Friday, December 30, 2005

Drawing to a Close

We drank champagne at work today. The masses clamored for the office to shut down early and our boss relented, even though he was planning to let us all go early anyway, just like he did last Friday, the day before Christmas Eve. The corks popped, we drank a toast, and the lights were turned off, leaving the last twelve months of love and labor behind us.

The turning of the year often naturally predisposes one to reflection and review. More than eighty people have been under my care this year, several dying quite peaceful deaths while surrounded by loving family and friends. The year also saw relapses and remissions of addiction, domestic violence, divorce, recovery from alcoholism, resurgence of cancer, improved health, and continued chronic physical and psychiatric illnesses. With so many patients, I can't say that everyone is better or worse---there is a continuum of recovery and rehabilitation, and they all find a different place along its trajectory, that place often changing from day to day.

Professionally, it's been a year of proving my mettle (to no one other than myself) and holding my own, often putting in more hours than I might like in a given week. More and more, the management of information has become part and parcel of my job, something they never really mentioned in nursing school. Still, I feel good about what I've been able to accomplish, the care I've given, the lives I've been able to touch, the students I've guided and laughed with.

Reflecting further, I also recognize certain skills and areas of assessment that I would like to develop: neurological assessment; cardiac assessment; further improvement of my Spanish, especially in relation to psychosocial counseling

I could go on, but it's just too uninteresting.

On the other work-front, I now have a three-week break from teaching---also known as stuffing the minds of nascent nurses with too many facts and potential scenarios. One more semester, and I plan to retire from my stint as college professor, glad to have learned that I can do it, and glad (in some ways) to leave it behind me.

Anyway, life at work evolves and shifts, but also remains quite constant. The basic calculations are the same, the cast changes from time to time, but the underlying feeling is continuous, and these three-day weekends? They're priceless. What is one golden lesson learned? Self-care is paramount. A sick and depressed caregiver is no use to anyone in this world.

Here's to another year of satisfying work, and continued gratitude for the luxury and blessing of having such work to fulfill myself and my place in the scheme of human endeavor.
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