DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Most of us get to choose our careers, but sometimes life chooses for us.
“I was running a nursing unit in my home,” says Children’s Health registered nurse Kim Arnold with a laugh as she recalled all but “living” in hospitals when her triplets were born premature in September 2003.
All three were small and magically fragile, but Nate struggled the most and eventually had a lung transplant.
“I think it was sitting in the ICU, when I realized I already do a lot of this stuff,” recalled Arnold, who say she then told her self: “I can do this and I got so much encouragement from so many nurses.”
But her first job was to care for her boys.
Nate ultimately was not able to overcome the medical challenges brought on by his early birth. Arnold started her first nursing class a month after he died, telling CBS 11 that nothing would make such a loss OK but her history has been able to help her bring a special perspective to her pain, giving it purpose.
“I would call my husband every day of clinicals, during nursing school, and say ‘Oh my God! I figured out what I want to do when I grow up!’ And he would laugh,” recalls Arnold. “I would say, ‘I’m gonna be a nurse! I’m gonna be really good at it. And I’m gonna love it! And I have never regretted that decision.”
She says her history has given her special insight that her patients’ parents appreciate.
“I had a mother in a moment of crisis look at me and say ‘you just don’t understand!’ And I said, I haven’t walked down this exact path, but I have walked a few miles in these shoes and `yes, I do understand: you’re frustrated and you’re angry’.”
And mom Kendra Caffey are so grateful– her daughter Zena celebrated her third birthday at Children’s Health last week. She’s been in the hospital for five months, waiting on a heart.
“When Kim’s our nurse, it just makes it that much easier knowing she’s been through this,” shared Caffey, while making sure her pint sized powerhouse Zena doesn’t wander far. “She’s gone through these down and ups, and it makes a difference to have someone you can relate to.”
And if there’s anything that touches Nurse Arnold more than her patients, and love of nursing, it’s organ donation, because it gave her family the priceless gift of time.
“Gave us Disneyland, Longhorn football games, gave us laughter,” she shares with a smile. “Gave us hugs that we would never have had.”
Now, she’s been given the chance, every day, to give her loss meaning: helping others in a very special day.
“I have no doubt that this is where I’m supposed to be, doing this job, in this hospital,” said Arnold.