September 10, 2011
Why I became a nurse
I've been struggling with my desire to share this part of myself versus the difficulty in writing this and the memories it stirs. Ultimately, I think I will share, but I believe I will leave out a few details as it's just a little too painful to talk about.
Growing up, I was my mother's best friend. She had this innocent, child-like soul. Emotionally, I was often more mature and responsible. Not that that was a bad thing. It just was.
She also had many ailments that plagued her. Often “sick”. Now that I know the things that I know, I wonder how much of it was psychiatric in nature. When I was a preteen, my mother suffered an injury that led to her paralysis from the waist down. One that I also now believe was psychiatric in nature. I was her caregiver for many years.
In my late teens, she suffered another injury. A 22 gauge shotgun discharged, with the barrel resting against her chest. Her injuries were extensive. She “died” several times in the first couple of weeks. She spent months in an intensive care unit. I was young, oh so young. I was terrified. I was grieving. I was confused. I was angry. I was a mixed bag of so many emotions I couldn’t even begin to recognize them all.
The nurses in the ICU were absolutely wonderful. Not only did they care for my mother, they cared for me. They were a source of emotional support. They were patient and understanding. I was so thankful for the care they provided us. I was so thankful that there were these wonderful kind souls who were willing to sign on to do all of the undesirable tasks that nursing entails. They were my mother’s lifeline. They were my lifeline.
After many months, my Mother WALKED out of that hospital. It was a miracle in of itself that she survived. How was it even possible that a woman who was paralyzed for 7 years not only survive such horrendous injuries, but regain feeling in her lower extremities and relearn to walk? I never believed in miracles until that day.
Fast forward 5 years. I had made a bit of a mess of my life, but I had finally gotten my shit together. I had some thoughts over the years about what I wanted to do, but finally got to a point in my life where I was able to take action. I enrolled in school to become a nurse. I wanted to do for others what those wonderful nurses did for my mother and me. I wanted to help, I wanted to be a resource for families and patients, I wanted to help people in their time of need.
I became an LPN first. My mother was proud of me, she encouraged me the entire way. She was my motivation. When I started classes part time for my associates degree, she was again proud and my source of motivation. She lived long enough for me to achieve the title “RN”.
That year, her health rapidly declined. Her problems were directly related to complications of her injuries from the gunshot accident. She passed away prior to my making the leap from pediatric homecare to critical care. She was proud of me throughout nursing school, she was proud of me when I worked at the nursing home, she was proud of me when I worked in homecare. I miss her so much it hurts, but I know she is up there smiling down on me, and I know she is proud of me now.