The Fall Out from my Fall Down

I described my bang-up job on clinicals in the previous post. But like Paul Harvey, here is the rest of the story.

I made my way home from the ER, disappointed in myself and the day. Looming in the back of my mind was the question of how hefty the ER bill would be for 3-4 hours of observation, 1 ECG, 1 litre of saline and 2 staples. Finally free from the recesses of the ED, I called my friends and gave them a full explaination of what happened, at which point they offered to drive an hour to Indianapolis right then if I needed. I welled up with tears, again.

The temptation for me right now is to continue in merely relaying the events of the day in play-by-play and let you, the reader, glean from that the results. However, it seems all parties would benefit from me confessing the deeper levels rather than how I spent every minute of the next few days.

I spent my first day of nursing clinicals as a patient, rather than a student nurse. And since I had never had an ER or hospital experience as a patient, it was probably a good perspective to have. Thinking I could handle any situation was probably prideful of me but I failed to consider that the “situation” might be myself. The emotional sways came throughout the day: relief that I could rest and utter embarrassment that I fainted over nothing. I was simultaneously bored and angry while waiting in the ER for what seemed to be no good reason. Knowing exactly what the doctors and nurses were assessing me for with their questions and “follow my finger” or “can you do this?” directions was more jarring than the nurse digging for my vein. Rather than, “Oh, good! They are seeing if I’m okay!” my mind was thinking, “Crap! If I don’t perceive depth or have enough strength, I’m screwed.”

Nurses care for other people and are generally not comfortable with the caring attention turned towards them. I can handle attention in a church or performance stage setting – I want people to know I’ve practiced and have them enjoy the prayer or entertainment. It was difficult to accept the medical attention on me, and sadly, this is true for a lot of people in nursing and medical professions. Nurses continually put our needs aside to serve those who need our help. We neglect ourselves because we think we’ll be strong enough to make it through, not because we are unaware of what is going on.

While an overused meme earlier this year, it is true:

I discussed this concept with several people post-incident; one commented that in his experience, people in the medical profession are terrible at taking care of themselves. I was both relieved and humbled by that knowledge. The Frau and I chatted about the pride involved in not admitting you need help. People outside of nursing and other service professions do not realized the humility it takes to admit that you, the nurse, are not strong enough. Being proactive about your own health and sanity is incredibly difficult in our age of prideful independence. And while it is easy to tell others, “Take care of yourself. There is no weakness in needing rest,” how often do we give side glances or feel the extra burden on our shoulders when someone isn’t able to help out and he/she looks capable.

Another result of my experience highlights the plight of singles and having to make your family where you are. When in Bloomington, I felt comfortable putting my Godmother, my roommate, or some close friends as emergency contacts. Indianapolis hasn’t allowed me to think about that yet. We are also in the era of cell phones where you know your number but only possess others’ numbers in your cell phone contacts list. No phone, no list, no number. So while my parents in Iowa are beneficiaries for my finances, they are not useful people to list if I break a bone or lose consciousness.

See, it’s those little things that some married folk forget about when whining about their situation. (And before you derail, I said “some” not “all”).

“Oh, but you’re free to do whatever you want and you don’t have a man to clean up after!”

“Oh, but you don’t have to think about who to call in an emergency nor do everything yourself!”

Thus, singles who live away from blood-relatives have to be intentional with their lives. The Church is their family. Their Priest is a father-figure, and if he is married, the Matushka/Khouria/Presbytera is a mother-figure. Sometimes, being intentional feels isolating and lonely. I have to ask, rather than assume or know, that someone can be there for me. Yet, in allowing that other layer of pride to melt, it is suddenly clear how rich life can be. While separated from my blood-relatives, I have been gifted a rich network of friends who care about me and love me. And I guess I needed that lesson reinforced just in time for Thanksgiving.




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