Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Journey into Nursing

Once upon a time there was a young girl who wanted to be a doctor. She even wrote about it in first grade. Especially because then she could be the one giving the shots. All through high school she still thought about being a doctor, she even volunteered in a hospital, but never really envisioned her dream as a reality and life came in and swept her up and she ended up doing all kinds of other things that had nothing to do with medicine.

Many years later, as she was expecting her first child, her mother came to visit her for Christmas. When her mother arrived the Wannabe realized that something was very wrong. Her initial impression was that her mother may have had a stroke. Her mom would sit in the same position for hours, not realizing that time had passed. One day it took her 5 hours to get ready. She was also losing control of her bladder functions. So on the day after Christmas the Wannabe's mother in law drove them to the hospital.

Once in the ER there was a 2 hour wait to even be triaged (you wrote down what was wrong with you on a piece of paper and turned that in to the nurse, who then decided what order you would be triaged in). But once in triage Wannabe's mom was immediately given a bed in the ER. A CT scan was ordered and the dubious "shadow" showed up. Wannabe's mom was transferred upstairs (med/surg) where no one felt like they should tell Wannabe anything. She had to fight really hard to be sure that her mom was treated well. Eventually she was able to find the Doc (who rounded at 5:30am) who said "Your mom has cancer" and Wannabe was like "She has cancer and she had a stroke?" Oh, the shadows on Mom's brain are the cancer...

Then Wannabe's mom was transferred to the Oncology floor and the new Doc called (a 7 mos pregnant) Wannabe at home at 7:30pm and said "If we don't start Chemotherapy right now your mom will die within the week" So of course we started the chemo. And Mom wilted, it made her much sicker than she was. And one day, on the brink of a nervous breakdown, Wannabe asked a nice nurse if she could just explain what was going on with her mom.

The nurse was so loving and kind and she read Wannabe the chart in English. Basically, Wannabe's mom had Stage IV lung cancer, it was everywhere in her body: lungs, lymph, breast, skin, blood, and brain. There is no coming back from it says the nurse, she is terminal. Something the Doc had never thought to say. And the nurse helps to arrange hospice care.

Less than two months after diagnosis Wannabe's mom dies. One week to the day after that, Wannabe's son is born 3 weeks early via c-section. Again she encounters some amazing nurses. And one day she wakes up and realizes...It is the nurses who give the shots! The nurses are the ones who really give the care and make a difference in peoples lives. All this time she has wasted thinking that she would have to go through hoops to go to medical school with a husband and a child, but no, she could go to nursing school.

And that is the story of how I got my head out of my butt and realized what is truly important to me.