One of the wisest things the Jiu-Jitsu Warrior has ever said was “identity cannot be compromised for people”. I wrote The Ninja Nurse without her Jui-Jitsu Warrior exactly a year ago and I have learned how in a year everything can change.
What do we start losing when we let our job determine our identity?
We give everything to our jobs, especially those working in healthcare. We are constantly sacrificing our time and schedule for patients. We miss parties and holiday get togethers because we couldn’t bear our coworkers working short staffed or that critical patient requires closer observation. We miss out on rest because a 40 hour work week turns into 70 hours in just a blink. Meanwhile, all we are longing for is praise and recognition which never seems to come. Not for either of us.
It was the evening before my birthday, my last year in my 20s and I had so much planned before I entered into the dreadful 30s. I just had to get through my shift at work. From the moment my post op patient rolled down the halls from OR, I took one good look at the baby and said to the Intensivist there that day, “this baby will code” (that is go into cardiac arrest). Neither of the two physicians there took me seriously, so I told the respiratory therapist who took one good look at the baby and did what all good respiratory therapists do – he grabbed the ambu bag and said “you’re right, call the the doctor back”. The intensivist left for the day, and I tried calling so many times. No answer.
It was the dreaded conversation that no nurse wants to have with the patient’s parents, but rolling a crash cart into a patient’s room warrants an explanation. I knew I was running out of time before things would go downhill. I tried calling the intensivist again -no answer. In the midst of securing his IV access, I pulled out my cell phone from my pocket (thank God I had it on me) and called the Jiu Jitsu Warrior. I didn’t even say hi when he answered. “Please come help me”, and that’s all he needed. He showed up within 10 minutes, we were just starting CPR. Thanks God for the nurses that rushed in to help.
My 8 hour shift turned into a 18 hour shift. The Jiu-Jitsu Warrior paused his personal life to come to my rescue on his day off. I missed all my birthday plans. The Jiu-Jistu Warrior was awake for more than 24 hours. We were exhausted. During the course of time I have known the Jiu-Jitsu Warrior, he is always faulted for not answering his calls promptly. At least he answers his calls. And that day, he answered the call that mattered the most. Let me tell you, it doesn’t matter what time of day or night I call and whether it’s for a patient or a nail in my car tire, I know he is there for me.
Neither of us got a simple thank you. We had gone all those hours without eating. A little gratitude is always appreciated, instead we are taunted for the little imperfections. People will always point fingers. I can’t say that I’m the best nurse and I can’t say he is the best doctor. The world is filled with many PICU nurses and PICU Intensivists, the world is also filled with better writers and better BJJ fighters. Maybe someone would be able to articulate this story better.
The truth is, if we don’t know our true identity we run the risk of being consumed by the opinions and false accusations by others. Our jobs can place impossible expectations on our shoulders. If our identity is solely based on our jobs, we will find ourselves always performing and never being good enough. We go above and beyond for our patients and serve them whole heartedly, but we are not slaves to any organization. We were surrounded by leaders that undervalued our worth. The reality is, identity cannot be compromised for people. We need to take care of ourselves first.
My 29th Birthday was nonexistent that year. The day was nearly over when my best friend dragged me out of bed to Cooper’s Hawk in my “bed hair” to enjoy my favorite Sauvignon blanc with a side of coffee. I know, I look like a mess…
Years have passed since that terrible shift, the outcome was not good. People will point fingers, the more you do- the more that is demanded of you, the more quiet you are- the more your meekness is taken as a weakness for others to bully. Yet through it all, they guarded their identity for their worth was so much more. Maybe we won’t win awards that say we are the best, but everyday we strive to be our best in all the things we do.