“2016 is my year!” I selfishly presumed.
After years of studying – upgrading from LPN to RN, April 2016 was graduation and finally my time to shine. Not only did I graduate with my BSN but I landed my dream job as a NICU nurse and started training only four days after finishing school. While I heard everyone say “you need to take time off.. you have always been on the go”, it didn’t matter because I strived for this job so badly that I wanted to be sitting in a classroom learning how to care for premature infants. I was enthusiastic, passionate, excited about the future but mostly, I was… exhausted. In the back of my mind, I knew that a break would have been good for me. I would be able to see friends, travel with my boyfriend, spend time with family and enjoy the things I missed out on while I was so focused for so many years. However, I continued to chug along while working full-time and studying for my massive board exam on my days off. Not much fun, but hey! I reaped the benefit of making good money and buying a new car! Though I didn’t know it at the time (probably because I was so busy), I was missing out on some really important things in life. Soon after, life was about to show me time and time again, that I need to pay attention and that I need to make better sacrifices. I know there will be more “blessings in disguise” but I am currently in the process of not seeing it that way.
So what happens when life throws you some life changing events the moment you were finally getting ahead? What happens when you are forced to take a much needed break, while dealing with mental, physical and emotional anguish? I want to share my story because I want my friends & family to know my thoughts and experiences in real time. I want those who are going through something similar to connect with what I am writing to know that they are not alone. I want them to know that it is normal to not feel normal anymore and that raw emotion is a beautiful thing. Someone once told me “The way you’re feeling is totally normal. And what you’re going through totally sucks” and I am grateful for those two statements to this day.
“The difference between school and life: School teaches you lessons and then gives you a test. Life gives you a test and you learn the lessons” – unknown
Late July, 2016 is when life really started testing to see what I was made of. When I received a call that my sister had been involved in a freak accident and was in the hospital with a head injury, I learnt the importance of halting your plans and rushing to the bedside. Although she had experienced a skull fracture, concussion and other injuries, it was determined soon after that she would be ok. Thank God! What a scary close call. It was then that I realized that I couldn’t wait for my board exam to be over (August 2) so that I can make up for lost time.
“August 3rd is my freedom date” is what I would tell everyone who would listen. This is because I would be finished all the studying necessary to be a fully certified NICU RN. As I walked out of the exam room on August 2, I almost felt a weight lift off of my shoulders as I went to visit my sister in the hospital. On August 3, I was able to go visit one of my best friends to show off my new car and go shopping with her. OMG! The taste of freedom had never felt so good. But it was virtually a couple of hours from that “taste” that I learnt that the feeling was just a tease and that I spoke too soon. As I was driving home, I was hit by a massive semi-truck that totaled my brand new vehicle. Although I was hit on the drivers side and had a multitude of issues, my concern was “my new car!”. In complete and hysterical shock, I found it difficult to stop myself from crying and wondering what the heck was going on. What? How? But my sister just had an accident? But this is my first day of freedom in years? It was all too much to handle. But it was then that I found myself finding comfort in those who celebrated with me just a few weeks prior. So there I was in my first days of freedom, too sore and too emotional to do anything. I said goodbye to my new car, and a temporary goodbye to my ability to work at my new job.
One year prior, I started noticing I was going deaf in one ear and was seeking treatment from an ENT. As I lay off resting from the injuries from my car accident, I received a call for a long-awaited head MRI to rule out any brain related issue causing the hearing loss. Though in my mind I was thinking “there is no way they will find anything”, my body was telling me otherwise. As I closed my eyes and proceeded to move into an extremely confined space, I was told not to move at all. All I could hear was the noise the machine makes, and all I could feel was my body shaking. It was almost as if my body was warning me that I was about to receive the worst news of my life – hard to explain, but that anxiety is truly like no other. When the MRI was complete, the lady working was white as a ghost. She was more compassionate that anyone I had ever met after that scan – and in this moment I knew that she saw something. Sick to my stomach, I took my belongings was told that it would be up to a week for results and cried the whole way home. As I waited by the phone, though trying to distract myself, my fears were confirmed when the ENT office called me a few days later to tell me “the doctor wants to see you ASAP”. Life as I knew it, was changed in an instance.