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Happy Nurses’ Week!

“When I think about all the patients and their loved ones that I have worked with over the years, I know most of them don’t remember me nor I them. But I do know that I gave a little piece of myself to each of them and they to me and those threads make up the beautiful tapestry in my mind that is my passion for nursing.”

 

Happy Nurses’ Week to all my fellow nurses out there!  Whether we know it or not, we make a difference in peoples’ lives everyday we slip on our danskos!

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I decided my senior year in high school that I wanted to be a nurse and go to nursing school. Considering that I come from a family full of nurses, it’s a bit of a shock it took me that long to realize that’s what I was going to grow up to be.     Nursing school itself was a challenge.  It is no joke. Intense classes, early morning clinicals, nurses who make you do all their dirty work just because you are a student – oh the memories.  But as challenging as nursing school was and as much as it prepared me to enter my profession with a strong knowledge and clinical base,  it’s the things that aren’t covered in nursing lab or in the hospitals thatare still the hardest for me.  The 12 hour shifts that go on for days, learning how to stay coherent enough to make it through a night shift …. and how to survive this time of year when the majority of your holidays will be spent at work caring for others, and not in the comfort of your own home with your  family.  The first year I was out in San Diego and worked Thanksgiving was the hardest for me.  We had a nice potluck at work, but it wasn’t anything compared to the delicious feast my mom would prepare us back home.  I ate tomato soup for dinner when I got home, and then went to bed.  It felt just like any old day – the magical and loving feel of the day was lost on me.  Christmas was the same way.  The next year when the holidays rolled around,  I actually dreaded them because I knew the lonley feeling that would come with them with me being so far away from home.  Sure, I may have actually had the actual day of Thanksgiving or Christmas off, but when your family is on the opposite coast, one day off for travel doesn’t cut it!

Now, almost after four years as a nurse,  I have come to learn some very important lessons about the holiday season and how to adapt with the separation that ultimately comes when you don’t work a 9-5 job.  I can happily say that I once again embrace the holiday season as I did growing up, perhaps in just a different way.  I guess this also called growing up.  Here are the little lessons I have learned along the way so far….

1.  Your work family becomes your family.  Every single nurse who is working with you on a holiday is also a person who is away from their family.  You are in this together!  Enjoy a potluck with all your favorite holiday foods.  Bring in champagne flutes to fill with sparkling cider to count down to midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Embrace the day for what it is and find a way to celebrate as you can.

all my work buddies

2.  The date of the holiday is just that – a date.  Celebrate with friends and family whenever you can! Whether it’s the next day or next week. This year we celebrated Thanksgiving on Black Friday.  I DVR’ed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and watched it while I cooked all my yummy sides, just as I would if I had been off Thanksgiving Day.  The hubby, his parents, and myself all enjoyed a delicious feast together Friday evening.  It tasted just as good as it would have on Thanksgiving day!

3.  Get all your families recipes and make them!  They call it comfort food for a reason.  If you can’t be with your family for the holidays, you can at least enjoy all the same delicious food that they are eating!

4.  Have a Friendsgiving!  Or a Pre-Christmas! I realized that if I couldn’t be at home for Thanksgiving, I could find another day that I had off and invite all my other friends who were also away from their families to have a special meal together that isn’t at work!  Bake all those family recipes and enjoy the company of those who are experiencing the same thing you are this time of year.    You can start a new tradition all in itself.

Friendsgiving!

All ready for our feast

5.  Decorate early.  Our tree went up to day.  When you work 12 hour shifts and nights shifts, your days and weeks fly by.  If you wait to long, the holiday season will be over and you will really feel like you have missed out.  Hang some Christmas lights, light some holiday smelling candles, and realize that the holidays are a season, not just a day, for a reason!

6. Use Skype!  I open Christmas gifts with my family over Skype every year.  Usually they are sitting around drinking Bailey’s watching us open gifts due to the time difference, but its all good.

7.  If you have to work on a holiday, be prepared for something to go horribly wrong with your patients and realize that the fact that it is a holiday will make it 10x harder to deal with emotionally.  Ultimately though, it will make you appreciate the true meaning of this season.  This past Thursday on Thanksgiving was one of the worst days of my nursing career.   I can’t go into further detail, but suddenly being stuck at work and not being able to eat turkey at that very moment seemed very miniscule compared to the events that were impacting the family I was taking care of right then.  Everything turned out fine, but, suddenly, everyday became Thanksgiving, not just the third Thursday in November.

8.  Your patients don’t want to be stuck in a hospital either over the holidays.  They are the ones that are actually sick and can’t go home at the end of the shift, but you can.  So be happy for them.  Go above and beyond to make them feel like it is a special day and show them the love and care that they can’t from their families at that very moment.

Happy holidays!

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