Out of desperation in 1973, a Vietnam Veteran, unemployed, married, my wife Iris pregnant
with our son, I found myself in El Camino College applying to get in the Nursing Program. Candidly, the Nurse Administrator informed me that I’ve about 10% chance of getting in the program. So I asked her for advise.
I was given a three page to do list. One requires recent nursing experience in a Convalescent Hospital. My first
night was memorably imbedded in my mind – all night the Charge Nurse got me cleaning of sorts of diarrhea
never before I’ve seen, stinks brought me running to the toilet to vomit. Excellent initiation one might
In campus, myself and another Vet name Bob were interviewed by the College journalist. Out of
the blue, I was asked if I was gay. It became very clear then I was venturing in a female dominated
profession. I became even more curious about nursing.
In 1977, I became a new Registered Nurse at Daniel Freeman Hospital. I was tasked to insert an
indwelling Foley Catheter to a retired lady Army Captain. Although scared, embarrassed, feeling
insecure, I went through the procedure. Little did I know my left hand would cramp making me insert
the Foley blindly and proceeded to inflate the balloon. My patient calmly told me “Robert, you put it in
the wrong hole”. I wish I was Ginny so I could disappear.
Having gone through such experiences early on, I thought about quitting. Only my humble
beginning saved me- in 1942 during the American-Japanese war, while my Mom and Dad were hiding in
the Philippine Jungle I was borne under the moonlight. By God’s grace we survived.
I found out that working with women is filled with all sorts of opportunities – professional, personal,
relational, emotional, and spiritual growths. For instance during breaks, nurses would cook meals,
aroma permeates the lounge – nurses would talk about personal stuffs i.e. would love to choke a
husband who forgets special dates like birthdays, anniversaries, saying I love you, saying how pretty and
beautiful they’re although stomach is quite big and cellulite plus varicose veins spoiled once sexy legs.
One day I got in trouble with my wife and was in the dog house a few days. Twenty four long stem
yellow roses and a love letter bailed me out. Quickly I learn and realize, nursing has helped me stay married to the same gorgeous lady for 37 years and going strong.
During my twelve hours shift in CSU, my post CABG patient show signs and symptoms of CHF.
The Charge Nurse suggested I call Dr. Dick Head. Thinking she was joking, I didn’t call, instead, I asked
her for the real doctor. Shortly after, a young handsome doctor came – name Dr. Dick Head. Lesson
learned, never discount anything in nursing.
Soon burnout has set in. Working in the CCU, CSU, SICU, and ER was no longer fun and
challenging. This drove me to Kaiser Home Health where each day is blessed with new exciting
opportunities to serve God. For instance, fifteen minutes into a two hour admission assessment of a
somewhat confused 87 year old female patient, the patient asked me to leave, raised her cane pointing
to her door. I convinced her to give me more time. In less than five minutes, she started chasing me out
of her house. I noticed she was religious, so I told her God could see her chasing me. Thank God, she
stopped and let me finish my assessment.
All of my thirty one years of nursing experiences have transformed me totally. However, the
most challenging of all is dealing with my wife battle with Ovarian Cancer. I have become a very good
husband and father to our son and daughter. I would even give my life to my wife.