No Rest For The Weary
……and the down elevator is in operation again, though it hasn’t descended as far or as fast as it did B.C. (Before Celexa). This is a less irritable and more sad type of mood, which oddly doesn’t make me feel like crying; it’s just that it feels as if everything is ending somehow.
It’s not hard to figure out where it came from. This has been a hell of a year, and I won’t be the least bit sorry to see it go. I feel like I’ve aged ten years in only twelve months: I am tired, frazzled, worn out. That’s not to say that there aren’t good things happening; Will’s continued robustness in the face of his cancer is nothing short of miraculous, and seeing him up and about, doing his normal activities with an energy he hasn’t had in quite some time, is AMAZING. Of course, knowing what I know, I can’t quite relax enough to enjoy it without an eye toward a future in which things may not work out the way we want them to. But I’m really trying to keep those worries out of our daily interactions, because if he loses faith in himself and his ability to fight, it’s over……and that cannot be allowed to happen.
Now, on top of my concerns about money and about Will and about every other damn thing, my job seems to be doing a disappearing act. Read: I’m scheduled for a whole four shifts this month, and none at all until the 15th. I’m very certain that the powers that be are aware that I’ve been ill and are doubtless trying to ease my burden, but I was only working weekends as it was, and now I don’t even have a full weekend scheduled until the very end of the month.
I broke this news to Will over eggnog shakes as we ate lunch at Jack-in-the-Box today. His reaction, like mine, was mixed; he too is worried about how we’re going to survive, but he also knows how much I’m struggling in my career, even in this much-diminished capacity. My superiors do their level best to make sure I am NEVER pushed beyond my limits, and to their credit, they’ve given me hours in other areas, such as auditing charts and doing other paperwork. But this last week, I was too dispirited—and busy!—to go in and proof medication sheets when they asked me, and now I feel so guilty that I don’t even have the nerve to ask if they’re just being kind, or if this is the prelude to “So Long, It’s Been Good To Know You”.
I honestly don’t know what to make of all this, except maybe I need to pay attention to what the naggy little voice in the back of my mind has been saying all along: that this really IS a charity gig. It’s also my last nursing position, because I’ve given this profession the best of me for the majority of my best working years—all too often at the expense of my family and my health—and now it’s finally broken me. I will work for this facility unless someone tells me I can’t anymore, but if that happens, I am DONE.
I can’t keep putting myself through nursing job after nursing job, starting out with high hopes that inevitably crash into the earth and shatter on impact. But more than that, I’m no longer able to deal well with the disappointment I feel at not being able to be the nurse I used to be, not only because of my own failings but because it’s not the way nursing is done anymore.
This morning I sat for a few minutes with one of the sickest patients on my unit even as I should have been finishing my med pass, stroking her painfully thin arm with my warm hand as we talked quietly. I used to do things like this all the time, and I’ve missed it sorely. She loved the attention and even laughed once during this brief exchange, and when it was over, she whispered, “Thank you for the visit.”
That damn near broke my heart. We nurses do all of this rushing around in the name of “efficiency” and “cost-saving measures”, and what happens is we’ve lost our humanity. We don’t reach out to hurting people because there’s no time—we do what I call seagull runs, meaning we sail into the room, drop whatever load we happen to be carrying at the time (whether it’s meds or a linen change), and then sail right back out with barely a “see you later”. And we do this because we all have too much to do, too much responsibility, and far too little authority to change how we do our work.
When I was younger, I could find ways around it, though I often suffered for my efforts to actually HELP people by being told I was too slow, or I wasn’t a team player, or I was neglecting my other patients by paying “too much attention” to the one who I thought needed it the most. That is NOT happening where I work now, which is why I like what I do, but that’s because I have the luxury of spending that time with an individual patient now. (At least, when I don’t have two admissions come at the same freaking time, like I did today.)
But now the window of opportunity to “do nursing” the way I was taught—the way I instinctively do it—is closing. My hours have been reduced, I am growing nothing but older, and I am so very weary.