Untitled and Unfinished Journey

My first seven months in the Middle East Nurses Announcements Archive Article

Untitled and Unfinished Journey

January 8 of this year, I vividly recalled how my companion and I arrived at an old medium sized four-story building which we first thought to be only as our apartment. As we got off the van, the cold misty air loomed around us as if warning us of something. We then walked through the medium sized gate and we were greeted with unfamiliar faces but with similar race with us. We were directed to our rooms that did not match our expectations. Accommodation that is surely far than what we have imagined and the most painful reality struck us when we were told that this exact building is the clinic that we would spend our two years with.

Apprehensions, disappointment, regrets, fear and boundless negative and hard to take emotions insidiously swallowed me in. Those unfamiliar faces tried everything to make us feel comfortable and at ease. Though they tried their best to lighten up the situation, I still uttered this words "can I go home?" I remembered myself saying this more than once.

I then started unpacking my things and tried to be positive as much as possible. Trying to comfort myself that this was what I want in the first place and I should be thankful for where I am. But still, everything was not just as I expected. With very tired body and emotion and with the very cold weather conducive for sleeping I lay my back and close my eyes wishing that upon opening them, I would be backed home.

Guess what? It was not a dream at all but an excruciating reality that needed to be faced. There's no turning back as they say. January 9.. my first day of duty and though my work starts at 8am I was already wide awake at 5am preparing our breakfast. I wanted everything to be in right perspective and I do recall falling on my knees while talking to God demanding Him of many things.. ?

First stop, being a dental assistant. As the word implies we are responsible for maintaining the dental clinic assigned to us. It is our job to assist the dentist during cases. We would be the one handling them their instruments, furthermore, it's also our duty making the patient comfortable as much as possible. Placing towels round their neck, giving them tissues after each gargle and making sure that they don't swallow the water through suctioning during the drilling and irrigation process. Not to forget that it is necessary to wash the used instruments after each case. Quite easy if you have only one case but if ten are on the list, disaster can happen especially for a neophyte like me. Good thing, I have to start with someone who has been on the same path before. With a very kind heart, she patiently unfolded all the techniques of making things done. She was indeed the first person to witness my failures and breakthrough. First day was OK because I don't have to do anything but to watch, observe and learn.

Second day came and my entire being was trembling. Liquids for X-ray developing were spilled, syringes being dropped, containers that I could hardly open and worst of all the doctor's words that I could barely hear and understand. I was not exactly sure if the doctor's smile every time I committed mistakes indicates "it's ok" or something else.

Second day and I was so tired and about to give up. My exhaustion came from within radiating physically. And each time I lull myself to sleep, I'm still hoping that all of these would go away and I would be back in my own room in my own country.

However 3rd, 4th, 5th day came until the days became weeks and weeks became months and I'm still opening my eyes on the same plight. Actually, it did not take months for me to learn the routine in dental because after three weeks, we were let go without any assistance and yes, there were still flaws but I'm getting there.

Next stop, CPR training and Saudi Licensure Examination plus learning Arabic. Going on, extra effort in learning how to be on your own during night shift with you being the nurse, receptionist, and cashier at the same time. 8 hours of work, the rest was intended still for working and studying. Work, study, work and study and of course pray, pray, pray, pray.

CPR training went smoothly and we got our card. What was memorable was our Saudi Licensure Examination, a computer based test that could reveal results right after the exam. I was not that desperate to pass because of these two options. First, I pass, I've got to go on and I'm on the right track. If I fail, I've got to go home. That would be great. I finished the exam 45 minutes earlier. I doubled check my answers and I think I even checked it the third time.. (Not desperate as I thought ;)). It took me more than 10 minutes to press the finish button. With eyes closed, I clicked finish just to discover that another window will appear. I then click Yes and there was the word "PASSED".

I passed- good thing. The other side of the coin is I have to spend my two years here. I think I'm really on the right track and I just could not accept it. Passing the exam was just a green light for a more enduring journey that lies ahead because this would warrant that my dental world is over and it was time for me to face the complicated world of other areas such as Gyne, Pediatrics, Medical and most of all Emergency department. I would start becoming the frontline to patients who need examination, injection and infusion. With my limited Arabic speaking skills, fear of doing IV insertion and the apprehension toward each doctor having different race who speaks English but with different accent and pronunciation and most of all with different practice from that of Filipino doctors, I began to wish that I did not pass the exam. There were so many barriers and hindrances being splattered in front of me even before I commence with the process. I was like a ship slowly sinking because of the waters of pressure getting into the holes of my fear and inadequacy.

Though I feel like sinking, I have no choice but to set sail to fulfill my purpose here. So with a heavy heart and shaky feet I entered the unpredictable world. First day out of dental and I was so nervous even just by checking my patient's blood pressure how much more inserting a needle within a vein for infusion.. Oooopssss, I missed a big, good vein.. What a shame. I even don't know what medications to give because I can't understand the doctor's handwriting. I'm in doubt about everything that I have to do that I couldn't start anything without anyone assisting me. I forgot to do the things that I should do and I would do the things that should not be done. I was terrible and in much mess.

Patients would talk to me and all I could do was to smile back and touch their hands. I have so many words in my mind that I could not convey verbally because of language barrier. The smile was all I could offer.

I have worked in a certain hospital back in the Philippines before I got here that was why I can't help myself wondering why all of these has to be difficult. There are lots of adjustments to make. More effort to exert. I was so terrified every start of my duty and so depressed at the end.

2nd, 3rd, 4th day came until again it turned into weeks. Slowly, step by step and one at a time I did it. I was able to insert an infusion into several patients with grace and confidence. My seniors started to trust me with giving medications. I began to read the doctor's English but seemed to be as Arabic hand writing and the most significant progress was the conversation that I've made with my patients.. Yes, I can now let out all the words that have been hiding in my brain. The best part was those words are Arabic. I was able to understand what my patients were trying to convey and I did treasured these words that were uttered not by one but by several patients.. "Inti kwayis sister" to be translated as "you're good sister" in English. Nurses are called sister in the Middle East by the way. ?

Next stop, night duty, the most dreadful assignment of all. The fact of being alone and doing all the jobs that are supposed to be done by another department was too much to bear. Aside from being a plain nurse, being a receptionist and cashier imposed a great challenge. Until now I couldn't believe how I was able to survive that week. Thank God for bringing people into my life who lend me their time and who did an extra effort in helping me out. God really works through people. But just like the rest, I was able to commit some mistakes especially in the cashier part where I've collected incorrect amount of money. It was just so hard doing all these tasks added to the difficulty of dealing with impatient patients. Until I was not able to take it all in and I did actually shed tears just to diminish the heaviness that I have within. I was summoned by the clinic's assistant manager and I was ready to accept the words of punishment for all the shortcomings that I have done. But as I stepped into his office, he greeted me with a smile and he asked me to do the same thing. He said words that were very unexpected that I could hardly believe. But what convicted me was when he mentioned these. "You'll never learn, if you never make mistakes. And only people who are not working do not commit any mistake."

Today culminates my 7th month in this medium sized, old building and I am in awe that this building is not that bad at all. Because this is where many people come and go seeking for treatment which gives me opportunity to reach out like I have always wanted. To be a blessing not just to those who are good to you but most all to those who are rude and treats you badly. Some patients would put you on the pedestal but some would really look down on you to the lowest point. Added to this, is the doctor's judgment that I don't know anything. At first I was very affected and I just want to bring my own justice until someone let me realized that my importance comes from knowing who I am in God and my value does not diminish just because I'm no good for others.

This building has also been a venue where strong relationships were established among nurses who become sisters regardless of our differences. The bonding that we have shared within or outside the work place is incomparable. It's like we draw our strength from one another like when someone is drained, another one is more than willing to extend a hand. We learned how to set aside ourselves for the sake of another. Literally, if one has finished her duty but sees that the other sister is still busy, that someone would be more than willing to extend her working hours without expecting anything in return. There's just hope knowing that you're not alone when the situation becomes tough. The memories that we've shared and will continue to make is one of the few treasures worth cherishing for.

Looking back, I am extremely grateful because of the metamorphosis that occurred. I see myself not just a larva becoming a butterfly but also as an ugly duckling slowly turning into a sturdy beautiful swan. I know I have a very long way to go along this road and I know I still have many tribulations to overcome. No matter how hard the incoming blows will become I will never fall into despondency again knowing that I'm never alone in finishing this path even from the start and though the ending remains untitled I will remain confident knowing that He has already prepared the best at the end.

As I traversed, I have picked up some pebbles along the way which include:

  • Where you are right now is never an accident and we are placed in a certain situation at exact time with a purpose.
  • You can have a bad beginning but a very good ending.
  • Do your best in everything you do and go an extra mile.
  • Stop dwelling on the things that you don't have and be grateful of what you have.
  • You can always make a difference if you really want to regardless of the circumstances.
  • Make use of the challenges as opportunity for you to grow ...

There are many hidden pebbles along the way and I'm excited to picked them up as I go on with my untitled and unfinished journey.

RN experience in General Nursing

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nice inspiring story.. I am also here in the Middle east and I love my work and stay here. Godbless!

I am trying to get my BSN and then find work around Delhi, India (I have a place to live there). Any suggestions on finding jobs overseas? If I don't get accepted to a BACC 2 program, I still want to go to India. An suggestions for me? I have a BS in Health (no patient contact).

Thanks for you help and I love hearing about the overseas experience. I spent almost a month, visiting someone in a small city outside of Delhi and LOVED it.

Specializes in Oncology&Homecare.

It is never a mistake to challenge yourself. The most amazing experiences await us when we step out of our comfort zone and leave ourselves open to different experiences. I am glad that it has worked out for you. Thank you for sharing your story of adventure.