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The End of the Tunnel...Holy Cow - is that LIGHT?! Ch 9

Students Article   (7,423 Views 11 Replies 1,242 Words)
by Julie Reyes Julie Reyes (Member) Member Writer Expert Nurse

Julie Reyes has 6 years experience and specializes in pediatrics, occupational health.

1 Follower; 44 Articles; 65,374 Profile Views; 260 Posts

When you are in the midst of nursing school, it seems that you will be stuck in the muck forever – and there never seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. The days on end at clinicals, trying to figure out if you will ever find the right shoes to wear without coming home with blisters on your feet, the long nights of reading endless chapters and pouring over piles of notecards, the lectures you are sure you fell asleep in….will it ever end?

The End of the Tunnel...Holy Cow - is that LIGHT?!  Ch 9

I hold the name tag in my hand and look at my photo. This is one of the rare good pictures of me, and I am finally ready to put it away. My days of clinicals are over. I fold my labcoat over my arm and walk out the hospital doors. I glance up at the cold November sky and take in a deep breath. What is this strange air I smell? Oh! FRESH air!! It's been a while - crammed inside 24/7 studying, or writing...or crying and screaming into my pillow.

I am done! My exit HESI is behind me, my last exam and assignment completed and PASSED, and my graduation application has long been in the hands of authorities that will bestow my long coveted diploma. I have sent out my graduation announcements and have been planning my graduation "Tiki" party (my university is the "Islanders"). My husband will soon breathe a sigh of relief, and my kids will be so proud of me. I feel like I am in a dream.

I think about some of my classmates that are already planning on when they will take their NCLEX. I am determined that no one will know when I am taking mine, because I don't want to tell anyone if I fail and have to retake it. I can't believe that after all that I have been through, I still maintain doubt in my abilities to pass exams....I wonder if that will ever change?

I have been offered a job at, of all places, the children's hospital (if you recall from my previous chapters, I got out of EMS to avoid working with kids ever again). Somewhere along this journey, I found that working with kids, in fact, was exactly where my desire was at. So, with gratitude, I accepted the offer and was to begin the Pathways Program the first of the New Year.

I walk slowly to my car thinking of my journey. The long days replay in my memory. The tears - the heartache. I recall - with a smile - my professor who told me it was time to "put my big girl panties on". Bless her heart - she pushed me to success. I remember the panic I had when I failed my first exam ,and the time I finally accepted that I may no longer be a straight A student - even conceding that a "C is the new A" at times. I thought of my kids pulling up alongside me at the dinner table with their homework, and we waded through homework assignments together, both rooting for the other to make an A.

I wondered if the laundry would now be done before we had run out of clean underwear, or if I would once again cook a meal for dinner - a healthy meal instead of sausage mixed with macaroni and cheese...I thought of my little next door neighbor girl who I mentor - she would come over and look through my nursing books as I studied and she would try to read some of the big words. I remember how she would look at me like I was a hero of sorts.

As I pulled open the car door, I took that badge off of my labcoat and put it in my purse. I threw my jacket into my backseat, then got in the front and shut the door. I looked around to see if there were any other people in the parking lot, and seeing no one, I squealed and screamed as loud as I could, the tears of joy finally flooding my eyes and falling down my face. I DID IT!!!!!!! If anyone saw me, they would have thought I was losing my marbles!

I thought of calling my husband and sharing the joy, but for some reason, I wanted to just hold onto this "ME" time for just a little bit longer. I looked out of my window and up at the hospital windows. How could I even describe this nostalgic feeling - I have no words... I start my car and pull out of the parking lot. I do believe it is time to go shopping...for my GRADUATION DRESS!!!!!

A few weeks later, my parents come to town, and my husband has my little TIKI bar built. My daughter and her fiance have made me the cutest graduation cake (island theme!) and another daughter has painted me a huge plywood board photo booth to look like a sunset on a beach. I am so excited for my TIKI party in December! Everything is planned and ready. Now all I have to do is get everyone in the car to make it to the dinner reservation we have before graduation.

As we sit at the restaurant, my daughter informs me that her necklace broke and she just has to run over to the jewelry store before we go to the school. I am kind of put out and tell her that we can go later, but all of my kids gang up on me. So after we eat, I tell the rest of the family to go on to the school, I will wait in the car for the kids while they go into the store and get the new chain. I am rushing them. When they are done, they get in the car and I rush to the school.

We are not late, I am just excited to be with my cohort. Dawn and Rhonda will be there - and they will also come to the party later! I have never even seen Dawn - she lives about 5 hours away, but through our eline classes, we have become good friends. Rhonda lives in town, so we have met several times. I park and start to gather up my stuff before I open the door. Before I get out of the car, my kids say, "Mom, we got you this graduation present!" They hand me a jewelry bag and I pull out a necklace with a pendant "RN" on it. I start to cry.

Inside, I give my family a hug before they go sit down. I hold my dad especially close as I hug him - he had a severe stroke a year before and the first words he spoke after he was able to talk were to me as he held my hand and slurred a question to me, "Did you graduate yet?" He thought he had missed it, and there were tears in his eyes. Now, my graduation cap is decorated with "4 U Dad". There is a lump in my throat and I try to swallow it down.

I am thrilled my best friend Rachelle and her family has come to see this. I am so proud of this moment - and I am overjoyed to share this time with my family and friends.

Finally, we are lined up and we walk into the auditorium. My heart beats out of my chest.

And as my name is called and I walk across the stage, I am sure there will never be another moment in my life that will feel like this moment.

This is what light feels like!

Julie Reyes, DNP, RN

1 Follower; 44 Articles; 65,374 Profile Views; 260 Posts

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smoup specializes in psych/dementia.

365 Posts; 8,652 Profile Views

Described perfectly the feeling of walking out of class/clinical for the last time. It was almost eerie knowing that this was the last time I would walk through these doors as a student.

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35 Posts; 1,661 Profile Views

Beautiful story and sounds like a fantasy as I just started the first day of my second semester today. It sounds surreal and exciting...happy for you!!! Your kids are so sweet.

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5 Posts; 688 Profile Views

I remember that feeling and it was 17 years ago. Congratulations and may you find the joy and satisfaction in your career that I have!

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45 Posts; 6,318 Profile Views

IN the midst of this now and I can't wait for this feeling!! Congratulations!! And best of luck on the NCLEX :) I"m sure you will nail it!!

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Julie Reyes has 6 years experience and specializes in pediatrics, occupational health.

1 Follower; 44 Articles; 260 Posts; 65,374 Profile Views

I did nail it- haha!that will be ch 10!!!

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17 Posts; 1,195 Profile Views

Congratulations. You are lucky to have a very supportive family. Going school really requires a supportive home where you can study. Otherwise, it would be so hard to finish it.

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Brenda F. Johnson has 27 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Gastrointestinal Nursing.

5 Followers; 76 Articles; 262 Posts; 105,614 Profile Views

I remember the mountains of laundry that waited for the weekends to be done and the dishes to be washed. I used to hate leaving things undone, but something had to give, right? Congratulations and good luck!

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4 Posts; 523 Profile Views

Julie,

Thank you so much for posting this story. I am in my last semester of Nursing School and can relate to all the words you so eloquently wrote. I found myself choking back tears while reading this. Congratulations on your accomplishments. You have some very special, loving children. Be Proud!

Robin Cole

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LadyFree28 has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pediatrics, Rehab, Trauma.

8,427 Posts; 75,664 Profile Views

Described perfectly the feeling of walking out of class/clinical for the last time. It was almost eerie knowing that this was the last time I would walk through these doors as a student.

Although, it still felt quite RIGHT, at least for me! :)

Another great chapter. :up:

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101 Posts; 1,997 Profile Views

Congratulations! Just read through all 10 of chapters. :)

Also, I think you graduated from the school in my hometown, there are not many "Islanders" in Texas. Small world. :)

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danielle2000 has 1 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Family Practice.

174 Posts; 4,943 Profile Views

Thank you for sharing it took me back 15 years ago. I cried too because so many obstacles to overcome and I did it. :-) Hard work really does pay off. :-)

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