Monday, November 26, 2007

Why I'm becoming a nurse

I'm up ridiculously early to write a paper for my clinicals today. We had to write about our 'journey' in becoming a nurse....so I figured I would blog it:





Journey Paper

How does one write a paper about the emotional path in a decision to become a nurse and describing experiences relating to that decision thus far? It’s been such a roller-coaster, kaleidoscope, mind blowing, confusing, focused, humbling and confidence growing experience, almost impossible to put into words, even for me, who can talk and talk and talk. As with most stories, good or bad, I’ll start at the beginning.
My husband lost his job during the whole dot-commer crash. My perfect housewife, stay at home mom, a position I loved, also was jeopardized by what happened to my husband’s job. It was at that moment I realized I needed some kind of career to rely on. I had no skills, my bachelor’s was in English, with a History minor, I was qualified to make great small talk at company meetings or flip burgers at McDonalds, neither of which was going to help our family in a financial crunch. I needed to get something lucrative that still fit into my role of being a mommy and wife, the two positions that are most important to me. I also wanted to be a good example for my children. This is what went into making my decision to even think about moving out of my cushy life into something else I don’t want to say “move forward” here, implying that being a mother and housewife is not fulfilling or enough, I just wanted another dimension to my life. The two career paths I thought of were nursing and teaching. Nursing, frankly, was the more terrifying of the two (see bachelor choice above). Having had good nurses who were inspirational and bad nurses who made me realize, ‘wow, if she can do it, I can” and having seen some of the women in my life give birth, other people in my life dying or being sick, I realized how wonderful it would be to be a part of someone’s life in a caretaker role, however briefly, in some of the most intense, precious, scary moments of his or her life. I called around, looked at programs and started taking prerequisite courses at Arapahoe Community College. I took some courses here and there starting about five and half years ago and three and a half years ago I got on the wait list. Toward the end of the wait list I waffled and even started investigating a master’s program in teaching and then, I got the letter. It was kind of a “God” moment. Here I was waffling between two decisions that would fit my criteria, I figured the letter was a prayer answered. I had to finish my pre-requisites in two semesters, meaning I took A&P II and Pathophysiology in the summer. If I could make it through those classes, I knew I could make it through nursing school. I’m still experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress from that summer.
Orientation was fantastic. I know we were supposed to be terrified, but I found it exciting and exhilarating. I was there; I was actually starting nursing school. I was bubbling up with emotions and some fears, but fears of the unknown, fears of not being good enough, but nothing at orientation indicated I was in the wrong place. The main lesson from that day is the nursing program owned us for the next two years. It spurred me to have a long talk with the husband about how our lives were going to change, how he needed to take a more active role in the daily lives of our children. My husband is a fantastic guy, he didn’t even blink an eye; we were going to make this happen together, as a team.
The schoolwork has been challenging. At times, I have questioned my intellectual ability to do this work. Here is where I get terrified. What if I kill someone, or make someone worse? It’s a daunting thought, especially because I’m doing this to help make people well, or at least make their journey less painful. I’m not sure how to overcome this hurdle. Most likely, I just need more practice and more learning. In small doses it can be very motivating to keep on top of things, but for now, it’s something I need to address. I have found that I’m a wee bit more competitive than I assumed. Competing in this program is no easy matter, there are some very talented, smart people in these classes and to even be in their midst and considered an equal of some of these people is a blessing. I’m learning to be okay with not being the best at all things and just knowing I studied and did well enough.
The clincals have been a great experience. I’m learning how the hospital functions, caring for actual patients and getting over the hurdle of trying a procedure for the first time on a real person and realizing it’s not as terrifying and impossible as it sounds. This is another hurdle I need to pass in my own personality. I get so scared of trying something new; it can paralyze me from continuing on. I’m learning to just do it, because once I do, it makes me realize that I can. I remember thinking that giving an IM injection seems easy enough, but when I saw the skin and realized I was about to poke it with a needle, I froze. With some prompting from my fellow classmates I stuck the needle in, took it out, capped it and was done…then I breathed. I’m learning that I can talk to so many different types of people. The sick just want to be heard and have some control over their lives. On the flip side, there are times when they have no control or very little control and that can be terrifying to them. I’m learning how to talk to patients, not only to put them at ease but to also ‘encourage’ them to do things that are in their best interest but not something they may like (for instance an enema). I’m also learning, I can’t share some of the details of my day over the dinner table (again, for instance, the enema). I’m learning to be comfortable with body parts, smells, and bodily fluids. I’m still not sure about puss, but so far have been able to deal with everything else.
There has been nothing yet that has made me think I’ve made the wrong decision. This past Thanksgiving my husband’s cousin, a nurse in the ICU and I swapped stories, people would wander over and quickly leave during more of the graphic stories, we barely noticed. She gave me advice, she listened, and she told me about her job and her school experiences. I felt part of the ‘club’. My children rarely complain about day care, they ask about what I’ve learned; they’re curious and supportive (in an eight and five year old way). My husband is proud of me and supportive and has enjoyed taking on a more active role in parenting (still doesn’t cook or clean a lot, but there’s a learning curve there too). All in all, my journey so far has been great. I’m learning so much about myself, my family, my husband as well as nursing. I am so blessed to have finally found a career choice that is suited to me personally as well as to my role in my family.


My family, why I’m doing this.

9 comments:

Scott said...

Very good post. Does your husband work part time now?

Dodi said...

You? Will be a fabulous nurse!!!!!

Gina Grace said...

I love it!

new diva on the blog said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It is a brave thing you are doing!

tz said...

ah, thanks guys...scott, jason was only out of a job for 4 months, three of which he found contracting jobs here and there, we were actually down to our last 100 dollars when his first paycheck came around...he works full time...actually about 60+ hours a week. so when he helps around the house or with the kids, it is dedication on his part...i'm so very impressed that he can do so much.

Scott said...

Hi TZ. Do you meme? If you do, I tagged you for a 7 things post.

Sitting in Silence said...

Great post TZ...You are one fab nurse.....

Colleen Dobson said...

And she still has time for a little creative writing on the side! You're gonna be a great nurse!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this! Neat to read about the fears that you moved through!

-Anne