Sharing … Things About Me
2. I was born with a congenital heart defect known as a Ventricular Septal Defect. This was detected as an infant when they heard a “murmur” at one of my appointments when I was an infant. If you listen to a person’s heart you normally hear two distinct parts of the heart beating – mine sounds more like a “WHOOSHING” sound – it’s SUPER loud and prominent and I joke that there is a washing machine in there! A Ventricular Septal Defect means that there is a small hole in the wall between the bottom two chambers of my heart. The smaller the hole, the louder the murmur. When I was a baby they had to do an angiogram to make sure everything else looked ok. What that means is that they insert a small IV catheter into the vein near your groin and take a small camera up to your heart and look at it – I have never needed open heart surgery or a less invasive type of procedure to close the hole. I’m SUPER blessed! I was followed closely by a cardiologist as a pediatric patient and now since it is stable I just go back each year for a test to make sure it looks the same and has not grown or moved. Many patients that have this experience shortness of breath and are very restricted in their activities. I’m SO BLESSED that I have NOT had this to hold me back in any physical activity in my life thus far and makes me SO GRATEFUL to use the body that I have!
4. When people ask me why I became a nurse I don’t really have a good answer. It’s like I just had an instinct to do it? If that even makes sense? In our very small town there wasn’t much for jobs available, but I know I wanted one when I turned 16. A few other girls in my high school and I did the CNA (Certified Nurses Aide) class and worked at the local nursing home taking care of the residents there. I worked there from the time I was 16 through my freshman year of college (I worked over my first summer home and then worked over some holidays and weekends too. It is HARD work… physically AND emotionally. The physical in the lifting, running around, turning patient – and doing it all EFFICIENTLY and SAFELY. It’s also very emotional work – maintaining dignity for these patients that can’t do anything on their own and making and maintaining trust and relationships with those that are VERY aware of their situation. Graduating high school and becoming a nurse was just what I felt called to do. So I did it. Graduated high school from a class of 34 (yes, 34) and went to North Dakota State University to pursue nursing. It is a COMPETITIVE and VERY REPUTABLE program but I did it. Got accepted after my first year and finished my degree (with a job prior to graduation) in four years total. – At the ripe age of 21 years and 2 weeks old.
5. My first job as an RN was in Cardiac ICU and I was there for a little over 2 years. Talk about diving in head first. New grad in an ICU taking care of super sick patient. Patients that are FRESH from their open heart surgeries. Patient requiring ventilators, machines that help pump their heart, machines that do the work of their kidneys continuously, requiring multiple medications to keep their blood pressure high enough to get blood flow to their brain and throughout their body. I saw tragedy in drug overdose, sudden cardiac arrest, people drinking themselves to death, tragic accidents – parents having to say goodbye to their kids, kids having to say goodbye to their parents and watching them take their last breath. I’ve done CPR that ended in a happy ending and I’ve had to quit doing CPR because it was time for it to end differently. I celebrated with patients and families for their first time getting up to the chair, walking down the hall for the first time in weeks and I’ve seen the miraculous recovery that open heart patients make in just a few short hours. SO heartbreaking but so many moments of REWARD that made it worth it.
So why did I leave something I loved?
Panic attacks. Stress. Flipping back and forth between 12 hour day and night shifts sometimes with just 24 hours in between. I constantly felt hungover. I couldn’t give my all to my patients, my loved ones personally or even give anything to myself. The panic attacks were the worst. Feeling like I couldn’t catch my breath for days. Feeling like I had an elephant sitting on my chest. I was CONSTANTLY worried what my next assignment would be and worries I would do something wrong and worried about EVERY SINGLE patient on the unit because I felt responsible to take care of them too. I hated not sleeping… like ever. Getting home after a night shift at 8:30 am and crawling into bed only to toss and turn until 11:30 am and then finally give up and get up is NOT healthy for days on end.
So I made a change. And now here I am. Four years later in the PACU …