A Not Traveling Nurse

I have a desire for this to become an iconic travel blog; allowing me to travel full time and explore literally everything this world has to offer just sounds ideal… However, that is not realistic. Because my other passion? Working in healthcare and helping people (specifically my kids and their families.) Which of course requires a semi-stable location. I say ‘semi-stable’ because fortunately my chosen career path has an option to merge the two together: travel nursing.

As of now, I hope to start travel nursing next year, which is terrifying and so exciting. I cannot wait to move out west and be within short driving distances of grand National Parks, eclectic cities, and so much more that my Midwestern state lacks. The idea that I can incorporate moving around, but also still help children through their illnesses and/or surgeries, is just a massive perk with this career field.

As I have said before, this is a blog dedicated to travel nursing. It is just that both components are individual aspects of my life for the time being. Which brings me to my point; even though I have not started travel nursing yet, it would be a shame to not talk about my job before then. Being a nurse is the absolute greatest calling, and few people comprehend how challenging and rewarding it can be. So I might as well utilize this platform to enlighten.

As I write this, it is 0500 the morning after Thanksgiving. I have been awake for an hour and a half, because I fell asleep last night before 1900. Mind you, that is the normal start of my work shift. The reason for such an ‘early’ bedtime and now an early morning is because I had been awake for 28 hours, as I worked Wednesday night into Thanksgiving morning. I consider it a blessing to work with those kids, even if that means some sacrifices (i.e. sleep.) But how can I complain? I was able to leave to visit my family, whereas those kids are stuck in the hospital for a holiday. And since I work on a general surgery/trauma floor, the majority are likely not even able to eat and enjoy any leftover food brought to them (though that is the least of their concerns at the moment.)

Even despite that, this week has been moving, as my job often is. I have had a lot on my mind due to some tough diagnoses and some acute patients. I left one morning, almost in tears knowing the extremely tough road ahead for a child I admitted the evening before. I cannot imagine the parents’ experience; being told to go to the ED from their PCP after an unpleasant imaging study, only to get there and hear words no one wants to hear. It is a story we see so often, and no matter the diagnosis it is debilitating and terrifying, and I have so much empathy for those that have to endure it. My emotions are affected enough, and they pale in comparison to those directly involved.

It is not the first time I have cared for a child with such a diagnosis, and it will not be the last. But that does not make it any easier from my perspective. I can only imagine their thoughts; the questions and the overwhelming fear. So how do we as nurses provide comfort, when we do not have the answers they are seeking? It can be one of the biggest challenges of this career path.

On the drive home that morning, a key concept on my mind was that many other people do not experience such sadness in their careers. There are people that have such a steady and unwavering job; they can get up every weekday morning at the same time, get to work and calculate numbers or make phone calls or whatever tasks it entails, and get by with one of their biggest stressors being the traffic to and from work. I am not downplaying other professions and the associated problems, but numbers cannot make you feel the way a hurting child and hurting parents can. No other profession truly relies on compassion as much as nursing does.

And yet, I spent this Thanksgiving with so much gratitude for my career despite the lack of a comfortable routine and its exhausting demands. I am in a role where I can only be there to care, in some of the scariest times and it is so rewarding to be that person. I can only be a smiling face in the midst of emotional or physical turmoil. I can only be a resource, the person who has seen this beforehand and can provide some generic expectations for the days to come. I can only be the facilitator; calling doctors and social workers and whomever else to answer the questions I cannot even start to answer. I can only be an ear and a shoulder; an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on in the most desperate of times. I can only be an encourager; cheering the child through milestones such as eating and walking in the hallway for the first time post-op. I can only be a voice; cooing to the babies, repeating “take a deep breath” to children crying in pain, and telling parents “it is going to be okay” over and over again because that is what they need to hear.  I can only be a friend; whether that is through deep conversations, silly jokes, or stickers. I can only be a supporter; as the child conquers whatever ailment and is able to go home. I can only be there through it all.

And I would not want it any other way.

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