Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Steady As She Goes

I remember the exact moment it started.  It was on a morning after one of those nightly nights, a drunk night.  That goes without saying.  I was assisting on a thyroidectomy.  I felt a little rough, but hell, I always felt a little rough.  The surgeon asked me to cauterize a line of muscle between the clamps he was holding.  I'd done it dozens of times before, so I took the cautery in hand and aimed for the muscle and....my hand shook. It trembled so bad, I couldn't do it and the scrub person had to reach over and do it for me.  There was some kidding about just how much had I had to drink the night before and everybody laughed it off the way people that don't have this atrocity are able to do.  But for me that was the day of my downfall.

Before that day I was a brash, know-it-all, seen-it-all cowgirl of a nurse.  As a matter of fact, that morning I was in a small neighboring town's hospital, I had quit the hospital I had worked at for years and taken my act on the road, out to save the OR's of rural Southwest Kansas.

That day changed all of that.  From then on I would pack a little something extra in my medicine bag as I went from town to town, a charlatan playing the role of a seasoned, professional nurse.  From then on, I never left home without an ample supply of self-doubt.

I continued to ply my trade sporadically.  Sometimes I would shake, sometimes I didn't. I got real good at covering it up.  I told myself it was all in my head, but a seed planted in the fertile ground of your cerebellum takes root readily, especially if it is the seed of an invasive variety.  Soon it chokes out all the good things that you've planted and cultivated, its tendrils snaking out to curl its way into ever new territory. And it grows and it grows and it grows.

The fear was debilitating.

But I kept on drinking.

The morning of my downfall was 15 years ago.

 A little less than a year ago, I refused to inquire about a job where the cap'n was working as I always had in the past.  I wasn't being lazy.  I was being petrified.

A little less than a year ago, I quit drinking.

The insidious doubt didn't shrivel up and die, the sumbitch is still there and I'm still scared.  But ever since I quit fertilizing it with Jack Daniel's Special Paralyzing Self-Doubt Compost (Yes, I was shitbrained), it's growth has been severely stunted, and I've been able to hack it back a bit.

So I guess what I've been trying to tell you guys is...I haven't shook once at work this week!



  1. You are amazing! Love the honesty and love following your journey.

    1. Hey! I miss you and the gang,seems like by the time I get around to reading the board, you guys have beat me to the punch. See you manana in the chatroom.

  2. Proud of you. Shaking is a very debilitating side effect of the lifestyle. Great for you for quitting and holding onto that sobriety-not easy to do. Hang in there.

  3. For folks like us, that is no small accomplishment!

  4. That is WONDERFUL! How many excuses did I have to explain the shakes? Too many to count.

    So glad we're not counting or shaking anymore.

  5. I love your writing Kary May, beautiful!