I’m tired. For some reason, after all the many years of working the way I work – for twelve hours, three times a week – I’m exhausted. Ping-ponging between a shift and a day off, and a shift and a day off, is wearing me down. The other day, after a long, and particularly trying stretch of shifts, I spent most of my off hours on my couch. Lying in the sun, looking out the window, wondering when winter would release its bitter fingers from this city. I took three naps.
Exercise helps, and so does a good balance of friends and solitude. Mostly, though, I’ve been pondering all of the ideas that come into my brain at work – policy tweaks, things to write about, studies to look up. Where do those go, when the black hole of post-shift fatigue swallows them up? And more importantly, if I, if many of us, weren’t so tired after our shifts, what could we accomplish?
Florence Nightingale, who I’ve been reading a very interesting and very old biography of lately, was notoriously driven. For years before she was even allowed to become a nurse by her high-society parents, she secretly read and researched hospitals and nursing. When she was given charge of nursing forces in the Crimean war, it was said that she worked tirelessly, all hours of the day and night at the soldiers’ bedsides. Every spare moment she had, she wrote; letters, logs, statistics. Endless record keeping. She barely slept.
Her input into the care of the soldiers, and her single-handed creation of the nursing profession was unparalleled, and she returned from the war a celebrity. But, I am going to venture the guess (because I’ve not finished the book yet), that it wasn’t until after the war, in the remaining years of her life as a bedridden woman, that she did the largest, most world-changing portion of her work in epidemiology. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but I find it quite interesting that her highest achievements were made in her most dependent state. Perhaps her seclusion and forced rest was the impetus for her final genius? Again, to my thought: what could we nurses do, if we had the courage to step back from the frenzy and think?
I’m trying to do this these days. Step back from work and inch towards vocation. Maybe that means less money, less security, less “strength” now, but I’m hoping it means more Florence-y creations to come.