Daily Archives: 14/08/2015

The makings of a nurse: part 1

A little introduction…

One of the nifty things about losing, then recovering snippets of a blog, is that I can look back on parts of my life with the voice-of-God narration.  ‘They’ say hindsight is 20/20 and I can definitely look back on this time with insight. And as I sit around patiently and wait for the school and the board of nursing to get their proverbial ducks in a row so that I can become an actual registered nurse instead of just a nursing school graduate, I thought now would be a good time to look back at how I got here.

I have always struggled with career direction.  I struggled with where to go for college (that decision was actually a non decision), what to major in (another non decision), what to do after college, and really, just about all adult life decisions.  I have a tremendous fear of commitment that manifests itself in me not being able to make a firm decision about much of anything.

I knew that when I took my career break back in 2010-2011, I wanted to change careers when I came back. But to what?  Ah…that is the question

So how’d I end up in nursing school anyway? Because let me tell you, becoming a RN was the last thing I had planned to do with my life.

November 2012– I was preparing for my one and only medical school interview.  I had had an interview for PA school in October, and found out I was wait listed.  [I violated every ‘rule’ about applying for graduate school possible including casting a wide net and knowing really why you want to go to this particular school.  I don’t want to move so I applied to PA school, medical school, an accelerated BSN school that also has NP program, and for good measure a Speech-Language Pathologist school.  I was accepted to 2 programs and wait listed to one and rejected to one.  I took the GRE and MCAT within the same week.  Yeah, that sucked].

The one question I was really having difficulty with was ‘Why do you want to be a physician?’ [or PA or SLP or NP for that matter] because my truthful answer probably isn’t the best answer.  The truthful answer is…’I love taking care of patients.  I love working in health care.  I don’t love my current job. I want to do something else…anything else…where I can use my brain cells so they don’t atrophy from non-use.’

I came up with something better for the actual interview and on December 5, 2012 I received my acceptance letter to medical school.  A week later, I received an acceptance to the AccelBSN program and at the end of February, I was notified that I was accepted off the wait-list for PA school.  And all the schools had the same deadline of Friday, March 15, 2013 [Beware of the Ides of March and all].  I had hoped to get into ONE school and be on my merry way.  This decision caused major stress in my world which I dealt with by working ALL. THE. TIME. [Really. 18 12-hour shifts in a row…one day off, then 17 more]  Around the time I was working every day, I caught fifths disease [most likely from a patient].  While fifths disease itself isn’t all that serious, for me, it led to some pretty severe complications.

I put in a deposit at the medical college and the PA school.  That extended my time to make a decision as it was refundable until May 15 and PA school started May 27.

On May 11, 2013, while at work dealing with a patient that required my hands to be physically on her for 3+ hours and after the ambulance picked her up, I very nearly passed out.  I’m not squeamish so I knew it wasn’t due to I was up to my elbows in my patient’s blood.

Long story made short, I had developed a blood disorder as a complication to the fifths disease.  It needed serious and immediate treatment.  I called up the PA school and explained my circumstances.  They gave me my deposit back, but in exchange I had to give up my space.  I also called up medical school to explain the circumstances and was granted a one year deferment.  During my medical treatment I had a lot of time to think.  I decided that I didn’t want to do critical care anymore.  Or at least not now.  While I love medicine, I really couldn’t see spending the next ten years studying medicine and doing a residency. [I really, really wanted to do Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, a 3+3 residency, but life is short and time is precious and all].

And so that is how I ended up in nursing school.  They had a seat.  I accepted. My health cooperated. Classes start in May.

The difference time makes

I had always heard that I would have a better time in my  30s than my 20s. I was skeptical; how could older be better?  It’s fitting that a decade after my first adventure, I’ve started evaluating my past choices and wondering what my 20-something year old self would think of me now:

Love Prior to leaving for Mexico I agreed to marry my [then] boyfriend.  He didn’t want me to go, and I agreed more as a way to not hurt his feelings than because I really wanted to marry him.  I knew as soon as he tried to talk me out of going that he was not the one for me.  I wanted [want] to be with someone who will support my decisions not try to change them.  I wanted [want] to be with someone who has his own dreams but is not afraid to support mine as well. Prior to leaving for South America, I did everything possible to salvage my most significant relationship since, but it didn’t work either. BUT HE NEVER TRIED TO STOP ME FROM  GOING.  I wanted him to go with me, and thought about him constantly.   Sometimes I wonder if it would have worked out had I not gone to South America.

I climbed to the top of the pyramid back in 2000, but I’ve heard these days, that isn’t allowed.

Children I have always claimed to not want to have children of my own.  Ten years ago, I was convinced that I never would have considered having children.  Now I still don’t think it will happen, but I do occasionally have thoughts about some nebulous future children. Also these day I have little people in my life that love their “Auntie Chelle”.

Passion I have always had a passion for photography. My first camera was a 110 model that I received in 2nd grade.  My early trips to England and Mexico sparked my passion for traveling. I have recently [rediscovered] a passion for medicine.  I hope to be able to combine the three [travel, photography, and medicine]  of them at some point in the future.

Ambition I moved to Mexico to study Mayan art and architecture. I had dreams of returning to the US to start graduate school in International Business and making it big. Ten years later my younger self would be hard pressed to recognize me now.  Not only did I eschew the business world for the medical one, I also went back to school to get a degree in Microbiology, and now I’m working towards becoming a nurse practitioner.  My younger self avoided science like the plague; my older one is attracted to it like nothing else.

Fear I had no fear when I was younger…  jumped right into things.  I’m not sure if I was brave or just naive. Now I imagine all the ways I could injure myself… or someone could injure me.  In Mexico, I jumped 40 feet into a cenote. I went swimming with sharks.  I stared down a bull [OK, he was a baby bull, but he still could have hurt me].  I’m trying to regain some of that, letting go of my fears and embracing the unknown. Traveling to places I didn’t plan. Sometimes it worked out and sometimes it didn’t.  I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t have a guidebook as the Internet existed but certainly didn’t have the proliferation of information that it does now about travel.  I  just jumped on buses and found accommodation when I arrived. I didn’t have anxiety about how to get there, or where I would stay.

It wasn’t all great. I remember once going to one hotel on the Mexican/Guatemalan and the guy at reception told me I didn’t want a room even though I insisted on looking at one. That’s because I didn’t notice the locks– everywhere.  It should have been a clue that it wasn’t the safest place around, but it was late, I was tired, and the border was closed.  I got in the ‘room’, dropped my stuff, and headed for the showers.  The bathroom had a toilet seat barely hanging on and a  pipe stuck out of the wall.  I could pee and shower at the same time.  After the shower, I heard my first gunshot.  I locked the door, set an alarm, and prayed for a few hours sleep.  As soon as the lights went out, the bugs came out.  Gunshots I could deal with–cucaraches as big as my shoes I could not.  I packed up determined to get the hell out of there–even if it was 1 am.  The hotel compound was locked up.  I banged on the metal doors until someone came to let me out.  He said it wasn’t safe.  I said I didn’t care.  He let me out, and I walked the five kilometers in the border town where the Zapatistas were active.  Not the smartest things I have ever done.  I wouldn’t conceived of doing it now, but at 20 I had no fear.

 

But those are the badges of traveling and I earned many of them. I loved meeting other people and hung out with the few younger people who lived in Campeche.  There wasn’t many Americans so I had to hang out with the locals.  I didn’t know the value of that now, but being forced to speak Spanish, watch the novelas, eat the ‘traditional’ food, and assimilate into daily Mexican life was a godsend.   In Peru, I lived with a host family while working at the clinic. Their kindness was overwhelming and they had a dog and a cat which was a godsend when I was homesick for Lily and Lucy . They took care of me when I had malaria.  I don’t know if I would have died or not, but by having someone around, I did get the treatment I needed.

The changes in me have been gradual but profound; I’m not the same person but much better and much of it due to traveling.  I don’t know who I’d be if I hadn’t experienced life this way.