I Quit

Today was my last scheduled day as a Registered Nurse. I saw two hospice patients. I’m so very grateful for the time and experiences I’ve had. For the patients I helped “pack their bags” to go home. For the deaths I was blessed to attend. For the tears I’ve witnessed. For the stories I’ve been privileged to hear. For the patients I loved and let go. How can a person not get a little attached? Some will forever be close to my mind. And heart.

My mom is a nurse. I was 34 when I lost a well-paying job due to a business closure, and had the opportunity to go back to school with some substantial financial assistance. Don’t get me wrong, I did have to work 2 part-time jobs, nearly lost my house, and stood in food pantry lines to make ends meet for myself and my kids. I learned far more than the piles of information in the textbooks. I learned gratitude, and to accept help from strangers, and that I’m capable of whatever I put my mind to. That was a crazy time! 9 semesters, due to waiting list and pre-requisite courses.

My first nursing job was in Home Health. I learned a good deal about wound care, colostomies, catheters, lab draws and medications. I actually love to drive, which came in handy with the miles put on in a rural area. However, I ended up needing more stable hours and benefits. I went to surgery, working in the suites with the surgical teams. I never fit in. The pace is fast. The environment is cold. I felt like a janitor of bodily fluids, a gopher, and if a person needed shaving or disinfection that was my job. I don’t care to ever prep another gynelogical case. Haha. I don’t like to be in such a rush, either. Or bright lights (unless it’s the sun). Or snarky co-workers. Felt like middle school. It was definitely interesting from a how-stuff-works standpoint. The on-call just about killed me. I had 20 minutes to be in the hospital and I live just about that far away. I started having panic attacks when the phone rang at night. I had everything prepared but holy smokes, to be woken up out of a dead sleep because someone swallowed something they shouldn’t or needed a C-Section was just a jolt.

My heart was always leaning towards hospice, and working in surgery was just the push I needed. People always say “it takes a special person”. I don’t know. It’s an honor and a privilege. Death is the one truth we all have in common, right? After all, a flower doesn’t blossom forever. If I can assist in that transition, my cup is full. So, I jumped in to a full time position as a hospice nurse. There’s so much I loved about it. However, with full time came on call overnight. My body really freaked out. Panic attacks, insomnia, heart palpitations….. I can do a lot of things but being called in the wee hours and having to work the days before and after just aren’t on the list. I was in pain all the time and had full on adrenal exhaustion. The company I worked for was very unlikely to utilize a “casual” nurse, offered nothing else in hospice without call, and therefore I went to Aspirus as a casual.

Aspirus is where I started in home health. I like the company. I like the supervisors. I was hired as a casual – no expectations really. No benefits but by this time I was married and didn’t need them. Work when I’m available. I figured I’d get my massage license and then do 2 days per week of each.

Around December 2017, 4 months or so into my massage therapy practice, I was working 4-5 full days per week doing massage. It kind of took over my schedule. I was available some random Wednesdays to hospice, but the timing wasn’t working out. I went from the end of February to July without putting on my scrubs.

And, I didn’t really miss it. I was committed to covering a vacation in July but kind of dreaded it. You see, in my massage practice I’ve found what I was hoping to in being a nurse. One of the greatest joys in my massage practice is the continuity of care. I actually see the same clients, week after week and month after month. I get to know their needs and tailor sessions for them. It’s the feeling of seeing an old friend when they grace my table, even if only a few words are spoken. I’m never on call. In fact, my phone is in Do Not Disturb mode most of the time. I’ll check it when it’s convenient. My “charting” consists of writing down what my client’s complaints were and what I did about them. I’m usually done by the time they walk out of the treatment room. No meetings. No waiting for doctors’ orders. No Foley catheters to insert. No needles. No medication management. Just a peaceful environment, aromatherapy, and presence. All I really have to do is be present.

It’s like the struggles to get to this place have made my success. I appreciate it with a deep gratitude. It’s like going to work now is a breath of fresh air. I look forward to it. I am allowed to be creative, set my boundaries, and provide the calm and caring space for people to do their healing work.

My experience as a nurse certainly helps. I utilize care planning for treatments. I understand peoples’ conditions and medications, and customize sessions for those circumstances. Nursing has taught me so many things, and thought process is a huge part of it.

As of today, I am no longer available as a Registered Nurse. I will maintain my license and keep ties with Aspirus. I look forward to spending some of my Wednesdays providing the comforting touch of massage to hospice patients in my area, and I’ll do it with the watchful eye of a nurse. My role within the company will be transitioning.

It has not been a year since I officially became licensed for massage therapy and here I am, booked solid for a couple of months. Doing work that I embrace with my entire being. No more panic attacks. No more dreading phone calls or crying because I’m miserable in my work life. Just spreading the love and joy. The awesomeness of my life. The good vibes.

Thank you for allowing me to discover and live my highest passion. I choose joy and abundance. I am at ease.

Namaste.

On Being a Nurse and a Massage Therapist

Many of you know that I’m a nurse as well as a massage therapist. I had met my edge in nursing with overnights on call, and sought balance in my life by going to massage school. My plan was to do each job 2 days per week and have a weekday to myself for solitude/errands/house cleaning/adventures. I left my full-time hospice nursing job and took a casual position, working on a pretty regular weekly basis for Aspirus Comfort Care & Hospice Services. No on-call expectations, help out when I’m available and they need me, etc. Perfect arrangement. Balance. Two wonderful jobs.

My massage business quickly took flight. I expanded my hours for a crazy promotion in November 2017, in which I gave away 100 thirty minute massage sessions to the community. I called it Project Give Some to Get Some, and it was a resounding success! Since then, my calendar has been full 6-8 weeks out. Some clients signed up for a year at a time! My expanded hours have stuck, so my only available day for hospice was Wednesday. Most weeks I work as a massage therapist now 4-5 days (and try to squeeze my husband in on Sundays!).

It’s been some time since hospice needed me on a Wednesday. I generally have massage clients hoping they can get in that day as well, so I give Aspirus first dibs.  As of now I want to say it’s been about 6 weeks since I put on my scrubs.

And a funny thing happened recently. Once I put aside my guilty conscience for having invested in my education to become a Registered Nurse and hone my hospice skills (I do love hospice work), I realized that the very work that has taken over my weeks (massage therapy) is everything that I hoped nursing would be.

I meet a new client and assess their needs. I diagnose (not medically, duh, I’m not a doctor). I make a plan. I implement the plan. I evaluate the treatment (I love it when folks follow up in the couple of days after their massage – it helps me shape their treatment).

I provide hands (ok, feet too!) on care. I provide touch. I provide comfort and space to just be. I nurture. I help. I develop a relationship with my clients that gives continuity to my work. As I get to know them, I give thought to ways I might better serve whatever they’re coming in for.

This is what I went to nursing school for. And I’m finding it as a massage therapist.

I don’t love spending as much time charting as I spend with patients as a nurse. I don’t love turning down overnight call (my body just doesn’t handle that well at all – hello adrenal fatigue!) because I feel like a jerk even though I know it’s not expected. I realize people have pain and die in the middle of the night.

I love being my own boss, too! Heck, if I’m feeling overworked I have no one to blame but myself! I get to work in yoga clothes every day. My meditation and yoga practices benefit not only me, but those I work with.

So here I am, away for a weekend of ashiatsu massage training and excited to learn. Every day I spend in my rental room downtown giving massage, I am so grateful. My heart overflows. I needed more calm in my life and I found it. My work is my creativity. We’ll see if Aspirus feels like keeping me around or if I go 100% in on massage.

Either way, thank you for allowing me to discover and live my highest passion.