Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Spin Doctors Come to Jesus and the Mystery Body Fluid

So the past two days have been interesting...must I elaborate?

I will. Tuesday I met with three different friends at three different times of the day, and the conversation each time was partially about my future plans. I really need to get on a different track, and I'm taking small steps but haven't been able to focus on what IT is. I'll get there.

Tuesday night I got slapped in the face by my own dose of reality, my own Come to Jesus. I went running with Wheaties Boy, and we were about 7 miles into the run, going at an easy 9 minute pace and the hamstring had held up well, when suddenly....

A pine cone appeared under my feet and I rolled my right ankle on it, and after a few four letter words and stopping to check the damage, things seemed okay. I iced my hamstring when I got home, I could feel it at the end of the run. Then in bed I could not get comfortable. My right hip, front, side, and back muscles at the level of my iliac crest were screaming, I had pain shooting down my leg, and I tossed and turned all night, sleeping poorly.

As I was lying there awake, I realized it was dumb of me to go running, I should not be running at all right now. I should be sticking to the bike and the pool. The hamstring needs a certain level of rest and rehab first, and I have not given it that. The universe was saying, don't run now.

And the other thing I realized was that when I twisted my ankle, I must have thrown my pelvis, hip, back, SI joint, and whatever other movable parts there are back there out of alignment, because everything hurt, and I was cracking and popping in all sorts of weird ways that I hadn't been before the run.

So I plan to get in the pool and try to loosen up my back and on vacation I will have a non-training agenda.

You know you're ready for a vacation when you see things in a flat light. Today I barely made it through the work day, I was simply not having any fun at all. Your mind is forced to be there but it wants to be somewhere else.

My mind kept coming back to my back- how sore it was, how my entire lower half feels twisted, and both hamstrings hurt. I just wanted to find someone to walk on my back, shake my legs and crack my SI joint back into it's proper position.

But even more than that, one of the nurses I like and work with often told me today she gave notice. She's moving out of state and she's looking for a completely different job. She doesn't even have a job lined up yet, but she'll have no problem. We've been talking about changes for a while, so I'm happy for her, and truthfully, I envy her. She's been a nurse for the same amount of time I have been.

But she's 20 years younger than me and has the world in front of her, and I envied her freedom and that she is getting out and moving on. I have the ability to do the same thing, with more at stake, as I'm in a different place in my life. There's a big difference between 30 and 50, for a lot of reasons. But sacrificing your happiness and sacrificing being true to yourself are not healthy options, and I'm paying for that now, and have been for some time.

Nursing is such a dead end job. Working directly with patients at the bedside, chairside, in a hospital setting is the worst. There's something wrong with a profession that burns so many of it's members out in 7 years or less. There's plenty of lateral opportunity but you can't really stay in the same workplace and move up or into more fulfilling jobs. Unless you're one of the few who enjoy torturing themselves with management duties, and/or being a yes man. Becoming a nurse practitioner might look appealing on the surface, but they are going to be forced into getting more and more education, the value of which is not looking too favorable. And then there's always the glut that happens after the big sell job by the diploma mill.

If I felt like my own skill set was valued, I might feel differently, but I don't. Sick care, not creativity, original thought or innovation, is the only thing that drives the health care industry in the hospital setting. It's nothing more than a factory. It's all about the bottom line, all about the bucks, not at all about the people who serve and are served. The spoils go to the yes men who can recite the scripts, or scripture. Corporate culture is more like a religious cult.

It's been an interesting time. Seems like every time I turn around someone else is leaving. And this week the muckety-mucks are freaking out because they got a big dose of reality after a survey that showed staff satisfaction has plummeted into the gutter. Literally, turned inside out. But how could they even be a little surprised?

What kinds of things are going on in the world of health care? What has health care reform brought us? Hospitals are merging, as we did. They are switching over computer systems, like we did. Mergers and big changes result in everything turned upside down, a gazillion people at all levels of the organization leaving for other places, and staffing levels are reduced, like we did. At the same time these organizations claim to be making the work environment efficient and lean, they spend huge sums of money on expensive consulting firms and wasteful, ineffective training programs, the hypocrisy of which is not lost on even the most menial of workers.

All this is happening in health care nationally at the same time. And here, they also chose to do it that way, in a short time frame, using those methods. No one said they had to do it that way, or all at once, or by carrying a big stick. It's easy to call the shots from your penthouse, when you don't have to live the day to day reality of it. It's a systemic problem, and we can blame it on our own apathetic response to our current system of allowing legislators to run amok with power and money.

So as far as getting slapped in the face with the reality of screwing up royally, that's what happens, when companies take on too much, too soon, and throw thousands of people's lives into a tailspin. Can't blame the people who had no say in the matter, the powerless peons. Given an opportunity to speak out in a survey, they will speak, because it's their only way to be heard. Those way up high, far away, have no one to blame but themselves when they hear the message they don't want to hear. They are now suffering from a big butt bite and all I can do is give them a rabies vaccine.

The spin is entertaining, if not sad. How many ways can you twist the reality of a clear message that you have fucked up into something that avoids taking full responsibility? Let's see how many ways it's possible to script a message into a yes-man digestible version to be distributed to trickle down to the masses. No matter how you spin it, it's not the fault of anyone but the people who have the power to initiate the changes. As in, those who make the six and seven figure salaries and never get their hands dirty. But many people below pay for it, out of their hides, every single day.

So that's my work hangover-induced rant. To add a twist on my otherwise doldrum-like day, I did have a little surprise to spice things up.

Early this afternoon I was sitting at the computer doing my charting, and I looked down at my pants. There was a quarter sized stain, with starfish-like extensions, dried on the front of my thigh. It was a brownish-green color. No one had puked on me, and I couldn't figure out where it came from. The only thing I could think of, and what it resembled most, was that someone had coughed up a big ol' loogie and hacked it on the front of my pants. They would have had to be low to the ground to do that, though. I haven't had to deal with much in the way of lung cookies since my ICU days. I suppose there are some things to be missed if one ever leaves the nursing profession...

I freaked out for a minute, in my own quiet way, and then went to the sink, wiped it off with some water and alcohol wipes, and it was gone.

Those pants are definitely getting washed separately tonight...


giraffy said...

Mystery fluids would be disturbing. Ew.

I don't think it's ever too late to create a new path - granted, I'm a little bit younger, but I'm certainly not rushing to get back to my career. I was miserable. Better to figure it out, while the time allows.

REST your hamstring!

Alene Gone Bad said...

Yeah, it's sinking in just how miserable it's become. I am looking forward to clearing my head on vacation, and moving forward afterwards. I know it's not too late. It wasn't too late for Sally O'Malley!

Anonymous said...

I found this entry very interesting. I have been a nurse for 5 years and hate it. I want out of the profession entirely. I've spent the last couple years searching for a replacement and cannot find it. Do you have any recommendations for a career that builds on nursing? I have been offered a couple jobs but they don't even pay half of what I make as a nurse, and I cannot take that much of a hit. Do you have any advice?

Alene Gone Bad said...

Believe me, if I had the answers, I would be doing just that. I tried going from full-time to part-time, and am finding myself getting burned out even working two days a week. If you can find another nursing job where the environment is not too toxic, and/or work fewer hours, that might be the best option while you continue your search. That's what I did 3 years ago. I think you just have to make the adjustments in your lifestyle to be able to take the financial hit, which I know is next to impossible, because there aren't too many jobs that pay a living wage anymore. And school will only set you back financially, unless it's a sure thing that you can get a job that you'll like and will make up for the expense, time and effort. The only thing I can see is going off on my own, which is risky, but has unlimited potential. I wish I had better advice but I would be following it myself if I did. I'm just trying to keep my head above water in the least toxic environment I've been able to find. Best of luck to you with your search, and please let me know if you find the answer...

Anonymous said...

Well in a way it makes me feel better knowing others feel this way. At least I am not alone.

Alene Gone Bad said...

Anonymous, you are far from alone. The majority of the nurses I know feel this way too, questioning their career choice. Nursing needs total reform, the profession needs to be turned upside down on it's head. I have written about this extensively in blogs and currently in a writing project I'm working on. You can always check out the NAASA Colorado chapter page on Facebook and contact me through that. Best to you.