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For All Abilities

Sep 21, 2020

For All Abilities – The Podcast Liz De La Torre - A Successful Nursing Career with ADHD


For this episode of For All Abilities: The Podcast, I spoke with Liz De La Torre - one of my son’s nurses. She talks about her nursing career and ADHD. 

To connect with Henry, please email her at 


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Transcription by


Betsy Furler  0:05  

Welcome to for all abilities, the podcast. This is your host, Betsy Furler. The aim of this podcast is to highlight the amazing things people with ADHD, dyslexia, learning differences and autism are doing to improve our world. Have a listen to for all abilities, the podcast and please subscribe on whatever podcast app you're listening to us on. Hi, everybody. This is Betsy, your host for all abilities. Thank you so much for joining me today on my podcast. This podcast is meant to inspire everyone to use all of their differences as their strengths. And we frequently talk about neuro diversity and how it's so important to have different brains in this world. Today I have a special guest, Liz della toray hopefully I said that correctly, Liz, please introduce yourself to my audience.


Liz de la Torre  1:05  

Hi, I'm Liz de la Torre. And I am 60 years old. I've been a nurse for 37 years. And I have been ADHD actually since I was 21 years old. So 49 years 39 long time.


Betsy Furler  1:24  

Awesome. And we met, um, because you have been my son, Henry's nurse, several multiple times. And we got started talking and I was so glad that you agreed to be on the podcast. And so I guess I gave people a little bit of a teaser that you're a nurse professionally, but we'll get to that in a minute. And so tell us what were you like when you were a little girl?


Liz de la Torre  1:48  

So when I was little, I went to Catholic schools and it was just strict girls school nuns only, and I never could sit still back then there wasn't a day diagnosis of and so I was always getting spanked, pinched ears cold, you got ants in your pants, that kind of situation. And I would try, you know, super hard to just sit down and pay attention but I couldn't because I was my mind was going elsewhere and I needed to get up. So it was that kind of thing. I'm home. It was pretty. I had an older brother. He was nine years older than me and it was kind of like, he was also in a private school. But he would poke at me, I think, I guess he knew, you know that something. I couldn't sit sit still or whatever it was that he would always poke at me and get me in trouble with my parents. Especially. Yeah,


Betsy Furler  2:52  

you spent a lot of time in trouble. It sounds like


Liz de la Torre  2:55  

I did. I did and it was like, as hard as I would try. Boom, you get it.


Betsy Furler  3:02  

Right, you just couldn't make your body do fit into the box of what they wanted you to how they wanted you to behave. Correct. So what about when you got on to middle school in high school?


Liz de la Torre  3:16  

Okay, so middle school and high school the same kind of situations with the nuns. And, you know, once you're in middle school, there was it wasn't like we have normal schools now I kind of just float into the next one and then it flowed into high school. But it was pretty much the same thing. grades, I could make super good grades without even studying. But if I didn't care to do it, I would just kind of you know breeze through it because like I said, My mind was going 50,000 miles a minute, and I didn't understand what was the deal. Why didn't everybody else think in speed version like I did.


Betsy Furler  3:57  

Did you go to the same school for 12 years or were you did you move at each different level?


Liz de la Torre  4:04  

So much amount Sacred Heart, which was the elementary school and I went there through sixth grade. And then seventh grade at Incarnate Word. This was in San Antonio Incarnate Word open their seventh and eighth grade. So that's where I went seventh through 12th grade.


Betsy Furler  4:23  

Okay. Okay, so it's kind of same feeder pattern, so to speak, but different schools. So, what did you think? Well, let me ask you about homework, first of all, because I, as I've interviewed so many people, homework seems to have been a big issue for people, lots of people with ADHD. How did you do with homework?


Liz de la Torre  4:44  

No, my homework I had was impeccable. I would, I would do it all the time. And I wanted my homework to be perfect. It had to be. I actually we were laughing the other day at work. Because, um, my grandmother taught me how to write and she would take erasers off the big pencils. Well, my brother came home one day and he was bothering me. I was writing my ABCs and he said, What are you doing? Then I kept saying, I'm writing, I'm writing and he pushed my arm so my pencil went across the paper. Ultimately, I was ruining my paper. The man died with the red mark in his in his eye.


Unknown Speaker  5:26  



Betsy Furler  5:27  

Hey, I think a lot of us have scars still from pencils been poked out. Yeah, he definitely deserved that. And well, that's interesting about the homework. So why do you think the homework was easier for you to concentrate on than the schoolwork?


Liz de la Torre  5:45  

I don't know. Maybe it was maybe it was because I was in my own environment. Maybe it was because somebody wasn't telling me constantly your back your or pinching at me or poking at me or doing something to me. Maybe that's what it was. I really don't know.


Betsy Furler  6:03  

Did you do homework in silence? Or did you have like background noise and things like that?


Liz de la Torre  6:09  

No, I always had to have and looking back on it now. I've always had to have some kind of noise. Music mainly going on background.


Betsy Furler  6:20  

I went homework versus in the school setting.


Unknown Speaker  6:25  

I never thought about it.


Betsy Furler  6:29  

That's interesting. So after high school, what did you do?


Liz de la Torre  6:32  

So I went to college, um, high school was a blow off. It was a party time for me. And so when my parents were moving from San Antonio, they both retired when I graduated. And oddly enough, they were moving from San Antonio to Houston to retire. Um, so I wanted to stay in San Antonio because I had just gotten a new little boyfriend and all that good stuff. So my main focus, my main thing is I told my dad, I want to go to college. And he looked at me like, it was extremely demeaning. And he said to me, You need to marry one of our rich friend sons. Why would you go to school, college after high school? And I was like, because, you know, high school to me, a C and A d when I got in high school, that was great. I was passing


Unknown Speaker  7:21  

too bad. Right? Right. So


Liz de la Torre  7:23  

he looked at me and he said, Okay, I'm gonna let you stay. one semester. What do you want to be? A nurse just popped into my head, and I said, and he said, a nurse, you want to be a nurse? I said, Yeah, I want to be a nurse. So he said, Okay, one semester, we're gonna see how it goes. So he got we got an apartment. I had a car, paid for my school. Dean's list for five semesters.


Betsy Furler  7:55  

Wow. Where did you go to nursing school.


Liz de la Torre  7:58  

I went to see Antonio College for the first two semesters because I think he wanted to see if his money was gonna be spent or not. And then I went to UTSA. And so, at the end of that, it was time it was gonna be time to go into nursing school because I'd gotten all my, you know, I gotten all my academics and stuff down. And so he and my mother came down. And this is a this is about when I went to and I got diagnosed. And they asked me, my dad asked me, so do you like your apartment? And I was like, Yes. Do you like your car? Well, yes. And finally, he looked at me like I was some kind of dumbbell. And he said, Do you like to eat? I said, Well, yeah, of course I do. And he said, then you're gonna have to get a job. Like, get a job for why he said, Well, if you want to stay in Houston, San Antonio, you're gonna have to pay for all your stuff. Or you can come to Houston. And I was like, Are you serious? He said I am. So I had to pack up and I came to Houston and during a physical for enlisted in a during a physical for nursing school. That's when it came up about because I started noticing in math and statistics I could memorize, like series of numbers and keep it. Uh huh. And it was like, What do you call it when you can? Like photographic memory, I can do it. My son can do it, oddly enough, too. But it was eat. That's what a nursing school was extremely easy because I could read the testing material the night before, go to sleep. Wake up and I could see the page. So it was like, great. There it is. But they did diagnose me at the time. It was something before Adderall that they gave me. I forgot what it was. But it started making me calm down. But what it really did is it made me be able to put things like in sequences so I could understand stuff.


Betsy Furler  10:12  

I went through I said, I said before you were kind of you had a great memory so you're able to just regurgitate that material. Correct? Excuse me, but not necessarily and comprehend and, and synthesize everything together.


Liz de la Torre  10:28  

I think I could I Well, I'm sure I could comprehend because of my grades and everything. But what I started to do is I think it was things that really interested me that I can stop for a minute and pay attention. And there you go, there it is.


Betsy Furler  10:50  

Yes, and I think nursing is such a great career for people with ADHD because it's so it's fast paced, and then it's always something different. You know, Like you have all these different patients with all these different conditions, having, you know, in your current job setting different, you know, different treatments being done. So, it's got to be more exciting than some other, you know, a desk job or whatever. Right. So after you were diagnosed, what kind? what difference did that make for you?


Liz de la Torre  11:23  

It's almost as Um,


Unknown Speaker  11:27  



Liz de la Torre  11:29  

I could concentrate more. I could effectively do things like so. When I would stay when I go to start cleaning a house, I'd be in the kitchen. Then I would go to Oh, I remember there's there's a glass in the bathroom. Let me go get it did not start cleaning the bathroom, you know, and it was like, and then the


Unknown Speaker  11:51  



Liz de la Torre  11:51  

cracked in the bathroom, you know, it just wasn't completed. So once I started getting medicine, it was like, I could Concentrate and know I can't go there. I need to stay here and complete this task. Uh huh. Was it? You know, Betsy, when I'm thinking about it with work, I could complete stuff. And I don't know. I don't know. Maybe like I said, maybe it was just because there was a big interest there. Right.


Betsy Furler  12:21  

Right. warehouse workers say is boring anyway. It's


Liz de la Torre  12:25  

not a big interest. Right? Yeah.


Betsy Furler  12:30  

So how did it help your self esteem to be diagnosed? Or or did it did it help?


Liz de la Torre  12:37  

I think as far as my self esteem, I don't. I don't think it helped that. I think it helped me understand that. When I was a little kid, I really wasn't a bad kid. I just really couldn't sit still. There's just too many things going on and I was just wired different.


Betsy Furler  13:00  

It kind of explained it. You were able to understand yourself better. Probably correct. Yeah. So then after you got out of out of nursing school, where did you What do you didn't end up doing?


Liz de la Torre  13:12  

So when I was first a nurse, I became, it was an odd year. So I graduated nursing school. I got married. I got I got pregnant, and I passed my boards. Wow. Yeah. Easy year. Yeah. And so my first job was at Methodist and in labor and delivery, and I really loved it really, really loved it. But once again, when I got pregnant, I quit taking my medicine. So I was learning about labor and delivery. And I couldn't I couldn't grasp how to how to figure out how many centimeters do they dilated because it's kind of like I was concentrating on too many things. They're finally it snapped, I got everything. And it just kind of like all fell into place. When it happened, you know, once I started understanding, but now I was really having to control my thoughts because and you know, in my mind because it was racing. Mm hmm. There was nothing to settle it down. So it was kind of like me having to talk me down. Interesting because once I kind of, I guess I got a taste of the good, or the right wife, you know how it's really supposed to be? Uh huh. And then when it got taken away from me when I got pregnant, it was like, Oh, no, here we go again. Mm hmm. But now I think I was getting I was like, 24 now 20 Yeah. 24 And so now, I was kind of getting used to or starting to understand how to talk through it and in with me in my mind. And yeah, kind of like myself,


Betsy Furler  15:05  

you were able to coach yourself through it this summer. So how do you think that HD has hindered you and then also helped you in your career?


Liz de la Torre  15:20  

So, I can't, I really can't see that it's hindered me so much. Because I've done a lot in my career. I was the nurse have been taught in the emergency room. Um, and you know, there, you're having to triage excitement. Yeah. I know, you know, you're having to triage and you're having to keep stuff. This goes here and this goes there. And so I think it really helped me. A lot of and after that a lot of my jobs. They've been, like the nurse manager for home health, always with infusion. Mm hmm. I've always had to, you know, once again, triage what's important who's got to be seen. Where are we going? What part of the city? And then if there weren't nurses, I had to, you know, I'd have to jump in and go see patients. Mm hmm. And then come home and do my come back and do my desk job. So it was, I can't say it's hindered me.


Betsy Furler  16:21  

It sounds like it sounds like nursing, you somehow just fell into a job that's perfect for you.


Liz de la Torre  16:31  

I think so. I mean, it's always like, like you said, it's a fast pace. Everybody's different, you know, from what we're treating now. As opposed to you know how it was before when we were doing home health. there was all kinds of antibiotics off TPN the total parental nutrition stuff I used to I was one of five in the city who used to put picc lines in at the very beginning when picc lines came out. Uh huh. So that was kind of cool because you get called, you know, can you go do a picc line,


Betsy Furler  17:04  

blah, blah, and you go, right, right. And then that was also probably kind of good for you. I know with myself, I'm not diagnosed with ADHD, but I definitely like a variety of different activities. And if I had a desk job, it's kind of what I'm doing now, because I'm doing everything from home. But then occasionally, I'll get to go do something. And it's like, just having that change of scenery occasionally, I think is so helpful for just not getting bored and refocusing and everything.


Liz de la Torre  17:36  

Correct. And I think if I would have had to stay home in the midst of it and when it first started all this the COVID I don't think I would have done well. I would have gone nuts. Yeah, because it was just


Betsy Furler  17:52  

Yeah, that's a great topic to discuss here because we are still you know, most of us are still staying home. You've gotten to go to work or had to Get to work however you want to frame that. And yeah, so, um, let's talk a little bit about COVID and stay at home. How do you think you? What do you think would have happened if you had to stay at home and you weren't an essential worker?


Liz de la Torre  18:17  

Well, I know what happened on the weekends.


I frequented the garden center and Lowe's almost every Saturday and Sunday and have a nice garden outside. I just couldn't do it. I wouldn't be able to just stay home. Uh huh.


Betsy Furler  18:37  

Well, that's awesome. much weight. I've lost 25 pounds over the stay at home order because I started walking and then subsequently running because I can't stay in my house all day, every day and on the you know, it's like when there's nothing else to do. It's like at least I can walk around the neighborhood. Oh,


Liz de la Torre  18:57  

yeah. I couldn't do it. wouldn't have been able to do it.


Betsy Furler  19:02  

Yeah, that's really interesting. My husband also has ADHD. And he's also considered essential because he's in construction and as a general contractor, and I think it's saved. It's saved him. I think he would have he, you know, it's been very hard on him anyway. And I think it really would have been awful if he wouldn't have been able to get to work at all.


Liz de la Torre  19:23  

That's correct. That's so right. Yeah. Oh, my God, it would have been dreadful.


Betsy Furler  19:31  

And he probably would have driven everyone around you crazy.


Liz de la Torre  19:35  

I would have my husband is one that can sit on the couch and watch TV. And it's like, how can you do that? Do you not have a bedsore yet?


Oh my god.


Betsy Furler  19:50  

So and it seems like at the infusion center that y'all have stayed pretty busy the whole time that it hasn't really changed workload or anything.


Liz de la Torre  20:01  

We got a little slower than we are right now only because of the chairs. Oh,


Betsy Furler  20:08  

that was it. Essential distance between the chairs. Right, right.


Liz de la Torre  20:12  

We should really have like, I think it's 18 or 19 chairs right now. But, you know, we're only using 13. Yeah, in a pinch, it's really should be 12. But in a pinch, we have another one. But we've stayed busy and we're getting super busy right now.


Betsy Furler  20:32  

And that's also great for the patients because one of my big fears when all of this was starting was that Henry wasn't going to be able to get as big. And, you know, it was like, it really scared me. So I'm just so thankful that that it's the infusion center has stayed open, and it's been he's gotten his infusion every three weeks just like normal work. Yeah, I was so nervous that first time he went In about what it was going to be like, what, how many things was he going to touch between the front doors and hitting the infusion center? About the infusion center itself because, you know, I know how clean and careful y'all are. But I was worried about how many things he might touch on the way in and, but I now know that it's like, pretty, it's pretty streamline. There's nobody else in the elevator for the most part. And it's been great. So I'm so thankful that he's that, that y'all have kept on working and he's been able to get his infusions.


Liz de la Torre  21:35  

And I'm so happy to see that he does bring scout with them, because then he can have the private room. Right? That's, that's the benefit. And that's a good thing, although we all love Scout, but the good thing is, he can stay in his room. Right? He can watch TV or he can do whatever he pleases, and I sneak in snacks and that's how it goes.


Betsy Furler  22:00  

Yeah, it's been great. It's it's been his one thing one time to get out of the house too.


Unknown Speaker  22:05  

So, right.


Betsy Furler  22:07  

Well, Liz, thank you so much for being a wonderful guest and telling us your story and may and might inspire other people to look into nursing as a career if they have ADHD.


Liz de la Torre  22:19  

I enjoyed it. I mean, it's been 37 years and I've never regretted


Betsy Furler  22:24  

a damn. And it's a that does, you can do all sorts of different things like you are studying move on to move on to another one. So and how and


Liz de la Torre  22:36  

when you think Ben Toby er has finally weighed on your mind. Go? Yeah, right. Next place.


Betsy Furler  22:44  

One of our another one of our favorite nurses is actually working in benchtop er right now she was. She was the nurse that really saved Henry's life when he had his big psychotic event with autoimmune encephalitis. She was a ER nurse. At the hospital that we went to, and he totally saved to his she took a boy's life. And now she's been havin she's really enjoying the fast pace over there right now to Uh huh.


Liz de la Torre  23:13  

Oh, Sam.


Are you talking about Sam?


Betsy Furler  23:18  

No, um, no, her name is Lacey. Okay, so she's Yeah, so she was at Memorial city Memorial Hermann, when Henry had his big events, and he sat with him and when he was psychotic, she was she and I were the only people that could keep him calm. It was about her. I guess it was miraculous.


Liz de la Torre  23:41  

Yes. He told me she saved his life.


Betsy Furler  23:44  

Yeah, she did. She's She's incredible. And oh, my goodness, nurses have been really so important throughout his life. So important. And I know he wouldn't be here without so many nurses that we've covered. Across over the years, so But she's ever been to VR and she's really like, it's I think she's thriving even through all this COVID stuff. I think she's happy to be there and in the chaos,


Liz de la Torre  24:14  

I think it can be really rewarding.


It really can, you know, it's got its crazy moments. And then you've got your moments where you say, What am I doing here? But there's a lot of good things about it, that there's so many people that you can help there.


Betsy Furler  24:32  

Well, in one, we met a doctor who works at Ben Tom at an autoimmune encephalitis event that we went to about a year ago. And he was telling me, he said, you know, it's the best place to be when you have something like autoimmune encephalitis, because we don't have to worry about what your insurance is going to pay or not pay. That's true. Go for it. And I was like, Yeah, that's a good that's. I hadn't ever thought of it that way. Because of course, It's so scary to have to go to a county hospital and be in the midst of all of that. But I thought, wow, that that is true. That is very, very true.


Liz de la Torre  25:10  

So soon as you get your diagnosis, and as soon as you are stable, get out, right.


Tell my insurance card. Here you go.


Betsy Furler  25:21  

Yeah. Thank you so much for joining me. And if people want to connect with you, what's the best way for them to get in touch with you?


Liz de la Torre  25:28  

Um, you can always use my email. It's a




Betsy Furler  25:40  

Awesome. Thank you for sharing that and thank you for being here.


Liz de la Torre  25:45  

Okay, and thank you.


Unknown Speaker  25:47  

Thank you, audience for listening in please.


Betsy Furler  25:51  

Like, share, and review rate my podcast on whatever podcast app you're listening to. This on. Please follow me on LinkedIn at Betsy Furler. It's f u r le AR, or on Facebook at for all abilities also on Instagram and Twitter at for all abilities. And thanks for tuning in. And please join me again next week for my next interview. Thanks so much for listening to the for all abilities podcast. This is Betsy Furler, your host and I really appreciate your time listening to the podcast. And please subscribe on any podcast app that you're listening to us on. If you'd like to know more about what we do in our software that helps employers support their employees with ADHD dyslexia, learning differences in autism, please go to www dot for all You can also follow us on Instagram. And you can follow me on LinkedIn at Betsy Furler. f as in Frank, you are le AR Have a great day and we will see you soon