After graduating from the University of Texas School of Nursing at Austin, I spent my nursing career as an operating room nurse, and worked at the only trauma hospital in Austin at the time, Brackenridge. I was in charge of Cardiovascular surgery. We also went through another pandemic during that time, AIDS. It was a frightening time to be working with blood every day. Facts about transmission came slowly, and there was no remedy.
In part because of surgeon’s and patient’s concern about blood bank blood, I went to work for my husband’s perfusion company. I was the first nurse to perform autotransfusion in Austin, and eventually started covering operating rooms at all the hospitals.
After retirement, it became obvious that Covid would become a global pandemic, and make its way to Austin.
I received my first vaccine fairly early at the UT Health Discovery Building. I was so impressed with the program that I knew immediately that I wanted to volunteer with UTSON/UTMRC.
My first Covid volunteer experience was at the Gregory Gym venue. After proving that I could still give an injection after 35 years in the operating room, and being ambidextrous, (I wasn’t sure which hand I gave injections with, and had to try both) I got to work. My time there was one of the best experiences of my life! Everyone (volunteers, patients, UTSON and pharmacy staff) were so joyous. To be able to be of service with a lifesaving vaccine was such a miracle.
I found that I had a special affinity with patients experiencing what were essentially panic attacks at the thought of getting a shot. I also experienced them for the same reason as a child. There was a special place at the gym that was curtained off for privacy, with a couch. The patient and I would go there and share experiences. A connection was made, and all my patients got their vaccines and were grateful to be understood.
Another highlight was being able to facilitate a VAMOS event to honor a mentor from my early career as a new nurse at Brackenridge. Gwen was very important to me, and it was wonderful to be able to honor her memory with people she loved and who loved her.
Another special experience was teaching and supervising nursing and pharmacy students. It was very rewarding to see novice students go from shaky and nervous to confident and proficient.
I’d like to thank everyone involved in this wonderful experience, including Dr. Stephanie Morgan, Karen Geiger, and Courtney Katela.
Note: A coincidence that I thought of frequently was that my great aunt Berne Sebold was a nurse during the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic. Remarkably, despite the lack of PPE, she survived and had a full, happy life.