Shedding My Skin
My muscles - dutiful servants that they are - relax nearly on command, but my brain has to be reined in like an overeager, excitable puppy on a leash. Sometimes, in the quiet, it manufactures beeps and buzzes from nothing, and I hear echoes from hours before. And like a puppy, I have to tell it to “go lay down”: to walk away from the work: “At ease…off duty…relax…breathe.”It starts when I clock out.
In the locker room, the first of it:
I take the stethoscope off my neck and put it away, feeling somewhat like the Ancient Mariner removing the albatross from his neck. As I gather my bag, my coat, my keys, I breathe a quiet sigh of relief: I am done. The shift is over, and although I can hear pumps beeping and monitors ringing in the background, it is no longer my job to run after them; now someone else gets a turn at “saving the world.”
Leaving the hospital, I notice that the cold wind which hurried me on the way in somehow feels refreshing on the way out. As I walk to my car, I pause to admire the sunrise and the loud, raucous protests of crows flying through the gray and pink dawn.
When I reach the car and sit down behind the wheel, the muscles in my back – the ones which are tight from bending to hear a patient’s words, from reaching for supplies, from repositioning bodies – finally begin to unwind. These muscles still protest, as if admonishing me to get to bed, but the soreness gives me an odd sense of accomplishment.
I smile as I drive, and before I know it, I am home.
Off come the clunky, utilitarian nursing clogs, which have supported me for 12 hours and for countless miles walked. Now I slip into the fuzzy slippers that my husband bought for me, which seem to give my body further permission to relax. They have no pretense of practicality: only comfort.
I peel off my scrubs and exhale slowly, feeling - for all the world - as if I am shedding my skin and changing into a different “me”: the “home” me. The ponytail comes down; the pajamas go on; the contacts are swapped for glasses: all signs that I will rest soon.
My brain, however, takes longer than my body to spin down. My muscles - dutiful servants that they are - relax nearly on command, but my brain has to be reined in like an overeager, excitable puppy on a leash. Sometimes, in the quiet, it manufactures beeps and buzzes from nothing, and I hear echoes from hours before. And like a puppy, I have to tell it to “go lay down”: to walk away from the work:
“At ease…off duty…relax…breathe.”
My eyelids get heavy, and I know that in a few days I will do this all over again. My brain knows it, my muscles know it, and my feet know it. But between now and then, I am not responsible for anyone’s life except my own, and so I sleep.Last edit by Joe V on Jan 3, '12
Always_Learning has '3' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Jack of all trades; master of none'. From 'I'll never tell!'; Joined Apr '09; Posts: 788; Likes: 2,447.5Jan 3, '12 by leslie :-Di felt my whole body melting, from the minute you got in your car and felt your musles relaxing.
and gawd, how i could relate...
as i'm sure most of us could, as bedside nurses.
awesome job, al...