Hello beautiful people,
A long time between posts, I know, but life has been hectic and sometimes there is no time for the things we love. I love to write, I love to read, I love to swim, I love to dance and I love to sing. Out of all these things the only one of them I have allowed myself time for over the last few months is reading. Everything else has been sacrificed due to other commitments and time restraints in my life! If I have nothing else for myself at least I have my books!!
As most of you know I work in a very busy emergency department as a nurse, I only work part-time which usually consists of three to four days a week. This leaves me the other three to four days a week to focus on my other job of mummy/wife. These roles are what create and define the dichotomy of my life. Between these two roles, there is very little time left for myself or for friends.
My working week consists of shifts that are usually eight to ten hours long, mostly spent on my feet walking ceaselessly up and down the department tending to patients needs. On any given shift I can be deployed to work in any area of the department from the acute section, to the resuscitation section to the pediatric section. In one day our department often averages seeing around 200 patients with approximately twenty nurses on per shift, with some shifts over lapping in time. In a good shift there will be no acutely unwell patients, no patients with difficult or challenging behaviour and no tension between the staff who are feeling the pressures of working long hours, often understaffed with acutely unwell patients and very strict time lines to adhere to in regards to patient care.
In a bad shift, I may be spat at by a patient with challenging behaviour, verbally abused by a patient or family member, I may have to attend to chest compressions on a patient having a cardiac arrest, administer life saving medication to a person having an anaphylactic reaction to something or ensure a woman who is actively having a miscarriage is not bleeding so much that she is dropping her blood pressure and at risk of hemorrhaging while at the same time holding her hand, giving her tissues, grieving with her and reassuring her husband that she will be ok. A bad day can even be a Monday morning, when the first job you have is a patient having a full cardiac arrest and they don’t make it and the rest of your day is spent preparing the body for the coroner, liaising with social work for the family, all the while ensuring you don’t cry, don’t she one tear because if you do, you risk the flood gates opening and if they do you just might (for that shift) not be able to close the gates again and stop the tears.
Some shifts are so rewarding, the ones where you witness someone’s heart restarting because of the swift and professional care administered by you and your colleagues. Or giving pain relief to a child in pain and providing comfort measures and distraction techniques to them whilst they have their x-ray and then their plaster put on their broken wrist (damn scooters!!). These simple actions can make you feel like you made just the littlest difference in someone’s world. Discovering that the patient who thought she was having a miscarriage actually has a viable pregnancy and seeing the heartbeat on the ultrasound screen and watching the parents tears of joy always makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Some days are just so overwhelmingly good, that even if they are few and far between they out weigh all the bad days and keep you coming back each day to help achieve and support little nursing miracles happen!!
Yes the shifts are long, physically and emotionally tiring often swathed in a sea of nursing emotion hidden behind a nursing poker face! A reassuring smile with a subtle mix of compassion and understanding hidden in the eyes. Colleagues come and go and some remain longer than others and as someone said to me recently, “its ok and healthy to have these minor confrontations, after all we are like a small family” and it really brought it home to me that in a way we are. We work so closely together in such a stressful environment that bonds are formed and communication is always the key to harmony!
Some shifts I leave work late in the evening around ten thirty, knowing that I have to be back to work by seven-thirty in the morning. I walk to my car in the dark by myself reflecting on the shift and going over in my head if I have forgotten anything important I needed to do for a patient. Hoping that I have handed everything over to the nurses on the next shift, anything left that needed to be done, because after all nursing is a twenty-four hour gig.
As I get to my car the cool fresh night air reminds me that I need to pee and I realise that its been since earlier in the day that I last went to the toilet despite all the coffee and water I have been drinking throughout the day. Not an ideal situation to ignore ones toileting needs but I find it hard to remember to go myself when patients buzzers are going off constantly. Usually because they need a bed pan or pain relief or an urgent blood transfusion needs to be given. I drive home weary, half asleep as I stagger in to my bathroom finally take a minute for myself and then have a very hot shower. In the shower would be the place I would shed a tear on a rare occasion that something had been too much for me to handle on the shift, a patient death or a conflict or just generally fatigued and from enduring the constant challenge that is emergency nursing!
If im on late shifts I don’t see my children that night before they go to bed and their dad tucks them in. I generally don’t see them the next morning either if I’m back on a morning shift, I leave for work before they get up. This means I often don’t see them for over twenty-four hours. Might sound great to some parents but believe me anyone who knows me knows I miss my kids even when they are at school. And no I’m no hippy that is in to attachment parenting, I just love seeing my kids even if it’s for half an hour a quick chat, catch-up and a hug and that’s all I need. And mostly at their age that’s all they need too.
If I’m lucky enough to be at the end of my days on at work then I switch hats from the professional nurse roll and put on my mummy hat and step over into the dichotomy that is my home life job. In my mummy roll I have four children ranging from late teens at uni, to pre-teens in high school and youngens in primary school. In my life as mum and wife my days off are way different from saving lives like in emergency. My days consist of clothes washing, food shopping, parent teacher meetings, sports carnivals, occupational therapy, dentists, doctors appointments, music lessons, music concerts, clothes shopping, swimming, birthday parties, children’s social activities,cooking, cleaning and so on and so on…… Not a whole lot of me time really….. But I guess a lot of parents feel the same way, especially the working parents!! I know they say parenting is a full-time job, yet some of us don’t have the luxury to be a full-time parent, some of us have to work…… And yes its hard switching off the stress. Changing from one roll to another can be very challenging and remembering that I can swear at home because I can apologise to my husband and kids and explain that I’m feeling stressed and that I shouldn’t have sworn may not be as simple or easy to fix as swearing at work, which is clearly unprofessional….
I often think about how little time I have for myself and how much of a lousy friend I am for making tentative arrangements to meet for coffee and after a week or so of constantly swapping between my two lives I forget the plans I’ve made with people as readily as I’ve forgotten what the day of the week is……And people get let down and cranky with me and I feel lousy all over again and I apologise again…. and the perpetual cycle continues of me and my life of dichotomy…….
And I wallow in sorry and self-pity about why people don’t understand how hard it can be for me at times to be both super emergency nurse and awesome mummy/wife!!
And after the veil of self-pity leaves, I evaluate those that get angry and don’t understand me or aren’t forgiving of me when I occasionally and very unintentionally let them down and my conclusion is this……….
HOW MANY LIVES HAVE YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE IN OR ASSISTED IN SAVING THIS WEEK???!!!
While I was letting you down and neglecting my own family I was holding someones hand as they lost their baby or physically assisting someone’s heart to keep beating…….
This gig is hard the dichotomy that is my life but I love it, and its my choice!! I may not be great at everything I do but I try my absolute hardest to be!! I love being an emergency nurse and I love being a mummy/wife!! I love being a friend too but I gotta say that it takes a pretty tough person to be a friend to someone with a life as full and chaotic as mine. So if you feel like it’s too much effort and you can’t be bothered making the time for me, because let me assure you, I will let you down, I will be late from catching up on nearly a week without sleep, I will forget your birthday (unless Facebook reminds me) and if I do remember I’ll probably forget a present. My priorities are me, my family and my nursing!!
If I’ve learnt one thing about myself through out my life its this, I’m very loyal and dedicated,if you can accept me for who I am and who I choose to be then we can be in each others lives quite harmoniously. If you care about me, I will give care to you in return times a billion. If you hurt me, yes I’ll probably cry initially and because I’m hypersensitive I may even apologise and try to make things right because I value people and their positive influences in my life. However, if you continue to put negativity on me for me just being who I am then you are no longer welcome in this crazy dichotomy of mine!!
I’m sure I can count on one hand who my true friends really are and that’s all anyone needs in their life.
Those that can relate to the choices I’ve made, those that respect the roles I play.
Those that enhance my life everyday, are those that I know will choose to stay.
So for now please understand,
A mother, a wife and a nurse is what I am,
I wouldn’t have it any other way,
But if you stick around very occasionally I can step in your world to play 🙂
Peace, Love and Happiness People 🙂 xoxoxox