When I was 15 years old, my family and I went on a road trip to Illinois to spend Thanksgiving with my grandparents. The trip was going well until the right side of my face went numb and I became blind from the swelling on my brain.
The blood rushing through what turned out to be a tumor in my head created a loud buzzing sound anyone standing right next to me could hear.
As soon as we arrived at my grandparents’ house, my parents took me to a small town doctor to figure out what was wrong. The doctor said my parents needed to take me home as soon as possible.
A grim diagnosis
After Thanksgiving, my parents drove straight home past our house and to our family doctor, who sent us to a neurologist and then to the hospital. After several tests the doctor told my parents I had a hemoblastoma (blood tumor). He said they could take me home, but I wouldn’t live to see Christmas — or I could have surgery. We were told I might come out of surgery with some physical challenges — if I survived at all, but there was a slim chance that I would be OK.
I remember them taking me into the operating room and getting ready to shave my head. I had no idea what was going on.
When I woke up in the ICU 10 days later, my left side was paralyzed. A wonderful group of nurses and therapists took care of me. One nurse would ask me to try and move my left side, and whenever I’d say I couldn’t do it, she’d respond, “Can’t died in the battle of try!” So I kept trying.
I ended up going home on Christmas Eve.
I’m going to ride my horse
I was told I would be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life, but I was getting a horse for Christmas and I was determined to ride her! I went through months of therapy and was able to ride my horse by my birthday in April.
I tried to go back to school, but I was really behind. My teacher suggested I go to night school. He asked me what I wanted to do with my life, and I said I wanted to be a nurse like the fabulous nurses who took care of me.
My teacher helped me get into an LPN program, and I graduated the year I would have graduated from high school. After almost 20 years of helping people as an LPN, I became an RN.
I’ve had an amazing career and have shared my story with my patients to give them hope that they too can get through whatever they’re going through.
I’ve always said God wanted me to be a nurse, so he kept me around.
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