A childhood passion turned into a freelancing career. Jessica currently writes for various outlets in the healthcare space, including Nurse Guidance and American Nurse Today. She has also recently become a regular contributor to The Dog Files. Her lifetime goal is to publish a book (or two!).
A few months ago, I was laying on the beach sipping a daiquiri, watching a woman about my age. She was in her bikini, the man with her just ordered a bottle of rose, and they were laughing, clearly enjoying themselves. The woman also had her laptop open in front of her. She was "catching up on some work" - while laying on the beach drinking rose.
I, now green with envy, became determined to find out what this woman's job was. I couldn't hear much, but it was something along the lines of digital marketing - or something. Not my field. I was on that beach because I had decided after my unexpected divorce that I was going to do something just for me. The problem was, because I still worked in the Emergency Department as a nurse, I could only get a few shifts covered. I had pleaded with my coworkers to trade nights with me, and managed to get four days off. Four.
While enjoying my four days on the beach, I became slightly obsessed with this plaguing thought, "what am I really doing with my life?" This woman seemed no different than me, and here she was on the beach on a Wednesday, drinking rose with her boyfriend while "catching up on work". She wasn't on vacation. This was her life.
I had already been feeling very Eat, Pray, Love since the divorce, and decided it was time to stop accepting things I didn't want and go for the things I did. But what was I going to do?
When I got back from vacation, I was on a mission. I wanted out of a job where I had to work until 3 am, feeling beyond stressed, unhappy with the current state of things. I sent an e-mail to a contact I had from an editorial committee that I am on. I asked her if she heard of any job openings I might be qualified for, pass it on. She immediately responded with a yes! There was a position opening that wasn't even posted yet, but she believed would be perfect for me. Little did I know how perfect it actually was.
Fast forward, through multiple phone calls, e-mails, and interviews (some with the entire organization staring at me over a long conference table), I had landed my dream job. I can utilize my nursing degree and my passion for writing, research, and planning. I can do work from the beach if I want to. I can work from home. I have vacation time. I have flexible hours. There's great opportunities for advancement, and the exact kind of advancement I dreamed of. Just yesterday, I booked a week long stay at a Disney resort with my company credit card, for work.
My job, literally, is to plan things. While still using my nurse brain.
It just hit me today as I was leaving the office that I had, in some ways, become this woman. I've found my place, and I've discovered a whole new dimension to the nursing profession that I never knew about. I've found my career,
My point is, you can find your dream job. You can get out of where you are. It may take time, it may take perseverance, relentless e-mails and anxiety-causing interviews. It may take hard work and it may take passion. But you can. You can be happy. If your current situation isn't fulfilling you, start doing what you need to do to change it.
Every writer's dream is to be published. To see their name in print, their words spread across glossy magazine pages or taupe pages of a novel.
Last week, this dream came true.
I received a copy of the national, peer-reviewed, nursing journal, American Nurse Today, featuring my article. My. Article. National. Journal.
At the beginning of this year (which has turned out to be the craziest one to date), I was just a girl with a dream. A writer with her head in the clouds. To think that I can say I'm published in multiple publications is incredible in itself, but to hear the word national...that's just amazing.
I'm excited to announce that as of yesterday, I've officially expanded my writing portfolio to include the world of dog lovers!
As if you couldn't tell, I love dogs. Like, love them. My two boys are my world, now more than ever. While I'm going through what is hands down the hardest period of my life, my boys are my constant, my unwavering support no matter what, They make me laugh, make me feel safe, comfort me at the loneliest, darkest, ugliest moments, they never judge, they simply love, in a way that only dogs can.
So naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to be a contributor to The Dog Files (click to see my first post!). I'm so excited to share my writing with an even larger audience, one that's so near and dear to my heart. I never imagined I'd be able to combine everything I love, and get paid to do it while sitting on my couch in sweats and fuzzy socks.
I'm sorry you're cold and had to ask for more blankets twice.
I'm sorry the monitor is beeping too much.
I'm sorry the television channels suck.
I'm sorry you have to wait for discharge paperwork.
I'm sorry we're inconvieniencing you by drawing blood.
I'm sorry you'd rather be home, but so would we.
I'm sorry you're hungry and "haven't eaten all day", and we haven't provided a meal in the two hours you've been here.
I'm sorry because we're trying to save lives. We're trying to save someone's mother, son, grandma or pom-pom.
We're trying to console those who just lost someone.
We're trying every last measure to maintain someone's airway or keep their heart beating.
We're starting lines, placing catheters, running every medication we have to keep that blood pressure from dropping.
If it was your family member laying on that cart, would you want their nurse bringing someone else a blanket?
As nurses, all we ask is that you respect what we do - and consider the battle we're in before yelling at us that you're not receiving enough attention. We hear you, we know you're in pain. Let us go save a life first.
I've seen you a few times since then. Sometimes we spoke, sometimes we pretended we were just strangers passing by. I don't think I could ever forget you, although you never meant anything to me. I doubt I meant anything to you either. But we never really had closure. We just...stopped.
If I saw you today, I'd get a cup of coffee with you. I'd ask you the usuals, how've you been, how's your life. I'd reluctantly ask if you're seeing anyone, hoping not to sound too interested. I'd ask what you're doing now, are you still writing? Working in the arts? Still living in the city? You'd see the ring on my finger and ask how long I've been married. I'd tell you I married a boy from our high school. You'd probably laugh and think I settled. I'd tell you I didn't. You'd ask if I have kids, and now it's my turn to laugh. I try to imagine you as a father. Of course you've probably matured since the last time we spoke. The last time we....
If I saw you today, I'd be reminded of the time we made out in the elevator. I'd be reminded of how you kissed me like you were never going to see me again. I'd be reminded of how I couldn't get enough of you. I'd be reminded of the drunk calls at 1 in the morning. I'd be reminded of how you smiled at me the first time I saw you, after all that. I'd be reminded of how most of all, I enjoyed talking to you. Sure, you could kiss like no other but, we had a connection. And that was something no one else knew about us. Let's face it, they knew everything else.
I do still think about you. And I doubt we'll ever have that cup of coffee. But I do wonder what you're doing now. If you've found a good woman who loves you for who you are. If you're happy
I should've gone to see you that night. I think that will haunt me for the rest of my life. It would've haunted me more, however, if I lost you. I guess I did though, right? All that and I lost you anyway.
I have these nightmares. It's always the same. You're in a hospital bed, and the only lights seem to be directly over your bed. And they're fluorescent. There's tall glass walls surrounding you, and everything else in the building is dark. Someone called me, and I can't bring myself to walk in your hospital room. You're unconscious, of course. Lying there dying, innocent. I'm frantically trying to remember the last words I spoke to you. The others start arriving. Then I notice your mother is in the room with you. I don't know what to say to her. I don't know if I can face her. This shouldn't be about me, but of course it is. That's how it always is with me. Selfish bitch.
I'm numb. I don't know anything. How you got this way. If you'll ever wake up.
In this nightmare, it always ends in tears. Mine, your mother's, everyone. She's screaming at me through her tears, "How could you let this happen? I tried to tell you, I came to you for help". I say nothing, she's right.
It's always the same dream. I don't know that it will ever stop. I know you're alive and well now, I check your social media ever so often. I do this in private of course, no one could ever know that I still think about you, let alone check up on you. It looks like you're happy. You're smiling in every picture. You don't look strung out. Then again, you always were good at hiding things.
I'm of course glad I didn't have to experience the trauma of burying you, but what hurts so damn much is that I had you, and I lost you anyway. We finally did it, we finally said we would love each other to the end, I finally trusted you enough. Then you left me alone anyway. It almost felt like you planned it. You hurt me in ways I didn't think were possible. You were the one person who I thought could never ever leave me like that. You could never hurt me. But you did. You've made your point.
And in the back of my mind, I think it's because I never came to visit you that night.
It fascinates me how our subconscious works. How out of all the people in my memories, you're the one my subconscious chose last night. It wasn't really you though. It was the idea of you, of who I thought you could be, wrapped up in your beautiful body. It was the you that could've been with me, for real. It was the you I could've loved.
You were the kind of person all the girls fantasized about. The kind that could give you the tingles in places that you didn't know existed. The kind that made you feel like you were flying.
I often think about what kind of person you are now. I then find myself wondering if you ever found someone to love. I wonder if she makes you coffee late at night when you're writing, if she holds you when you're upset or if she can tell what mood you're in just by looking into your eyes. I wonder if she makes you fly.
I would never trade what I have now for anything in the world. I would never go back to you if you begged. You were everything I wanted, but nothing that I needed. We could never have worked, we were too much alike. I wasn't meant to take care of someone, to heal the wounded. (Although it's funny that now that very thing is what I do for a living) I was meant for someone to understand the fine line and balance of knowing when I need to be taken care of and when I need to do it on my own. I was meant for someone who isn't like me, and as frustrating as that can be, it brings a wonderful harmony to the relationship. I could never imagine being married to myself.
So I do still think about you. I apparently still dream about you. But I don't miss you.
You were everything I wanted, but nothing that I needed.
I got my love of reading from my mother. I'm forever grateful for the fact that she kept ALL of her Stephen King novels from when she was younger (she's since moved into what I call old lady novels) and passed them on to me. Where my mother and I differ, however, is that she must finish every book she starts - even if it sucks.
I, on the other hand, cannot.
Just last night I slammed a book down on the table in the break room at work, saying "That's it. I'm done. I can't do it". My coworker, bless his heart, decided to ask me what the hell my problem was. I then went on to rant about how this particular book was awful, the writing sucked, it was boring me half to death, and I couldn't understand why so many people gave it decent reviews. Now, I'm not a hateful person and I don't really want to sit behind my computer and bash this author (although I did leave a negative review on GoodReads), but my point is: I'd rather spend time reading a book I enjoy than waste my time reading something awful.
After my meltdown over that book, I went on Amazon.com and instantly ordered another book for my Kindle which I started reading immediately and got about halfway through before my shift was done (it was a slow night, ok? don't judge me). This new book, which I'll name because it's good, is It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. Now, overall I'm really enjoying this book. My only qualm is...why does every strong male character/love interest have to be tall, dark, handsome and rich? And also...a little creepy? I'll leave a proper book review when I'm done so that's all for now.
Every one of us has different opinions, backgrounds, literary preferences, etc. My idea of a "good book" may not be yours. But with thousands of incredible literary works out there...why bother with those that don't move us? When reading a novel for pleasure, I shouldn't be bored. I shouldn't be reading so fast because I'm trying to get to a scene with some substance. I shouldn't feel like I'm reading a teenager's diary, unless of course that's the style :)
Being a writer makes me a snob when it comes to books, and I admit that. But that's not to say I don't enjoy a good silly novel or two, if it holds my interest. Not every author is going to be a Stephen King or a Tolkien. But I'd rather spend weeks reading one of those books than get through a mediocre-at-best book in two hours because there was literally nothing to process.
It's such a weird feeling being on the other side of the healthcare industry. 4-5 times a week I'm the one poking people, touching people, asking all sorts of questions. But today, I was the one laying on the gurney being poked and prodded. And the best part? I'm not done. I have one more doctor's appointment after this.
All I could think about is how many people out there do this every day. Me? I'm complaining because I had to get blood work and a precautionary ultrasound. I'm complaining because I have access to top of the line healthcare and testing. I'm complaining because I'm not healing fast enough after an elective operation to make my life better.
I have no right to complain.
The hospital/healthcare system I use is known nationwide of its cancer treatment and research. The hospital is filled with cancer survivors, cancer patients, and those who walk into the building not knowing if they're going to leave with a new cancer diagnosis. There's patients who are having life-changing operations and going through ground breaking clinical trials.
Yet here I am whining because I have two appointments in one day.
You'd think working in the medical field (and for those of you who are new to my blog, I'm an emergency and trauma nurse), I'd be a little more humble. But I'm not. I'm still me, and I'm an entitled piece of shit sometimes.
It's not easy being on the other side of things, and it's certainly not easy spending your day off in and out of appointments and tests. But here's what put things in perspective for me: while I was in the waiting room, I was scrolling facebook (of course) and saw that an old co-worker, who is only a few years older than me, announced she's in remission from cancer. Wait. What? The last time I saw her she was perfectly fine. She's only thirty. What?
Then I thought about it. The last time I saw her, a few years ago, she was complaining of pain and tingling. It was non-specific, no one could really identify what was going on, but it was there. To the point that it brought her to tears.
Now, she's 6 months cancer free. I can't be sure the two are related but I think I have a pretty good idea. My point is, never in a million years would she have imagined she'd have cancer at thirty-something. She's healthy, not overweight, a Physician Assistant, and one of the sweetest people you'd meet. Yet it happened to her.
Health crises can happen to anyone, at any time.
Self: Count your blessings and enjoy the fact that you're sitting in a waiting room for elective testing for non-life-threatening problems, on your day off because you're fortunate to even have a job.
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