After high school, I dreamed about becoming a nurse. Nursing was a career I chose based on guidance from my father. What better way to serve God and His kingdom than to be bedside caring for the sick? Being a nurse requires a thorough education, but education is only half of what it takes to work at the bedside. Aside from observing patients for decline, a nurse’s next most important job is nurturing. We clean patients, hold their hands, and listen to their stories.
My job was the first time I experienced selfless love before the birth of my daughter. I ensured all my patients’ needs were met each night before my own. The shift was halfway over before I even began to think about myself. The long hours dedicated to patient care were draining; they required me to put myself second and a stranger first.
While the long, selfless hours made my heart grow in many ways, it caused it to wither in others. Spending thirty-six hours a week with sick patients who were battling chronic conditions with poor prognoses took a toll on me. When I saw how sickness affected the human body, I felt powerless against the wrath of disease. Night after night, I asked myself, When do I save people? During my first few months, I worked hard, learned how to care for patients, treated illness, and cried on my way home.
The night shift at the hospital changed my lifestyle and perception of time. Before Friday even began, Saturday had come and gone. The first turned into the fifteenth. I missed birthdays and family gatherings; on my days off I compensated for lost time by visiting many venues in one day. I drained myself attempting to keep up with how fast time moves. The city was small in proximity and large in entertainment. There was an event every day during the week. My partner and I danced through the clubs, splurged in the shopping malls, and filled our bellies at exclusive restaurants, yet my heart felt empty.
I had achieved a long-time dream of mine: I became a nurse in a big city hospital, had my own apartment in the thick of it, bought a nice car, and could afford my lifestyle. My parents were so proud. I had everything, so why did I still feel empty? Before the answer came to me, it was time to clock in for my next shift. After the next four mornings passed, I always felt like I looked different, skinnier. I was too busy caring for patients and didn’t finish my lunch. I was too tired during the day and forgot to eat. It was my routine for nearly one whole year.
I began to feel sick most days. I started to come in late and stopped having meaningful interactions with my patients. My nurse manager called me into her office, wondering what was happening to my performance. I could not explain it. I was just tired. I asked to be switched to the day shift. No positions were available, and I felt trapped. I listened to my body and quit.
In the days after that, I cried because I felt like a failure for quitting, but my partner was so proud of me. He told me he wished he were more like me.
“The girl who wanted this and then could not handle it?” I mocked myself.
“No, the girl who achieved her dream, realized it was not right for her, and continues to dream.”
I’ve since started a blog and a small business. I moved to a suburban town and work at a smaller hospital during the day. My partner and I have started a family, and we haven’t looked back.Leave a Comment