It only took me 18 years, but I FINALLY GRADUATED an RN program!!!!!!!!
I started taking my pre-reqs in 1991 immediately following high school graduation and had just finished my last pre-req class when I got very very sick. I spent about 5 more years deteriorating physically until I could barely walk, all the while no doctor could tell me what was wrong with me... I was mis-diagnosed with MS, Lupus, and one MD even thought I might have had ALS... after all of those were ruled out I was eventually told it was "all in my head". Let me tell you, hearing that almost destroyed me. That MD actually referred me to a psychiatrist and told me to "get some help"!!!!! I still have nightmares about that day because I KNEW something was terribly wrong with me and it seemed NO ONE could help me! I had been to approx. 20 doctors of many specialties by this time with no diagnosis and no help except to treat the symptoms which really didn't help much. I was terrified and devastated to say the least. I was in my early 20s by this point and felt like all of my hopes and dreams for my life has been ripped from me. I watched my friends going to college, getting married, having kids... and wondered why this had to happen to me...
One day my mom, who worked as an office manager in a PT office, was chit chatting with one of the pts about how frustrated our family was with my situation and described my vast array of bizarre symptoms. Her pt said "oh my god she sounds just like me! Has she been tested for Lyme disease?!" Of course I HAD been tested but at the time did not know that MOST people who have chronic Lyme disease actually get a false-negative result with a blood test. I also did not know that MOST people do NOT get a "bulls eye rash" when bit by a tick carrying Lyme disease. The pt told my mom to call her doctor, a specialist in Lyme, and request a special test for it. By this point no one in my family had any money left because we had been shelling out money for doctor visits and referrals and I was at a point where I had been unable to work for a couple years. This pt actually GAVE me the $200 for the lab test!!!!! I went and had it done and my spinal fluid, urine, and blood ALL came back HIGHLY posititive for Lyme disease!!! I FINALLY had an answer!
I spent the next 8 years seeking treatment because by this time I was suffering severe degenerative neuro problems, could barely walk anymore, I used a wheelchair or walker to get around when I felt up to it, I had Bells palsy, major memory loss, among many many other problems. When I was 28 I found a wonderful MD who fought "the system" and got me a PICC line and 2 grams Rocephin IV everyday for 2 years.... it worked!!!! My symtoms and disabilities began to slowly fade away!!!!
After another year of PT I felt strong enough to try going back to work parttime... and was successful. Next I enrolled in ONE 2 unit class... just to see if my brain would work again. I got an A!
I applied to the RN program in a top notch nursing school and was completely shocked that they accepted my "old" prereq classes!!!! I spent some time reviewing A&P and Micro, along with medical terminology and continued working as a unit secretary while I waited to hear.... and one day I got a call that I had been accepted to nursing school!!!!!!!!
I was sooo scared! Would I be able to handle working 12 hour shifts on my feet? Would I be successful on exams? Was I capable of this?! How would I afford to go back to school full time? Would I be able to handle full time nursing school AND work? I realized I had a choice... continue to live in fear that symptoms would return and I would fail at my dream.. or simply trudge ahead and live my dream. I chose to fight for something I wanted!!!!
I took my last final yesterday and just found out that I passed my fourth semester nursing course with an A!!! I am graduating an ADN program with a 3.8 GPA and outstanding clinical evaluations!!!!! My pinning ceremony will be Thursday... and I can't hardly believe it! I am so grateful!!!!
Somewhere along the way the reasons I wanted to be an RN changed... it went from being something I thought would be a cool job with a decent income to something I found out that I am good at that is a way for me to GIVE BACK. During my journey through the pit of hell of chronic debilitating illness I came across some HORRIBLE nurses who were obviously only there for the paycheck (your pts can tell by the way) and some WONDERFUL nurses who showed me they cared without saying a word. It was the nurses who encouraged me to continue fighting my illness... they loved me when I felt ugly, sick, and unloveable. THAT is the kind of nurse I want to be. I want to help others like I was helped. Nurses LITERALLY saved my life and I want to pay it forward. It gives me indescribable joy.
I am convinced without those nurses I wouldn't be here today getting ready to walk onto that stage at my own RN pinning ceremony. I just logged onto the website for the 53rd time to double check my grades... and yep, that A in Nursing 4 Critical Care is still there!!!! I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!