Calling

For the longest time, I never really knew what I wanted to do. Sure, I had my interests. I thought that maybe I could apply them and make a career out of them. Maybe I could be an elementary school teacher? I do love kids, after all. Or how about becoming a professional musician, a world-renowned saxophonist? Music has always been a passion of mine. But as interesting as these and many other ideas have sounded, no matter how glorifying or fun, none of them ever seemed to make sense. They didn’t fit… No matter how hard I tried my hands and mind at something, nothing ever truly ‘clicked’. I knew I wanted to make a difference, to help people, but I didn’t know how. And for a long time, I thought I’d never find what I was meant to do. That is, until my sister nearly lost her life.

My sister had been sick for some time - she had been diagnosed with mononucleosis a year before. But even though after some time she had felt better, she never totally recovered from it. Every time she came down with a common cold, she would come dangerously close to another hospital visit. But at the beginning of this past August, her health took a scarily steep downward spiral. Her fever and blood pressure skyrocketed, her breathing was severely labored, and control of bodily movements and functions were obliterated. So they rushed her to the hospital, where there was someone who could help her for certain. Or at least that’s what we were told. Some infection was attacking her. Maybe a virus or a cancer? They didn’t know… My sister was dying faster than they could take vitals and they had no idea what was killing her. Shooting her up with chemotherapy was the only thing they could do to keep her alive long enough to allow them to work, to slow down whatever was wreaking havoc on her body. After multiple nights of heart stopping fear and tear inducing prayers, we each took turns sitting with her in her room. She was in ICU, under special isolation guidelines. For all they knew, we could be bringing in whatever made her sick. So we all had to wear gloves, gowns, caps and facemasks. I remember one night in particular – I sat with her for a couple hours, watching her sleep. But even though she was asleep, she didn’t seem restful. Wires and tubes came out of almost every imaginable opening in her body, preexisting or not. Her toes and fingertips were blue, her face splotchy and hair greasy and matted. The whirring and beeping of the monitors on both sides of her bed drowned out the sound of the television across the room and the chatter in the lobby of the ICU. I couldn’t help but stare, even though I so desperately tried not to. I’ve never had a problem with being there for someone or helping people – Sitting beside my sister, watching her cling to life, I had never felt so sick in my entire life, nor had I ever felt so helpless. My sister, my best friend, was clinging to life and all I could do was sit there and keep her company.
As I sat there contemplating how this could have happened or why, a nurse came in to check on her. He was incredibly nice, sincerity and warmth flowing from his voice and reverberating with each step he took. He took down her vitals, then asked me to leave for a bit so he could clean her. I could see caring and trust in his eyes as he spoke to me, then to her, even though she probably couldn’t even hear him. As I stepped out of the room and closed the door for him and his assistant, I thought more about the nurse. He seemed nurturing, trustworthy… He seemed happy. He knew what to do to make a patient and their family comfortable, even if the situation seemed hopeless and bleak. I fostered this thought for a bit, and as I sat in the waiting room, it hit me: This is something I could do. This is something I could actually be happy doing. And for the rest of my sister’s stay at the hospital, not only did I watch her, but the nurses as well. I observed them as they bustled about, checking on patients and talking to the families. I watched them working at the computers in the lobby, entering information and chatting with their coworkers. And the more I watched, the more I felt at ease… I felt almost at home, in a sense. I could almost see myself doing this and being happy with it.
After my sister slowly came out of her coma-like state, she regained fractions of strength and awareness. As she progressed, her doctors said she was free to go home, but wasn’t quite well enough yet to stay alone and take care of herself. I immediately volunteered to stay with her at her home and look after her. I love my sister with all my heart, but that was intense work! I had to keep track of medications and help her with multiple tasks. It was hard work… But I’ll whole-heartedly admit that that was the happiest I’d been in a very long time. Part of it was because my sister was doing so much better than she had been just three weeks ago. But I knew the other reason why, and I embraced it with every ounce of enthusiasm, energy and love that I had. I had found my calling – I wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to have the knowledge and ability to care for people, providing care and comfort to patients from all walks of life, no matter how long or short their stay in a hospital room may be. I want to be the nurse that emits the same warmth as that one young man had, that night when everything else seemed so hopeless and when both my sister and I had seemed so lost and far gone from everything we knew and loved.
I know one must work hard in life, but I’ve found it is so much easier to strive for greatness when I have a goal in mind. I’m working harder in school than I feel like I have my entire high school career – I’m taking challenging classes and staying involved in my school. I’m even carrying on a family tradition and joining the local volunteer rescue squad. I’m not going to lie, it is hard work, and it is stressful… But even with the day-to-day stress, I’m far from complaining and I couldn’t be happier. I know where I’m going, and I know that I will get there. You never truly know who or what will change your life.





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