September 13th, 2012

crossed heart

Dear Shoulder, and David Simon

Originally published at Cassie Alexander. You can comment here or there.

Dear Shoulder, what did I ever do to you? Argh.

My left shoulder’s been bugging me lately. Instead of not doing anything for three months and then getting hospitalized in crippling pain and needing 2 months of rehab, ala my back this past winter, I decided to actually go in. My MD thinks I’ve done something rotator-cuffy, and has ordered me to have an MRI and physical therapy. (The only upshot of my back injury is that I know an amazing physical therapist :P.) My PT appt is next week, the MRI will probably be 5-6 weeks from now, given how my hospital system works. In the meantime, I’m supposed to play it safe and not move people too much.

It, thrillingly, reminds me of my mortality again. This past year has been rough physically on me. I wonder at the rate I’m going, how much more being-a-nurse can my body take.

David Simon, I was debating not talking about…sometimes I read things so good and true and useful I want to horde them to myself and not share. But it’s relevant to my shoulder, bear with me –

I finished reading Homicide, a Life on the Streets. It’s a narrative non-fiction written by David Simon, the creator of The Wire, from his time being a reporter embedded in the Baltimore police department back in 1988. (If you’re a Wire fan, the blueprints for the Wire are all in there.) It’s simply amazing. The man knows how to see the truth of things, and turn a phrase. The chapters are perfect, the characters are perfect, the thoughts that are happening are spot on — if you were a wise enough person, all the world’s lessons on how to be a writer are in its heart. It’s profound and profane — it’s the best thing I’ve read in a long, long while. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough (and I almost kept it to myself because I didn’t want to share the magic with anyone, i wanted to learn everything I could from it for myself and screw all of you, heh.)

Anyhow, there’s a part at the end of it — get the edition with all the afterwards, so you can see what happened to everyone that was in it — where he’s talking about the attrition, some of it natural, some of it forced, that has happened with the cops he wrote about since his departure, and how ill-conceived institutional changes forced some, but not all, of them out. He summed up the two groups up as people who were still in love with their jobs and those that weren’t. Those that were still in love with their jobs could somehow put up with all the extra bullshit, while those who couldn’t took each successive wave as a personal affront that they couldn’t let go until they were forced out.

How does this relate to me? Well, first off, I still love my job. And my coworkers. And even sometimes my patients.

But a lot of my coworkers are pursuing higher education — some of my favorite ones, in fact — and I fear that no matter how much I love my job, if I wait 5-10 years, the whole thing will have changed under me, all the good ones will leave stagnant me behind.

To be honest, I’m sort of jealous of the ones that are swinging jobs and school right now. And even more jealous of those that have made the leap into higher ed, like nurse anesthetist schooling. Sure she’s got a grueling three years ahead of her, but after that, she’s never going to have to have a job where she might put out her shoulder or her back.

I know I’m doing all I can do to keep my head above water as a part-time nightshift nurse and a part-time writer. And I really do love my job/s. But sometimes I wonder if I’m making the right choice by staying in it, and staying with my current level of education, especially after this past year when so many body parts have started to fail me :P, and what the with publishing world being so mercurial right now.

I just hope that I really still love writing and still love nursing ten years down the line and don’t regret not making better, more secure choices for my future potentially-gimpy self.