Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Calling in Sick on Nurses Day

This morning, I am feeling unwell, so I decided to call in sick to work. Having no idea that it was indeed Nurses Day, the administrative assistant at our office expressed her dismay that I was not coming in, leading me to believe that a celebration of some sort had been planned, arrangements that were now foiled by my decision to remain in bed.

That said, my wife remarked that calling in sick on Nurses Day is in many ways quite perfect. Nurses work hard---often too hard---and I am no exception. And like many relatively new employees on probation, I still have no sick time or vacation until I reach my six-month performance review at the end of May. But no matter---self-care is paramount, and this is the perfect day to eschew the vicissitudes of work and the ongoing swine flu extravaganza.

For many, Nurses Day translates as greeting cards, flowers, a pat on the back, and a moment of recognition amidst the frenzied work of health care. For me, Nurses Day conjures images of rest, respite from the work of nursing, and a moment to reflect and remember why I became a nurse, why I'm still a nurse, and how I can take care of myself as a nurse.

After thirteen years in nursing, I have experienced fulfillment, burnout, fatigue, overwhelming stress, camaraderie, boredom, confusion, frustration, excitement, and a mixture of too many other emotions and states of mind to describe here. It has been an interesting ride, and while I'm not sure that nursing will always be some aspect of my working life, I do know for certain that my "nursing mind" will always be an active part of the lens through which I view the world.

For today, I lay my nursing cap by the side of the bed (except when I check my work voicemail and email, of course), and I allow myself a day to play hookey and rest my weary nursing bones. With the birds singing outside the window and our Japanese Maple Tree in full crimson bloom, I sink down next to Tina the Dog and breathe a well-deserved sigh of relief.
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