Be joyful and grateful who said the road to nursing was easy

There are numerous reasons I included. There is another biggie though. My close friends know that 7 years ago I underwent what would be the first of three surgeries to repair my back. I had artificial disc replacement. Fortunately, it immediately provided relief for the pain I’d experienced for so many years, even after physical therapy, water therapy, steroid shots, and pain medication. At that time, it was determined that I also needed repair for severe GERD ( Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease).

Rather than undergo two surgeries, I opted to have both done at the same time, being the replacement and a Lap Nissen. -surgery#1 Knowing what I know now about both of these procedures, I would never have made that decision. It was too much for my body to handle and my Vagus nerve ended up being “disturbed” after my disc replacement surgery.

This resulted in nausea so severe I could not even hear about or smell food. I went a full month not being able to eat anything or keep anything down. For another 12 months, I was in and out of the ER, had nearly every diagnostic test you can think of to rule things out, and ended up on strong medications to control something I can’t even describe in words. Pain isn’t it. Discomfort sounds too minimal. Nausea is usually equated with something that can be remedied easily like the flu or a bad hangover. Not the case. This felt like death.

My potassium levels plunged so I started passing out at home with my blood pressure and heart rate being out of whack. I had severe allergic reactions to two medications, one giving me stroke-like symptoms. I took numerous showers because for some weird reason water was my only reprieve. My husband had no idea what to do since nothing helped. My family tried everything to get me to eat. Popsicles, soup, even Ensure. I can’t look at that stuff without gagging. I had my gallbladder out since one of the tests revealed it was full of stones, so it was thought that might have had something to do with it. It didn’t. Tests kept coming back normal and doctors could not figure out what had happened except to say that my Vagus nerve had been disturbed. There was no way to determine if these changes would be permanent or resolve. It was assumed at this point that it was permanent or that I had gastroparesis.

While I had some weight to lose, I didn’t have enough to compensate for this much, so I looked anorexic. I ended up losing nearly 70 pounds and briefly had a feeding tube before I met with someone who helped guide me back to health. She wasn’t a doctor, but she knew food and how to get my body to calm the hell down to start over. I had to eliminate everything and begin a whole new way of eating. After 12 months, I was finally beginning to feel like I reached a turning point. It was painstaking and to this day my digestive system is not the same. But just four years later I ran several races and even my first (and what would be my last) full marathon. I got a tattoo not only to celebrate the milestone but to remind me how grateful I was to cross the finish line and overcome what would be the most trying time in my life.

Between the woman named Skylor that helped heal me and the incredible nurses that helped me with my showers- the ones that saw me at my absolute worst, writhing in the most severe form of nausea and discomfort you can imagine, I knew that was the type of presence I wanted to be for other people; calming, reassuring, patient, honest and get that it’s OK to laugh, even at awkward or darkest moments. The person that will understand when a symptom can’t be put into words or explained. And the person that will not run away from a case that appears impossibly challenging, but rather face it head on alongside you.