A Nurse's Conflict

Updated:   Published

  • Specializes in Emergency Medicine. Has 3 years experience.

Am I doing the right thing? What is this all for?

Is nursing supposed to feel like this? 

I work my "dream job" but am exhausted after every shift. 

I have learned so much, and at times feel like a superstar. 

I save lives, but it has left me with my own scars. 

My empathy has changed, at times I am calloused and cold. 

My back hurts, my heart hurts, and sometimes I feel just plain old. 

I'm 25 and am desensitized to corpses and death. 

My mistakes can lead to someone's last breath. 

It's a privilege I hold and at times I feel blessed. 

God has put me here to help, to be knowledgeable and adept. 

Still no matter how many lives I save, at times it's not enough. 

My peers are competitive, and some think my skills are a bluff. 

The emotional turmoil is a rollercoaster of course,

Though when I leave I sometimes ache for more. 

Am I addicted to this life, this constant fight or flight? 

Is the intermittent joy I feel worth the frequent strife? 

Where are the thank yous for the hard work I endure? 

They come far less frequently than insults I procure. 

For now, I will continue, responding to the call. 

A life changed, a hand held, for a patient who needed my all. 

I will push my body and brain, wondering at my core,

Am I doing the right thing, what is this all for? 

 

Davey Do

1 Article; 10,194 Posts

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 44 years experience.

Bravo, nurse 17265!

I admire your perspective, poem, and style. To be able to express ourselves in a non-rigid way is a good coping method.

Keep on keeping on!

DonnaBRN

4 Posts

Specializes in ICU. Has 13 years experience.

Hi nurse17265!

As a nurse educator, many of the nurses I mentor resonate with your poem. I also recall feeling like you when I was a young nurse. Fast-paced environments can lead to various emotions and demands for the nurse. Remember to leave time to decompress. Nursing is a career of continuous learning, no one will ever know everything or be perfect. 

Donna 

Specializes in Med-Surg, Geriatrics, Wound Care. Has 11 years experience.

I don't think we become "desensitized to death and corpses". We all die. I think as a society we have forgotten about that. People have somehow decided that death is avoidable (it's not) and a failure. It is a part of life.

But, the poetry is quite nice. Artful nursing. 😄

Davey Do

1 Article; 10,194 Posts

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 44 years experience.
4 hours ago, CalicoKitty said:

I don't think we become "desensitized to death and corpses". We all die. I think as a society we have forgotten about that. People have somehow decided that death is avoidable (it's not) and a failure. It is a part of life.

AMEN! to that, CalicoKitty!

Too often, many see death as a failure- it is a part of living. It is the quality of life and not the quantity which is important!

Speaking from a personal perspective, I feel as though I have lived a full life and have done more than I thought that I might. Life has exceeded my expectations.

To those close to me I have said this and added, "If the Good Lord should come and whish me away at this very moment, I would not feel in the least bit gypped!"

Now, this doesn't mean that I want to die, but I'm not dreading or fearing death either. It's that fear of death which fuels the failure concept.

I've carried this belief to others both in my personal life and professional career, which has given others and myself peace. And being at peace with oneself is true happiness, something we all seek.

nurse17265

2 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Medicine. Has 3 years experience.
15 hours ago, CalicoKitty said:

I don't think we become "desensitized to death and corpses". We all die. I think as a society we have forgotten about that. People have somehow decided that death is avoidable (it's not) and a failure. It is a part of life.

Thanks for the response CalicoKitty! When I can take the time and truly properly care for someone in their transition out of this life, I feel at peace. I think the fact that I can code someone and then move on as if it was any other complaint like abdominal pain makes me question whether that is an appropriate response to death and if I am too jaded. Just because it's an expected part of life doesn't mean I should treat it as any other ER complaint. I suppose there's no "right" response to anything, but it seems to me death is an important aspect more so than other parts of life that should be treated with reverence, and I am not always able to give it the reverence I believe it deserves. 

Davey Do

1 Article; 10,194 Posts

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 44 years experience.

Speaking of nursing and poetry, I found a poem that I wrote on June 3, 1991 while on lunch break at the state hospital. The sketch was of the top of one of the buildings built in the early 1900's:

WIN_20221204_15_30_07_Pro.jpg.ca6db360bf02092827e825174afff9ad.jpg

Davey Do

1 Article; 10,194 Posts

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 44 years experience.
On 12/2/2022 at 8:23 PM, nurse17265 said:

I think the fact that I can code someone and then move on as if it was any other complaint like abdominal pain makes me question whether that is an appropriate response to death and if I am too jaded. Just because it's an expected part of life doesn't mean I should treat it as any other ER complaint. I suppose there's no "right" response to anything, but it seems to me death is an important aspect more so than other parts of life that should be treated with reverence, and I am not always able to give it the reverence I believe it deserves. 

Merely the fact that you're questioning your feelings and actions is an indication of one who performs self-evaluation, hence has a higher consciousness, nurse17265.

If you didn't question it, or experienced feelings regarding the death, that might be something of a concern.

As I said previously, "Keep on keeping on"!

Davey Do

1 Article; 10,194 Posts

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 44 years experience.
On 12/2/2022 at 8:23 PM, nurse17265 said:

it seems to me death is an important aspect more so than other parts of life that should be treated with reverence, and I am not always able to give it the reverence I believe it deserves. 

Forgive me for any further intrusion, but this quoted portion echoed in my mind.

As nurses, we provide care to those we serve. If we adequately meet our responsibilities, we have fulfilled our service, no matter how we feel.

Too often we hear of professional caregivers who attempt to inflict their beliefs on patients. For example, we know of nurses who try to punish patients for behavior they personally deem unsavory and being judge, jury, and executioner does not come under the guidelines of a nurse's responsibility. We know of nurses who have refused patients due to their moral or religious beliefs and that is a case of them not fulfilling their responsibilities.

It's refreshing to hear of a competent, caring nurse who provides quality care and seeks out others' opinions to make sure they're on the straight and narrow.

Okay. I believe I'm finished. Thanks.