Well, I Quit Hospice
I worked as a hospice case manager for a year to be exact & I quit. Not surprising as a new grad since the track record for most if not all new nurses is to go elsewhere until they find their "forever" job. I've said this before & I'll say it again, never in a million years did I think I'd be working in hospice. Let alone have it be the job that christened my nursing career. To say it was challenging is an understatement. It was beyond challenging; mentally, emotionally, & physically. I learned A LOT. Do I wish I learned more clinical skills? Yeah, I do but I learned a lot about time management, compassion, patience, and most importantly the beauty of hospice. I've always been asked why hospice or when I tell people I worked in hospice the automatic response is "Oh that must be sad". It had its moments; a lot of them actually. Most were good, but there were hard times. It didn't make it any easier that when I started out in this specialty my dad's health was declining. The constant pressures from family members guilt tripping me to move back to the Bay didn't lighten the load either. I was determined to be successful in my new career and my new home yet still fulfill my responsibilities to my parents on my own terms. The pressure was on. I remember the first few months, I was working overtime frequently because I couldn't get my charting done within my shift due to traveling from one place to another, commuting home, and working with my preceptor. On top of that, I was flying home to the Bay several times a month if not every other weekend to help out with my dad.
My dad ended up being placed on hospice. Four months into working as a hospice nurse and caring for other people's dads, now here I am. I took a month leave to help my mom out and I was ready. I felt that it was God's plan to have me start out in hospice, it helped prepare me for the inevitable. Sadly the day that my leave started and I was flying home, my dad passed an hour before my flight landed. I was in shock, in denial, a bit relieved, & upset all at the same time. It took me some time to process why he didn't wait for me but I understand now. During the month I had off, we celebrated his life and laid him to rest. Even with a month off, I didn't get much rest. I just remember feeling tired all the time but not wanting to be still.
Once my leave was over, I went back to work. Everyone encouraged me to take more time off; that it was too soon. But I didn't have a choice, I needed to work. I had bills and rent to pay. So I worked & cried in between visits. Lost it a few times with my patients and held back tears in front of their family members. I knew what they were feeling, what they were going through because I was still feeling it, still going through it. I was going through it with them. They had me float instead of giving me my case load back so I was traveling all over San Diego County wherever they needed me. I was tired. Emotionally, mentally, and physically. After a month floating, I felt ready to have my caseload back. I needed a sense of routine; familiarity. It was nice being back at my facilities & seeing familiar faces but that was short lived because COVID-19 happened.
COVID-19 threw a wrench into my whole routine. My facilities were no longer allowing outside visits unless the patient was imminent or actively dying. So I was back to floating in a sense. I joined the COVID team hoping that I would be able to help out & do my part during this time. Unfortunately, it wasn't exactly how I thought it was going to be and I had to separate myself from the team. I was depressed. My anxiety was through the roof and my light was dimming. I found myself in a really dark place that my boyfriend was getting concerned. But I was still showing up for work. I was just getting accustomed to the "new" normal of my life and COVID through me in for a whirlwind. I was frustrated. How am I supposed to care for my patients if I couldn't see them? I couldn't seem to find my footing. I had no separation from work or home and every time I heard my work phone go off my heart would drop.
I needed something still. I had no more strength left to carry my patients or their families anymore. I barely had enough for myself. Looking back, this past year has been emotional turmoil. As soon I as I graduated my nursing program, I hit the road running; got a job, moved, cared for my dad, laid him to rest, a small window opened where things appeared to lighten up, then BAM- let's top it off with a pandemic. So I made the decision to leave hospice regardless if I had something new lined up or not. I needed a break to decompress & breathe again and it was the best decision of my life. The day I put my 2 weeks in it felt as if a weight had been lifted; I felt lighter. I started sleeping better and the pep in my step slowly began to come back. I didn't have a clue where I was going to work next or what I was going to do for money but I wasn't worried. I had faith that God was going to take care of me & He did.
Carter (my boyfriend) said "that sometimes God will make you so uncomfortable in the place that you're in because you've outgrown it and it's time for something new" and he was right. If you ever find yourself in a place that no longer feels right or aligns with who you are, my hope for you is to have enough strength and courage to make the changes you need in order to feel right again. Nothing is worse than staying in a place that consumes your light. I prayed, journaled, listened to podcasts, anything to get me by. I am firm believer that all things happen as they should because you are meant for greater things. During the days and weeks that I struggled, I reflected on the strength that helped me get to where I was and with that it gave me the strength to move forward. Your emotional and mental health is so important. Grieving is so important. Grieving my dad, what my life was pre-COVID, grieving all the plans I had for 2020, yet looking forward to the "new" normal and new beginnings. Hospice will always hold a special place in my heart. It has taught me so much about myself and life. Lessons that set the foundation for my career and ones that I will carry with me moving forward. Here's to getting my light back!