nursing after a near death experience

  1. I am a nursing student in my second semester. I found out I got into the program the day before I went into labor with my second baby. After I had her I had a uterine inversion, got rushed to the OR, had 4 blood transfusions, and an out of body experience. Then I started school 5 weeks later.

    Now the deal is that I started this nursing journey with the intent to be in l&d and maybe even go on to be a midwife. I love nursing. And I absolutely love labor and delivery. I had by ob rotation and loved it. My nurse let me help coach and I knew interventions.

    I just worry that I put all my strength in getting there and find out that I mentally just can't handle it. I have ptsd and go to therapy for it, but I haven't needed to see him since shortly after thanksgiving. So I am doing better and I have been able to control it with out meds.

    I don't know what I'm really looking for with this post....maybe that someone else had been the patient in something scary and able to still be involved as a nurse. People always tell me that that experience will make me a great nurse one day, but what if it makes it so I can't be a nurse at all??
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    Joined: Jul '12; Posts: 14; Likes: 4


  3. by   nurseprnRN
    And what if I got run over by a bus this afternoon? "What if" means nothing. I have had two serious medical, um, events, and it never occurred to me to stop working as a nurse.

    If your therapist agrees that you are doing well, and you have a plan with him/her on periodic prn rechecks, and a plan for how to deal with any future traumas you will observe (and as a nurse, you will observe traumatic events), then I can't see why you shouldn't just go on with your life, which includes nursing.
  4. by   KelRN215
    I was accepted into my top choice university's nursing program in December of my senior year of high school. 3 weeks later I had an unprovoked GTC seizure in sleep and 5 weeks after that (on the day before my 18th birthday), I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I missed an entire year of school because of it (the year between my freshman and sophomore years of college as I [as a short-sighted 18 year old] insisted on completing my freshman year of college before I would have brain surgery) but it never occurred to me to not go back (well never seriously, I did toy with the idea of opening a bakery and on the really bad nursing days, wished I had done that haha). I began my career in pediatric neurology, neurosurgery and neuro-oncology.

    There were some times when it was really f-in hard. Like when I'd connect with a patient following her tumor resection surgery and then find out days later that the path showed a Grade IV tumor and she had a prognosis of about 9 months. I struggled with survivor guilt a lot... why did I get a low grade tumor that was cured with surgery alone when I saw so many patients endure surgery after surgery, radiation treatment after radiation treatment and multiple chemotherapy protocols and clinical trials? Why was I ok with minimal long term issues (chronic headaches and a visual field cut) when so many parents had to bury their children who were perfectly healthy a year earlier? Why did I come through with nothing other than the aforementioned long term effects when some of my patients ended up neurologically devastated?

    In December of 2009, after I had my yearly MRI, I was informed of possible changes... of possible "tumor recurrence." I was at work 10 hrs after I got the phone call about this. I specifically remember that day, having to admit a child with a brain tumor and thinking "I can't do this, it's too real." But I did it- mainly because I didn't want anyone else there to know the inner turmoil I was experiencing. The year that followed was the worst year of my life which required 3 MRIs due to clinical changes (worsening visual fields, new diabetes insipidus) but the kids I worked with gave me strength and I often reminded myself that what I was going through paled in comparison to their situations which they handled with so much grace and dignity.
  5. by   leslie :-D
    many people that have had an nde (near death experience) have come back to report an incredibly positive, life-changing experience.
    i'm thinking this wasn't the case for you?
    that you were traumatized by your obe?

    if so, i do believe your therapist would be the person you go to in seeking feedback.
    i strongly suggest you set up an appt with him/her and seek their input.
    if you can anticipate triggers, then setting up some type of plan will likely benefit you.
    i personally find deep-breathing and meditation an invaluable tool when i feel i'm losing control.

    let us know how it works out.
    my very best to you.

  6. by   Alisonisayoshi
    In pre-nursing now and I nearly died 13 years ago. I really am a medical miracle (my case was written up and all that). I took me all this time to return to school because my PTSD from the event was so severe... Keep working with your therapist it will pay off in the end and you will be stronger for it!
  7. by   LadyFree28
    I have posted about my near-death experience openly here on AN. I was able to go back to school, due to particular counseling for trauma called EDMR. It was extremely useful for helping me cope with events, worries, etc. It is a safe place where I get to process my emotions, etc. I have been in this type of therapy for 2 years, after 3 years of cognitive therapy and therapeutic milleu therapy. The event happened 5 years ago (January 2008) when I was supposed to start my BSN program in the fall of that year. I was so scared, and felt so low during my first anniversary date, I was about to decline going again, until the Advisor stated she wanted to see me, and I got a Nursing Program interview. I started the program that fall and graduated May 2012, and sat and passed the NCLEX two weeks after graduation. I can say I have come full circle from that event. I have a new grad job where I always wanted to work at in a position where I wanted to do when it was a thought in my mind as a ED tech in 2000. I actually achieved a GOAL an despite my challenges, I got THERE.

    I think I saw someone post how some people who recover from traumatic events feel "triumphant" (apologies for misquote) trauma created a double edge sword-happy to be alive, great outlook on life, don't swear the small stuff, deeply empathetic (don't get me wrong, I was, but it was more "clearer") and "nursey senses" when I can see or hear a patient is in crisis. But the lows come too, especially when the rest of the people, the general public, that you interact with may have no respect for life, or for mental health crises, or the "snap outta it" mentality when you feel frozen in time, hyper vigilant "over nothing" but you KNOW something is not right. It can be down right isolating. But that is the BEAUTY of learn to "leave it there" and work in pieces, learn new ways to cope and be able be successful.

    I am still a work in progress, but trauma recovery is achievable, and can be successful, and if you still want to, you can be a successful nurse. There are many nurses that I have met who have overcame their traumas, and they are the best, most competent nurses I have worked around. They have made me a better nurse; however, so has my MOVED me to be a better nurse.
  8. by   kmenningen
    There are many reasons why nurses go into the profession and some of them are due to life experiences that forever changed them. I feel I changed my goals in health care after having a child with spina bifida. Somehow it changed me, definitely for the better. Once I graduated from nursing, I seemed directed towards working in neuro and especially in the pediatric population. It is a way for me to give back in some way. It does get to me some days, but I have an understanding about situations because I live it everyday with my son. I can relate to the families and treat my peds patients as if it is my own child. I know what it is like to see your child in life threatening situations. Having that connection with a family and child and knowing how it feels allows me to emphasize and care in a way that is unique and worthwhile to me and hopefully to them.
  9. by   anotherone
    well maybe it will just be another experience maybe it wont. no way to know until you are in LD again. if your ptsd diagnosis is related to this, I can definitly see an anxiety filled job in LD. everyone reacts in a different way. some do some dissociating to function . in nursing that can be a very dangerous thing as you must be in the moment . some may take that experience as use to be a better nurse (whatever that means) for others i can see nothing but misery working in qn environment that woukd trigger awful memories
  10. by   dancingostrich
    Thank you everyone for sharing your stories. I think that post was made in a moment of weakness. It happens right? I know that that happened to me for a reason so I can help others. I guess I just have to give life a shot and go for what I believe in and not let that moment in my life get in the way any more than it already has. Thank you.
  11. by   CrufflerJJ
    Quote from dancingostrich
    ...I think that post was made in a moment of weakness...
    Nope. Not weakness, but being open & honest about your feelings.

    Best of luck to you!
  12. by   HouTx
    I admire the OP's honesty and willingness to acknowledge and deal with personal issues that may have an impact on her nursing practice. Sounds healthy to me!

    Don't mean to thread-jack . . but based on my personal experience as well as dealing with patients who have 'met the Grim Reaper but decided to turn back'. . . Most of them were much less fearful afterward because they just weren't as afraid to die. They'd been there, done that - and it wasn't that awful. Same for me.