Nurse Andrea Bartlett is literally having a meltdown. She is in the midst of her midlife crisis. Nurses like her are easy to spot. She’s having a hot flash, note the hand to her forehead and the look on her face that says, “Crap, I’m going to pass out,” and she’s reliving her hippy Peace Corps days by working as a Congo nurse. I bet she is kicking herself for leaving home, especially at her age. After all, who in their right mind would give up their Mac computer and iPhone.
It’s official. I’m having my midlife crisis. I knew I had hit crisis mode the day one of my patients tried eloping from the unit. I saw the patient racing down the hallway towards the door, and my brain said, “Run, catch the patient,” and, after a few strides, my joints started screaming, “Brain, we hurt. Go to hell.” Fortunately, the techs and a few nurses, all of whom are youngsters, ran right pass me like little gazelles and effortlessly caught the patient before he bolted off the unit. I felt like a relic. I wanted to cry all day long.
If anyone over the age of 55 tells you that they aren’t going through their midlife crisis, they are in denial, or they are lying through their teeth. I started making some changes at home after that fateful day at work. I can’t afford a facelift, a tummy tuck, or a red sports car, so I started redecorating my living room, a la Peter Max. I said goodbye to my Martha Stewart country living room by replacing everything that was made from gingham and lace with burgundy silk pillows, hand blown glass bottles, and Bakhtiari carpets. I even scored this 1960s leather chair, matching footstool, and hoop lamp from one of my best friends. Yeah, they’re groovy. I can’t wait for my husband to finish off my bookshelves. Maybe I’ll start a new hookah collection when he’s done.
Having a midlife crisis isn’t just about getting gray hair, saggy boobs, and a wider girth. It’s about getting to know who you really are as you hit the midpoint of your life. This midlife journey is especially bewildering and fear provoking for nurses. Everyone is in a big hurry to get an advanced nursing degree before “it’s too late.” Too late for what? I see nurses frantically checking out school websites, and exchanging information about online classes. Some nurses want to expand their knowledge base so they won’t have to work as bedside nurses anymore, while others want to go back to school because of a mandate put out by the ANA. The ANA doesn’t recognize anyone without a nursing degree as a professional nurse. The ANA can kiss my ass. I’m not going back to school, and I refuse to burst one brain cell over a class assignment that has no relevance in my life.
God willing, I have at least twenty-five years before I check out of the world and I plan to have some fun before I head for the Pearly Gates. My short-term goal is to buy the new Beatles Boxed set in stereo and to finish redecorating my house. I’m going to light up some incense, play my tunes, and party on. My long-term goal is to make love, not war, get on the peace train, and to follow the sun.
Can you dig it?
*This blog post was originally published at Nurse Ratched's Place*