Wednesday, November 23, 2011

One Stethoscope Free Year

I cannot believe it has been one whole year (plus a few days) since I left the magical, mystery tour of nursing. One complete year with no outside job income. One total year filled with nights of  nail biting, tossing  and turning wondering if invoices we've sent out will be returned with payment checks BEFORE the mortgage is due. One whole year of hoping that my health insurance premiums would get paid before I was trampled by a 700 pound Red Wattle Boar. (Yes I know I could have a less risky job than farming but even knitters stab themselves sometimes, don't they? )

It was also an entire year of not having my arse chewed out by a physician, because  I notified him about a mistake HE  had made in a patent's chart that if followed would have caused drastic harm. One entire year of not having to worry about being sued by a drug addict who went home AMA but still thought I was obligated to send him on his way with a prescription for HEROIN.   A total year of not working a 14 hour night shift, sleeping for two hours the next day and then trying to act somewhat civil during family events the next day. A complete year of not having to reposition a  400 pound patient side to side with the assistance of  only one very tiny nurses aide because we were short staffed and the institution I worked for was too cheap to buy the appropriate equipment to make it easier.

Sadly though, it was a year without working side-by-side with some of the best professionals I have ever known . . Another year without sitting in a circle at 2 AM  in the nurses station talking about family issues, spouse issues, off the rocker teenagers,  deaths in the family, crazy mother-in-laws (present company included)  and the most recent data confirming that night shift nurses always died of terrible diseases much sooner than the rest of the population.  Nothing will replace those special times when I worked with my colleagues on particularly difficult cases, such as helping a mother deal with the impending death of a newborn, watching the family matriarch  leave the building before her beloved children could make it to her bedside, or  helping a 30-year-old deal with the diagnosis of terminal cancer.

 Stepping back from it all and looking at it through a different mirror , . I really do miss the times that I was allowed to practice real nursing. I ache for those moments in hospice when my autonomy and the trust of the hospice physicians, allowed me to provide excellent symptom control .  The decade I spent in hospice was outstanding.   The  following decade I spent after that, working night shift in a tiny little community hospital with nurses and nurse aides  I would trust my life with in a second, was equally outstanding. 

So why did I leave? The reasons are complicated and yet simple as 3.14   It was time. With 36 years in health care (11 as a nurses aide and 25 as an RN) I was ready to move closer to our farm world. Why should my husband have all the manure laden fun? I also wanted to write novels, lots and lots of novels.

So here I am,7/8 of the way through my first book and  sweating it out in between hog sales, raw milk ads, beef locker appointments and the occasional free lance article. We were very spolied in the past. If we needed unbudgeted tractor repairs or a new livestock waterer or even better, a trip to County Clare, I just agreed to work an extra shift. Oh sure, there are plenty of "extra shifts" here on South Pork Ranch but the pay has a tendency to DECREASE with each addtional hour worked. Farming is funny that way.

No, I do not regret it. When I left I was needed by other family members and had I been working off farm, I never would have been able to help the way I wanted to. In addition, my body is now adapting to its healthier lifestyle. Without trying I have lost 25# this year. No more staying up all night eating everything in sight and in reach just to stay awake.  No more wondering if I would be able to stay alert enough to make it make it home without rolling over in a ditch, unfortunately, a common occurance to night shift workers.  I do not miss arrogant physicians who still think it is accetable to throw charts  at nurses or family members who mistake hospitals for five-star hotels. I do not miss the risk and liability which every nurse has to deal with when they are expected to do so much with so little. . I do not miss administration who are rarely seen from Friday noon until Monday at 10 AM.(This does not apply to great administrators like C.M. and never will)

But I do miss working with true professionals , my colleagues, the best nurses, nurse aides,  supervisors, unit secretaries, and yes even  a few rare physicians, in the world.

They know who they are.

Raw Milk Update,

You know what they say,   No News is …. No one taking the time to return my phone calls, e-mails or letters , but never fear, I carry on. I recently wrote another article for Graze magazine,  which will be published in about a week. In it, I talk about raw milk issues I have been addressing on this blog and my lack of success in getting answers. I keep hoping that the more public I take this issue the more likely my requests will be answered.

In the meantime.  our ads for raw milk continued to run and we continue to get new customers every week .. and that is indeed, good news.


  1. I am very thankfull to have a farm like yours around.

  2. Some good memories, some bad memories and lots to be thankful for.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. Wow, you post resonates with me, that's why I left my job as a vet tech after 15 years in organized animal care! Yes, it's true--vet medicine is about the same and oddly, the dang vets treat the techs and receptionists the same way, and some of the clients are that crazy (this is NYC, home of hoarders and others who don't do well with people, so they get an animal that has to put up with their "crazy.")

    So I know what you mean, and it has it's good days and bad days. But you are TOTALLY a farmer, and you are also a sweetie 3.14! ;)

    Hugs and Happy Thanksgiving! I'm happy you decided to go the farmer/writer route or we may never have met! Us farmer/writers gotta stick together ;)

  4. For no particular 'personal' reason, I have HUGE admiration for the nursing profession. Much more so than for the docs themselves, who always seem to ask ME what's wrong with myself; then ask what I think I should take for it.

  5. a nice tribute
    and I KNOW just how you feel.... even though I still do one shift a week..... I know it's time to move on away from a career that I have loved.......

  6. One of my FB friends posted this article, and I thought of you:

  7. You are my hero, Donna Marie! Still very sad you left nursing, but happy for you.

    Kristy Jo