Caring for others has always been instrumental in my life, even as a child. My great-grandfather had a debilitating stroke when I was only six. He was briefly in a nursing facility, but my great-grandmother was unhappy with his care and brought him home. He was bed-ridden and non-verbal. For almost 10 years she administered all his care. I spent a lot of time there, watching her. During family functions, I could often be found at his bedside, holding his hand, chatting away.
When I was 12 my grandmother had a stroke. I remember her propped up with pillows in a chair at the hospital. She couldn’t speak or move, just plead with her eyes. I held her hand and told her everything was going to be OK.
She went to an amazing rehabilitation center and every visit showed dramatic improvement. The stroke left her wheelchair bound, but her speech returned. I was so impressed by what I had seen; I wanted to be part of something that incredible.
By the time I was 15, becoming a nurse felt more like a calling than a career choice. The summer after 10th grade I took a life-guarding certification class along with first aid and CPR. I also enrolled in health assisting as part of my 11th grade class schedule.
It all paid off in November of my junior year. I was hanging out with some friends at a restaurant when a young woman started to choke on her meal. Her father tried to help but was unsuccessful. Everything I learned kicked in. I yelled out for someone to call 911 and asked if I could help.
Three thrusts later, the object was dislodged and the young lady started to breathe again. I was amazed that it actually worked! I returned to my table once the paramedics arrived and finished my food.
It wasn’t until her father stopped over and thanked me for saving his daughter’s life that my actions started to register in my brain. This was what I was meant to do.
The summer in between my junior and senior year of high school, I became a certified nursing assistant. That job taught me a lot and gave me a jump start as I entered the Licensed Practical Nursing program.
That was 20 years ago, and I still love being an LPN. It has been my privilege to touch so many lives. I have been there to witness a newborn take its first breath and comforted many as they have taken their last. These opportunities would have never existed without my upbringing, amazing teachers and compassionate mentors who showed me the ropes along the way.
This is why I became a nurse.