My great grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when I was very young. I don’t remember very much of it, but I do remember the way that my grandma and her sister would keep all of us updated.
“He thinks he’s in a gas station and that the nurses are holding him hostage.”
“He keeps fighting because he wants to go home.”
These are things I remember them saying. Whether or not that’s what they actually said, I’m not sure. I was only six or seven at the time. I do remember visiting him once and thinking that something was different about him. He wasn’t the same man that I remembered.
I also remembered watching the nurses who took care of him. They were all very pleasant. Very happy. They made me want to do the same thing as them. I wanted to take care of people when they got old.
I remember the moment that I decided my career path. At the ripe old age of seven, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was going to be a nurse for old people. My parents didn’t discourage me, but they did make me learn how to say geriatric instead of old.
I grew up convinced that I wanted to be a nurse. I used to unbend paperclips and stick them in stuffed animals and dolls so that I could practice giving shots.
There were only two moments that I ever questioned that decision. I want to tell you about the first today.
A few years after I decided I wanted to be a nurse, my dad took us to see the musical Oliver! During intermission, my little sister began swinging around my dad’s legs and fell, splitting open her chin. Blood gushed everywhere. I’d never been so terrified in my life. For the first time, I began to wonder if I’d made the right decision. Because of the amount of blood, we were all rushed backstage where they tried to patch her up. When they couldn’t, my dad drove us all to the hospital where my other sisters and I waited in the waiting room while my sister went into the emergency room.
It took me years to overcome my fear. I was convinced that I was afraid of blood, which is a slight drawback to becoming a nurse. Despite all of that, I was still convinced that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a geriatric nurse. Years later, when I did go to nursing school, I realized that it wasn’t a fear of blood. I was afraid because I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid of not being able to help her.
Looking back almost twenty years to that decision, it was the best one that I ever made. Geriatrics is one of the best fields in the world, and I had the advantage of being able to work in multiple facilities focused on Alzheimer’s. I love the field, and I love all my patients. They’ve taught me so much about myself and about life.
Becoming a nurse was the best decision I ever made. How about the rest of you? Do you have anything you’ve done that you’d never change for the world?