My Zen

Life as a Nurse

Before the past few weeks, my life as a nurse hadn’t truly exhausted me. Nursing school was a huge challenge and one of my proudest accomplishments. I spent countless nights studying; cramming my head full of anatomy, nursing diagnosis, skills, and disease prevention and management. I was 100% mentally exhausted. At the end of most days it felt like my brain physically hurt. It was tired. Focusing was no longer an option.

So I’d rejuvenate my brain with 6 hours of sleep…..

Which led to physical exhaustion.

But I managed it. I thought, “Once I get through school, I won’t have to be so tired anymore.”

Then I took my first job….working night shift. My circadian rhythms were all sorts of messed up and most days, I was unable to function. Days turned to nights and nights to days. Literally. All my days meshed together.

I felt exhaustion on an entire new level.

So I found a day shift position. I thought, “Okay. This is days. This makes sense. 12-hours? No big deal. I got this.”

Again. Wrong.

I have been training in my new position on a medical/telemetry floor for about 6 weeks. I come home every day, completely fatigued in multiple ways.

Patients seem to be getting sicker. Its like chronic diseases are plaguing our society. Some days I have patients with liver, kidney, heart and stomach issues. All at once. How does that even happen? Humans are smart individuals. We are 100% capable to preventing some of these chronic issues, such as diabetes type 2.

People say it all the time. Eat Right. Exercise. It is good for your health.

Its incredibly true. And people don’t listen. They keep on keeping’ on and before they know it, they have end-stage something or other in multiple organs. It makes me sad. It makes me empathetic for them. I feel horrible. I don’t want my patients to be suffering.

I also feel a little irritated that these patients didn’t seek medical care before; or didn’t comply with healthcare recommendations.

And I get angry. At our healthcare system. One that doesn’t truly support someone with an income too low to afford good insurance. Sure, we offer them insurance. But it doesn’t seem that its covering much. I also get angry with the media and society as a whole for creating the practice we know as “fast food”. A practice that promotes eating on the go, or in front of the television, or various other places that don’t allow people to sit down, talk, relate to one another, and enjoy foods as a means of both entertainment and nourishment.

I could go on and on. Its a vicious cycle and quite a healthcare disparity in my mind. But I won’t. Not today.

My entire point is….nursing is hard. It takes everything out of you. I LOVE it. Don’t get me wrong. But the amount of my emotions that are affected every time I work seems larger than what I have experienced in the past. I am mentally, physically and emotionally drained at the close of each day. I am appreciative of life, family and opportunities. I am learning so much, both academically and on a psychosocial level. I love that I get to be a part of my patients’ lives in a helpful and supportive way. I LOVE seeing their health improve.

When I tell people about my job, I now include this experience. Being a nurse isn’t just about knowing the human body and being able to make nursing care decisions. Its also about relating to people, showing support and compassion and learning to multitask on a competitive level.

My eyes are now drooping to sleep and I have a 12-hour shift awaiting me bright and early 🙂

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