Wednesday, July 3, 2013


The minute you step foot into your first class of nursing school, youre submerged into the wonderful world of care plans.

I still have nightmares about them.

The basis of a care plan is a nursing diagnosis. This diagnosis can apply to a patient, their loved ones, or a community and helps guide care and interventions for the patient.

One of these nursing diagnoses is Caregiver Role Strain, also called Caregiver Distress or Caregiver Burden.

This diagnosis applies when someone is overwhelmed about providing day-to-day care for a loved one. Caregivers usually report feeling exhausted, sad, and anxious. In my experience, it takes a lot of time for a caregiver to own those feelings because, by and large, these feelings make a caregiver feel selfish. Most parents who are in this role brush it off as part of being a parent but it's above and beyond that its putting them in the role of medical professional in the blink of an eye. These caregivers have other demands and trying to balance them with the needs of a loved one can make the caregiver feel as though he or she is being pulled in too many directions.

Basically, the stress of providing care outweighs the tools the caregiver uses to cope with the situation.

This can lead to feeling frustrated, angry, irritable, nervous, anxious, depressed, and unsatisfied with the care you provide and the relationship you have with your loved one.

As a nurse, when I see this I know the recommendations to make such as encouraging involvement of others who can assist and utilization of community resources that could ease the burden. The recommendation thats most important and caregivers have the hardest time with is taking time for themselves.

But what happens when the strained caregiver is the nurse?

What happens when the nurse gives so much to her patients that she doesnt have anything left for herself?

What happens when this nurse is diabetic and not properly caring for herself is not a feasible option?

What happens when the daily self-care thats necessary just to keep her alive has become just too much because the stress of caring for patients every day leaves her with nothing left to invest in taking care of herself?

As someone with diabetes, I know burn out well. I know how completely depleting of mind, body, and spirit this disease can be. As a nurse, I know how draining the job can be. Right now, I have two jobs on top of school and both worlds are colliding head first into my diabetes life and its leaving me just blindly going through the motions. Eating on the run without giving much consideration to what Im consuming, testing my blood sugar solely before my 2 doses of lizard spit, and treating based upon how I feel rather than concrete numbers.

And Im frustrated. Im frustrated because Im failing the most important patient that I will ever be responsible to care for.

Im failing myself.

Absolutely honored to have this post nominated and selected as Best T1.5 post for the month of July. You can see all of the other categories here


  1. I know it's hard, and it sounds like everything you're going through is the perfect recipe for burnout. But you're worth the investment... don't let anyone make you think that you're not. Hang in there.

  2. Powerful post, Ash. It must be super hard to have so many things pulling for your attention and time, and feeling so dedicated to all of them.

    Hang in there. You can do this.

  3. Ashley you are beautiful, smart and seriously strong. I must admit I was reading this post from a Dmom perspective and nodding all along then the twist (twist for me as I fell into the dmom role) when you said it was you. I can imagine how much you invest in others - your heart is so huge and you love so completely Im certain you give others all you have. But I want to echo Stephen "youre worth the investment..don't let anyone make you think that you're not"
    As hard as it is I think you need to develop a "me first" attitude (I think it goes against everything you are - which will make it so much harder)
    you can't care for your patients or your loved ones if you don't care for yourself first.
    You are wonderful and thank you so much for sharing this and being so open with your feelings.

  4. You're on Best of the 'Betes Blogs today!