Earlier last night I was watching a video that described the heart of nursing, and it perfectly depicted the calling to which I had surrendered my life. Because that’s what nursing is. It’s a decision to embark on a quest to touch lives, change lives, and save lives. It’s this crazy, strong desire to intercede on the behalf of others, and you find yourself sucked into the vortex of giving so much of yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically to positively impact the life of a complete stranger. You’re compelled, and you know no other way.
But sometimes it really sucks.
I watched that video, and I felt pride. I felt that famiar sense of pride that always surrounds me when I think about what I do for a living. I love what I do. But even as I watched this touching film and bristled under the emotions of gratification and fulfillment, I also felt a small twinge of guilt.
I felt guilty because sometimes I hate it.
When I cannot seem to fabricate the time needed to care for my patient in a manner that I find fundamental and safe, I hate being a nurse.
When I mistakenly disappoint a patient’s family, or they misunderstand my intentions. When they then turn their emotional explosion over their helplessness to change the outcome of their loved one’s health onto me, I completely understand it. I really do. But hurtful words still hurt. And unrealistic expectations still stink. In those moments of undeserved verbal assault, I hate being a nurse.
When cocky physicians speak down to me, or when those positioned above me in the hierarchy of healthcare treat me with disdain, I hate being a nurse.
When I can’t seem to satisfy my patients, run faster, answer the call light quicker, hold my pee longer, or find a way to go without taking a break, I hate being a nurse.
When I can’t seem to give enough pain medicine to the chronic pain patient, or sympathize more with the addict admitted with another overdose this month; when I can’t understand fully why the alcoholic continues to drink despite his cirrhosis, or why the noncompliant diabetic patient continues to let her blood sugar escalate out of control, I hate nursing.
When the stress of my responsibilities threaten to overtake me, when the chaos of life and death situations seems too much to bear, or when I feel like I didn’t move fast enough, think quickly enough, or intervene as appropriately as I should, I hate being a nurse.
When I fight unsuccessfully to keep someone from dying, and I walk to my car with the echoes of their distraught, crying families’ sobs ringing in my ears, I hate being a nurse.
When there’s too much loss, too many unfair situations, and too much cruel pain, I hate being a nurse.
But then I remember; I cannot help myself. I remember that I love it.
I remember that I love the field, no matter the challenges. I remember that I love the calling, and whatever responsibilities that entails.
I remember that I love the patients. Every. Single. One. And their families too. Especially their families.
I remember that the problems I face, the frustrations I experience, the difficulties I come upon, they mean nothing when held up against the joy I hold over being a nurse.
I watch things like the video I saw on YouTube, and that feeling of guilt for my minute emotion of hate becomes overshadowed by the mountain of love that rises up inside me. I hate it, but then, no, I love it.
I love it. And that’s all that seems to matter.