This isn't unusual in the nursing world. It isn't even unusual for nurses to work 16 hours shifts. And often times, those "12 hour shifts" turn into 13, 14, or 15 hours long after all is said and done and charted and triple checked. And you still think about it on the way home.
So I worked Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.
And I have to say that it was honestly one of the worst weekends I have ever worked on the medsurg floor. The combination of acutely sick patients, continuous bladder irrigation, critical lab values, and medical doctors that don't know how to treat psych patients [in addition to almost being kicked in the face by that psych patient and watching the ward clerk get kicked in the chest], drained doesn't even begin to describe how I felt Monday morning sitting in my car in the parking lot. My hands were shaking and my head was spinning and I could barely make the drive home to my apartment [which is literally 10 minutes from my work...if there is traffic].
When I got home, I found my boyfriend getting ready for work. I admit that I let my emotions get the best of me sometimes. I didn't want to be touched. I didn't want to be kissed. I didn't know what I wanted or needed to relieve all the tension and anger that had built up inside of me over the last three days.
I was cold to him [which I feel terrible about now because he NEVER treats me like that even when he is upset]. I didn't want to talk about work. That was the last thing I wanted to think about.
So what did I do to relieve this stress? I had a quickie shower, paid all my bills for the month, completed a quiz for one of my online BSN courses, had 3 shots of whiskey, and went to sleep.
This...was not the best idea. [Aside from my issues with alcohol, but that is another post onto itself.]
Hindsight is 20/20 and looking back now, here's what I should have done:
- Sat in my car as long as I needed to in the parking garage at work. Staring into space, or screaming and crying [whichever would have felt right at the moment]. Processed what all had happened. And then balled all those emotions up and put them in a little lock box in the back of my mind for the time being.
- Turned the music up loud in my car and sang/screamed along to "Let It Go" from the Frozen sound track. [My go-to "PickMeUp" song].
- Kissed my boyfriend goodbye when he left for work. I should have let him hold me like he wanted to [he can always tell when I am in a bad mood. The man reads me like a fucking book.]. I should have told him what was bothering me when I asked because he cares about me and only wants to help.
- Taken a long, hot shower. Let the hot water pour over my skin like a baptism, washing away the memories of what had happened. Scrubbed away the scent of sweat and blood and tears and death. Used my favorite body wash and engage in some much needed aromatherapy.
- Wrapped myself up in my coziest pajamas. The ones that fit just right and feel oh so good against my skin.
- Cuddled up in bed with my stepcats.
- Cried. Burst into tears. Sobbed until my chest hurt and my eyes were bloodshot and I had little snot bubbles coming out of my nose. Basically, an ugly-crying session [those usually make me feel better]. I should have opened that lock box up and dumped out every single thought, every single pain in my heart, and every single moment that made me feel like the worst nurse to ever wear a pair of scrubs. I should have opened up like Pandora's box and grabbed onto Hope and clung to it like a life rafted. I should have forgiven myself for my mistakes and my shortcoming and reminded myself that every nurse has "those days." [Even if "those days" last for several days in a row.]
- Slept for a few hours then went on about my life. Laid out by the pool, went shopping for sun dresses, spent some time on the archery range. SOMETHING. ANYTHING instead of hiding from the world under the covers and wishing I had never become a nurse.
But no. That's not what I did. I need to learn better stress management skills. They are so easy to list. But to actually follow through on them? Not so much.
So, my dearest readers, what do you do on those days that make you feel that low? Days when you feel the need to apologize for even breathing.
PS: Also, for your viewing pleasure, my spirit animal and new favorite meme: Calming Manatee.