My latest contract has come to an end and I’m truly grateful for the experience. DC has been the inception of my travel career and I’m so blessed for the knowledge, associates, and networking I’ve gained there. Since, I’ve been home, I have been reflecting on the different parts of me that make me, SHON. My career choice has defintely added to my life in so many ways. Keep reading to see how!
My past assignment has been very unique. Before, I dive into the delicate nature of this assignment…I don’t think I’ve given you details of my actual specialty. I’m an oncology nurse. Yes, a nurse who specializes in the care and treatment of cancer patients. This requires caring for people at some of their weakest moments. Moments of discovering the cancer, hearing it came back, being in remission, or going through the motion of treating it. It’s a whirlpool of emotions. Up, down, down, up. Honestly, I have no special story or reason for choosing this speciality fresh out of nursing school. I browsed some floors that were hiring locally and the peer- interview felt like a match unlike some interviews I had done. Before I could even get settled in after the interview, the manager called and offered me the job. I was sold!
My first big girl job. My first work family. My first time experiencing death so close. Who would have thought I would be thrown into something so serious fresh out of school?!! This is what makes my experiences in the field so unique. Some healthcare workers go their entire careers without witnessing a death. While on the latter end, an oncology nurse may experience multiple in a month, week, or day. It’s one of those moments that is never the same no matter how many times you’ve seen someone take their last breath. Each time, it’s never easy for me. It’s my Apple Watch constantly telling me to breathe, the knots in my stomach, my constant wondering of what this precious life was like before the cancer.
My latest assignment, I did not want to accept because it was oncology. I needed a break after providing care for some of the weakest patients for almost 2 years in Charleston. The manager was so sweet and accommodating in the interview, I just couldn’t resist. What a sucker right?! Prior to this assignment, my aunt was also diagnosed with cancer. It was like I couldn’t catch a break of the conversation. Cancer at work. Cancer at home. It was sooooo overwhelming watching patients so ill and constantly think about my aunt back home.
The very last month of my assignment was very taxing physically, mentally, and emotionally. Every week, I had a precious soul leave their physical realm. I would just pray and cross my fingers that it would happen on the next shift and not on mine. It was like a waiting game. Stomach in knots. Covid also restricted visitation so, sometimes family members would not be allowed visitation until those final moments were near. The hospital staff is the family in this case. Doing the best we can to make sure the patients are comfortable through all the pain and stress. In some cases, the family could not make it in time for the final moments. I remember calling a son, informing him that his mother’s vitals were slowly trending downward and the “time” could come at any moment. The family was aware the patient was dying prior to the call and were awaiting transport to bring her home in the morning. The son handled the call so well and I remember asking him if he wanted to say anything to his mom on speaker while she was still breathing. He said his farewells and gave her permission to go. No less than 30 minutes after the call, her suffering was over. She took her last breath in front of me and all I could do was cry. Tears of mixed emotions. She would no longer get to enjoy the simple pleasures of her world but she would no longer suffer by the hands of cancer. Can you imagine being with a stranger while they take their last breath?
These moments…I will never forget. I always feel them. Who do healthcare workers talk to about these things? Do we overwhelm our family and friends with this heavy shit? Do we call each other up at home and relive these moments? Therapy? Well, I’ve done a combination. It helps let me get my feelings out so I’m not desensitized by it all. This speciality has indeed molded me into the person I am today. I grant people with more grace and forgiveness than before. I’m always thinking about moments where I probably won’t get to say how I feel. So, I try to express how I feel when I feel it. I’m very tactful with how I express myself sometimes because I never know what others are going through.
To anyone who has experienced death of a loved one, in your profession, or in any capacity…I send you love today. I challenge you to take a deep, full breath and release the tension you may be carrying around. I challenge you to think about happier times to get you through.
Thank you all for joining in on the blog today! Much love xoxo