Intense. There are plenty of other words I could use to describe the last 2+ years of my life, but when I moved from Haiti back to the U.S. this past November, let’s just say I was ready for something, well, not-intense. So when it was time to rejoin the ranks of working Americans, I chose to return to my old stomping grounds on the 4th floor at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. It just felt like I needed something a little more familiar, predictable, dare I say easy? They were able to give me a full-time position on the day shift (hooray for sleeping when the moon is up!) and I am so grateful to be working with all the nurses and staff I loved so much. What I was not expecting was to be working on the neurology unit, rather than the orthopedic unit where I was before. Let’s just say this specialty is not familiar, definitely not predictable, and somewhere opposite of easy.
One of the things I was looking forward to was having doctors making the actual diagnoses and determining the treatment plan. We all know nurses do much more than simply follow doctors’ orders, but I was looking forward to at least having orders to follow. What I did not remember, or perhaps chose to forget, was the guessing game that nurses play to figure out exactly what it is the doctor wants. I was re-certified in telemetry before getting back on the floor, but no one told me about any classes in telepathy. Just because an order is or isn’t there, doesn’t necessarily mean it is a reflection of the doctor’s intentions. Which of these conflicting orders do you really want carried out? Was that omitted purposefully or was it an oversight? Did you see the test results before placing your orders? Do you want me to call you about that? Doctor friends: I love doctors, I just need a roadmap of your brains!
Nursing in Haiti was ALL about patient care. I didn’t call them patients, of course; they were practically my kids! But any charting we did served an actual purpose, helped us remember what was going on and the specifics of any treatments. Any free time was spent playing, loving, cuddling. Do any of you work in healthcare? Do I really need to explain how much paperwork and busywork and tedious tasks are involved in healthcare? I want to be the person getting paid to check for dotted i’s and crossed t’s. Okay, I probably don’t because I’d end up wanting to scratch my eyes out, but you get the point.
Did I mention I was grateful for this job? Truly. I was grateful in Chicago and now I’m grateful in Long Beach. Grateful for the amazing nurses I work with. Grateful for a paycheck that allows me to fly to Haiti and visit my husband every month. Grateful for all the new things I’m learning. Grateful for the skills I’m honing. Grateful for the time I’m passing productively instead of sitting on the couch eating bonbons and watching The Glades (check it out on Netflix, great show!) while I wait for my husband to get a visa.
Even though I’m grateful, I was still getting really stressed. I was tense on my way to work every morning and even on a good day, that 30 minutes of report at the end of the day always left me feeling tense on my drive home (why are we nurses so hard on each other?) So along with some prayer and reframing of my mindset, I needed a tangible de-stressor
Enter Tom Bajoras. I met Tom and his lovely wife at a wedding recently and she gave me a copy of the CD he had made. I’ve gotten these types of musical handouts before…they usually suck haha. But I was blown away. And instantly felt my stress melting away. Tom is an incredibly talented composer and musician and without turning this into a full-on ad campaign, go check out his music. You will love it. I’m sure of it. Pretty sure. Well, I don’t really know your type, but if you’re anything like me, I’m sure you will love it.
What are your de-stressing strategies? In case I ever tire of listening to pure beauty, I’ll probably need a back up.