Summer 2000, Alexandria, Virginia. Excited beyond all reason! I was finally in Nursing School, at age 30. I'd entertained the idea of nursing before, but didn't believe I was "smart enough". After three semesters of prerequisites with straight A's, I had hit the big time!
So, Nursing 105, Day 1. Listened to a seasoned, Nursing instructor convince my class we were too stupid, too frail, and could count on vast mistakes, thereby being named in lawsuits, so why even try? And at the end of the day, we were given our first assignment: Write our own definition of Nursing.
Well, I had that one! I was going to go down in history as a compassionate, astute, wise savior of the sick. I blew myself up in the whole two paragraphs, and received No Points! As "this is NOT a definition of nursing!", stated the teacher. Well I had looked up "Nursing" in Webster, so of course I knew better. "Nurse" comes from "nourish" and I could nourish.
Of course the first semester droned on, my hand shook so badly in the first lab practical- injections! - that my instructor had to steady it! (She shared this with subsequent classes.) I was late to my first and second clinical. I had to re-mediate in the use of a mercury thermometer. And so on. Even so I made A's in my classes and started to make some friends.
The first semester break was so welcome! Family, relaxation, and no tests for which to study!
December 30, I left my job at a Maryland hospital and was assaulted.
As a result of this, I became pregnant. And discouraged.
After my first doctor appointment, I headed to school to practice I.V.'s with a classmate. I was late, looked at her, said, "I am pregnant", and started to cry. She didn't say anything, didn't judge, just sat with me. (We didn't make it to the lab that day!) She just "fed" me.
A young gentleman classmate walked by, smiled and asked me to smile, as that would make his day. He walked on and I don't remember his name or even seeing him again, just that his smile and support "fed" me a lot!
After failing my midterm, I met with my adviser, and told her the truth. She said she knew something was going on. Then she said, "We can do this!" We. "You won't fail." And I believed her. Her support nourished me.
I come from a family, by the way, that doesn't tolerate self pity. If I was determined to drag myself and everyone down, my father would suggest I go upstairs and make a list of things for which to be grateful.
So, that became my mantra. Every day look at what is good. And things were good! The classmates who held doors for the pregnant student. The instructors' unending patience. Their help to make my schedule easy as possible. And so many kind words. They "fed" me.
The woman who wrote me a beautiful, caring letter, saying she "is just a phone call away." I still have that letter.
I was working on a Psychiatric unit on September 11. This was Northern Virginia, close to the Pentagon. I say that to say this, the clients on psych reached outside of themselves when we heard the news that day. Not one word of self-pity, only words of concern. What an amazing lesson that taught me!
September 26, I went into labor. A classmate missed a test to sit with me the whole time! I received baby clothes and three typewritten sets of notes from different classmates. And I knew baby "Grace" was entering a wonderful world.
Now I have been a nurse for 8 years. My definition of nursing hasn't changed. "Nursing" comes from the word "nourish". But at the end of this story, I am not the hero I once thought I was. Other people nourish and give, and I learn, every day. My cup has been filled many, many times over.