From brain surgery patient to neuroscience nurse
COM nursing graduate Dara Lewis, of League City, is now working at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center —in the same ward where just six months ago she recovered from surgery on her brain.
In fall 2011 while a nursing student, Lewis began having headaches and blurred vision. Family and friends told her that the headaches just came from stress about school, but she knew something was wrong.
After medical tests, her doctor informed her that she had a benign cyst in her brain that was filling with fluid. He wanted immediate surgery, but she chose to wait until after final exams for the semester. Four days after exams, she underwent surgery to place a shunt in her brain to drain the fluid. She recovered in the neuroscience floor for several days.
“The hardest part for me was going through nursing school. I was more concerned about finishing school than about my health,” she said.
Now graduated, she is back on the same neuroscience floor—this time as an R.N. In fact, it’s because she was a patient at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center that she got the job.
Her physician, Dr. Dong Kim, who performed Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ surgery, knew of Lewis’s interest in the medical field. “When [Kim] saw me every single time, he told me, ‘OK, you’d better finish nursing school because you’re going to come work for me.’ I thought, ‘This is one of the top-notch hospitals in the world, yeah right,’” she said.
Nevertheless, Kim introduced her to the director of nursing at Memorial Hermann while she was recovering in the hospital after surgery. “I was still really out of it,” she said.
But she stayed in contact with the director and attended a career fair at Memorial Hermann. At the fair the neuroscience team interviewed her because the director knew her and hired her on the spot.
Her experience fueled her interest in the neuroscience field. “I’m so interested in being in neuroscience because it’s so unpredictable. It’s so much to learn about. It’s constantly researching.”
Now a nurse, she remembers what it was like as a patient. “I’ll really have a special place for [neuroscience] patients because I’ve been there.”
“People say, ‘You’re so lucky you have a dream job,’ and I say, ‘I only had to go through brain surgery,’” she said. “I wouldn’t say ‘luck,’ but I think everything happens for a reason.”