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YOUR STORIES
Mar 20

The anxiety of sustaining lives.

1 comment

I feel It fit to start this by saying that unlike thousands of others in this world I am very blessed to have good health, a stable home life, a great support system and a fulfilling career. Because of this I often feel times of guilt. I feel guilty because I worry, have anxiety, or feel stress. I know logically in my mind that as mentioned before, there are people less fortunate than I. I know logically I should not feel burdened with feelings.

Before I discuss why I feel such anxiety sometimes, allow me to also say that if you, dear reader, are someone who is a dialysis patient, or a family member to a dialysis patient, please do not take anything I say to offense. Please do not seek blame in what I’m expressing. I mean this only as a therapeutic venting session.

It gives me so much anxiety to keep other human beings alive.

I love my job, I am motivated by my career, I feel fulfilled... but I also feel so much responsibility.

At any given time during my day I literally have four human beings lives in my hands.

If you dont know, dialysis is a “treatment” for someone whose kidneys have failed. The process removes excess toxins and fluid from their bodies. Many patients do not urinate, produce certain hormones, or regulate their bodies properly any longer. That’s where I come in. Three times a week, for approximately four hours at a time these patients are hooked up to a machine that cleans their blood. That’s right, their blood comes out of their body. And whose running the machine... me.

Why does this give me anxiety? There are so many things that can go wrong. Everything from inserting very large needles into the veins to the settings programmed into the machines. I’ve worked so many codes. I’ve cleaned up so much blood. I’ve watched so many people slowly waste away to nothing. I’ve seen so many infections, sepsis, wounds, blood sugar problems, congestive heart failure, etc.

But I still go to work. Weirdly it keeps me going. I live to and love to take care of other people. When I am at work, I feel my most fulfilled. I feel my happiest and like I succeed. But I also carry an immense amount of weight on my shoulders. I know I am keeping these patients alive. Literally. If I mess up or make a mistake they could die. Quickly. Or slowly. Depends on the mistake. Don’t get me wrong, all types of nursing and healthcare are stressful and important... but I am not a life saver, I am a life sustainer. No matter how hard I try the people I take care of are all going to meet an unfortunate fate long before their time. There’s rarely a happy ending at dialysis.

I cope. I talk with coworkers. I have a dark sense of humor. I enjoy spending time with doggies and taking long naps. I consider my mental health fair. I don’t have PTSD, nightmares or worse. But I can not get rid of my anxiety and stress. Sure, I’ve considered changing careers, but it just doesn’t seem right.

So, wrapping up my long story here. I’m not alone right? Do any other nurses or health care workers love their job, but feel such a burden? Am I normal?

Thank you for reading!

 

 

I have the same guilt. The guilt that accompanies a good life, a life that others would die for. Please know that it's okay to have things, and still need more. Or to have things, and need something else. Or to have things, and want none of it. Feel blessed, act blessed, and help as many as you can who are not quite as blessed as you might be; but do NOT think or feel that you are undeserving of certain feelings, good or bad, simply bc you are fortunate in certain ways. You are not alone. I am not in the medical field, but I very much understand feeling responsible in ways that are draining, and hiding behind dark humor or sarcasm. Humor is good, but so is starting a conversation. So really, thank you for doing so.

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