Hi! I’m Gelli, and four months ago, I finally hung up my travel shoes. After all the wonderful adventures I’ve experienced because of this gypsy life, I chose to pause the ride and rekindle my love for routine.
It was November of 2016 when I started my career as a travel nurse. I totally fell in love with it. I met people from different upbringings, learned useful techniques from different nurses and absorbed hospital policies I never knew existed. Not only did it improve my nursing skills, it also allowed me to wander- I tasted sumptuous local food and explored cities of unique character and nature.
I went to Lufkin and met wonderful people. I met Pearl, Heilene, Ray, Jessica, Beth, Shaquioa, and the rest of Woodland Heights peeps. This was my first assignment and it felt surreal. I never expected it to be a breeze. Prior to this assignment, I expected the WORST. Believe me, I heard and read a lot of horror stories- staff hating you, getting the worst assignment, high loads, tough learning curve. I embraced change knowing all of these things. Fortunately, this hospital is far from those, this became my home away from home. The staff were very accommodating. I also met other travel nurses from other states. It was fun! It opened my eyes to a lot of opportunities. I even extended my assignment from the original three months to six months.
It was also during this assignment that I was able to taste Jollibee again, the famous Filipino food chain in Houston. We were able to go there thrice, I think, being only 2 hours away from Lufkin. And since my assignment city is only 3-4 hours from New Orleans, I was also able to experience the crowd in the very celebrated Mardi Gras. Not only that, I will never forget that time I went to an RV show. There was a seed of dream that was implanted in my heart- that someday, I will own a rig like the one I saw. Imagine having a house on wheels, OMG.
In those six months, I hopped from one adventure to another. Made my way to Kemah Boardwalk and Bourbon St. Visited WWII museum and science center. Did hikings and walked long trails. It was fun and exciting but I had to move on and find another location.
Virginia captured my heart next. I thought it was only first timer’s luck that I had a wonderful assignment in Lufkin. To my surprise, there are many other beautiful places and welcoming hospitals out there, and Centra in Lynchburg is definitely one of them. I met people whom I highly respect- Debra, Nicole, Sharon, Holley, Hannah, Anne and many others. Although I was not positioned in Cardiac Telemetry like I would want to, I enjoyed my time in Diabetic-Renal unit. It was there that I experienced having three low acuity patients in one shift. It was the most amazing shift, let me tell you. The quality of care is really there with the right nurse to patient ratio.
Aside from the fine working environment in the hospital, the majestic caverns in Luray are what stood out in my memory. Nature has its way of connecting to us, and those mineral formations truly spoke to me. Masterpieces aren’t made overnight. It is constant work and nonstop building and creating. I came to a realization that there is an amazing end piece in consistency.
I extended my stay in Virginia, too. It was an easy six months. Not because the patients are easy but because my coworkers are easy to work with. I can see why Brooke (one of the travellers) stayed and applied for a permanent position. Who wouldn’t? If only my apartment is close by. Or my boyfriend’s family lives there too. There are many pros in my list: The atmosphere isn’t toxic. There are many restaurants to try. The cost of living is just right.
Both of my travel assignments served me well. So why did I quit if the adventure was amazing?
I left to learn more. I am the type of person who gets bored easily with the same set of skills. I realized that it’s not the hospital or travel destination that would solve the issue. At the end of the day, it’s what satisfies me.
Travel nursing helped. Great paycheck was a bonus. But the added learning that I’m craving for didn’t go away. I realized I wanted to change something.
I knew at this time, changing my specialty altogether is what I needed.
After a series of hospital haunt and two interviews, I ended up in Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit. I know I won’t be able to travel again until I hit two years in this specialty. But I am enjoying my time in ICU like it was meant for me. I am learning so so much. There is no denying that I may get tired of this pace and setting someday. After all, it’s a permanent staff position.
But I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.
I signed a two-year contract with a local hospital and got a sign-on bonus that sealed the deal for me. I honestly didn’t expect it but I’m thankful for it. My coworkers are nice, responsible, and welcoming. The unit is small because it’s highly specialized but it feels like family. The cases are interesting and the doctors are the best neurosurgeons and pulmonologists in the valley. I love that the company I’m working for values professional growth more than anything else. It’s also an extra point that we can choose our schedule to accommodate any extra job or advance education that we’re trying to get.
I quit travel nursing, and all I know is, it’s for the best reason.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.“
"I followed my love."
I don't want this to be a trend. I don't want this to be a fad. I want to breathe every day knowing I chose the lifestyle I want. I chose to wander. I want to look back one day and say, "I served my purpose."
To others, this could be just another millennial dream. To eat in a local restaurant and try weekly chef's specialty. To mingle with strangers and pet their dogs. To feel the sand between your toes and let your feet sink into ground's cushions. To turn your back... away from all the things that caused you drama. To be yourself and make a mark in a world full of turbulence and doubts. To play a song while driving on unfamiliar streets and forgetting that problems, wars, and societal division exist. To live in your little bubble and call it paradise. To smile because all while it's loud outside and roads are rocky sometimes, you have a choice whether to stop the journey or to get going and move to your next destination.
"Is it worth it?"
I asked myself after paying two sets of electric bills, rent, and car loan. I'm not going to lie; paying double for everything is stressful to my budget and pocket. Why double, you ask? As a travel nurse here in the US, we receive pay packages that are different compared to those with permanent staff positions. Travel agents offer us nontaxable travel benefits which include housing stipends, meals, and incidentals. Say they give us 1000 USD for housing and 500 USD for meals biweekly, we're able to keep it to ourselves. No tax! And that doesn't include our hourly rate yet. However, to receive nontaxable travel benefits, we must have 1) a permanent tax home (which is my apartment in McAllen) and 2) my travel assignment must not be within commuting distance of my permanent tax home, and each travel assignment, including extensions and other assignments cannot be expected to keep me in the same general area for more than one year.
So you get why I need to keep my original apartment, right? You might think that the end result is the same- getting paid more while spending twice the amount of what you used to give away. And that it doesn't make sense at all if the salary barely changed. No, not really. I travel with my boyfriend so somehow we manage to cut the expenses in half. And I have a roommate in Mcallen so she pays half the rent as well. It's all good actually. I have saved more in three months than what I used to when I was still a permanent staff in my previous job. It's quite confusing I know, but to keep it simple, this travel nurse life works for me and my needs.
The question didn't sprout from money. It's from something else.
I was lying on bed when I saw Luis playing his video games. I suddenly thought of the important things he needed to give up just to be with me in this journey. He didn't want this life at first. He imagined his career to be close to his family, in the comfort of the town he grew up in, secured that everything he needs are just within reach. He can even close his eyes and drive to my place if he wanted to. He doesn't need GPS; he knows the roads by heart. I can only imagine all the things he'd do if we stayed in our previous jobs. It will look like this:
His mom will cook tostada for breakfast. He'll wash his face and brush his teeth in front of a big mirror with ceramic sink. His toothbrush, razors, towels, and creams will be at the same corner; he can do his routine without minding that another person will use the bathroom because it is his bathroom. And nobody will sigh whenever he forgets to flush the toilet. He will go to their dining area with plates already lined up, with food waiting for him, his mom ironing clothes and telling him random stuff. Then his siblings will walk across the room, or his dad, and it will be another day of going to work or church or someplace else. He will play his video games using his large screen. Oh, how he loves his Xbox! He will try to choose a game among his mountain of collections and he'll end up playing Fallout or Resident Evil. He will do this for hours and days and weeks and he won't bother that any of his routine will change.
And then one day, I told him about my plans of finally doing travel nursing. I was excited. I would tell him about this travel nurse working in our unit and convincing me to do the same. I would research about travel communities and blogging world and he'd just nod. I was into it. I was thrilled by the idea of it, but he was sad and hesitant. It came to that point when I told him I can go. Alone. Solo. And that would mean us breaking up. I know the idea is horrendous but traveling around every three months? With new people, new cultures, I mean all these changes are going to happen, and we both know we will be different people after.
We all know what happened next: He decided to come with me.
I used to have nightmares of him leaving in the middle of our contract and going back home. I was anxious that he might not like it because he'd miss his family so much. I was worried about our housing situation- how to find an apartment that will accept tenants on a short lease or how to function with limited furnitures. On top of this, it is a known fact in nursing community that couples and groups experience a little more difficulty finding jobs at the same hospitals or hospitals within a reasonable commute of one another. It's because some hospitals maintain a policy prohibiting couples from working at their facility at the same time. They cite problems that they’ve experienced with companies in the past as the reason. In addition, it’s always a little more difficult to land jobs for multiple people in any given location. That’s just the nature of the game.
My mind's exploding at the thought of him not being satisfied with our work environment. What if our new coworkers are mean? What if the place is chaotic and more toxic than where we were? How are we going to spend holidays away from home? What if the travel isn't worth it? What if I didn't make the right choice?
"What if he's not happy?"
I used to imagine his face with disappointment. I used to try so hard doing all things that would make him comfortable and not feel homesick. I look at him and I feel at home, but... what if he doesn't feel the same way?
Second week of February ended our travel assignment contract in Lufkin. This is it. The moment of truth. I finally had the courage to ask him what his thoughts are. If he still wants to go on, or just stop. There was tug of war inside my gut. I wanted him to say that he'd stay with me and travel some more but I don't want to be selfish. I just want him to be happy whether it's with me or not.
It's hard to gauge what a happy relationship means but in this lifestyle, I found out that having the same goals and plans is one way to start accommodating each other's needs. I still plan on doing this again and I don't see it ending soon. It taught me how to be a better nurse. It made me feel human again. I was high. It was amazing.
So when I asked him about his plans, he smiled and said he'll do it again in a heartbeat. I felt relieved.
What changed his mind?
At this point, I already made peace with myself knowing and finally believing that our relationship grew stronger than I could ever imagine. Maybe he got used to our arguments? By the way, when we're traveling, we argue a lot.
A LOT. I posted a whole other article for that here and we never had a problem that we couldn't fix since that day. From simple details to complicated ones, somehow, our spirits are less stressed. We see a different view and that helps our perspective. We became better people than our past selves.
We never lived together under the same roof before our travel assignment. Yes, we'd go on week-long trips like during that time when we went on cruise but actually breathing the same air freshener (and farts, lol) and compromising each other's privacy? Traveling revealed a lot about us. We discovered our weaknesses and strengths. And what came out of it? We perfected adjusting to our limitations.
Doing our weekly groceries has played a great part on how we communicate, too! Who would have thought that weighing which meal to cook, what guilty pleasure to buy and whatnot could bring us closer? It is really true that as humans, the indelible treasure in our hearts and minds when experiencing something new together can be everlasting. It is reassuring to know that there is somebody with me to share adventures with. Somebody was there when it was fun and when it was scary.
Judging from our past conversation, our sense of humor became more in sync. There are times when situations don't go as planned and things just go horribly wrong and you just laugh about it. It could be the disgusting food from the cheap hotel you booked online, or from nasty comments made by a stranger who didn't have anything to do with you. At the end of the day, no matter how terrible the day went by, both of you gained one more golden story to laugh about in the future.
After our first travel nursing assignment, YES, WE CAME OUT ALIVE! And OUR RELATIONSHIP IS STRONGER THAN EVER.
My experience may vary from other travel nurse couples out there because Luis and I are both nurses who only accept same hospital contracts. If you're a travel nurse couple but with different set up, read on.
Retired spouse or significant other of a travel nurse
If your spouse or significant other is retired, then the challenge is greatly reduced. Most people have thought about what they will do when they are retired (like travel) so now is the time for your spouse or significant other to look into those interests and hobbies that have always been on hold. This is also a great opportunity to travel in locations close to the kids and grandkids. If they are retired and bringing in extra income is not a huge priority, then a retired spouse or significant other is in a great position to take care of the issues like taxes, finances, your house back in your hometown and you (hey you’re the one still working so make sure they take care of everything at home so you can relax).
Spouse or significant other who is also a travel nurse
This is the easiest situation, but does present some of its own challenges as far as finding assignments in the same city if not same hospital at the same time. This will require a great recruiter and travel nursing company and a lot of pre-planning on your part. Another challenge of this is to make sure that you try to get your schedules as closely synced as possible so you don’t miss out on the chance to enjoy your travel location together. You don’t just want to transfer a life where you don’t see each other to a new locale; you want to enjoy all the benefits of a travel nursing job. So make sure you work with your recruiter and nurse manager to see how often you can work the same schedules or at least coordinate one or two days off together a week. And hopefully you can avoid a situation where one of you is working the night shift and the other the day.
Another option here is to take turns working the travel nursing jobs. Instead of you both working during one 13 week stretch you could alternate. And another option is to both work a ton for 2-3 assignments a year and have 3 months off together. By then you should have seen enough of each other enough that going back to work sounds like a vacation.
Non traveler spouse or significant other of a travel nurse
The challenges of having a spouse or significant other who is not retired or a traveler while you are a travel nurse is really keeping them busy and productive away from home. If you have already made the decision for them to leave their job or career behind while you use travel nursing to make extra money and see the country then hopefully the two of you have thought through what they will do while you are at work. But if you haven’t or you have realized that you need or want them to supplement the household income then are some cool job options for spouse or significant others of travel nurses.
Some other options are working with a temporary staffing agency. Many industries rely on staffing agencies just like nursing does so be sure to check out that option. It is a great way for them to gain new skills and broaden their career network while you travel.
Another option for them is to go back to college online. There are tons of great online university degree programs all you need is an Internet connection, time and motivation. Just search for online colleges and you will find tons of resources.
A few other rewarding options I have seen spouse or significant others of travel nurses take:
- Substitute teaching
Links for spouse or significant others of travel nurses
- Does your spouse or significant other/SO travel with you? AllNurses.com Forum discussion
- Adventures in Travel Nursing
- Travel Nurse: Have Husband, Will Travel
- Food, Fitness, & Fun in All 50 States: A Travel Nursing Survival Guide Blog: Our Journey, Advice, & Dieting Tips from the Road
- Fast Facts for the Travel Nurse: Travel Nursing in a Nutshell
My travel agency is Medical Solutions. If you've been wanting to join the gypsy nurse life and don't know where to start, feel free to message me for referrals. 🙂 If you have questions about Travel Nursing in general, you are welcome to join our Travel Nurse Group on Facebook! Have a good day everyone!
Psalm 32:7-8 For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you."
By Ann Leghorn
My sister’s life was forever changed during the winter of 2011, when she and her husband went for a regularly scheduled ultrasound while pregnant with their first-born child and was told their baby was critically ill and would need multiple lifesaving procedures. This was the first of unending life altering news in their new family’s life. On July 1st, 2011, Asher Levy-Dahl, was born at 8:48 PM in Maria Ferrari Children’s Hospital in Westchester, NY. As soon as he was born, the medical adventures began.
Although Asher’s family knew he would have some surgical needs after the fetal echocardiogram showed he had several congenital heart defects and complex Heterotaxy Syndrome, they never expected the insurmountable medical obstacles he now faces. The birth defects were just the beginning of what is now an ongoing battle with several rare chronic illnesses, including Congenital Heart Disease, Heterotaxy Syndrome, Hydrocephalus, and Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia.
Initially, the fetal echocardiogram showed Asher’s tiny heart contained eight congenital heart defects. The cardiologist told Asher’s family he had 4 holes, 2 ASD’s, 2 VSD’s, coarctation of the aorta, partial anomalous pulmonary venus return in which 2 of his pulmonary veins are draining to his coronary sinus, interrupted inferior vena cava, and an unroofed coronary sinus. These congenital heart defects resulted in a massive 17-hour surgery on his little walnut sized heart when he was just 2 weeks old. As he healed in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), his family sat by his bed side watching his tiny heart fight for its life while he was in a medically induced coma with his chest cavity still open due to swelling. Five days after the initial open heart surgery he underwent another surgery to close the chest cavity.
Another of Asher’s major lifelong illnesses is Heterotaxy Syndrome. There are 16 babies born a year in the United States with Heterotaxy Syndrome. Of those 16 babies, less than 15% make it to their 1st birthday. Asher is one of the fortunate 15%. Heterotaxy Syndrome occurs when the internal organs form in different areas than they normally do and results in a variety of medical issues. For Asher, this has created a malrotation of the intestines and bowel; right sided stomach; midline liver; and seven spleens, none of which function to the capabilities of an anatomically average spleen. This has resulted in a diminished immune system and constant bouts of illness during Asher’s 5 years. To address some of the issues that Heterotaxy created, Asher underwent an hours long LADS procedure when he was just 18 months old. The surgery fixed the malrotation and placed a permanent feeding tube in his stomach to provide nourishment and medicine.
Asher also faces the problems that come with Hydrocephalus, an illness in which the water around the brain cannot absorb or drain properly leading to pressure on the brain. As with all of Asher’s medical diagnoses, this diagnosis has come with many complications. Asher underwent an endoscopic third ventriculostomy while simultaneously placing an Ommaya reservoir in his brain in hopes to avoid the placement of a shunt. Unfortunately, two weeks later it completely failed and Asher needed emergency surgery to place a VP shunt in his brain. This was only the first of 8 more brain surgeries that were needed to fix numerous shunt malfunctions. Asher’s ninth brain surgery was just yesterday, January 6th, 2017, and he will need countless more brain surgeries as he continues to grow. Currently, there is no cure for Hydrocephalus and the only treatment requires invasive, life-threatening brain surgeries.
Asher’s other major disease is Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia, a progressive lung disease that causes an excess buildup of mucous in his lungs which leads to excessive respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and upper respiratory infections. This is exacerbated by his severe asthma. Because Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia affects all the cilia in the body, Asher also suffers from frequent and severe ear and sinus infections. Thus, he has had his tonsils and adenoids removed as well as four different sets of tubes put in to try to stop some of the ear infections.
In just 5 short years, Asher has faced unbelievable odds and continues to beat them all. Much to all his doctors’ surprise, he laughs and plays like any average child. Underneath his silly façade, lies a medically complex and fragile child who will need many more painful and life-threatening surgeries and procedures. None of Asher’s diagnoses currently have a cure and can only be maintained through further surgeries, medical procedures, and invasive intervention. Asher’s mother and father have been by his side every moment of his tumultuous journey and thus now need financial assistance. Because of all the therapy and doctor appointments, Asher’s mother is unable to maintain a full-time job and had to leave college, leaving only Asher’s father to earn money for their family, including Asher and their 19-month-old daughter, Quinn.
My sister and her family have spent the past 5 years battling alongside their son and have never asked anyone for help. Through all of this, they have strived to maintain normality for their family. Now I am asking you to donate to help them pay for some of the medical costs and life costs that come with being parents of a medically needy child. Asher’s parents will never be able to pay off all of Asher’s medical bills because they continually grow as Asher’s needs escalate and change, resulting in more surgeries and hospital stays. Any money you donate will help cover excessive medical costs, their apartment, necessary and expensive repairs for their minivan to ensure safe and reliable transportation, gas for the frequent trips to doctors, hospitals, and specialists, and give Asher and his little sister a chance to have a fulfilled life with their parents.
To donate, click >>here.<<<
This story is part of OMG I Got A Letter series curated by Gelli. Gelli partnered with Crowdrise to help raise funds for people/charity groups in need. Every month, we’ll feature at least one story that needs sharing. The writer nor the blog host gets commission from this. This is pure charity. Aside from monetary contribution, we also welcome letters of encouragement from people like you. Let us know in the comments section what you want to tell Asher and his family. We’ll make sure he reads this! Thank you for your help.
Lufkin is 120 miles northeast of Houston, and is considered to be the county seat of Angelina County. It is at the crossroads of East Texas at the intersections of Highways 59 (leading to Houston and Rio Grande Valley) and 69 (leading to Port Arthur and Beaumont).
Yesterday after work, Luis and I went to Suddenlink to pay for our internet application and installation. Going there, we passed by a park that is located at the corner near our hospital. Nope. We didn’t notice that before! It’s only five minutes from our workplace! I think that’s the advantage of going to a small city. You get to see lots of cool stuff in a 5-mile radius.
There’s nobody there. We owned the place, literally. Or maybe because it’s Monday, and everybody’s at work. There’s no car, no entrance fee whatsoever. It’s just there, beautifully existing, free, and open to strangers who want to enter the place. Like most of my pretty friends. Just kidding, you guys. 😂
There’s not a lot of parking space. I think it’s only good for ten cars tops. The place is quiet and intimate as it is. We feel like we can shoot a movie here, us throwing romantic pick-up lines and cheesy comebacks, but *spoilers 🚨 * we’re just like those ordinary couples who love to annoy each other. 🙈
This is Luis making sure he locked Gavin… and isn’t the backdrop so captivating? Sometimes I wish Luis can take photos of me like this. You know, all natural with hypnotizing background and is balanced in all angles. But he’s not really into photography, much more into selfies, or taking photos in general. He’s a private person who doesn’t enjoy these kinds of stuff. He loved the place though. He didn’t really say it, but I can feel it from his comments about the park.
This caught our attention because what if this place isn’t open to the public? Lol. My imagination sometimes runs wild, and I think of murder cases and bloody plot twists. I can blame Netflix for that or Patterson’s knack for suspense. Near this sign is a house(?) or a gathering place (?) which has a tarpaulin on it saying, “Narcotics anonymous.”
I looked at Luis and jokingly said, “Love, this is getting scary.” lol You know those horror scenes where the main characters find a creepy spot out of nowhere and the skies suddenly turn dark? Well, it didn’t happen. Too bad. There’s nobody in there though, and if there were we can just say hi to people and leave. We’re nurses, and part of our job is to maintain the integrity of our patients. Most people in those kinds of help groups are there because they want to change their lives, or at least have a support group that understands what they’re going through.
*No photo of the facility for private reasons.*
But here are other cool photos from our new favorite spot:
We’re on our scrubs (straight from work) but that didn’t stop me from asking Luis to take a photo.
Oh I almost forgot. Here’s my takeaway gem from this place:
Filipinos love basketball like how Americans love their football. Anywhere you go, may it be in rural or urban areas, you can always find a basketball ring like this. Our culture teaches us to be physically active and socially engaged. I don’t know about you but this is one thing social media ruined for us. Yes, it helps us connect to friends from miles away, but you can’t deny the reality that it disconnects you from people close to you. Maybe it’s time for Google to adopt a culturally engaging task search. Would it hurt of they add local words like “Basketbolan nearby.” Or “tambayan near me.” It must be so convenient to create friendly circles again. That’s just me daydreaming.
We found this near our parking spot, just around the mini bridge (which of course is under the big maple tree):
So thank God there’s Google.
And surprisingly, here’s what I found:
A webpage for Baha’is, a faith-centered group of people who believe in modern teachings of God.
“Let your vision be world embracing…” — Bahá’u’lláh
Throughout history, God has sent to humanity a series of divine Educators—known as Manifestations of God—whose teachings have provided the basis for the advancement of civilization. These Manifestations have included Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. Bahá’u’lláh, the latest of these Messengers, explained that the religions of the world come from the same Source and are in essence successive chapters of one religion from God.
Bahá’ís believe the crucial need facing humanity is to find a unifying vision of the future of society and of the nature and purpose of life. Such a vision unfolds in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh.
My curiosity was satisfied. I looked up and as I watched those leaves dancing with the wind, I couldn’t help but to appreciate God’s creation and purpose in our lives.
I’m a Christian who believes in Jesus’ way of life. But that doesn’t hinder me from acknowledging and embracing others’ beliefs and faith.
Thirty four years after it was planted, this big maple tree right here is standing tall, looking like a masterpiece of its own.
Faith is when you plant the seed of hope, not knowing how or when you’ll see the fruit, or if it will have a fruit, it’s putting your energy in something, just knowing that something great will happen. Just think about it, if you’re the one who planted this tree thirty four years ago, would you really think that something so small will grow THIS BIG? And BEAUTIFUL?
It’s just amazing, isn’t it?
We hope to find more places like this here in Lufkin. ❤️️ This place really continues to surprise us!
You guys, I’ll continue to write for y’all! ❤️
After contemplating on whether to pursue the life on the road, weighing the pros and cons, and foreseeing judgments that will come along our way, we ended up accepting the travel offer.
We did it! We actually did it!
Applications done. Interviews over.
After eight long hours of drive, we’re finally at Lufkin, TX.
Here is a pair of my tennis shoes on our second day at work:
This photo was taken during our break time. I made Jalapeño bologna sandwiches and sweet iced tea for lunch. Since the weather is great and I’m still amazed by our parking lot view, I was able to convince Luis to do mini picnic with me. (So corny of me, right?) We only have 30 minutes to spend for break so I made sure to time ourselves. We opened the trunk of the car and arranged our food. My Caddy is spacious for the two of us so we didn’t really have a hard time setting it up. We had an amazing view, cool atmosphere, and hearty food. I was reminded of our very first 4th of July together. We also gazed at the fireworks display while sitting inside the trunk of my car. *Oh memories*
I love the location of our new workplace because it’s only ten minutes away from our temporary home. The view is terrific! All these autumn trees are enough for me to feel the vacation vibe.
On our first week, we stayed at Quality Inn. All amenities are great except that I need to pay an extra $10 per day for Pumpkin, and there’s no kitchenette available. They only had microwave, fridge, and coffee maker. I bought a portable burner at Walmart for only $25 so we can cook pasta. I brought my rice cooker with me (proud Asian here! lol) so that helped, too. I told Luis we can actually pull it off in that hotel. But I computed all our expenses together with the hotel fee, and there’s just no way we can stay there without compromising our travel fee. It would cost us $2000 per month and that doesn’t include my apartment in McAllen (yes I’m paying for two apartments right now).
We had “the talk” and I told him that getting an apartment is the way to go if we wanted to maximize our travel fee. We agreed to travel in the first place because of the higher pay. Travel is a big plusss though, but money plays a big part as well.
We googled for places, apartments, extended stays, even airbnb, and some rent-a-room in Craigslist. I made calls to different facilities, and I realized it’s harder to find pet friendly communities than finding places that accommodate short leases. We eventually found one, Fox Run Apartments leased the unit as unfurnished but move-in ready.
The next day, we drove to look into it and we’re surprised that it’s like a curve away from the hospital. We talked to the manager, Ashley, and she immediately catered to our needs. We toured the place and we’re sold right there and then. It’s a 500 sqft place, has built-in gas burner, fridge, and dishwasher. It’s cable-ready and pet friendly as well. The deposit for pet, first month pay, and application fee costs us $1200. Monthly rent is $650 which is not bad compared to supposedly 2k Quality inn has to offer. Here’s our unit on the second floor:
That, however, excludes water, electricity, and Wifi. For water, Ashley informed us that it’s in the $35-40 range. For electricity, I’m estimating it to be lower than $100. And for Wifi, I applied at Suddenlink for 100/month. (Luis just can’t spend the day without streaming channels and playing videogames). Our monthly allowance for housing would reach 1k all in all. Food is another story, but I allotted $100 per week for that, including our eat outs.
We moved the weekend the room was ready. We got everything we needed and brought with us some sample-sized toiletries that we weren’t able to use. I’m just being practical, guys. And I don’t know why but Luis actually loved their conditioner. Lol.
Workwise, we find it easier compared to where we previously worked. The software that the company uses is called MedHost and the learning curve isn’t that sharp at all. It’s very user-friendly to us. Workplace atmosphere is also great. The people are friendly and cool, the overall ambience is highly recommended for first timers. We work three days per week and we’re paid $1,400 every Friday. Not bad, right? We’re guaranteed 36 hours of work per week. If we do overtime, the rate is higher. It’s additional $70/hour. We are not that motivated to do OT because we value our health and quality life. Work-life balance is hard to achieve, and we’re fortunate to have it by doing travel nursing, so we just want to keep it that way.
Woodland Heights is located at the medical heart of Lufkin. It’s near Walmart, CVS pharmacy, most convenient stores, restaurants, hotels and apartments.
I also admire the diversity here. I was used to seeing Hispanics at McAllen. I learned that Deep East Texas’ racial makeup was 59.92% White, 26.58% African American, 0.26% Native American, 1.37% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 10.31% from other races, and 1.54% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.59% of the population. (Wikipedia)
What I learned so far:
1. Patients are the same. It doesn’t really matter wherever you are, as long as you can establish rapport with your patients, and you know the ins and outs of patient care, the procedures needed, skills to have, you can actually pull it off.
2. Being in a different place keeps you on your toes. It stimulates critical thinking and your ability to cope up with adversity. It’s not easy starting all over again, but it sure would add something to your life moments.
3. Workplace would make or break your hospital stay. I’m smiling because my coworkers are great! And if they happen to be the opposite of what I dreamt of having, I’m still going to smile because I know I won’t stay in that place for long.
4. Luis doesn’t like Pumpkin as much as Pumpkin doesn’t like him, but the other day, I saw Pumpkin sleeping near Luis’ spot, so I guess it’s safe to assume that they’re adapting pretty good.
5. Travel nursing is the way to go if you like to learn new things and explore places. I get bored easily with routine stuff so this one is a big revelation to me. I realized that I can’t stay in one place if I want to up my game. After all, I left my home country for the very same reason.
6. I cook more because I find it therapeutic and we save a lot!
7. Compromise is a must if you’re going to travel with your kitty companion. The pet deposits these days are on the roof! But it’s worth it; I really enjoy Pumpkin’s company. And she’s getting fatter day by day! 😂
8. You get to know someone by asking about their interest. I find it surprising when my coworkers ask what we usually do on our days off. In return, we get to ask them. And it’s fun because somehow, they share with you a piece of their life.
9. There are Pinoys everywhere. In our unit, I already met four, and counting. There was a doctor who’s Pinoy and he immediately invited me to a party! I wasn’t able to make it though because it was raining…but the comfort of knowing that there are kababayans near you? I felt relieved. It never fails to hit home.
10. God brings you to a place because He wants to reveal something to you. He lets you wander because He wants you to see the beauty that you’re taking for granted. He introduces you to people because He’s introducing Himself to you all over again. Jesus is Jesus, the name above all names, and I am reminded once again that His victory over my sins is a promise of a lifetime. God fulfills His promises at the right time. I’m really grateful for this opportunity.
More of Lufkin here:
I’ve been posting updates on instagram. Follow me there: omgelli is my username.
See you around!
There are coffee bags under the linen’s drawer. Spoons and forks are inside somebody’s locker. And there are other little secrets that only night nurses know aside from where to get supplies that are sourced from morning’s haul. If you’re a graveyard nurse, this can be a good laugh for you. If you work day shift and have a sensitive funny bone, umm, you can read other articles. Lol. Or you can just find humor in this post and think twice the next time you receive report from a member of the zombie family.
- Almost every confused patient gets more confused or agitated right after the sun goes down. It may be Sundowner’s or it’s just full moon. Up until now, discussions on whether moon appearance has effect on human behaviors are still not over. Luna isn’t the Latin word for moon for nothing right? I mean, are we going to just tolerate our lunatic coworkers when they’re on their “mood swings?” But seriously, most of the crazy things happen during the night. When your confused patient tells you there’s a child in the room at 12mn, are you going to shrug it off or run for your life, bathe in your sweat then pee in your pants? Oh gee, don’t even get me started on this story. HAHA!
- That coffee maker at the corner is our best friend. We can stay up without enough sleep but not without coffee. And when it malfunctions, it will be a disaster. Sorry admins, no coffee, no admission! Business is closed!
- Quiet environment results in intimate patient care. Not intimate as in intimate, but let’s just say patient care that’s special. At night, there are less people roaming around. No cafeteria people each meal. No administrators hovering. No relatives disrupting your patient’s thought process. It’s just you and your patient, and it makes care management a breeze.
- Graveyard nurses take longer breaks. We don’t do breakfast break you guys. So it’s just fair for us to take longer than usual breaks. Or do I sound defensive? Thirty minutes is a *snap-snap* anyway. Give this to us. We are always so hungry, and we don’t know why.
- We hate calling doctors in the middle of the night just as they hate night nurses for waking them up.
- We classify doctors according to their response: “AmiozZzzjksbjkbs one time dose jbkszdfisbf” and “DON’T CALL ME! NO ORDER!”
- That night differential we get is for giving up enough sleep.
- Because sleeping during the day is more difficult than you think.
- Believe it or not, the kind of stress a night nurse endures is a lot heavier than day nurses’. We can admit and discharge at the same time and have loads of patients all at once and not feel a thing, BUT fighting your body’s natural circadian rhythm is a fight of a lifetime. LOL You know you just can’t win.
- The bond that a night nurse has with other member of the zombie family is incomparable. You rely on each other for support, in code blues and in browns! And while there are other shift nurses, you can’t deny the cool groove of the graveyard crew!
Cheers, zombie family!
Counting sheep is so overrated. We've all done it. And it simply doesn't work. Reciting alphabet backwards, shutting your eyes off like you're going to burrow your eyelids into your face, flipping pillows, turning to sides, lying on your stomach, switching position for the nth time--- we've all done it. We've even come to that point where sleeping is a need and not a routine.
Working graveyard shift, I find it hard to force my body to sleep, especially if it's really sunny when I get home. But other than environmental factors and varying schedules, the thing that keeps me from sleeping is stress. Is it just me? Or are we really supposed to zombify ourselves in order to function at work?
Last time I checked, it's the work that steals my sleep. Thinking about what you missed, rewinding how your day went, the people you encountered, new friends you made, and your bosses who aren't easily pleased--- in my case, it's my patients. Not all, though. But gee, it's stressful enough just thinking about 'work' itself. When I was in college, I doze off as soon as I close my eyes. Like clockwork. 1,2,3..sleep. Just like that. I don't know what changed or what bad routine I adapted, but I was able to go back to that as soon as I learned how to de-stress.
This may help you, too! Let's start with the basic one- ACCEPTANCE. Don't worry, you are one with a million others. You can deny that you're stressed and pretend that you're the cool and chill yuppie at school or the plain lazy ass monkey at work, but unless you face the problem head on, your sleeping pattern will not be patterns at all. But a random thing that happens at any given time of day. Or night if you're lucky.
STRESS AFFECTS OUR SLEEP
Ok, let me say this straight, not all stressors are bad for you. Surprise, surprise! In fact, right amount of stress is needed in order for you to function effectively. You need it to stay on top of your game. It's the reason you beat the deadline, and the cause of most of your accomplished tasks. We call positive stress, eustress. But when does it start to affect your bedtime cycle?
It's when your anxiety kicks in. Stress and anxiety are soul sisters; they actually have the same last name- Nightmare. You don't want to meet them, do you? It's also when your stress level is too much. Remember the last time you forced yourself to do overtime, or read one more page, or watch one more episode of your favorite Netflix show? That's when you forget to relax and pause for a minute. We call it distress. Tension builds up in our bodies like legos that kill us every time we step on them. (bruuu!)
Stress actually turns into physical symptoms. Don't believe me? Which of these symptoms did you experience in the past days without enough sleep?
More than three? Uh, oh. So what can we really do to reduce stress and get a good night sleep?
Get moving. Muscles are less likely to be tensed when you do stretching or cardio workout. By decreasing your muscle tension, you're actually giving your body some space to breathe and relax. I really don't exercise that much (although I should), but a little stretching every now and then helps a lot. Let's release some endorphins, y'all!
2. Happy, healthy thoughts
I self-talk. A lot. Sometimes it's great, but other times it's annoying and uncontrollable. That's why I write/blog. Some things I do to have healthy thoughts is to read and watch shows and TEDtalks that I really like. Gone are the days that I'll follow whatever's trending. I learned to value quality "me" time. Bible reading, bullet journaling are some of the good things that happened to the anxious me.
3. Better diet
Less sugar. Less caffeine. No soda. More fruits and grains. I can't stress this enough: we are what we eat. I used to drink more than five cups of coffee per day; trending it down to one per day made me more energetic and alive. Less acid in our bodies truly makes wonders.
4. Less loads
Doing overtime or taking too much responsibilities could bring you more harm than good. Find your balance. Weigh things, and only choose what really matters most. You only have one body after all.
It's only you who can know what relaxes you most. Aside from reading, I found a weird Youtube channel that helps me sleep. It's like my go-to page whenever stress is high and my sleep is rock bottom. Have you ever heard of ASMR? I didn't know what it means before but researching about it, here's what I found: it actually stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. I was browsing Youtube, looking for some relaxation videos, then I stumbled upon GentleWhispering channel. Could you believe that most videos there are with more than a million views? Search it yourself, and be among the weird people. LOL.
Hope you have a good night after