Warning: I'm about to get brutally honest here so hang in there with me... this won't be one of those mushy "nursing is so great!" posts.... cause truth be told, nursing has not been so great recently. In fact it's been tedious at best. I have not been at my best recently either. I'm tired and to be honest I'm a little bored these days. I find myself counting down the minutes until my shifts are over and my fuse has grown short with people.
I have to say that there are a lot of times in my job when I take things personally even though I have no business doin' so. In my line of work you deal with people at their worst. Sick, broken and teetering on the edge of life and death.
For some reason, recently people have been straight up crazy though. Like kickin', hollerin' and bein' down right mean -crazy. Most of me gets it. I get that when you are at your worst you don't have much to give, especially if you really aren't in your right mind... which happens a lot in these parts. There is a reason ICU delirium is a legit diagnosis.
Most of the time I'd like to think that I handle these situations okay. I see what happens when people get defensive and try to argue instead of understanding. It just doesn't work and usually it just makes the patient angry and you more frustrated. If I was in that hospital bed who knows how I would be? Just take a look at me around 4:00am on any given night shift and you'd probably have a slight clue.
Lately I have been in this weird place. Apathetic in a sort of way to what goes on around me. You see sickness and death all of the time so when a patient comes in with cancer that has ravaged their face you aren't moved the way you once were. Or when a patient with severe pulmonary disease is throwing the biggest fit in the world because they have to be on an obnoxious bipap mask all night... you tend to not have as much sympathy as you once did.
No... now I find myself annoyed at every call light I have to answer. Tired of the same old routine that doesn't challenge my brain but injures my back and zaps every ounce of energy I have left. Frustrated because I can't understand what my patient is trying to say... it's difficult when you've had half your tongue removed, ya know? That is not what crosses my mind though... the fact that he is angrily pointing at these scribbled, jumbled letters on a piece of paper like I am supposed to magically understand them... that is what I see. Frustration and pain and exhaustion... from both parties.
Finally I discern what he is trying to convey...
"It hurts when I swallow... is that ok?"
"Yes, that's totally normal." I nod my head eagerly.
Relieved to finally be able to communicate, the man breaks down in tears and starts profusely apologizing.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." he mouths as he lays his head back on his pillow.
The floodgates have now opened and I instantly feel like a horrible person.
He knew I was getting frustrated too and I probably could have done a lot more to hide that fact. To have patience and understanding for a man who is battling the big C and now has a very long and brutal recovery ahead. Today I will go home and I will crawl into bed a healthy person... sleeping in my own house peacefully.
This man will not.
He will not have anything close to that and the least I could have done was given him a little room to be frustrated without me being annoyed or inconvenienced back.
I told him that he did not have to ever apologize to me for something like that. I held his hand and told him that I was sorry too.
The worst part of it all is that I don't really know what to do from here. I come to work every day. I do my job as best I can but I'm realizing that my best sometimes just isn't what it should be. I am tired... all the time. I am bored with my job and don't feel challenged but I have no desire to change. I am holding it together on the surface just fine but inside I feel like something just isn't right. And I can't help but wonder if the problem is everything else or if it starts right here... with me.