The Changes Life Brings!

The Changes Life Brings!
by Tewanna R. Cleveland Johnson, R.N.


Growing up in a small country town, as a military dependent, I loved children.  I did not have to hold down a job because I babysat a lot.  By my sophomore year in high school, I decided to become a nurse. I loved learning about the body and the way it works. I was a healthy, active, young person.  I loved to play soccer and basketball.  In school, I was an above average student.

After finishing nursing school, and waiting to take the boards, I worked as a care partner in a level four nursery. I needed to test my nerves and find out if I was good at that type of intense job. After passing the boards, I decided that I loved that area of nursing. I started working at a level three nursery. I worked with all types of patients from babies that were full term and needed a little warming up to babies that were twenty-four weeks premature and on ventilators. After being there for several years and having a good record, I was trained as a charge nurse. As charge nurse I went to deliveries and assessed the babies to see if they needed the NICU. I made out assignments for the other nurses on duty and helped them with their assignments. I assessed babies in the well baby nursery who were having problems.  Every night that I was scheduled, I worked charge. I was very happy with my job and knew that I had made the right decision for me.

During the last few months employed at that hospital, I started to have symptoms that I really was not aware of. I was having strange smells and tastes, always the same smells and the same tastes.  No one around me was aware of or noticed anything. I went to my doctor who referred me to a neurologist. After seeing three different neurologists, no one had any idea what was going on with me. After finding the fourth neurologist, I was diagnosed with hippocampal epilepsy.

My neurologist suggested that I work part time. After eight years working at the hospital as a charge nurse, I thought there would be a position for me. I spoke with the nurse manager, who was aware of my condition. I was told that nothing was going to be available for awhile. I loved my job so much that I said I would wait for a position. I was able to a job as an R.N. in another well baby nursery, going to deliveries. After four years there I transferred into their NICU.

Soon there after I decided to have brain surgery to remove my right hippocampus.  I did not want to put the babies in harms way. The surgery truly helped my epilepsy. I do not have as many or the same type of seizures .  I now have simple-partial seizures. That is where I "day dream."  No one would really know what was going on with me. They would really think I was just day dreaming. Medication is also helping.

I would not have changed anything about my career. I absolutely loved my jobs. Its been seventeen years since I graduated from nursing school at Tennessee State Universality. Now, I am waiting for the doctor to give me an all clear to go back to a job. I love the job and do not want to give it up. I believe that things like these can make you a stronger person. I hope that I can help someone with a disability. We need to support each other.

Tewanna R. Cleveland Johnson, R.N.
1208 New Lodge Ct. ● Antioch, TN 37013
Phone (615) 837-0675 ● E-mail: