Posts Tagged ‘long term care’

I have Bipolar Disorder. I am a nurse. I am a writer. I am an artist. I am a mess.

Nursing is not like it used to be. Not at all. I chose long term care as my discipline because I genuinely like old people. The issue is, these days, nursing is not about caring for people, it’s about money. It’s an industry, a business, and no matter how much you actually care, how good your clinical skills may be, the most important aspect of an individual patient is not whether their kids came to visit, or their fear and pain when they are dying, but what kind of payor source they have. They are a number. A dollar amount. And today’s “new” nurses, they have no sense of work ethic, will call out 15 minutes before their shift starts, treat the patients without respect, just draw a paycheck. Work double shift after double shift to pure exhaustion for the money, not because they care. And the patients suffer. Yes, there is a nurse there. But it becomes quantity over quality.

I am not that nurse. I was recently let go from my previous job because I could not understand why a new admission to the facility was being treated as a VIP. I had to make this person a priority over my other patients, NOT because she was the family member of staff, or a celebrity, but because she had really good insurance and had a history of being lawsuit happy. I was expected to prioritize this person over the other patients assigned to me, the Holocaust survivor, the World War 2 veteran, and the school principal. This obese, demanding, young, narcotic seeking patient I was asked to prioritize over others. I did my work as I usually do for every new admission, I stayed 2 hours after my shift was over to make sure all of her paperwork was correct and because I didn’t kiss this patient’s ass…I received a call at home the next day dismissing me from a job I had grown to love.

I just don’t get it. And when you have bipolar disorder, magnify the intensity of the emotions you feel when you lose a job 1000 Times. Devastated, defeated, scared shitless. self worth and self confidence, gone. You analyze and over analyze until your head hurts, and you truly believe you’re absolutely a failure at a profession you chose because you actually care about people. Now I did not mistreat this patient in any way, in fact, I developed a rapport with her immediately, she was an art teacher and I am an artist. She wanted to see my work and I spent time with her discussing art. What I didn’t do was anything different than what I would do for any one of my patients. I didn’t spend my shift catering to this VIP. I catered and cared for ALL of my patients as if they were ALL VIPs, as I did every day of my 30 year career. And I was let go from my job. As my co workers stood around and refused to help me finish the admission paperwork which of course was extensive. The facility is not computerized so I had to hand write at least 25 pages of medication and treatment orders. As I’m doing this my coworker is dragging a demented patient down the hallway backward in her wheelchair as the elderly woman is screaming in distress while the nurse is telling her to “shut the fuck up!” All on camera, in front of the shift supervisor, and she still has her job. I’m confused, disappointed, discouraged. Bipolar disorder does not effect my clinical skills, the way I treat my patients, only my interactions with coworkers and administration because I believe in caring for each patient as an individual, not just a number or a dollar amount.

So here I am now, about to be out in the streets, working night shift against the advice of my physician, with a nursing agency, staffing facilities I do not know, with patients I do not know, trying not to care, but it’s hard to not be who I am, and it’s a struggle to just do my “eight and the gate” for a paycheck. Having no set schedule and no routine. I keep going, trying, pushing as life throws me hurdle after hurdle with a disorder that most of my family and friends negate, believing I’m just lazy, a slacker, a loser, a drama queen…they refuse to acknowledge that I have a disability. Others, mostly my friends who suffer from similar disorders are very understanding and supportive. And my best friend has gone above and beyond to support me in this chaotic time in my life. I’m proud to call her my friend and after 46 years of friendship, my sister. I love you robin!

And so I’m determined to overcome this rough spot in my life and I am truly humbled and grateful for all those who have stepped up, sat with me while I cried and wanted to give up, those who understand ‘ long term care politics’ and know the turnover statistics (61% for LPNs) in skilled nursing facilities and that unwarranted termination has become commonplace…I’m not alone, it’s rampant. I guess I just feel it more intensely than most and take it to heart, then beat myself up for feeling like a failure. This too shall pass! And again thank you all for your understanding, love and support!