Last time I blogged, I shared all of the emotions that were coursing through me as I prepared to start caring for patients on my own. That was about a month ago and so much has happened since that time. I can barely wrap my head around it all but maybe writing them here will help.
Let me start by saying how extraordinarily thankful I am to have my job. I worked hard to get through school but much of getting hired happened by coincidence. A lot of strangers had to put their confidence in me as a new graduate with no critical care experience to learn quickly on my feet. And I couldn't have done it without the love & support of my family, who have always believed in me and supported whatever I have decided to do. I'm still trying to prove them all right every single day.
With that being said, it has been a roller coaster of emotions unlike anything I've ever experienced. Some mornings, I sleep like a baby knowing I did right by my patients. Other nights, I toss and turn because my head races with things I could have done better. I still have a knot in my stomach before work but every night gets a little better as I'm figuring out my routine and learning to anticipate the needs of my patients.
Besides patient care, I'm also learning how to ask for help when I need it. When I was orienting, I always had a co-worker by my side whose job it was to help me. But now I'm on my own. The other nurses have their own patients to tend to as I'm expected to tend to mine, too. I'm learning who I can go to for advice and the subtle art of choosing the right things to say when I need to ask certain people for help. But sometimes it just boils down to being a polite person - pleases & thank-you's can still go a long way. And offering to help people when you have a spare moment is a good way to make friends because we all need help sometimes.
Speaking of friends, I've had a difficult time finding common ground with the people I work with. Of course, everyone has been nice but they're all at different places in their lives that I have a hard time relating to - some nurses have worked there for over 20 years! I'm probably the youngest person on my unit by at least 4-5 years, which doesn't seem like a huge difference but I'm realizing there are a lot of life experiences & lessons learned between just graduating college and being in the real world for a few years. And I take myself pretty seriously sometimes, especially at work when I'm just trying to focus on not screwing up. I'm working on it but it gets a little easier every night like everything else.
Overall, the past month has been a humbling experience. I have been challenged physically, mentally & emotionally unlike anything I have ever experienced. I have done chest compressions, cleaned up more poop than when I worked at a daycare, hugged a family member of a patient we couldn't save, and had a patient fall in love with me because I reminded him of "the one that got away." It's difficult work but everyday I am able to say that I help people in times of crisis. And I count my blessings every single day that it's not someone I love who needs the help that I'm providing.
And of course, I can't speak about the past month without addressing the tragic loss of 26 beautiful lives in Newtown, CT. I can't begin to fathom the agony & grief the families, friends & entire community are facing and have yet to face as they try to carry on with pieces of them missing. Although I am not a mother, I think this post by Ashley of Ashley Quite Frankly beautifully expresses the human experience of heaviness we all feel surrounding this incident. She also touches on my own sentiments that the best way to honor these precious lives is to appreciate our own loved ones and cherish our limited time together in this mortal world, which is exactly what I plan to do.
Nor can I comprehend the internal strife of a person driven to do something so contrary to human nature. But I believe we can all benefit from paying a little bit more attention to the people we come in contact with in our daily lives and acknowledging they are fighting their own personal battles. We could use a little more kindness in the world.
I guess what it all boils down to is that I'm just really thankful and love y'all.
This time tomorrow night, I'll be at work taking care of my very own patients for the first time. All mine, just me. There will be no preceptor to double check what I'm doing, keep me on track or call the docs for me. I will be responsible for assessing, checking orders, administering meds, charting, bathing, talking on the telephone, giving report, and everything else that being a nurse entails.
In the past week, I have recovered patients after open heart surgery from the time they wheel out of the OR until the time they are discharged home. I have rushed a patient across the hospital to have a stat CT scan. I have successfully inserted a fecal management system. I have held the hand of a patient's family member who had to make the most difficult decision a human can make for the love of their life. But there's still soooo much I need to learn and experience.
From here on out I have to trust my instincts, my training and the big guy upstairs.
Let me preface this post by saying that I have made those loaf twice in the past week because we're inhaling it like air. It is THAT good.
We finally saw some cooler weather this week in Jacksonville. Nothing cold enough to bring the coats and scarves out of their storage box, but this weather was just perfect for leaving the windows open during the day. This is what we Floridians claim as our fall.
To celebrate, I got to baking. I found this recipe for a carrot & apple loaf cake on Pinterest and knew it was the one. We had all the ingredients on hand, including 2 apples hanging on for dear life and a 10-lb bag of carrots (go big or go home, amiright?) we needed to make a dent in. Perfect!
I can't speak highly enough of this recipe. The cake is bursting with flavor and spices that wrap you up in warmth like a blanket. Then you get the textures of the crunchy carrots, gooey baked apples, moist bread and crisp crust. The original recipe calls for a cream cheese frosting that I'm sure would be delicious as well!