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This is why I became a PICU nurse

If you have been following me for a while now, you know I am a PICU nurse. For those of you just stumbling across my blog for the first time, now you know! Most people aren’t familiar with PICU.. it is the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. I take care of critically ill children. I often write about the tremendous challenges of being a PICU nurse.

Recently a parent of a child I was taking care of asked me why I decided to specifically be a PICU nurse. And I realized, I’ve never written about that part of my story. I’m sure a few people know. So here goes.

When I was 4 years old, I had a syncopal event. I’ll never forget that evening; it is one my first memories and the day my grandma told me to go away, she didn’t want me there. That was my first PICU visit as a patient at one of the biggest Children’s Hospital in the city, which also meant it was far from home. I spent many days and nights there. Passing out doesn’t seem like a big deal in the realm of all the things that could go wrong except for the fact that I was always passing out. My biggest scare was that next year in 1991. I passed out on the bus ride home from kindergarten. And to much dismay, my grandma never realized I never made it home. I recall waking up to the sight of my mom sobbing as I lay on the bus floor. It was cold outside, hours had passed by and we were in a parking lot filled with other school buses. The darkness of the city was made known that night.

That event bought me a ticket to lots of specialists. I’m sure it was hard for my parents and I’m sure there were days they felt so much guilt for leaving me in the PICU alone. But my cardiologist and neurologist were there and home was far and my mom just gave birth to my baby brother. Some days my aunt stayed with me, and I was grateful for her presence. But I wanted my mom. There were many days I felt sorry for myself, many nights I cried myself to sleep. During one admission, I shared my room with a 2 year old who was also alone. She was inconsolably crying when a nurse walked in and held her and sang to her. That moment resonated in me, I don’t know why her parents weren’t with her, but I understood what she felt. That day changed my perspective of hospitals and nurses, even doctors. I wanted to be them, and be like them. They were superheroes, superheroes in scrubs, showing genuine love to children they never met before. By 1992, all the medical staff knew me by name. They knew that to get me to do anything all I required of them was an orange soda. They brought forth laughter to a child that really needed to laugh.

God made a mistake, I should have died. I lay unconscious for over 10 hours. That season lasted until 1995. It was a time of much cardiac and neurological monitoring and testing, a season of lots of medications and blood tests. A season of many limitations that held me back. It was a difficult season in my childhood to say the least. In life, we all go through seasons of hardship and suffering. I’m not sure why God allows certain seasons in our life. This particular season brought much insecurity, fear and fear of being forgotten. Yet even in the darkness, there was much fruit. You are the vine and I am one branch. That season of my life prepared me to not fear being alone, for someone is always watching over us. My grandma may have forgotten me that day, but there was someone who didn’t. Most importantly, it was preparation for a season yet to come. I became a PICU nurse so I could be for a child what my PICU nurses were for me.

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