Warning: this blog post has no real point. And I’m trying to get my seasonal affective disorder meds balanced before the onslaught of winter, so it just might not make a whole lot of sense either. You’ve been warned.
I’ve been working too much. For those who don’t know, I’m a labor and delivery RN. In January, I took a per diem job an hour and a half away from where I live. Because my commute requires a drive over a dangerous mountain pass, and I work long 12-hour shifts that start at 6:45am, I rent a small loft where I can I live when I work. I drive up the night before I work, sleep, work a couple of days, sleep, and then drive home the next morning.
This might sound like a lot of trouble to some people, but I like my situation a lot. I get to go to an almost real city on a regular basis, eat sushi that doesn’t frighten me, and enjoy the ability to look off into an undefined horizon.
In case you don’t know, looking off into an undefined horizon is very calming for your brain. That’s one reason going to the beach is so relaxing. I have a beautiful home here on the mountain, but it is surrounded by tall cedars. There’s no horizon from any of my windows. The place I rent when I work is up on a hill that overlooks a beautiful valley. There’s nothing but horizon as far as the eye can see. I like it there.
As a per diem RN, I don’t work a set schedule or any certain number of required hours in a pay period. Instead, I provide the hospital with my availability, and only work when I want to.. In return for my freedom, I get no paid vacation or sick days, and no health benefits. I am able to contribute to the company’s 403(b) plan, and I make 15% more than a staff nurse to compensate me for having no health benefits. Since I have good health benefits through my husband, it’s a great trade-off for me.
You probably saw the part where I said I only work when I want to? For reasons that are way too confusing to explore in a blog post, but basically boil down to the fact that I was scared in February when I did it, I signed up for too many shifts. So since I’ve come home from BlogHer, I’ve been working two days on, two days off. What this really means is that I only get two half days at home before I have to go back to work again.
Patient Satisfaction? What About Nurse Satisfaction?
I can tell I’ve been working too much when all the patients start pissing me off. Apparently I need a good 5 days to recuperate after being an RN in order to reload my well of compassion. As it stands right now, I don’t even have a puddle of compassion left.
If I could say what I wanted to say to my patients, this what it would sound like, “Look, I didn’t get you pregnant. I’m sorry labor hurts, and your nipples are cracked and bleeding, and your baby cries and wants to be held all of the time, but it isn’t my fucking fault! I didn’t invent this. I’m a victim just like you.”
Of course, I can’t say any of that. And it isn’t that I don’t feel badly that labor hurts, nipples bleed, and newborn babies are a pain in the ass. I really do care. But I can’t fix it. It’s the circle of goddam life!
Frankly, I have NO IDEA where in the world young women today got this notion that motherhood doesn’t hurt. It HURTS! It hurts constantly. And it hurts a lot. And it never stops hurting. Not ever.
It wouldn’t be so bad that new mothers are surprised about the pain of it all if only they weren’t looking around for someone to blame for it. I’m afraid that we’ve raised a generation of young people who don’t seem to understand that sometimes life hurts, and it is nobody’s damned fault.
If I could go back to February, I would not sign up for so many shifts. It was a huge mistake. But there isn’t a thing I can do about it now except get through it without hurting anyone.