I did not always want to be a nurse. It wasn't one of those lifelong dreams from childhood. I actually never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up and I sometimes wonder if there is still something else I am supposed to be doing with my life. I like to think I was kind of "chosen" to be an RN. Sometimes we are given a course in life that we did not choose and you have to make the best of what is given to you.
I grew up and lived most of my life in Western Kentucky. After my first divorce (I've been married twice... so far!) I went to school and received an Associate of Arts in Office Administration. I got married again after I graduated and started work as a secretary at an Engineering Consulting firm typing up all the reports and general clerical duties. Engineers handwriting is almost as bad as doctors! I did that for a few years and then I had a baby.
My only child, my son, Nevada, was born 3 months premature after a very difficult pregnancy. He was not expected to live through the night when he was born. He did live though, having a very rocky first year of life, spending 10 months of that first year in the hospital in PICU. Nevada was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, seizure disorder, hydrocephalus and a multitude of other disabilities. He had a trach, g-tube, VP-shunt placement, Nissan fundoplication and several other surgeries. He was on a ventilator, at home, until he was 3 years old. I became a stay at home mom, taking total care of Nevada at home, and he grew to be a very happy, outgoing, full of life little boy who always had a big beautiful smile. He just lived his life in a wheelchair but was fully included in the regular classroom at his neighborhood school his whole life with many adaptations and support. He had a very full, happy, good quality of life filled with family and lots of friends!
My second marriage to Nevada's father was a very bad situation with many years of emotional and verbal abuse. We divorced in 2002 after 16 years of marriage. Nevada was 12 years old at the time. I had no job, no money and couldn't see myself being able to support my son on a secretary income in the town we lived. My step-mother was an RN and she encouraged me to go to nursing school. She believed in me and knew how well I had taken care of my son and also that I would be able to take care of myself and Nevada on a nurse's salary. So, at the age of 40, I was accepted into the ADN program at the local community college.
I graduated with my ADN in December of 2005 and started working at the local hospital on the Neuro/Med-Surg unit I worked there for 5 years and received my NIHSS certification. Nevada's health started drastically deteriorating at the age of 18 and he passed away very peacefully in his sleep at home in May 2010 at the age of 19. I knew I had to make some major life changes. So, 6 months later, I moved close to Nashville, Tennessee and started work as a staff RN on an Ortho/Neuro unit. But moving to another state wasn't enough.
My son, without ever speaking a word, had taught me that you have to live life to the fullest. You have to go and see and do all you can while you can. The saying, "You only live once", is not true. You live life every day and you have to make the most of each and every day. Quality of life is so much more important than quantity. I like to think I see the positives in any situation and I don't see the glass as half full, but as always full (half water/half air). I don't believe much in "can't" and believe more in "how can we make this work".
I love taking care of my patients and their families, making them smile, supporting them emotionally while they are in the hospital, being their advocate and helping them heal or to make them as comfortable as possible in their last days. It makes my heart feel good. I have been where they are and I know what they are going through.
So, in July of 2011 I started my travel nursing journey. I have been to places I never thought I would go and I have done things I never thought I would do. While the money is good, it is not why I travel. I have worked mainly in Med-Surg with very basic telemetry skills. I do have my ACLS certification. I really want to advance my cardiac experience, but that opportunity has not come along just yet.
I have been to North Carolina, Maine, Florida, Wyoming (2 summers at the same hospital), New Mexico, and Arizona. I am in Wyoming now and getting ready to head back to Mesa, Arizona for the winter which will be my second contract at Banner. The only contract I had a bad experience was in New Mexico. The rest have been great with both the hospital and the area.
My mom lives in Kentucky, my dad passed away several years ago, and I have one sister that lives in Mesa, AZ. I am single and travel by myself, with no pets. I do, however, pull an enclosed trailer everywhere I go which contains my motorcycle. I ride my Harley... a lot. Riding is my therapy, my stress release, my getaway. I was in a motorcycle accident in May of this year. I had pretty minor injuries considering I was almost hit head on by a car passing illegally. I am very lucky I was not hurt badly. I'm pretty sure I have this awesome angel that follows me around to watch over me. My bike was totaled. I WILL be getting another motorcycle, hopefully by the end of the year, and absolutely cannot wait to ride again!
While I like and deserve to get paid well, as I do love to play tourist a lot, it is not the reason I travel. I love meeting new people, making new friends, and I absolutely love seeing our amazingly beautiful country we live in on 2 wheels!!!
Special thanks to Beverly for sharing her story and Dorothy Grezik for allowing us to re-post it from her Facebook group: Travelers and Recruiters Unite!
We would love to hear your travel nursing story! If you are up to the challenge, you can easily submit your story online. Whether you are just getting started as a traveler or have traveled for several years, your story could inspire others and help them decide if travel nursing is right for them. Thanks!