I’ve made some pretty big changes over the past couple of months, one of which was leaving my job of over eleven years.
To go back to the beginning, when I was little I was sick and in the hospital quite a bit. Thankfully I don’t remember too much of that time, other than the thermometers that the nurses had. For some reason I
loved those thermometers and that is what made me want to be a nurse. As I got into middle and high school, I started thinking that maybe I wanted to be a psychologist or social worker, some sort of counselor.
I got engaged the night of my high school graduation, to someone I had been dating for quite a while. Let’s just say our life and career goals were not exactly in alignment and leave it at that. My mom, being aware that I would probably need a steady job and income if I followed through with the wedding, asked that I finish school before I got married. In the end I decided to go to practical nursing (LPN) school because it was one year and relatively inexpensive. Overall it was as good of an experience as nursing school can be. My mom had worked 2-3 jobs at times while I was growing up in order to support us, and once I made it through high school, she followed her dream and went to nursing school with me.
Out of school and starting out
When I was in nursing school I remember hearing some of the nurses at our clinical sites talk and thinking, “Wow, I would never be like that.” They often seemed so uncaring and cold. But how can that be when nursing is all about helping people and caring and making the world better? Reality check – because it’s hard work and can leave you feeling empty. My first job was in LTC (long-term care/a nursing home). Even twenty-three years ago, it was a lot of work. So much time is spent passing medication, doing treatments (everyone has at least some sort of cream that needs applied), and charting that there isn’t much time for the warm fuzzy moments I had imagined having at least occasionally. I was there for almost three years when I decided I couldn’t handle feeling bad all of the time anymore. There was always so much to do and so many needs to meet that I felt guilty knowing that people where not getting the time and attention I wanted to give them. By this time I had met my now husband and was ready to move on to something different. (No, I never got married to the previously mentioned guy.) It’s funny how even though I had not attended church regularly for a few years and I was pretty far from God, I knew within a few months of meeting my now husband that God had led me to him.
Getting married and having babies
After I left long term care I worked in a clinic for a while and it was the opposite of LTC. Where before I felt like I couldn’t get it all done not matter how hard I tried, at the clinic there was a lot of down time. I loved the people that I worked with and I enjoyed the work, but it reached a point where I was just bored and unfulfilled. So I got married and started waitressing.
Waitressing was actually a nice break from nursing. I wasn’t the best waitress, likely because I’ve always struggled with what people are thinking of me, but I was decent. Unfortunately the best money to be made was on the weekends and that was when we had the kids. My husband has kids from a previous marriage and they spent quite a bit of time with us, with us eventually getting custody of the four of them and then having two more boys. A house of six boys kept us pretty busy and I stayed home when they were little, working occasionally doing home health and some agency staffing work. (Basically this involves going to different LTCs and working shifts when they are short staffed. The pay is good, the work is fairly routine across LTCs, and there is the added benefit of no set schedules). This is what I was doing when I had my first work related “calling”.
In 2005, my best friend from my teenage years’ dad had lung cancer. He had a sudden change in condition that prompted an emergency room visit, where he was given a week to live and sent home with hospice. Now this family is a wonderful family, but not very medical, and honestly not a family that likes to talk openly about bad things. My friend was understandably freaking out and I went and stayed with them for most of his time on hospice.
I don’t recall being taught anything about hospice in nursing school. I had never even really thought about what hospice meant, but I did know that it had to do with death and I thought maybe cancer. I was soon to find out that hospice is so much more. He had medications that were delivered to the home to keep him comfortable. The nurse came when there were issues that couldn’t be handled over the phone, and someone was only a phone call away. The support and care that were provided to the family and to him so that he could stay at home, surrounded by so many people that loved him, was amazing to me. He died peacefully with all of us there, and that was my first time to witness the immediate raw grief that comes with death. And I knew this was something I could love.
I waited a couple of months before I applied. I can get very caught up in the emotion of a moment and I wanted to make sure that wasn’t the case.