Getting sick was one of my biggest fears going through the Psychiatric Nursing Diploma program. There’s no such thing as a week off mid-semester in a fast-paced program. When I got a respiratory infection a few weeks into my fourth semester, I was terrified that it was going to compromise my success. I couldn’t believe my body would let me down like that!
I left my family doctor’s office close to tears with the news that I couldn’t have outside human contact for a week. That meant no psych nursing practicum, no Therapeutic Relationships process recording, and no leaving the house for groceries. I had to learn the importance of healing and giving your body time to do so.
I called Emma, my Student Success Coordinator, and delivered the bad news. I was so grateful when she responded with empathy and understanding. She helped me form a plan to keep on top of my schoolwork. She also helped me connect with my Practicum Coordinators so that we could plan as well. I think I was so disappointed in myself that I had the misconception that other people would be disappointed with me too. With this huge weight off my shoulders, I picked up some antibiotics from the pharmacy and crawled into bed.
For a few days, I could barely catch my breath just walking up the stairs. I spent a lot of time sleeping as my body recovered, but my sleep wasn’t restful as I kept waking up gasping for air. It was one of the most terrifying illnesses of my adult life. While I was awake, I studied as much as my foggy brain could handle. When the weekend finally arrived, I started feeling human again.
I collected my thoughts, planned my weekly schedule, and focused on catching up. I was fortunate to have understanding instructors who helped me cope. Couldn’t be more grateful for my family who helped nurse me back to health, and to my school supports who gave me peace of mind to focus on what was truly important – healing.
My Practicum Supervisor and Practicum Coordinators organized a time for us to meet via teleconference and plan a way to get back on track. They had excellent and creative ideas that would help me connect my experience in practicum with theory and then share that information with my cohort in a valuable way. I felt supported in being successful in my program, which has been an ongoing theme for me at Stenberg College.
Having this respiratory infection was an eye-opening experience for me. I now see how a strong healthy person can be reduced to such a vulnerable state so quickly. This week gave me so much more compassion for those who experience chronic or acute respiratory illnesses. I felt a tremendous amount of anxiety when I couldn’t get enough air. It was as if no breath was deep enough to catch all the air I needed.
I also felt supported and cared about by my school in a way that I hadn’t expected from an institution. My Okanagan cohort kept in contact and wished me well. I truly felt like everyone was just rooting for me to get back on my feet so I could get back to life as usual.
Now that I’m on the mend, I can’t wait to face whatever scholastic challenge is next.