Sitting in my living room after a long, hard day at work, I caught a glimpse of my mothers photo. I thought about how it wasnt until I went into nursing that I was able to come to terms with the greatest challenge I have ever faced: the loss of my mother.
When she died during my freshman year at Virginia Commonwealth University, I was distraught and lost; school was the last thing on my mind. My love for medicine had driven me to major in biology with a pre-medicine track. After the death of my mother, I remember staring at my biology book and feeling overwhelmed, and having a hard time staying focused and keeping up with my studies. I was 18 and on my own, and many times I just wanted to give up and drop out of life.
Months of soul-searching made me realize I had to change my major because I no longer had the necessary concentration and motivation to do well in the sciences. Roughly five years later I graduated from VCU with a BA in English and made the big move to New York City.
Id always wanted to live there, and when school was over I sought to realize my journalistic ambitions as a writer for a fashion magazine. I came on board as an unpaid assistant to the fashion marketing director of an underground fashion and music magazine.
At first it was exciting, new and entertaining, but the fashion lifestyle quickly wore thin. I found myself caught in a web of superficiality in which wearing the wrong-color shoes or eating at a not-so-trendy restaurant could make you subject to hours of gossip and ridicule.
I began to feel very lost and unhappy and realized I needed to go back to my core values. Growing up I had the opportunity to witness my mothers endless compassion as an OR nurse when she took me to work sometimes. I saw how she settled patients nerves in the preoperative setting, her meticulous attention to detail in the OR and her calming touch as she resettled and reoriented patients in the post-anesthesia care unit.
At this crossroads in my life, the memory of my mothers drive and commitment to her career and family made me work hard to reinvent myself as the woman and daughter I knew she would want me to be.
When I decided to go back to school, I made sure it would be to pursue a career that would be fulfilling and challenging, something in which I would take pride. I decided to enter the nursing profession and reclaim my life. It turned out to be one of the smartest decisions I have ever made.
Thanks to my mother, I always have had a profound respect and admiration for nurses and nursing. Working as a nurse has given me confidence I never knew I possessed. It has motivated me to propel my life forward by continuing my education and thinking outside the box about ways to improve. Beyond that, the confidence the nursing profession has bestowed upon me has propelled me to overcome my mothers sudden and tragic death with grace.
I feel privileged to be in this field because as a nurse I have the closest interaction with my patients. I am my patients advocate the one they turn to for answers when they are in pain, when they have questions about the course of their treatment or if they simply need comforting. It is empowering to know the knowledge within me is able to soothe and heal others, that I have the ability to extinguish a familys worries and give them the confidence to go home and leave their loved ones in my care.
When I look at my mothers photo today, I see a part of me, a fighter. My mothers legacy and strong character have inspired me to continue to move forward. I took the long road to get to where I am, but my experiences have shaped me into the person I have become.
Saghi Tehran, RN, BSN, is a staff nurse in the neuroscience ICU at Inova Fairfax (Va.) Hospital.