I never heard anyone warn me about what it would be like as a nurse. I think they talked a bit, but I didn’t hear what they were saying.
Maybe if I’d read more, or studied harder in school, I would have known...?
Maybe if I’d asked more nurses what I was getting into...?
Or more carefully picked my job...?
I never remember hearing anyone say that some days you will walk on air and own the universe. Or that some days you will be part of the care team and other days you will feel like the only member of the care team.
I remember seasoned nurses talk about that deeply satisfying moment of being part of the team, or the bone crushing frustration of looking at a completely detached physician as he treats the patient like a pile of symptoms. But I didn’t hear them.
No one ever managed to communicate that sometimes the unit would be so full of total care patients that the Patient Care Techs would be running ragged and no nurses would be able to help each other. And certainly no one ever said that those are always the days where one of your patients will start circling the drain at 5 pm. Or that when you have 4 patients and one of them has a Lumbar Drain that needs draining Q1hr and it’s like watching GRASS GROW as it drips into the bag BUT YOU HAVE TO PAY EXTREMELY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THAT GRASS or YOU WILL KILL THE PATIENT that it would be excruciatingly frustrating to watch all your other patient’s meds get behind. But there are days like that.
In my entire time in nursing school, no one ever verbalized what it would feel like to be a nurse. That the emotions would sometimes be more draining than the 12 miles of walking and 2 tons of lifting that sometimes happens on a day at the Office. The emotional weight drags you into a black hole.
My professors were remiss. They never said that FROM NOW ON you must wear waterproof mascara, because you NEVER KNOW what will happen on your shift. There’s no telling which days will be regular days, and which days will be days where you hold the hand of your favorite patient while the MD tells her that the weakness in her body is cancer. That there will be a moment in that conversation when she realizes what he is saying. She is leaving her husband. She doesn’t have much time. That they don’t know. That she needs to plan for what will happen after she is dead. That she is sick. They can’t. They can’t tell you what it will feel like when that patient grabs yours arms desperately and wraps them around her body while he continues to talk, or what her bones will feel like through her skin.
There is no way to warn you that her tears will make your uniform salty or that she will shake and shake with shame and fear after he leaves. That the words will stick in your throat when she gasps out the question, "But GBA...What does this mean?"
No one ever told me that there would be days when I would leave a patients room with mascara dripping down my cheeks.
They never warned me. And while I wish I could tell the new nurses entering this field that the shared pain and suffering will be OK and WORTH IT and that the good days will outnumber the hard, and that IT IS OK TO CRY.... I can’t.
I can’t tell you, and even if I could, you wouldn’t hear me.
Just as I never could hear them.
I think I'll go for a run.
~ respect the distance ~