Friday, October 29, 2010
More and more at work, I keep thinking that I'm less and less suited to it.
I don't know if it's some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy (loss of interest = loss of drive. Not having drive nor interest doesn't necessarily leave me feeling like "one of the team"), or whether I just don't really belong in mental health, but I'm just not "feelin' it" lately.
I don't have much of a personal connection with the people I'm working with, and I don't feel like I'm able to learn much because I work with such a closed group of people. It's not their fault - they've just been working together for so long that it's hard to let others in. It really does make it tough to try and learn the ways of the unit (and there are lots of rules)...but even after learning "the rules," the place is like an onion. It doesn't take much to figure out what's going on on the top layers, but it takes a lot of work to peel all the layers down to the middle, so to speak. And I won't really get it all.
But of course, that doesn't help much either.
And I just learned that I'll be at work over the Christmas Holidays - 23rd, 24th and 25th. Extra lame, since absolutely everyone I care about will be anywhere but Vancouver. So I'll do may days at work and come home to an empty apartment. I'm considering going out for a fancy dinner on Christmas eve. Maybe the Fairmont has an opening...
Posted by Sarah Snertball at 3:55 PM
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Today I had a good friend over for tea. I haven't seen her in nearly a year and a half, so I'd gotten quite excited and baked fresh scones, whipped cream, took out a couple of the mini pies I'd baked, set out some chocolate truffles, and my fancy tea cups too.
As it turns out, her second life (she's a nurse too) is in raising her dog. She called him her "soulmate in dog form," which apparently her husband isn't too thrilled about. She loves her dog, but what I realized was that when she wasn't working, she didn't do much else. She loves her job!
Needless to say, it was difficult to get her to talk about anything but work. Even when I tried to steer the conversation away from work, it quickly made its way back. Sure, sharing stories about nursing was great since we both have very different experiences, but sometimes I worry that work gets the better of us. We forget that work is supposed to be the means to get what we want out of life - not the thing that becomes ourl lives. We need breaks. Of course we sometimes run into people who love their jobs so much that they can't think of doing anything else, but even then, it's that person loving their job. Their job isn't who they are - they just compliment each other. Our job shouldn't overtake us and who we are, otherwise we'd go nuts and become overexhausted. That's the point at which we've become "burnt out." It's a well documented phenomenon in nursing, anyway. Nurses who appear to love their job but who become so involved in it that it overtakes their lives end up leaving the profession because of the emotional strain.
I suppose that's the theme of the week. Learning to figure out who you are when you're not on the clock. Learning to let work stop when you leave. Allowing your friends and loved ones into your life without distancing them with constant talk of the thing you do when you're not with them already. Learning who you are without that professional label attached. This week, I'm a baker extraordinare! yess!
Posted by Sarah Snertball at 3:53 PM
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Back to work. I called ahead to find out that there aren't any kids on the unit again, so it's going to be another lonely night. But this time, I'll be prepared. I'm bringing the first two discs of the first season of Mad Men, The Craft, and Rendition. Lotsa movies. And knitting. I've also got the tools and ingredients to make banana bread. So I suppose I won't be totally bored.
Posted by Sarah Snertball at 6:45 PM
Friday, October 22, 2010
So I arrived to work tonight to find out that there aren't any kids on the unit. (yay!) That's normal for a weekend - the kids go home to spend time with their families.
What wasn't normal was that I was then informed that since there weren't any kids, they also wouldn't need a second staff member over night. So I'm here, all alone.
On the bus ride to work, I'd been thinking about all of the time I've been spending alone. I was happy to have someone to hang out for the next twelve hours. So as happy as I was to have the place empty of kids, I was rather disappointed to be spending more time totally alone.
Oh, and a co-worker remind me before she left that the staff upstairs have been talking about how they think they've been seeing the ghost of a former employee who died last year. This place has got plenty of haunting stories - it used to be an army vet's hospital, and then for those years when it was out of use, a tv studio thought it looked creepy enough to film several episodes of X Files here. Great.
So I've got the next 10 hours or so to myself in a large, empty unit. And I may have to do the same tomorrow night, too.
Posted by Sarah Snertball at 9:19 PM
Today I went out to brunch with a couple of nurse-friends from work. Last night, a bunch of work-type friends all went out (myself included) to a local club to listen to great music, and to bid farewell to a co-worker who's going to travel all the way to Australia for an adventure in nursing. Well, it's more that she wants to travel, and working in nursing pays hella-better than working any place else.
I'll be sad to see her go. She was my mentor when I first started out and we had some good times. But traveling is her "second life." She's an adventurer.
I often see that with nurses. They come to work and do their job and pretend to be stable, upstanding, normal people, but when they're not at work they have completely different lives and ambitions. Some are musicians, some run online knitting shops, some travel, some (like myself) are theatre-types. It's all 100% non-nursing. I suppose it's that coping mechanism. What can I do/love/try/share that doesn't have to remind me about the work that I love, but that stresses me out and often pushes me to the brink of sanity?
I knit. I bake. I'm trying to cultivate my green thumb (I bought mint, a small rose, and some more soil and fertilizer today!). I allow my collection of painful but fabulous shoes to grow so I have something absolutely killer to wear when I get the opportunity to go out. I especially like it when I go out with work friends and they're totally surprised to see that I have a liking for 5" heels because all they every see me in is slacks, tshirts and sneakers at work. The life I live at home often feels very different from the life I'm supposed to pretend I live while at work. But that's ok. Like I said, often these double lives are coping mechanisms for dealing with the illnesses and issues we have to try and "solve" while at work.
It's impossible to cure the kids at work. In mental health, kids often come to the hospital just for assessments and adjustments to their medications. We try and help them learn ways of dealing with their illness, but we won't cure them. I have a tough time with that. I think that's why I'm experiencing such burnout while at work. I can't fix them. If I was to work in a medical-type unit, I could bandage the wound, or give pain medications. The kids would get fixed. Cured. But I can't do that where I work now. I don't feel like I see real success.
And that's why it's important to have a second life from the one you live at work. We work to get paid. Hopefully, it's while doing something we like to do. But even the things we like to do can get overwhelming, and we need a break. That break comes the moment I let the doors at work close behind me, and I remember that I have tickets for a new play, or have all the ingredients in my fridge for making delicous apple pie.
So, what's your second life?
Posted by Sarah Snertball at 2:14 PM
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
So I'm watching America's Next Top Model, knitting, and I just put a frozen pizza in the oven. The dishes are ready to go in the dishwasher and I put all of my clothes away. I'm ready for an early bedtime, so hopefully I'll get lots of sleep and be uber rested for work tomorrow.
Sounds pretty good.
But today I also bought the makings of my Hallowe'en costume. It's another year where I don't feel like particularly anybody or anything, but rather I'd rather be "Not Sarah." A mask and wig will be used, though I'm going to keep it all under wraps until the 31st because I know M is cruising this blog and I want to keep it a secret from him, too. But it's wicked. And I can totally manipulate it so that I can wear it to work and be kosher for the kiddies.
I also bought a little red clown nose, just for kicks!
Whoopee for Hallowe'en!
Posted by Sarah Snertball at 8:53 PM
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
In actual fact, I'm going to give blood today, at 1:30. It's an important service that I can do for others, and it means that I can have whatever I want for lunch today...
The first few times I tried to give blood, it just didn't work out - I almost fainted. Once, I nearly fainted while sitting at the cookie table afterwards, and they had to do the whole glucose tab thing. Then they told me that maybe I should just lay off trying to give blood for a year. My iron levels were fine, maybe I just wasn't ready. So I waited. And then two days before Christmas, two years ago, I did it. I gave an entire pint of blood and I didn't faint or nothing! I was so proud, and I gave M my donor card with the record of donation on it for Christmas (he's a long time donor, so I knew he'd be proud, too!)
So I'm still trying to give.
It's also my opportunity to be "high maintenence." Since I'm sitting stationary and usually unable to use my arms, I have to ask others to do things for me. I get the seat half-way reclined. I get a cool cloth on my forehead. I get a rubber glove filled with warm water to hold in the donating arm's hand. It takes me about 10 minutes to fill the bag, but when I'm done, I'm happy,and generally healthy!
So if you're interested in donating, call Canadian Blood Services at 1-888-2-DONATE!
Wish me luck!
Posted by Sarah Snertball at 10:50 AM
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Yesterday, someone at work told me she thought I was an "old soul." Is it the knitting? the baking? the letter writing?
The whole concept of having past lives is pretty far fetched, but how might one feel if they thought they did have a soul much older than their body?
It was rather a nice compliment, and it got me to thinking plenty about it....what say you?
Also, I'm working a night shift, so I'm rather sleepy and have lots of time to let my mind do a lot of wandering. That might be where this deep thinking is coming from. Maybe.
Posted by Sarah Snertball at 11:01 PM
Saturday, October 16, 2010
So, I'm at work today, right. And a rep from BCNU (the BC Nurses' Union) came around to notify us that they were serving cold foods and free massages over lunchtime.
So of course I went - I've never had a real massage before. Food was ok, massage was real good. I feel quite relaxed at work now....still thinking about all of my work worries, but a little more relaxed about it.
But MAN - FREE massage! Like, on a table, with an RMT. About 20 minutes too. But of course, this is exactly what the union wants me to think...oh the union and their sneaky ways.
Well, anyways, I enjoyed it.
Posted by Sarah Snertball at 2:16 PM
It has come to my attention that I have been neglecting this blog. A lot. When was my last post again? Anyway, it's been a while. But it is a little nice to hear that others are reading it enough to notice (thanks, friends!)
I'll give you the quick low-down, as is my routine.
August: was spent working with the teenagers, seeing some theatre (Bard on the Beach, Glengarry Glen Ross with Eric McCormack), and trying to take in the sushine.
September: Went to Kamloops for my father's 60th birthday. Started to see Autumn creep into Vancouver. Started Nursing on the children's mental health unit. I think that's about when I really started neglecting writing to friends and blogging. That's when all the new nursing knowledge started getting crammed into my brain. There's a lot. It was rather like starting a whole new job, after just having become adjusted to the last job- new co-workers, new rules, new population, new modus operandi. New everything. For the past month, I've felt rather behind the eight ball. Most of what I feel I should know often comes from having kids and rearing kids, which of course I don't have. I spend a lot of time observing, and trying to learn all of the things that I think I should know in order to be able to do my job. That's a bit tough, though, when I'm never truly in an observational role - I always have a couple of kids of my own that I have to try and work with. For now, I just do the things I need to do to keep them safe. I try not to worry about the "extra" things that also need to get done, or the family counseling, simply because I don't have the skills to do them yet. (though I wish wish wish I could). I just try. Like on my very first day when I took two young girls outside to play, and who immediately got into a spat, "she hit me!" "did not!" "I hate her!" "she's mad at me" (running away to far corners of the playground) shout shout shout etc. I barely remembered being that age, let alone, worked with girls that age. I did my fair share of babysitting, but it was always boys. None had mental health challenges, and often the ones with additional care needs were only children, so I didn't have to worry about social things. But this job is totally different. And I'll learn.
October: Though last night, I thought to myself "maybe this job just isn't for me?" Being in mental health, you learn to check in with yourself a lot. And checkin in with myself last night, I wondered if all this anxiety about work was good for me. Sure, I'm learning. I'll be learning for a good long time. Sometimes being in new situations, and change, is challenging. That makes people anxious. Maybe that's me. Or, maybe this feeling just won't go away and I'm not meant to work with kids with mental health challenges. Maybe I'm meant to work somewhere else. I have, after all, been pining over working in the more medicalized parts of the hospital....
October also brought the change in colour of the leaves outside of my apartment window, the trip back home to visit friends and family for thanksgiving (yum!), and the visit to a friend who made the most delicious scones and who whipped whipping cream by hand to go with the jam on the scones. Delicious. October, I think, is the month for seeing friends again. Hello friends!
Posted by Sarah Snertball at 8:28 AM