Happy Wednesday! Today you are going to meet Carrie! I met her through work and we became fast friends. Eventually, we started working out together…and, it has been a huge blessing in my life and workouts. It’s great to really connect with someone that understands your work life, for us both night-shift and oncology nursing has challenges that we can talk about and debrief from. In addition to that, we run a similar pace…so, it’s a great partnership!
I’ll let her tell you more.
Ames: Introduce yourself + tell us about your job!
Carrie: Hey All! I’m Carrie, one of Amy’s co-workers/nurse buddies from UW Hospital on B6/6, the Hematology, Oncology, Bone Marrow Transplant and Palliative Care Unit. I graduated from Edgewood College two years ago, moved up to Marshfield, WI for a job on the Oncology floor for a year, but then ended up right back in Madison. I absolutely love my job (most of the time). I work the night shift, so 11pm-7am, which can be hard at times, but I make it work. On B6/6 we specialize in oncology and palliative care (aka cancer and comfort cares) which sometimes means the active dying process. Tasks at my job range from administering chemotherapy, to communicating with doctors, to just listening to patients/family members reflect on life experiences and death approaches.
A: I’m so happy that you began working on our floor! 🙂 What draws you to this patient population?
Carrie: The oncology patient population has been an interest of mine since college. I had a clinical on the pediatric oncology floor at the Children’s Hospital during college, and had an amazing experience there. One reason I enjoy working with this patient population is because most of our patient’s live a completely healthy lifestyle, but for some unfortunate reason they ended up with cancer. We see a wide range of age groups as well, from as young as 18 years old, to some in their late 90’s on the palliative care service. Needless to say, lifestyles are vastly different from one person to another and I really enjoy hearing each patient’s story. I also enjoy helping family members throughout this scary time of their loved ones life. I feel like I could go on and on about this question… 🙂
A: We’re both living the life of night-shifters. What are your biggest struggles with night-shift? Best tips for others navigating the nocturnal life?
Carrie: Oh god, night shift! A: haha, I can hear you saying this. As I’m sitting on the couch writing this, a section on the news was just “High Blood Sugars with People Working Night Shift.”
When I first started working night shift, sleeping in general was my biggest struggle and after a couple months of hardly sleeping at all…it turned into CONSTANTLY sleeping. No lie, almost everyday I was sleeping 12-18 hours at a time and no sleep felt like enough. I now have a little better sleep schedule minus the occasional 24-hour comas after my first night off after a long stretch of work. My best tips for navigating the nocturnal life, is SLEEP whenever your body tells you that you need it, eat healthy throughout the night even though your mind may be craving pizza or some sort of unhealthy food, and get outside whenever you can, especially when the sun is out. A: YES! Summer makes it a lot easier to soak up sun 🙂
A: Best tips for finding balance with an emotionally heavy job. Are you able to keep work at work?
Carrie: I think my number one tip would be just be using your support systems as much as possible. Yesterday at work, I was running around like crazy person for 2 hours, and it seemed like NOTHING was working out. I started getting visibly frustrated by some very minor issues! Amy and another one of my coworkers were sitting in our break room and even though I had a million things to do at work, I grabbed a seat by them. I took a few breaths and vented to them for 5-10 minutes and seriously felt like a new person after I could talk everything through. Sometimes coming home from work, I feel like I am on cloud nine, and other days I can tell my emotions are spinning out of control, whether it is anger, sadness, or happiness. I know we always talk about work staying at work, but I think if I was able to do this 100% of the time, I would not be compassionate enough about my job. I spend most of my drives home just reflecting on my night, and if I really can’t reflect by myself, I give a friend a call, so I can talk through it and just get it out of my brain. I will admit, I have woken up some mornings in a panic because I had a dream/nightmare about work.
A: I know that running helped you through some really tough times in high school. Can you speak to how competing helped you off the track?
Carrie: High school was definitely one of the hardest time periods in my life. I felt like my high school was exactly like the movie, Mean Girls. When I joined track in high school, I ended up leaving a pretty awful set of friends, and became closer with my friends and coaches on the track team. The track was my safe place, where no one judged me or talked about what I was wearing that day, my chubby cheeks, or the new zit on my face. Competing in track overall made me a stronger individual physically, but more important mentally. I think most people can agree that running is mentally HARD, but so are a lot of other things in life. For me, running allows me to completely check out of life for a half hour to an hour, probably because I’m just so out of breath, that I don’t have any energy to focus on other things in life. Competing in track helped me become a mentally stronger person in every aspect of my life.
A: After you finished competing for Edgewood College, was it hard to transition into post-college/non-structured workouts?
Carrie: At first, absolutely! Unfortunately, I really wasn’t able to do much working out right after I graduated due to a nagging hamstring issue that needed some major R&R and nearly a year to completely heal. When I first graduated, I majorly got into Hot Yoga (probably too much) A: I feel like most people go through the hot yoga obsession when they first start 🙂 and then started getting into other fitness classes around Madison, such as Cyc, Barre classes, and Madpower training at Dragonfly. Although I still worked out 5 days a week, nothing felt the same as my workouts in college. I constantly felt out of shape and compared myself to college. I have more of a balance between, running, strength training, yoga, and active recovery days and feel much healthier and stronger than I ever did in college when all I did was run miles after miles. I definitely still enjoy getting on the track once a week and running some fast circles, especially with a work-out buddy (Amy’s one of my favorites 🙂 ). But, I really believe that having very structured workouts throughout college, allows me to better create a workout routine now.
A: What does your typical workout week look like?
Carrie: I typical do 1 long run a week of 6-7 miles, 1 slow recovery run of 4 miles, 1 track workout, 1 hill workout, and 2 days of strength training, where I either go to the gym and lift, or go to a fitness class that incorporates weights. Incorporating weights is definitely the hardest part for me, but after talking to Amy about the importance of it, I make sure that it happens. Some weeks, I will go to a yoga class and skip the long or recovery run. A: Yes! Carrie just told me yesterday that she is up to 3 lifting days a week, go girlfriend! 🙂
A: Remember our first hard workout together?! I was struggling hardcore, and it was so good to have you there to push me. From your perspective, what are the benefits of having a go-to running/workout partner?
Carrie: Workout partners are the absolutely best, especially when you have one that works-out/runs at the about the same pace. Amy made the comment the last time we did a track workout together, that it felt like I was pulling her along on one of our 400’s on the track, and I totally feel the same way when I work out with a buddy. Having a workout partner keeps me on track better, pushes me, and moreover just keeps me going. A: YES! There was a hill workout where I felt like I could’ve done 20 and Carrie didn’t feel as well. There have been multiple workouts where Carrie is feeling great and I’m struggling. We help to push each other, but also support + balance each other.
A:What foods do you try to incorporate each day?
Carrie: I incorporate as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. I have a huge sweet tooth, so I eat more fresh fruits than I probably should sometimes but it fills that sugar craving I can’t seem to kick. I am also obsessed with sweet potatoes and eat some type of sweet potato at least 3 times a week. I also eat some sort of protein with each meal, mainly egg whites for breakfast, ground turkey, chicken, and occasionally fish. Additionally, I have an iron deficiency issue, so I try my best to include foods high in iron such as spinach and red meat a couple times a week. A: Yum to all.
I really love her interview, and I hope you picked up a tip or two. Just talking to her about how working out has changed her life for the better inspires me.
Hope you all have a great day, Ames