Wednesday, March 13, 2019

From Nurse to Nothing: How I Lost My Profession

Once upon a time before my own disabilities worsened to the point where I could no longer do the work, I was a home care nurse who cared for kids like Brooke.
Back when I was caring for kids with genetic disorders, I served a function which classified me as a "worthwhile" member of society, and I was proud of what I did.
I generally worked a minimum of 48 hours a week, and it was not unheard of for me to work 60-hour weeks. I was a productive member of society. I made around $40,000 per year doing this work. 
I wasn't one of the favored class of home care nurses because I have never been good at working day shifts. I don't sleep well at night, and my broken brain causes me to become severely clinically depressed when I work early shifts regularly. However, night shift workers are a necessity in the medical field, so I got plenty of work.
When I was 49 years old, a flaw in my DNA caused me to develop diabetes. I wasn't exactly surprised, considering that my endocrine system is, overall, a trash fire. My thyroid immolated itself when I was 15 years old. I had polycystic ovarian syndrome, and when I was in my thirties, I developed Cushing's syndrome. 
I have a puffy "endocrine face" and a large body type. Given my endocrine problems, it is highly unlikely that I will ever be thin unless I become critically ill as my great-grandmother did. She developed acute myelogenous leukemia, dropped from 300 pounds to 95 pounds within the space of a year, and died. But, hey, at least she cut a svelte figure in her casket, amirite?
Fuck diet culture. Fuck fat shaming and thin praising. Fuck all of that shit. I spent more than 30 years of my life trying to hate myself thin. It's all a pack of lies benefiting no-one but the multi-billion dollar diet industry. Homey don't play that shit no more. I have too many real problems to care what some petty asswipe thinks of my physical appearance.
The chickens came home to roost one night. I'd been pushing myself really hard for more than a year, working 48 to 60 hour weeks. I told myself it was what I needed to do to prove that I was a productive member of society.

Meanwhile, my diabetes was getting worse. I needed to start using insulin, but I was in denial. I had this screed embedded in my brain chiding me that to use insulin was to be a failure. This is an incredibly stupid thing to believe, either consciously or subconsciously. Needing insulin is not a personal failure, it is a failure of the pancreas. Nobody should be taught to hate themselves because they have a zombie organ taking up space in their body. Zombie organs are the result of a fault in a person's DNA, not in the person themselves.

I was extremely sick on the night that my career and my earning potential both were shot down in flames and went up in smoke. I had a severe respiratory infection. My coordinator told me that I should continue working with my main patient because I had contracted the respiratory infection from that patient and therefore couldn't infect him. He told me that the family really needed me there.
I wanted to be cooperative. I wanted to be seen as a team player. I wanted to help the family. In the past, the coordinator had told me that they were going to replace the full-time nurse on the case with me because she had lupus and tended to call in quite a bit because of it. I felt that I couldn't mention that my diabetes was getting worse. So, against my better judgment, I went to work.
I fell into a deep, dark sleep at around two in the morning. I remember nothing about falling asleep. There were no dreams. There was just darkness. I remember sitting there watching the patient, and the next minute I blinked and saw the patient's father sitting at the end of the bed glaring at me with hate in his eyes. I apologized profusely, gathered my belongings, and left quickly. I knew I would be fired for what had happened. My life as I knew it ended at that moment.
In reality, I had been asleep for about twenty minutes. I had no concept of that time passing. I had a small stroke, which I would learn also altered certain facets of my cognitive abilities as well as increasing overall muscle weakness and causing me to become fatigued even more easily than I had before.
I tried to go back to work in long-term care. When I was doing my long-term care internship in nursing school, I got high marks for my medication passes. I was organized. I quickly memorized which patient needed what medication when. I was fast and I was competent. I didn't really want to work in long-term care, but I told myself it's what I had to do.
I quickly learned that the skills that made me such a stellar med pass nurse had been wiped out by the stroke. I knew that patient X needed medication Y at Hour Z, but I couldn't make my brain understand what I was supposed to do with the information. I understood each component, but I couldn't make them work together.
I was utterly lost, and it didn't help that there was never any time to stop for a break so I could eat a little something. My blood sugar tanked. I almost left mid-shift. As soon as I got home, I emailed my resignation. I knew there was no way I would ever be able to work as a nurse again. I had failed like I always do.


Here is the last diet book you'll ever need. You're welcome.

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