Ten years ago, I took off for Washington, DC, for a three month travel nurse assignment. All by myself. Was I scared? Yes, indeedy. But good scared, if you know what I mean. My family was not exactly in shambles, but a reasonable facsimile thereof, and I wanted to get away. Far away. My heart was still heavily bruised from a relationship that fell apart. And, I wanted a challenge professionally. I had heard horror stories about the hospital where I’d be working, but I didn’t really care. (They all turned out to be true, by the way, and then some!!!) I mainly wanted to be where I only had to take care of myself and my dog. And where at any given time, nobody would know exactly where I was, or who I was. The travel company would pay for my furnished apartment, utilities, and travel expenses. Sounded good to me. So I hit the road.
My apartment was just a couple of minutes away from National Airport, the Pentagon, all kinds of cool things. I got all moved in pretty painlessly. My best friend had ridden up with me, and we did lots of sight-seeing that first weekend. At one point, we were waiting for the Metro at the Pentagon (I hadn’t quite figured out the system at that point), and I thought I’d snap a picture. From somewhere up above, a deep voice boomed, “Don’t take that picture!!” I stopped, looked up expecting to see God, and heard the voice again. Then I noticed a security guard slowly driving past. Whew!! I was kinda freaked out, I must admit!! I showed them, though. Later, I took a photo of the Pentagon from the top of the Washington Monument!!
Yep, the hospital where I worked was pretty much a nightmare. I worked in the Pediatric ER, which was SEVERELY understaffed and VERY busy!! The people I worked with were nice and for the most part helpful, but it was just crazy all the time. For the first time in my life, I lost weight without trying, because I never had time to eat while I was at work, and when I wasn’t, lots of times I was too tired to eat. And if you know me, you know that’s TIRED!!! It was really weird, I was expecting all top of the line, cutting edge equipment and facilities. Boy, was I wrong. Some of their stuff had been around since the days of Ben Franklin!! Thanks to a fellow travel nurse, I managed to figure out which section of the ER was the best to work in, and was quick to volunteer for it. Helped that most of the other nurses didn’t like working in that area, but for me it was great. The doctors only came over when necessary, and I was pretty much able to do my work without much interference. But, damn, that place was busy!!
On days off that I was’t exhausted, I’d go exploring. DC was great!! I loved walking around the National Mall, and going to all the museums. I had never been so alone in my life, but I really kinda liked it. It was fun not having to answer to anyone, to just go with the flow. My apartment was small and cozy, my nearly blind dog adjusted easily, and I had everything I could ever need just a stone’s throw away. Several friends came to visit, and it was fun checking out all the coolness of DC with them. Before it was all over, I even met a guy I really liked!! If I had liked the job, all would have been perfect!!!
Hard to believe that was TEN years ago. Man, it seems like yesterday in so many ways. I’ll always be glad I did it, because if I hadn’t, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life. In fact, I enjoyed DC so much that I came back the next year. Well, kind of. I lived and worked in Virginia, out in the burbs of DC. That hospital was like a vacation. I even extended my contract and stayed three extra months. If the cost of living weren’t so outrageous, I’d have stayed there permanently, that’s how much I liked working at that hospital. Fun, nice people, EASY workload, low aciuty patients for the most part. What more could you want from a Pediatric ER job???
But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. I came back home and to my old job. Not a bad gig, and great people. But I will always treasure my DC adventures…