Scatter my ashes here...

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

Monday, February 17, 2014

Suffering From PTTSD: Neither Health Nor Care

I have been feeling really good lately, I've been getting physically and mentally better all the time since I quit my nursing job last fall. I've been moving forward and feeling great about things. So today was the first setback in a long time and it really took me by surprise. I have Post-Traumatic Tax Stress Disorder. Triggered by doing my taxes.

I decided to take the day off from running because I hit it hard over the past 4 days and I plan to get some good miles in this week. I needed time to get some work done, I'm meeting with our accountant later this week and I want to have all the papers and numbers organized to give to her.

The way I do my taxes is organized chaos. All year I save the necessary hardcopy receipts and papers in a folder and by the end of the year it's overflowing onto the floor in the corner of the office. I take one day and I go through everything, organize it into piles and go through every single item and write down the numbers, then discard or shred the unnecessary stuff and place the important receipts in a neater, more organized form into the folder to store.

This year it's a little more complicated having started a business, but I was much more organized with the business stuff than I was with our personal stuff. I whipped through the business tax items in about 30 minutes, and then was ready to dive into the messy pile of everything else.

It started out okay, a few utility bill receipts, mortgage and real estate taxes, W-2s, you know, routine stuff. But as I got deeper into the pile I started finding things.

Continuing education receipts for classes I took. Donations to charitable organizations. Okay, I can deal with that.

Receipts from rollovers of my retirement funds.

But then: continuing education classes required for my job that I wasn't reimbursed for, in-kind and other donations I made to the hospital's foundation and payroll deductions for the same, supporting the Cancer Center. That reminded me of all the speaking engagements, marketing pitches, cheerleading and other support I gave, only to be treated with cold indifference by people running the show in the end.

A receipt for the ACLS class they wouldn't pay for (never mind that I was doing moderate sedation, chemotherapy, and infusing other IV meds like Rituxan and blood transfusions...that people commonly react to). I kept up my skills anyway, just paid for it out of my own pocket. Reminded me of the patient who had the transfusion reaction and I called a code and we started CPR and he had a good outcome. And the other patient who had a medication reaction when I was working alone at night and I had to deal with that all by myself. She had a good outcome too. And the safety presentations I did for my unit for emergency preparedness.

Then I came across the receipts for health care expenses I had that are directly attributable to the stress of my old job. Reminders of the distress, being in a doctor's appointment and having a total meltdown when she asked what was going on. Receipts for antidepressant medication. Measuring my blood pressure at 160/100. Labs to rule out other things. It cost me big.

And then when they switched our health insurance over, we had even less coverage so I had more out of pocket expenses. Yeah, mergers are great for the employees.

It's all had the effect of giving me flashbacks and it feels horrible. I feel the old anger bubbling up and the resentment, of feeling discarded, unappreciated, disrespected, used, etc. It makes me mad that nurses, as professionals, are treated like this: they expect you to give your life up for them for such low pay and dwindling benefits, yet they won't support you in your professional development.

I posted about it in a nursing support group on Facebook, asking, Has anyone experienced this while working on their taxes after they quit their nursing job?

The dozens of responses I got were filled with fire, bitterness, resentment, and echoes of similar PTSD experiences. So many nurses experience these things, wrong on so many levels. People who have suffered from the destructive, bullying, mean-spirited behavior of the minions of those corporations claiming to be about patient care.

Minions who will do anything to boost their patient satisfaction scores so they get more reimbursement, but the things to boost patient satisfaction in their eyes have nothing to do with providing more quality nursing care. No, they'd rather spend money on decorations in the patient rooms or bigger TV screens. That's what six and seven figure administrative salaries will do for patients. Meanwhile, the nurses and other staff are reduced, being forced to exhaustion and stress, and PTSD-like experiences.

That is neither health nor care. It's wrong and it shouldn't be happening to people who bust their asses daily and are expected to go without meeting their own personal, human needs to care for other people. One nurse on Facebook wrote about how two things saved her: her dog, and quitting her job. I can relate to the dog therapy. Iris and Isabelle did a lot of licking my tears during the time I worked at the hospital.

On the bright side, I'm out of there. But it doesn't feel very good having all these reminders today.

Neither health nor care, I tell you...

We can do much better than this. I'd rather make a difference for a few individuals in my own practice, than do things half-assed for thousands and let things slip through the cracks, which is all our current health care model allows.

Onward and upward.


Ultra Monk said...

I hope your business is going well. Good vibes to ya.

Alene Gone Bad said...

Thanks Ultra Monk. It is going well. And they say the best revenge is success.

andreak said...

Thanks Alene - I am one of the wounded too, although not a nurse I worked for a hospital whose only focus appears to be their Planetree status...for patients only. The truth was stated by one of the money guys when he said "we don't Planetree" our employees.

Alene Gone Bad said...

Andrea K, I'm sorry you too have suffered. I hope you are finding peace in whatever you're doing now. At least he said it, but that doesn't excuse it. It's a sick way of running anything.

Alene Gone Bad said...

Andrea K, I'm sorry you too have suffered. I hope you are finding peace in whatever you're doing now. At least he said it, but that doesn't excuse it. It's a sick way of running anything.

Gilbert McNally said...

This is very unfortunate! Health care professionals and nurses should always be treated with dignity. After all, they pay taxes too! At least you're doing your share, making it easy for your accountant to check if your taxes are filed right. No one wants to deal with tax problems as much as the next person! Just hold on and hope for the best!
Gilbert McNally @

Alene Gone Bad said...

WFE. Or, as Wheaties Boy would say, "Oh, Lord." I suppose if I thought hard enough I could come up with a whole rant on dignity and taxes. Good luck Gilbert. :-)