Where does a nurse turn when it seems that the end of one's rope has been reached? How does the nurse---or other healthcare professional---finesse on-going self-care in the midst of devastatingly overwhelming work? When does the nurse get to care for him- or herself? How long can one abdicate self-care as the work-weeks grind along?
These are questions which I ask myself, and the answers are slow to come. When the workload has been untenable for too long, one begins to shut down, to lose focus, to become resentful and cynical. No matter how much one is enamored with the sociopolitical mission of one's work, blinding stress can eventually erode the glow of that mission, the patina of moral and political righteousness lost in the tumult of the every day.
Priding myself on never having worked in a hospital, my nursing experience has allowed me to remain for more than a decade in the community health sector. Happy in this role, I have honed certain skills and learned to be a relatively self-sufficient, autonomous clinician. That is a strength, and I refuse to allow it to be a weakness.
How to decide to move on? How to make that transition gracefully? How does Multiple Chemical Sensitivity impact the job search? How do I let go? How does one simply say goodbye to eighty patients?
The answers are few and far between.