Sunday, January 29, 2012


When I first started out in nursing around 30 years ago, I found it hard to imagine being able to do this kind of work after the age of 50. I thought the work would be too physically demanding and while what I do now is not as arduous as working in a hospital, I find myself fatigued all of the time. It's a different kind of tiredness that's robbing me of a good quality of life.

I'm so exhausted that it seems on many days, I feel like I'm walking through mud that's knee deep. The nature of my work is also emotionally challenging and while I find great satisfaction in my particular specialty, lately I find it hard to recharge my batteries. Instead of enjoying my time off on the weekends, I find myself counting the hours until I have to go back to work. This is not a good frame of mind.

It's not really the work responsibilities that are a problem--the straw that is breaking the camel's back is again a worry about my safety. I've had 3 incidents in a month that have shaken me up. Even though I have an escort who is fully equipped and trained to see to my safety, I still feel so vulnerable.

The first event was on an evening I was sent to a house where the next door neighbor had a never ending train of visitors coming and going the entire time I was in that patient's home. If it wasn't a drug house, I'm a monkey's uncle. The second, more frightening event happened last week when my escort and I were leaving a house. Two city police cars raced down the street and pulled up with a screech three doors down from where we were standing with our mouths hanging open. Four cops jumped out with their weapons drawn and I about shat myself thinking I was about to get caught in the crossfire between the police and the neighborhood thugs. The next day, my security escort called to tell me the police were closing in on suspects they thought responsible for a home invasion where the criminals had kicked in a door 5 doors from where I'd been, beaten the elderly occupant and stolen her car. The very next night I was sent to a home in the middle of a neighborhood of abandoned houses. One house after another was a boarded up dilapidated mess. As we were leaving the patient's home, two men were exiting the abandoned home right across the street. They startled and worried me and I couldn't wait to leave that neighborhood.

What in the hell is wrong with me that I continue to put myself at risk night after night, and is it any wonder I feel the way I do?

These incidents aren't uncommon for me and this safety issue is the source of my anxieties that keep me awake at night. It's also at the core of all my agida. I'm pretty close to thinking I've had enough and it's all over--decision wise--except the planning. You know, it only took me two years to finally hear what the therapist told me when I told her what my job and territory were like: "Quit! What are you waiting for? A tragedy?"

The hows of doing this are what I've spent my weekend discussing with my family and friends. You know, can we afford this? Will I do well without a schedule? Can I still work as a contingent employee with more say over my assignments? How will I pay for my yarn or vacations? Can I bear the thought of not nursing? It's so much a part of who and what I am that I'm not really sure, but I'm not losing any sleep over this. In fact, I've slept more peacefully these past couple of nights with the knowledge that I'm close to a decision that is likely right for me and for our family.

Maybe I could be a barista in my next life--I hear Starbuck's gives its employees a free pound of coffee every week. Or maybe I can finally take that class in bread baking at Zingerman's Bake House. Mmm. Perhaps I could finally work on that knitting certification and teach knitting. I could combine them all by opening a store that sells yarn, coffee and artisan bread. The list of things I want to do--if only I had the time--is fairly long.

I'm going to dare to dream of how to reinvent myself and that alone feels good.


splendid said...

your life is NOW
Do it
and don't ever look back
Trust the universe

Gail said...

The fact that you are sleeping better tells me you are headed in the right direction.

Go for it...and love life again!

Brenda said...

Just make the decision to leave this job and let the chips fall where they by day. Very few (if any) people would work under those circumstances. I know I wouldn't.
The money...if you are only working for yarn and won't miss that. You will just find ways to save somewhere else...if that makes sense.

sapphireblue said...

Change is difficult, but I think you see the signs pointing you in a different direction. I know you will do what's right for you.

Kate B said...

I agree with Gail - the fact that you are sleeping better tells you that this is the right decision. Good Luck with what ever direction you decide to take.

(Queenmothermamaw) Peggy said...

Dear Rudee things are so different out there now then probably when you started. Your feelings are all you have to guide you. I feel for you. The pull of letting go and staying on is so stressful. Prayers for you and family as you find the right decision. Blessings

The Bug said...

I find that the ability to sleep is a fine gauge of whether a decision is right or not - your body & psyche are definitely ready for this change!

SkippyMom said...

I think the fact that you need an escort to do your jobs says volumes.

If your concerns about your safety while being employed hinge on whether or not you can afford yarn and vacations then perhaps you can make the change and not only feel safer, but BE safer.

If you are worried about still nursing I am pretty sure [last time I checked] that there are a lot of fulfilling jobs out there that you are qualified for that don't require an escort.

I agree with the others - it may be time to find a new job.

Good luck my friend. Stay safe.

Stephanie V said...

You've done the hardest part...made that decision. It seems that you know exactly what you don't want. There must be other ways for you to share your gifts. Safely.

I love that yarn comes before vacation. And I'll be the first customer in line at your new store!

cabbage rose said...

I'm 52 and a nurse in a very intense and busy ICU. I feel your pain regarding the exhaustion and the fear/anxiety. There are so many opportunities out there. Go find the one that feeds your soul :)

Rose said...

There is a line that says faith is stepping off the ledge and believing you will fly or will be caught. Follow your heart.

sue b said...

The great thing about nursing is that there are so many ways it can be done. It doesn't have to be a choice about leaving nursing, although it might be fun to try something else. I left nursing and got a whole new degree in another field. I later went back to nursing, and don't regret the time I spent doing something else. But you will need to take a chance and let go of what's not working to find what does work for you.

Rositta said...

What are you waiting for, quit. Life is too short. An important person in our lives, my three grandsons mother just died of cancer at age 47. You are blessed with many talents and health. Take your life in your hands and run with it...ciao

ztoamom said...

your life is NOW
Do it
and don't ever look back

Ditto that.

Go find the one that feeds your soul :)and ditto that

And the coffebreadyarn joint is BRILLIANT

Congratulations, so happy for you.

Sandy said...

I've been retired since 2006 and I still can't find time to do everything I want. But..after 30 plus years of medical transcription - tied to a typewriter/and then computer - I hated my job and am so glad I quit. I never looked back.

Money - we almost lost everything we had worked for all our life after my husband was laid off, a year after I quit and our house wasn't selling in a timely manner. Somehow it all worked out.

It's scary to give up an income but I imagine you will find that as long as you go with the flow - the flow will be good to you...Sounds like the flow is moving towards you leaving this job.

Your soul is calling you for a new adventure.

Jadekitty said...

I couldn't believe my eyes when I read the title of your post tonight, because I posted the same title today and in my post I announced that I quit my job and moved :) Now my situation was nothing like yours, but I understand the peace that comes with making this type of decision. I am so proud of you for doing this and if you do open your store, I shall visit :) I am excited to hear about your future adventures!

Finding Pam said...

Rudee, you only have one life. I would not continue to place yourself in life threatening positions. I agree with the other comments that you will be happier by changing your jobs.

For me, there came a point where I could no longer tolerate all of the stress of owning a flower shop anymore. It took me a few years to get it out of my system, but I am finally free of the desire to work. I retired five different times before I said "I'm done."

THank you for the comment on my blog about my sister. I appreciate your wisdom and friendship.

Sleep good from now own.

Knitty said...

The last time I worked at a soup kitchen downtown with my (then) church, a diner let loose with a whole lot of pepper spray before he could be stopped.

Thank goodness that is all that it was, but it made me wonder WTH I was doing there. I know many good people need meals and many good patients need home visitations, but there comes a time when it might not be best for an individual to continue to be the provider in those situations. We owe it to ourselves and our families to take care of our mental, emotional and physical well being.

I bet you'd make an excellent knitting instructor. Let me know when and where so I can be one of your first students!

Devon said...

Ooh.. teach knitting and sell your products... something quick and inexpensive to make at your classes... fingerless gloves, scarves, socks, funky hats, baby items!

Life is all about chapters.. time to write a new one!

NCmountainwoman said...

I was a homecare nurse for many years and often felt just as you do. People who have never lived in a large city have no idea how frightening some of the areas can be.

I did not remain a visiting nurse but moved up the corporate ladder instead. I often thought I had "sold out," moving further and further from what brought me there in the first place...patient care. I guess there is no easy answer.

Ruth said...

I have not once missed being a nurse these past 6 months and often say you would not get me back at all.

PS I had more to say but I've put it in a email.

Look after yourself!

Mimi said...

Oh my goodness, I'm glad I came back to see the work post.
Rudee, I think you don't need this aggro. I know you've rectified the situation and hope that the new work will come through very quickly.
I agree with Gail, fact that you're sleeping is a good sign that you're doing what's right for you.
I know what you mean about not nursing; my mother was a nurse and I think it's in your bones. But you will find alternative nursing.

Anonymous said...

Since I read your most recent post before reading this one.. (hate when I do that) I can't vote.. but I'd have said to quit. Listen to that inner voice warning you. I'm so glad it worked out as well as it did and you can continue to do the work.. when and where you want.