Sunday, March 2, 2008

Getting Through Nursing School with Sickle Cell

Choosing nursing as a major was an easy decision for me to make. I've always been interested in being a nurse, especially since I noticed that when I was sick, the nurse was the one that had the most input into my well-being and care. I went straight from high school into college at Oakwood, and it was one of the most liberating experiences of my life.

For starters, I was 1600 miles away from my family and saw them only 4 times a year. The overprotective cocoon that I had been sheltered in disappeared and I actually learned more about myself and my strengths. My school counselor encouraged me to turn in the paperwork to the health clinic at our college about having sickle cell; and they in turn gave me a letter to give to all my teachers when I got sick.

Most of my teachers were really understanding and supportive, they knew what sickle cell was all about---hello, they were nurses! Luckily for me, I didn't fall sick at all the first semester. However the second semester, I had to start school 2 weeks late because I was in the hospital for 10 days in January.

All I did was place a call to any of my teachers in the nursing department, and they would spread the word. My teachers sent homework and teaching plans and my classmates shuttled them back and forth. I was still behind when I came back to school and there was a test that same week. I had the option of not taking it, but I didn't want to dread it for another week so I crammed my best with my friend Shay and took the test. Of course I failed with a 68% but at least it was out of my hair.

My school had a 100% pass rate on the NCLEX and they wanted to keep it that way. So you had to get 75% minimum grade on every class or you would flunk out. It was hard passing Med Surg with that low of a grade on the first test of three, but somehow, through God's grace and the help of my peers, I made it work.

When I was not sick, I amped up on getting all my assignments done to perfection and staying ahead of the curve. I was the top 3rd person highest scorer in my class, staying up late nights studying for hours and hours. Shay was a great influence (she was the top scorer), and she helped keep me focus and determined.

I won't lie to you, nursing school was hard--hella hard. But I truly think I was meant to be a nurse, so there was no way I wasn't going to make it through. This was one fight that sickle cell wasn't going to win.

So to all my warriors in school determined to fulfill their dreams and destinies, hang in there. It's tough but totally worth it.


Asclepius said...

Have you graduated or are you still in school?

Vixen said...

Hey Asclepius!! I've graduated since 2001. I've been working as a nurse since that year as well. Love your comments, keep 'em coming.

Asclepius said...

I am a cardiac/critical care nurse! :) I graduated from Morehead State University, KY in 1993. I've been living in the Chicago area since 2000. I originally came here as a travel nurse working at The University of Chicago doing step-down, fresh post-op kidney transplants, second day post-op liver, LVAD's and heart transplant. After that I was on contract to Christ Hospital working on an investigational study for LVAD's for two and a half years. After the end of that I finally took a position in a growing N.W. suburban hospital that was just moving into doing open heart surgery.

I am trying to transition into a CHF educator position currently. I've been on the floor now for 15 years and it's time to make a change. Although I've had a very gratifying career my body and mind are tired from the extreme stresses of the job.

I've been working part-time in CHF education now for the past 8 months and they are just getting around to posting the job position. It's ridiculous having to interview with 3 separate people for a job I already am doing and for which the coordinator is not interested in filling with anyone else. Sometimes corporate America can be exasperating.

You and I really should get together and talk about Nicosan. I've got some other information you should be aware of. This drug could be made available sooner than later. Look at Gleevec. A large group of cancer patients got together and made sure that it was made available for use prior to approval because it's efficacy and safety profile was so much better than anything that was currently out there for use. They made it happen for them and together we might be able to make this happen for sickle cell treatment.

My first experience with sickle cell came when I was working on the S. side of Chicago. It really pained me to watch what these people go through and I was infuriated by the way they were treated by their physicians and by the staff. There was very little sympathy for them. Nurses didn't want to administer pain meds because they labeled these patients in their minds as junkies. I've always felt that if a patient is in pain he should receive pain treatment. I've never been one for holding back unless the patient is overmedicated or obtunded.

Drop me a line if you get a chance.

Kristina Bruce

Anonymous said...

So glad I stumbled upon your blog. I am raising a child with sickle cell. Thank you for sharing your day to day with us :)

Vixen said...

Kristina, thanks for the message. I'm emailing you tonight!

Anonymous, I hope it helps. Just trying to speak out for those of us going through stuff that only few other survivors understand. I hope your child does well, this generation definitely has it way easier in medical advancements than we did.

The Riley Chronicles said...

Thanks Vixen, I was the anonymous poster. Didn't have a blog yet and just posted. I was paying about starting one, researching to see what on the net, and found your blog.

I have since started one Check it out sometime :).

Right now, she is doing pretty well. She is 1 1/2 years old. We have only had one pain crisis and no hospitalizations or other interventions.

My niece, four months older than my daughter also has SCD. I haven't mentioned it in my blog as of yet, because I don't know how they would feel about it.

She has been doing well also.

Your blog is informative and inspiring to me. Again, thank you so much for sharing.

I look forward to getting to "know" you better :)

The Riley Chronicles said...

That should be praying about starting one, lol, not paying ;)