Today I have felt more exhausted than this whole semester put together.
Does anyone else struggle to fall asleep if they know they have to be up super early the next day? It’s like my mind is going, “fall asleep. Like right now. GO TO SLEEP. NOW. YOUR IPHONE SAID YOU HAD TO BE ASLEEP HALF AN HOUR AGO TO GET YOUR SEVEN HOURS IN. YOU ARE GOING TO BE COGNITIVELY IMPAIRED TOMORROW !!!
Knowing that I had to be up by at least 4:30 am, my body chose to wake up at 3:00 am…… but I took it like a big girl and looked at the bright side: I could now eat breakfast way earlier. And who doesn’t love breakfast?
I was eager to be in the hospital again and felt totally, a lá Grey’s Anatomy this morning.
It felt a little weird since the stars were still out by the time I was leaving my apartment, but between the coffee and slapping the stethoscope around my neck, I felt pretty invincible.
Fast forward to the part where I actually stepped foot into the hospital: I felt everything but invincible. In fact, I felt pretty dang overwhelmed. Despite the fact that I am a senior in nursing school, I still feel like I know nothing (except for the fact that you never push potassium and extra wash cloths are always a good idea).
The wires, the tubes, the drips — sure I hear about all these things in lecture — but knowing how they operate in real life is a completely different ball game. “Put your game face on, Izel. You cannot look freaked out,” I kept telling myself.
Thankfully I am surrounded by the best incredible class mates, professors and preceptors. They give me the confidence I need to ask questions and be hands-on during clinical. I hear it all the time — “You’re gonna feel like you don’t know anything at first.” And it’s true. The medical world is constantly evolving and innovating. This is one of the many reasons I love my major — I am immersed in an atmosphere of lifetime learning. I will forever be a student; something very humbling, yet beautiful.
That’s a word I love to use: beautiful. I particularly love to use it to describe nursing. At first glance, nursing doesn’t exactly scream beauty. Sure we get to wear pjs to work and call the shots (pun totally intended) but it’s mostly….pretty plain. We change briefs. We give bed baths. We assist you to the bathroom. We pull all your meds, constantly call your doctor, and we deal with a lot of angry people. Not exactly glamorous, right?
But it’s in these moments where I truly discover how beautiful life is. How vulnerable we are as humans; how everything can change in the blink of an eye. I get to see raw human emotion. And it’s only by looking deeper that I can step back and see that nursing is an act of pure love — all the poop, pee, blood, sweat and tears — it all boils down to the fact that we love another person enough to suck it up and do something about it. We get to love up close (super- up close).
Just today during the 8 hours I was in the hospital, I witnessed a rollercoaster of emotions (and experienced them myself): anxiety, pain, joy, relief, frustration, exhaustion, empathy. I watched as painful decisions were made, as fatigue took hold of a body fighting to stay alive. I sat quietly and looked on as a woman slowly walked towards the exit — but not just a woman; a wife, a mother, a sister — in tears knowing that this was the end.
And then I saw it. All the grey.
I used to think that medicine was black and white. The whole “you see someone, ask them some questions, diagnose them, give them some meds and bam” — They’re fine and dandy. And maybe this is just my naive heart, but the world of illness is drenched in grey. No one comes in with just one issue. Each patient is puzzle. They have layers and layers — and you have to treat one layer while also protecting the other.
And I used to believe that nursing was about curing someone. Fixing them. Healing them. And in a way, it has elements of all those things, but nursing is much more complex than that — it’s grey. There’s no right answer. No one-size-fits-all. Like one of my professors would say, “It depends.” In reality, we just do the best we can. And sometimes, that’s very little.
I’m learning more and more that it’s not about the medications, or the screen watching, or how many fancy medical terms you can spit out — although these things are important. And to be honest, it’s fun to feel smart by knowing big words such as orthostatic hypotension.
But rather, it is about walking with patients and loving them every step of the way. It’s realizing that this person is not just “Room 208.” They are someone’s fiancé, or favorite neighbor, or really annoying uncle.
The human body amazes me. But what amazes me further is the one who created it — the Divine Physician. Through the study of the intricacies of His designs, I learn more about His character: the depth of His wisdom by seeing the way body systems all work together, His tenderness reflected in a smiling newborn, and the stamp of beauty He places on everything He creates. (I can’t wait to one day ask God all of my burning anatomical questions; Why did you give us an appendix? What was the purpose of wisdom teeth? Why didn’t you let us do like the sea horses and make men carry babies too?!)
— in short, today I got a hefty dose of being overwhelmed: overwhelmed at the fact that I have the privilege to be pursuing something that I love, that I am stretched thin order to discover what I’m made of, that I get to be challenged.
Because if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
P. S. don’t forget to go out & get your flu shots,