who tells your story

Hey, remember Judy?

Yes, of course, I remember her. She retired four years ago, right?

Yes. She died.

Oh my goodness!

She died three years ago.

Oh…Oh…

Yeah.

She did retire four years ago. She was given a wonderful sendoff with all the love and good wishes and promises of let’s keep in touch. But life…work…Cerner at work…family…life…you know.

No one, I guess, really kept in touch because life and all that. But sometimes late at night at work with a little downtime we talk, we laugh, we remember…and a name is dropped and we wonder, how is Judy these days? No one knows. Life, work, family and stuff, you know. Her name is searched on Facebook…even if she was never on Facebook and then she is Googled and, well…

Judy died October, 2013. She was preceded in death by her parents and brother. She worked as a Registered Nurse for forty years and found her calling in pediatric nursing. Judith was an artist in varied mediums and also enjoyed collecting and reading. Judith’s intensity in her interests was extended in her caring for those who were close to her.

Literally people, you have know control who lives, who dies, who tells your story.

And for a moment, I do reflect a little on the fact that there is no control once you are gone who tells your story.

Kind of hard for a girl like me who, in her adult life, almost demands a little control over who will tell my story when I’m gone. True, I write much of it down for all the reasons the arm chair therapists might imagine and for my children; but ultimately I have no control what parts are remembered, what parts will be re-told and what parts will be forgotten…even if I did write so much of it down.

Well, at least I know what shall be played at my memorial. Thank you Zoë!

Literally everyone should want Jesse L. Martin to sing  I’ll Cover You  at their memorial.

Rest in peace Judy.

 

 

 

nursing: the next generation

We sit together, her thoughtfully nibbling on a plate of Oreo cookies and sipping chocolate milk from one of my favorite mugs.

Is this your cup, Mima?

Yes, it is.

What’s that? :::points at the stethoscope:::

It’s a stethoscope. I use it when I am at work taking care of tiny, sick babies.

That’s cuz you’re a nurse!

Well at least she gets that.

That’s right! Perhaps someday, when you grow up, you can be a nurse too and I will give you my stethoscope.

Hmmm… :::takes another sip of chocolate milk::: Nah!

No?

:::shakes her head no:::

Well, okay then. Perhaps there won’t be another nurse in the next generation of this circus.

At least not yet.

I remain ever hopeful.

You’re going to be there when a lot of people are born, and when a lot of people die. In most every culture, such moments are regarded as sacred and private, made special by a divine presence. No one on Earth would be welcomed, but you’re personally invited. What an honor that is. -Thom Dick

mourning, but with all the hope

I know that I am not the only one crying and screaming on the inside what the actual fuck right now.

Baton Rouge…Alton Sterling…”he should have just complied”…Falcon Heights…Philando Castile…”but he complied; he followed the officer’s orders”…Black Lives Matter…Dallas…Dallas PD…Ballwin…Ballwin PD…Blue Lives Matter…“All Lives Matter”…

I can’t. I just can’t.

Moments that words don’t reach; suffering too terrible to name. And in these moments this week I just want to hold the ones I love the most as tight as I can and push away the unimaginable. All of it. But I can’t. I just can’t.

I am at work and I distract myself with work. I walk into the break room and one of the news channels is on. It’s not Fox News…THANK YOU…but I just can’t. I distract myself with work, with my patients’ conditions and parents’ bedside vigils because I just can’t imagine.

Coffee is delivered by my current favorite child, and I give thanks for the happy distraction it brings.

It’s the little things. Acts of kindness. Warm hugs. Parents holding their precious new babies as close as they can taking in all the promises of future hope that they represent. Moments that words don’t reach; grace too powerful to understand. My heart hurts right now. The hearts of most everyone else I know hurt right now. Sad, mad, all the outrage, all the helplessness, all the tears and fears are happening right now and I know that I am not alone. But through the night at work last night there was for me a promise of hope that no matter how small is potentially powerful enough to rise above the unimaginable. I’m keeping that hope close to my heart and last night, all night, and today, right now I am happy for the tiny warmth it radiates deep within my broken heart.

A baby is god’s opinion that the world should go on.

Carl Sandburg

life doesn’t discriminate

Every nurse has their favorites. Every NICU nurse has their favorite patients whom they never forget. The babies, their mommas, dads, grandparents, siblings touch us in some way that they are a part of our heart forever regardless of the outcome.

I have mine.

Last night I learned that one of my favorites passed away suddenly earlier this week. Nicholas was 21 years old. Born 21 years ago, Nick was premature with a host of medical problems. He spent more than ten months in the NICU. I was privileged to be one of his primary nurses during those months. I loved Nicholas. I grew to love his parents and respect their unconditional passion for their son even if it sometimes exhausted me. I won’t lie, I grew to absolutely hate Kenny Loggins’ Return to Pooh Corner cd as it literally was the only thing to soothe baby Nicholas during some of his more difficult nights in the NICU. I hated it but I was more than willing to play it on a continuous loop because it was all about this tiny mighty human, Nicholas. He never spoke, he never went to school, never dated or got a license or any other number of so called life events. But his was a full life, filled with love for others, and loved in return. He taught all of us who were privileged to know him the gift of the spirit that comes from forgetting one’s self and serving others truly in need. His presence made us more selfless, more compassionate and more kind. Above all, Nick and his family showed us all the value of fighting for those we love. Because of Nick’s indomitable will and his parents willingness to sacrifice so much and put faith in God, the baby who was supposed to die in five days was a blessing to our lives for over 2 decades. Nicholas death was unexpected and sudden but his mother told me it was peaceful, at home and in the arms of his father.

My heart was broken last night and I cried and I let my son hug me in the comforting way that only he can.

Then this morning I woke to the news from Orlando, as we all have. An act of terror, an act of hate, an act at the hand of an American citizen who, thanks to his blessed Second Amendment right, took away the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of many in a crowded nightclub. At this moment fifty are dead and at least fifty are injured. The President and media are calling it an act of terror and an act of hate…BECAUSE ANY MASS SHOOTING REGARDLESS OF THE MOTIVE AND THE SHOOTER AND THE VICTIMS IS AN ACT OF TERROR AND AN ACT OF HATE! Early this morning fifty sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, lovers, spouses and friends died in an act of terror and an act of hate at the hand of a person filled with hatred armed with a hand gun and a powerful assault rifle. This massacre is, therefore, a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school or in a house of worship or a movie theater or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.

And my heart shatters. As the President speaks for the FIFTEENTH time in the aftermath of yet another mass shooting, I hug my son in a way where I want to protect him from this kind of hate, this kind of terror, this kind of violence.

Life doesn’t discriminate

Between the sinners and the saints

It takes and it takes and it takes

And we keep living anyway

We rise and we fall and we break

And we make our mistakes

And if there’s a reason I’m still alive

When so many have died

Then I’m willing to

Wait for it.

~ Wait For It, Hamilton ~ Lin Manuel Miranda

 

adventures in human kindness

Remember that one darling daughter of mine who just fifteen years ago, after her ambulance ride to a trauma center and time in the PICU, followed by reconstructive surgery weeks later promised me that the next time she would find herself in a hospital she would be married and having a baby? And remember when she found herself in an ER just  three years ago after discovering that magical, mystical creatures like herself STILL don’t bounce? Yes, she had to apologize for breaking her promise to me via FaceTime with her doctor laughing a little in the background.

Well…

Here we were earlier last week…

again…

her guardian angel, sitting in the corner, rolling her eyes, shaking her head back and forth and I’m pretty sure I saw her take a hit off of a bottle in a brown paper bag because…

OH MY GOD, Zoë Elizabeth!!!

Long story short, she ‘s okay. She is okay except for the fact that last Tuesday she passed out cold in her kitchen while trying to clean up some puncture wounds on her leg thanks to her asshole cat and when her sister found herself having a hard time reviving her, called 911. The paramedics found her blood pressure and heart rate to be very low so they decided to take her to the local ER known for their Human Kindness. Mom arrives soon after to micromanage and basically be in the way of her caregivers as moms who are nurses often do; and just as mom arrives, an ER nurse approaches her with a pill she directs her to take because the doctor ordered it.

Wait, she was seen by a physician? Because she tells me she hasn’t been examined yet.

Oh, the doctor looked her over when the ambulance arrived.

He examined her?

He looked at her.

Zoë joins in, So that guy in scrubs who talked to me was a doctor? He never told me that.

ER nurse rolls her eyes

Anyway, the doctor wants you to take this.

What is this?

It’s an antibiotic, for the puncture wounds. It’s to prevent infection.

As Zoë swallows the pill, the nurse walks away without a word.

The ER is crowded. It’s a triple digit evening in Stockton. Of course the ER is crowded. Time passes with staff walking back and forth but never stopping to say anything to Zoë or the other patients sitting in chairs around her. After a time a tech comes and takes Zoë, with me tagging a long, to a curtained area where he begins to prep her for a 12 lead EKG.

So the doctor ordered an EKG?

Yes.

EKG complete. Normal sinus rhythm. Heart rate is a little low still. Tech remarks, as he removes the leads, that from the appearance of her skin right now she is a little dehydrated; which might be why she passed out given how hot it has been all day today.

Literally the first time someone talked to her about what brought her to the ER.

Returning to her place in the crowded exam area, a nurse comes and tells me I must wait in chairs in the waiting room because of the overflow of patients. No problem because, yes, this ER is literally overflowing with the humanity of Stockton seeking their special brand of Human Kindness…like the lady sitting next to me in the wait room chairs who receives discharge instructions from her nurse for treatment for allergies and post nasal drip…yes, ALLERGIES and POST NASAL DRIP was her admitting diagnosis!

Ugh!

Looking around, over-hearing conversations, it was clear that there were some in the ER that evening for similar minor complaints but there were people in pain, people desperately ill seeking emergency care with a little bit of Human Kindness.

I waited in chairs anxiously for Zoë while she advocated for herself in a way that would make her nurse mama proud. Registration seemed relieved almost as she confirmed that, yes, Zoë was insured. And then we were on our way…

…to her local pharmacy…a very crowded pharmacy…a pharmacy that took more than 24 hours to even begin to attempt to fill her prescription…because Augmentin is super hard to fill.

In the end, I remind my darling daughter of the fact that she broke her eight year old little girl promise to me…again. I also talk with her about the reality that is healthcare today and how although we healthcare providers do strive to help people live happier, healthier lives, to thrive and to connect on a human level because human connection leads to better health, we healthcare providers, all of us, need to do better. We need to try harder. We need to really treat each and every patient we encounter with the level of care our mission statements declare. Like it or not, we healthcare providers are graded by HCAHPS; which we really shouldn’t stress too much about if we are truly working to strive to help people live happier, healthier lives, to thrive and to connect on a human level because human connection leads to better health.

Zoë is going to be just fine. The puncture wounds will heal. She will do her very best to stay well-hydrated…and not scare her sister, her mother, her guardian angel anymore. Zoë also will be filling out the patient survey that St Joseph’s will soon be sending her way with all the brutal honesty that is needed and deserved because Human Kindness is exactly what all of their patients deserve and must have. As for me, this RN, I am all the more reminded, nudged and inspired to try harder to do exactly just that for my patients and for their mamas who expect just that as well.