This one is a little long, so grab your favorite hot beverage and a comfy seat.
It’s a little something that I’ve been actively working on for a year now. I currently hold a license in California as a Licences Vocational Nurse (LVN). (Texas is the only other state with LVNs; other states issue licences for Practical Nurses, or LPNs.)* I earned my LVN at my local city college, and as I had also completed the general education requirements and all but one pre-requisite requirements for an associates degree, I earned that as well, graduating in the summer 2008.
It was a rather rigorous 11-month program. We had many awesome instructors who all encouraged us to continue our education on to earning our ADNs (Associates Degree Nursing). In fact, that subject came up constantly during our training. “And when you go on to the RN program…” or “You’ll see this again in the RN program,” were commonly heard in lecture and clinical. They told us that they were preparing us, assuming that we we would all eventually jump to the next level. Several of my classmates went straight on into the RN program after we graduation. I, however, reached a point where if I had to take one more exam I was going to completely lose it. I was going to go back to school eventually and get my RN, I told everyone (and myself), but I wanted to just get out there and get my feet wet.
So I went to work, life happened, and I kind of forgot that I was eventually going to go back to nursing school. I was working per-diem as a float in some very busy county clinics. Then I started having some issues. Insomnia, anorexia (meaning loss of appetite, and not to be confused with anorexia nervosa, which is an eating disorder characterized by self-starvation), as well as a really weird transient fever. At home on my days off I was fine. But every morning about 30 minutes after I walked in for my shift I started shivering. I am never cold. I would check my temperature and every time I had a low-grade elevated temperature. My doctor could find no cause and said it must have been viral. I interpreted it to mean I needed to change something up because I was not managing my stress. So when a friend of mine (he’s like a brother) told me he needed a live-in caregiver I did some math and told myself it was time to go back to school. That was five years ago.
I moved into his home and tried to settle in, but something else was wrong. The fevers vanished almost immediately. But I still wasn’t sleeping and had no appetite. I had lost 20 pounds at this point. (People would say, “Wow! You look great! What have you been doing?” “I call it the Stress and Anxiety Diet, but I can’t recommend it to anyone,” I would reply. Ultimately, I had to concede that a problem that had plagued me in the past was rearing its ugly head again. Depression. Depression, and her fraternal twin Anxiety, like to stop by whenever I make a major life change.
I said, “I got this! I’m going back to school!”
They said, “LOLz NO. You suck, you big loser. Go back to bed, because school is hard and you just barely made it last time. You’ve forgotten everything you learned working in a clinic. You’ll never make it, so just go back to bed ya big fool!”
Guess who I listened to? I listened to them for months. I listened to them and believed them to the point that not only was I no longer eating, but I was sleeping all day, and starting to consider that I didn’t need to remain on the planet anymore. Those bastards.
I had been in this place before and I didn’t want to stay there too long – because it’s a deadly place – so I did what I knew I had to do. I went to a doctor. I asked for medications. She gave me medications. Those medications didn’t work so good. I went back. I told her the medications weren’t working. She prescribed new medications and got me a consultation with a psychiatric resident. Like on the spot.** I’ve been with that regimen for over a year now and I am ME again. Depression and Anxiety were in exile.
I felt enough like me again that after just a few weeks after starting the new medications I re-enrolled at my alma mater to take a course that would begin my year-long journey to transition from LVN to ADN. But, this story is getting kind of long, so…
Application to nursing program —–> Transition course —–> Advanced Placement exam —–> WAITING —–> Invitation to Skills Practicum —–> Acceptance to Second Year of ADN Program
Only 10 students out of about 60-80 advanced placement applicants were chosen for this semester, and I am one of them. I felt like a runner-up in a beauty pageant, except this is better. (Nursing is my talent.)
Many have asked me why I’m going to an ADN program instead of on to a BSN (Bachelors degree in nursing), and there are many answers for that. My nursing program is awesome. I don’t know how all programs are run, but I’ve heard stories. All I know is that at my school, most of the instructors are graduates of our program. They’ve redesigned the curriculum – and designed it so well, other schools are modeling theirs after ours. They have created a truly nurturing environment for students, with open-door policies, and tons of resources and support. We had a two-day Boot Camp this week, where I was just as overwhelmed with the resources as I was with the amount of work that’s already due before school starts.
This is a program where I know that the instructors want me to succeed. They want me to pass my NCLEX-RN (the pass rate for this program for 2015 was 91%). And they are partnered with every major facility in my area, and most students literally walk into a new job as soon as they have their license in their happy little hands.
And this isn’t the last stop on my journey. I’ve got to get at least to my MSN, because I want to be a nurse educator and maybe an advanced practice nurse (perpetual student).
So, as nursing school is about to become my life for the rest of the year, that is likely all I’ll be blogging about (if you actually hear from me again). Just kidding. I’ve got to share this journey. It’s going to be incredible and challenging and sometimes downright difficult. But that’s okay. Because I’ve got this.
**I cannot over emphasize to you the importance of finding a health care provider that actually listens to you. If you feel you and your provider are not on the same page GET A NEW ONE. Immediately. Life is too short to try to work it out with a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant that you don’t feel is taking you seriously.
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