Thursday, November 15, 2012

Relationships: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Life in La Crosse has regained some sembelence of normal. I began picking up shifts at my old job, having lunch dates with old friends, and getting back into old routines. Making the old, my new normal.

During a recent dinner conversation with a friend and fellow nurse, I began to ponder the life of a nurse. Now, I don't intend to provide massive insight on this topic, simply my observations and opinion. We were discussing relationships, work, and life in general and it struck me, nurses are weird people. We work odd hours, have schedule changes on a moments notice, discuss bowel obstructions and brain tumors at the dinner table, and hear pump alarms in our sleep. The vast majority of my friends work in some sector of medicine, a large portion of them nurses, which makes it easier for them to relate. I think, for the most part, we are innately drawn to people like ourselves. However, because of all the idiosyncrasies of nurses, it can make maintaining good relationships, both romantic relationships and friendships, difficult.

I think it is a major struggle of nurses, trying to strike that balance between work and play. For the first three years of my career, my job ruled my life. All aspects of my life it seemed. I worked anywhere from 5am to 11pm, a mixture of 8 or 12 hour shifts, multiple days of being on-call and tied to a pager, days where I was dead to the world after working a streak of 12 hour shifts and feeling like a zombie. It was what I signed up for, the life of a nurse. And I loved it, until I began to resent it. I resented that I had to end romantic relationships because he couldn't deal with my odd hours and lack of time off. I resented that the holidays with my family had become few and far between, stolen by my dedication to my job. I resented that the line between my job and my private life had become so blurred.              

Most nurses eventually find a way to manage their work life and keep it from creeping its way into their private life. We all have days that this task becomes near impossible. Days where we bear witness to a patient dying a tragic death. Days where everything that could go wrong, goes wrong and we are powerless to stop it. Days where we make a mistake that harms a patient, every nurse's worst nightmare. On these days, it takes a special person at home to help us cope, whether it be a friend, significant other, or family member. Someone to take care of us for a change. So, to all of those special people in my life who have stuck by me through all of the insanity, I say thank you!