Relax, Release, Haiku


What do you do to let off a little steam?

My day job is that of a breast oncology nurse.  No, no, it’s not depressing, not usually anyway.  While there is a ton of heartache involved, I see far more people who go on to survive and live good lives, than people who do not.  I love my work despite the challenges, and oh boy, are there lots of them.

Nursing, I like to tell people, is often more psych counseling, bolstering and cheerleading than it is actual critical clinical care.  Believe me when I tell you, it’s easy to drown in the ocean of someone else’s internal turmoil and the toll can be your own sense of inner peace…or sanity.

We nurses do all sorts of things to blow off steam.  We vent to each other when no one else can hear, cry, take long and frequent vacations (not really), threaten to never come back (before we get back up and do just that), we crack stupid jokes, pray.

Writing is my second life (or maybe my first?) and it is a great release for me.  I am surprised though, that more of my colleagues don’t have an alternate life, something that shields them from the difficulties of the job.  I don’t know the statistics, but I do know that there is a high rate of depression among nurses.

Several months ago, my clinical team took on a new, young, and frightened patient, who was desperate to control the uncontrollable, and understandably frightened about the prospect of chemotherapy.  Her anxiety was infectious and even I started to feel overwhelmed.  Helping her consumed so much time that I could hardly get to my other patients.

On one particularly challenging day, I emailed the doctor whose clinic I support.  I gave report in the form of a haiku.  This made the both of us laugh.  It’s been seven months now, and we are still haiku-ing away and we’re still getting a kick out of it.

I recognize that neither of us are producing great literary masterpieces, but we are creating and we are having fun.  The next time you’re annoyed or tired or want to vent or want to rejoice why not scratch down a haiku (or any form of poetry) and get a laugh out of it?  From time to time, I’ll be posting haiku, just for fun over at my Facebook page.  Hope you’ll check it out sometime.

Check out these two articles: