A collection of short stories of growing up in Newfoundland in various out ports where my father served in the RCMP, becoming a registered nurse, moving away from Newfoundland, living raising a family and practicing a nursing career in Nova Scotia, then returning to Newfoundland in 2000.
About the Author
Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe is a 54 year old Newfoundland trained nurse who had a childhood dream of becoming a Registered Nurse, and steered towards that goal all during her formative years. A carefree Newfoundland childhood, the oldest of 5 siblings, and three sisters who are nurses as well.
CAPPING OFF A CHALLENGING AND FULFILLING CAREER
It was October 1966, my parents drove me to the Grace Hospital Nurses Residence in St. John's, Newfoundland. My three year nurses' training had begun. I loved it and I never looked back. I had waited so long for this day. Not quite eighteen years old and full of vim and vigor I wanted to get started. I wanted to become a nurse. In October of 1969 that dream became a reality as I walked away from the Grace General Hospital with the initials 'RN' after my name. Little did I know that the major part of the learning process was just beginning. And that learning process continued to a day in June 2000, in a little Nova Scotia hospital where I had worked for so long, and where I had made the biggest decision of my adult life, to set Nursing aside and pursue other interests and dreams and to move back to Newfoundland. At the age of 51 a new stage of my life was about to begin. At the same time I could not leave Nova Scotia until I had registered as a nurse in Newfoundland again. Obviously a second thought and a nagging doubt was lingering in my mind. It was so very hard to let go, so hard to walk away, but I knew in my heart of hearts that it was time. As my mentor and friend, Marilyn, used to tell me "the hardest thing in life is knowing when to quit!"-and oh how right she was.
Wanting to be a nurse went back to childhood days, and it never occurred to me to do anything else, to have any other career. Nursing was my dream, and that was that!
After three years at the Grace I worked in Grand Bank, Newfoundland for three months in 1969. Then I returned to the Grace General Hospital to work, and to be in St. John's made it easier to prepare for my wedding. I married Alvin John Lowe, known to many as 'Joe' in April 1970. He was a member of the RCMP, and at that time members of the force were not permitted to be stationed in their home province. So we left a week after our wedding to set up housekeeping in Nova Scotia where we lived and worked, raised our family, and made lifelong friends over the next 34 years. We have fond memories of Nova Scotia, but it was time to come home.
In Nova Scotia I worked in Sydney Mines, North Sydney, Lunenburg, Halifax and Windsor. The major part of my life in Nova Scotia was spent in Windsor, gateway to the magnificent Annapolis Valley. I worked at Hants Community Hospital in Windsor for many years.
I have three sisters and a brother. My three sisters are nurses as well. My brother is an Electrical Technologist. My sister Margie works in Urodynamics at the Health Science Center in St. John's, NL, Beryl has been a nurse in Northern Labrador for more than twenty years, and Kathy, the youngest sibling is teaching at the School of Nursing Studies in St.John's, NL. My brother works in St. John's as well. Five siblings, with RNs, BNs', and Masters Degrees combined with very diversified acquired skills keeps a family conversation very lively indeed. My brother David watches in quiet amusement from the sidelines.
I have often been asked what it takes to be a nurse. My first reaction is to say "sheer grit and determination, a good strong back, and the ability to suffer the human condition, both the good and the bad."
But a nurse also needs the ability and strength of mind and body to be able to cut down a teenager who has hung herself, and deal with the gut-wrenching heartache when she finds the child who has decided to die is a baby she delivered sixteen years before. It takes the fortitude to tell a woman in labor that her baby is dead, and it takes the dedication to stand in the Operating Room in the middle of the night for an emergency and see a young mans tuxedo lying in pieces on the floor with blood seeping into it, as the surgeon works frantically to save his life, know ing his life will never be the same after this accident that brought him to us.
But Nursing has its' rewards, and I would not change the career I chose but there is much more to it than meets the eye. Mathematics, physics, psychology, and good old-fashioned stamina and common sense are total necessities. The sadness of a grieving family is often offset by the birth of a beautiful healthy newborn, the smile of the stroke patient as he does something by himself for the first time, the young diabetic who has mastered self-injection and is so proud, and so much more positive happenings enable the sadness to be absorbed and allows the nurse to continue on. Nursing is an art if done well, and a gift as well.
Retiring was a word that was difficult to say for a long time. I could not believe I did not have a Nursing job, but the system is in chaos now, the workloads extremely heavy, and the hours long. I knew that in order to do other things I would have to forge ahead into uncharted territory and begin anew.
And lo and behold I did find that there is life outside of the hospitals and Nursing, and I also discovered that once you are a 'Nurse', you are always a 'Nurse'.
I had a wonderful fulfilling career, with all the ups and downs that go with working with people who are experiencing great highs and awful lows in their lives, but there is and was fun and laughter, teamwork, friendships that will last forever, and self satisfaction that I did my best, as I am sure most, if not all nurses do.
I was always known as the 'Newfoundland Nurse' while working in Nova Scotia, and it was a pleasure. I wanted to be the Newfoundlander who showed how we can laugh at ourselves in spite of it all.
And in spite of it all, a few days ago a cashier at a grocery store asked me as I turned to go if I was a 'Grace Hospital Nurse'. She had noticed my graduation ring.
"Yes," I answered proudly, "I am a NURSE!"