Why I do what I do #1: Becoming a nurse

2 Jul

I would like to dedicate this post to Kate Donovan for inspiring it with a twitter conversation. You are an amazing person ūüôā

I have been working very hard the last while to get into nursing school. I am sure I will update that on this blog when it comes through

A few people have asked me about why I want to be a nurse and I have given a variety of answers. There is a few standard buzz lines I have for the people who ask in passing. I want to help people. I find the medical profession very interesting. I have come to have a love of sciences and I thought this would be a chance to use them to earn a living. Nursing is a nearly guaranteed job if i’m willing to relocate.¬† Nursing is a profession where being trans is less of a barrier. All of these answers are to a varying degree true but its more than that to me.

Let me explain a couple experiences I have had.¬†Shortly after I started transitioning I was out for my daily walk and I hurt my ankle very badly. By the next morning it was quite swollen and I needed to go into the emergency room to have it checked out. I was really self conscious walking in there, I was just¬†starting to leave the house in woman’s clothing and the anxiety still made me feel like I wanted to puke. I was¬†also¬†not very convincing at this point. I had no concept of makeup and I hadn’t had laser yet so I had very clear “shadow”, I was also dressing in¬†somewhat gender neutral but feminine leaning clothing because I was fearful of being laughed at, and I also was still very heavy (325 lbs)¬†and had no breast forms.¬†I had started hormones but they had no effects yet. After sitting in the waiting room for hours and feeling like I was being stared at by everyone I got called in for intake. The nurse asked me what the problem was, examined my ankle then proceeded to take my medical history. After asking about medications and me listing the hormones she asked me why I was taking those and I said that I was transgendered. Her reply?

“Well, you look nothing at all like¬†a woman”

Experience number 2. I had surgery on my other ankle a couple years ago and it was fused and pins put in. Unfortunately the pin came loose and came out the side of my ankle so I had to go back in for some cleanup surgery.¬† My name change came in after the surgery appointment but before the surgery itself. I thought I had taken care of that at the pre surgery appointment but apparently not.¬† Everything went well getting signed in at the hospital, and getting brought into the surgery room, I was called ma’am and miss and even a very flattering young lady (i’m not either).¬† It came the moment where they needed me to sign the final consent for surgery and it had my male name on it. At that point the nurse looked at me with disgust, she started calling me sir, and him and Mr. It was humiliating. Fortunately my doctor came in to clear up the situation and called me Anna¬†and used female pronouns.

These are very important examples of why I want to be a nurse. Having a health care professional treat you with respect and dignity no matter who you are or what your past is can be vital in making someone feel safe enough to access medical care. Trans people let illnesses fester, become ill, and can be dissuaded early in their transitions because of bullshit like this. It can KILL people. I want to be there to be a smiling face. Nurses are usually at the front line of care for a patient. I want to give love and acceptance and make people feel safe, trans or otherwise. Everyone deserves dignity.

Let me give you one more story that is close to my heart. It happened much earlier and will explain why nursing has been a goal for many many years. I was 19 years old and had gotten very ill with a mental illness. I had lost my school year and found myself admitted to a psychiatric ward for care. I felt hopeless, I felt ashamed, and I saw absolutely no future for myself. There was one nurse there named Becky. She talked to me and took time with me and her kindness and gentleness finally got me to admit to the gender issues I was facing. She didn’t laugh, didn’t frown, she didn’t judge in anyway. She asked me what would make me feel better. I said I wanted to shave my legs. It was one of the only things I felt safe doing that wouldn’t show at home with my parents. Sharps on a ward tend to be frowned upon especially since i was on suicide watch so she went and got permission, stayed past her shift outside my shower so I could shave my legs. She even provided tips which have proven very useful over the years. I never forgot her. I felt human and not like I was sick. She made such a difference in my life and she put herself out to do it.

That is what I want to do. I want to be a nurse. I want to make things better because I care. If I can make a difference for one person it will be worth it.

Thank you Becky, wherever you may be.


3 Responses to “Why I do what I do #1: Becoming a nurse”

  1. willonyx July 2, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    This was a fantastic article Anna. You will make a wonderful nurse.

  2. Kate Donovan (@donovanable) July 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    That was beautiful, Anna. You’re going to be such a valuable person to both the patients you see, and the hospitals you work for.

  3. promethics July 3, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

    Hope you get into the program soon. We need more nurses like you.

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