I COULD RELATE
I was googling the topic of “Nursing Burnout” the other day just for fun. I know…strange idea of fun…And I stumbled upon a website where every post was written by nurses or student nurses in response to a main topic which was, believe it or not, “I HATE NURSING.” So all the nurses who posted on this subject, and the number was considerable, shared
that same feeling. They hated nursing!!! Fascinated, I read on…
There were nursing students who were just beginning their journeys who stated they already knew they hated nursing. With posts like, “I hate it so much and I’ve just started,” those nursing students seemed to be quite clear. There were long-time nurses who admitted that they also hated nursing and had for years. There was even one nurse who confessed that she had been a nurse for over 25 years and hated “every single day of nursing” from her first day in nursing school where the lesson was “proper hand washing” up to and including that very day. The hate-filled posts went on and on and on…
Although I didn’t share every sentiment that those anti-nursing online posters had expressed, I have to admit that I knew from first-hand experience what my own version of “nursing hate” had felt like. For one example, I remember one of the things I hated most about nursing was having to work weekends and holidays!
In my case, I chose to “split” the required Saturday and Sunday into two weekends. I simply could not and would not be gone from my family for 48 hours straight. So I worked a Saturday one week and another week, I worked my Sunday shift. I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Sounds like Shangri-La! What’s the problem?” Well, by spacing my commitment out, that meant that two weekends every month got torn in half. One day of the weekend was normal (except I had to be sure to get to bed early because I knew I had to wake up early!) and one day of the weekend was spent in the hospital. I did this for six straight years.
WHAT I HATED ABOUT WEEKEND SHIFTS
I hated it because when it was the Saturday or Sunday that I worked, I woke up to my alarm at 4:50am and had to force myself to eat or drink some breakfast. I hated that. Then, while my family slept warm and cozy in their beds, I took my shower and got my scrubs on…no coffee and musing with my husband on those weekend mornings. I hated that. I would leave my house when it was still dark out and not return until it was dark again in the evening. Basically, we’re talking
about more than 12 hours of fluorescent lights at a time. I hated that. I missed out on going to my kids’ sports games during some of those years and it killed me inside. There were many “split” weekends where I missed taking them to birthday parties or helping them with their latest school projects. I really hated that. I missed being home amongst my people. As a former full-time at-home-mom for many years, relinquishing those precious Saturdays and Sundays with my husband and kids was devastating to me.
All I know is that having to split up my weekends seemed to especially make me feel like Cinderella (I always felt like Cinderella in those days but I especially felt like Cinderella when I did my weekend shifts!!!).
I suppose that one of the reasons that my weekend shifts felt more threatening to me than my usual shifts was because there was generally less ancillary help available to us nurses on the weekends. And thinking about this would always throw me into full-on “Flight mode” way before my feet hit the hospital floor. (Recall Fight, Flight or Freeze is a normal bodily response to acute stress/threat). Needless to say, weekends felt especially crappy because of the higher spikes in my cortisol levels due to this perceived higher threat of having less help and support.
So on the weekends, less departments were open; Less psych (or other type) consults happened on the weekends; Less testing was done on the weekends; Less physical therapists came to move patients, less wound care nurses came to assist with complicated dressing changes, and social workers were less available on the weekends. This made the weekend shifts feel more threatening which, of course, increased my stress and disdain.
Contacting doctors about their patients felt especially uncomfortable on the weekends. You simply did not want to be known as that nurse who broke the unwritten rule that went something like this: “Thou shalt NOT bother the doctors on the weekends…They will round on patients when they want to round…IF they want to round…Do not call the doctor…Just wait it out!” This unwritten rule, of course, did not actually exist other than amongst the nurses. And, of course, I called many a doctor on the weekends regarding their patients. It’s just that I felt especially yucky about having to bother them because it was a Saturday or Sunday. So for a rule that didn’t really exist, it sure served to make the doctors seem less available. Not good.
All I know is that working weekends made me feel like even more of a lamb going to slaughter than I already did during my normal weekday shifts…and I really, really hated it.
HATE “BE GONE!”
You may be wondering, “Why didn’t you just get grateful about it all?” I know. I know. At least I had a beautiful family to wave good-bye to, right? At least I had a nice home to return to, right? How could I be so ungrateful?!!! Believe me. I did the grateful thing all the time. I used every trick in the book to try to gratitudinize and spiritualize those hateful feelings out of me…because those kinds of feelings hurt. They really hurt. And I intuitively knew they were poison. No one had to tell me that. Those hate-filled feelings hurt me and they hurt others. In fact, they are the shameful type of feelings that no self-respecting, honorable nurse would ever, ever, ever really own up to unless…unless they knew those feelings were killing them.
And so, when I recently read those bold posts by those young, inexperienced nurses as well as those seasoned, expert nurses who admitted to hating nursing, I was actually…dare I say it?…can I say this?!…Yes, I can, because it’s my blog!…I was actually happy for them. They were getting it out. I actually thought, “Bravo!” At least they had the willingness to be honest. If not immediately, then eventually.
And what I was especially excited about was that they had allowed themselves to go primitive. They allowed themselves to get really UNEVOLVED. And in doing so they were allowing some of the poison out. They took the lid off the pot and allowed it to bubble over. They allowed themselves to not stuff those feelings down. I respect that. I’ve been there. I go there often. Make no mistake about it…getting that honest can seem scary. And it helps to have at least one safe person on your side.
Each and every one of those nurses took a chance on the fact that by admitting that something was broken and how much they hated it, that maybe they could affect change in their lives. What a huge act of courage!
PICK DOOR #2
Question? If a person was interested in increasing trust with their body because trusting our bodies always leads to
better contact with our intuition, less anxiety and more empowerment in our lives, what approach might work best?
1) Continue to stifle and stuff feelings, continue to allow shame to retain control, and continue to let themselves be
bullied by their thoughts while their (inner) lives stay the same (ANXIOUS!)
2) Get UNevolved; stop judging feelings as bad; go primitive (non-verbal); de-spiritualize even just for moments at a time; name feelings; and perhaps connect with someone who has been there (and maybe even have a little fun?!)
I pick Door #2! There is no doubt in my mind that the nurses who responded to that prompt have GIANT SUPER-SIZED HEARTS…no doubt…and that they are trying to nurse the most important body that they will ever have to nurse: THEIR OWN!
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