. I continue to be amazed at how many people have been so gracious to me through the past couple of years, which have contained so many harsh life-lessons and aged me by at least a decade (both physically and mentally). I know I haven't always made it easy for folks to be nice to me, thus I sincerely appreciate these responses. Bless you all.Jun 25, '13Thank You for sharing your story. There are so many RN's who have been nursing for many years going through similar experiences.
Your words speak to my heart. It gives me comfort to know that a person can survive after living through a difficult work situation and loss of a job.Jun 25, '13A post worthy for newbies, and the seasoned, and for those who want to enter into the realm of nursing-we have to take care and be gentle to ourselves. I, too, have to remind myself as well...your post was touching and right on time. Thanks Viva!
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