I’m actually blogging in real time this morning because I was too tired (read that in a whiny voice) last night to deal with anything aside from watching Pawn Stars. Being a nurse yesterday wasn’t particularly taxing on my body. It was the whole being a team player that proved exhausting. Taking care of people never works too well when everyone isn’t willing to roll up their sleeves and just do it. That person becomes like a stick in the wheel’s spoke. Fortunately, the majority of the time our team functions as well as any average dysfunctional family. Like siblings: it’s ok if you pick on your brother but if anyone else picks on him: they are in a world of trouble! Personally, I never had this happen to me because I don’t have a brother. My work family hangs together tightly like this when someone or thing threatens one of us. This is one of the biggest reasons I work where I work and will stay until they tell me I can never come back or I’m dead or a lottery winner. I’m hoping the latter happens before any of the other options.
Yesterday wasn’t such a great day for my work family, in fact one of us was SUPER cranky and it was free floating cranky…hmmm…I wonder who it was…I wonder who was as cross as two sticks without viable reason.
Thankfully, the rest of us were very patient and kind with my short and snappy answers. I spent most of yesterday morning apologizing to my co-workers for being a taciturn bitch, the afternoon trying to figure out what the hell had crawled up my ass; and the evening kicking myself for being such EdgyJune McSnarky-Pants. The most frustrating thing was my ire had nothing to do with a single piece of reality except for fear. I was afraid of a patient. She also made me very angry because I could see how she had manipulated her family to the point of isolation and was continuing to now try and paint herself the victim while taking advantage of the health care system.
It wasn’t her physical disease but her personality disorder that was making me cringe. When I did have to help her, I found myself almost sickly sweet because I was deeply afraid if I interacted with this patient longer than a minute or two my buttons would be pushed and I would over react from a deeply personal place–my own history with a family member who shares her psychiatric diagnosis. She might be a manipulator and a malingerer but this patient doesn’t deserve to have my baggage opened up and thrown all over her.
Sometimes it pays off being fifty years old and a veteran of intensive talk therapy because I was able to announce:
“I can’t take care of her. It’s too much and she’s just like________ who has brought so much pain and sadness into my life recently that it makes me angry to even talk to this woman.”
In thirty years, I have never refused to take care of a patient because of their disease, personality, or crime. I have asked for a break if it was a wrought or hopeless situation and I was too enmeshed (see my fifteen years in the neonatal ICU where over involvement is a given) but I always resumed caring for the patient the next shift. Yesterday it killed me to admit my “failing”. Killed my pride and my sense of always being able to rise above my own history and foibles. I was amazed how the simple act of saying “I can’t” to my peer– trusting she wouldn’t judge me or think it was in my own best interest to soldier through and care for this fellow human being–helped me shed some of my baggage. But maybe it wasn’t owning my inability that freed me, maybe it was owning my human-ness.
Maybe yesterday was a lesson for me: it’s OK if I’m a human.