My name is Shayla Evans and I have been a registered nurse since 2014. In the 3 years that I have been working as a nurse in Canada, I have held positions in numerous areas of health care. These include cardiac medicine & surgery, acute care for elders, influenza inoculation programs, sexual assault response, and hyperbaric medicine.
As a nursing student and finally a real nurse, I’ve had the experience of taking part in some of the most important occasions of my patients’ lives. I’ve helped bring a new baby into the world, pronounced deaths, and bagged bodies. I’ve been in the operating room for cancerous tumour removals, encouraged drug addicts to stick with it through withdrawal symptoms, been there for patients who learn that they’ve become quadriplegic from a car crash, and seen patients walk for the first time with a new heart beating in their chest. I’ve observed a wife bawl over her husband’s body as he slipped away into death, supported women in the emergency room after they have been sexually assaulted, provided hope in the form of research to patients who have lost the use of their bodies due to a stroke, and countless others.
As a nurse, I have witnessed some of life’s most significant events, but it isn’t always easy. Although nursing can be an incredibly rewarding profession, it is often extremely challenging and I find myself unable to help as much as I wish I could. At times, this has taken a toll on my own wellbeing, impacting both my physical and mental health.
In the summer 2015, after only one year of registered nursing, I found myself burnt out. I was struggling to keep up with the demands of my job, working 12 hour shifts in a city where I knew almost no one, and confined to the hospital for nights, evenings, weekends, and holidays. I was overwhelmed, isolated, and depressed. I knew that I needed to make a change for the good of myself and the patients that I served.
I sought professional help for my depression, and began to hunt for a job that would allow me to regain the social life I felt was lacking with my odd hours. That’s when I discovered a position in research that offered Monday-Friday, 9-5 hours. Finding a job with these “normal” hours in the nursing profession was equivalent to discovering a needle-sized unicorn in a colossal haystack. I applied, interviewed, and accepted the position immediately.
This role has been a blessing to me. I love the outpatient environment where I get to interact with the same patients everyday over the course of two months. I love following up with them months later to see how they’re doing. I love the possibility that this study’s findings could help drastically improve peoples’ lives. Most of all though, I love my coworkers. I have made deep, meaningful friendships with the nurses that I work with, filling the gap of loneliness I had previously felt in this city. Furthermore, with the ability to attend events on evenings and weekends with my non-nurse, normal-schedule friends, I have fallen in love with a kind, creative, and ambitious man.
This sounds like the end to a fairy-tale. From sadness to fullness, from nothing to something, but this is far from the end. With security comes routine and with routine comes boredom. I entered this profession with the desire to live an adventurous, exciting life. Somehow I have instead unearthed a stable job and a corporate discount life insurance policy. It’s not that I don’t want these things, just not yet.
“With security comes routine and with routine comes boredom.”
There is a term in horticulture, root-bound. It is used to describe a condition in which a potted plant outgrows its container but is not repotted into a larger one. As a result, the roots of the plant grow round and round the confines of their space becoming twisted and tangled until there is nowhere left for them to grow. This is how I feel. I’ve grown as much as possible in the comfort of my container and now it is time for me to expand my world. That is why I choose to travel; to learn, to discover, to grow.
Anyone who truly knows me can attest to my distaste, bordering on absolute hatred, of puns. Unless of course they are my own, which I find deliciously clever. So here is one of mine; instead of being “root-bound” I have chosen to become “route-bound”. That is to say, I’m off to expand the confines of my world and stretch my roots. I hope that by exploring the world and leaving the safety of my own home, I will be able to continue on the path of self-discovery and growth that has been my twenties thus far. So here it goes, from here on out you can call me the Route Bound Nurse.