It all depends on how you look at it

Posted
by markko markko Member

Specializes in 911 critical care ambulance nurse. Has 25 years experience.

I curse the state trooper who stopped me in 1996 for speeding. I blew a 0.10 on the portable breath test. He should have hauled me to jail. Instead, he drove me home. His decision to help me out of a bind just allowed my alcohol addiction to worsen until a dear, loving director of nursing and administrator did an intervention for me at work in August 2002. The DON called me to her office and gestured for me sit down. Five seconds later, the phone rang and she picked up on the first ring. "OK," is all she said. Without saying a word, she gestured with her finger to follow her. She headed for the administrator's office, gazing at the floor with a look of disgust. I'd seen this before and it never ended well. I started tearing up as we passed two CNAs with their mouths agape. As I entered the admin's office, I noticed the other nurses and my EMS coworkers seated around the perimeter of the room. I smiled and starting laughing uncontrollably. I couldn't count the number of people with looks of confusion on their faces as they fumbled pieces of papers in their laps. Finally, the DON asked, "What's so funny?"

I said, "You wouldn't fire me in front of my friends. This is an intervention and I've been waiting for this day to come." No one had to read their letters. The whole thing lasted five minutes. I took advantage of their gift and have been free of alcohol ever since.

Wow. Great story. Sounds like you worked with a great crew.

Yeah it does sound like you work with a great crew. They didn't report you to the Board?

markko

markko

Specializes in 911 critical care ambulance nurse. Has 25 years experience. 44 Posts

No. I was never drunk at work... just hungover every day. There's an epilogue to my story. It's true that I have never consumed alcohol again, but I was hit with a PTSD-inducing crisis two years later. I was an EMT before I was a nurse and worked for a volunteer community ambulance service between 1979 and 2015. After 1993, I was able to function as a critical care paramedic using my nursing license. On December 20, 2004, we were called to a home for a boy that slipped in the shower. When we got there, we found an 8-year-old male on a perfectly laid-out dry bath blanket in the middle of the living room floor. The boy was dry and wearing a dry diaper. He was unconscious. Something looked wrong with the scene and all three crewmembers noticed it. Also on scene was the boy's mother's boyfriend. He stated the boy fell in the shower. We sensed that was a lie. The boy was in sinus tach in the 220's and satting at 72% RA. I went outside to radio for law enforcement to respond immediately, but no officers were available. After going back inside, the other crewmembers determined the head injury was a grab-and-go situation. Two medics left with the boy and I stayed behind to gather up equipment. Then the boyfriend said, "I did it. I hit him in the head because he peed his pants." The boy died at the hospital a few minutes later. Then it hit me: I'm the only one who heard the confession to a murder and this is going to suck for me for a while. I followed the boyfriend to the hospital in my own vehicle. The police were at the ER. I told one of them what the boyfriend said.

Over the next few weeks, the PTSD snuck up on me slowly and gradually. By June 2005, I was a mess. I was down to functioning five minutes at a time. My nursing work deteriorated, but I couldn't figure out what was wrong or what to do. I started to panic and took 5 Tylenol #3 tablets (but didn't consume them) knowing that I'd be caught, but it was the only way I could escape whatever the threat was. Sure enough, I was caught and fired by the same women who did my intervention. Then, I got the subpoena that said I was the primary witness for the prosecution. Everything caved in in my world.

The boyfriend ended up pleading to a lesser charge, so the trial never occurred. I spent the next two years under a blanket. Of course, the Nursing Board took my license in those two years, but I didn't care. One day, my former DON came to see how I was doing. She got me to go to a psychiatrist and he started me on Cymbalta. I FELT it work on the fifth day after starting it. I mowed the lawn. Things got better to the point that I got on a monitoring program with the Nursing Board and started working again, but it took until 2011 for that to happen. One day, the news arrived saying that the boyfriend was killed in prison by another prisoner. I haven't looked back from that day.

THey sound like good folks. These monitoring programs could take a clue. Address it and demand some level of accountability but don't try to destroy the nurse

catmom1, BSN, RN

Specializes in LTC, Psych, Med/Surg. 347 Posts

... but don't try to destroy the nurse

I heartily agree with this sentiment. And you can be sure that I am one of those "destroyed nurses." I diverted oxycodone in 2000, have been clean since 2004 with a so-called "unencumbered" license but the black mark is forever in my state.

I manage to survive on part time, as needed jobs as an assessor for long term care insurance and as a health screener.

Before the economy tanked, I had a decent job with full benefits but when that job ended in 2009, I was unable to find full time work as a nurse.

Our culture in general is very condemning of anyone who has transgressed but nursing is THE most damning profession for anyone with a personal problem. I so regret ever getting into nursing in the first place.

Now I am 57 and am crippled by knee arthritis. I am barely able to do the physically non-demanding assignments that I do get. I am in the process of trying to get some kind of insurance or aid so I can get at least one knee replacement.

During part of the the worst of the recession, I couldn't find any work that enabled me to survive, so the way I look at it is: it could be worse. I am grateful that I can survive, at least. And, so far, I have stayed clean in spite of difficult circumstances.