My son Cameron is medically complex…if you are one of my twelve subscribers, you know this. But did you know in the state of Colorado, if a special needs child qualifies for a nurse aide, his parent can get certified to be that child’s nurse aide and get paid for it? This was an amazing opportunity for our family, and for many families with special needs children, and one of the many reasons Colorado is the bomb diggity. Seriously, this program is a life saver. So I jumped on it as soon as I heard about it earlier this year.
I’m a veterinarian, I thought, this should be no problem. Vet school was hard, I passed boards, I know lots of big medical words…being a nurse aide should be easy. And oh yeah, I’ve basically been Cam’s personal nurse for the last two years. The nurse aide course, written test and practical exam should have been a breeze, right?
You know that saying, pride comes before a fall. Yep, its fo real, yo!
I completed the nurse aide course in October, attending classes every night (I actually lost ten pounds that month, just because I didn’t have time to eat. NOT a recommended weight loss plan, but I’ll take what I can get). Then last Saturday, I reported to the testing center for a 70 question written exam and a 30 minute practical test, in which they randomly pick five tests (out of 22 possible) and I perform them for a nurse proctor.
I was super anxious, and aware of how picky the test was. I had heard the rumors of people failing the test for little details like a blood pressure off by two points or forgetting to put on shoes. I passed the written test no problem (like I said, words like dyspnea are everyday to an old doctor like me).
But next was the practical test. I won’t give you the sweaty details but I was nervous, and I rushed through, not quite sure by the end if I had remembered to say “I washed my hands” twenty times. Relief that it was done, and I could finally move forward to take care of my own son in an official nursing capacity, I waited in the hall for my score. And then my colleague, whom had served as my patient during the test, told me I didn’t raise her arm high enough during the shoulder range of motion skill. At first, I swore she must have been mistaken- I did it EXACTLY as I had learned. But then, I wasn’t so sure. We waited about two hours to get the results (they needed to be faxed to some big head in the sky, then faxed back).
Dr. Barrow, professional veterinarian, experienced cancer mom, FAILED. Upon further investigation (ie looking at the print out the nurse gave me), there was one thing I missed. I did not lift the arm high enough. I missed it by five inches. Literally.
Devastated, embarrassed and super duper depressed, I drove home, debating whether or not it would be a wise idea to drop by the liquor store real quick. I did not. I went home and emailed my new boss (the home health care company depending on me to pass these tests so they could hire me) and rescheduled the retake practical test. Then, I sat on the kitchen floor and cried. A lot.
So Saturday sucked. I moped and felt sorry for myself and made snarky comments like “make your own dinner, I’m not smart enough to lift an arm right.” My patient family rallied around and hugged me all day and I ignored them, but Sunday, it started sinking in. I was being a big baby.
Having a sick kid in our house has sucked. But one of the little silver linings in that drama is PERSPECTIVE.
Sure, I messed up, whether it was nerves, pride or simple human fumble, but AT LEAST:
- I didn’t hurt anybody. In most of the other aspects of my life (veterinary medicine, parenting, taking care of sick kid, driving a car…) if I screw up, somebody else pays for it.
- I’m not Harvey or Matt. Boy, are there a lot of old dudes out there paying the price for acting like predatory, chauvinist buttheads (as they should be). At least I’m not that bad.
- I don’t have cancer. In fact, although I’m a fairly stressed out adult, I’m healthy. I’ve got a kid here who can’t walk or talk, has dodged death on more than one occasion, has a lifetime of challenges to face, and he’s still smiling. Who am I to cry about five inches?
Saturday, I straight up didn’t want to talk about it. But today, like I’ve said before, writing about my failure helped me, and for some reason owning up publically has been strangely cathartic. I’m hoping I’m not the only person who has messed up and had to face it, fix it and move on.
My pride hurts, and I’m bummed I have to wait longer to get my license, but it’s time for me to suck it up.
Thanks for reading, I’ve got to go. I’ve got some nurse aide training videos to watch.