Last time I blogged, I shared all of the emotions that were coursing through me as I prepared to start caring for patients on my own. That was about a month ago and so much has happened since that time. I can barely wrap my head around it all but maybe writing them here will help.
Let me start by saying how extraordinarily thankful I am to have my job. I worked hard to get through school but much of getting hired happened by coincidence. A lot of strangers had to put their confidence in me as a new graduate with no critical care experience to learn quickly on my feet. And I couldn't have done it without the love & support of my family, who have always believed in me and supported whatever I have decided to do. I'm still trying to prove them all right every single day.
With that being said, it has been a roller coaster of emotions unlike anything I've ever experienced. Some mornings, I sleep like a baby knowing I did right by my patients. Other nights, I toss and turn because my head races with things I could have done better. I still have a knot in my stomach before work but every night gets a little better as I'm figuring out my routine and learning to anticipate the needs of my patients.
Besides patient care, I'm also learning how to ask for help when I need it. When I was orienting, I always had a co-worker by my side whose job it was to help me. But now I'm on my own. The other nurses have their own patients to tend to as I'm expected to tend to mine, too. I'm learning who I can go to for advice and the subtle art of choosing the right things to say when I need to ask certain people for help. But sometimes it just boils down to being a polite person - pleases & thank-you's can still go a long way. And offering to help people when you have a spare moment is a good way to make friends because we all need help sometimes.
Speaking of friends, I've had a difficult time finding common ground with the people I work with. Of course, everyone has been nice but they're all at different places in their lives that I have a hard time relating to - some nurses have worked there for over 20 years! I'm probably the youngest person on my unit by at least 4-5 years, which doesn't seem like a huge difference but I'm realizing there are a lot of life experiences & lessons learned between just graduating college and being in the real world for a few years. And I take myself pretty seriously sometimes, especially at work when I'm just trying to focus on not screwing up. I'm working on it but it gets a little easier every night like everything else.
Overall, the past month has been a humbling experience. I have been challenged physically, mentally & emotionally unlike anything I have ever experienced. I have done chest compressions, cleaned up more poop than when I worked at a daycare, hugged a family member of a patient we couldn't save, and had a patient fall in love with me because I reminded him of "the one that got away." It's difficult work but everyday I am able to say that I help people in times of crisis. And I count my blessings every single day that it's not someone I love who needs the help that I'm providing.
And of course, I can't speak about the past month without addressing the tragic loss of 26 beautiful lives in Newtown, CT. I can't begin to fathom the agony & grief the families, friends & entire community are facing and have yet to face as they try to carry on with pieces of them missing. Although I am not a mother, I think this post by Ashley of Ashley Quite Frankly beautifully expresses the human experience of heaviness we all feel surrounding this incident. She also touches on my own sentiments that the best way to honor these precious lives is to appreciate our own loved ones and cherish our limited time together in this mortal world, which is exactly what I plan to do.
Nor can I comprehend the internal strife of a person driven to do something so contrary to human nature. But I believe we can all benefit from paying a little bit more attention to the people we come in contact with in our daily lives and acknowledging they are fighting their own personal battles. We could use a little more kindness in the world.
I guess what it all boils down to is that I'm just really thankful and love y'all.