I don't know why I'm awake at 6am on a day that I'm not working. I slept at 2am. Maybe God wanted me to get an early start to my day. Or maybe I have work-lag. Working 4 nights straight will do that to your sleep-wake rhythms.
I really like the quietness of the early morning. Even in hot, hot Bakersfield, there's a cool breeze and a briskness in the air that is just super refreshing and reminiscent of those days where I would wake up crazy early and spend time with God outdoors during camp. Yeah, that was probably the ONLY time I'd ever wake up at 5am to take a shower and then sit on a log and just "spend time with God" or more like just stare at the trees and listen to the birdies chirp and squirrels scurry over crunchy, dried pine needles. Good times. Good times.
I haven't blogged in a while. Not that I haven't wanted to. I don't know how I got so busy all of the sudden. My friend asked me yesterday how it felt to be out of school. Honestly... I hadn't really noticed. It seems like if I have papers or homework to do, I somehow found time to do it. Now that I don't... it somehow feels like I have less time to write than before. How is that possible?
So I wanted to write a little bit about my day yesterday. Or my night, more accurately. I was listening to the radio and some guy was talking about how people tend to write when they're going through rough/tough times. I don't want to ONLY write when I'm sad, but it does seem to be when stuff starts to pour out. I also wanted to write a few days ago when I was bubbling over with joy for having a few hours off from work... but I spent my time enjoying those hours rather than sitting and writing about it.
OK so enough with the preamble. This might be a long one... it might now. I'm just going to start writing and see where it takes me. Bless your heart for reading my ramblings. I don't blame you if you've stopped. But if you've stopped... you wouldn't even be reading this right now. RAMBLING! OK. I'll stop now.
So... I had an aversion to driving... especially driving long distances. I think I was traumatized in college... driving so much to San Diego... and then driving to retreats for AACF... and driving all over the place... I just hated driving. Anderson loved driving. Match made in heaven. He drove me everywhere... when he could still drive. And I didn't mind feeding him while he drove. He told me later that me feeding him while he was driving was like one of those things that he and his guy friends said was like... ULTIMATE in girlfriend criteria or something like that. Did I write once about the time I fed him steak while he was driving? I fed him steak and I didn't have a knife. I had to bite it off and then spit it out and then fork it and put it in his mouth. And I didn't tell him that's what I did until he was almost done with the steak. :/ He still said it was the best steak he ever had... in the car.
Anyway... so yesterday, I did a lot of driving and I actually kind of enjoyed it. It's good thinking time. It's good singing time. It's good time to listen to sermons or the radio. Not like I'd want a super long commute... I'm VERY happy with my <30 min commute to/from work... but I'm starting to enjoy the time I spend in the car. It's nice alone time. Peaceful. Even in traffic yesterday.
What I thought about in the car... mostly, I thought about my shift last night. My conclusion:
I am so, so blessed.
And I am also a pretty wretched creature so all these blessings... are absolutely and unequivocally undeserved. Such amazing grace.
So let me tell you about my day and everything that led up to these realizations. I had the worst day at work last shift than I've had in a long, long time. Thinking back on it... it wasn't even that bad. I think I've had worse days at work, objectively, but yesterday, I had a breakdown at work and cried. Normally after a bad shift, I'd come home, shower, and THEN cry. I couldn't help it yesterday. I had to cry at work.
In my ponderings... I decided that I felt a little bit like Job yesterday at work. VERY vaguely reminiscent of Job, but nowhere near to the all-encompassing devastation that Job experienced... just a very small inkling. I also heard on the radio that one pastor didn't want to teach on Job for a long time because he didn't want to invite the same kinds of suffering that Job experienced on his own life. I hear that all the time... "be careful what you ask for"... or "be careful what you say... cuz right when you say it, the opposite's going to happen" as if God's just waiting for you to love something and then he'll snatch it away... or He's just waiting for an opportunity to smack you with the worst suffering you've ever had... just because you said so. That is NOT what God does and that is NOT how He works. Having that kind of attitude is... just sad. If I need to go through what Job did in order to bring me to a place where I say "my eyes have seen You"... then so be it. The suffering is temporary. The eternal rewards are greater and more "worth it" than anything this world can throw at me. But... that's not to say I'm a glutton for suffering. I know that God would only allow me to suffer just enough to bring me to the place where He wants me to be... to the point of submission that I can handle right then and there. I know I know it. Experiencing it... is the only way that will prove what I'm really made of. Testing, if you will. Lets you know your weaknesses and where you need to improve.
Anyway... getting back to the point... feeling like Job... I think... I'd been doing so well at work lately that I was starting to get prideful. I was thinking to myself... I'm a good nurse! I rock! I can DO this!
How very quickly I found out that it is not because I'm awesome that things were going well. It is because of God's favor... God's face that shone on me... His grace and His delight to bless me and grant me the desires of my heart... it was the Giver of good gifts that made things go well. Not anything I did or can do. I started to take more pride in the gifts than in the Giver. Very bad.
The more I think about the situation... the more times it repeats in my head... the more I start to strip away and the less of a "bad day" it seems. I had boiled it down to me being frustrated and overwhelmed because things weren't going the way I wanted them to... I couldn't be the nurse I wanted to be... I didn't have the time to take to do things the way I wanted to... and I needed help. I needed a lot of help.
There was too much out of my control. The more time passed, the more I realized what hadn't been done... the more that big to-do list piled up on top of my head. Slammed. Slammed is a very good word for how I felt the first few hours of work last shift.
Vandalized. Also another word that described how I felt.
I'm reading through the Psalms and when I read the part about how my spirit and my heart had failed me... that is also how I felt. Downtrodden.
So what really happened?
I wrote out most of what happened in my journal. In looking at it right now... I don't think I need to recount the events. It's mostly just nursing stuff... it'd take me longer to explain why it was hard... just let me say that I had a hard day at work. And what pushed me over the edge... was having my venti reusable starbucks cup stolen.
I KNOW, it's so lame. But I'm lame sometimes. I was talking to my cup before work. I said, "cup... I really like you. I use you a lot. You hold a lot of liquid and you're reusable... and I love that you have a straw and I can see everything I'm drinking. I'm so glad I bought you and I hope I never lose you". I got really attached to that cup.
Finding out that it wasn't where I left it... and that I couldn't drink my iced tea that night... I think it was like the drop of water that caused a ripple which caused a crack which zigzagged and grew to crumble the dam. There's always a moment of peace and silence... right before the dam breaks. You see it in the movies. You hold your breath and then you start hearing the crackling. That's how I felt when I was doing my chart checks. I was staring at the orders for the day and I just felt like crying. I was hodling back the tears the whole time I was scrambling around when work was slamming me against a hard place... but I couldn't hold it anymore. I decided to let one tear out. OK maybe one tear per eye. I went and wiped it away. I came back and a few more came out. Went to wipe again. And then I decided that it was ridiculous to hold back. So I grabbed my charts and went to go sit, cry, and work with my friend in a fairly deserted hallway. I had only meant to sit and work and cry... in silence... but being the awesome person that she is... she didn't let me get away with that. She let me sit. She let me vent a little. She let me cry on her shoulder. She wasn't having the greatest night either but she let me have my moment. I'm very thankful for my co-workers.
I was still downtrodden even after my crying episode. My heart was sad. I couldn't smile. Physically... I just couldn't do it. At that point, I got handed the paper which means that I should be expecting a call for report on my new admission. Sigh. Work. And then my patient's IV stopped working an hour before I had to hang her antibiotic. Double sigh. So I tried starting a new IV in her. I figured... I can do it... this patient has excellent veins. Nice big beautiful ones. That should cheer me up. But... I failed. I couldn't start one. I called for help and the other nurse in my hallway was just about to go to lunch so she couldn't help. I can see why. Normally we only ask other nurses to help if it's a difficult one to start. But anyway... I still felt like a failure. So after the other nurse went to lunch... I tried again. I failed again. Double failure. My feet were dragging. I'd lost the will to work. And I love my work. I was so, so sad.
And then I got the phone call for report. Of course my admission would come when I was at my lowest. The ER nurse made some jokes. I chuckled. Then my admit came. My aid was nowhere in sight. Of course. And my patient was spanish-speaking only. Of course. As if my day couldn't get any worse. And... then something happened. My aid came to help. The family member spoke a little bit of English... my aid was able to translate the rest... and midway into my admission history... I started to perk up and feel like a nurse again. My smile started to come back and I felt like I could care again.
I went to the nursing station after I was done with my admission history to look at the orders. THANK GOD for complete orders. I was getting my paperwork started when the resource nurse came to break me for lunch. She was a godsend. She helped me all throughout the time I was getting slammed... and now she forced me to go take a break... she also said she'd start my IV for me and hang my antibiotic after she started it. She said she felt for me and that it was OK to have "one of those days". I kept trying to finish up my paperwork but she basically had to close my chart on my hands and tell me to do it later. I really needed that break and I'm glad she forced me to go.
My other friend was also having a bad night... so we ate. We ate ice cream together.
Lunches are short for us. I had to go back to work... but going back... I was pensive. I thought to myself... I did ask God how I could be a salt and a light at work tonight. Here's my chance. Was I being a salt and a light up until that point? No. I had a complaining heart and a downcast spirit. My responses were very... human. Very fleshly.
What should I have been doing? Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice. Pray without ceasing. Praise the Lord. I figure... it's OK to cry. It's OK to be sad. But even through my mourning... through my sadness... I need to remind myself and rejoice for the things that are worth rejoicing in. I rejoice in the blessing of having a job. In being in a profession that I love, that I enjoy, that I can see myself being good at in the future. I have awesome friends and co-workers. I have an awesome resource nurse who saved my life on multiple occassions that day... and I rejoice at having ice cream in the freezer at work and a friend to enjoy it with.
Sometimes it's hard to jump from mourning to rejoicing... but it starts somewhere. So I decided to smile. Start with a smile. And then not to isolate myself and wallow, but to go sit with my co-workers and be around people. I decided to let go of the day. Let go of my cup. Let go of the temptation to blame others for the bad things that happened. Sometimes stuff just happens. There are so many things I can't change. So many things I can't help. All I can do is change the things I can... and it starts with my attitude.
Smile. Talk to people. Laugh with them. Show compassion to my patients and care for them the way they need to be cared for regardless of how I'm feeling at the moment.
So I hung out with my co-workers. It helped a lot. As I talked to them, I learned more about them and they started to learn more about me. I got to show some people my wedding picture on my phone and give a very brief overview of what happened. It's not much, but it's a start.
Two of my friends came to work on day shift and I got more hugs. By then I was feeling so much better. I could smile again. My heart was glad. I left in a better mood than I came in.
And then I got called in at 8am to finish up some paperwork that I'd overlooked. When I got the call, I groaned. This was the same manager who gave me my assignment for the day. There would also be traffic heading back south on the freeway. But... I shut my mouth. I agreed to come in. While I was driving in traffic... I had time to start to think about my shift. I wasn't upset at being called in... but I made an active decision not to be. It was my fault and it is my learning experience. Yes yes shoulda woulda coulda... but this is all to help remind me not to do it again and to be a better nurse for the next time.
I had a lot of realizations. I realized that I'm not perfect. I'm not awesome. I'm still learning. All of this was a learning experience which will help me to know where I am weak and where I can do better in the future.
I also realized that anyone can have a bad day at work. Not everyone has such an awesome and loving God who provided so many beauitful people with beautiful hearts to help get me through a really bad day. Not everyone has a job to even have a bad day at. Not everyone has good days all the time and once in a while has a bad day. Some people have bad days all the time. Not everyone has co-workers who let them cry on them... not everyone has co-workers who will go out of their way to help you... not everyone has co-workers on night AND day shift who will give me hugs when I need it... and sometimes give me hugs just because. And not everyone works with people who love ice cream.
I am so very blessed. :)
This is me with my new grad co-workers. Hugs and ice cream buddies.