I woke up this morning with what I call “The Overwhelm;” the feeling of being trapped under the snow after an avalanche. I can’t dig myself out. I’m struggling to breathe. I can’t seem to find a way out. Outside the sun is shining and the birds are singing, a sign that Spring is around the corner. Yet, I am on the Struggle Bus.
I know this is temporary. The beacon inside me says, “Keeping digging.”
There is no rescue team. I must rescue myself…
Last October, I was optimistic about my new job. At this point, I am questioning my decision about staying in OR nursing and working for a large institution. Whatever I thought I learned during my two and half month sabbatical between jobs, I have quickly forgot. The Overwhelm has a way of taking over sometimes and I never know when it will hit.
The new gig has been challenging and frustrating, so much that I actually considered calling my old manager to see if I could do an agency stint down there. I left my last job because I no longer wanted to live in that city. I left because I didn’t want to see the parade of gun violence victims brought into our OR. Do I really want to go back to that even on a part time basis? I don’t know…
“Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” ~ Joni Mitchell
I miss the relationships I had with people – my fellow staff members, physicians, ancillary staff, the trust that was built through difficult times. I miss having a supervisor who rolled up her sleeves and helped the people she led. I miss having a supervisor that encouraged my creativity and appreciated my contributions to the department. I miss having charge nurses that were on the same mission as the staff – not to just keep the schedule moving, but to put the right staff in the right rooms. I miss the resources we had that helped us focus on patient care: the equipment guys, the sterile processing runners, the supply chain techs that would fill our supply lockers in the rooms. I miss the layout of my last OR which was open and helped facilitate a relationship with the Command Center. After all, the people in charge should know the staff and their skills.
Yes, I’m mourning the Past and I am trying to accept my Present. BUT WHAT ABOUT MY FUTURE? I don’t believe that I need to accept my current situation as my future. I am actively searching and meditating on what is next for me. I don’t think it involves OR nursing. I don’t think it even involves nursing. After all the hard work I put into getting my nursing degree, the blood, sweat, and tears I poured into every OR nursing job I have ever had, I am ready to give this all up for a little less sorrow and a little more joy.
The Year 2023 has already been a hard one and it’s only the beginning of March. The Universe slapped me in the face with the deaths of three strong women – my aunt, my friend, and my partner’s mom. A question emerged from the heartbreak, “What do you want for YOUR LIFE?”
I am looking for the courage to face what is and what could be. I know there is no easy way out. But what is harder is staying in a joyless situation. I have more questions than answers.
Has healthcare changed so much that I won’t be able to find happiness in my work? Or is it me? Have I been changed by what I have witnessed over 17 years of OR nursing that the passion and fire I once had is beyond revival? Is it selfish for me to want to take care of myself and relinquish the honor of taking care of patients? Do I still love nursing enough to find another role outside of a OR staff job? What has enabled long-time nurses to stay in this line of work for as long as they have? Do I really need to leave the OR, nursing in general, or do I just need a therapist?
Sometimes work takes over my life. I have to remind myself about the things that bring me joy on the outside: my partner, my dog, my family and friends.
Why do I always forget about this? Why is my identity so tied to my work?
I am exploring a new venture: starting my own business. This is separate from me being an investor in my significant other’s business. This will actually be MINE. Well, technically “OURS” – my business partner (another nurse friend), and me. I am starting work on the business plan today. It’s going to be a secret for a while until we are, God-willing, ready and able to launch.
I need to stay in this job for now. I need to find a way to fend off The Overwhelm. I want more joy in my life. And I know that I need my family and friends more than ever.
The good news is they have always been there. I just have to ask for help.
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