Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Detox Day One: Healing from Health Care

I survived the weekend. Thankfully everyone there this weekend was cool. We actually had enough staff and we were able to get through our days without being impossibly rushed. As soon as I got there Saturday morning and saw who was on I was able to relax and enjoy the weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed the patient care part of it.

I'm looking forward to the real detox, though I know it will be difficult to make it through those last two weeks when I go back in November. I look forward to having some breathing time, do a little healing, though I know how fast that can be reversed! At least when I go back, I will know it is my final stretch. So this is sort of a pre-detox session, and I will do the real one when I'm completely done after November 16th.

I woke up Sunday night hot flashing and came into the extra bedroom office and tried to cool down. I wish I felt like my life was mine again. I want to get back to feeling better physically so I can move forward too.

I went back to the pool this morning and started my workouts again. I won't be working too hard, just getting the relaxing effect of a long workout in the water followed by an easy run on land. Running in the pool and swimming are both physically and emotionally therapeutic, and the water supports you. It's almost like getting an all-over hug.

Last week again I was too stressed to do anything substantial, I ran an hour each on three different days. I'm starting to envy all the people posting about their marathons and workouts on Facebook.

So this morning in the pool I ran for an hour with no problem. I even did some intervals to break up the monotony. I planned to swim 1200 meters after that. I got in the pool and began to swim. On my very last lap before I hit 800 meters, I got a killer calf cramp that made me stand straight up in the pool and I almost screamed out loud. Fortunately I was in shallow water and I was on the lane next to the edge of the pool so I grabbed onto the side of the pool and stood there until the cramp let up, but it never really did. Every time I thought it was easing up I started to move and then it would seize up again, just as painful as before.

I knew I was done for the day. I was probably dehydrated from my work weekend- I never drink enough during my shifts, and I've been drinking beer at night and coffee in the morning. I knew I needed to get out of the pool, go home, and rehydrate. But first there was the problem of moving without cramping.

Finally, I used my arms to pull myself to finish the lap and waited for a few minutes, stretching, before trying to climb out of the pool. When I got myself up there, I got two more cramps- this time in my gracilis muscle- my inner thigh- and the arch of my foot. All the cramps were on my left side. So I sat there on the edge of the pool, I couldn't get up. I had to pull myself up by the starting blocks and slowly limp toward the locker room.

Later I had lunch with a friend who used to work with me, she went through a remarkably similar experience to mine before she left. It was good to talk with her, and I know that I will move on beyond this, as painful as it's been.

The thoughts that go through my head these days are about nurses who get out of nursing, and there are so many of them, there is so much support and validation from those who got out. I'm discovering a whole world out there of nurse entrepreneurs, independent nurses, people who either couldn't deal with the oppressive environment of hospital and corporate nursing, or got out on their own for some other reason.

It makes me wonder, what is it that keeps people in hospital nursing, in these toxic environments, for twenty or more years? How can anyone stomach that? But they do. Do they love it that much? Scared to change? Scarred by compassion fatigue from lack of time to debrief after traumatic experiences? Slaves to a paycheck? I suppose there are people who are able to separate themselves mentally from the environment so they can go on. And there are others who are sensitive to it and stay and become sick.

I know I look sick. I am washed out, wrinkled, overweight, my eyes are sunken into my head, I don't even feel like I have an athlete's body anymore. I want to get back to taking care of myself. The past six months I haven't even been able to stick to a consistent routine of working out and eating right.

Sunday my coworkers were talking about one of the nurses we used to work with who was in a different department from us but used to come to our area to help us a lot. She left about a year ago. They said she looks great, she lost 60 pounds, she looks younger, her face doesn't look drawn or stressed anymore, and she's happy.

I had some pictures taken last week by a professional photographer, for my business website, and I couldn't believe how bad I looked. I really do look awful, pale, older, matronly. Not healthy or athletic or anything resembling active or vibrant. I don't even recognize that person in the photographs. I need to wait until about 6 months after I leave the job and then get them re-taken.

I wrapped up the day by going out with another former coworker. As we talked, there were a few things that came up in the conversation that validated my decision to leave even more. I got home by 9 pm and went to bed, and slept pretty much straight through the night...

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