When I was seven-years-old, my mom was driving me somewhere. I don’t remember where we were going, but I remember the exact spot. We were at a stoplight on Drake and Lemay, and another car pulled up beside us. An older man, probably sixty or sixty-five drove the car and he turned, smiled, and waved to me.
It was at that moment the epiphany hit.
I turned to my mom and announced: “Mom, I know what I’m going to be. I’m going to be a nurse for old people.”
There were only two times I ever questioned that decision.
The first time was when I was about nine-years-old. My dad took us to see a production of Oliver! During intermission, my younger sister was swinging around my dad’s legs and fell, splitting her chin open. We were rushed backstage, where the only first aid kit was, and when they couldn’t stop the bleeding, we rushed to the ER.
I was terrified the entire time, and it made me think maybe I was afraid of blood. It was a reasonable conclusion. She was bleeding, and I was scared. It wasn’t until years later I realized it wasn’t the blood that terrified me. It was not knowing what to do. I felt helpless and useless, and I hated the feeling. In emergency situations, I was afraid of making it worse. It took years of training to get over that.
(Now, I draw blood almost every day I work, and it doesn’t bother me, just for those wondering.)
The second time was when I was in nursing school. During the summer, I worked as a CAN at an assisted living. I absolutely loved it. I was finally achieving my dream of working with old people. However, the longer I worked there, the more I noticed that the nurse never did anything. At least, not that I could see on a day to day basis. I wanted to be a nurse to help my patients, but if a nurse doesn’t do that, I figured I might as well stay a CNA.
One of my patients changed my mind. I disagreed with the way his family planned his care. I wanted to do something for him, but as a CNA, I couldn’t. Not really. If I was a nurse, I realized I could advocate for him, because that’s part of the job. It made me want to be a nurse even more, because I could make a bigger difference in the lives of my patients than I could have as a CNA.