Thursday, September 26, 2013

Jekyll and Hyde Nursing: The Tale of Two Lives Raveled Up into One Nurse

Barreling through the door, she yelled: “I’m sorry! I know I’m late!! I’m here… just give me 2 minutes and I’ll be ready in no time!”

The house was unusually quiet. No response. Her dogs didn’t even come to the door, wagging their tails to greet her. Where was everyone?

Tonight was the ‘big’ party. It was her husband’s family reunion and she had rushed home from work… after staying overtime, yet again. Driving home her mind racing, trying to get her husband on the phone, she felt frantic. She KNEW she could make it. But she also knew she’d be late again.

Taking a moment to walk around her home, she realized- they’re gone. No one is here. A wave of doom rushed over her. Did they leave without me? I can’t believe this! Oh, I’m in trouble now…

Her husband’s family lived hours away. There was no way she could drive there now. Let me call my husband, she thought. Maybe they just went out for a walk. There’s no way they left with out me.

Dialing and redialing again and again, when she finally got him on the line he was cold, curt. He simply stated: “You were late. Again. I’m sick of this. We’re almost there. Don’t bother coming.” Click.

Sobbing, she threw herself down on the bed. This job is killing me, she thought. It’s ruining my life, my relationships, my health; it’s eating away at me. I am always sick. I’m constantly tired. I can’t take this anymore.

About 12 hours later bouncing into work she happily sung, “Good-Morning!” Greeting co-workers and patients with a brilliant smile, “How is everybody? What a gorgeous day!

Working along with a grin on her face, a helpful hand wherever it was needed, and words of caring love she hustled through her day. (Now anyone reading this might be asking: “What happened to the girl from last night? How did she recover? I’m shocked that she’s so chipper today! What happened??”).

Believe me… she’s wondering that too.

Here’s what happened. After speaking with her husband she went into a rage. Throwing items from her packed suitcase, she cursed and screamed and yelled. Then she realized, ‘Well… if I’m not going to the party… I can work that hole they were trying to fill.’

After hanging up with the night shift charge nurse she burst into tears, again. Sobbing hysterically, she cried herself to sleep. The night was restless as she dreamed, tossed, and turned.

She got up about 30 minutes before she had to be at work, raced through a shower, and sped into work. As she started to walk towards her workplace she psyched herself up… yet again. “You CAN do this.”

Throwing a smile on her face, standing up tall, and telling herself another white lie she walked into work.

But her inner self, her true sense of being, knew differently. What she struggled with this day wasn’t anything new. She had been leading a double life… for years.


Fast forward to present day and this nurse no longer works at the bedside. In fact, she was forced to leave her job. She had to take a year to gather her up, take a break, care for the one person she neglected for a long, long time: herself.

I’m sure there are nurses out there who are leading a double life, feeling the Jekyll and Hyde of it all. I’m sure there are nurses out there trying to keep the home life together, burning bridges as they go. I bet I’m not alone in how I felt for all of those years: torn inside and out.

On one hand I was this ‘great’ nurse. I excelled rapidly up the clinical ladder. I was a leader on the unit. I sat on multiple committees, led departmental projects, and travelled both nationally and internationally to give poster presentations.

When you ‘looked’ at me: I appeared healthy. Thin, smiling, dressed in a clean, professional way. I was polite and kind, always willing to help out and pitch in. A real team player.

But what they didn’t know was that my home life was a wreck. My social life was non-existent. I had no coping skills and cried all of the time. I felt angry, bitter, and resentful. I was miserable.


Nursing is tough. We care for our patients; we take pride in our work. We want to do it all. The professionalism in us can also lead to our downfall, if we’re not careful and protective of our boundaries.

Since that year off, I’ve made major changes in my life. I schedule my time in first. I drink water all day long; I eat healthy. I make it a deliberate point to get at least seven hours a sleep each night. I practice self-care and cope with change, stress, and emotions. I journal, meditate, practice Yoga, and share Reiki. My priorities have shifted and I no longer live a double life.

Yet I know the Jekyll and Hyde still exists since I still see it almost every day.

I work (part-time now) at the hospital that I left. I interact with nurses in different ways - sharing Reiki with them once a month, teaching Reiki I as a means to self-care, listening, talking, and offering support in a variety of ways. I don’t want any nurse to have to go through what I suffered. And so I’ve dedicated my work to a solution.

Among the many fun and energizing things I get to do with nurses, I also am honored to host a virtual conference that’s all about filling ourselves up. We give to so many people; it’s time we give a little to ourselves!

The RejuveNation Collaboration is my ‘baby’. I host this event each year and welcome hundreds of nurses to participate. The community is supportive, welcoming, and totally energizing. We share a variety of webinar workshops, each diverse in topic, but each the same in one truth: take care of ourselves first so we can best take care of our patients.

It’s a safe space to take a break, be yourself, and have some fun. I invite you to join us this fall. Our new fresh focus for this Collaboration is on the theme: ‘Get Out of Your Own Way!’ The nine unique presenters will share with you easy and quick strategies on de-cluttering, up-leveling, and reclaiming your life. I’m really looking forward to this event and I hope you will too. Go ahead and visit the registration page and see what you think. We’d love to have you!

Thank you so much for the work you do each day as a dedicated and passionate nurse. Now it’s time to feel comfortable and confident you can have it all. You can care as a nurse while caring for yourself first. I hold that belief for each and every one of us out there.

About Elizabeth Scala:

Elizabeth “Coach” Scala, MSN/MBA, RN, is beyond passionate about helping healthcare professionals, nurses in particular, to embody holistic living and embrace self-care. Through her business, Living Sublime Wellness, Elizabeth writes regularly on the topic of self-care, conducts wellness workshops, and offer both in-person and online seminars for busy nurses. Elizabeth is a Certified Health and Wellness Coach and a Reiki Master Teacher. Originally from Carmel, NY, she now lives in the Baltimore area with her husband and two dogs. Elizabeth is super excited about the RejuveNation Collaboration and can’t wait to meet and get to know each and every one of you. So, if you haven’t done so yet, go ahead and sign up today.  You won’t regret it!


  1. Cute Story! Definitely know some friends who could benefit from the virtual retreat too, so I'll make sure to spread the news.

    1. Thank you so much for enjoying the story. (Even if it's not that enjoyable to live through...) I am so happy you will spread the word of the virtual retreat. I look forward to it and hope your friends do too! Enjoy your day, Elizabeth

  2. I identfy with everything in that article. It described me at a T! Trying to work, accepting a supervisory position,care for husband and 6kids, and got back to school all at the same time I was drowning and finally burned out. I have been out of work for a year and attending school, but I find myself wondering if I got what it takes to go back to nursing.

  3. Elaine,
    Thank you for your honesty. I appreciate your feedback on the article. I find it fascinating that I tell this story, but that this very story is likely the story of many, many of us out there working as dedicated, professional, and caring nurses.

    I do hope that as you venture back into nursing- in whatever capacity that is- you listen to your heart (and not your head).

    So often we make decisions based on what's 'right', what 'works' financially, or what's 'good' for the family... make a nurse decision based on what you want and need. Your health, happiness, and even your work will thank you for it!

    I appreciate you sharing a comment. Enjoy your health today!

  4. I could not agree more. Nurses have to make hard decisions everyday. In life and at work. The hardest ones are for your own life. There is no protocol for that. Good luck and thanks for sharing.


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