Like every superhero, I think every nurse has an origin story. Mine was a few years ago on an evening shift at work. It was a seemingly normal day at the ward. Little did I know how greatly the next few hours would impact my career and also my life.
To sum it up briefly, on this particular night, I was assaulted by a patient. Followed by a then mortifyingly embarrassing trip to the emergency room in my scrubs, as I was now a patient. I left the ER that night with bruises, contusions, limited range of motion, a nice helping of PTSD, and a lot of questions.
I slept over at a friend’s house that night restless. I pondered and contemplated if I would ever come back to work again. I thought to myself: “You could’ve died.” And I was all the more thankful that day that I survived.
The following months were the darkest. In addition to my limited mobility, I had nightmares and flashbacks of the patient whose name I dare not mention. I couldn’t even stand to look upon the corner where my mugging had occurred. For a while, I couldn’t be involved in similar circumstances at the job. I wisely sought counsel.
This is where the student meets the master. I got work supported counseling. I processed and embraced my feelings of anxiety, anger, doubt, and fear. I faced my deepest fear, that my reputation and identity had been compromised.
What I feared most was not that I would be attacked again, but that people would try to “take it easy” on me with my patient load. Or that I would lose my job because I was overwhelmed.
In the sessions that I attended, I could see how much managerial support I had throughout this ordeal. But more importantly, I discovered my own power.
My coworkers that night followed protocol, and everyone came to my aid. After my escape from the clutches of my patient, I gathered myself enough to determine the next steps in providing their care. I kept my cool. Management followed up with my story from my boss to the CEO.
Without the support I received that first week after my attack, I wouldn’t have stayed at that job, much less a nurse. Because of that incident, I learned what it meant to be a team player, and I promised to give back that support to the people I work with.
I didn’t know it then, but that night was when my powers developed. When I grew from a baby novice nurse into an experienced nurse. I returned to work with a support system that helped me heal. They covered for me during my flashbacks so I could take five minutes to breathe. I developed coping strategies which helped me truly teach my patients.
I found my super powers. Strength. Courage. Resilience. Sharp thinking. These have followed me in my career and working with acutely psychotic patients. I ensure safety as my top priority for all I come across in my day to day work.
My origin story was dark. But I’ve chosen to focus on the light. The skills I’ve gained and the nurse I’ve become. And the sense of purpose I have to be the best I can be in whatever department I find myself in. Because I am super heroic. And so are you.