*Life-changing

Almost 40 days ago, i made a decision which at that point of time proved to be very difficult for myself personally, as well as for the people on my treatment team. It felt like a life-changing decision then, refusing to be confined to a safe and structured environment for any much longer, for the purpose of life-preservation. It was life-changing because it was a matter of life and death, and if not, progress and deterioration.

Since making that decision, it has been such a tremendous challenge living the life and reality which i completely disagreed with. I liked to call it being “out in the wild“. On many occasions, i felt like i was deteriorating fast and furious. Many times, my treatment team deliberated if i should be ‘put away’ again. They were losing their grip on me bit by bit, and i was letting myself slip further and further through their hands. Then, it seemed rather apparent that it was ‘make or break, do or die’ for me.

It has been very eventful ever since. You know how obstacles tend to come in numbers all at a go? They came one after another, sometimes a few at a time, as if to taunt and challenge me to see how long i could last. It was very daunting for me of course, and these obstacles that came my way threatened my state of mind as they triggered off maladaptive coping mechanisms which i have grown so familiar with. It was my first time in many months learning to cope as such without yielding to interventions, and bit by bit i started to understand that it was ok to think those thoughts and feel those emotions. That whatever the case, i should never act on them. And so i did, and it seemed to work. Nevermind if it is not the ‘right’ way to cope.

I cannot count the times that it has been suggested to me, to estrange myself entirely from nursing. That is, to leave nursing school, terminate my bond with my employer with a substantial amount of money, and look towards pursuing something else as a whole. When i am more lucid and rational, i vehemently disagree to such an atrocious suggestion because of how much i hold nursing dear to my heart. But i know there were times when it seemed so plausible and possible because it was all too hopeless. Making the life-changing decision and believing that i can and should give myself another chance at nursing, it felt to me again that it was ‘make or break, do or die’. Since some 8 months ago, i have never stopped fearing that i was going to be a ‘failure‘ again should i ever return to work. It holds true till today, that i am still afraid of being ‘not good enough’, and inherently a ‘failure’. Imagine my horror when they made a last minute arrangement for me to return to work, even if it was merely 5 days.

I was fretting till no end. My treatment team was a little concerned. Would i make it through the 5 days? Am i going to bail out half way through? Was i going to meet/exceed expectations? Or was i going to be far from their expectations? All that was on my mind was, is history going to repeat again? This obstacle, a boulder more than the little rocks which i’ve been met with, was almost definitely going to halt me in my tracks, and make me retreat. Or so i thought.

But the 5 days came and went, even though the obstacles kept coming while i was desperately trying to overcome the boulder which i thought would overcome me wholly. The 5 days were actually more enjoyable than i thought it’d be. But with the obstacles, they saw me through much trepidation, dread and fear. Nevertheless, i did what i could in my capacity, and i am glad. Glad that i made it through the 5 days. Glad that i had so much to take from the last 40 days. Glad that the 5 days gave me so much. Glad that i am ok thus far.

But why? You might ask. Why am i glad even though the last 40 days have been anything but good?

Because the best moments i had in my 5 days in the operating theatre, were the moments when i took the time to talk with my patients. It didn’t matter to me if the staff there were shooting at me disapproving looks because this should not be happening in perioperative nursing. I haven’t had the patient contact which i thrived on so much, in 8 months. And i was excited yet humbled that i could be a little part of that nurse i know i can be. These moments spent talking with them, connecting with them and reassuring them, left me beaming with joy.

Because i now know more than ever, that nursing is my calling. Because i now know with true conviction, that there is nothing else that i would want to do but to be a nurse.

It suddenly dawned upon me then, that everything that has happened in the last 14 months, happened for very good reasons. That they were never in vain, and were never meant to annihilate me as much as it felt like it. That the last 40 days, no matter how challenging, served a very good purpose. That sometimes when we are left with little/no choice, it may turn out to be the best choice afterall.

It has definitely been life-changing, i must say. But how was i to know it then? How was i to know that i needed to give it some time, connect the haphazard little dots and be able to see the big picture only very much later?

I am better than i was before. More human, more resilient, more patient, more appreciative, more mindful, more grounded, more humbled, and on my knees.

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