January 14, 2017

Whew! I made it through my first week of travel nursing! Boy was it an emotional week! I was so, so nervous to start with. I had thoughts of…’Will I remember how to do my job? Will my coworkers be friendly and kind? Will anyone help me when I need it? Will they give me the worst assignments? Can I DO day shift after working nights for 20 years! and Will I be able to park the Big Ass Truck?’ Believe it or not, parking the truck was my biggest fear! Jerry took me to work 4 days this week and I practiced parking many times. It’s not that I can’t drive or park, but it’s a small, older parking lot and it’s not really meant for a 1 ton truck. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I was surprised at how anxious I was about this whole thing! I’ve been a nurse for over 20 years. I’ve worked at several different places. I even drove a 15 passenger van (and parked it) for 8 years. I shouldn’t be this anxious! The anxiety and fear we’re unbearable at times.  The Fear of Change and all the uncertainties of starting new things is a pretty scary thing even when you think you’re prepared for it!  The one thing that sort of helped with this was that I downloaded the app Insight Timer to my phone. There are thousands of guided meditations you can choose from, ranging from a minute long to however long you want. I tried to do one meditation every morning before going in to work. I even tried to do one on my drive home from work one day, but found that meditating while driving doesn’t work real well. But I did drive myself one day and was able to park…WIN!!! And wins feel so good when you’re struggling with fears and anxiety.

The first day of orientation I met a few people and found out there are quite a few newbies who’ve just relocated here to Panama City FL. They’re from Pennsylvania, Kansas City, Oregon and even Alaska! Two of them have even been out of hospital nursing longer than I have!

The first week was all classroom and skills review/practice which I was very grateful to have, having not worked at the bedside in 14 months! There have been times this week where I have felt that “I GOT THIS!” and other times where I have felt that “I NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS!”

You can still go back!

Bedside nursing is very physically and emotionally challenging. Physically, in that you are lifting and turning people twice your weight, bending and stooping in positions that should only be reserved for yoga class, and not to mention being on your feet for most of a 12 hour shift that may possibly turn into 13 or 14 hours. Mentally exhausting in that you have a million tasks to do, an overload of patients who all want you at the same time and only 12 hours to get it all done. It’s a race against the clock and sometimes I literally have to tell myself to slow down and not worry about the next patient or the next room. I have 12 hours.  You’re also dealing with all the patient’s emotions and feelings, anything from sad to angry to in pain etc.  Then there’s the whole brain thing…you are constantly assessing what you see, evaluating labs, and trying to put all the puzzle pieces together to get an answer – in nursing it’s called critical thinking and it’s exhausting.  It can all be very draining.  I sometimes wonder if I’m not getting to old for all this shit!  

By the end of my first week I was feeling pretty good. I went up to my floor and met John who will be orienting me. I found out I get 2 weeks of floor orientation (I thought I was only getting 2 days). I also got my schedule for the first two weeks.

Everyone I’ve met here has been very friendly. During orientation, it was made very clear that this is a hospital focused on employee happiness and teamwork and that they work hard to foster a friendly, helpful culture in the workplace. These are all good things helping to relieve my anxiety. It’s still there in the back of my mind, and I think it will be until I’m on the floor on my own. But so far I’m very hopeful that I have a good experience here!! And if I don’t, at least I have the comfort of knowing it’s only 13 weeks long. Wish me luck!

Other tidbits…

We had a warmer week (while I was at work, of course) and now it has dropped back into the 40’s and 50’s for highs and 20-30’s for lows. I’m bummed. I really can’t stand this cold weather. I think I could handle it better when I lived up north because it was expected, and the snow was so pretty. I came south for sun and warmth, to wear flip flops and shorts….these cold spells are making me nuts!  Several locals down here told us that this is the coldest winter they’ve seen in the last 2 decades.  

Keeping the nose warm..

Fun Stuff:  We made it to the movies to see ‘The Shape of Water’ which we both really enjoyed. It was part love story, part sci-fi/monster movie, with a touch of cold war, circa 1962.

Attraction of the week: We checked out a small state park last weekend – Camp Helen which is about 10 miles east of where we’re staying. There’s a few miles of hiking trails,

Camp Helen State Park

and a beautiful beach.

We managed to see it all in a few hours. It’s an old vacation camp that used to be owned by a mill from Alabama. Most of the buildings are still standing though you can’t go into them.  It is on the National Historic Register.  Every 2 weeks they are having an evening of music.  Hopefully we can make it back for one of them where we’ll be able to see the inside of the big lodge.  

Entrance fee is $4 per car. There’s a small visitors center with bathrooms. There’s really no place for bike riding here.

Obstacle of the week: Parking the truck!!! “I GOT THIS!”

We are here^^^