Abigail Cunningham, LPN
Nurse Abby’s Story
I grew up in a family of 10 children, and when I was 10 years old, we moved onto 15 acres of land where we planted a garden and got lots of chickens. I absolutely loved growing up in the woods and learning how to be self-sufficient on a small level. In our family, we used essential oils and treated things the natural way first before going to a medical doctor- so we didn’t go to the doctor very often. Even though we rarely went, I loved the doctor’s office and I always said I wanted to be a nurse and a mom when I grew up!
I started babysitting for several different families when I was 13 years old, and when I was 15, I began babysitting/nannying weekly for, believe it or not, Dr. Dean’s family!
When I was 17 years old, I got very sick, very suddenly, and was unable to eat. I ended up spending a very long time in the hospital. After months and months of being in and out of the hospital, the doctors finally decided that my stomach had become paralyzed and that they needed to place a feeding tube so that I could get the nutrition I needed to stay alive as I had become severely malnourished. I was given medication after medication and had procedure after procedure, I even had a few surgeries, and yet, nothing seemed to help. I needed to have a second tube surgically placed because the first tube that was placed kept having complications. On top of all these treatments, I was also being seen regularly by a chiropractor, using essential oils, and consulting with a naturopathic doctor.
When I was nearing the end of age 18, I had tried every medication that the medical doctors had to offer and every test and procedure they could think of. They had no explanation as to how this had happened or, more importantly, how they could fix it. I decided that I wanted to stop trying all the medications since they weren’t working, and just focus on treating my body naturally… mostly. I still needed the feeding tube to keep me alive since I couldn’t eat. After about 6 months of focusing on gut health and trying to eat again and again… and again, I was finally able to keep down a couple of tablespoons of food after over a year and a half! It was such a victory!
After spending so much time in the hospital I learned so much about how the body works, and how to care for it, and I developed a deeper passion for it! With my health improving I decided to continue in my education and follow my dream to become a nurse! I started nursing school at 19 years old after graduating from homeschool in 2018. I was in a great relationship with an amazing man and things were really looking great! I enrolled in a nursing course at East Coast Polytechnic Institute and hit the ground running.
The two years I spent there were some of the hardest years of my life! I like to say there’s only one word to describe how I got through those years: GOD! It was hard work! I was going to school full-time and working full-time for a restaurant. I was in and out of the hospital occasionally because I needed extra fluids and nutrition, I also needed to stay at the hospital a couple of times because my tubes were causing internal bleeding. I needed to have another surgery to get one of my feeding tubes removed, but luckily, I was able to bounce back quickly and not miss too much school. I got engaged to the love of my life and we started making plans for the wedding of our dreams! I was finally able to eat almost all the nutrients I needed and only needed to use my feeding tube occasionally to keep my weight up.
In 2020, I had to change a lot of plans, but I was able to still graduate from nursing school and complete the required clinical hours required to take my NCLEX. I passed my NCLEX at the end of July of 2020, and then I finally got to marry Daniel, the man of my dreams, in August of 2020. While it wasn’t when we had planned it (or even how we had planned it) it was truly a wonderful day!
After the excitement of our wedding died down, I started sifting through job offers and looking for work. My husband and I prayed very hard over where God wanted us to be, and He kept closing doors and telling us to wait and trust Him. Dr. Dean opened her office in Kernersville, and I finally felt God’s nudge. I reached out to her and she so graciously brought me into her practice.
Before I had my first day at Living Waters, I started to feel very sick again. I thought that I was about to relive the nightmare of when I was 17, but, to my husband’s and my great surprise, we were pregnant! My pregnancy was anything but easy. We were told that, due to my history, we had less than an 18% chance of our baby surviving. I had lots of complications and ended up having to have multiple procedures since my growing belly was posing a risk to my feeding tube. I ended up having to have my feeding tube removed completely to prevent the growing baby from tearing my stomach, but I was able to keep up with my nutrients, and, by the grace of God, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy in September of 2021! We named him Micah, which means “Who is like God.”
Currently, my husband and I are building a tiny house on wheels, with the help of family. Our dreams are to one day, buy a hundred acres to start a large homestead to live a self-sustaining lifestyle. My health continues to improve by treating my body naturally, and I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to work in the natural field of medicine.