9 to 5

Well, actually it’s more like 9 to 11, or 1:30 to 6, but no matter when or how many hours I’m on the clock, at least I’m still working….and working as a nurse.

After wrestling with the issue for a couple of months, I’ve more or less come to the conclusion that I’m going to stay one for a little longer. To be honest, there is nothing else that I’m trained for that pays anywhere near what I earn in this profession, and now that I seem to have settled into a position I can handle, the urgency to get out before something terrible happens has faded into the background.

It doesn’t hurt that my little chat last weekend with one of the charge nurses on the rehab unit coincides with a resurgence of confidence that my current mental state is going to hold. Even when Will and I were going through the horror of his acute illness and dismal prognosis, my underlying mood was stable, and other than that week when I tried cutting down on the one medication, it has been since mid-July.

Now, although fall is approaching and the angle of the sunlight is getting a little lower every day, I note the absence of depressive symptoms and say a prayer of thanksgiving for every steady moment. I’ve fought this illness so hard for so long, and it feels wonderful to be able to simply relax and allow the rhythm of life to flow, instead of always looking over my shoulder for the next mood swing.

Accordingly, I’ve had a chance to reassess my position in the working world and calm down a little, and I’m happy to report that I’m not going anywhere for the time being. I love my nursing home and the people I work with, and as long as there’s a place for me there, I see no reason to test the waters elsewhere.

Don’t get me wrong; I know better now than to ignore my limitations. I hate them, but as long as I respect them I’m OK. Even so, I can flex a little more than I could even a month ago; the morning med pass scares me, but as long as I have only 10-12 patients and do it very, very methodically, I can manage it. And then we’ll see about how this temporary QA/QI job goes; for the first time in forever, I’m more excited than nervous about this new venture, and that too is a VERY good sign.

Looking back, I underestimated the severity of the wounds I sustained from that catastrophic job loss in May. Believe me, you haven’t felt small until a corporate nurse consultant sums up your entire career in one sentence: “Your work performance is consistent with your [bipolar] diagnosis.” Four years of college coursework followed by sixteen as a nurse, and suddenly I was a failure because I was sick??!

Nurse Ratched had no idea what she did to me with that statement…..but then, neither did I at the time. I know now that it seriously damaged my self-confidence, causing me to question my capabilities over and over again; it wasn’t until last weekend that I finally believed I could still be a nurse, albeit in a limited role. Now that I’ve tried looking at it from her point of view, I realize that it is physically impossible for me to cram my head that far up my rectum.

And so it goes.

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.

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