burn your bridges

i’ve not written for awhile. i’ve been too caught up with work, regulating my moods and emotions to cope and stay sane, and trying to get enough sleep. everything hasn’t been bad actually. but last week, i lost it at work and sobbed like i was inconsolable.  

it was a monday morning, and as if i had already anticipated it (because monday mornings are just notorious for being crazy), my patient turned very hypotensive on me. it took a painfully long 3-4 hours for the cardiology team to finally make the call to start the patient on dopamine (only with my suggestion) and send him down to the coronary care unit, after unsuccessful and unnecessary fluid resuscitation on someone whose heart was functioning at a pitiful 10%. in between everything, i had to persist unrelentingly at the team doctors to do more (rather than the passive approach) for my hypotensive patient, take bloods and insert an iv plug into the collapsed veins of my patient, manage 5 other patients, prepare for 2 discharges, calculate, dilute and put up dopamine, then run downstairs to see my rheumy for a routine appointment and get my knee injected with steroids, and return to the ward only to have to transfer (like finally) my patient at the most inopportune moment.

after which (once i was done with passing over to the afternoon shift, which was in and by itself a nightmare as i was passing over to my own preceptor), i had to attend to my patient who was 4 floors down and had just completed a CT scan. he was having a reaction to the contrast, and the doctors and nurses at the diagnostic imaging department were almost at a loss, and could only give him more oxygen and a second dose of hydrocortisone. i needed and wanted more to be done for my patient who was in much distress, but was only met with ‘no’s until my patient worsened further and i suggested that the cardiac monitor be put on him, and that iv promethazine be given to my patient. (my patient improved after, and instead of being sent to the ICU, i brought him back to the ward.)

when i returned to the ward with work still pending, and as a very new staff nurse, i had to be told of what i had done wrongly (for purposes of self-improvement apparently). i thought i’d be able to accept the feedback (like i usually do and have to do) and move forward. but sitting at the nurses’ counter with my superior and listening to all the mistakes that i had made in all my seriousness wanting only the best for my patients, i felt my facade crumble and shatter into smithereens while tears ran down my face fast and furious.

i felt so utterly defeated that i could not contain myself- the self that is real and true- any longer. it came to the point where i would bluntly say no, if someone were to ask me if i was okay (and that rarely ever happens). i was doing and giving my utmost for my patients, and yet it was not enough? i only wanted the best for my patients, yet i was far too flawed in that? at that point, although it happened very quickly, everything that my superior told me fed right into the loops of my depression.

you mean that even my best was not enough???

i cried for a long while after that, arguing with my superior in between sobs, about how i should avoid putting myself into such circumstances in future. i refuted her statements and suggestions, because they made no sense to me. (her idea was that whatever happened that day happened because i was being kind to my colleague by changing shifts with her, and that i would not have experienced all that had happened had i not changed shifts with her.) arguing with her and attempting feebly to make her empathise with me and my plight made me more hysterical.

to be honest, i felt like was crashing and going on a downward spiral.

2 off days from work after that day gave me time to recover and rebuild my functional self, which really is my facade which i’m so good at putting up. i went back to work after that pretending like nothing happened. i even talked about that day to my colleagues as though nothing happened, laughing sometimes at the atrocity of the situations which could have been avoided had the doctors been more proactive/knowledeable. 


a few days ago, i came across these words, and although they’re simple, they reached out to me:

never reserve anything.
pour out the best you have,
and always be poor.

My Utmost for His Highest
Oswald Chambers

he said too, to burn your bridges behind you. i want to be able to do that, and never look back again.  i need to believe that my past does not define what i am and what i do today. i always give and do my utmost, and that is more than enough. in fact on that day, i gave it my all, became my patients’ advocate, and fought for more to be done for them. and retrospectively, i take heart in it.


One thought on “burn your bridges

  1. If you never cry, being an RN, you are not doing it right. Crying in the car, when you get a little tougher skin on the unit, no one knows but you. 34 years, and it hasn’t changed for me. With the RA, the pain, the steroids and the goal to always help everybody and do better, it is inevitable. Pat yourself on the back, your patient is okay , you learned something, plus somehow you squeezed an appointment in your day…I’m impressed, I rarely eat lunch!

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