Nicole Yvonne Johnson
Nicole Yvonne Johnson

Name: Nicole Johnson, MSN, BSN, RN, APRN, ONC
Johns Hopkins School of Nursing

My resiliency story took place two years ago when my mother experienced a myriad of health challenges. She was recently widowed and lived alone in another state. One morning, she tried to get out of bed for work and noticed her legs were weak. She could not balance herself when she stood to walk, leading to a fall. My mom was taken to the hospital by ambulance, and the CT scan revealed a stroke and an undiagnosed brain tumor that required surgery. It was the
beginning of one medical setback after another.

Within one year, Mom contracted COVID-19 when there were no vaccines, had brain surgery, and had severe post-operative complications. As the only medical professional in my family, I had to make all the medical decisions and provide updates to my family. Mom was in the neuro ICU after the brain surgery, and two days later, her oxygen levels began to drop. She tested positive for blood clots in her lungs and was placed on a ventilator and given an IV blood thinner medication to prevent additional clots. However, Mom had an allergic reaction to the blood thinner and needed a new medication. As Mom appeared to be stabilizing, she suffered a massive heart attack and then was in the cardiac ICU!

Every time I received a call from the hospital, it was terrible news. No visitors were allowed due to the pandemic, and I was terrified of what could happen next! By this time, Mom had become delirious from the constant alarm sounds in the ICU environment. She was restrained with a bedside sitter to protect multiple IV lines and vital equipment. Mom’s heart was failing, and her prognosis was poor. I felt powerless to do anything from a tablet on Zoom.

The thought of losing her this way seemed unbearable, and I had not slept well for weeks. My ability to be resilient was in crisis, but I relied heavily on my faith and prayer. Ultimately, Mom survived and is permanently disabled. As I grappled to understand why this happened, two things helped to put it into perspective. First, I heard a quote from Bishop T.D. Jakes, “Where ambiguity frustrates us, it’s our faith that fortifies us” when we don’t have answers. Second was support from my R3 community members, who called routinely to see how I was coping and utilizing the resources from the R3 website—specifically, the Mindfulness practice of box breathing and the What’s On Your Plate module. I realized my plate was too full and had to reprioritize my responsibilities to manage my mom’s care. As a result, I endured a traumatic experience beyond what I could have imagined, with a strengthened resilience that continues to shine through!



Submit your story of resilience in writing or by video by addressing the following:

  • If video is available, please send .mp4 or .mov files to [email protected].
  • If in writing, no more than 400 words or if video no more than 5 minutes
  1. Briefly describe what happened/your situation where your resilience was needed.
  2. In what ways did your resilience shine through?
  3. What kept you resilient during this time? (E.g., Activities such as meditation, connecting with your values, and taking a break)
  4. How will you remember this in the future?