Friday, March 06, 2009

I woke up sad today

I was dreaming about home-home.  I don't really remember what happened, but life was carefree and it was hot outside.  My mom and my dad were there, and there was nothing to worry about.  And my alarm woke me up.  It took me a few minutes to remember where I am - at school, in my room that feels so temporary.  You know, I've been in this town for four years, and my bed here has always felt temporary.  Katelyn says that when people ask you where you're from, your answers change over time.  You start saying you're from your college town.  It just seems like that's not what people are really wondering.  And maybe it's not what I want them to know about me anyway.  I'm from North Dakota.  

I've been thinking for a while about recording how many hours a week I do homework.   Reminds me of something Ben Olson would do.  He recently sent me a list of bookmarks he's saved up.  One of them is about how Yellowstone is going to blow up soon and take half the United States with it.  Another one was a video about how to make a whistle out of a piece of a willow tree.  One was a YouTube video about a guy who thinks he knows how they made Stonehenge, and he's doing it himself.  

One time, I got a CD in the mail from him.  It said, "Project Bladder Buster".  Also, written inside was, "I don't believe you."  I listened to the CD and heard two voices on top of each other - both sermons.  He sent it to me, because one time, I told him that I could listen to two things at once.  I took notes on the sermons and sent it back to him.  

Back to being sad.  I was thinking about not being home, the home that represents freedom from this heavy workload, freedom from being behind every second that goes by.  But I have to watch my mouth, because I chose it.  Am I allowed to say that I'm tired?  And today, I'm very sad.  Really, there's no particular reason for it.  My friend Thomas is going into the army.  He signed up a week or so ago.  He's leaving on March 17th.  We have fun together.   But I tell myself that I'm glad he's leaving, and I believe it.  I don't get much done when he's around.   Plus, I want him to go, because it's the right time for it.  It's just what he needs to do.  But if I was telling myself something else, it might be that I wish I was going, too.  

Actually, the thought occurred to me the other day in conversation with him that the army would pay for me to become a doctor.  And I would be in shape, which I really miss, because all this studying and cortisol is making me fatter.  But there are other ways to become a doctor and other ways to feel fit.  I think I'll look into that option a little more, though.  

My friend, Hebu said, "Talk about following the man."  
I thought that was preposterous.  I wouldn't go into the army just because my friend Thomas did.  So I told her that.  
"No.  I mean, you'd have to follow man's rules."  Kinda funny, the misunderstanding.  I do have a sort of struggle with following rules that don't make sense.  And it seems like the army comes up with a lot of those.

What I'm saying is, I'm sadder than I should be.  It's the kind of sad that comes and rests on your head without you thinking about anything in particular.  I took a shower this morning, and I thought, "I forgot what it was like to feel this sad."  It's been a really long time.  Isn't that strange?  It feels so uncontrollable.

My dad says being happy is a choice.  I don't buy it.  This feels like it's bigger than I am.  Sure, there are lots of reasons that I could think of.  Maybe that's it: everything is just catching up in one forceful, slapping wave.  I'm going south today to work in the ER.  I'll be there for all of spring break.  I work five twelves this week.  Am I happy about it?  No.  I'm nervous, and I feel incompetent just thinking about it.  Just thinking about being in a new place with new people and new patients every hour.  It's spring break, but I have five twelves and homework.  And one of my days off, I'm going to the dentist to get my tooth fixed.  I had a root canal this summer, and it didn't work.  So they have to do their dentist thing and fix it.   When I had my root canal put in, I stared at a sign that said, "Sip all day, get tooth decay," for an hour and half and studied the acidity and sugar content of about 12 beverages.  A common thought was how much I wished they would have suctioned the spit out of my mouth so I wasn't drooling on myself.  I also wished they would have said more than ten words to me the whole time I was there.  I also wished that something Picasso was on the ceiling.

That was the day the same day I went to the cities and spent all day with Matt Nelson and laughed until I peed my pants a little.  That was a good day.  Maybe there's a day like that coming up soon.  

I think the other thing is that I was sitting in Sr. Vicky's office, waiting to take a look at my less than favorable leadership test.  I stared at the clock while I was waiting for her to finish an email.  And the clock sped up in my mind.  My life sped up in my mind.  My whole week is planned out in twelve hour increments.  And beyond this week, eight more weeks of school.  Then graduation.  Then NCLEX, then MCATs, then July.  Hopefully I'm done by July.  Then a real job and more school.  

Is this really how I want things to go?  Maybe it's too much.  Someone asked in class yesterday, "How much will you give up to be a nurse?"  Nursing shortages running rampant, the economy - it all means more hours for less pay and potential for burnout.  We talked about the ethical issues that nursing shortages hand us.  If you have a good job, you're a family with the other nurses, you help them out when they need time off, even when the real story is that you need it just as much as they do.  But the multitudes are still sick.  They still need competent nursing care.  So there you are, neglecting whatever else it is in your life for the sake of your patients.  That's how I've always thought about being a doctor.  The sacrifice that you can measure.  I don't think that people who aren't in healthcare really understand.  I don't think you understand until you see your patients.  You don't see it until you have an exchange with your patients that presses on you the reality that they are people who love and work and feel, and they needed you, and you were there.  Sometimes they need you to live which is enough to drive anybody with a heart and a brain to study harder.  Sometimes they need you to make them feel like a person again.  Sometimes they need you to touch them the way nobody else can, because you are a nurse.