Well today is the day that I am suppose to be dead. On January 15, 2010 I was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension, which was basically a death sentence. I can remember hearing those words so vividly in my mind from a cardiologist that didn't know much about the condition and he basically replied with ,"I'm so sorry. All I can do is refer you to a specialist."
Being a young, naive nursing student I whipped open my med/surg nursing text book and looked up the topic. Big mistake. It said I was going to live at max 2.9more years without treatment. I then closed my book told myself that there has to be more to the picture and sought out the help of a fabulous specialist.
I was brought to st.lukes medical center and under the great care of Diane Zwicke. Just for a second, try and imagine yourself a 21yr old young, thriving college student being having to consider giving up everything you worked so hard for with limited amount of time to even use any of your knowledge and skills. Yeah I choose not to have to consider that either because I understand that life will never give me more than I am capable of handling. Once you can look past the dark details, it only motivated me to become more optimistic. Optimism+Lauren slattery= time to start rockin at life. That is exactly what has been done in the last three years.
I am proud of myself for multiple reasons:
The whole time this was happening, my boyfriend was able to stick it out with me while he was in South Korea for another 8 months. He could've easily broken it off with me, but we both chose to keep it going because honesty and communication are the groundwork of our relationship.
i was kicked out of Carroll's nursing program temporarily because I was an inpatient at the hospital and accidentally missed computer training for clinical. Tell me that's fair. My mom (RN), aunt Karen (professor of journalism with emphasis in ethics), and uncle mark (attorney) all help fight the injustice of the nursing board and bought me right back in to where I was originally. I felt targeted and anxiety stricken the whole rest of the semester because I felt as if I had to perform at an incredibly high level because of my "inconvenience" of rejoining clinical. I passed the semester by a 0.6%. Boy, was I all smiles after that-and talk about a huge confidence boost!
I completed 110 miles of the MS150 bike tour with my mom (due to weather reasons) to celebrate a healthy heart.
I have been able to attend two national PHA (pulmonary hypertension association) conferences in CA and FL and meet other PH fighters of all ages. This doesn't even begin to touch on the support system I have built through. I have meant some incredible individuals that can directly relate.
I was asked by my cardiologist to take a job working with her on the same floor I was a patient on. Good old 10T :) I have been able to connect with so many distressed patients of all ages. Its rather ironic and sort of funny when you are 24yrs old and pep talking a 70yr old about how they are getting the best care and they will make it through. I have found more satisfaction and made more personal connections through working as an RN the last 2yrs than some nurses have in their entire career. I adore my coworkers and am so blessed to have scored such a great job opp right out of college.
I have been able to speak out in awareness on many occasions. My two biggest being in a video for Aurora Healthcare and being interviewed in the quarterly cardiovascular newsletter. I have recently been asked to help try and start up a PH walk for the surrounding milwaukee Area to get the word out there. There is nothing more I love than getting the word out there and telling my story!
There are multiple more reasons as to why I am proud of the development of myself the last few years but these are just to name a few. One of my patients once told me that I am a 24yr old going on 70 because of all the life experience that has exploded in my short time span. I would say its less of the actual experience and more of your reaction to it. There are far too many people in this world that are Debby-downers, I take those individuals as my challenge. I will do my best to not be a pessimist because life sucks when your in a bad mood. It's all perspective. There is always someone out there who is far worse off than yourself... Trust me, I've seen a lot of different situations, or talked with professionals who deal specifically with the broken. Everything really be ok, I promise :)
I always become estatic for the new year as well because I love seeing at the end of it the journey you have gone through, the people you met along the way, and all the things that made you laugh. The sooner one learns to laugh at themselves, the sooner the world begins to uproot its irony and greatness.
You might ask me how I am celebrating and I will say by practicing my civil responsibility of participating in jury duty. Yes, two full 6+hr days at the milwaukee county court house with whatever the law wants to throw my way. It has been a very good experience to me because of the awesome, down to earth people I have met. These past few days have sort of reminded me that even though the world does have crime and injustice, there are still a good number of great hearted citizens out there that believe in doing good things in the world. Not really your typical response when people ask how jury duty was, but then again then there are few people in the world named Lauren Slattery. I guess that's what keeps the world spinning: variety.
Everyone there reading this can celebrate with me too, all you have to do is close your eyes, look upward, inhale deeply, and exhale confidently. Happy rockin at life everyone!!