Thoughts

Got wisdom?

Well, I’m a traveling nurse. It’s been a whirlwind and the transition wasn’t as seamless as I’d hoped, but wow, the influx of new knowledge was more than I could have asked for. I’ll explain.

Becoming a travel nurse is not a dauntless task. There are processes and heaps of paperwork needed in order to get the correct approvals and certifications. Not to mention the whole relocation bit. In my previous post I touched on my leaving NYC to move to the midwest. Boy was it was hard. I left the life I knew and thrusted into a new job, new group of people, new culture…a new life.

The unit I was placed on was a surgical step-down of some sorts and our population consisted of mostly transplant patients, gastro-intestinal repairs, and a mix of orthopedic patients. That was the usual, but I saw every area for the most part. It was a busy floor and I had to learn a whole new EMR system. I had 2 days of orientation and then I was thrown in. I faced challenges every shift, sometimes moment to moment, and I seldom felt excited to show up, but…then I was reminded why I chose this path.

Not every patient you come across will be pleasant, or appreciative or understanding, and that’s okay. That should be expected when becoming a nurse. However, I will never forget the impactful interactions I’ve had with patients and family members. They’re left me with more joy, wisdom, compassion and tears than I could have predicted. Previous posts of mine have given you insight into some of my interactions, so I won’t talk about them all. There is one worth mentioning to me, not only because the wisdom was solid, but because it’s a fundamental principal I never go a day without utilizing.

I had a patient who came in for a bowel repair and post-surgery, he wasn’t the most pleasant, rightfully so. He missed his family, he didn’t like having to limit his activity and being a patient means being vulnerable in ways you’re not accustomed to. Once a nurse has built a rapport and trust, patients usually soften up. This patient turned out to be so tender, full of wit, and very much a friend. We chatted about our families, our background, and what brought us to this part of the country. He told me he was married for a forty-four years. One of my favorite things to ask patients is about their marriage and what they would say is the secret to a long, and happy marriage.

I always enjoyed watching their reactions after I’d ask this question they would subtly scoff, but when they recalled their spouse and their time together, you could see each patient light up. This one particular patient said this: “Young lady, in marriage, you can’t sweat the little stuff. The kicker is, you’ve gotta figure out what the little stuff are.”

His words were simple but they left a lasting impression on me. I hear his wisdom daily as I participate in all of my relationships. I don’t want to harbor unforgiveness or frustration towards someone I love because of a something so insignificant. Although not easy to walk out, I have seen a huge shift in my heart towards the people in my life who, like me, are imperfect. We don’t ignore bad behavior, that’s not what he was saying, but we learn to make allowances for those in our lives because, well, we love them. Mistakes, letdowns, hiccups, etc. are all normal and they will never cease to occur. So…the sooner we can learn the art of not sweating the small stuff, the happier we will probably be in our relationships and life in general.

I have not mastered this. Just the other day, I found myself fuming over little things that my husband had done, unbeknownst to him. My frustration could be felt and it made him uncomfortable and then no one could enjoy the day. Reflecting on that, I’m so disappointed in myself because I caused the day to go sour. In the grand scheme of things, my poor husband didn’t do anything bad at all and his intentions certainly weren’t to frustrate me. I let my emotions and unverbalized expectations be the narrative. Guys…no, this is not the way. Get out of your own way, check yourself, and stop sweating the little things. If you absolutely can’t, then talk about it with your people and find a resolution.

I went off on a tangent there and that wasn’t even the point of this post. The actual concept that I want readers to hear is that we all need wisdom for life and we can go to our peers, we can go to our significant others, sure, but there’s more. If you’ve kept up with my posts, most of them talk about my time as a nurse and my interactions with the people around me in those spaces. What I try to convey to you all is the wisdom I received because it’s good and necessary and we need more of it. There’s something to be said about having lived life for a long time. In the nicest way possible, I’m advocating for my elderly community in saying, your wisdom is invaluable and the generations trailing you, absolutely need it.

Some of my favorite people are the parents of my friends, elderly patients, or adults in my life that I’ve met through work and such. Some of them would tell you that I ask a lot of questions, I ask very personal questions, and I need more friends my age. True, but whoa, I feel so grateful that I have ample ways to get answers to my questions or even just some insight. Insight helps us acquire perspective and being able to obtain a different perspective can be a solution to a lot of the unhealthy thinking patterns we’ve been accustomed to. I should elaborate, but I think I’ve trailed enough.

I love this quote from Socrates, “The only wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Friends, get more wisdom. Ask questions to those in a phase of life you are working towards. You want a better marriage? Among other things, go and ask seasoned married people, you trust, how they’ve made it work all of these years. Just ask…most people wish they could impart what they know to the younger generations and they’re just waiting for a young nurse to go there and ask the question.

-RN

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