Heart-Pounding, Belly Twisting Nervousness

Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?

I have many memories of moments where I fervently wished that the earth would open up and swallow me whole. Perhaps one of the strongest memories I have is when I scrubbed for my first surgery as an OR nurse. My hands were shaking during the entire procedure. I was under the watchful eye of my OR instructor- a fact that only added to my terror. I was so afraid of making any mistake- would I remember the names of the instruments? The correct order? Would I say something totally stupid? Surgeons were known for their intolerance. If any doctor suffered from the “God-complex”, it was likely that their specialty was abdominal/thoracic surgery! Much of my nervousness was a direct result of deep insecurity. I grew up with feelings of utter inadequacy- the echos of “useless, useless” swirling about in my waking thoughts. Any rebuke or disapproving glance from teachers or authority figures would send me into internal paroxysms of fear. I suppose that it doesn’t take much to wound an already ravaged soul. The first medication error that I ever made almost destroyed me. I was convinced that I was the most incompetent human being walking the face of the earth- a sorry excuse for a medical professional. It wasn’t until my doctor sat me down and told that she made mistakes every day- but she tried not to hurt anyone (the first Hippocratic rule: do no harm). After that I began to relax a little bit. One of my colleagues once remarked “have you got a belly button?”- a gentle reminder to treat my humanity with kindness. I don’t go looking for opportunities to disappoint, fall short, screw up, or otherwise face-plant. Those opportunities have a way of stalking me. But I am learning to pick myself up each time, learn from the experiences and move on. I can’t be responsible for what others think of me- that is beyond my control and rather none of my business. But I am responsible for trying.


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