Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Night Shift

It all started when my Mama went into the hospital to have her thyroid taken out or some part of it anyway. It seems I was just 12 or 13, but I remember specifically that is the time and place it happened. I felt my call to nursing and knew I would one day be one.

She had her operation and needed me to come and stay with her that first night. You know, to do simple things like hand her stuff and maybe get her some water. I found I loved being at the hospital. I loved watching the nurses and seeing them go about their work in their pretty white caps, uniforms, hose,and shoes.

I especially loved the fact that you could step out of the room at any time, go to the nurses station and there they would be. I remember being up way past midnight one night and was surprised to find that those nurses were up all night long too! Me, being the night owl that I've always been, thought, how cool is that?

Shortly after Mama's surgery, I signed up to be a candy striper. Oh my goodness! How I loved doing that! Filling up water pitchers, helping make beds and running errands around the hospital for the nurses. I loved wearing that little red and white striped uniform.

I worked as a nurses aide with home health when it was in its infancy, the early seventies. In 1979 I went on to become an LPN. Finally... in 1994, after years of taking a class here and there, 2 years of radiation and chemo treatments, and one intense year of classes and clinical, I became a Registered Nurse.

I've worked in the detox unit since becoming an R.N. That's going on 15 years now. Half of my career as a nurse.

I came to this unit quite by chance. When I got out of nursing school in 1994 and went to apply for a job, they had two openings at the time. There was a day shift spot in CCU and a night shift in a new unit they were opening called the "Chemical Dependency Unit".

I chose the night shift. I had no idea the ride I was in for.

I think the national average for people coming into treatment and staying clean and sober is about two to four percent. The work can be discouraging. Some nights I long to be a candy striper or nurses aide again. Those nights when it is on me to make those difficult and critical decisions, I long to just give someone a bed bath, make their bed and bring them some water, as I did back in the "old days", the days when I did not have to plead with patients to stop killing themselves and destroying their homes and families.

But then...tonight, as has happened on numerous occasions, I was standing in the pharmacy line at Walmart when I heard a voice calling, "Miss Debra!" And I turn around to find a former patient standing there, all clean and sober...saying he had been doing great, working and taking care of his family, and attending meetings...

...and then with a big hug, thanks me for being there when he needed help.

It's on those occassions that God speaks to me in clear voice saying... your right where I called you. I don't know how much longer my body will tolerate the night shift and tomorrow God may lead me somewhere else...but for this day, today, I am where where I am suppose to be.

I have been excited to have found a fellow night shift detox worker who blogs. She left me this lovely calling card! Thank you Pam! My first! LOL! You can check out her blog at Simply_Pam.

Blessings Ya'll


Robbin with 2 B's! said...

Debra, thanks for sharing how you got to where you are and how great it must feel when there are successes. And I just know you must be great at your job.

Anonymous said...

I've always wanted to be a nurse too. And hearing stories like that makes me want to even more! I love you MeMaw

Simply_Pam said...

You are so Welcome. You are very kind and caring. It shows in all that you do, including your blog !

Brenda said...

I always felt nursing was a special calling for very compassionate people. I see now how that is true.

Jen said...

LOVE the sorry I haven't commented..been busy.. see ya in the morning! Love, Jen

jennifer said...

The goosebumps are just rolling from this post. I didn't realize that you did this type of work. I may have read it but I didn't take :)

What a wonderful gift from God that he allowed you to see a former patient prospering.

You are making a difference!!!!

Have a great weekend Debra.


jennifer said...

Oh! And I believe nursing is a calling. I could never do it and I am thankful for people like you who can.

Susan said...

My forever friends story is similar to yours. She wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember and became one. The Lord bless you that have that calling.....I DON'T!!!!

Saija said...

i am so glad to hear there are such dedicated women like you in nursing ... and that you sometimes get to hear those good stories too!

my sister maria, who is quite ill right now, was an LPN herself - with the desire to go into nursing (but her health failed and she couldn't) ...

and i see on your shelf of books, you have one of my favs there - ruth graham bells' "legacy of a pack rat" ... that books has so many great stories - like a pre-blog type book!

blessings on ya!