“Orientation” is really kicking my ass.
The past few weeks have been difficult for a number of reasons, the primary one being that I have very little clue what I am doing and there’s high pressure to get it right, do it right, and do it quickly. However, I have very supportive coaches on the floor who are helping me adjust to the actual work itself, and who don’t even blink when I miss an IV insertion, ask something stupid, or go utterly loopy for the 10-minute period between hours 10 and 11.
Here’s what I knew: Working 12.5 hours in a row is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting.
What I didn’t know: It’s completely debilitating.
What I knew: I would have to work weekends.
What I didn’t know: Working on weekends sucks way, way more than you think it will.
What I knew: Standing on your feet for hours on end is painful.
What I didn’t know: The day after a shift I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.
What I knew: Waking up at 5 a.m. is really hard.
What I didn’t know: Waking up at 5 a.m. three days in a row is harder.
What I knew: You can catch things from your patients in the ER.
What I didn’t know: That I would catch some of the worst pink eye the urgent care NP has ever seen in week 3. (The photo below doesn’t do it justice, that was about 1 hour in. You should have seen me the next day.)
What I knew: Free time with Someone would significantly decrease.
What I didn’t know: It would kill me a little bit to miss him this much.
What I knew: Life is hard.
What I didn’t know: It’s harder in the ER.
In the past month I’ve had nights where anxiety has kept me up til 2 a.m. and nights when I have slept so hard and so soundly that I woke up in the same position I fell asleep in. I’ve had nightmares of dying patients and medication errors, and I’ve high-fived colleagues when I get something right. I’ve cried in my car because a patient really touched me with their story and I’ve cried in bed when I’ve felt inadequate. I’ve nearly fallen asleep during lectures and I’ve gone a shockingly long time without needing to pee. I’ve laughed with nurses and patients and left work so high on my new job that I nearly skip out to my car — even almost 13 hours after I parked it.
It’s everything I wanted and the hardest I’ve ever worked in my entire life. I have learned more in the past three weeks than I did in half of nursing school. I will be on orientation until sometime in June, at which time I’ll be cut loose, feeling completely unprepared and scared of hurting or killing someone everyday. I’m adjusting, slowly, but surely. I’ll get there.