So to continue my adventure on the AARP mailing list I have been thinking this week that I just don’t “think” I am 55. I was reading a poster in the waiting room of a doctors office and it was encouraging “older people” to get their flu injections because people aged 55 and above are more likely to develop complications that could lead to death. Then it hit me….I am in that age group! That is so ridiculous….I was just a teenager yesterday! Seriously, on a daily basis I think I should still be in the thirties, at the most 40. This especially hits me when I am with my grandson Reid, he looks so much like Matt it reminds me of those days when he was a toddler. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a Gigi and wouldn’t change it for the world but I do not like being considered a “senior citizen” at all! Just think ladies how much effort we put into looking younger, covering up our gray and if you are like me putting enough product on my face at night to moisturize 15 younger women! Do we really need to try so hard? Are we afraid to accept reality or do we fear being judged by our peers? Is our happiness and self esteem so tied to our looks that we would feel bad about ourselves if we showed some gray and our wrinkles? If I am going to be honest I am going to have to answer yes for myself. when I was unemployed on the days I didn’t do my hair and makeup I was more blue than the days I did my hair and makeup. So I guess I am that shallow, but not shallow enough to be skinny also. (the world couldn’t handle THAT much sexy). So I guess I will keep fighting Father Time as long as I can and just keep on keeping on!
But I Thought I Loved Nursing: What losing my job at age 55 has taught me.
I have worked as a nurse since 1985, starting as an LPN and eventually becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner. I’ve done a little bit of everything, from mental health to geriatrics, cardiology, pain management, and rheumatology. I have always been proud to be a nurse, and always encouraged anyone who told me they wanted to go to nursing school. I have worked for good and bad managers, and I am now of the opinion that with rare exception (CK), people with no nursing history should not be the Practice Manager of a clinic. And I’m talking licensed nurse, not a remote history of being a medical assistant.
I was laid off from a job I loved in November amid a merger. I had a great group of patients, and I am still being told that they miss me. I was doing a good job, and the VP assured me that it was purely a decision based on numbers and I was the low gal on the totem pole. The devastation and shame I felt that first week was indescribable. How could this happen to me and what the hell do I do now? I was sure I was a terrible nurse practitioner and that I would never find another job and we were going to starve and live in the gutter.
So after a week or so I pulled myself together and began to search for jobs. Being right in the middle of the holiday season there just wasn’t much available, so the search didn’t get intensive till January. Then the interviews began and they are what has made me realize I don’t love nursing as much as I thought I did.
It quickly became apparent that I am old, and that by being old and having lots of experience I found myself trying to prove to these people interviewing me that I don’t need to be put out to pasture and yes I do have plenty left to offer. At first, this devastated me, then I realized something that began pissing me off. With all the online programs going on right now, younger girls are graduating, and you know what they are beside young…cheap. Yes, they will work cheaper than I will. And the managers who think that they are experts on being a practitioner only look at their budgets, how it will affect their bottom line to save some money on salary. If you are reading this and you think, Well Sherry Perry this won’t happen to me because I’m right and you are apparently barely competent and perhaps hateful, think again. I WAS good, and my patients loved me, and management didn’t blink an eye. You have to look out for yourself because the administration is undoubtedly going to look out for their bottom line.
Anyway, the longer I was off I realized something, I have been consumed by being a nurse for 34 years. Its who I was. Yes, I was a wife, mother, and grandmother, but I was a NURSE. I worked fulltime; nursing was a huge part of my life as well as being a working adult. I’ve slowly realized over the past few months that once the shock and worry eased that I was experiencing something that I do not remember experiencing before — incredible freedom. I could choose every day what I wanted to do; if I didn’t want to be around someone, I would stay away from them. If I didn’t want to do something, I didn’t. The only bosses I had were aged 11, 6, 5 and 4 and they could be bribed to do what I wanted most of the time. I was just Mom and Gigi, and I have been happy. But as with all good fairy tales that must come to an end since I can’t afford to live that way forever and I must go back to work.
I start work on Monday, and everyone asks me if I’m excited to be going to back. The answer is yes and no. I’m sure that I will get back into a routine and that I will be content eventually. Nursing isn’t fun, its hard work and being judged by people who aren’t nurses and really have no concept of what it is you actually do. They think they do, but they don’t. Before I became an NP I watched a lot of girls fresh out of nursing school, so new they still cried every day at work, get promoted to management because they were young and cute and would drink the corporate kool-aid. The old dinosaurs who could have made an enormous impact and turned the unit around continued to work the floor and get bossed around by these cute new managers. It’s a total lack of respect and appreciation for years of experience and hard work.
So bottom line I am returning to work on Monday, and I am thankful for the opportunity and for the person who realized that I do have a lot left to contribute. I guess what I am trying to say with this blog is that if you can afford to, don’t let nursing or any other job consume you. Give it your best when you are there but forget about it the minute you leave the job site. Take advantage of every opportunity to experience freedom. Play Pokemon with your grandson, binge-watch Netflix, enjoy your life. Don’t let your job be your life because they will boot you out and not blink an eye.
Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton