November 12, 2018

I Just Can't & That's Okay


There will be moments in your nursing career when you can't do something and guess what? That is okay. Overworking yourself, both emotionally and physically will cause distress in your life and make you resentful of the nursing profession. Every time I've mentally told myself I couldn't do something and pushed and pushed on anyway, someone or something suffered. Whether it was my family or my professional standards, some part of my life took a hit. Let's all acknowledge that we can't be 30 places at once. Let's accept that we aren't perfect. You will have to prioritize what you can do and what you can't do given the time frames you have to work within. That doesn't make you a terrible nurse, that makes you human. If I'm not able to do something and I can't delegate to someone, it won't get done. And I hope the oncoming nurse can pick up the pieces. I can't be there 15 hours (without eating) trying to do everything. I won't. A 12-hour shift flies by when someone is crashing. Don't tell me to find the time. Don't tell me to make it work. Sometimes I can, given the right team and proper support system. But sometimes, I can't and pushing myself isn't healthy. Last month, I also peed my pants at work. I'm almost 40 damn years old, that's insane! I can't find time to pee?! And yet, every nurse has had one of those shifts where they just couldn't care for themselves. A rare occasion is okay, but if this is a pattern, that's a problem. If you NEVER take a lunch and you NEVER can go pee, that is a huge problem. There is no honor in an inability to take care of yourself. You don't get a badge for depriving yourself of things. This isn't a contest.

Listen, I work nights, and I love it. Sometimes I'm able to stay up all day (after a 12-hour shift), clean our home, prepare dinner, and pick our son up from school. I'm able to be that superstar. But some days, I lean heavily on my husband to pick up the pieces. Some days, all I can do is come home at 8:45 AM, get in the bath, eat leftovers, and head right to bed. I just can't push myself some days. I know my limits, I know what I can manage. It's one thing to motivate yourself and squeeze out the last bit of work. It's another thing to be so depleted physically and emotionally, that you can't function afterward. To the point where there is nothing left for you or your loved ones. Going through the motions of living is not living. I love nursing, I enjoy helping others. But trust me, I come home whole and intact. And yes, there are shifts when some tasks aren't completed. And yes management, along with the oncoming nurse, have both been made aware of my shortcomings. My job isn't to almost kill myself caring for others. My job is to care for the ill and help the healing within the time frame I am there.

When I get home, my feet might hurt but I'm mentally intact. I'm emotionally safe and present. If you are not, step back and reprioritize things. I'm all about hard work, but it shouldn't cost you family time or personal relationships. No career is worth that. If you feel this way, sit down, examine where you are in life and what you want out of life. I LOVE nursing, I have a passion for it. But, I've NOT loved it working at some places. A hospital, a floor, a schedule, a manager can make or break your wellbeing. Being strong isn't a contest of who can stretch themselves the most without snapping. You can't care for others if you are on empty. Do what works for you and your support system. But the priorities are balance and wellbeing. If you feel something truly isn't suitable or safe for you, it's okay to trust your inner voice. That voice that is honest and true. That doesn't make you a weak person, it makes you a person who knows what you need. Nurses care for others, but we tend to have a hard time caring for ourselves.