Former heroin addict tells what inspired her to become a nurse

Joanne Hill praises nurse who cared for her and ‘really made an impact on my life’ 

Joanne Hill praises nurse who cared for her and ‘really made an impact on my life’ 

Staff nurse Joanne Hill. Picture: Swansea University

A former heroin addict has become a nurse after being inspired by the woman who cared for her in hospital.

Joanne Hill started taking drugs as a teenager, which eventually led to her children being taken away and left her close to death.

But now she works as a hospital staff nurse after graduating with first-class honours in her adult nursing degree.

 ‘I didn’t care if I lived or died’

Ms Hill, from Burry Port, Carmarthenshire, said she would have died a drug addict were it not for the nurse who cared for her after she developed a potentially fatal infection that affects the inner lining of the heart.

‘When I was injecting heroin I sort of didn’t care if I lived or died,’ she said.

‘I had ended up in hospital with endocarditis and came close to ending my life.’

Nurse ‘encouraged me to go to rehab’

Fortunately, an encounter with a nurse in 2012 helped to turn Ms Hill’s life around.  

‘One day this nurse, Vanessa, was on shift and she sat with me for over an hour and spoke to me. She really made an impact on my life,’ Ms Hill said.

‘She encouraged me to go to rehab and made me decide that I wanted to become a nurse. I wanted to have that same effect on other people’s lives.’

After 19 months of rehabilitation, Ms Hill embarked on a three-year adult nursing degree at Swansea University.

Ms Hill has been reunited with her sons

Ms Hill now works as a staff nurse at Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli, and her two sons, Callum and Kian, are living with her.

‘If you’d have said to me eight years ago that I’d be doing a nursing degree and be caring for people, and that your boys are going to be back with you, then I probably would have laughed because of the state my life was in.’

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