could i really?


Going back to bedside nursing…

When I made this decision, people asked me if I’m sure if I could. “If I could?” was really the challenge on my mind. The old hungry and fervent Steph would definitely say “WHY NOT???” After all I was “known” to be a “good one” when I was last in the school and wards. But I had my doubts after so much trauma and hurt that i’ve been through.  “Could i really???” was pretty much swirling on my mind, and then it was all “what ifs”.

I left my previous job because of the culture and the management. I was happy with several colleagues.  but the former really got to me. Honestly however, I was not doing well without therapy for 7 months. My regular 8.30-5 job clinic job didn’t allow it. So I told myself since I missed bedside nursing so much, and since I needed the shift hours to go for therapy, why not?

Yeah, why not, Steph?

My parents and treatment team had their doubts. They were scared that history would repeat. And they had every reason to think so. The last time i was in the ward, i was warded for 2 months in between, and then it ended with a year off work, and actually 6 months in the psychiatric ward. So yes. I do not blame them for it.

I could only be blamed. I was still very sick then but wanting to work thinking it would heal me (my calling, remember?). My personality was still very extreme- too perfectionistic, sky-high expectations, seeking affirmation constantly etc. Apparently i just didn’t want to say no to slowing down. It was just more more more. And my parents and treatment team are afraid it would happen again. Legitimate reasons.

I just finished 4 days at work at my new work place. It’s a private hospital, compared to the public (restructured) hospital i used to be in. It’s Sunday and it’s my off day today, and i’m grateful. I needed it.

I used to work with active RA, and to me it was manageable because i was so used to it. Being a nursing student had already prepped me for it. But today i have fibromyalgia on top of RA and nobody really teaches you how to cope with that. Additionally i have been having rheumatism in my hands and feet and they have been unrelenting. And my heart makes me more breathless once more again these days (decreased effort tolerance once more).

So on day 2 i am reminded again of my morbidity when i realised i am dragging my feet. I actually abhor dragging my feet if i can help it. But i learnt long ago then when i do when i work, i’m tired and i’m in pain. Days 2-4, i struggle because my quadriceps are so weak i cannot stand. I literally have to pull/push hard on something to get myself up. It’s embarrassing. But i learnt on day 4, that i have come a long way in that i ‘counselled’ a patient with depression, and i was not at all triggered at the sight of her cuts. I was heartened when she thought was a psychiatric nurse. All i actually was trying to do was to give her some hope.

Something i wished someone would do for me when i was depressed.

On day 4 i continued to counsel another patient with reactive psychosis. I give him things to think about with his wife. Things i learnt in therapy all these years. They were so thankful, i was almost on my knees. I was again only trying to help. My heart broke to see him like that, so young yet stuck in such a rut.

Then for a young patient who seemingly had a massive stroke, he was so anxious for his invasive procedure that i asked him a sensitive question. “Are you Christian?” He was. I told him i am a “Roman Catholic”. Then for the first time in my nursing career, i asked if he would like me to pray for them. They were only too glad. I held his hand and his wife’s. I prayed that his procedure findings would be good enough for him to return to the ward. I prayed for his health so that he could formally get married to his wife at the end of the year. I am not good with open prayers, but he told me it’s ok. We agreed prayers are like conversations with God. He held my hand many times, I guess he was really scared, and he needed reassurance from God, and from a nurse. In the end he did return. We praised God. He was too kind.

So today on my off day i reflect on work. “Can i?” still seems to be the question. But now i strongly believe that with God, all things are possible. Day 4 was a day of compassion, and i have never felt like that before. Deep in it my heart quivers because it knows “hey, it is here again!”. To me, now it doesn’t matter if i can or cannot. I am serving my God, and this is my calling. The calling that was proclaimed to me by God in 2007. I feel renewed, and i feel hopeful. I spoke to my preceptor/nurse clinician to challenge me. They wanted me to go slow because of my depression. I said no. Go ahead. I’ve learnt my lesson. I know when to say that it’s “too much”. I know how to take care of myself.

The matter i feel is not the matter of i can or cannot. This is 2015. Steph isn’t the Steph from 2012/2013. I have bloomed, no matter how little. My love to care and heal still flows in my veins. My psychiatrist thinks i have mellowed down. I am not made of my past. I don’t have to prove myself to anyone. I am starting on a blank slate. I am ready to love.

And my heart is full of love.


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