I’m honored to be on the Tumblr Year in Review again, and it got me thinking about all of the nifty art I created this year. Looking over my archive made me feel like a proud parent. All my pretty little babies! So many new things I tried and old things I re-created!
One of the most exciting things that happened this year was the overwhelming, positive response to this post, in which I shared some nail art but also some details about my work as a psych nurse and how I find meaning. It was moving and humbling to see all of the replies from people who have struggled in their lives and continue to draw strength from that struggle. Thank you all for that.
Here are my top 12 posts this year, in no particular order:
The first time the nursing student took a Nursing exam, she failed. She failed to meet expectations, she failed to grasp this strange new world of critical thinking, she failed her instructors, she failed her own standards, and she failed her ideals.
The first time she stepped into a pair of scrubs, she stared at herself in the mirror for what seemed an eternity. It didn’t feel real, yet she was excited to wear those freshly pressed scrubs, squeaky clean clogs. She held her brand new clipboard, penlight, scissors, and a small snack tucked into her pocket. She swung her shiny new Littmann Stethoscope around her neck. It didn’t feel real, and she wondered when it would.
The first time she took care of a patient, she couldn’t go into the room. She was too nervous - almost like a fraud, as though she didn’t belong. She feared that the patients would sense her inexperience.
She feared the patient.
The first time she joined a study group it felt weird. She was used to independent study, and she stayed quiet, unsure that she had anything valuable to contribute to the discussion.
The first time she cleaned a patient, the first time she cleaned mounds of stool, she was teamed with a nursing student who ran out of the room yelling, “I can't”. She wanted to run too, and then she looked at the face of her patient.
The first time she took care of a patient, as a registered nurse, she felt like an imposter. She signed “RN” with a little hesitation, as though someone would jump out and say, “hey, you’re not a nurse!” She looked over her shoulder every time someone called nurse, as though the “real” nurse would come up behind her.
The first time she experienced bullying, she was surprised. Surprised at a profession that prided itself in caring for others. Surprised at the lack of empathy for one of their own. Surprised, that kindness could sometimes be taken advantage of.
Surprised into silence.
The first time she made a serious mistake, she was beyond devastated. Nursing school didn’t quite prepare her for how it would feel. The first time she caused unintentional harm, she wanted to quit and find a safer profession.
Anywhere, but there.
The first time her own patient coded, she trembled in fear while her colleagues took over. She trembled when the doctor asked what happened. She trembled as she ambubagged her patient. Her colleagues…they didn’t tremble. The saved her patient.
And they saved her .
The first time her patient died, she lay awake well into the night, analyzing every detail, reflecting on what she had done wrong. She reflected on how she had failed her patient.
The first time she became charge nurse, she listened to others while they dished out who was capable of what assignment and who wasn’t. She completely botched the entire day, She wasn’t able to do half the things she had planned, and she left that day swearing hell would freeze over before she took charge again.
The first time the Registered Nurse felt burned out, she locked herself away in solitude, disappointed, self critical, and ready to give up on a profession she had worked so hard for.
And Then, The Next Time.
The next time the Nursing Student took a nursing exam, she forgot about past failures. She concentrated less on what went wrong, and more on what she needed to change. The next time, she was focused, prepared and she understood the material.
The next time she wore a pair of scrubs, and stepped into her nursing shoes, it felt familiar, almost as though she had been doing this for a lifetime. It felt familiar, and it felt right.
The next time she took care of a patient, she paused outside the room. She remembered that as scared as she was, the patient was likely much more frightened.
She took a deep breath, and stepped into the room.
The next time she joined a study group, she spoke up. She listened to their perspectives in response, and it enlightened her. It provided an alternate view that was seemingly concrete in her mind, allowing her to digest test questions from multiple angles before selecting the best answer.
The next time she cleaned and bathed a patient, she learned that preserving a patient’s dignity was more important than pitying them.
The next time the Registered Nurse took care of her own patients, she perhaps didn’t feel as though it was all real yet, but she knew she had earned the right to be where she was, and she learned that she was an RN just like any other.
The next time she experienced bullying, it was as an observer. She listened, as they charmed the world, yet spoke of people negatively behind their backs, people who couldn’t fight back. She observed, as they gained popularity, yet failed to extend kindness when the spotlight was off them. Her silence broke, but it wasn’t in battle. Support & Advocacy, she learned, was sometimes best acted on in example.
The next time she made an error, she learned & accepted it was an imperfect profession. You can try as you might to make good, sound, clinical decisions, and still come out on the wrong end. She learned it would always be a work in progress.
The next time her patient coded, she put her fear in the background, and dove in.
She has not regretted it since.
The next time her patient died, she sat quietly with them beyond the post mortem care. She contemplated the course of their hospital stay, and weighed what she would do differently vs. acceptance.
She learned that losing patients would either contribute to burnout, or lead to an understanding of the sanctity of life and peaceful transitions.
The next time she became charge nurse, she followed her own instinct. It wasn’t a perfect day, but she supported each nurse, and nursing assistant in their tasks, and it occurred to her that everyone deserved a clean slate, void of the opinion of others. Everyone had a chance to begin again, and she wouldn’t be the charge nurse who divided staff.
The next time the Nurse experienced burnout, she retreated - but, this time to a place of solace, serenity and reflection. She retreated to a place that allowed the emptiness of thought, healing of the body, and eventually reminded her of her mission to simply do the best she can with each day she was given as a nurse.
5 of 17: La Sal Mountains from the Devil’s Garden Trail
Of the many trails available to
hike at Arches National Park in Utah, the Devil’s Garden Trail is considered
one of the more arduous, but the vistas are incomparable. On the return trip along
the trail, the La Sal Mountains become noticeable, framed as they are by the
eroded mesas, referred to as fins. I shot this scene with a 200mm telephoto
lens which makes the mountain in the background seem that much more present.