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Rated: E · Non-fiction · Tribute · #1490258
Sometimes the people we think we are helping are truly the ones that are helping us.
After leaving my flight school program at 19 I decided that my "destiny" would be fullfilled by becoming a RN. I ended up getting into a competitive program. Upon completion of my prerequisites I would automatically be accepted into nursing school at the University of Washington, the top nursing program in the nation. I also got a paid internship with a private health-care company that offered a scholarship and career placement upon graduation with excellent pay and benefits.

Ironically enough, I ended up getting placed in a beautiful home of a RN to take care of her son that suffered consequences from brain cancer he got at the age of 15. (he was 28 at the time I got hired) He had reverted mentally to the age of a child, suffered severe short term memory loss, and had mobility issues due to the parts of his brain the tumor had affected. His name was Donny.

Because of the memory loss, every morning when I would come in, I would have to re-introduce myself to Donny. Even though I had been taking care of him for 5 months our each encounter was as though we had just met. But this particular day was Christmas and small miracles were to happen. As his mom got caught up rattling off to-do's, Donny came up to me with a huge smile on his face. He said, "Excuse me for interrupting. But I know you. You are Dana!" His mom went silent. It was the most moving moment I had ever experienced. I was the first person he had remembered that wasn't in his life prior to the cancer, the first person in 12 years. As she left for work, she told me this was the first time she had felt hope in a very long time. Unfortunately though, this ended up being his last Christmas.

Donny's health started to deteriorate and a few months later we found out he was suffering another brain tumor. Between working 16 hour days four times a week and going to school the other three, I started getting sick myself, and was physically and mentally burnt out. I lost 40 pounds and went from being a 4.0 student to a 3.2. I was averaging 3 hours of sleep a night. My neurophysiology teacher pulled me aside and wanted to know what was going on. I had taken biology and chemistry with him prior and he had noticed the changes. He told me he was worried and that I needed to take care of myself. I guess I just needed to hear it was ok to think of my needs too.

I spent the next few days contemplating what to do. I finally decided on leaving the nursing program and my job. I can tell you it was by no means an easy choice for me, but my heart knew it was the right decision. Prior to Donny's death I ended up adopting his dog Sebastian. A little mini-schnauzer who.....happens to be snoring in the chair next to me this very moment. :)

I will always be thankful for the time I did have with Donny, he was the kindest soul I have ever met. But I guess the thought I want to leave this with is that sometimes the people we think we are helping end up helping us in more ways than we can imagine.

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