Standing by myself in the dark chilly fog at 5:20 this morning with fields on three sides was kind of novel, sort of like being in the beginning of a horror movie, but it’ll be less fun when it’s freezing cold. Heck, it’ll be less fun tomorrow morning when I have to do it again- it’s the kind of experience that’s only fun once, and not even really then. I don’t have any choice though, since no one in my clinical group lives near me to carpool. On one hand I’m sure it’s somehow building character, but on the other I kind of hate myself for waiting so long to get a license and then not buying a car. The hospital is literally four miles away, it would take fifteen minutes to drive there, but because past-Caroline didn’t feel like learning to drive present-Caroline has to drag herself out of bed at 5:00 to get to clinical.
I started my psych rotation this morning, and while I think I’ll like it, and it’ll be more exciting than boring old med/surg nursing it opened my eyes to some misconceptions I’ve been holding. Part of me has sometimes wondered if being in a psych ward is actually all that bad. I’ve seen Cuckoo’s Nest, and Girl, Interrupted, and I’ve read the eating disorder books and blogs, but I always kind of thought it would be a relaxing escape- you read, you nap, you talk about your feelings- it sounded a little like being at Smith, but without all the pesky classes and assignments. I’ve also wondered about my mental health from time to time, and wondered if there might be something a little wrong with me (just in a navel-gazing way, I’ve never thought there was anything seriously wrong, but I also thought of psych wards as spas, so I was clearly at least a little out of touch with reality). As it turns out, I was wrong, and while the nursing staff at my hospital is nothing like Nurse Ratched, it isn’t the pleasant place I imagined. The patients do get to read, nap, and talk about their feelings, but they’re also really sick, and I feel guilty for ever thinking that it might be fun to be held in a place against my will because people think I might be a danger to myself or others. Psych wards aren’t vacations.
I’ve sort of wondered if I might be interested in some psych nursing after school (I was a psych major in Undergrad), but I have a long way to go, since it’s very different from other kinds of nursing. There’s less mess (so far, don’t hold me to that), but it isn’t a walk in the park by any means. I shadowed a nurse today, and she spent the entire shift putting out fires (not literally, thank goodness). I sometimes struggled to connect with non-psych patients, but the ones on my new floor present a whole new slew of challenges. Facial expressions are very important, and patience is crucial. I’m already worried that my patients will hurt my feelings, which shouldn’t happen, and can’t impact how I treat them, but feels slightly inevitable knowing how thin-skinned I can be. I’m excited though, and I already adore my instructor (she’s the opposite of my previous instructor. Just based on first impressions I think psych nurses are more touchy-feely than their med/surg counterparts).
This waking up early thing is for the birds- it’s barely after 6:00 and I’m already thinking about bed. Today took a lot out of me- I had leftovers from last night’s dinner waiting for me in the fridge, but instead I treated myself to junky Chinese food, hard cider (I can’t tell if hard cider is acceptable or shameful, but I love it. It’s like juice that gives you a buzz!), and zombies. I also broke my streak of eating dinner at a table. I’ll start again tomorrow (probably), but some meals are made to be eaten in more casual settings, and Chinese food straight from the carton is a perfect example.