When I was a girl, I suppose there was always a small part of me that was destined to care for others. I remember being at my happiest when caring for my baby dolly, or playing doctors with my younger sister (I was always the doctor); even my pre-primary classroom made a hospital setting, and I just loved being the doctor or nurse. At that point in time I didn’t realise that the very things I loved to do as play could lead me into a lifelong profession.
However, my love of playing doctors and nurses, or caring for my baby doll did not lead me into the profession I am in today; it was my childhood experiences as a patient. I would never say that I was a sick child, but I did have my fair share of medical complications, including being appointed as the ‘complicated one.’ I was the girl who turned a simple fractured ankle into Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, the one who required my tonsils to be taken out twice, and the one who turned an appendectomy into years of pain and reoccurring issues requiring a further 2 surgeries. With all these ‘complications’ I earned myself a list of chronic illnesses and diagnoses including but not limited to, hypermobility, juvenile arthritis, chronic pain syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Being the ‘complicated one’ was not easy; it often led to prolonged periods with no diagnosis and people questioning whether I was really in pain or if it was simply all in my head. There were times where I would be asked for a pain score, and the minute I said anything I was immediately judged and told that it was not correct, as if there is a correct pain score? It was people like these though, the doubters, that drove me further toward a career in the health profession. I was sick to death of being told that I was making it up. Once I decided on a health-related career though, there was an entire new kind of doubter. The doubter that believed I would never be able to handle working as a doctor or nurse, and believed that my body just is not strong enough to be able to cope. Again, these comments only made my desire to work as a health professional stronger. I wanted nothing more in the world than to prove them all wrong. I worked harder than I had before to get into university to become a health professional. For a long while I was determined to be a doctor, until it came to deciding on an undergraduate degree. I chose nursing. All the while I still had people who assumed that I was not strong enough or smart enough to make it, and maybe they had reason to believe, but I had reason to prove them wrong. So, prove them wrong I did being accepted into nursing.
Not only did I get accepted into nursing, I worked hard enough to earn myself scholarships to help me with the cost of tertiary education and moving out of home from the country. I was lucky enough to receive the Nursing and Allied Health Scholarship and Support Scheme funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and administered by Australian College of Nursing, the Curtin Principals Recommendation Award, and the Charlie Bell Scholarship from Ronald McDonald House Charities Australia. All of which I am very grateful for, as they believed in me enough, and encouraged me to take my dreams and make them a reality.
Nursing is an absolute rollercoaster of a ride, and all through university there were plenty of ups and downs. There were times where I loved everything about it, and times where I hated everything about it. However, I loved it more than I loathed it and so I continued down my nursing path. During my time as a student nurse, I still had times where I continued to be the patient, with both new and old medical issues arising. It still surprises me how I got through some semesters, where hospital admissions outweighed the time spent at university. Even my tutors and coordinators began suggesting for me to defer until I was well again, but I soldiered on and somehow passed each semester. While I may have been fighting with my own health at times, I certainly loved the feeling of being able to help others that are fighting their own battles. I finally felt that I had found what I was born to do.
Before I could blink, my adventure as a student concluded. I graduated. It was some very quick 3.5 years, and I had made lifelong memories with friends that know me better than even I do at times. They have seen me at my absolute worst: taking me to ED, crying, stressing out over the next assignment due, and walking into work like a zombie from the lack of sleep I had the night before. However, they have also seen me at my best: partying it up at the nursing ball, feeling empowered by saving peoples’ lives, completing and submitting that assignment I had stressed endlessly over, and graduating as a member of the Vice Chancellors List. With everything, finishing my final semester in the top 1% of students is certainly an achievement I am proud of.
Currently I am a full-time working registered nurse, in a graduate program at the children’s hospital. I proved all those doubters wrong. I may come home exhausted from a day’s work, but I would do anything for the job I have. I am working with sick children every day, and believing in them and all they can do is one thing I absolutely love. Putting one smile on one sick kids face is the reason I do what I do. In my scrubs, you will find a pocket of secret weapons including bubbles and stickers, and on my face, you will find a friendly smile because I am finally in the job of my dreams.
“Dreams don’t work unless you do.”