What stress really does to you

I have been thinking A LOT!!! 

Probably too much but I have been thinking about this for a LONG, LONG time. 

I think the stress of my job is slowing killing me. 

I realizes that everyone has a stressful life and a stressful job. Of course we all do but the kind of stress that I am exposed to is diffenent, it's emotional, it's gut wrenching, it gives me nightmares. 
I think about a patient 4 days later and wonder what I could have done more or where are they now. Are they okay?

To be a nurse you must have the mind of a surgeon and the body of a construction worker. Your on your feet 14 hours plus with nearly NO break and you are responsible for everything! If the doctor accidentally writes an order that the patient is allergic to and you don't catch it, it;s on you! If a 400 pound patient needs to get be pulled up in bed, you have to do it. My back aches every day and my brain hurts when I come home. It's A LOT to handle.


Honestly, to be a nurse, you must be super human! 

I've been a nurse for over 4 years now and I have ALWAYS worked in critical care. It seems the type of unit I decided to reside in can be one for the most stressful. As far as critical care goes, you have the Emergency room, The Intensive care Unit, The Progressive Care Unit (or step down unit) and then regular Medical/Surgical floor. 

This is the typical breakdown. I have always chosen to work Intensive care or Progressive Care. I am morivated. I am smart. I am a fast learner and I think FAST in emergencies. I think I am good at what I do. Before I had my kids I was VERY career orriented. I wanted to be the best of the best. 

However, I think it may be secrectly killing me inside. 

Let me explain one more thing I have noticed about the unit I work in compared to the Intensive care unit. In the Intensive care unit many of the patients are SO sick they are on the line between life and death or we may be artificially keeping them alive with ventilators and drugs to keep their bloop pressure up and such. Most of the time I have worked ICU I have 2 patients only because they require so much attention to detail and they are usually not awake. However if something goes wrong, get ready because all hell is going to break loose trying yo save their lives. VERY STRESSFUL!

When they start to get slightly better but are still VERY, VERY sick they come to my unit, the Progressive care unit. In my unit it's hit or miss. We have 4 patients instead of 2 and they are either VERY sick and still potentially actively dying or they are totally fine and could walk out the next day.

It's a mixed bag. You never  know what your going to get. This in itself is very stressful. There is no way to plan on your way to work at 6am in the dark what kind of day you will have. 
I often have a fine day with a nice mix of patent's at different acuity levels and other days I feel like I am literally drowning!!!!! 

I mean I have 3 patient;s who are "crashing" or trying to die and maybe one who is really needy. I know this may be hard for non health trained professions to understand but it can get REALLY ROUGH!!!! and I mean  ROUGH!!!!! 

I have NEVER cried at work but then again I am very good at keeping my emotions under control but many days I know  many nurses so go home and cry! 

So just imagine their lives are in your hands. You are responsible. You have 5 crying family members looking at you for answers which you often don't know. Day after day after day it gets very taxing.

I would say MOST days I don't use the restroom or eat or drink for at least 7 hours. Yeah, not good for a sick pregnant woman or anyone in fact. Every nurse I now does this everyday of her career.

I think the biggest stress is EVERYTHING is on you. There is no one else responsible. The doctors only come in an absolute EMRGENCY and then it's your resposibility to get them there. You are pretty much all on your own. You can of course utilize your co workers for questions and advice but hey are often so wrapped up in their own crisis they can't help. 

The point is.....I have been THINKING A LOT and realized that it's not worth it. Everyday I come home so exhausted I can barley stand and emotionally totally drained. I give everything I have at work. I have nothing left when I come home. 
I feel like this kind of stress over years and years is what causes cancer, heart attacks, all kind of ailments. I eat well, I exercise and live a fairly healthy life, except I am STRESSED TO THE MAX ALWAYS!!!! 

Yes, my money situation at home doesn't help that but as soon as I am with my kids that seems to melt away. I am seriously reconsidering moving to a different unit.

No matter what unit you work in as a nurse you will be stressed, busy , running,  not eating....it's the nature of our job but I am thinking maybe a happier floor or a floor with less drama. Maybe Labor and delivery or Oncology. 

I don't know the answer but what I do know is that stress kills you. I truly believe that. 
You know how 2 months ago they came out with this HUGE ground breaking study that said that they were wrong about trans fats.......they are not the problem it's sugar and carbs in fact!!!! 


 I Could have told you that 10 years ago but my point is they think people are dying of heart attacks and cancer because of their diet or lifestyle, I THINK IT'S STRESS. You can literally feel it killing you 

There is a HUGE untold story lurking behind the effects of stress that has yet to to discovered but I am sure it contributes to many of our illnesses. I see it loud and clear every single day with my patients. 

What's your take on stress affecting your health??????
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Michelle My Belle said...

Hi Hanna,

I know exactly how you feel. I was an ICU RN for nearly 5 years and the stress was slowly killing me--I was always worried about what I could I have done, or what I could have done better for my patients. I finally realized that guilt and worry were damaging me and went back to school to get a master's degree and am now working administratively.

I do feel stress from time to time but it is nothing like when I worked bedside. I do miss my patients and working in the unit, but I still use my skills and experiences in different ways.

I also believe that if I'd ever go back to bedside, I'd try something totally different like L&D or postpartum. It's so amazing that as a nurse you can totally re-write your career. Best of luck to you :)

Kenzie Smith said...

Your job does sound extremely stressful, and my hat is off to you because I know that I couldn't handle it. I wouldn't be able to keep my emotions in check, at all. I wear my heart on my sleeve and if a patient is going downhill I would cry, right then, right there.
I am so thankful that I am in the fitness industry! I get stressed on occasion, but not near as stressed as you would be on a good day!

P.S. That dress looks so good on you!

Elizabeth said...

Nurses are amazing..........I have the utmost respect and love for nurses. It is such a hard, thankless job and so many precious women and men pour their lives into patients (and their families) without ever a kind look.
I am so grateful for the work you do. Thank you!!

Beth Ann said...

I do not think oncology would be happier or less stressful! Maybe post-partum or newborn nursery? Perhaps psych nursing? I don't know, I think all areas of nursing have their unique stressors and downsides. I was a NICU nurse and while stressful, had a wonderful team of coworkers and it was a rare occasion if we didn't get to eat or use the bathroom. Good luck with your decision!

Kristin said...

Hanna...great post and I totally agree about stress.

However, I would encourage you to lean toward L&D. Not Oncology. Talk about stress. At least from what I've seen from when my dad had lung cancer and my son had neuroblastoma.

Hang in there. I still think you're awesome! :)

Marissa said...


I have seen the life of an ER nurse first hand as my mother has been in that unit for about 20 years.

I would never be a nurse due to her experiences. While highly rewarding, there is an immense amount of stress and a toll taken on the body emotionally and mentally. Only a select few are truly capable of handling this environment. I am not one of them.

I give you props for choosing this career in the first place. Transfer to a new unit because there may be a better environment there for you. Don't not change because of money: your health costs a lot more.

Keep a smile on your face. We were all placed here for a reason. You are doing big things in life.

Susan said...

I think this might just be the prettiest maternity outfit I've ever seen. You look stunning!
I could never NEVER handle doing what you do. I'm far too sensitive. That said, I don't like hearing that you are stressed and with baby. I think you should take a break...come to Toronto. :)

Char said...

My line of work is not nearly as stressful as yours, but I totally get stress! I can feel it eating away at me. It is so tough when you get it from so many angles, and money situations are def top of the list of things that stress people out! Just know what you do for a living is outstanding and so great for other people. You give where some people can not :)


Totally agree! I did ICU for 4 years and it rewards you but does slowly kill you over time! I use to have nightmares hearing all the machines in my sleep! I miss it too though. I think being a critical care nurse is ingrained in those it's meant for but don't think it's healthy to stay there long term! I would definitely try L&D!!! Love it!! Love ya Hanna! Btw...u look gorgeous and I must know where u got ur boots?? Too cute! I need a good black slouch boot! xoxo

Jamie Campbell said...

Stress does play a huge role in life general. I have learned to not sweat the small stuff, especially the things I have no control over. My mantra is "let it roll off your back, like water on a duck".

:) My friend's momma works in post pardum... she loves it!

Leigh-Anne said...

I work on the same type of floor you work on. I switched to PRN when baby #2 was born so I could be a stay at home mom. I can relate to your post. I work maybe 1-3 shifts a month and I'm to the point where I dread going in for those shifts. Most days on my floor all the nurses are pushed to the limits and we are all so busy with our own people that we can't even help one another (hello, large patient that I need 4 nurses who are busy as hell to help me lift!?!? ) My husband is military which presents other issues with trying to work a 12 hour shift (deployments, TDYs, etc)....but I am trying to figure out how to at least go back part time so I can switch to something else....I'm thinking L&D too.

The good thing is you have experience in critical care. My mom was an L&D nurse and says some new RNs who come in aren't ready for emergency situations in L&D and it's frustrating bc those situations can happen a lot when delivering babies!

Like you said...at the end of the day, it's not worth it. I wish you all the luck in finding something that's a better fit for you and your family!

tiltthem said...

Lovely baby bump, and your hair looks great.

I guess, I am happy not being a nurse - would for sure take the worries home with me.


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