Becoming a mom was something I was told wouldn’t happen for me… So, becoming a nurse, advancing in my career, and taking care of others was my priority… Half of that has since changed.
I am now a mother, which is my #1 priority in life… but taking care of others and working on the frontlines of healthcare is STILL a priority as well. Let’s backtrack…
I had Leukemia when I was 10… Relapsed when I was 11, which resulted in a bone marrow transplant in April 2000. I am now healthy and “cured” from all of this. However, I was faced with the fact that due to my cancer treatments at such a young age I would never have the ability to become pregnant.
This was something that was very hard for me, and I learned at a young age how to mentally deal and cope with this.
My mother and aunt are both nurses, and especially after being taken care of by nurses for almost 2 years of my life growing up, I knew this was my calling.
I worked hard towards my nursing degree and I became a nurse at the young age of 21!
I knew that being a nurse was MY profession.
I married my now husband, Cory when I was 23, and we had planned our lives without children.
When I was 25, I wanted to advance in my career in nursing and decided to go back to school for my master’s degree and my career goal was to become a Nurse Practitioner.
However, 3 months into my master’s program, I found out I was pregnant with my first son, Liam. This was something every doctor said they had never seen due to the test results showing that this wasn’t possible for my body. Needless to say, when Liam was 8 months old, I found out I was pregnant with my second son, Noah.
The idea of quitting my master’s degree program, and focusing on ONLY being a mom was one that crossed my mind daily. But I was halfway done with the master’s program at this point, and quitting NOW just wasn’t something I could have lived with. Again, furthering my career was something that was always a priority to me, and at this point, I was now doing it for my children as well.
So I finished my master’s degree, and have now been a Nurse Practitioner for 1 year. I have been a nurse for a total of 10 years. My entire nursing career has been spent at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, which is an extremely large academic medical center with a level 1-trauma center. I was a nurse on a medicine floor for my first 3 years but knew this wasn’t my place. I have been in the adult emergency department for almost 7 years now, and there’s no place I’d rather be.
The only worry with working in the emergency department however is the fact that you are the FIRST ones to evaluate a patient.
YOU are the FRONTLINES of healthcare.
I never imagined being a healthcare provider through a pandemic. Never, not once, was this something I ever imagined happening, nor did it ever cross my mind. I always felt we had adequate personal protective equipment, and that I was always “safe” while taking care of others.
Since the outbreak of COVID 19, that has changed. I go to work and wear a mask for my ENTIRE shift. I change my clothes before I leave work, but I am still paranoid about cross-contamination from my previous clothes to my clean ones when I get in my car to drive home. I trust all of my coworkers, but at the same time, we sanitize our workstations after taking over from one another in fear of not knowing what the last provider was exposed to during their shift.
COVID 19 is SCARY, SERIOUS, and unpredictable.
As time passes we are getting more information and knowledge with how to manage COVID-19, but let’s be honest, at this point, it is still SO new, we still don’t know. Which makes it even scarier. I’ve personally seen what it does to HEALTHY, young adults. Going to work has become something that makes me a little nervous.
I ONLY feel safe in the comfort of my own home.
When I come home from work, my boys have always met me at the door, yelling “MOMMY” and rush to come over and hug my legs. I have become cautious about this… which makes me sad for them because they don’t understand. I drop my stuff at the door and tell them to “wait til mommy showers” and I have to make sure my bags are up so my boys don’t get into them due to my concern for having the virus on my stuff.
I am positive at work, and there’s still no place I’d rather be in my career. Being there, in the frontlines, whether there’s a pandemic or not, is where I have been lead to be.
But the worry I feel when I walk in the front door of whether today was the day I was exposed or not, is surreal.
However, taking care of others, while being the best mom possible to my boys is still, and always will be my top priorities.
Author, Nikki Myers