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Holistic Nurse Persevering Through Adversity

A Nurse's resilience and perspective: from a tragic accident that catapulted her into the role of "patient", to living the Pandemic from her couch, to returning to a new normal caring for patients, full circle.

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Kristen Reed, Nurse and Health Coach overcomes with resilience and perspective.
Kristen Reed, Nurse and Health Coach overcomes with resilience and perspective.

I’m Kristen.

…A 10-year Registered Nurse, Board Certified Holistic Nurse, and Certified Health and Wellness Nurse Coach. On “just another” Tuesday morning, that all almost ended for me.  

After being in a devastating car accident, hit by a truck on the highway while driving into work at Brigham and Women’s hospital, I suddenly became the patient during what was coming of the Covid-19 pandemic.  I was rescued by a fellow passerby, who happened to be a veteran ICU Nurse at my hospital, who summoned an ambulance and advocated for my health and safety during those crucial moments.  She is now lovingly referred to as my guardian angel, as she undoubtedly saved my life with her swift and expert actions and her gentle voice that I can still remember hearing in and out.

Being thrown into the back of my SUV with glass shattered on me and in me, breaking several bones, suffering a concussion, and being told by doctors that I was lucky to survive the accident, reminded me of something I experience every day as a bedside Nurse: life is fragile, and tomorrow is not guaranteed.  When I came to, I was filled with gratitude to simply be alive! But, as much as grateful filled me, so did guilt and a sense of grief.  Guilt and grief for not being physically able to be on the front lines with my colleagues while they endured and fought this horrific and ever-evolving pandemic.  An ironic sense of “survivor’s guilt” ensued.  

Trying to make the most of my limited physical abilities, I did all I could to offer moral support, encouragement, and seek out donations for (precious) PPE, from my couch, as I recovered. I continued to develop the Wellness Program I’d started at my hospital, as well as created a “get one give one” campaign for my Self Care Kits, for every kit that was purchased, I donated one to a Nurse on the front lines.  I was so happy to offer this and enact some action for good to help my fellow Nurses.  It filled my heart and gave me a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that I was able to make a small difference, from afar.  

Months later when I was finally cleared to return to work as a bedside Nurse in the Neuro step down unit, I practically skipped (painfully) into work with my newfound gear: a face mask and shield.  This new normal for me was not only personal, but professional, too.  It is a true honor to care for patients in their darkest times, and that felt truer than ever before.  Throughout this Pandemic and period of personal growth, I am reminded yet again, of how fragile life is, and how undeniably grateful I am to be here at the bedside, again, doing what I love! It is all about perspective.

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