26.42/48.00

“Why do we fall?,” The question, posed by one Mr. Alfred Pennyworth, is answered by his next line in the movie Batman Begins. “So that we might learn to pick ourselves up.”

Those who’ve read my last few posts over the past few weeks know that I’ve been going through somewhat of a . . . nervous breakdown? mental health crisis? rough patch? All of those terms could be used to finish that particular sentence.

As a (very brief) bit of backstory: I am a new nurse who suffers from agoraphobia and anxiety attacks. I called out on six different days in about a two week period due to that and jeopardized my job in the process. I had the realization that I’d found my personal rock bottom – at least at this stage of my life. I decided to use that as my solid foundation.

Still, I can’t say I was feeling particularly confident when I walked through the hospital doors two days ago. In fact, I felt pretty sick to my stomach. A not-so-small part of me was not convinced that I would make it through the entire shift. I did, but when I got into the car I started bawling my eyes out, because of the stress that had built up during the day.

Even so, I went in the following day. I continued to function and I got a lot of things done. I also learned a lot of things about wound vacs, dialysis catheters, and how to play nice with others even when they aren’t playing nice with me. It was not a bad day.

Neither of them were, really, despite how stressful I found them.

Honestly, I even got a good job text from my boss this morning – though she did point out something I’d missed documenting. Another coworker told me that I’m a good nurse and will become an even better one as I go along. My patients over the last couple days all thanked me and said they were sorry that I wouldn’t be in today.

In total, I worked 26.42 hours out of 48.00 possible hours.

Of course, at the end, I was pretty exhausted. I walked a total of 12,000 steps while at work on those days (not tons, but it was more than I’d done for weeks). I cried and laughed and got angry. It was rewarding and it sucked and I made like $600.

I had today off and I will have tomorrow off.

Then, I will go back to work.

Because, goals.

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Trying

The law of attraction essentially states that individuals attract the sorts of experiences that they expect.

In other words, someone who views the world as a positive place will have primarily positive experiences and someone who views the world as a negative place will have primarily negative experiences.

For example . . . you expect to have a bad day at work. You spend all evening dwelling on it, being short with your family, not enjoying your time off. At night you end up tossing and turning, plagued by bad dreams or an upset stomach. In the morning, you’re tired – both physically and mentally. Getting ready seems to take forever and you have to turn around twice to get things you’ve forgotten. Then, of course, you get stuck in traffic. If you aren’t late to work, you nearly are. Once you’re there, you feel like you’re already behind and have to play catch up. Stress and chaos ensue. Once back at home, you’re frustrated by the events of the day, or depressed. You know you have to go back tomorrow and dread it. The cycle continues . . .

OR.

You tell yourself that you’ll have a good day at work, or at least recognize that you’ll do the best you can to make it a good day. In the evening, you’re able to relax with family and eat a decent dinner. Overnight, you get quality rest and you’re able to wake up when your alarm goes off. With a clear mind, you prepare for your day – or just grab the things you already laid out last night. On the way to work, you listen to the radio and seem to catch all the green lights. When you arrive, you find that you have a challenging assignment, but you feel ready to make the best of it. As the day goes on, you work productively. The shift ends and you go home, feeling that you’ve gotten a lot done. Thinking about tomorrow doesn’t make you feel like puking.

So . . .

Two scenarios. Honestly, I’m currently firmly in the first one. It’s 8:15 (about an hour or so before my planned bedtime), but I’ve already been in tears over the thought of going in to work tomorrow. Those who are regular readers may recall that I’m a fairly new nurse and that I have an anxiety disorder that has been compounded by that fact.

It is, in fact, so bad that I’ve missed several days of work due to it. I literally cannot afford to miss anymore days – both from a financial and a personal perspective.

Unfortunately, however, that doesn’t make it easier for me to mentally prep myself for tomorrow. Perhaps the notion that I need to prep myself is, in itself, adding to my stress levels. I don’t really know.

Those things said, I’m going to try to make the second scenario happen. Instead of imaging all the ways that tomorrow can go wrong, I’m going to try to be grateful that there is a tomorrow. I’m going to get things ready for the morning, tonight, so that when I do wake up, I can enjoy a little bit of peaceful time prior to going to work.

Last night, even though I did not work today, I ended up having nightmares that made me toss and turn all night. All day, I’ve felt like I was in a fog. It has been a struggle to be productive today, but I have managed at least my minimums. In just a few minutes, I will eat dinner and shortly after that I will be able to crawl into bed.

By this time, tomorrow, I will be home from work.

In about twelve hours, I will have finished getting report and will be starting to pass out morning medications. Or, if something comes up, I will be doing something else. I don’t know. That lack of knowing is my biggest source of anxiety. I need to learn how to embrace the unknown, or at least how to not dread it. That, I think, would be helpful.

For now, I’m going to leave this post.

Rambling, slightly incoherent, mess that it is.

Foundation

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” – J.K. Rowling

I knew what this post would be about before I sat down to write it, but was having some trouble with the first line. Personally, I always find the first line the most difficult. Those who have followed me for a significant length of time may haven noticed that I tend to open with quotes or stories . . . that’s why.

I have found my own personal rock bottom. I didn’t expect it to be at 8:15 on a Friday morning in August, but I guess that’s one of the funny things about rock bottom . . . you don’t know when you’ll hit it (if you ever will), but you know it when you do.

I wrote a post several days ago to commemorate the first time I called out sick due to having an anxiety attack (A Lost Battle). I did not realize that post was only a prequel.

While I do feel physically awful – nausea, throwing up, short of breath, headache, stomach cramps, diarrhea – I am not technically sick. I am suffering from severe anxiety and panic attacks and agoraphobia.

(Deep breath.)

Since writing that first post, I wrote several motivational posts and gave myself many pep talks. I created a bit of a bullet journal, started reading a new self-help book, tried to forgive myself for calling out . . . but then called out again. And again. Until today made six days . . . which is entirely and undeniably too many days.

While writing posts about chaining good rituals/habits to reach goals (Combos), I accidentally made a bad chain. I recognized that, yesterday. I forced myself to go to work. For context, I’m a new nurse working on an oncology unit at my local hospital.

In a surprise twist . . . it was a really good day.

Sure, I still felt physically crappy, but I was productive. All of my medications were passed on time, I got all my charting done before lunch, I coordinated with doctors and case managers to get a patient discharged. No one died. I handled mild emergencies well. My co-workers (both nurses with over a year experience) had to stay later than I did due to being behind and playing catch up. I told everyone I’d see them tomorrow.

But then I woke up at 4:00 this morning and called out sick.

I threw up twice. I was running a low grade temp. I was sweating. I had diarrhea. I was shaking. I couldn’t feel my feet. I was freezing. I was coughing. I was cramping.

. . . but I wasn’t technically sick.

Then, three hours after calling out, I received a text from my direct supervisor.

“I need u to call me.”

Of course, I did not call her back. Not right away.

First, I paced around a bunch. Secondly, I threw up again. Thirdly, I asked myself why I was so terrified of losing a job that I disliked so much that it was leading me to call out.

I realized, directly after asking myself that question, that I do not dislike my job. I love my job. Everything about it – my coworkers, my patients, my hospital’s mission/values, my opportunities to further my education through it, my schedule . . . just all of it.

The problem, then, is that I am so afraid of losing it that I’m trying to avoid the possibility of making any mistakes . . . by simply not showing up.

Logic on par with that of a toddler, right?

Still. You can’t defeat an enemy without knowing it.

I called my boss. She gently asked me what was going on. I let her know about the physical symptoms and that I would bring in another doctor’s note (which I will). I also added that I’d spent half the morning in tears, because I was so terrified of losing my job. I pointed out that I’ve never missed so much time at any of my previous jobs and that I hoped she wasn’t calling to terminate my employment.  I kept the crying to a minimum.

Mostly, I felt confident that I was at least being fairly truthful . . . just leaving out the part where my anxiety was causing the physical symptoms I was describing to her.

That’s when she introduced me to rock bottom.

“I don’t want you to take this the wrong way and I don’t want to overstep, but . . . have you considered speaking to your doctor about the possibility of an anxiety disorder?”

All my years of carefully hiding my anxiety, of minimizing it, of denying it . . . as tactfully as she could, she tore those all away. Probably, she never should have broached the subject due to some densely worded human resources policies . . . but . . .

I told her the truth. I have anxiety that I’ve been struggling with for years, but never to such a degree that it created physical symptoms like a fever.

She, very helpfully, pointed out that being stressed out and run down in general can make me more susceptible to illnesses. She told me that she has no doubt that I am physically ill. And she encouraged me to rest and informed me that she would see me again on Tuesday (my next shift). She also stressed to me that I am doing a great job and that she doesn’t want to lose me as a nurse. She wants to help me figure this out.

It took about five seconds, after we ended the call, for the relief to hit me.

There’s a feeling of things being finalized or concluded.

I am lying on the rock that’s at the bottom and I am recuperating from the impact, but the impact itself wasn’t actually harmful . . . it was kinda like falling into bed at the end of a very long day. That said, I see the appeal of rock bottom.  Beds are comfortable places.

But . . . I  don’t intend to stay in bed.

So, I’m going to take my boss’s advice. Today, I am going to take care of myself. I also have the weekend off with my SO. I am going to make the very most of it and then I’m going to go to work and make stuff happen.

J.K. had it right, I think.

If you happen to find yourself at rock bottom, it does make for a good foundation.

 

 

 

Combos

Almost everyone who has played a video game for any length of time – particularly if that video game is a role playing or fighting game – is aware of the benefits of a successfully executed combo. For the uninitiated, in a video game, mastering a combo move means dealing more damage to your opponent, unlocking extra abilities, or even finding hidden Easter eggs within the game. Sometimes half the game is spent trying to achieve particularly difficult combos just for those reasons. It’s annoying . . . but also rewarding.

The term “chaining” can be used almost interchangeably when talking about forming combos. The premise being that the consecutive actions taken form an unbroken chain (the combo) that in turn leads more benefits, ect.

More links in the chain equals a stronger the chain.

Similarly, people have proven that chaining actions in real life also provides benefits. I’m quite sure that you’ve seen advertisements or articles that speak of 21-day-fixes or 30-day-challenges . . . and the same concepts are at work there. By doing something everyday, without exception, you will see the difference it makes and find that the something (whatever it is) becomes a matter of habit rather than effort.

People have come up with a remarkable assortment of ways to track their own personal chains, to build their own combos. There are phone applications that can be programed to track any number of things, calendars and planners sold with workout plans, chore charts for children, printable spread sheets for those who like things more tangible. Really, the list goes on and on. What method works for you doesn’t even matter, really, because the entire point is simply to record the addition of links in the chain.

I have chosen to create a bullet journal to track my own links. As noted in my last couple of posts (Shifting Focus, Sunday Evening Reflection), I am reading a book called Getting Back to Happy by Marc and Angel Chernoff. I am currently one chapter in and have followed their advice (mostly) when it comes to creating rituals that will – via consistent effort – result in all of my goals being met. At least . . . that’s the theory.

Rather than putting off the starting of such goals until the beginning of next month, or my birthday, or New Year’s Day – any one of the typical “new start” milestones – I went ahead and started working on them yesterday.

Per the book’s recommendation, each ritual only needs to have fifteen minutes dedicated to it each day. That’s enough to create momentum while not creating a burnout. Going against the book’s recommendation of having only one ritual to start, I went ahead and settled on five. Yes, I know. Naughty of me.

I simply couldn’t see not working towards each goal, because they are all things I want to have sooner rather than later and I am fortunate enough to only work three days a week. I have plenty of time for self-enrichment and want to take advantage of that while I can.

Thus far, I have succeeding in chaining two moves. Hardly worth calling it a combo, really. That said, it means that I’ve put two hours towards my goals in the last couple of days. To my surprise, I’ve found that I’ve gotten quite a lot done even just in that time.

For instance, I’ve reviewed some helpful tips and tricks to start IV lines.

Also, I began comparing hotel and rental car prices in preparation for a trip to New Orleans that I now intend to make in mid-October as a birthday present to myself.

Those things don’t seem that impressive . . . but . . . they’re part of a larger picture.

Reviewing helpful IV information is one way of taking a step towards becoming a more competent RN. Looking up hotels and rental cars gets me a step closer to traveling.

Tomorrow, I will print a couple of maps of New Orleans and start thinking about what sites I want to put on my must-see list. Tomorrow, I will read about different types of fluids that are used to treat different types of fluid deficits. Tomorrow, I will continue to develop characters for my novel. Tomorrow, I will follow along with a yoga video.

I will make more progress. I will take more steps. I will continue.

Essentially . . . I’ll continue to rack up combo points!

 

Shifting Focus

Almost 50% of Americans make New Year Resolutions.

Losing weight, learning a new skill, and being more financially savvy are the top three. They’re followed by quitting smoking and doing more exciting things.

Unfortunately, fewer than 10% of Americans who make resolutions feel they were successful in completing or adhering to them. Just 9.2%, actually, according to this site – which has other interesting statistics related to this and other topics, if you’re curious.

Okay, you’re thinking. It’s August. Why the facts about new year resolutions?

Per my last post, Sunday Evening Reflection, I am reading a book by Marc and Angel Chernoff titled Getting Back to Happy. Although I am less than one chapter in, I must say that I’m finding the book helpful/motivating already. From the lists and bullet points to the personal anecdotes and history lessons . . . this is what I’m looking for in a self-help book. It’s already been the inspiration of one (now, two) blog posts.

As mentioned in the post linked above, I was encouraged by the book to select some destinations . . . places in my life worth walking a metaphorical (or literal) 20 miles a day to reach. In my typical over-achiever fashion, I wasn’t able to select just one destination.

Competent RN, World Traveler, Famous Author, Ninja Master. Happy Individual.

Now, I’m the first to admit that just writing those is intimidating. As far as goals go, those seem almost unattainable. Which, of course, contradicts the commonly advertised notion that goals need to be realistic and measurable. How does one measure competency or fame or mastery. Or happiness?

(Unrelated, mostly, but I did just buy a measuring cup set shaped like a monkey that does in fact make me giddy. Here is a link to a picture of it. In case you need it. Monkey FTW.)

Despite the proven ineffectiveness of New Year Resolutions, I found it tempting to push off starting towards any of those destinations until January 1st. Or, until my birthday, in October. Or next Monday, when I’m not sick with a chest infection. Or until . . .

You get the point, by now, I’m sure.

Having recognized, just prior to starting this post, that I was already searching for excuses, I turned back to the book and resolved to continue reading chapter one, which is all about turning daily rituals into pathways towards your chosen destination. I can’t say that was a bad choice. Not by a long shot. Marc and Angel are wonderfully blunt.

“If you’re not willing to create a daily ritual to reinforce your goal, you don’t really want to change your life as much as you say you do.” In another paragraph, on the next page, they go on to elaborate and write that, “Rituals are meant to change your mindset about who you are as a person and broaden your belief in what you can accomplish.”

Inevitably, of course, I do have some variations that I’ll be making to their proposed method to ritual creation. For example, they suggest beginning with one choosing one ritual that relates to one goal and committing fifteen minutes a day to it until it’s second nature. As noted above, I am something of an overachiever and my new career means I have more free time than the average person (working three 12’s has it’s benefits).

Already, I’ve decided to work towards my destinations more or less simultaneously, because that is what I can foresee working for me. The destination Happy Individual, for starters, will be inherently worked towards while the others are being worked towards.

That said, I can’t dispute that their suggestion of creating a 15 minute ritual is a good one.

After some brainstorming, I’ve come up with four fifteen minute rituals that will combine to be an hour of time, but that can be done in separate blocks as well. I’ve also included additionals – things that aren’t ritualistic, but are markers on the path.

Competent RN: I will spend fifteen minutes a day reviewing pertinent materials – lab values, medications, evidence based practices, new technologies, patient care, ect. I will also ask my mentors questions, learn from my mistakes, and be mindful when at work.

World Traveler: I will spend fifteen minutes a day reviewing things related to travel – costs, locations, reviews, tips and tricks, ect. I will also determine how much I need to save to make my first trip, set a deadline for it, and make weekly deposits into my “World Traveler Fund” – which I will do a separate post for, because I’m looking forward to making a sort of piggy-bank for it.

Famous Author: I will spend fifteen minutes a day working on my novel. I will also research self-publishing, publishing houses, and novels similar to mine to learn the market better. I will also continue to learn more about the craft of writing itself.

Ninja Master: I will spend fifteen minutes a day exercising – a jog, body-weight work out, yoga, ect. I will also be more mindful of my intake (my body needs good fuel), chart my progress, and weigh myself weekly.

Happy Individual: I will spend fifteen minutes a day in “quiet time” – morning cup of coffee with a book, listening to my favorite podcast, tending to my new garden, ect. I will also start a bullet journal of sorts to track the above rituals and my daily mood.

Looking at the goals, in this way, makes them seem much more tangible.

By shifting my focus from the destination to the steps needed to get there, I am essentially no longer daunted by the destination itself. Instead, I am feeling excitement about the journey. Of course, I’m still anticipating the destination, but now it’s not something I’ve overwhelmed by. In that sense, I almost like them better, really.

I can feel myself leaning towards the quick fix methods, but I know that way doesn’t work. If it did . . . everyone would be where they want to be. I would be there already.

Today, I will start walking twenty (figurative) miles a day. My path looks pretty clear at the moment. In taking consistent, steady steps, I can get where I want to be. At the end of August, I will have put 26 conscious hours towards my goals. On paper (screen?) it doesn’t seem like much. Little more than a day. However, the proof will be in the progress, I suppose. I am looking forward to seeing what happens.

Until next time, be that tomorrow or the day after, I hope you enjoy your life.

 

Sunday Evening Reflection

Two men on the same epic journey through dangerous, uncharted territory. One of the men decides that he will travel as much as possible on days when the weather is mild and that he will rest to regain his strength on the days when the weather is poor. The other man decides that, no matter the weather, he will travel twenty miles every day and spend the remainder of the day resting to regain his strength after that distance has been covered. Which man will reach the destination first?

My first thought was that the man who traveled as far as he could on the good days and rested on the bad days would beat the man who maintained a pace of twenty miles a day.

Surely, I reasoned, the man pushing himself on the good days and taking the bad days as losses would outpace the one not taking full advantage of the good days. Right?

Well . . . no. That’s not actually what happened.

Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott were real life explorers in the early 1900’s. These two men and their teams set out – each with the goal to be the first to “discover” Antarctica. Scott directed his team to go as far as they good on the good days and to rest on the bad, but Amundsen told his team that they would travel twenty miles every day until they reached their destination. In the end, Amundsen is the one in the history books.

Now, I don’t know about you, but as a child growing up in the U.S.A. I was told the story of the turtle and the hare. Even so, I still didn’t recognize that “slow and steady” would win the race. I undervalued the effect of consistent effort as opposed to bursts of activity.

In retrospect, I think that’s something that a large percentage of society does. That doesn’t make it any better, but it does make it a tad more interesting. What led to my knee-jerk conclusion? It’s said we live in an instant gratification society, but when faced with a situation in which I know the task is going to be time-consuming, why did I lean towards a method that gave up consistent progress in exchange for erratic progress?

Why did I bet on the hare, when I already know that turtles win?

I have – perhaps unsurprisingly – begun reading a new book. Getting Back to Happy by Marc and Angel Chernoff. In the first chapter, they present this story and offer an explanation for the outcome.  Doing a thing consistently will create reliable and/or predictable results, but it takes self-discipline. On the other hand, working very hard only when doing so is easy will inevitably lead to a mentality that defines struggle as bad and succeeding or failing as out of their control.

Having traveled fifty miles during one day of good weather, but not moving at all during three days of sub-optimal weather will inevitably lead to you being outpaced by the person who traveled twenty miles on all four days.

The individual who persisted in traveling on all four days will also become stronger more rapidly due to braving the storms while the other individual sat by their fire.

Okay. All of that sounds well enough, but how do you develop self-discipline?

Honestly, here are probably a million and one books out there that offer all kinds of advice on the matter. Marc and Angel, in true self-help form, encourage their readers to first ponder what it is that they want.

What motivates you to walk those twenty miles? And what do the miles translate to?

They ask, essentially, where you want to be. They ask you to consider what it will take to get there. And then they encourage you to take the first steps towards it. And the next. And so on and so forth until you reach your destination. Rinse and repeat.

Helpfully, they offer some generic destinations: physical health, home ownership, best-selling novel, world adventuring, parental role model. So on and so forth.

I started by writing one destination. Competent RN.

But I couldn’t help, but realize that’s only one of the places I want to be. There are others.

World Traveler. Famous Author. Ninja Master. Happy Individual.

There are steps to each of them. Some clear . . . some less so. Tomorrow, I’ll make an effort to determine what constitutes the first steps of each of those. Some are maybe obvious. Others less so – or at least more demanding. We’ll see where I’m at by the end of this month and how much further I still need to go. (Que Moana soundtrack.)

 

 

Monday To-Do List

It is almost 1:00 PM. Almost.

I haven’t done anything on my to-do list. I don’t even know quite where to start, honestly. That’s why, instead of starting, I’m writing out a list of the things I need to do.

Particularly the ones I want to do before my other half gets home from work. I want him to walk through the front door and see evidence of change, evidence of trying. I don’t want him to come home and think that all I’ve done is sit on the couch watching Game of Thrones reruns – like I have for basically the past three days.

Depression can be a very persuasive force. Just as persuasive as anxiety.

Anyway! Here is my list of things I want to accomplish today.

  • Make the bed with the new comforter set we bought yesterday.
  • Fold the laundry that’s still in the dryer and do a load of towels/bedding.
  • Prune back the vine growing on the front porch and the trees over the driveway.
  • Work on cleaning the guest bathroom – sweep, do the tub, unpack things.
  • Call the trash service company and start an account with them.
  • Attempt another short bike ride, because exercise is good.
  • Decide which pictures should go in which rooms/areas.

Looking at the list, it doesn’t seem as daunting as it feels.

That’s one of the interesting things about depression . . . it convinces you that folding laundry takes as much effort as climbing Mt. Everest and makes about as much sense.

Still, getting it done will make me feel . . . useful, at least, if not happy.

I guess that’s something. Right?

A Lost Battle

I woke up at 5:15 this morning – more than half an hour early.

Interestingly, I felt pretty much wide awake. Motivated, even. Within fifteen minutes, I’d made my other half’s breakfast drinks (a bottle of OJ, a bottle of protein drink, and a small bottle of creamer for him to take to work with him). I even packed a lunch for him and turned on the television to catch a few minutes of a Dr. Phil rerun. I was considering making a quick cup of coffee or actually eating breakfast.

And then . . . and then the anxiety found me. It attacked.

Within ten minutes, I found myself on the phone with the nurse supervisor, telling him that I was ill and would be calling out for my scheduled shift. I did so standing in the kitchen, talking in a hoarse whisper, hoping that the sound of my voice wouldn’t travel down the hall and wake my other half. The entire call took all of thirty seconds.

After, I continued standing in the kitchen, feeling my heart beat as hard and as quickly as it might’ve after a marathon run. My palms were sweaty, my legs felt rubbery. Thoughts of coffee and breakfast couldn’t be further from my mind, because my stomach was attempting to do an Olympic-worthy somersault routine.

More than anything . . . I felt the relief that so often accompanies a moment of surrender.

Of course, that was short-lived. Within moments, the other feelings came at me.

Let’s break them down, shall we?

  • Guilt: I shouldn’t have called out. I let the anxiety win. I should’ve fought harder.
  • Confusion: I hadn’t even felt anxious, five minutes ago. How’d that even happen?
  • Shame: I bet all my coworkers will know why I called out. They’ll know I’m weak.
  • Frustration: I only felt the need to call out, because my work environment is crazy.
  • Righteousness: So-and-so called out last night, because of the same things anyway!

And, for course, there was still some lingering feelings of relief.

Yesterday was not a good day, at work, by a long shot. I’ll break the day down, as well.

  • The first thing the day shift tech said to me was, “Yesterday was hell and today will be too. You’ve got the worst group of all of them, I think. We’ll see if we survive.”
  • I was assigned six patients in “the corner” – the rooms in which the most acute/critical patients are placed, because it’s right near the nurse’s station.
  • Unusually, I actually had to take report from three different nurses, because the group I was getting had been split between them overnight. Not very comforting.
  • After getting report, I was left to face the reality of my six patients.
    • One motorcycle accident victim with head-to-toe bandages and an overbearing wife who wants to know every detail of his care.
    • One with altered mental status due to a combination of neuro-syphilis and AIDS. He was insisting on being naked and kept trying to climb out of bed.
    • One who was coughing up blood clots every five minutes due to his throat cancer. He also had a PEG tube and needed all of his meds crushed.
    • One with a collapsed lung, in addition to AIDS and a heroin addiction. The night nurse had threatened to have her Baker-Acted if she left AMA, because the doctors were refusing to remove her chest tube. She was not happy.
    • One paraplegic with sepsis. His colostomy bag has to be emptied every four hours or it will burst open and make a hell of a mess.
    • One with cellulitis so bad that it looks like someone took a blowtorch to his leg. An inmate, so he has two guards in the room and is cuffed to his bed.
  • Morning medications were given out. Not entirely on time, but at least they all got them. I learned how to crush meds in order to given them through a PEG tube.
  • Wound care and dressing changes were taken care of.
  • The addict’s room was searched, pain meds were found, a sitter was ordered. She was informed that her visitors would be restricted and that all her pain meds would be crushed and given in applesauce or pudding. She cried and all I wanted to do was hug her and say I was sorry for our tough policy measures.
  • I cleaned up the confused patient, because he was essentially finger-painting with his feces on his bedding. It took both myself and the tech to clean up the results.
  • Had to let my inmate know that, though he has phone privileges at the prison, he doesn’t at the hospital and couldn’t talk to his brother or his wife. Also had to listen to his guards loudly talk politics and religion while I was in the room.
  • Three o’ clock came around and I still hadn’t taken a lunch.
  • Finally, at half past four, I was able to run down for food. Ate it while trying not to cry, because I couldn’t stop thinking of the other dozen things I still needed to do.
  • Had to give report to three different oncoming nurses – which took about 45 minutes, instead of the usual fifteen, because of having to track them all down.
  • There had been no time to chart, during the shift, because of how busy it was. Instead, I had to stay until 8:30 to get it all done properly.

On paper, almost everything got done that had to get done.

In practice . . . it didn’t really feel safe.

Honestly, I think that’s the thing the anxiety latched onto this morning. It was the knife it used to attack and I couldn’t think of a good reason to disagree with its sharpness. The fear it inspired is as real as any fear I’ve ever felt. Attempting to take care of six high-demand patients when I have just about two months of experience on my own made me feel like a failure, because I wasn’t able to care for each of them in a way I felt was proper. I don’t think they actually suffered for it, but the possibility was there.

For instance, while attempting to deal with the situation surrounding my patient who wanted to leave AMA, but couldn’t (which I’m still trying to wrap my head around, because she was of sound mind), I wasn’t able to check on my confused patient every half an hour. I also wasn’t able to remove the Foley from my motorcycle guy, because I had to help our tech bath the paraplegic patient.

I didn’t have a chance to check my patient’s vital signs, to order needed labs, or to replace the batteries in their telemetry boxes. Any one of those things could have resulted in them not getting proper care. And that thought drives me nuts.

Still, I have to admit that calling out, running away, losing the battle wasn’t the best choice. It was understandable, maybe, but not wise or helpful. It would have been better to show up, to fight another day. I just . . . didn’t have the mentality to do it.

Later, probably, I’ll write a more optimistic post. I’ll go over the things I’ve thought of since this morning – alternatives to having called out, different mindsets, a new perspective.

For now, I’m going to make some coffee and use my unintended day off to be productive.

 

(Im)patience is a Virtue

Merriam-Webster defines patience as the capacity, habit, or fact of being patient. In turn, Merriam-Webster defines the word patient as bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint, not being hasty or impetuous, and as being a sufferer or victim.

Which, essentially, allows for the statement that patience is habitual and active passivity.

So, why then, do people sometimes cite patience as a virtue?

A virtue is defined as a beneficial or commendable trait. Other examples of “virtuous” traits include loyalty, honesty, valor, integrity, so on and so forth . . .

Individuals and societies often hold different views on what is virtuous. Circumstances can also influence what we see as virtuous. For instance, telling a child that they’re dying is technically honest . . . but it may be seen as more beneficial or commendable to spare them that knowledge. As another example, one culture may view stoicism as commendable while another views expressiveness as preferable.

Patience as a virtue, then, is reflective of the ideals of those who cite it as such. Out of curiosity, I consulted the denizens of the internet to ask if they agree that patience is a virtue and to find out why, if so. The answers were interesting and ranged from the belief that patience is indicative of self-control to the statement that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Others took the route that impatience is a bad thing . . . thus making patience a good thing by default. One of those individuals went further and declared that impatience is downright dangerous and has no place in modern society.

As you’ve maybe guessed, from the title of this post, I’m of a different opinion.

First, let’s consult Merriam-Webster again. It defines impatience as a state of restlessness and short temper – especially under irritation, delay, or opposition. It goes on further to note that impatience can be defined as eagerly desirous.

Which, essentially, means that impatient individuals are unwilling to accept passivity.

It seems to me that, somewhere along the line, signals became a bit crossed. American society, largely, purports the importance of seizing the moment. Quite literally, the pursuit of happiness is part of this nation’s underlying foundation.

(Pursuits, by the way, don’t usually reward those who take a patient approach.)

Even those who tend to say everything happens for a reason are inclined to admit that opportunity doesn’t always come knocking without first receiving an invitation.

I can’t speak for other cultures, but Americans are told at a young age that chasing after our dreams is worthwhile. We’re encouraged to take action, to do the impossible. Success is seen as something gained, not something merely offered or accepted. Relaxing is reserved for weekends and the rarely earned vacation. “No pain, no gain,” is part of our national character . . . yes, even for the millennial generation.

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This post was initially inspired by my impatience to move out of my 1/1 apartment.

Don’t get me wrong . . . I liked the apartment. I can even remember when I loved it. After four years of being crammed into it with my other half, however . . . well . . . I didn’t love it anymore. Due to new management that took over in January I actually kinda hated it.

And I realized that – with the money I’m now making – I didn’t have to stay there.

Once I realized that, I became a tad impatient. Borderline unreasonable.

But, actually, it worked. It really, honestly, worked.

I’m typing this in the living room of the newly remodeled 3/2 house that I’m now renting. The house has new floors, new paint, new cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms, new appliances. Even new lighting fixtures! The neighborhood is great and still close to where both of us work. The landlady is the sister of the man who owned our apartment complex prior to selling it. The yard is absolutely giant and completely fenced in back.

We would not have gotten this particular place if I had been more patient. It wasn’t even listed yet. I went to our former landlord and asked if he had any rentals available or coming available and he told us about this one. We actually got it for $250 less than asking, because we offered to do the lawn maintenance ourselves.

(Hence, I’m now the proud owner of a new set of hedge trimmers.)

So, while some people may still tout patience as a virtue . . . I think I’ll make use of impatience more in the future. You gotta give it credit . . . it gets shit done.

 

 

Conquering Fear/Anxiety – Last Part

I hate to leave things unfinished or incomplete. I’ve stayed awake all night to finish a book, binge watched TV shows, worked until the very last second . . . all out of a need for a sense of resolution. Stopping in the middle of anything makes me feel restless.

Hence, when I realized that tomorrow is the date I’m meant to return a library book, I made it a point to set aside some time to finish reading it. The book is called the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Conquering Fear and Anxiety. I checked it out, because I’ve always had anxiety issues, but they’ve gotten worse since I started working as a nurse four months ago. I started a series of blog posts while reading it, to make sure I was actually reflecting on it. The first of those posts is linked, here: Conquering Fear/Anxiety – pt. 1.

What I didn’t realize is that the last couple of chapters are specifically about having a child/teenager who suffers from anxiety. Not exactly relevant, to me, because I’m currently childless. That said, I still felt obligated to read the chapters and to create this post to wrap things up.

And it’s worth noting, I suppose, that I did suffer from separation anxiety as a child.

I fought against going to school as a kid, because I didn’t want to leave my mom – she worked evenings, see, so she was only home during the day and after I was already in bed at night. I distinctly remember one instance when she had to call the school’s counselor, because I was hiding behind a recliner and refusing to get dressed for school. I remember the meeting we had, later that day, at the school, but not the outcome of it. I eventually become home-schooled, which suited me much better. It wasn’t until I was thirteen that I went back to public school and event hat ended when I dropped out at seventeen to get my GED.

Honestly, I have already recognized that I do much the same thing now, with work, that I did then, with school. The book refers to it as the “Monday-to-Friday Tummy Aches.”

A child complains of an upset stomach, but miraculously feels better on the weekend.

I was scheduled to work on Thursday. I woke up and started getting ready, but then felt like I was going to throw up. I did, in fact, go into the bathroom and dry heave. I asked my other half if he thought I should call out sick. I fretted, because he wouldn’t be able to pick me up from work, if I did go and became sick again. I hesitated, because it was after our designated cut-off time for call outs and would mean taking points.

He told me to go to work. He said I’d been fine the day before. He explained that I could take a taxi home, if I did get sick again. He reassured me that it was better to go in and be sent home than it was to call out at the last minute.

Of course, he was right, as per usual.

I got to work feeling like a nervous wreck, but I didn’t throw up or dry heave again. I made it through the entire shift and left feeling . . . not accomplished, but at least relieved to have made it through the day.

Currently, I’m working on settling my nerves for tomorrow. I do work again, tomorrow, after having had two days off. There are a million little things I’m anxious about, regarding that fact, but I’m trying to remind myself that I have officially been a nurse for four months. I have not made any drastic mistakes, in that time. I’ve done well, mostly.

I’m getting off track a bit. That said, I don’t have anything else to say that specifically relates to this series of posts. I’m glad that it’s done as well as it has. I hope it’s been interesting or helpful to others. I’m also looking forward to starting my next book.

This is a short post, I know, but it’s as long as it needs to be, I guess.