Thursday, January 29, 2015

What I Didn't Want to Be

What do you want to be when you grow up?

That's a fairly common question for children of all ages.

For me, this was easy as pie to answer.

I wanted to be a teacher. From the moment I realized that people had jobs, I wanted to be an elementary school teacher.

To be fair, I come from a long line of educators. My Papaw was a teacher, a coach, a principal, and a superintendent for 35+ years. My Mamaw was a teacher for over 40 years. I had two uncles that were teachers/coaches, one of them for a little over 30 years. And my mother was a teacher for 9 years.

I have fond memories of spending the weeks before school started helping my mom set up her classroom, cleaning her erasers on the electric "chalkdust sucking machine", getting rides around the school on the janitor's dolly, and taking a peek at the forbidden boys bathroom just to see what it looked like. I remember seeing my mom grade papers at night and looking forward to the day I could use a red pencil to make check marks and smiley faces. And one summer day, I remember having the school library all to myself while my Papaw worked in his office.

I graduated from college with an Elementary Education degree and finally got to wield my own red pencil for a while.

But as Ryan and I were prepping for Lily's IG infusion last week, I got to thinking about a question that most people don't ask children -

What do you not want to be when you grow up?

Again, for me, had anyone thought to ask, this would've been easy as pie to answer.

A nurse.

I vividly remember thinking at various times during my growing up years that I did not want to ever be a nurse. I wasn't afraid of needles or blood or snot or vomit or anything like that. I just knew as much as I knew that I wanted to be a teacher that I did not want to be a nurse.

I also remember voicing this my junior year of high school when we were taking one of those standardized tests that was supposed to calculate your strengths, weaknesses, interests, personality traits, and the like and "match" you to good career choices.

Of course, when the results came in, the test revealed teaching to be my best career choice. Ironically enough, nursing was my third best match but whatever.

I did not want to be a nurse.

But since life is crazy and unpredictable and funny and doesn't really care about standardized test results, I have become what I did not want to be.

I am a nurse.

Oh, I don't have a nursing degree. Or any letters after my name. Or a paycheck. And I can't actually go apply for a nursing job.

But I am a nurse.

And let me tell you a few reasons why.

I have...

  • given insulin shots in the arms, thighs, tummy, and upper behind area
  • mixed insulin cocktails of fast-acting & long-acting insulin
  • used LMX (lidocaine numbing cream) like a boss
  • an unbelievable vocabulary of medical jargon & acronyms
  • treated both high and low blood sugars
  • checked blood sugars on a sleeping kid in the dead of night
  • learned how to work 4 kinds of insulin pumps
  • done site insertions
  • never had to administer glucagon but I know how to do it if I need to
  • counted carbs until I had every food in our pantry memorized
  • worked a breathing monitor and responded to alarms at any time, day or night
  • seen so many x-rays that I know what normal and abnormal looks like on various internal organs
  • learned the difference between hospital alarms that mean an emergency and those that don't
  • calculated input/output on whiteboards that could be considered works of art
  • monitoring chest drains after open heart surgery
  • been the only assistant to a real RN starting an IV and getting blood samples - I was wearing gloves, clamping tubing, opening & closing vials for samples, applying tape.... crazy, actually
  • kept EEG electrodes on a kid's head for 5 days straight
  • given sponge baths while keeping open heart surgery stitches dry
  • collected urine and stool samples like it's no big deal
  • at one time or another, cut out gluten, dairy, casein, grains, tropical fruits, white sugar, dyes, preservatives, additives, hormones, and any other nasty thing in food you can think of 
  • administered multiple drugs at various times of the day for years
  • cleaned up endless amount of bodily fluids


I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.

And I did that.

I did not want to be a nurse when I grew up.

But I did that, too.

And I've done it a whole lot longer than I ever taught school. 

And seeing that Lily is supposed to receive IG infusions every two weeks until she's 18, I'm not done being a nurse anytime soon. 

Which just goes to show, life is crazy and unpredictable and funny and doesn't really care about standardized test results.

What about you? What did you not want to be when you grew up?


  1. I wanted to work in an office. Growing up in the 70's and seeing women do that for the first time was really empowering. I did not want to be a stay at home mom. I have done both. I worked in Human Resources for a large company for over a decade and have my degree in that field. However 3 years ago, I began homeschooling my kids and thus became a stay at home mom. Now I homeschool all 3 kids, 4, 9 and 11. The youngest has severe hearing loss and speech delays. I love what I do, but never thought I would.

    1. Isn't it funny the things we do for our kids? I taught school but said I would never homeschool and I did that, too. We just gotta do what we gotta do sometimes.

  2. Fellow T1D mom here. I'm nodding my head reading the list. Plus I have ordered and reordered and lectured about medical ID bracelets. Took about 2 years for Nathan to get used to it. The bullying didn't help.

    1. Oh - medical ID jewelry! We were lucky when Ryley was little because there were these cute little necklaces that she didn't mind wearing. Fast forward to middle school and there's just not really any cute med ID jewelry. We found some but honestly, I was as bad as Ryley. I had her wear it when we traveled but I let it slide at home. She doesn't wear any now but we just talked about putting an emergency card in the glove box of her car and I need to check to see if she did that. My mom has always thought a small, inconspicuous tattoo on the same place for everyone (so that medical personnel know where to look) is a good idea. Ryley says the insulin pump should be enough of an alert. But we recently dealt with an ER doc who was VERY uninformed about T1D so hmmmm..... And kids can be SO mean. Grrrr.....

  3. My son keeps an emergency card in his wallet and glove compartment and has it in his phone. All at my insitance of course.


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