Sunday, August 07, 2011
A Dream We Dreamed...
For this is all a dream we dreamed one afternoon so long ago.... -- "Box of Rain," The Grateful Dead
Saturday morning, I got a message from my friend Cyd that she'd found out that she passed the NCLEX, the test that officially made her a nurse. That meant the the Three Musketeers-- Karen, Cyd and I, who frequently studied together, had all passed it. It made the fact that I started as a nurse today even sweeter. Karen is the second from the left in the top row of the picture and Cyd is seated far left.
Looking back to that picture, it's hard to believe it was only two years ago. I remember walking into that hospital for clinicals. It was, ironically, the hospital I was taken to after my motorcycle accident in 1988, when I was a younger guy. Three of the people in the picture dropped out the first year, but returned to repeat it-- successfully-- this past year. My friend Bisrat, seated just below me, far right, dropped out this past year in the first semester of the second year, but is returning to finish up this year. He dropped by my home one day last week so I could return his Ob-Gyn book, which he'd lent me, and so I could lend him some books that had helped me succeed in the program. We talked about how difficult the third semester, the semester he dropped out in, was-- it was the only semester I got a "C" and not a "B" in-- and I realized it helped him to know not to drop out if things were a little rough.
Today, I spent a day hearing about policy, OSHA, insurance, etc. It wasn't exciting, but I was excited nonetheless. I'd worked hard to get there. I ran into a school friend, Monika, who had worked as a tech for the same company, and was now going to be a nurse like I was. I asked her about her license; she told me that I should get an official notice that I'd passed the NCLEX along with an application for the license. I hadn't received it yet, I told her.
When I got home, it had arrived in the mail; it had taken the post office two weeks to forward it to my new home. I filled it out, including the "change-of-address" part, wrote out the fifty dollar check and walked it to the mailbox.
This is going to be a month of transitions. I've taken my first baby steps to being a nurse. About the same time I finish my training for my new job, I'll be working my last days at the restaurant I've worked at for 11 years. It's very bittersweet. At 50 years of age, I'm ready to not be a waiter any more. But there are many, many good memories there. There are couples who I remember coming in there on dates. Now they're married and bring their kids in. I remember when Joe and Don, who have been together since 1978, came in for their anniversary, and told me the sweet story of how they met. I'll miss Jim and Marybeth, who gave me a card when I graduated. I'll miss Steve and Margaret, and their son Richard; I remember when Richard first arrived-- they brought him into the restaurant. Now Richard is a fine young man. And there are my co-workers. I remember nights hanging out, probably a little too long, talking, drinking. That'll soon be done.
I remember when I got into nursing school-- I got the letter in April of 2009. We sat the kids down and told them what the deal was. I was going to be very, very busy for the next two years. But at the end of that was going to be a degree that would assure a job for me, and a lot more financial security for the family. I remember back to when I made the decision to leave teaching and enter the health care field. It was a huge leap of faith-- faith that I could pull it off financially (and that was no mean feat-- financial resources appeared out of nowhere to help that). Faith that I could handle the material. And faith in myself. That was, maybe, besides the financial security this will provide my family, the biggest deal. I did stuff that terrified me, stuff that I never believed I'd be able to do. I realize that I had been suffering a crisis in confidence back when I decided to change careers. In seeing this dream I dreamed so long ago come true, I feel really damned good.