Today we’d like to introduce you to Morgan Turley.
Morgan, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Honestly, my story begins when I was two-years-old when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. My childhood was filled with doctors, rules, and resilience. I grew up knowing what kind of impact chronic illness can have on a personal and familial level. As I fought to keep myself healthy throughout my childhood, I learned discipline. I was determined to not let myself become a victim. My faith played an increasingly important role in my life as I learned how to take the struggle with the victory all in stride. My health was my responsibility, and I wanted to help others find the same sense of capability that I felt. Sure, I had my moments, but overall, I eventually grew into the confident diabetic I had fought so hard to become. That prompted me to enter the medical field as a nurse.
I graduated from Texas Christian University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. I had always felt older than my actual age, and I couldn’t wait to finally be in the adult world. I was ready to be with people during the worst times of their life and bring encouragement. Then, the unthinkable happened. One week after graduation, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at twenty-one-years-old. After a lifetime of type 1 diabetes, this was a cruel blow. I spent that summer in and out of the hospital, fighting to escape the barrage of fear and incredulity. I struggled for years with my diagnosis. There was a cloud over me all the time, and I didn’t see a way out this time. My learned resiliency and motivation to turn chronic illness into a positive thing was gone. My faith severely struggled and it wasn’t until about 2.5 years later that I finally found some relief.
When I was in high school, I’d always joke about my experience with my health. “I could write a book,” I’d say. Then, after my struggle with my MS diagnosis, I thought, “Well, why not?” There are so many people out there who have miraculous stories of healing and recovery. Those stories are amazing to hear, but what about the people who just need to learn how to adjust to a lifetime of illness? Do they ever find relief, and how do they do it?
That is why I wrote and published my book, Battleground: a young nurse’s journey through chronic illness. I illustrate the dichotomy of the medical field and the patient experience. There are countless chronic illnesses out there, but I found that many of them come with similar emotions. I want people to know why it is so hard to live day-to-day with illness, but I also want to encourage those living with one. Yes, it’s hard. But there is a way out and a way to find relief. I detail my story with vulnerability, honesty, and raw emotion in order to reach people deeply. I haven’t been miraculously healed, but my spirit has been rescued.
My hope to reach out to others struggling in a similar manner has bled into my health care career. I’m currently in school to get my DNP degree (doctor of nursing practice). My ultimate goal is to work with children and families struggling with type 1 diabetes. My story of rescue has only further fueled my drive to really connect with people where it matters, and offer hope. So my life hasn’t been easy, but that is no excuse. My health has put up a good fight, but I am a warrior. I have dreams and goals that won’t accomplish themselves.
Battleground is an honest account of the search for meaning and purpose in the midst of calamity, it’s also the story of a rescue far greater than anything this world can dream up. I aim to help people find their victory, and at twenty-five-years-old, it’s only the start of a rewarding career!
Has it been a smooth road?
It definitely has not been a smooth road, but that is how determination is born. My book was very difficult to write as I kept re-living the emotional upheaval of my MS diagnosis. Every day, I have to remind myself that I CAN do this. There’s nothing stopping me but myself. At first, when I told people that I was writing a book, naturally, they asked what it was about. It always stopped me cold, because I realized that I was going to have to be vulnerable with people I barely knew. How do I sum up the depth of my experiences in a few sentences? But, the more I told people about my journey, the easier it became and the more people opened up to me. It’s amazing how many are looking for just that: solidarity and encouragement. I knew people had similar stories, but my book can give certain individuals the tools they need to start on their journey of healing. And, that gets me excited about sharing my story.
Some advice that I would give other women who are just starting their journey is to be brave. Vulnerability is messy. Connecting with people through the areas of your life that you’d rather keep hidden is frightening. Sometimes, you just have to do it afraid. But using the most vulnerable areas of your life to improve lives around you is the most rewarding thing you can do. There is so much good that can come from untoward life events. Face your struggle. Whatever keeps you going – your faith, your family, your significant other – lean on that.
Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I’ve discussed my involvement in the health care field previously, but I absolutely love being a nurse. And, being a pediatric nurse practitioner in the near future is so exciting to me. Nursing is one of the most rewarding careers because I can be there with people in the most uncertain times of their lives. I love people where they’re at, without judgment. After graduation, I worked on a renal/medicine acute care unit for 2.5 years. Then, I was a camp nurse for the summer. And, I’ve been busy with graduate school. I am going into pediatrics because of my desire to work with kids and their families with type 1 diabetes.
When I was growing, up I received care for my type 1 diabetes at the Barbara Davis Center in Aurora, CO. My pediatric endocrinologist there and the medical staff who gave me care for 16 years (until I turned 18) truly shaped my view of what it looks like to be a good care provider. I want to give back to the medical community and use my practical experience to help others. Not only that, people come from all over the world to get care at this center.
Being honest and open about my personal chronic illness struggle has been rewarding because patients feel the solidarity with their struggle. A career in medicine is where I feel that I can make the most difference in people’s lives. Again, my faith is a huge part of who I am, and there is a certain peace that comes with knowing I’m a part of something much bigger than myself.
Writing my book was healing for me, and I’m hoping that it can bring healing to others. Physical healing is not always possible, but there is always a need to heal peoples’ spirits, especially after going through hardships. There are many ways to do that, but meeting people where they’re at, validating their difficulty, and providing hope is my ultimate goal in attempting to accomplish that healing.
Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
Growing up with a chronic illness and navigating the challenges of that while trying to live a normal, kid-friendly life set the foundation of who I am as a person. I learned how to be resilient, I learned that my present actions greatly affected my health and life, and I grew up knowing that life requires hard work. I certainly grew up without a childlike illusion that life is easy.
I also grew up with a heart that really felt peoples’ struggle. There was a confidence that I continued to build with every comment, judgment, and pity glance. I didn’t want to grow up acting like a victim. I didn’t have a choice but to take care of my health, and I knew others didn’t know how to react to that, and that was okay! I absolutely used those experiences to help educate people about what my life was like.
I was also very fortunate to have parents who jumped into the role of caring for my type 1 diabetes without hesitation. Because I was so young when I was diagnosed, I couldn’t assume care for my own health. But, knowing how much effort they put into keeping me healthy, I greatly admire the parents of children who have chronic health issues. Illness doesn’t just affect one person, it affects the whole family. The words of my story are not to single me out, they’re meant to connect with others and be a voice of hope.
- Battleground available on Amazon (prime also) and Barnes and Noble.com: $20
- Battleground available through Xulonpress.com: $20
- You can also contact me and I can send you a copy! $20
- Website: www.ajourneythatonlylastsalifetime.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Battleground-a-young-nurses-journey-through-chronic-illness-2098293910232825/?view_public_for=2098293910232825
Black and White photo (me): In His Image Photography, Black and White photo (my sister and me): Martin Crabb, (book photo): In His Image Photography