Sunday, January 22, 2006

So this burnout!

What an exciting weekend this has been so far. It is 7:30 pm on a Sunday and I believe so far this weekend I have been awake for a whole 5 hours!

To quickly summarize my schedule again, I work nights from 5 pm - 1:15 am. By the time I get home, let Molly out, play with her a few minutes, have a quick snack, prepare things for the next day and actually phsically crawl into bed, on a good night/early morning, I aim to be sleeping by 3 am. Friday mornings are my clinical days where I must be up around 6 am. My clinical duties involve both heavy physical work as well as mental clarity and alertness. Well, I discovered on Friday that 2 hours of sleep does not prepare one properly for such tasks.

Arriving at my clinical location, after brushing off several joking remarks from the clinical instructors and fellow students about how I generally looked like crap, I began my routine. Thankfully we got into little groups of 3's to help each other out with their patients before having to jump in by ourselves so it did allow me a quick refresher of what we were doing. My friend Meesha's patient was first and we started out the day by undressing him and giving him a trough bath. He reminded me so much of my dad that it sort of startled me into just standing in the background and staring, basically being useless.

A little later the other 2 girls got busy making beds and helping the support worker with various patients so I decided to go and look for my patient. She is a sweet elderly lady that I chose right away as I seemed to connect her with her, and she is fairly high functioning so I wouldn't be too overwhelmed at first. After gently waking her, I was at a total loss as to what I was to do next... of course then my clinical instructor happens to walk by and check up on me and mildly chastizes me for being unprepared (meanwhile I had this patients whole chart memorized for over a week now, but my mind was just blank). So my clinical instructor stands over me as step by step I get her toileted, washed up, and ready for breakfast in the dining room. Other than looking totally incompetent it went pretty uneventful. For the next half hour or so I helped the support worker deliver breakfast to bed ridden patients, assisted with toileting, made beds, etc, and once things quieted down I went to the dining room to check on my patient. I sat down next to her and started talking with her. I happened to look to the side and noticed these 3 elderly people slumped over in the restraints in the wheelchairs sitting off to the side in the little sun room - they looked so sad and lonely and I felt so overwhelming sad for them. That was one of my last thoughts before the whole room started spinning, I started shaking, and I felt sick. Thankfully I found a washroom and was sick for a few minutes, and then just couldn't stop crying. I must've cried for at least half an hour. My clinical instructor was really good about it and talked with me for a little while about how I just burned out, and I will have to make some adjustments in my life if I want to continue as it is not safe for me, or the patients I am handling. Thankfully the rest of clinical was uneventful as I got my second wind.

After clinical I came home and napped for 2 hours until it was time for work. My entire work shift was in a fog, and at one point I went to talk to my manager about what happened to me earlier and what would she suggest. So for the rest of this term, I will leave at 11 pm Thursday nights, taking the remainder hours as vacation time, and we'll see how that helps.

To summarize, I look back now at how unhealthy I had allowed my lifestyle to become. Lack of sleep, lack of nutrition, lack of organization, and no "me time", all contributed to my burning out. Even coffee breaks and supper hours have been spent pouring over textbooks and doing homework. So I allowed this weekend to be all about me - in this case it was sleep! I woke up at 4 pm yesterday, had a bite to eat, then went back to sleep again. I was supposed to be working overtime today from 9 am - 1pm, and could really use the money, but when my alarm went off I shut it off and just rolled back over to sleep again until 3 pm. At least I am starting to feel a little more like myself again :-)

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