Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Looking the Part

I feel like a fraud.

I stood in the dressing room at our local uniform store, awkwardly tugging on the navy blue scrubs that I was trying on, and cracked the door open.  "Mom?" I called, in a wavering voice.  "Do these look okay?"  I sounded like I was twelve.  Not twenty-four, and certainly not old enough to be entering nursing school, where I will all too soon be put in charge of something small and manageable, like someone's life, for instance.

I have the navy scrubs, two sets of them.  I have the sensible shoes, that will support my back and wipe clean with a towel.  I have those things, but I feel like I'm pretending.  Like I'm playing dress-up.  I'm terrified that on my way to my first clinical shift, someone is going to collapse on the sidewalk or in the coffee shop that I'm walking past and someone will stop me and say, "Please, can you help?!  You're a doctor/nurse/you know what you're doing, right?!"  No!  I don't!  I don't know a thing!  And yet, here I am, marching off into rooms filled with unsuspecting patients, asking them to proffer me their wrists, so I can search for a pulse, their upper arms so I can over inflate a blood pressure cuff on them, and their shivering backs, so I can listen for breath sounds that I can't interpret, anyway.

There are two things, however, that I am bringing with me, that I do think will help.  The first is my grandfather's Timex watch.  My grandfather wore this silver watch for as long as I can remember, and my mom held onto it for the past sixteen years since he died, tucked away in her drawers.  When I mentioned that I needed a watch with a second hand for school, she pulled it out.  A new battery and a new wrist band later, I am outfitted for pulse-taking and contraction-timing with the most perfect watch I could ever want.  I think of him when I look at its reassuring hands, and I remember how safe I felt in his lap.  Maybe I can bring a little of his calmness and steadiness to my work.

The second thing I am bringing is my mother's stethoscope.  My mother put herself through nursing school long before I was born.  She did it as a single mother, while raising two little boys (my older brothers), with no money and almost no help.  She fought an uphill battle in order to be able to provide for her family on her own, without depending on anybody else.  And through sleepless nights, and government checks, and the aftermath of divorce, she did it.  She did it, and she believes that I can do it too (though under considerably easier circumstances, I might add).  And I am so grateful that every day, as I struggle to learn and to measure up, and to prove to myself and my professors that I can do this - I will have her reassuring presence with me, hanging around my neck, or resting in my pocket.  The stethoscope that helped her realize her dream will now become a part of mine.

6 comments:

stalkingsarah said...

these are such wonderful talismans to have!

Tu Nguyen said...

you're the real deal. always were. always will be!

Allison the Meep said...

So cool that you're keeping those treasures with you in your new career. You will be great!

NOELLE ALOUD said...

This is truly awesome.

Jumping Bean said...

not a fraud.
a talented.
strong.
and brilliant young women chasing her dreams.

with some tokens of importance to keep her going.

Cait said...

Thank you so much, all of you. You give me some much needed confidence.