Thursday, December 27, 2007

Stacked and not so Angry anymore

Aaahh my people. My fellow nurses, healers, friends, nemesis's, those I adore and admire, those I can't stand.

One more semester to go. So much to tell. So many thoughts have furrowed my brow, like a crashing thunder storm on a hot summer afternoon, passing as quickly as it obscures the sun.

I got real depressed this semester. Every afternoon, around 1530, after school and on the way to pick my son up from day care. I felt so empty. Tired and empty. I have never felt depression like that before. It was like, physically painful in my gut. I felt no joy. And let me tell you, picking up your child, and feeling depressed, joyless, really makes one feel ashamed or guilty. It can be a very destructive cycle.

So AMN, what was bothering you? Why so blue?

The critically busy 7 days a week schedule, the lack of sleep, the monotony of obligatory rotations that have questionable value, the constant degradation and mind games at the hands of perpetually insecure instructors. Friends, I was bummed the fuck out.

You know what I realized? I'm not Angry Male Nurse anymore. I realized I had become:


But I'm cool now. I rested. I contemplated my sadness. I contemplated my anger. I wandered the hallways of my mind, pondering the meaning of a nursing career, directions to take, units to work in, mistakes NOT to be made. My friends, I pondered!
My wife and baby (he's doing great by the way) are visiting family out of town. Last night was the first night that I had slept alone since June 26th. It was the first time I did not wake up two or three times during the night in a very long time. And I realized: "Dude, your depression was secondary to your incredible exhaustion. Who the fuck wouldn't be depressed?"
I think Everybody, I think I was just really really tired.

I'll keep this relatively short:
I was working in the ER a month ago as a Student Nurse Worker. Basically an overworked NA. Two Samoan- American kids came in from a popular local rave. Roller #1 was a small guy, about 20, shaved head. Roller #2, was a pretty buff young dude, maybe 19, looked like a rugby player. They were under arrest for possession. They were handcuffed to their gurneys. And they were ROLLING THEIR SAMOAN BALLZ OFF! Dilated pupils, chewing their jaws like they were made of gum, rubbing their heads on the pillows of the gurney in ecstasy. Looking back, they probably had just ingested several pills prior to arrest to avoid more prosecution. Probably a good thing they got arrested because, frankly, I have never met guys their age with such warm, open, and funny dispositions. Such vulnerability. (It was also abundantly clear that neither of these guys should be behind the wheel) Maybe it was the E. Proably it was the E. Maybe they were just nice dudes. They got cleared after my shift was over, I worry about what happened to them in County lockup. But ecstasy only lasts a couple of hours, so by the time they got cleared they were probably more hungover than anything and got their sense back. (VS stable, both had fevers probably related to pharmacodynamics, no immediate cardiac or respiratory distress- though they both were hypertensive and diaphoretic.)

The following is a rough transcript of the conversation that made my soul feel better:

Roller #1: Hey man. Where is your wife? Your baby?
(I don't know how he knew that I had a wife and baby)

AMN: Home.

Roller #1: But you are here.

AMN: That's right. I'm working.

Roller #2: You can do it. Man. Keep on with yourself.

AMN: Gotta pay the bills. I'll see you guys in a couple of minutes.
( I came back fifteen minutes later. They watched me while I worked with other patients.)

Roller#1: I know you're tired. I can FEEL how tired you are. Keep on though. Keep on.

Roller #2: I'm not embarrassed to say it. Right now,I think I love both of you, dearly.

(His eyeballs kind of rolledback into his head, his eyelids nearly close-then his eyes popped back open. He satisfyingly grinded for a few moments.)

Roller #2: This is true.

Roller#1: Hey nurse guy, we believe in you. It's okay to be tired. You look really tired.

AMN: You guys alright?

This is no joke everybody:

Roller #1 and Roller #2: We're more worried about you, man. How are you doing?

AMN: Well, I guess I'm a bit tired.

Roller #1: I'm open to talking.

Roller #2: That's what we're here for.

I guess I looked as bad as I felt. Tired and blue! But what can you do when the only official protocol, the only mandate available is to Keep on'.

So I kept on. And we talked. Not advocating drug use, but their empathy was wonderful. I know, boundaries, bad idea to burden the patient with my problems, but in this instance, it just worked. I didn't give them intimate details but I summarized. I'm pretty much a closed book to coworkers and patients alike, I guess my soul was cold, and I needed their warmth.

Those young dudes completely shocked me. I realized, nobody had asked me recently how I WAS DOING. And yet another reminder to never EVER judge a book by its cover.

More to come friends!


Mother Jones RN said...

Glad to see you back working on your blog. You've been missed. Keep on' AMN.


Angry Nurse said...

Good to see your back!

Sorry to hear it's been a rough patch for you, I think we've all been there a few times.

As for your two patients; interesting how people can surprise you at times.

angry male nurse said...

Thank you guys for your kind wordz!

It's good to know other nurses have had similar experiences to mine, I like this blog community- support is a wonderful thing.

I feel like I should have elaborated about my schedule.
My clinical started at 0600, wrapped up at 1530, then I would go pick up the baby. My wife didn't get off of work till 2000, so generally I didn't get to sleep until 2200. Get up at 0400, it's just not enough sleep.
Now, some people do this everyday, year in year out. I feel kind of like a wuss for getting so pooped, perhaps it takes a few years to adjust to that kind of schedule.

Thanks again for your posts Mother Jones and Angry Nurse. You guys most definitely rock.

AtYourCervix said...

Welcome back to posting. A new baby does take a lot out of you - add school on to that, plus a job - no wonder you're feeling so down.

Keep up the good work though. You're almost done.