My last day was very surreal. With each task, I’d think “Oh, this is the last time I’ll ever do this”. I’ll never start an IV again. I’ll never pull out another Hemovac drain. This is the last time I’ll hang antibiotics. It’s the very last time I’ll dispense medications. It was an odd feeling.
It was time to leave healthcare for a lot of reasons. Healthcare has changed, and not for the better. Healthcare workers have been leaving the profession for a while, but Covid turned that exodus into a stampede. Hospitals are facing a crushing shortage of workers. That lack of staff is making working on the hospital floor unsafe. The patients are sicker, more demanding, ruder, and more violent. At the same time the near-daily onslaught of new rules, regulations, and charting/documenting requirements leave little time to actually connect with your patient. It’s sad, and I don’t see it getting better.
As an RN, I’ve been hit, kicked, spit on, yelled at, threatened, peed on, vomited on, and cleaned up more poop than you can possibly imagine. All while working a 14-hour day, sometimes without enough time to take a lunch break. We worked the Covid floors without enough supplies, being forced to wear the same dirty mask for two and three days because there was such a shortage. It’s been interesting times the last few years.
At the same time, it’s been an amazing experience. I saw and did things I never thought I’d be doing. I was able to connect with people at a level you can’t do at a cocktail party. I’ve held the hands of people as they drew their last breath. I spent time consoling people who just received devastating news about a tumor prognosis or were newly paralyzed. I sat quietly with people whose loved one was going to pass away soon. I also got to hear some fantastic stories from old folks about growing up in the depression, war experiences, and traveling across the country before there were interstate highways. I made some good calls that probably resulted in people living vs dying. I responded to codes and performed CPR on folks. I’ve had several people stop me in a store and tell me that, “you won’t remember me, but you took care of my father. He was so grateful for your care.” I have enough stories of crazy, wacky patients, gruesome injuries, and blood and gore to last a lifetime. In my pre-healthcare life, I never would have imagined that one day I’d be chasing a crazy, naked old lady with dementia as she ran down the stairs towards the parking lot. They definitely skipped over that part in nursing school.
I’m grateful I got to experience all of it. The good and the bad. (ok, maybe not the poop) It’s made me more appreciative of the blessings I have in my life. It’s also made me realize how important it is to try and be a good human. At the end of the day, that’s all you have. When you exit this world, how do you want people to remember you? Healthcare reminded me on a daily basis that you don’t know when your time is up. Slow down a bit and enjoy life. Make sure you take the time to see and do things. Because you never know what’s around the corner.
So, it’s time for the next chapter. I’m not entirely sure what that is yet, but I’m looking forward to it.