On nursing and the unrelenting peck of addiction.

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I’m a walking contradiction. I’m an extroverted introvert who has an internal compulsion to start conversations with complete strangers (I really can’t seem to help myself), yet at the same time, I really just want to go be alone somewhere to think.

I’m also a rule-craving rebel. The artist in me loves the fluidity of soft, blurry lines, yet my everything else seems to crave the crispness of distinct boundaries.

This is my daily battle. Freedom and fences … they both hold appeal. Both exude beauty. Just seldom together.

Except in Nursing. It’s really the perfect marriage of both: the study of medical science, artfully exercised on the sick and the broken. Hard facts applied to very unique human beings. As nurses, we have to know and understand the physiology of diseases, but we also have to anticipate and treat each patients’ individual response to it.

Such is the delicate dance of our days.

Successfully navigating this for 12+ hours with 4 – 5 very individual people is an incredibly soul-gratifying challenge. It’s an amazing feeling to walk off that unit at night knowing you did a good job. I love when you can literally smile yourself to sleep because, despite the stress and the long hours – you know you actually did something important today.

You helped someone.

Then come the nights when you stagger off the unit feeling exhausted. Beat up. Burnt. And pecked. Yes, pecked. As in by angry chickens. Peck, peck, peck.

Over the course of two days, I recently had 5 patients who kept me very busy. THREE of the five kept me very extremely INSANELY busy. All 5 of these patients were admitted for different reasons, but a certain THREE were clearly there for just one thing:

Narcotics.

The pecking began soon after I met them. These patients usually start out nice, hoping for a pushover nurse on the new shift. Once they figured out that I was no dummy, they dropped the nice façade and the unrelenting pecking began. Turned on like a light switch. And it lasted all day long. Both days. As hard as I tried to please them, nothing worked. The pecking just increased.

They made a sport out of pushing the call button to see how fast we could get there. They continuously pushed it making all of us stop everything to go help them with everything and nothing.

Over time, though, their pecks turned into demands. Like demands to call the doctor for more pain meds. Always, always more. It’s never enough.

Next the demands were for new doctors since that last call backfired, and he actually LOWERED the dose instead of RAISING it.

Now they’re furious. They now have demands for everything. Demands for better food. Faster service. Demands for making them happy, not healthy. Even demands for a new nurse since I have by now proven myself to be totally useless to them.

Now the demands turn into insults. The insults turn into yelling. Whining. Crying. Drama. And more demands. Aaaaaaaaaaand finally a total meltdown. (Okay … so the meltdown was actually mine in the med room towards the end of day two.)

My point here is that this was a night where I staggered off the unit feeling absolutely beat up. Bruised, really. Two long days of the angry pecking. For something they knew they couldn’t have. And wouldn’t get. They know this. But that doesn’t stop them. Their addictions press them onward. “No” truly means nothing to them.

It just means keep pecking. And peck harder.

So, as I drove home that night, I was now angry. I was angry because they turned my 12-hour days into fourteen. I was angry for my other two, very lovely patients because they got my leftovers from all of this. For two days. That’s all these three patients had left for them.

My leftovers.

I was angry for being held hostage to so many ridiculous rants. Those were moments I would never get back. Moments that could’ve been spent helping someone else.

I was angry because these people simply don’t care. They don’t.

They don’t care that we’re trying to protect them.

They don’t care that we want what’s BEST for them.

They don’t care WHY we say “no”.

They don’t care that I have other patients who actually deserve my time, as well.

They don’t care that they’ve done this to themselves.

They don’t care that there is absolutely, positively NO WAY we can keep up with their addictions. We just can’t.

They don’t care that their expectations are unreasonable.

They don’t care that we’re only human.

They don’t care that we’re giving our best for them.

They don’t care how much we want to help them.

They don’t care that they’ve driven me from being a gentle healer, to feeling more like a frustrated prison guard.

They don’t care that this makes me angry. And sad. It makes me so incredibly sad. For everyone.

But they just don’t care. Their prison won’t let them. It won’t.

What a waste. Two days with all this unending drama, pelting me from so many angles at once – it felt like such an exhausting waste.

Then Jesus showed up as I was driving home. Finally. He didn’t step in to stop the nonsense of those days, but He sure dropped by to end the destruction of my thoughts. He had some things to say to me:

He let me know that He didn’t spare me the tough moments because He wanted me to experience them, to learn through them.

He reminded me that, in His hands, there is no waste.

In His kingdom, nothing is without purpose.

Through His eyes, everything holds beauty.

The pecks, the demands … they are just cries for mercy.

Through His love, the broken can be healed. They can. You can. I can.

We can all be healed.

The prisoners can be set free.

Whatever prison we’re chained to, whether it’s drugs or discouragement.

He can set us free. From anything.

He can give us the strength to face it, and conquer it.

He can give our tired hearts rest, kiss away our bruises, and give us that nudge that sends us back in there again. Ready to face anything. Humbled by His holiness. Strengthened through His promises. Renewed with His gentleness. Empowered in His name. Praise be.

Thanks for growing with me. ❤

“So, my dear brothers, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically … for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) 

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5)