I don’t even know where to start. I have so many questions and too much information so I know this will be long. I’m sorry...
the notice states:
Summary of complaint
“(Previous unit director, by name) reports the termination of (me, RN) for possible drug diversion due to missing narcotics. (She) was using four times the amount of medication as her peers. (She) had several medication discrepancies after a three-shift chart review was conducted.”
there is no further information about the complaint, such as dates, medications involved, etc.
first off, I deserve this. I’ve had a problem for a LONG time— even since before I was a nurse. I’ve quit many times, only to relapse or go on an opiate binge, especially after legitimate acute pain exacerbations. I once picked up alcohol to quit drugs, and that was an even bigger nightmare. I was drinking a handle of vodka per day, and I put myself through detox and AA. I’ve been sober (from alcohol) since 3/17/2014.
Here’s the tricky part. I had no idea I was terminated. I didn’t have health insurance and I’d been off my anxiety and depression meds for months. I was asked to come in and talk to my supervisor and I knew it was serious and that it COULD be about diversion but I was suicidal at the time, had been having panic attacks (especially at work) and I was honest with my boss about this. I told her I needed to address my mental health and that I simply could not bring myself to meet with her in my current condition. I asked about an EAP and FMLA since I knew I’d have insurance on January 1st. She and HR agreed to grant me FMLA and paid me with PTO. (She was an EXCELLENT boss, btw. Honestly I know it must have killed her inside to report me.) During that time I saw my FNP and a psychiatrist and my meds were reinstated/adjusted. I had plans to begin seeing a therapist. I was dreading going back to my job and I would throw myself into a panic attack just thinking about it, so I applied for other jobs during my FMLA leave and began working agency. Then COVID happened. I was unable to see a therapist. I was emailed by the hospital (my previous employer) a couple of times asking when or if I planned to return to work. I told them I wasn’t ready yet but I was thinking about returning PRN to ease back into that environment. They sent an email (that I missed) stating that if they didn’t hear from me by XX date at noon, they would consider it a resignation. That date had come and gone by the time I found the email, I was LOVING agency paychecks, and I thought it was just a sign that I should follow my new path of employment.
about the diversion. Have I diverted before? Yes. Have I been an unsafe nurse? In my honest opinion- no. But I didn’t feel safe returning while I was having full blown panic attacks. I’m also an excellent actress and put on a bubbly cheerful outgoing facade so that nobody knows I am quietly suffering. I would hide in the bathroom, crying, hyperventilating with tremors, pulse racing— until I could could calm down long enough to have short bursts of super nurse. I had planned to end my life the week after Christmas and I was saving up un-wasted narcs as well as partially full vials of unused insulin that would have been discarded. I didn’t care if I got caught because I wasn’t going to be alive. I broke down and became unsure of my decision, throwing the narcs in the sharps container after I clocked out. I still had a few opiates at home.
Sonce my antidepressants and anxiety meds have kicked in, my life has been SOOO MUCH BETTER, even despite the isolation, despair and uncertainty of a global pandemic. I am LOVING agency work. For the past couple of months I’ve been working 60-80 hours a week contracting for a nursing home with COVID+ clients. They have asked to buy out my agency contract and offered me a position as DON. I would LOVE that position because I would have MUCH less exposure to and administration of narcotics. I’d even take a PAY CUT to get away from night shifts around narcotics because I don’t want to relapse!!
But today I got that letter and I don’t know what’s going to happen. I know not to speak to any investigators and I will interview attorneys soon and hire one for this process and to help me form my statement. I’m sure he/she will have advice as far as rehab, drug tests, AA/NA groups, therapy. OF COURSE I’m having a freaking stroke today and I can’t sleep. I’m terrified. But part of me is relieved I got busted because I think this will stop my relapses and I can kick my addiction for good. I know it’s an ongoing, lifelong process that requires work every single day.
it’s ironic that I got caught on a day when I discarded the narcs instead of binging on them or using them to end my life as planned. It’s also a strange situation in that I had no idea I was terminated and I can prove that I was not. I can prove I was having psychological health issues (IDK if that’s better or worse). My FMLA is documented. I’ve been a GREAT employee for the agency and the LTC facility. I want to accept their offer of employment even though I face having to resign once the investigation is complete.
Missouri is weird. They don’t have a diversion/addiction recovery program so when this is all over there will be a mark on my record for sure. if anyone has experience with Missouri or with this situation, I could use some kind, supportive, encouraging words. I’ve read lots of success stories here and reading about the journey is very empowering. I want to be done with drugs. For good. I want to find healthy coping mechanisms and use my strengths of compassion and leadership to be the most amazing nurse I’m capable of being. Even though this is tremendously scary, I feel like I’ve been given a second chance or a new beginning with my life and maybe even my beloved career.