For Rent: Used Nurse. Dirt Cheap!

I’d better explain that. I am not, of course, a ‘lady of the night’ who dresses up in a nurse costume and gives bed baths to her, um, patients for money. What I AM is a newly unemployed, 50-something nurse who’s showing her age, and as such, does not suffer fools gladly. Although I was fired, essentially, for working while bipolar, it became evident that I had to go when I stopped co-signing peoples’ bullshit.

As a nurse in 21st-century America, I’m more like a glorified food server than a skilled technician. Nurses in almost every healthcare setting are expected to fluff pillows, bend straws, suck up to administration, doctors, patients and their families, and even use scripted messages when addressing their “customers”: “Is there anything else I can do for you right now? I have the time.” Oh, sure, by all means let me fetch that warm blanket for you while ignoring your roommate who’s turning blue…..

It’s even worse in management. At least when you’re a wage slave, you get to clock out, go home, and let somebody else deal with the irate family member who’s making completely ridiculous demands on behalf of his relative. As a salaried executive type, you not only have to listen to the jerk, but you must bend over and take whatever he dishes out, fix whatever led him to complain, and then apologize profusely so that maybe—just maybe—it will raise your Press-Ganey (customer satisfaction survey) scores. Or failing that, you might be able to convince him not to file a lawsuit against the facility for not giving his 300-lb. diabetic grandmother a piece of cake.

Yes, it’s that bad. And I’ve got to admit that after several years of dealing with this sort of thing every day, I finally marched in to my boss’s office and refused to handle any more of it. By that time I was literally on the verge of a nervous breakdown (which I proceeded to have a couple of weeks later) and no longer cared what he or anyone else said: I was done catering to idiots. He was more than welcome to continue doing so himself; I, on the other hand, was over it. In fact, I’d already decided that the next 70-year-old “child” who got in my face about Mamma’s laundry getting mixed up would be informed that she a) had obviously mistaken me for someone who gave a shit, and b) might want to take that up with the poor woman who was actually in charge of that department.

But it wasn’t until the nervous breakdown happened that someone decided that I was no longer fit to work in the capacity to which I was accustomed. I could’ve understood it if I’d been fired when I declared my freedom from petty crap and verbal abuse, but having panic attacks and going out on medical leave? Really??

So here I am, healed up and ready to go back to being a worker bee…..but nobody’s hiring. And at my age, my prospects aren’t exactly dynamite (even if my temper is). Now what do you suppose a used nurse with a bad back and a sketchy work history is to do?

You know what, I should become a waitress! I’ve been slinging hash and kissing ass for years……and I never even got any tips for it. Where’s the closest Denny’s?

Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

2 thoughts on “For Rent: Used Nurse. Dirt Cheap!

  1. I’m so sorry you’ve experienced this. You’ve must have gone through some very rough times. It sounds as if you might be suffering from burnout.

    I don’t have any answers or cures, but maybe a stress support group will help. If you don’t have one in your local area, there are online groups that are free. Everyone needs a place to vent, a place to get moral support, a place where your pain is heard and you are cared about. You deserve that emotional support, so I hope you will get it for yourself.

    Do you remember why you started in nursing? Maybe if you can find that spark of passion again, you’ll know where to apply to get the most satisfaction from a new job. Hopefully, you can find one with less stress, too.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you.


    1. Thank you for your kind words, and for the link included in your response. I do participate in a Bipolar support group over at Psych Central, and it’s been a lifesaver. I’m pretty open about my illness, but now that I’ve lost a well-paying and responsible job to it, I’m feeling a little gun-shy about disclosing it in any workplace I may occupy in the future.

      RIght now, I’m researching home health, which I know is a lot of driving and a lot of paperwork, but I also know I would love the one-on-one with the patients, which is where I excelled in nursing school and later in acute care (hospital). And part-time sounds better and better all the time… more 50-hour weeks for me!


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