faith / life / photos

How/Why I Became A Nurse

I had a post thought up of how I was going to walk through the most amazing professional cooking class I’ve ever experienced in my life.


Like holy heavens, please don’t stop bringing me food. Please, I BEG of you bring my more pork belly. No, I’m serious turtles here..more pork belly.


Or the ice cream with fizzy grapes made with a sugar syrup from local Australian bushes. People it was clever food. Really clever.


Raw marron, with a creamy bisque and avocado cream. amazing!


Then I opened my google reader…and I realized (have been waiting for these) that SRT is starting 10 days of testimonies. Today’s selection was about a family who is moving to the Ukraine to work with orphaned children, many with disabilities.

After reading the post, I keep thinking about how I became a nurse…I get asked it every single day.

In July 2009 I was still reeling from what I wanted to do, recovering from a break-up, and trying to sort out what my next move was going to be in life. I was at the time working for a university, had two degrees, and had only taught in a classroom for 8 months before moving to Australia.

My friend, Anders, was working at the Bahkita Heath Centre in the middle of the East Timorese Hills. An amazing place really. Magical at best.


Something changed in me. My axis shifted. (story originally posted here)

When we first arrived in Gleno (town in East timor), there was a little baby on the other bed who looked like they were in horrible shape. The oxygen mask that was on the baby was adult sized and honestly didn’t fit. Anders went out into the ambulance and got a child sized one.

Anders goes to me ‘He is in not good condition, has a high fever.’

The baby, a 1 year old little boy, had an IV drip and oxygen mask. Sad. In the ambulance we go. Woman (who was in ambulance with broken hip and had to be taken to capital city another 1.5 hours drive), woman’s family, baby, baby’s mom, me, Anders. Nine of us.

The baby, come to find out has a horrible case of Malaria and  pneumonia to boot. He still needed oxygen while we were driving to Dili about 1 1/2 hrs. drive. Anders tries to get the oxygen tank to work, but there’s no oxygen.

‘Michelle, do you mind if the woman sits next to you in the front seat? I need you to give oxygen to the baby the whole time while we are driving’

‘Yeah that’s fine’ I reply.

Anders handed me the manual oxygen mask thingy. You know the kind the you compress with your looks like a bit bubble and it presses oxygen through an attached mask.

Here I am in the front seat with a little baby who has an IV attached to their hand, pressing an adult sized mask on it’s face pumping oxygen into it’s tired little lungs. This was for 1 1/2 hours. My shoulders burned from reaching around behind the back of the mother to hold down the oxygen mask while using my left hand to pump the bubble as best as I could.

The IV bag was swinging back and forth and at one point we all got sprayed with saline solution as the IV detached itself from the bag due to the rough conditions. These rough conditions also induced the woman who fell off the tree and one of her family members to start vomiting.

Michelle, do you see any plastic bags back there for them to vomit in?’

‘No. I don’t. Why don’t the use one of the latex gloves?’

‘Good idea.’

This conversation is while I am still pumping the oxygen bubble, keeping the mask on the baby and making sure I wasn’t squishing the mother too much.

As we careen down the mountain slopes navigating between slow coffee trucks full of people and coffee beans, mini buses packed like sardines and motorcycles I tried to maintain my mental state as vomit was hurling out the window and all over the back floor. Nothing like wiffs of vomit.

At one point, as we were absorbed into the beautiful drive through the mountains, I had to hold back the tears. Here is a little baby that without our help may have died in Gleno. I prayed the whole time, that every time I went to tap his head, tickle his feet, readjust his mask that he’d respond.

Please God, I beg you, don’t let this baby die on me.

We raced through town with sirens on, navigating unruly traffic and chickens to get to the hospital. I was tired. emotionally zapped.

We got out of the ambulance, the woman delivered, the baby settled. I handed them paper work and followed suit in washing my hands.

‘Michelle, that was intense for your first run. Are you ok?’ Anders probed gently.

Feeling the spring of emotion bubbling up and tears in my eyes ‘I don’t want to talk about it right now.’ I said back.

‘That’s totally fine. We’ll debrief later. You did a great job, thank you for your help’.

We drove the ambulance to the back of the hospital to wash down the vomit and disinfect the ambulance. Even then the smell wasn’t gone.

While driving around I said to Anders,

‘I just didn’t want that baby to die. I was so afraid that he was going to die on me. Every time he’d kick I was so thankful. Watching his eyes roll into the back of his head was too much for me at times. He just looked like he couldn’t fight anymore’.

‘Oh, and I am your left winged woman!’

We left Bakhita at 1:15pm and got back to Bakhita at 9:15pm. 8 hours.

I loved every second of it.

I was changed.forever.and.ever. I came back to Australia and enrolled into university to start a nursing program in January of 2010. I remember the day when I got accepted into the program, I felt like I was following what was planned out for me. I felt it was right.

Sometimes we just have to go with the crazy voice in our hearts that tells us to do something..even if we don’t know how it’s going to work out, how the money will be found, how the logistics will pan out. Just go with it. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

Mish xo



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