My stethoscope, of course. What did you think I meant?
I’ve made my decision: I’m done with nursing once and for all. Today I turned down two referrals from the unemployment office for nursing positions at the brand-new veterans’ home over in the next town—a place where I would very much like to work—because I’ve searched my soul a thousand times and I just can’t be a nurse anymore.
There. I said it. It’s over.
That’s not to say that I would turn down a job as a discharge planner or resource nurse; I’m going to keep my license active at least for the next couple of years just in case something like that comes up. But every time I even think about doing direct patient care, or being on-call, or working nights because somebody calls in and I have to cover the shift…..well, the feelings in my belly aren’t very pleasant. My heartbeat speeds up. I hyperventilate. And I get some odd sensations in my chest. Good Lord, if I do all that just thinking about nursing again, what kind of a mess would I be in practice?
I know exactly what kind of mess I’d be: a terrified, anxious, hot mess. I would also more than likely come off the spool again, because we ALL know how well I deal with severe stress. I’m doing a little better each day as far as my current life crisis goes, but it wouldn’t take much to start spiraling out of control again. So when I torment myself with futile thoughts of how to make my old career work for me again, it’s almost like playing Russian roulette with my psyche, and I’ve got to stop doing that or I’ll never break this paralysis.
I’ve talked it over with Will and explained that changing to another line of work will permanently change our lifestyle because there’s no way I’ll ever make thirty bucks an hour in an office or in retail. He doesn’t care. All he’s concerned about is my sanity, Heaven bless him. It must be said that minimum wage work could also be triggering AND pay a third of what I used to make, but I’m going to have to take that chance. It feels like I’m stepping off a ledge, and I hope I don’t land at the bottom of the canyon. But I must find peace with what I do for a living, and I can’t do it with something that has beaten me down over and over again. There is a breaking point, and without realizing it, I’ve already passed it.
I’m not OK with this yet. I wish I still had the ability to be a nurse. I was a good one—even though I wasn’t nearly as good at being an employee—and I did many awesome things and met many awesome people in the course of my career. But all that’s left now is a bittersweet batch of memories and the knowledge that I did, in fact, help people…..which was all I ever wanted to do in the first place. I didn’t want to become a pack mule, or a glorified waitress, or a paper-pusher, and I was all three—sometimes even at the same time. That wasn’t what I signed on for, but that’s what it became, and in the end it made me bonkers.
Thus endeth a 17-year career that was much like licking honey off a thorn. Oh, if that discharge planning or resource position ever comes open I’ll be all over it like a cheap suit, but I’m not holding my breath for it. It’s time to move on.
To be continued…..