Thursday, January 7, 2010

Story of My Life, Part 1

Thirty-four years ago, I was 18, in my senior year of high school, and looking forward to starting college at the University of Northern Colorado in the fall. It was one of those perfect times in my life. Senior year in high school, surrounded by a group of good friends, and the promise of freedom in just a few short months.

I knew exactly what I wanted to study in college. Nursing. I knew this was what I wanted to be because my best friend, Kathy, was going to be a nurse, too. And we were going to get our RN's, then move to Boston where I imagined we would live in a Mary-Tyler-Moore-style apartment by the ocean. I also knew I wanted to be a nurse because I had read the entire Cherry Ames series growing up. The only thing left to decide was, would I be Cherry Ames, Flight Nurse? Cherry Ames, Visiting Nurse? Cherry Ames, Cruise Nurse; or Cherry Ames, Department Store Nurse? (Deparment Store Nurse?) I knew that given we were living in Boston Cherry Ames, Country Doctor's Nurse was out.

In the first two years, I studied my way through three levels of Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology and Pharmacology. I can't say that I loved science, but I did love going to class and living the life of a student. All the while, looking forward to the day I could wear the pale blue student nurse uniform along with our school's nursing cap, white stockings and white shoes. And a stethoscope around my neck. It was all about the accessories.

There were clues along the way, that perhaps I wasn't cut out for this. The guys that lived in our dorm thought that since my roomate and I were nursing students, that qualified us to pierce their ears, since we knew sterile technique. Mary always handled the needle and cork, and I held the alcohol and cotton balls. And found myself looking the other way at the moment the needle penetrated the earlobe. I also found that during pharmacology lab, while the other students were fighting over who would get to "stick" the rat with a needle, I was happy to just keep a tight grip on the rat and hold him while he got poked, a job no one wanted because the critters were apt to bite.

It finally became clear to me, on the day I was required to give my first shot, that all the white shoes and crisp, starched caps in the world, were not going make the hospital odors and jabbing people with sharp objects any easier. And besides, sick people could be so cranky! Not like rats, who never complained. So, much to Kathy's dismay, since it meant we would have to put our Boston dreams on hold, I gave up nursing.

But I wouldn't give up college. . .

15 comments:

Joanne said...

Nothing like experience ... That's how it goes with so much in life, we just don't know for sure until we try things. I'm curious as to how you finished out your degree though ...

Susanne said...

I hope this is a to be continued! So what did ya do?

I don't think I could poke people with needles either. I'd be way too nervous.

Lynne said...

I loved nursing school! Especially giving shots. Once I got over the fear of giving the first one. Other students used to tease me that I would kick my patients so they would be in pain and need a shot!

And I love to draw blood too.

Sick, I know.

Sharon said...

Ahhh...Boston. My high school dream was to attend Boston College, where, I had heard, they had a program to prepare you to be a translator at the United Nations. I had taken years of Spanish and French to prepare me for that career, and my high school counselor was great in encouraging my dreams.

Sadly, I was a good, but not disciplined college student, so I went only one year following high school...it took me twenty years to return and continue that post secondary education ;)

BTW -- VERY well written!!!

RIZZI said...

HI KAREN,
LOVE YOUR POST, I FORGOT THAT YOU WANTED TO BECOME A NURSE. NURSING REALLY HAS TO BE YOUR CALLING. I CAN'T WAIT FOR YOUR NEXT CHAPTER, BY THE WAY WHAT DID JOE MAKE FOR EVERYONE FOR CHRISTMAS? THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMENT ON JENNY, THAT IS POP POP'S COLLIE SHE IS WITH IN THE PICTURE IN LAKEWOOD. WELL, YOU HAVE A NICE DAY.
LOVE, AUNT RIZ

Anita said...

It's interesting to think back on how and why we made certain choices and decisions. I went to a particular college because a friend suggested that it would be a good time. Thankfully, it had a great computer programming department, which led to a fifteen year career, which translated to independence, and bread and butter on my table. :)
I attribute my success in life to divine intervention.
I'll be watching out for part 2 of your story. :)

Jientje said...

I could not do it either. I always look the other way; just like you. But I don't think I could hold the rat either. Hmm.

Country Dreaming said...

Oh, so you are going to leave us hanging huh.
I wanted to be a nurse too but I found out in high school in Health Occupations that I wasn't cut out for it either.
Looking forward to seeing your outcome!

Melinda

Inglesidemom said...

What a great recap of your first career choice! I loved the Department Store Nurse comment.:) That must have been back when customer service really meant customer service!

Bill said...

This made me laugh out loud, and I can always use a laugh. I'll wager there wasn't a Cherry Ames, State Mental Hospital Nurse in the series.
It also reminded me of when I decided to take trumpet lessons because my best friend, David, had signed up. My parents bought me a trumpet, and I hated every single minute of it...the loud sound, the numb lips. Life is too short to do something you hate.

Stacy at Exceedingly Mundane said...

I had no idea... can't wait for the next installment :)

P.S. I considered, briefly, pursuing a degree in something medical related (mostly physical or respiratory therapy), but knew I could never ever get past the needle phobia I have. It has too strong a grip on me :)

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

LOL! You make me laugh so hard sometimes! I can't wait for more....

Xandra

Barb said...

"...sick people could be so cranky." That made me laugh out loud, Karen. I always thought I wanted to be a nurse, too. Like you, I read all the nurse books. The thing that nipped my dream in the bud was when I found about caring for burn victims. I knew I couldn't do it.

However, the first time I had to give Cameron a shot (insulin), I almost passed out. Now? I do it without thinking.

diana said...

guess what? ... i've never read any of the cherry ames books. i guess that's because i had NO desire to be a nurse, so they just didn't appeal to me.

i look forward to reading the rest of the story.

Tristi said...

I used to read Cherry Ames!! What a fun reminder.