As we all know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but why should it only be in October? We are supposed to support victims of cancer every single day. Highlight their struggles every single day.
I myself have seen firsthand what cancer does to someone, their family, and their lives. And I have the world's respect for someone who can come through cancer and still believe, live, and love.
I have known half a dozen women, close friends of mine, and my family who have all faced either breast cancer, brain cancer, or skin cancer.
And these remarkable women taught me that life is a blessing.
They are the ones that would give you hope on a bad day, pray for you just because they could, and hug and smile at you, because to them you matter. I learned through their lives and experiences not to regret what you do, how you do it, or whom you do it with.
I watched them as they got the news, how they accepted it all, how they started to transition into a new chapter in their lives. But mostly, I watched how they were the ones who comforted friends and family struggling to deal with the dreaded news.
They say that you undergo five stages of grief when hearing or dealing with trauma, death, or facing anything emotionally altering in life.
People with cancer seem to breeze through these stages, each one blending into the next, but for most ACCEPTANCE is the first step. They aren't defeated by this acceptance, but once they have accepted the news, they kick into high gear in managing their time and lives, dealing with what's most important and not sweating the small stuff. Living fully in every single minute they are given.
What a blessing that must be, to be so attuned with life, with time, and with God.
I am privileged to walk with these incredible women and still been able to walk life with them. I learn from them. I am privileged to have been able to be a nurse in oncology, to have been blessed to meet and partake in so many wonderful stories.
Cancer used to be deemed a "death sentence," but not anymore. The almost daily remarkable advances in the medical field are so amazing, and a genius child is born every single day. If we trust and if we believe, then maybe one day a cure might be found—who knows what the future holds?
I dedicate every single day I work to remarkable women like my Aunty Mina, my friend Adri, and my family Marhiette and the life they live, the people they touch, and the gift that God gave them to still be here with me and those who love and adore them.
Buddy and I walk the Woman's Cancer Walk every single year in remembrance of those women who fought the good fight but lost, those remarkable women who fought and won, and for every other woman who has the strength to support each other.
May this Breast Cancer Awareness Month be even brighter than those before it.
So as we all know August is International Women's Month.
And this got me thinking about what it truly means to be a woman. What power do I actually have as a woman?
I was blessed to be raised by a very strong and independent mother with a fierce strength and an unwavering love for her family and her children. She taught me to be strong, independent, smart, loyal and true to myself.
She taught me that I was beautiful and perfect in my own right and that I did not need a man to make me feel whole, that I could stand on my own and care for myself and my dreams. She taught me to think for myself, and my father taught me that being smart and educated meant that I would be a force to be reckoned with in my own right.
My parents both taught me that, when I fell in love and gave my heart to someone, we would become a team, growing in love and friendship, lifting one another up to become the best versions of ourselves. Never breaking one another down and always giving and receiving in love, patience and strength. I would be his equal, his best friend and his greatest love... not his slave or footstool, because I have my own will and can think for myself, and he would respect that in me, as I would in him. Supporting him in his dreams and ambitions, guiding gently and loving completely, caring deeply as a wife should according to the bible... not because I have to but because I want to.
Because a woman who is loved will bloom, glow and soar higher and higher.
I was blessed to be raised this way, but most women aren't that lucky. In some countries, women have absolutely no voice, no rights and no independence or true love. They are bound to men by tradition, laws, responsibility and constrictions. These women are raised to believe that they are owned, they are nothing alone, they have no strength and voice. That they cannot exist without a man to rule them. Somewhat medieval, if I have to say so.
We live in a time where you would think women's rights are there to protect, to speak for those who cannot, to save the lost and heal the broken... but it does not always work out that way. We still have such a long way to go to ensure that all women are treated everywhere with equal rights, opportunities and privileges.
I believe that if a man is raised well by a strong, happy, loved and nurturing mother, who is treated with respect, dignity and grace by her husband, he will grow up with a sense that a woman is someone who must be treasured and loved, that she is his match in every sense, not his possession. That he must lift her up, protect and guard her heart and life as she would for him. And in the same sense a girl should see her mother love and adore her father. Treat him with love and kindness, respect and loyalty. Aiding him in his dreams and passions.
This would, I believe, ensure that fewer women would enter into abusive and toxic relationships; they would choose a man based on his principles and not his looks, his integrity and not his money, his faith and not his possessions.
I honestly believe we have come such a long way in protecting and uplifting women and how they are treated, but we are not done yet. Together we can make future leaders with strength and grace, willfulness and independence, nurturing and beautiful women who will be mothers, lovers, healers and partners to strong, determined, faithful and powerful men of God.
I am proud to be a strong, independent, loving and kind, beautiful woman.
As the morning sun comes up over Table Mountain and I climb the final steps up Lion's Heads hiking trail, I get a sense of just how small I actually am, looking around at all the majesty of God's artwork. How blessed am I not to be able to experience this, see and feel it, touch and taste it. How often do we forget to be thankful? Even for the little things we receive on a daily basis?
I had the opportunity to work in the oncology ward and it rocked me to my core. I have so much respect for every single person that works there, starting from the cleaner that keeps the ward so clean and happy for the patients, to the cheerful tea lady and catering staff that make sure the patients are getting healthy and tasty food, to the receptionist that always welcomes the family and friends with so much love and kindness, the Matron that organizes every day for the ward and makes sure that not only are the patients cared for and loved but also her personnel.
I realized in oncology that every day counts here, there are no guarantees of tomorrow and no regrets about the past.
Here you live today as best you can, you learn something new, you touch someone, you look into their eyes when speaking and you engage with them, and actually listen to them, you share in their journey.
That is such a blessing.
I was blown away by the love and grace the staff treated the patients, they did not rush (although they had a right to, with everything that had to be done, on a daily basis), they almost looked angelic in their chores, and I fell in love with nursing all over again.
This is why I am a nurse, this is why I love so hard, I feel so much, and give of myself to every single person I meet, because I too know how quickly your whole world can change in the blink of an eye.
That you have to treasure every single day you have to be with those you love and care for. Make memories that last, that will help you through days that might seem or feel cold and hopeless.
You have to always be kind and know that today is where you have to be wholly involved, because tomorrow might not be there, and today is a present to be opened and enjoyed fully.
My patients in oncology taught me this:" You need only have courage and believe that every day you open your eyes and you can feel, love and breath, is a blessing granted to you by God, and you don't have to do anything to deserve it, you must just simply LIVE!!"
May has nurse's week...so I decided to speak to some nurses about what nursing means to them. I spoke to nurses who are close to retirement and too young, hopeful bright eyed and bushy tailed nurses, fresh out of University. And boy there was a huge difference in opinions. Strange how the circumstances of your work, where you work, how you're treated and have been treated and things you have experienced changes your opinion and the experience you have in nursing.
Some of this already starts in Nursing School. This is where you get your first taste of what being a nurse truly means. You are taught the core principles and values in the nursing world, intertwine that with your own beliefs and somewhere in between you have to find the happy medium to make you the best nurse that you can be.
You gulp up all the information, fight through everything you have to get done in record time, and then you graduate *** Laude...you walk out of nursing school with shoulders broad and proud, head held high, that you will conquer and defeat the evil in the world, that you will be a modern day Florence Nightingale... (pause, gulp, que dramatic music) And then you walk smack into the hands of the Ward Matron at the hospital, and she brings you straight back down to earth. And not in a good way, you crash land like a big Boeing 747. And all your beautiful ideals and dreams go up in smoke.
Be it a good or bad experience, your first true nursing experience always stays with you, it shapes who you become as a nurse.
Then you find your feet in nursing and you establish who and what you are, what your good at and what not. You feel like a nursing Einstein because you feel like you know all there is to know. You love going to work, love your patients and colleagues. And as the years go along, you see and experience things that change you. Your vision of the world goes from rosy glasses to hardcore reality glasses...and contrary to believe this is where everyone changes to either a true nurse, or this-is-just-a-job nurse, or so I am told.
Every one experiences things differently I have learnt, but the way you were raised, your principles and values govern what you are. Rules in nursing as in life is there to keep us on the right path, to keep us out of trouble and to guide-yes you read this right- to guide us, not to dictate or order, to guide us.
Nursing for me started at a young age, where I would see the sisters in their pristine White uniforms and Vails. Gliding along and always having this bright smile and cheery attitude. Never once did I pick up that they did not have time for my million questions, that they had a ton of work to be done, that someone has just passed away and they were saddened by it, or that they had had a horrible day of difficult patients and doctors etc. They always had this aura of serene peace and calm around them. And I told myself then...I want to be that when I grow up.
And after years of studying I am a nurse and I love my job. I have made my dream a reality.
Nursing for me is love with its work boots on. It isn't about me, but my patients, no matter how they are or treat me. Bottom line for me is, that they are in an environment that is scary, they are out of their comfort zone and they are ill. So I treat them with love and kindness, patience and respect...because they could be my mom and dad or my sisters. I was raised that everyone has their own spirit, and I should respect that.
I should not judge someone until I have successfully walked a mile in their shoes for a day. I should be kind and fair, and treat others as I would want to be treated always. If I am upset or hurt, then I deal with it with that person and that person alone, and once it is said and done...it is done. We move on, start over. Never take your troubles to work, everyone will see it, but not everyone will help you, as we are all fighting silent battle in some way or another.
Nursing to me is brilliance in technicolor. It is filled with all sorts of people and experiences. I get to see a baby open their eyes for the first time. I get to close a patience eyes that leave this world for al lifetime with our Heavenly Father. I get to give hope and attention to someone who has lost theirs. I get to listen to life stories...and experience that with them.
Yes and I get to be picked on, bled on, bitten, shouted at, scolded, reprimanded, and of course internal wars at work with colleges...but that is minor to the fact that I get to go home every night and know that today, even for just a moment...
I touched and changed someone's life and to them it meant something, just as they did to me when I was a young bright eyed girls dreaming of one day becoming a nurse in white.
As I sit and stare out the window of our tearoom, looking out at Table Mountain ,I cannot help and feel a sense of wonder and how I blessed I am to live in such a beautiful country.
I get a sense of pride. I think of how blessed I am for all I have and I smile and with that my mind changes course to all those that in this festive season don't have the same sense of pride that I feel.
I wonder how many of us actually think about those less fortunate...those who won't have a warm meal ,a safe place to sleep.
Are we so reluctant to truly help, or do we live only for ourselves not wanting to get involved in someone else's life story or drama. Have we become so numb?
You know what I mean...those people begging at street corners, or going through your rubbish bags outside...that leave most people with a bad taste in their mouths because they just waist your precious time, they invade your personal space. How can you feel that way?
Are they not also Gods' children, you don't know their story so do not judge or look down at them. Rather reach out a hand and help them up. Take 5 minutes to bless someone with a warm meal or blanket.
The bible teaches us that God said, "I asked you for something to eat and you refused me, I asked you for something to drink and you refused me," but we so sweetly forget that God never forsakes us.
This is the season of love, goodwill and blessings. It is our Heavenly Fathers birthday. So I challenge those who dare to change the meaning of Christmas in their lives. Change it to giving to those in need, rather than giving to those that are not in need but rather in wanting!
I trust that this season will be blessed and safe for all.
So, after weeks of feeling uncertain, crying, screaming in fear and anger, feeling lost and in a very dark place, I had no other choice than to stop my studies. I never realized I was so lost and in danger of total collapse until it finally happened to me. After a year of emotional ups and downs, and not dealing with it all like I should have, it broke me.
So, now I had to stop my studies, and I was told by my doctor to take some medication to help me relax and deal with the loss I had experienced and to go and see someone to face everything. I was so upset and apprehensive, because I thought I was a nurse I know how to deal with loss and grieve, keep busy and focus on something else... boy was I an Idiot.
With loss the whole game changes for us, it steals from us time and joy...and when we try and cope on our own, we die a little bit every day inside, without knowing it. When we finally look up from our dark little corner of life we realize we are all alone, not because our loved ones don't want to be around us, but because we isolated ourselves so much we didn't give them a choice.
But. . .
Now I am starting to feel like a human being again, slowly breathing a little bit better, and starting over in a new place, away from the memories of the past. And every day, living more and more. Now when I think about him I see his beautiful smile, his ginger hair and sexy dimples, his beautiful blue eyes. I hear his laugh again, everyday a little bit clearer...I feel his hand touching mine. And I feel reassured that he is still with me and watching over me.
And the most incredible thing happened to me...I found out just how strong I really am, and that realization brought about such a change in me. I believe more, I trust again, I laugh again until I cry from joy and not hurt. I dance around my room in my undies to my favorite songs and sing at the top of my lungs...why....because I am alive and I am fearfully and wonderfully made by my Heavenly Father.
So, now I look life square in the eye and smile because I know where my strength comes from and that an amazing future is just around the corner...and that Cape Town, my new home is waiting for me...
So I say BOOOOOOOYAAAAAAAI MADE IT!!!
A new strong and sexy woman
The opposite of the hard shell of armor you keep around yourself is the love and protection and companionship of your fellow students who need friends as much as you do.
Need to make some friends in nursing school? Admit defeat.
I was so closed off in the beginning of my nursing school training, especially about inner struggles on time management, procrastination, and life intervening in my OCD-laid plans. The stress of nursing school has worn me down though. And I realized that I have to change my way or I will burn out.
I'm way more OK now with being less than perfect and I would advise everyone to give it a try sometimes. You don't always have to be the best at what it is you do.
This semester especially I have found myself admitting what felt like defeat that proved to be something else. I had isolated myself so much that I had stopped to see the fun that I could have with fellow student, and how we could be helping each other out, rather than avoiding each other.
You are not a bad student. The stress is real for everyone, so-called "good" students and otherwise. Forget labels. There is actually someone feeling what you are feeling at this halfway point in the semester, who might even be going through much more than you are.
Making friends in nursing takes vulnerability. A moment of truth where you admit that you cannot do everything yourself, and you need help. You cannot nurse patients but life like a recluse. We as nurses tend to want to just shut ourselves up in a quiet room after a hectic day just to have 10 seconds of peace and quiet, we don't want to hear people complain, etc. But the fact is we are human and we are social creatures, so we have to find the golden midway between being the nurse and the friend, and that not every conversation in normal people lingo revolves around medicine...nudge nudge wink wink... yeah, you know what I mean.
Be vulnerable. Find friends. Sigh out loud and you may never know what comes of it. And who knows you might learn something new about someone else.
It seems now I am a student nurse, people presume I am the font of all knowledge for any medical condition, ailment or general problem, regardless of whether I'm on duty or not.
One time, I was lucky enough to have an afternoon to myself, without tests or tasks. I decided I would go out, have a long walk, get myself a book and settle down in a café to enjoy a good read and a bit of people watching.
I'm at the counter ordering my coffee when one of the ladies who works there spots me and tries desperately to get my attention. She beckons me over to a secluded corner and tells me she's so glad I came in; she wants my advice about "a lady problem."
Being a student nurse isn't just about learning and providing advice and education, it's also about undertaking different roles to different people.
I have found that one of the most difficult but rewarding roles is listening. When I'm on the wards patients seem willing to reveal concerns to me that have never previously been mentioned.
Sometimes I feel like a sponge as I absorb all these things. I have come home some days and sobbed with the weight of some of the secrets that have been shared with me.
Every now and then, I find it a real struggle balancing all these different roles. Sometimes I feel like I'm being suffocated with the pressure of placement, home life, college life, being a young adult and hanging out with friends.
Occasionally, and I know this is incredibly selfish, I wish I didn't have all these responsibilities.
It gets overwhelming with people relying on me to do the housework, go to gym, go to church, write a good essay, read more journals/books or fill in massive loads of paperwork for lecturers or mentors to mark.
I feel like I don't have time for my friends anymore as I'm always busy, on placement, tasks or tests. In fact I barely have time for ME anymore.
But then I remember why I love what I do, when I look at my patients and see the love and appreciation they have for having someone that just listens, I know that all of this and all the sacrifice is well worth it. And then I press on for another day or being everything I was born to be.
The last couple of months I have been struggling to find my purpose in life. Did I choose right and all those sorts of questions. And lately after two bad test results, I felt like such a failure at life I should just give it up. I am not good enough. But nursing is my dream, and all I want to do is be the best at what I do. My whole life has led up to this phase of my existence.
So I have decided to carry on, to push on and work harder. Do I stop feeling sorry for myself and lift my head high and start to believe in the gift that God had given me, to be able to touch and love people unconditionally?
Albert Einstein said:" You have to learn the rules of the game. And then play it better than anyone else." Harsh words to some, but when you look at it, it is so true.
In life when we love and believe something, we have to take all the challenges that go along with wanting success.
One of the most inspirational people in my life, my mother Christa Coetzee, said to me this week that I was her pride, that she loved me and what I have accomplished in my life up until now and that she knows that I can and will be successful.
All I have to do is give everything to God so that he can lead me and give me the strength to carry on. She has always pushed me to break my boundaries. She allowed me to fly high and has always been my safety net and warm blanket of unconditional love in my life. I will always be grateful to having such an inspirational mother and best friend in my life.
I realized last week that I am stronger than I thought I was, I have the courage and conviction to achieve my God-given dream.
I am a strong, independent, powerful and blessed woman of God and through my nursing I have the opportunity to live an exceptional life.
So I choose life, I choose my passion, I choose to be stronger than ever and to finish my dream
Like Patch Adams said, "The most radical act anyone can commit is to be happy."
Have you ever gotten to a point in your life where you wonder to yourself, "Did I make the right choice?"
Lately I have been wondering just that. Am I where I am supposed to be? Why did certain things have to happen to me? Have I listened enough and made the right decisions? Did I do enough in my life? Strange questions I know, but I have realized in the last year that life is so fleeting. We aren't assured that tomorrow will come, or that we will have a long and happy life. In the blink of an eye, your whole life can change.
A year ago I thought that life couldn't be sweeter or happier for me. I had finally found my Mr. Right. But in less than a month my whole world came crashing down, and changed irrevocably. Everything I believed, dreamed about and wanted so badly was taken away from me because of a choice that was basically made for me.
I am a nursing student, I know how to treat people that have gone through suicides, but now I am in this boat and I have absolutely no idea how to handle this. I keep myself busy, I don't think about it, or at least try not to, I fill my days completely, that assures me that I am too tired at night to think, but the problem now, I fear, is that I have come to a point where I am so exhausted, sleep has become a luxury, and when I do sleep, I dream.... Dream about love lost, life lost.
The closer it comes to the year anniversary, however strange that sounds, to his passing, my head and my heart ache, and all I want to do is run away...so far away that I don't feel anything anymore.
Being a nurse I know that there are stages of grieve that I have to go through, but being who I am, I keep actively avoiding that, by giving all my love and all my attention to my patients. I feed of their gratitude and their joy, just to get through every day.
How are we supposed to, as nurses deal with our own pain and hurt, and still attend to the pain and hurt of those around us, without letting our emotions influence how we react and feel???
I wish I had a magic genie to just poof away what I had to go through and still am going through. I wish I could see my future and know that I will eventually start to feel like a whole person again. Because now I feel like a ghost living a half-life, a fake life.
And this make me wonder how many other nurses face this same pain and hurt, but as we are taught, we smile our way through it all. Always gracious, kind, warm and professional, never letting our smile fade or our emotions show.
I am a nurse, I will always be smiling if you see me...even though every cell in my body is hurting. I just pray that one day, I will look back on this and smile, knowing that I had made it.
Being in nursing college is really teaching me, not only valuable professional skills, but also, life skills. As I am going through my general nursing work, I am realizing what is expected of us, what rules we must adhere to, what the government expects from us as nurses. But are we actually practicing the one fundamental rule or right that all these legal instructions tell us to do?
Do we as nurses stand up for and fight for the human rights of all our patients?
In South Africa's Bill of Rights, it states that people have the basic rights to housing, nutrition, health care, education, protection, and safe living environments. Elderly people have the right to government assisted care in their old age. Children have the right to be protected, have basic education and nutrition; all have the right to Government Social assistance.
What an overly Utopian idea.
The more I study the Bill of Rights, the more I realize that we as nurses try our best to assist and protect, stand up for and defend our patients basic rights, but most times we do this with limited resources, difficult situations, and no assistance from the government. No wonder so many nurses just give up. Just do the bare minimum of what is expected of them, it seems easier than fighting a losing battle.
With it recently being Youth Month and Elderly Abuse Week, I struggle with the fact that the government is throwing lavish functions for youth, and shaking hands with the poor and elderly. Where are they the rest of the year when these same people need their assistance?
It is horrible to see elderly persons standing on street corners, begging for food and assistance, working to just survive. And to see people just look away, turn up their windows, blocking out the person, the human being, standing in front of them. What dignity do they have? What happened to their rights as stated in the South African Bill of Rights.
It is heartbreaking to see children begging for food, with glassy blank expressions on their little faces. Gone is the innocent child in them, and in its stead is a "walking dead" person, high to forget life and what it has dealt them. What defense has a small child have against the hatred of the world, the abuse they have to face daily, the hunger they must feel, the rejection from people. What dignity do they have? Where are their rights stated in the South African Bill of Rights?
The Father of our Nation, Mr. Nelson Mandela said this about the way we treat each other, but more importantly how we treat children:
No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. - Long Walk to Freedom
The true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children.
It always gives me great pleasure to be surrounded by the beautiful children of our land. Whenever I am with the energetic young people ... I feel like a recharged battery, confident that our country can look forward to great things. South Africa, April 23, 1997
Together as a nation, we have the obligation to put sunshine into the hearts of our little ones. They are our precious possessions. They deserve what happiness life can offer.
I am proud to be a nurse, taking care of all children, no matter what race, gender or skin color they have. We all bleed the same way.
I salute all the Nurses out there fighting the good fight for their patients. "UNkulunkulu osindisa futhi avikele abahlengikazi" God save and protect nurses.
Okay let me start by saying; "I have new found respect for Registered Sisters."
I have started my first official block period at college, and okay I knew it wasn't going to be a walk in the park to do this Bridging Course, but I did not think it would be this overwhelming, either. I don't know if it is the fear of the unknown; or the fact that I am actually on my way to one day-not so far away- being a Registered Nurse, having to take full accountability for all my acts and omissions and that of my team working with me.
I never fully understood why Sisters are always running around, always busy, looking sometimes tired, but never once do they look stressed, disheveled or unnerved. They always have this serenity surrounding them in chaos...and I truly admire that. I believe it is a God-sent talent, because if I look at all the responsibility resting on the shoulders of a registered nurse, I doubt if I would be that serenely calm...
But then again it is probably something that you learn through experience and time. In my first month I have learned to always be accountable, respectful, empathetic, loyal, diligent, and above all humane in all your actions towards the patient, who is a human being, a whole person...not just symptoms and tasks to be nursed.
I have learned that we are not only governed by our own ethical and moral values, but we have to adhere to those of the Nursing Council and The Constitutional Law and the principles of your employer. There are so many rules, regulations and legislations that determine what a nurse has to do, it feels like nursing could be presumed as task orientated more than people orientated.
But on the other hand if it wasn't for all these regulations and legislation, nursing would have no clear and fundamental structure and things would probably be a lot more messy. So not all rules are so bad I guess.
We must never forget, though, to nurse the person first and the condition/illness second. Human interaction is a gift not to be squandered or lost. I praise and salute all the Registered Sisters and everything they accomplish. To me, you are all Super Women...
A future RN
Well to start off let me say this, nursing is not at all as it is portrayed in Grey's Anatomy. If you think you will look as fresh as a daisy at the end of a 12-hour shift and meet Mr. McDreamy, I have really bad news. That rarely, if ever happens at all, ladies and gents. Nursing has so many challenges that we have to face on a daily basis.
Being a student has its benefits and struggles. You are and will be until you graduate, a "work horse" to the people you work with. Not everyone will treat you this way, but you do get those people who, because they were treated a certain way when they studied, automatically assume it is their right to bestow the same courtesy too you as a student nurse. You have to learn to control your emotions and leave your "backstage" personality at home-you know the one, where if they give you a hard time, you automatically just want to jump on your hind legs and give it to them straight!
One very sweet, and very wise nurse taught me a very crucial lesson in being a nurse: "Always remember that we are all the same, we all were students, but it is WHY you started nursing that defines WHO you will be in the future as a nurse!"
Those words will never leave my head or my heart. You have to have a reason why you chose this path in life. If you did it because you thought it would be easy-STOP RIGHT NOW-because it isn't. If you did it to meet hot, young doctors-STOP RIGHT NOW- because they are too busy, and might already have a loving person in their life.
If you chose this to make easy money for doing little work-STOP RIGHT NOW-because nurses will never be rich in money. We will be rich in love, faith, compassion, patience and endurance!
If you are willing to face trying and sometimes heartbreaking situations, heartwarming and unbelievable miracles, long hours in front of your books, and long hours at work, then the world of human interaction and nursing care is for you.
I truly and deeply believe that no one chooses to be a nurse; you are born to be a nurse. It is a part of who you are, how you love and believe. It is a heart journey, not a hard journey to be a nurse.
I love being a nursing student, dreaming of one day being a registered nurse and changing the world one patient at a time. Every day I get to meet and touch the life of a patient, gives me strength, makes me brave, and keeps me humble.
When people told me in nursing school that the first year of working as a nurse would be hard, they were right. Even after the first year there have been many challenging days on the job. Somewhere around month 9 or 10 you begin to make connections between nursing school and the repetition of patients you have cared for. A great deal of growth begins based on past experiences. When one year comes around, things continue to click and you don't feel like such a new nurse to the game. Now that I am nearly at one and a half years, I couldn't be more happy with the experiences my unit and hospital have provided for me. As I mentioned in my previous posts, I am now a heart nurse. At this point I have cared for 4 post-op first 24hrs open heart surgery patients on my own, in addition to the 5 orientation shifts I have done. Our heart program has slowed down slightly in the last few weeks, but the hospital has been booming with a full census. One night this last week our unit had a few extra staff available since we had transferred several patients. I received a call before my shift from one of the managers and she had a question for me. She asked if I wanted to have my first orientation for charge nurse of the unit. In a few seconds, dozens of thoughts went through my mind. Although her request gave me confidence, I graciously declined the position for now. The one reason: rapid response. Although orienting to charge would take six shifts, once on the track, you can get those days completed very quickly, just as the heart training happened. I have not had any experience as the main RN attending rapid response calls on the floors. I have accompanied the charge from my unit on several instances, but never called the shots. I have witnessed the process several times as the recorder and in each instance given a little more input. When I told this to my manager she understood. Sometimes we close one of the ICUs when the census in low, this could potentially mean that if I was charge I could be the only ICU nurse attending the rapid response calls. With that being said I don't want to shy way from the experience. We made a deal that now when I work I will let the charge nurse know that I want to go to the rapid response calls and have a larger role in the experience. When I went to work that night I let the charge nurse know the situation and she agreed. Hopefully a month or two of attending rapid response calls will give me the experience I need to start orienting for charge. I'm sure there will be plenty of new things for me to talk about in my next few blogs!
With each posting session that comes and goes on this blog I am able to see my progress while I reflect on the passing weeks. Last post I discussed that I was nearly designated as a post-op recovery open heart nurse. So much has happened since that posting three weeks ago and I feel as though I have grown up as a nurse and as a person. After writing that post, my next shift I was given the task of taking a fresh post-op heart without a designated preceptor and the patient was not doing well. I arrived at work to find my name assigned to the heart and was explained that unfortunately I would not be given my last orientation session. At that point it was sink or swim. The patient had been taken back to surgery after bleeding too much when originally arriving in ICU. I came to find that the patient had been in surgery for over 12 hours in total. Needless to say it was one of the most challenging nights I have ever had as a nurse and as a human being. Myself and my charge nurse did everything we could to help the patient through the night, but at a certain point we knew what would be their fate. It was devastating to see the family struggle through the situation. There seemed to be not one moment where I had time to breathe. After that night I became a different nurse and a different person. I know now from that experience that I can handle anything that is thrown at me. Since then I have had 2 other post-op hearts on my own and tonight will be my third. By no means am I a veteran but I think you have to be humbled by one experience to grown. Sometimes you give your all and you can't save that person. I understand that now.
About a week ago I had been talking with a friend about writing this blog. I started way back in nursing school and now have written an estimated 30 to 40 posts. After talking with this friend I looked back through my archives and read a few of my old entries. It is absolutely crazy how time changes you based on experience. After my first semester in nursing school I was nervous doing nearly anything nursing related. I remember those feelings like they were yesterday. I could not escape the anxiety!
Now at 24 years old (25 in November) I have so much to think about in my future. In March I will have two years of work experience. Although I am not thrilled about it, I'm sure I will start to train as charge around that time since our night crew continues to cycle through. As much as I enjoy the thinking that goes into the ICU, I know I don't want to do bedside nursing care forever and the idea of management makes me sick. That leaves me with two options that I will have to think a great deal about as time goes on: NP or CRNA.