Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pondering vocation

I wrote a lot yesterday. There is lots to journal today!

Also there is much about which to blog. I don't even know where to start.

Perhaps I'll start with nursing. Nursing, of course, is what I've done to earn money most of my adult life, although much more sporadically in the last ten years.

A couple of things have arisen, not only from my previously mentioned ponderings, but from the current economic morass we are in. Also I must mention an article in the New York Times Well section that resonated with me more than I can say.

Look at my magazine subscriptions, which I did during the week I was breaking out with the shingles. I get magazines about yoga, historical preservation, TEC, cooking, homemaking, and writing. I do not subscribe to a single professional nursing journal. I once did, when I worked full time, and I actually read them, did the quizzes in them, etc. Now it has not occurred to me to do that. I do not pick up any professional nursing reading to do at all.

That says much about my interest level.

Another issue that has arisen is my monetary compensation. The emotional compensation has been decreasing for me as the job gets in the way of the work, if you get my drift. I find my work very satisfying and rewarding, a ministry of sorts. Things were better for a while but our hospital system is going broke, so things are beginning to go badly again in terms of staffing and expectations from management of the workers. And it was just announced yesterday that everyone is getting at least a 3% pay cut. At least people still have jobs; the company is trying to avoid layoffs. But that is a further reduction in emotional compensation for me.

Another problem, to put it bluntly, is that I'm tired of being a verbal punching bag. Some families come to hospice care functional and accepting of the loved one's ultimate process. Many more are not, no matter how hard the counselors work with them. I've been accused of murder and worse, just because I was the person at the desk when a upset family member stormed out of the patient's room looking for blood. People handle this level of stress differently, and some just start swinging (which is why we all wear alarms to alert security if needed). I don't mind being a shoulder to cry on, and I know anything directed at me is not personal. But being a punching bag just gets old, and it seems to happen now much more frequently than it did when I started working. Every shift I worked the week prior to my illness, I had to endure verbal attacks from family members. I'm sure that could have contributed to the onset of my shingles.

And then, there is the NYT article. I've seen this so many times during my full time career, and these are the patients that we at hospice could have done more for had they had gotten to us sooner. Not rarely do we have new patients who die within 24 hours of admission to hospice, before we can get their pain under control or otherwise comfortable. Understandably, family members do not have time to process what is happening to the loved one, and they occasionally lash out. There is intellectual knowledge and gut knowledge.

(There also are miracles. I need to finish up an essay I started a while back about the closest thing to a medical miracle I've ever seen. However, if miracles happened everyday, would they be miracles?)

Now, what to do? Pray, pray, pray. Discern if God is continuing to call me to this work, or is there another call evolving? Interesting times.


FranIAm said...

What a moving post. I am praying for you as you journey with this.

You said magazine prescriptions... I think you may have meant subscriptions? Interesting that you used that work and even more interesting that you have no interest in nursing journals.

Follow your heart.

I am praying for you and with you!

Lauralew said...

Thanks Fran. I fixed what you pointed out, mindful that I deal with pre-scriptions all of the time!

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Saying a prayer for you to hear God's leading.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Your "magazine prescriptions" spoonerism reminds me of the time I was lector and said "abdominal" instead of "abominable" in the OT reading.

But perhaps what is going on in your head is more universal than you think. I used to think of my "work calling" and my "spiritual calling" (and first I had to DECIDE I had a spiritual calling) as two different boxes. I have struggled in the last two years as I watch the boxes start to merge, and how the proportions change. There was a time I totally defined my self in terms of my job, and my self-worth as a function of my professional worth. That is starting to change. It means I have to take on new challenges and give up old truths. Not easy stuff. I respect your journey!

Mary Beth said...

I hear you. And I'm sorry for the bad situations nursing has put you in. I have always wanted to be a nurse but I'm sure I couldn't do it.

That article is horrifying.

Glad you are writing. Praying for your process.