Hi, I'm Karrie
After 26 years as a hospital nurse and pushing for better care for others, I did not realize until it was too late what the stress was doing to ME. I found myself 100 lbs. overweight, having had 2 cancer scares, GI issues, always feeling like crap, irritable and really starting to hate my job, despite my deep love of nursing – all the while feeling like I was failing as a wife and mother. I felt like I no longer made a difference. My light was so dim. I remember saying to my priest the First Friday of Lent 2015, "I just can't do this anymore. I don't want to do this anymore!" Less than 2 months later I left the hospital and have not been back.
You are probably thinking that this won’t happen to you, or that you won’t let it happen to you. And I hope it doesn’t. But something tells me the stress is already affecting you, and that is why you are here today. Think about the last time you thought or said “I just can't do this anymore.” Maybe those were not your exact words, but you know that feeling, DON’T you?
I beg you, don’t IGNORE that sign.
Looking back there were many warning signs that I ignored. At 31 I took my first CNO job. I struggled to manage any type of life balance. I later battled infertility, multiple hospitalizations, severe latex allergy- even anaphylaxis, asthma, GI dysfunction and thyroid issues. It felt like I was always sick. The pinnacle of my decline really hit hard in 2009 when I contracted H1N1 (if you recall that was the year that many young people were getting put on the vents and dying from it) and I was hospitalized for 7 days, in isolation, with a two year old at home. I remember thinking: “I can’t close my eyes, or I’ll die like the rest of them and never see my guys again.” Following that hospitalization, I was even on oxygen for 13 months, and the health issues seemed to just pile on after that point.
Have you, or your colleagues, experienced any bizarre or persistent illnesses yet? Does any of this sound vaguely familiar? Would you, in hindsight, recognize the connection to stress? The doctors simply told me, “Yes you have a stressful job,” but I never connected the dots.
After my H1N1 hospitalization and the many medical issues, I made my fourth major move as a hospital executive in 9 years, this time with a four year old. The move was very stressful for our family. Unfortunately, not only was the move stressful, it was also the MOST stressful and dysfunctional job of my ENTIRE career at a time when my body was at the WEAKEST.
I simply brushed off the physical signs and tried to push through. Truly burning the proverbial candle at both ends; trying to manage my professional and home life at the expense of my health. After 4 years, my body gave out. This is the part I hope you never get to.
I did not understand, at that time, the level of trauma that our profession puts on our bodies. I knew about stress, but I didn’t really think it was affecting me. It happens to everyone else, NOT ME. I didn’t even understand that I was holding IN MY BODY all of the stress and trauma of the responsibility for my patients, and the daily hospital grind. I finally had to leave to be able to heal ME.
It breaks my heart when I see us, as a profession, caring so deeply for others while we do not take care of ourselves. Or even know that we have to. Why is it we would never let a family member get into this shape, but we seem to think it is a badge of courage for us to endure it?
In actuality, while we are proudly enduring, our bodies are suffering. It’s almost as if we think that if we ignore it, it will go away. But, you know, even IV pumps and vents have to be checked out by Biomed - and our bodies are so much more intricate than any machine.
My own healing journey has taken me in many different directions. Initially, I thought that I would simply take the summer off to heal, and then go back to work. I spent the summer relaxing in multiple vacation destinations - with my husband and son - even doing a long 10-day tent camping trip just to get away from people and stimuli, and to help us reconnect as a family.
But, the summer was just not long enough. When the fall came, I still had trouble getting up in the morning, and I was still exhausted all the time. I could not bear the thought of going back into the hospital environment.
I will share with you that I felt like a total failure. I felt like I had failed my family, myself, and my profession. I remember thinking, “Why can’t I get my shit together and just do my job?”
Then, while exploring methods to reduce stress and trauma, I experienced my first recognizable PTSD flashback. It was a vision of a file cabinet opening up and every face of every patient that I had ever coded, every patient that had ever died, and every dead baby that I had ever handed to a family, flashed in front of my face. All of those smells came back, and every sensation with it. Now mind you, I had not done direct patient care in almost 20 years. But it was all still there. Even that renal patient that I coded as an extern. That was the first time I had done a code, and his face was there, too.
AND THEN within a few weeks two nurses I had worked with died. Both of them were still working, and both were too young to die. A light bulb went on; I had to do something different.
I went back to school and became a Transformational NutritionⓇ coach. I incorporated a holistic approach to healing, stopped compartmentalizing mind, body, and spirit, and finally began to recover. Out of this grew my Organic Nurse Rx Program, that is woven into the Nursing Nidra Program that we have developed at Healing Millions.
I wondered how many other nurses were out there struggling, not even knowing what was happening to them. My passion to reignite nursing’s light was born.
Nursing Nidra integrates mind, body and spirit AND puts YOU on the path to recovery.
I am happy to report my light is shining bright, the monkey mind is now gone, and I have more energy than I have had in years.
My husband will tell you I am more calm and vibrant than I was before. He’ll even say that he got back the woman he married!
My healing journey continues. I still struggle to release some of the unnecessary weight, and work to keep my hormones balanced. But, I celebrate huge progress. Had I not made these changes, I’m sure I would not be here to watch my son, Eli play baseball and grow up. I am now the mother and wife I want to be, loving life each day.