• Bre'a Belle

Make Me Proud

On August 5th, 2016, yours truly received a practical nursing diploma after spending two birthdays in nursing school, after having more panic attacks than a normal person should have, crying a river of tears, and wanting to throw in the towel throughout the majority of the year. It almost sent me over the edge. I graduated on a Friday, spent time with family and packed on that Saturday, and I was in Huntington to stay for good on that Sunday. Even though my mom was in tears when I left the nest and I left my own baby bird in the nest until I got on my feet, nothing compared to that first Monday after graduation. There was no class, no clinicals, and no homework; I could finally breathe again. Make Me Proud by Drake and Nicki Minaj was what I used for this title because me and my classmate Tyler would ride in his truck when he'd give me rides home and we'd blast it. We couldn't wait for the day when we could finally feel proud because we survived nursing school. That very last day of class we flew away from the Voc school with the windows rolled down, screaming the lyrics to the top of our lungs. That was one of the single most happiest moments of my life. It was when I felt free and for me, feeling free only came around once in a blue moon.

It was hard to believe for the first few days. Relaxing without my nose in a book felt amazing. But I wasn't completely out of the woods. Graduating was a huge accomplishment after going through hell and back, but I was still facing the challenge that was the NCLEX-PN. A couple of unexpected people doubted me the entire school year, hoping that they could tear me down enough to throw in the towel. To put it simply, they decided from the very beginning that I wasn't good enough to be a nurse because of something that was beyond my control and couldn't change. No matter what happened, I kept seeing my life as a single mom trapped in McDowell County making minimum wage in a grocery store. Then I looked at the possibility of a future as a single mom leaving McDowell County with the capability to give my baby a better life. That was the only thing that kept me going and any negativity or bad vibes made me go even harder.

The NCLEX-PN was legendary and at some point at least every nursing student cowered in fear from it. You might get a laugh out of this if you've never been in nursing school. That exam is vicious enough to bring someone to their knees. If you have been a nursing student, this might be the equivalent of telling a scary story around a campfire. I didn't think that I was physically able to handle that kind of pressure. I swear I almost had a heart attack.

Studying was stressful because my ability to concentrate sucks. But I was up bright and early, sometimes after staying up all night, watching Orange Is the New Black or listening to Broccoli by Dram and Lil Yachty with my nose in my books. I got distracted a time or two because of the excitement of getting engaged immediately after graduation. Luckily, I pulled it all back together so I could fave my boss battle of the year bravely. Of course I got frustrated and of course I got discouraged. The rules of the NCLEX were simple but intimidating. You had three hours total to take the test. You could have up to 285 questions (I think) or you could have as little as 85 questions and it wasn't good to spend too much time on one question, second guess yourself, or fly through them all. Pass or fail, the computer would kick off whenever you reached either conclusion.

I rolled over that morning and panicked. I thought that it was definitely going to take divine intervention for me to pass. I wanted to call my Uncle Andrew for prayer (and I nearly fell apart when I remembered that he was no longer with us). My memory of everything up until that moment when I sat down in that chair. VTN (is blury? maybe? you kinda trailed off) First question was pharmacology and I wished that I could have used the ridiculous false lashes that I wore that day to fly my ass out of there. I really could have cried.

Every other question from that point on was either an OB or Geriatrics and I could have screamed (I passed both subjects in school with a 100 in Geriatrics and 104 in OB. Hence the reason why I'm happily working in OB now). 85 questions later, the computer kicked off and I wanted to scream. I didn't know how much time had passed until I stumbled to the car and realized that I had just taken my boards in 45 minutes. The entire weekend was pure torture. I couldn't eat or sleep (even though I used the trick where you know that you passed if you can't go back in to register for the test again). By Monday morning at 9 o'clock, I was officially a Licensed Practical Nurse and I would never go through that shit ever again even though it was worth it.

I've done well for myself in Huntington. I've wiped a dozen tears away and I've held the hands of people that were practically strangers but I still cared too much to let them take their last breaths alone. I've pushed myself beyond my limits and I've broken down, thinking that I wasn't working hard enough. I take my career seriously on a personal level because I wanted to take care of my little people in the facilities like I would have taken care of Granny if I would have gotten the chance. I look forward to what OB/GYN has in store for me because I want to treat the young girls and women like I wanted to be treated during both of my pregnancies. I know for a fact that I'm just getting started and I'm excited for the future. No matter who comes along or who falls off, I won't lose sight of my drive to keep pushing. It's been three years and I still can't believe it. I was almost one hundred percent sure that that test was going to tear me apart if school didn't get to me first.

It was definitely my bravest moment. Every bit of it was from the time I hitchhiked with Auntie to the Voc School to take the entrance exam at 10 o'clock in the morning in the middle of April when I had to pull a shift at Goodson's later that day. You can bet your ass that I hiked all the way back to Havaco on foot and I was a nervous wreck the entire time. I really didn't want to do it because I didn't know if I was ready to leave my baby and take time away from him to study and go to clinicals. All I wanted was to give my baby a better life because it was about him and Devin from the very beginning even though Devin hadn't come along yet. That walk really made me look at my situation and I was determined to be something better. The year flew by in a flash and now I have the opportunity to heal from being at my weakest. I felt like I could finally live the life that I was afraid of losing before I could even get close to it. The entire year of school and my boards was the greatest accomplishment of my existence.