Real talk, I don’t have an inspirational or moving story about my choice to go into nursing like most RNs. Coming out of high school I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do, but I had an interest in the medical field. It’s painfully ironic now, but one of my academic advisor’s main selling points for nursing was that I would, ‘always have a job.’
I was accepted into this crazy, dysfunctional, amazing ER family and learned how to manage the organized chaos we deal with every day. I work with the most knowledgeable, caring, and experienced RNs. And I work with some newbies in the same boat as me. There are well over 100 of us and I know any one of them would have my back instinctively, reflexively, without hesitation or the need for a ‘Thank you.’ Teamwork is needed in every occupation, but it is especially needed in the ER. The camaraderie is an added bonus.
I’ll admit it, I was a nay-sayer when all this began. I thought the media was hyping up the hysteria just like the other “pandemics” of my lifetime. But then I started hearing about Italy and New York, my attitude changed fast. I remember my first emergent intubation of a Covid-19 patient, wearing my single use N-95 mask that I had worn for over 30 hours. I heard about nurses quitting over Covid-19 fears, I thought about it too. With so many front liners stepping up to the plate, I knew there was no way I would be able to look at myself if I sat on the sidelines. My family, my friends, my community, they all encouraged me through the fear of the unknown. There was not one single day I felt unsupported. I had to mute a few people from my Facebook timeline, sure, but the outpouring of love outweighed the conspiracies by a landslide. Also, shoutout to my parents for organizing food donations and delivering them for the often forgotten 3rd shift staff.
The first year is the hardest, that’s what we were told in nursing school. But smooth seas don’t make good sailors, right? I started in July 2019 and the first few months were brutal. Every day I felt underprepared and overwhelmed. I left work almost every shift wanting to crawl into a ditch and pull the dirt over my defeated self. I kept reminding myself, ‘The first year is the hardest’ and drudged on with unwavering support from my ER family. In early March this year I finally got to a place where there weren’t knots in my stomach. I was fairly comfortable with the organized chaos, but if, ‘the first year is the hardest’ then why not throw in a pandemic?
I quarantined and stayed away from my family and friends for 2 months, then things finally started to get better. With a sense of relief, I thought I was finally reaching the end of my first year and things would be ok. I had weathered the storm, and smooth seas were on the horizon. Then the first day of my first Nurses Week, and I found out that I would be laid off. Not going to lie, that stung. My dedication felt pointless and fruitless. I’m not selfish enough to think that my problems are all that noteworthy. Worse things have definitely happened to better people. But damn this sucks.
Photo and story credit – Instagram: @jenzafrenza