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Creating a Balance

I haven’t submitted anything to Grand Rounds in quite awhile – mostly because I stopped posting during my pregnancy. The next GR has a theme: “medical professionals as people.” I’m not sure that I like themed GR’s, but this is one I can write about and contribute to.

Dr. Couz asked that we send submissions about what we as medical professionals do to stay sane and maintain balance in our lives. Critical care is a very stressful specialty (as are most specialities in their own way). We routinely deal with sadness, grief, death, and denial. It can start to build up and sometimes it’s difficult to shed the aura of despair once I walk out of the hospital.

I try to deal with this by talking with my husband, by writing about situations on this blog, and by getting together with my coworkers. We get together a couple of times a month for breakfast and during these little meetings, we talk about what frustrates us. We get each other’s opinions about some of the patients in the unit, policy changes, new ideas. It might seem odd to get together outside of the hospital to sit there and rehash what goes on in the hospital, but it’s very cathartic to talk in a relaxed environment with people who know EXACTLY what you’re talking about. It’s like having our own debriefing sessions. It really helps and brings us closer together as coworkers and friends. I believe that our unit is very close-knit and that closeness with my coworkers is why I stay in CCU. I don’t think I could handle the stress of the unit otherwise.

As for creating balance – well, that is a timely topic for me right now. Before I had Gabriel, I fully intended on putting him in daycare and going back to work 4 days a week, just as I had been doing. But after 2 months of spending every day with him, getting to know him, establishing a bit of routine with him – I find myself unable to envision leaving him somewhere else all day. I hate the thought. It took almost 2 years and many medical interventions before we finally got pregnant, and I am having a hard time with the thought of being away from him so much. I’m afraid of missing his milestones – his first word, first step, first time he grabs for a toy. I don’t want someone else to be there encouraging him. I want to be there.

This creates quite a conundrum, however. We could manage without my salary, which muddies the waters even more. It would almost be more bearable to need my salary because then there wouldn’t be a choice. But the thought of quitting nursing? Foreign. I went to school for 4 years, got a degree. It’s a career. I worked hard to become proficient at what I do. I have relationships through work that are important to me. I fear that those relationships will wither if I’m not there anymore.

Yes, I could quit for now and go back later. But things change so quickly in the medical world… I’m afraid of being totally clueless once I decided to return.

I feel like I owe it to my son to be there with him as much as I can, and it’s something that I want to do. With the nursing shortage, I feel like I owe it to my hospital to keep working as a bedside nurse. There is a need there, and I have the ability to fill it.

The great thing about nursing is that it can be so flexible. It’s possible to work full time or only a few days a month. A nurse can have a very flexible schedule if it fits the unit’s needs. I think it would be possible to work every other weekend. That way, I can be with Gabe the majority of the time and still keep my fingers in the pot at work. I haven’t yet discussed this with my boss. I hope she stopped reading my blog :-)

It feels really strange to be writing such personal thoughts on my blog. I know I write a lot of personal thoughts about patient situations, but not my own situation. I’ve tried to keep codeblog a purely medical blog, so I hope you all don’t mind this little journey into my life.

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My boys are the result of IVF and two years of other treatments, losses, and surgeries. The plan was always for me to stay at home with whatever children we had. What I didn’t count on was the infertility taking such a toll on me that I ended up quitting my job before I was even pregnant.

One of the hardest things I did was renew my license as inactive. I have no intention of returning to nursing any time soon. But it still was hard, and I didn’t even like my job.

Every other weekend sounds like a good compromise.

It’s all about having as much family time as is possible. And avoiding television and driving.

I honestly belive that driving has an inversely-proportionally negative effect upon one’s intellect.

Gabriel will only be the age he is at any given time for that one period of time. He’s the priority. Nursing is ALWAYS there and if you work 2-3 days a month when Gabriel is with Daddy, you can do it. You won’t be out of the loop – anything new you will catch up on right away. If you want to keep those relationships from work, make sure you call and say hi. It’s all doable, but Gabriel will someday be grown and out of the house. Nursing will always be there. : )
I had to work through all three of my children’s lives. I’d give anything to have been at home with them and worked per diem. Enjoy your baby!!!!

Work a few days a month to keep your feet in the water. Spend as much time as you can with your little one. They don’t stay that way long.

I agree with Kim — Baby first, work second. My babies are 25 and 28 and I’d anything to have those first few years with them back again. There are jobs for nurses that allow them to stay at home (phone triage, case management, UR) — maybe that would be a good path for right now. Once a nurse, always a nurse — you can go back to practice when Gabriel is in school full time.

So, what brought you to the hospital today?

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  • profileI am Gina. I have been a nurse for 15 years, first in med/surg, then CVICU, inpatient dialysis, CCU and now hospice. This blog is about my experiences as a nurse, and the experiences of others in the healthcare system - patients, nurses, doctors, paramedics. We all have stories!

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