“Well, you didn’t wake up this morning cause you didn’t go to bed
You were watching the whites of your eyes turn red”
It’s been a slow rise here. Winter hasn’t relented and I’ve inextricably tied the impervious arctic cold to my deep depression. I haven’t been this bleak in years and wonder why I’m letting it go on so long? Have I found comfort or habit in this misery? I like to think I’ve got a better handle on life than devolving to that level of existence.
I don’t write about how bad things are when I’m feeling low so I am emerging. I have a really unhealthy habit of isolating myself when I’m depressed. It’s difficult to write about. I don’t want to be a depressed person.
I don’t kid myself for a minute that I’m having the worst time this winter. With a wider view, I see I am indeed very fortunate with a wonderful, supportive and understanding family and good friends. We can heat our house and put food in our mouths and my overflowing bureau and closet are testimony to a bad habit that I think retail therapy can cheer me up.
I have a well-paying job close to home, part time which should be ideal. I don’t like to write about my job for a number of reasons. Ethically I’m obliged to protect the privacy of those I care for. Personally I don’t really like to write about being a nurse. It’s not who I am, it’s what I do. I prefer to leave it at work if possible.
There are times it’s impossible to compartmentalized what goes on in one place, to not have it overflow into other aspects of my life and affect everything.
The floor I work on specializes (if you want to call it that–it’s really more of a wretched combination) in med/geri/psych/substance abuse so emotions can escalate for patients who are really sick, uncomfortable, confused and/or detoxing. The patients can be violent toward staff which has been my increasing concern mainly because I don’t want to get hurt at work but also because I want to work in a safe environment. I work with an unbelievable group of nurses, aides, case managers, social workers, doctors and psych liaison. Together everyone does a fantastic job managing these complicated people.
Unfortunately the comfort I felt doing my job unravelled. I had a patient who flipped on me. I didn’t expect it and wasn’t prepared for it. I had an idea that he had a bad temper because it was reported that he’d “lost it” with the psychiatrist and the evening nurse the day before. He was pleasant and cooperative with me, maybe a little too eager to be “a good patient” (it was what he said he wanted to be). On my second day with him, I went into his room to tell him I needed to medicate him before his lunch. A moment later I was backed against the wall being called things most foul and disgusting with his fist about a foot from my face. There were two other patients in the room–one was sleeping and the other was deaf and needed 2 people to walk him to the bathroom so my back-up was severely limited. What disturbed me so much was this guy was very calm in his rage. He wasn’t waving his fist, his arm was raised and ready. Every in-service I’d ever been to about de-escalating anger and protective, non-threatening positioning was useless to me at that point. I was trapped against the wall, he blocked the door and he was getting more and more furious. It wasn’t an irrational rant that could wind down, he was calculating and thoughtful, his profanity-laced tirade was something he thought about and decided on act on when he got the chance. Physical violence seemed inevitable. When his fist started moving closer, I asked him, “What are you going to do?” He dropped his fist at the question and I left the room.
He was immediately discharged and I had security escort him out. My co-workers knew he’d flipped on me and were supportive. I went to work the next day (it was the weekend) and marched through it like a robot.
I haven’t been able to shake this off. It stirred up the past and I’ve lost confidence. I kept thinking, “What did I do wrong?” and have backtracked that day to the point that I showed up for work with him in my assignment. It wasn’t me, he is a really bad person who commits acts of extreme violence on people who are physically weaker than him. Unfortunately, he has medical problems put him in the hospital when he drinks. It’s a bad mix. If he’s the kind of creep that I think he is, he probably won’t come back to my hospital unless he’s lugged in by an ambulance. I hope his name is red-flagged in “the system” as a someone who is violent toward staff but I don’t have much confidence in there. I regret ever getting into this job.
I need to leave all that at work. Bottom line: although it was bad, the worst didn’t happen. There are so many good things in my life that far outweigh this unfortunate episode but I’ve been carrying it around. I hate how it dredged up some really awful feelings that won’t go away.